As a division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation in 1954, ArmaLite entered the firearms market with a series of innovative rifles considered unusual at the time. Now in its sixth phase of ownership, ArmaLite’s AR-15 turned out to be a revolutionary design that met designer Eugene Stoner’s goal of a lighter weight and has evolved into a highly precise system, so much so that it now serves as the basis for self-loading sniper systems. Currently, some variants of ArmaLite’s AR-15 design are issued by 15 NATO countries and more than 80 total countries worldwide. With over eight million service rifles in use, more than 90 percent remain in operation.
ArmaLite continues to produce firearms and design new ones, having shipped far more .223-caliber rifles and more active development projects in process today than any time since 1961. Here’s a roundup of what’s current at ArmaLite.
Despite being the original inventors, ArmaLite designates its 5.56mm rifles as M-15 to avoid any conflict with Colt’s ownership of the “AR-15” trademark. ArmaLite’s new TBN line represents its improvement on this still-evolving platform. Key features include a National Match two-stage trigger instead of the more usual tactical two stage; a heavy stainless steel, 18-inch match-grade barrel with 1-in-8-inch twist; a Wylde chamber and a free-floating handguard. The TBN rifles are National Match precise yet ready to use in the field. The M-15TBN sports an 18-inch barrel with a flash suppressor, a low profile gas block and Picatinny free-floated handguard.
I’d argue the M-15TBN, or something very similar, should be the form of the M16A5 as it is a compilation of the best AR-15 features. It has everything that made the AR-15 dominant in High Power competition and accurate to 600 yards coupled with an adjustable stock and a short enough barrel for fast handling characteristics without sacrificing ballistic performance, and The M-15TBN as M16A5 is good enough to supplant the M16A4 MWS, the M4 series and the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM-R), incorporating the best features of each in one package.
For those wanting a more substantial semi-automatic, ArmaLite’s AR-10 series fits the bill. The company has three new versions in the works in its “A” lines. AR-10A-series rifles are functionally identical to the AR-10Bs, however, the “A” family is designed to accept early ArmaLite SR25 or Magpul magazines instead of the proprietary steel magazines used in its “B” line. The AR-10B magazine is based on the M14 and was brought in during the Federal Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 through 2004, when new magazines (magazines that have capacity of over 10 rounds) couldn’t be legally produced. Differences between the two styles of magazines require different parts in the rifle, such as the bolt stop, magazine catch and upper and lower receivers. While the two magazines are not compatible, both have proven reliable and ArmaLite continues to make rifles based on them.
Three new AR-10A rifles include the A4CBA2F, A4CBFX and SCBF. The first model is the AR-10A A4 Carbine with an A2 front sight, which is a lightweight, semi-auto 7.62mm carbine. Sporting a 16-inch barrel with flash suppressor and a lightweight handguard, the rifle also features a Picatinny flattop on the receiver. Total weight is 7.8-9.1 pounds, almost the same as the military-issue 5.56mm M16A2, making for a light and handy .308.
“For those wanting a more substantial semi-automatic, ArmaLite’s AR-10 series fits the bill.”
The second model is the AR-10A Low Profile Carbine. Similar in dimensions and handling characteristics to the A4CBA2F, this model’s main difference is an addition of ArmaLite’s free-floating quad rail and adding Picatinny mount points, which brings the final weight to 8.8 pounds.
The last new AR-10A model is the AR-10A SuperSASS Carbine. Similar in dimensions to the Low Profile Carbine, the SuperSASS features accuracy-enhancing -features like a National Match barrel and trigger, making it a carbine version of the military-issue M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System.
ArmaLite has added a new line of M-15 law enforcement-only carbines. The LEC15A4CBK-series are M-15A4 carbines in 10.3- and 11.5-inch barrel lengths. All of the designs feature A2-type front sights, Picatinny receiver rails and lightweight handguards. Weighing in at 5.8 and 5.9 pounds, respectively, the 10.3-inch version collapses down to a 26.3-inch overall length. The primary advantage is the extremely lightweight designs and increased close-quarters handling qualities.
Also new to ArmaLite’s law enforcement line up is the LEC15A4CBK103X. The primary difference with this model is the lack of an A2-type front sight and the addition of a free-floating Picatinny quad rail. That puts this M-15A4 carbine at 6.5 pounds, 11 ounces more than the CBK carbine with the same length barrel.
For information on ArmaLite designs, visit armalite.com or call 800-336-0184.
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