Along with the above, to begin with it was light handy and the design and mechanics of it proved to be pretty good, when people weren't doing dumb stuff like issuing the wrong ammunition types. I think it also has a bit to do with the ergonomics etc being pretty good from the outset and became a bit of a standard to work to. These factors got it through the door and into widespread adoption and the widespread adoption provided the basis or drive for future development. The US selling or gifting a crap load to friends probably helped a bit too.
The design also lends itself to development than some other systems and to begin with it was available in both 5.56 and 7.62. The base system or the look of the rifle hasn't changed but a lot of mix and matching of other systems or cross breading has also occurred like the operating systems in the H&K 416 came from the G36 which came from the AR18. Piston or DI, Long stroke or short stroke its all been done in the AR system to target this well established (and lucrative) market. Even Steyr took the barrel and gas system our of the Steyr AUG and put it into an AR version to make the RS 556.
Looking at most current service rifles, they're all pretty much or a muchness and unlike the marketing nothing truly "Game Changing". Any major evolution won't take place with the current ammunition limitations as its been through the 20th century. CT rounds may have some impact but time will tell.
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