Tag Archives: AR-10

You know the AR-15, but what about the AR-1? How about the AR-9?

The “AR” in each case does not stand for “assault rifle” as those who are uninformed often think. It is, in fact, short for Armalite, the firearms company that employed a generation of incredible forward-thinking gun designers, engineers, and inventors including Eugene Stoner, Charles Sullivan, Charles Dorchester, Arthur Miller, Daniel Musgrave, Robert Fremont and even the great Melvin Johnson (inventor of the M1941 Johnson rifle series).

Established in the early 1950s as a division of the Fairchild Airplane Corporation, the latter perhaps most famous today for their A-10 Warthog tank buster attack plane, Armalite leveraged aviation industry’s advances and applied them to firearms. Their engineers registered some of the first firearm patents incorporating foamed plastics in both stocks and handguards, aluminum receivers, self-lubricating alloy gun barrels, folding synthetic buttstocks, and other developments.

Before the original Armalite company tanked in 1983, they made it from the AR-1 to the AR-180, with lots of interesting stops in between to include bolt-action rifles, 22s, and even shotguns.

A better look at the whole AR lineage in my column at Guns.com.

Can she cook?

When Brownells introduced their Retro line of “throwback” ARs, they largely stuck to early 1960s and 70s classic Colt models which looked great, and, more importantly, told a piece of firearms history.

I mean what’s not to like?

Of course, it should be pointed out that the AR-10 predated the 15s by a good bit and were every bit if not more influential to firearms lore.

Portuguese A.I. AR-10s “somewhere in Africa” in the 1960s.

Classic, 7.62x51mm NATO battle rifles, but with Atomic-age plastics rather than wood, the latter of which had been used in firearms dating back to the 1300s.

That’s where Brownells’ BRN-10A/B comes in at:

The ones at the top. I took this in Dallas earlier this year. The guns really feel great.

Did I mention it looks great, as well?

The BRN-10A, with a classy gentleman

Sure, they look nice, but how do they handle the goop? Check out the below for the answer to that one.

175 million self-loading military rifles made since 1896– and most are likely still around

AK-47 style rifles accounted for almost half of the global production of self-loading rifles over the past century according to the study. (Graphics: Small Arms Survey)

AK-47 style rifles accounted for almost half of the global production of self-loading rifles over the past century according to the study. (Graphics: Small Arms Survey)

A new study released by the Small Arms Survey found that over half of all autoloading rifles ever made for military use are either AK-type or AR-10/15 type designs.

The 60-page study was authored for the Geneva, Switzerland-based SAS by N.R. Jenzen-Jones, director of Armament Research Services, an international policy-neutral technical intelligence consulting group.

The effort concentrates primarily on military arms issued as a primary combat weapon and not those built or marketed to the civilian or law enforcement user. As such it includes select-fire and automatic magazine-fed rifles such as the AKM and semi-auto battle rifles such as the M1 Garand made after the advent of smokeless powder. Excluded were crew-served weapons.

Starting with the Danish Navy’s order of 60 Rekylkarabin carbines in 1896 and moving forward, the study concluded some 175 million self-loading rifles have been produced for military use since then, noting this figure was “conservative.”

More in my column at Guns.com.

The AR-15s .308 caliber Grandpa: The Armalite AR-10

Many today will contend that a .308 caliber and larger AR is a modification of the AR-15 design, which of a .5.56mm semi-auto direct gas impingement rifle. Well the funny thing is it’s actually the other way around.


Introducing Sullivan and Michault

In the early 1950s, an engineer who moonlighted as an attorney, George Sullivan, teamed up with a talented inventor by the name of Jacques Michault to design a breed of new rifles that could be pitched to militaries around the world. These new guns, products of the latest design techniques, used instead of the WWI/WWII standard wood stocks and steel receivers, would be made with space age plastics and aluminums wherever possible. They would also include such forward thinking designs as built-in carrying handles, hollow pistol grips that could accept a purpose built cleaning and maintenance multi-tool that predated the Leatherman by thirty years, and elaborate flash suppressors.

Sullivan and Michault took their concepts to Dick Boutelle, president of aircraft maker Fairchild Aviation (maker at the time of the C-119 Flying Boxcar and the C-123 Provider transports for the Air Force), and Boutelle saw potential. This spawned Fairchild subsidiary Armalite, founded in 1954. With the new company came a pair of designers and engineers, L. James Sullivan and one Eugene Stoner.  The latter soon cranked out the AR-5, a 22 Hornet chambered survival rifle for the Air Force (to come complete in new C-119s and 123s!) and the follow-on .22LR caliber civilian AR-7 “float gun.”

