It all began in 1954: ArmaLite was established as a division of Fairchild Engine & Airplane and shortly thereafter submitted, upon invitation, to the U.S. Air Force its proposed design for a new survival rifle. That was the AR-5, and it was later adopted and designated the MA-1 Survival Rifle. From then on, the company has developed and improved an array of AR-type weapons.
Today ArmaLite is best known for its AR-15-style rifles and AR-10s, but the company also offers an excellent line of AR-30 and AR-50 sniper rifles.
M15A4 6.8 SPC
If you are ready to add a 6.8 SPC AR to your collection, then ArmaLite’s new M15A4 model will be good news to you. Perhaps you’re a law enforcement officer who knows that a .223 caliber rifle is a good weapon but has its limitations. The LE community has learned the hard way that reliably defeating barriers like auto windshield glass requires more energy and bullet mass than the 5.56mm NATO cartridge offers. (The special operations community also has its reasons for upgrading to a larger caliber rifle.) Answering that call is ArmaLite’s M15A4 carbine chambered in 6.8 SPC, a good alternative for a duty carbine. Built on the same platform as the tactical ArmaLite M15A4 carbine, the 6.8 SPC model wrings out the highest performance possible from this cartridge. The carbine’s chamber has a Spec II instead of the SAAMI spec configuration. Also, ArmaLite didn’t just pick a standard mil-spec barrel for the 6.8 SPC gun. The 16-inch barrel is made of MIL-B-11595E chrome-moly-vanadium, has been double-lapped its entire length and features a 1-in-11-inch twist rate, which is ideal for 110- to 115-grain bullets. It also incorporates an M203 step-down for its external dimension and measures 0.75 inches at the journal under the gas block. The muzzle is threaded at 5/8×24 and capped with an A2-style flash suppressor.
The M15A4 6.8 SPC’s upper and lower receivers get their strength from forged 7075-T6 aluminum alloy. The upper receiver is a flattop style with a Mil-Std-1913 rail sporting laser-engraved numbering. Nestled within the receiver is a tactical two-stage trigger. The let-off on the first stage measures 3.5 pounds, and the second stage breaks at 5.5 pounds. A six-position, collapsible buttstock adjusts the length of pull from 10.4 inches to 13.7 inches. The front gas block is an integral sight base configured with a Picatinny rail.
M15 SPR Mod 1
MID CAR 7.62x39mm
ArmaLite has chambered its legendary M15 for the 7.62x39mm. ArmaLite’s SPR Mod 1 started as a 5.56mm carbine built around a revolutionary one-piece upper receiver/rail system with exclusive detachable side and bottom rails. Going a step further is the SPR Mod 1 MID CAR 7.62x39mm, which has all the flexibility of the Mod 1’s one-piece upper receiver/rail system in a chambering that’s sure to please enthusiasts of the 7.62x39mm.
ArmaLite’s mid-length handguard and gas-tube technology provide an optimal gas pulse to power the 16-inch system—reliability is never an issue. The barrel is tipped with an A2-style flash suppressor, which is mounted via the most widely used 5/8×24-threaded attachment for .30 caliber suppressors. The barrel measures 16 inches, is rifled with a 1-in-10-inch, right-hand twist and has been lapped twice, which helps smooth out machining tool marks. The barrel is made from extra-hard, MIL-B-11595E chrome-moly-vanadium, which is then chrome-lined. The barrel has an M203 step-down external contour and is manganese phosphated to withstand the rigors of mil-spec salt-fog test protocols.
Responding closely to consumer demand, ArmaLite chose to mount a gas block on the barrel that incorporates a Picatinny rail top section. This is a versatile option for front sight mounting and obviates the need for the A2-style front sight/gas block.
The SPR Mod 1’s upper receiver is a monolithic top rail and handguard. This forged flattop receiver continues from the charging handle to just behind the carbine-length gas block, which basically gives you an 8-inch handguard. The continuous top rail spans a full 14.75 inches, and its T-marks are laser-engraved. Side and bottom rail sections give you 8.37 inches of space to mount accessories. In between rail sections are two rows of elongated vents to help dissipate barrel heat. The vents do an adequate job of allowing air to circulate to cool the barrel, but the handguard on the model I tested did not have any heatshields. Heatshields or not, I had to don a left-hand glove to hold the handguard after a couple of quick magazine dumps. A vertical foregrip would be an advised accessory.
Just like the upper receiver, the lower receiver is forged 7075-T6 aluminum that is milled to its final dimensions. The lower receiver extension has a six-position, M4 style, mil-spec, adjustable buttstock. The A2 pistol grip is mil-spec too. The charging handle is ArmaLite’s standard fare, and the weapon’s tactical two-stage trigger represents an upgrade from mil-spec. The first-stage take-up requires 3.5 pounds of pull, with an additional 2.31 pounds required to break the sear. The trigger pull is consistent, smooth on the take-up of the first stage, and relatively crisp on the second stage. Few factory ARs meet my standards for acceptable trigger pull—this Mod 1 did. The extent of my inveterate tinkering would stop with a dab of grease on the trigger sear and disconnector. The trigger’s that good. And the price you pay for a monolithic top rail is small in terms of weight, which totals 7.2 pounds.
ArmaLite has just finished a limited run of AR-10A4s, and like all SASS, it features a match-grade barrel and a National Match trigger to produce a heavy hitter with supreme accuracy. The AR-10A SuperSASS represents a cooperative effort with RSR Group, one of the top firearms distributors in the U.S. Back in the late 1950s, it was a cruel twist of fate that kept the AR-10 from becoming the main U.S. battle rifle. Eugene Stoner had developed the 7.62mm NATO AR-10 for ArmaLite, but the weapon didn’t compete as well in the military trials because the U.S. Army already had too much invested in the T44, the prototype for the M14. Today’s ArmaLite AR-10A SuperSASS has come full circle to the AR-10’s original intent, as envisioned by ArmaLite/Fairchild more than 50 years ago.
From buttplate to muzzle, the SuperSASS is outfitted with the Magpul PRS stock. The weapon’s length of pull is 14.5 inches. The upper receiver is forged 7175-T74 aluminum with a flattop Picatinny rail, the lower receiver is 7175-T73 forged aluminum, and both receivers are hardcoat anodized. The fire control group has a two-stage National Match trigger. The 20-inch barrel is AISI 416R stainless steel threaded at 5/8×24. For more information, visit armalite.com or call 800-336-0184.
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