Tag Archives: Bushmaster Arm pistol

Everything old is new again: Black Rifle Edition

The ArmaLite-branded AR-10 and AR-15 disappeared from the marketplace by 1962 as the company sold its rights and patents concerning the designs to Colt’s Manufacturing Company and the limited manufacturing license with the Dutch Artillerie Inrichtingen (A.I.). firm expired. After that, Colt was the only all-up maker of completed ARs until the late 1970s when other companies started to come on line.

When I say “other companies” I am talking about now-classic black rifle makers Bushmaster, DPMS, and Olympic Arms, all of which faded out in 2020.

Well, for two out of three of those, the demise was short-lived and they are now back for 2021, under new ownership.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Bushmaster Resurrected

Founded in 1978 in Windham, Maine, from the remnants of the even older Gwinn Arms company (see the Arm Pistol), Bushmaster was one of the first makers of AR-style firearms outside of Colt. Its line included the lightweight Carbon-15, the massive .50-cal BA50, the seriously weird M17S Bullpup rifle, the XM-10, the XM-15 rifles, and others. Importantly, the firm was one of the first to market flattop optics-ready ARs and AR pistols, beating many of its competitors to the punch.

The BA-50, one of Bushmaster’s more interesting products

Then the Cerebrus Group/Freedom Group came along and upset the whole apple cart. They closed the Maine factory, moved operations to North Carolina and later Alabama under Remington’s umbrella, and just generally traded the company’s rep in for poorly QC’d guns without further innovation. Then, in 2019, Remington snuffed the brand out to try to exit the black rifle verse under legal pressure.

Well, Bushmaster is back, now owned by Franklin Armory, so stay tuned.

Bail Out Guns, Fireball Edition

The basis for many of today’s best survival and trail guns, the U.S. military developed a series of compact, takedown, and foldable designs to give aircrew something just in case they had to hit the silk.

You may know of guns like the M4 (the bolt-action .22 Hornet made by H&R in 1949, not today’s 5.56mm Carbine) as well as the M5 and M6 combination guns, but have you heard of the Individual Multi-purpose Weapon of the 1960s?

Designed at Eglin AFB’s weapon lab, Colt made five of IMP-221s (as they were chambered in .221 Fireball, or 5.56x36mm) for testing as the GUU-4P, which later led to the Bushmaster Armpistol.

For more, go down the rabbit hole in my column at Guns.com

The lost ‘Arm Gun’

Hank Strange visits with the Matt Gwinn-designed “Arm Pistol” an oddball produced by Bushmaster back in the 1980s for an Air Force contract that never got off the ground in the above video.

What was the Arm Pistol?

Well, it started off in the 1960’s with Dale Davis of USAF Armament Laboratory as the Individual Multi-purpose Weapon (GUU-4/P) and was contracted to Colt in 1968 as a 1.5-pound gun with a 13-inch total length, capable of firing out to 100 meters effectively to be used as a aircrew survival weapon. At the time, SAC bomber crews had .38 revolvers and various AR5 rifles (in .22) under their seats, and could use some more firepower if down in Siberia somewhere. The gun, chambered in .221 Fireball (5.56x36mm), became the IMP-221 Individual Multi-purpose Weapon but never really was adopted.


There were several variants of the Arm Pistol that popped up from the mid-1970s until Bushmaster ended the line in 1988 but the basic concept was a .223 Rem chambered handgun with an 11.75-inch barrel and STANAG magwell but using an AK-47 style piston system. It was the same concept as the IMP-221, but a good bit heavier (2.85 lbs with a full 20-round mag) and a skosh longer (20.63-inches over the flash suppressor).

Offered to the military for use as a lightweight and compact survival piece for aircrew lost behind the lines, the company reportedly closed a deal in 1985 with the USAF for 2,100 guns which was later rescinded, leaving Bushmaster to sell them commercially.


From the Bushmaster Armpistol Manual:

The Bushmaster weapons system was based on the function and operating principles of the patented IMP aircrew survival weapon designed at the United States Air Force Armament Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base. Subsequent design changes integrated the battle proven characteristics of the U. S. military M16 and the unexcelled gas system of the Russian military AK-47; thus attaining the simplicity and functionability of the current Bushmaster production.

By consistently and methodically applying these principles, it has been possible to make a high percentage of all individual parts in the various weapons comprising the Bushmaster system identical and thus interchangeable both among our various models and with the Colt M16.

The overall concept of the U. S. M16 and Soviet AK-47 have been in military use for many years and both countries continue to produce these proven designs in large quantities. Along with these concepts, the utilization of all practicable new developments in the field of weapons technology, improved materials and the empl.bymenVs of the most advanced machine tools and special equipment insures that the shooter has at his disposal a weapon of .. sophisticated design and technology.

The weapon was so iconic to Bushmaster’s early line, that the company’s logo for years contained the arm pistol outline:


Hank’s is provided by Walter Keller at Safety Harbor Firearms, who has an early model variant with the charging handle on the top of the receiver. Later models used a side-mounted handle.