Vintage Calendars & Jim Sullivan Interview

I recently got in touch with a very interesting fellow with an extremely impressive resume of firearms design experience: L. James “Jim” Sullivan. He started working for Armalite in the mid 1950s as a draftsman, and began his career by redesigning the gas tube on the AR-10 to move it from the side to the top of the barrel. Building from there, he went on to b one of the primary designers of the scaled-down AR-15, the Mini-14, the Ultimax LMG, the Ruger MP-9, and many other guns. My friend Karl and I had the chance to interview him at some length, and also to try out his new set of modifications to the M4 carbine (which he has reworked around his “constant recoil” concept, in addition to other changes to improve is controllability and capacity for sustained fire). We have the shooting and the first part of our interview put together into a very cool video for InRange TV, which you can see for free over at

If you like this and the other material on InRange TV, I would recommend creating an account at (it’s free) and subscribing to the InRange TV and Forgotten Weapons channels – you can then get automatic email notification when we post new videos.

On a different note, do you need an idea for a holiday gift for yourself, or a gun nut in your life? Well, there are just two days left to order one of my 2015 Vintage Calendars!


In addition to cool gun photos, you get some other elements as well. Since we have a zillion different things reminding us of holidays (and you folks in Europe really don’t care about US-specific ones like Thanksgiving or Father’s Day), I once again left them off the calendar. Instead, I have marked the birthdates of more than 60 famous and not-so-famous gun designers from all over the world. That’s a lot more interesting, right? Hopefully, including these birthdays will also help to spur interest in some of the lesser-known names as well – like the Federle brothers or Ludwig Vorgrimler.

In addition, this year’s calendar also has captions describing each photo – that was an element that was not on last year’s and I had several requests to add it. All of this is printed on a nice glossy 100# paper, with a thick backing sheet, clear plastic cover, and spiral binding. I’m very happy with how nice the initial printings look, and I’m really excited to make them available. I may be a bit biased, but I believe this is the best calendar available for firearms enthusiasts – it’s a great way to indulge an interest in how these guns were actually used. So get one for your own desk or office, and give a second one to a friend!

The price for the calendar is $15 plus shipping ($5 in the US; $15 internationally; no extra charge for shipping more than one to the same address). Forgotten Weapons Premium Members will receive the discounted price of $10 plus shipping (include your email address in the box when ordering, and I will refund the price difference to you).
I will be taking orders until November 30, and the calendars will ship out the first or second week of December. All orders will be taken in advance, so I know how many to print.

Ordering is now closed. Thanks!


  1. This site has enabled me to learn about the origins of the AR, rotary bolt, layout etc, over time. Fosbery through to the daisy mae, Dutch AR10 etc. But it wasn’t until I saw the AR10 in 7.62x51mm that I got the point, if you will “being something of a novice” hmmm… No, what I mean is, I am not a fan of the rotary bolt – Sa80 you see, but in 7.62 Nato the AR10 was very svelte etc, that’s what I mean. The 5.56mm version is also light, but at the time the AR10 was much lighter than other models in the same calibre.
    The 100 rnd banana mags have some disadvantages probably, firing from the prone position for example, they are good for walking fire… Which may have a use, when not employed against static positions etc. Advantages – cheap, simple, throw away, plastics probably these days throw away.

    Very interesting interview, I kinda think though this new design would be better suited to 7.62 Nato i.e. A AR10 because, 5.56 is relatively controllable anyway, the belt fed models only supplement 7.62x51mm GPMG’s because of the limitations of the 5.56mm in punch, range etc. Shoulder fired rifles aren’t generally used in full auto, apart from at very close range, a range which means you will hit something. The controllable part, comes in at say 50yrds onwards maybe 25yrds in full auto, suppressive fire, were you use a bipod, now a 7.62 Nato AR10 even with a bipod would probably rattle a bit… But this new lark, would be more controllable in a gun lighter than say a FN Mag, it couldn’t supplement it entirely – Sustained fire etc, but I bet it would be deliver more power down range than a belt fed 5.56mm

    • Take the LSW, with this open/closed bolt lark, in 7.62 Nato it could be a marksman rifle, and actually provide some fire support as equivalent to a Bren type weapon. Which, isn’t bad, bed fed 5.56mm kinda lacks oomph, it has fire power but where’s the oomph.

