Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Eugene Stoner, Designer of AR-10 & AR-15

James Wesley, Rawles reminds us:
November 22nd is remembered as the birthday of the late Eugene M. Stoner. (Born 1922, died April 24, 1997.) He was the designer of the AR-7, AR-10, AR-15, AR-180, the Stoner 63, and several other firearms. (The AR-10 was the basis of the AR-15 which in turn spawned the very widely used M16 and all of its variants including the M4 Carbine.) It has been estimated that as many as 3.7 million rifles from the AR-15 family are owned by civilians in the United States, and military production M16 variants well exceeds 8 million rifles.
Vietnam-style M16-A1-style platform (semi-auto here)
One of the most interesting aspects of Mr. Stoner's legacy is the modular nature of the AR-15 platform.  The dizzying number of options available for almost every part of the AR-15 platform, from the lower receiver, to gas systems, to stocks, to barrels, to optics means Stoner's little 'poodle shooter', as Vietnam Vets called the  rifle, has grown up.
New Frontier polymer AR-15 lower.  Backwoods likes these.

Using a multi-caliber, multi-platform lower receiver like the New Frontiers lower depicted at the left, and the standard AR-15 bolt, we can assemble rifles, pistols, and/or short-barreled rifle (with a National Firearms Act signoff!) in any or all of the following calibers by merely swapping the barreled upper.  Standard AR-15 magazines can be used with these calibers:

  • 5.56 x 45mm NATO (the standard AR-15/M-16 round)
  • .223 Remington
  • .223 Remington Ackley Improved 
  • .25 x 45mm
  • 6.5mm Whisper 
  • 7mm Whisper 
  • 300 AAC Blackout
  • 300 Whisper
Buy at
By using different-caliber lowers, combined with the correct uppers, bolts and magazines, this blizzard of calibers are possible:
  • .22 Long Rifle (rimfire) (using special blowback bolt and magazines)
  • 9mm Parabellum
  • 7.62 x 39mm (the Kalashnikov round)
  • 6.5mm Grendel 
  • 6.8x43mm SPC  
  • .35 Gremlin (necked up 6.5 Grendel to 358)
  • .458 SOCOM 
  • .50 Action Express 
  • .50 Beowulf 

There are other lists that are more exhaustive, but Ol' Backwoods suspects a) some of these calibers require gas system modifications and/or b) non-standard chamberings.

And the array of mil-spec accessories avilable for the M4 platform (most of which will fit the semi-auto AR-15) is dizzying.  There's even a cool poster you can buy depicting them:

So, well done, Mr. Stoner.   Ol' Backwoods will hoist a cold one in your honor tonight, after cleaning his AR-15's  One of my favorites is below.

UPDATE: and hey, even JFK seemed to like a Stoner rifle (hat tip: my gun-bro Miguel at Gun Free Zone)


  1. I have always been an admirer of this gun because it is very similar to the one my father has right now. During the summer we like to go out and mess around with his, and it has always been a great bonding experience for us. For this year though, I have been looking to get my own AR15 pistol upper so that I can finally have something to call my own instead of using my dad's all of the time.

  2. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little study on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! AR 15 Lower Receivers