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Armalite AR-10 Semi-Automatic Rifle
Eugene Stoner's creation of the AR-10 rifle led in turn to the development of the AR-15 and the eventual U.S. military adoption of the M16 rifle. SN 1036
The ArmaLite Division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation traces its origins to to the efforts of two men who sought to design a military-style rifle that represented a radical departure traditional from its predecessors. In the early 1950s, engineer/attorney George Sullivan teamed with inventor Jacques Michault to create prototype rifles that featured lightweight aluminum receivers, straight-line fiberglass stocks, high-line sights, and receiver-mounted carrying handles.
Sullivan later met with Richard S. Boutelle, president of Fairchild, and told him of his efforts. Boutelle was interested in this project, and as a result, ArmaLite was founded as a Fairchild subsidiary in 1954. Eugene Stoner, a former U.S. Marine and ordnance technician, became ArmaLite's chief engineer. Stoner, along with designer L. James Sullivan and supervisor Robert Fremont, were instrumental in determining the course and success of the company. ArmaLite's charter required it to develop and perfect prototype designs that would then be licensed to manufacturers for actual production. The company's first products, the AR-1 and AR-3, never entered production, but they did prove the feasibility of concepts that made use of modern designs and materials.
ArmaLite's first success came in 1957 with the design of the AR-5. This rifle was a bolt-action breakdown rifle chambered for the .22 Hornet cartridge and was intended for use as a survival arm by U.S. Air Force crews. The gun's barrel and receiver could be stored in its hollow fiberglass buttstock that, in addition to its ability to float, also provided a storage place for fish hooks, matches, and other supplies. The AR-5 was accepted for military use, but expected sales failed to materialize because the Air Force had already purchased a large inventory of Harrington & Richardson M4 and M6 survival guns. The AR-5's design became the basis of the civilian AR-7. The gun was chambered for the popular .22 long rifle cartridge and employed a semi-automatic blowback action rather than the bolt operation of its predecessor. ArmaLite briefly manufactured the AR-7 before selling production rights to Charter Arms Corporation.
This company manufactured the AR-7 until 1990, when Survival Arms, Inc. took over production under license from Charter Arms/Charco. Not all of ArmaLite's designs were rifles. The AR-9, which dates from 1955, was a semi-automatic shotgun that featured a polycarbonate stock and an anodized aluminum barrel and receiver. The AR-9 was not produced, but many of its features were incorporated into the AR-17 "Golden Gun", a two-cartridge gun that met with limited success. Other ArmaLite rifles were intended for use by military and police forces. The most famous of these are the AR-10 and AR-15 rifles. The AR-10's development dates to 1953, when inventor Melvin M. Johnson, Jr. was employed by the company as a consultant.
Prior to the Second World War, Johnson, a U.S. Marine Corps officer, invented a military rifle that later saw success with the Marines in the jungles of the Pacific. The Johnson semiautomatic rifle and the Johnson Light Machine Gun employed a cam-controlled rotary bolt, a feature that was incorporated into the AR-1