        • Unless it is “so much” more controllable, it would enable hit probability to increase at longer ranges i.e. AN94, Colt ACR lark but… You just fire more in full auto because you can, bullet conservation folk would take some convincing, particularly their accountants.

        • 25″ barrel the LSW in 7.62 Nato, old Bren Gun mags of the same calibre, with this new technology, Warminster would be interested I reckon – or if not, I say they are missing a trick, dedicated marksman/fire support.

          5.56mm Lsw’s were accurate and could hit easily at ranges far exceeding the SA80 telling you, at the time I thought 30rnd mags when everyone else has them… Pah, but in a different calibre, its a different gun. In full auto with this lark, you’d have an accurate, Bren. Who wouldn’t like that, with the ability to put down accurate pot shots in semi auto in a manner 5.56mm just can’t do.

          Gas impingement would make it lighter.

          • Anyway I will stop going on “this site needs a modify feature for compulsive afterthought types” but I really, think that is a great idea personally. Up to 30rnd accurate bursts, you could fit the system in as well, it would be a great gun, a gun you could do a wee dance around after firing.

          • Fit a good, yes good, civi aftermarket bipod via a few rails underneath, a few – muzzle end, to facilitate said “good” replaceable, bipod.

          • “They’d happily buy replacements themselves, you useless fecking pen pushers, happily”

            Right, whatever, good evening.

  2. Hey, Ian!
    My calendars order (two) arrived yesterday, and although I of course was excited to immediately review the photos, my wife was equally impressed and interested in flipping through the months. When we got to the Russian DP gunner (Novemer), she remarked, “Look, it’s the same style magazine as the Lewis.” And then December: “A Krag! We have one of those.”
    The calendars are a super deal, and as much a coffee table display item as they are a monthly reference. Great job!

  3. Used to, draftsmen did a lot more than take engineer’s sketches and pretty them up. Look at an old drafting textbook, they had an impressive amount of knowledge of manufacturing methods, tolerances, and such.

    Draftsmen were the ones who worked directly with the machinists, tool and die makers, and production people. If there was a problem, the draftsmen were the ones to fix it first, and they did a lot of what today passes for engineering.

    These days, “drafting” is about operating 3D drafting software, and for cost savings a lot of companies have done away with draftsmen, thinking that it is a good deal to hire engineers who know how operate the drafting software. I’d rather have someone who knows what they are doing use a T square than a glorified data entry clerk make a 3D model with no understanding of how the thing is to be made and of how the thing interacts with other parts. One of those things that have been lost, glad this one is still around and doing good work.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your interview with Mr.Jim Sullivan. I like his composed manner and fairness when speaking about his ex-boss. Thank you!

  5. I too enjoyed the interview. Also the part where the gun is test was interesting.

    I looked(not studied) at the drawing in the patent application and is it a little more involved than I thought it would be. I don’t know if all the changes are needed for a rifle. I think they are all needed for use as a replacement for the M249 and/or M27.

  6. It looks like some of this recent work is derivative of his work on the Ultimax, does anyone have the word on the street regarding that design?

  7. Comment compelled by the “Armalite in the 50s” reference – near the top of my “I wish someone would make” list is the AR-5. Only 25 were made – I’ve never even found a photo of one. The Air Force adopted them as a survival rifle for downed pilots but the funding to make them never came through. I’ve had mixed results with AR-7s – the Charter Arms edition was crap, the Henrys seem to run pretty good – but the idea of a bolt-action .22 Hornet version just makes me smile. Actually I’d like to see it in a .32-20, with spare barrels in .25-20 and .218 Bee, but that’s just me.

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