By 1955, this plastic rifle dream team, with the addition of Melvin Johnson, who had a very forward thinking rifle/light machinegun adopted briefly by the Marines in World War II, coughed up the basic design for a revolutionary battle rifle.

Design of the AR-10

AR-10 prototypes

With the armies of Free World chasing 7.62x51mm caliber battle rifles (the T44E5 which became the M14 in the U.S. and the FN FAL/CETME/Sig Stg.57 families in Europe), the Johnson-Sullivan-Stoner team at Armalite switched the original 30.06 caliber rifle design they were working on to one that accommodated the new NATO round. This gun was gas operated, using a modified Ljungman-style direct impingement action with a rotating bolt. The ambi charging lever was atop the upper receiver, hidden under an elevated carrying handle, which held the high-line aperture rear sights. All exposed metal surfaces were given a thick anodized/parkerized finish.

Select-fire and capable of being rattled off at a blistering 650-750 rounds per minute, capable of emptying a “disposable” 20-round waffle mag in just two seconds, it was controllable due to a distinctive coke can-sized flash suppressor/compensator and the overall high bore axis of the 21-inch barrel.

So why didn’t it take the world by storm?

Portuguese A.I. AR-10 africa

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk

An ‘assault weapon’ by any other name…

In 1989 California lawmakers puked up one of the first assault weapons bans in U.S. history and in subsequent years added tweaked it and added such blanket restrictions as prohibitions on .50BMG (because there are so many crimes done with these…). While the California Department of Justice has tried really hard to ban anything that is AR-15ish or AK-47like, all enterprising gun owners have had to do is use devices such as ‘bullet buttons’ and low-capacity magazines to be able to own one today.

Still, between 1989 and 2001, the state allowed the registration by civilians of grandfathered guns. Well through Guns.com I did a public records request to CA DOJ and obtained their list of registered guns, all 145,253 of them. A detailed analysis found some really interesting things.

Here’s a snapshot of the top 25 manufacturers for example:


  •     28,259 Colt Mfg, almost all Sporters and AR-15 type rifles
  •     16,665 Chinese Norinco/Polytech/Clayco rifles, primarily AK and SKS pattern guns in 7.62mm
  •     14,797 Bushmasters, almost exclusively XM-15 series rifles
  •     9,158 Heckler & Koch firearms, with Model HK 91, 93 and 94 rifles accounting for the majority
  •     4,529 Springfield Armory rifles, primarily M1/M1A 7.62mm guns
  •     4,528 IMI guns including 179 Galil rifles and 4301 UZIs of multiple types in 9mm and .45
  •     4,199 Armalites including 291 AR-10s and 1046 AR-180s
  •     3,124 Eagle AR-pattern firearms
  •     2,924 Intratec branded guns, all variants of the TEC-9/AB-10 and TEC-22 pistol
  •     2,732 Ruger firearms, mostly Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles
  •     2,199 FN/Browning/FNH with mainly FAL and FNC type rifles listed
  •     2,189 SWD guns mostly Cobray and M10/11/12 MAC-style pistols
  •     1,876 Arsenal made AK-pattern rifles in 7.62mm
  •     1,461 DPMs, all AR-15 variants
  •     1,457 Austrian Steyrs, almost all AUG-series 5.56mm rifles
  •     1,303 Korean Daewoo firearms in several variants, almost all 5.56mm rifles but also 16 DR300s in 7.62 and 5 DP51 pistols
  •     1,170 Franchi shotguns in the uber-scary SPAS 12 and LAW12 varieties
  •     1,132 CAI/Century guns, primarily 7.62mm rifles
  •     1,082 Hungarian FEG guns, mostly SA85 AK-style rifles
  •     914 Auto Ordnance, typically all Thompson 1927 style carbines
  •     770 Imbel L1A1 type rifles in 7.62mm
  •     693 DSA rifles, all SA58 models
  •     526 Enterprise Arms 7.62mm rifles
  •     496 Berettas including some 122 AR-70s and 60 rare BM-59s
  •     445 SIGs, including 122 P-series pistols and 139 SG550 5.56mm rifles
  •     392 Benellis, split roughly between their M1 and M3 tactical shotguns

The rest of the 3,000~ word report over at Guns.com along with a photo gallery of some of the more interesting guns here.

weaver arms nighthawk