calvin56 wrote:In the 60's when ARs hit the civilian market some of the first were from a contract overrun with the air force. They were an ugly blue green grey and sold for about 75 bucks. Mine was stamped Armalite not Colt. The striking feature was that the charging handle was inside the carrying handle. They were slab sided with no deflector and the duck bill flash hider.
With the exception of the charging handle, selector, and an indentation missing on the bolt carrier they were identical internally to the M16. Same pin diameters, same slot in the bottom of the receiver. The finish on the selector did not match the rest of the rifle. I believe they simply switched selectors to remove the full auto function.
Since it was too easy to convert it back changes were made. They made the civilian trigger group pins larger to prevent you from dropping in surplus M16 parts. They changed the secondary sear, disconnector, bolt carrier, and selector.
After the ban on new full auto civilian rifles in the 80's these early receivers became expensive. Something about them being considered "open" and being eligible for legal conversion. I'm not 100% certain I remember this all correctly but I think this is correct.
ArmaLite licenses both the AR-10 and AR 15 designs to Colt Firearms. Robert Fremont, a key player in the design team of the AR-10 and AR 15 Rifle models, leaves ArmaLite for Colt Firearms to help with continued AR rifle development. ArmaLite launches the AR-7 Survival Rifle. The AR-7 was a .22 long rifle caliber rifle targeted at the civilian market, although a number of military organizations around the world bought it.
Colt Firearms sells the first AR 15 rifles to the Federation of Malaya, later to become known as Malaysia.
Eugene Stoner leaves ArmaLite to serve as a consultant to Colt Firearms. At this point, ArmaLite was out of the AR-15 business – for the time being. The United States Air Force tests the AR 15 Rifle and purchases 8,500 rifles.
The Air Force standardizes the AR 15 and designates the rifle M-16. 85,000 rifles are purchased by the Air Force. Also this year, the US Army purchases 85,000 more M-16 rifles.
Colt sent a pilot model rifle (serial no. GX4968) to the BATF for civilian sale approval on Oct. 23, 1963. It was approved on Dec. 10, 1963, and sales of the "Model R6000 Colt AR-15 SP1 Sporter Rifle" began on Jan 2, 1964. The M16 wasn't issued to infantry units until 1965 (as the XM16E1), wasn't standardized as the M16A1 until 1967, and didn't officially replace the M14 until 1969. Colt had been selling semi-automatic AR-15's to civilians for 5 years by the time the M16A1 replaced the M14. Going off of the serial number records for the SP1, Colt had sold at least 2,501 rifles to the civilian market by 1965, 8,250 rifles by 1967, and 14,653 rifles by 1969.
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