Meet the first “AR”

ArmaLite started in Hollywood of all places in 1954 as a division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Company and long before the iconic AR-10 and AR-15 came along, their first rifle was the AR-1 (ArmaLite Rifle-1) better known as the Parasniper.

The gun was designed by George Sullivan and Charles Dorchester (both of whom went on to pitch in with Eugene Sullivan on the AR-15) between 1948-54 to be a super lightweight sniper rifle, presumably for airborne and air assault troops. It used a foam-filled fiberglass stock and an aluminum alloy barrel with a steel liner to prevent over pressure ka-booms.

11287-SA.A.1The improved bolt-action (some used steel FN Mauser bolts while others have been seen with Remington 722 bolts) also made extensive use of alloys. Fitted with a commercial 4x Bushnell Chief scope, mount, rings, and sling the whole thing weighed in at 6-pounds flat. Now remember this was a half century before today’s fluted barrel polymer stock “light hunter” guns that still don’t come that close to 6-pounds when outfitted.


They were chambered in .308 and 30.06 Springfield and some models had a muzzie break to help tame the recoil.

What became of them?

Well just 25 were reportedly made and several were submitted for testing to Aberdeen Proving Ground where the Army found them lacking citing frequent extractor failures and poor accuracy. At least four test models were forwarded to Springfield Armory in 1961 where they remain today in the Museum’s extensive collection.


Note the peculiar brown color to the stocks. That’s 1950s plastics for you…

SN# 44

SN#158 weighing in at Weighs 5 lbs. 12 oz

SN#415 chambered for T65E3 with a Bushnell 4x scope

SN# 351533 (?)

SPAR's Parasniper collection. Note the "ArmaLite Hollywood" rollmarks on the receiver showing early production as the company later moved to Costa Mesa

SPAR’s Parasniper collection. Note the “ArmaLite Hollywood” rollmarks on the receiver showing early production as the company later moved to Costa Mesa

As for ArmaLite? The biggest mistake the company made was when they sold the rights to the AR-15 to Colt, as their follow-on products: the AR-17 semi-auto shotgun (it had a gold finish with an aluminum barrel– no fooling) and the AR-18/180 never really caught on before the company folded its Costa Mesa location in 1973.

Eagle Arms picked up the rights and trademarks in 1995 and carries on as ArmaLite today, based out of Geneseo, Ill. and has since introduced the AR-20, 30, 50

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “Meet the first “AR””

  1. ErstO says :

    shhhhh.. don’t tell anyone this is called an AR, some states will try to ban it.

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