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Birth of the AR-15


In 1948, the U.S. Army established the Operations Research Office (ORO) to analytically study a number of problems associated with ground weapons in the nuclear era.


History of the AR-15


The ArmaLite division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, Costa Mesa, CA was established in 1954 for the sole purpose of developing military firearms using the latest in plastics and non-ferrous materials. It's team who oversaw drafting work had been the key developers of the AR-15.

Project SALVO, a number of studies conducted by the Operations Research Office at John Hopkins University and supported by several contractors chose the AR-15 as the best small caliber weapon and it was adopted as the M16. The AR-15 had met all the CONARC requirements, and AR-15 production could be highly automated, making it inexpensive to manufacture.


Evolution of the AR-15


Evolution of the AR-15 In December of 1959, Colt acquired manufacturing and marketing rights to the AR-15. In 1962 Colt was able to get the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) to test 1,000 weapons in its Vietnam-oriented Project Agile. An enthusiastic report led to more studies from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army, and despite strong Army opposition, Defense Secretary McNamara ordered 85,000 M16's for Vietnam, and 19,000 for the Air Force. 


AR-15 (1956-1959)

Basic infantry rifle using ArmaLite developed .223 caliber ammunition. The AR-15 was licensed to the Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in January 1959.

The U.S. Air Force completed tests of the AR-15 in January 1961. The Air Force procured 8,500 rifles in 1961 and standardized the AR-15 in 1963. 85,000 rifles were purchased in that year. The military designation of the AR-15 is M-16.






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5850 San Felipe Suite 500
Houston, Texas 77057
Phone: 713-866-4800

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