The Original Retro AR-10: Armalite’s AR10B

In 1994, a man named Mark Westrom, owner of Eagle Arms, purchased the husk of the Armalite corporation, and acquired its trademarks. Westrom wanted to create a new commercial .308 AR pattern rifle, and did so under the Armalite AR-10 name. He developed an AR-10 which borrowed some elements from the AR-15, and introduced it in 1996 with pretty reasonable success. In addition to versions with Picatinny rails and AR-15 style charging handles, he also had a retro version with the top-mounted charging handle so iconic form the original AR-10s.

One substantial change to the pattern was the use of modified M14 magazines in the new Armalite AR-10B rifles. This was done because of the Assault Weapon Ban that had gone into effect in 1994, which prohibited manufacture of magazines holding more than 10 rounds. There were no cheap .308 AR magazines available at that time (no MagPul yet…), and modifying ubiquitous M14 magazines was the best option available – so that’s what was done.

5 Comments

  1. Long thought the AR-10 was just a better rifle and wanted one. If I can save for a year I’ll get one of the Brownell retro ones. The Armoures Bench from the UK has a good pair of video’s on the history of the AR-10 and looks at many of the types made in the Netherlands.

  2. Mark Westrom is an interesting guy, who I knew a tiny bit years ago. Ex US Army (Lt Col, or O-5, IIRC), very successful Camp Perry National Match shooter. Knowledgeable, clever, thoughtful, good company, and one of the good guys.

    The Westrom-made Armalite-branded ex-Eagle guns had a pretty good reputation 15-20 years ago in the civilian market.

    As for the original Fairchild/AI AR-10, which just arrived too late in the military market to succeed, the most intriguing fact is the South African trials of 1959-60 when it came second to the FAL, ahead of other rifles including the CETME, G3, SIG510, and, IIRC, the Madsen M/60.

    The AR-10 also illustrated two well-known phenomena. First that weapons going through trials usually put on weight during the process. Second that as they are developed to meet multiple military requirements, they get compromised. The AR-10 originally with its complex muzzle brake was phenomenally controllable. Then it was required to lose the muzzle brake, gain a flash suppressor, shoot rifle grenades, carry a bayonet. It lost much of the characteristics that had originally made it stand out from the competition, ending up, in performance terms, as a slighter handier, less proven, equivalent of a FAL. Which is what everyone sensible then bought.

    The basic platform still has much potential, as a 5.56mm M4 etc replacement, in a cartridge not dissimilar to the British .280-30. Which we could all have had in an EM2 or (better? I think so) FAL in 1949.

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