Gunnery Network

Gun Glossary - Letter A
Index of Firearm & Gun Terminology

  1-10 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z 

Letter - A Page Updated: 18 November 2002

AAA: Acronym for Anti Aircraft Artillery, also known as "Triple A" and when the AAA is fired form a gun, often called "Ack Ack" or FLAK.

ABRAMS MAIN BATTLE TANK (MBT): Main Battle Tank used by the United States Military and some allies (in a special export variant). The Abrams M1 is a 60-ton armored vehicle that includes on a tracked (Caterpillar) chassis with a rotating turret encasing a crew compartment housing a 120mm smooth bore cannon. The M1A1 and newer M1A2 Abrams main battle tank is manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). The first M1 tank was produced in 1978, as the M1 and employed a 105mm rifled bore main gun. 

M1A1: The M1A1 was produced in 1985 and included many upgrades most prominent was the up gunned 125mm smooth bore cannon. This variant was followed by the upgraded M1A2 in 1986. 3,273 M1 tanks were produced for the US Army. 4,796 M1A1 tanks were built for the US Army, 221 for the US Marines and 555 co-produced with Egypt. Egypt has ordered a further 200 M1A1 tanks with production to continue to 2005. 77 M1A2 tanks have been built for the US Army, 315 for Saudi Arabia and 218 for Kuwait. 

M1A2 SYSTEM ENHANCEMENT PACKAGE (SEP): Upgrade Program, over 600 M1 Abrams tanks are being upgraded to M1A2 configuration. Deliveries of the M1A2 SEP began in 1998.

M1A2 - Building A Better Tank

In February 2001, GDLS were contracted to supply 240 M1A2 tanks with a system enhancement package (SEP) by 2004. The M1A2 SEP contains an embedded version of the US Army's Force XXI command and control architecture; new Raytheon Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) with second generation thermal imager; commander's display for digital color terrain maps; DRS Technologies second generation GEN II TIS thermal imaging gunner’s sight with increased range; driver's integrated display and thermal management system. The US Army planned to procure a total of 1150 M1A2 SEP tanks, however future Army budget plans suggest that funding may not be available after 2004.

Under the Firepower Enhancement Package (FEP), DRS Technologies has also been awarded a contract for the GEN II TIS to upgrade US Marine Corps M1A1 tanks. GEN II TIS is based on the 480 x 4 SADA (Standard Advanced Dewar Assembly) detector.


The main armament is the 120mm M256 smoothbore gun, developed by Rheinmetall GmbH of Germany. The 120mm gun fires the following ammunition: the M865 TPCSDS-T and M831 TP-T training rounds, the M8300 HEAT-MP-T and the M829 APFSDS-T which includes a depleted uranium penetrator. Textron Systems provides the Cadillac Gage gun turret drive stabilization system.

The commander has a 12.7mm Browning M2 machine gun and the loader has a 7.62mm M240 machine gun. A 7.62mm M240 machine gun is also mounted coaxially on the right hand side of the main armament.


One L8A1 six-barreled smoke grenade discharger is fitted on each side of the turret. A smoke screen can also be laid by an engine operated system.

The M1A1 tank incorporates steel encased depleted uranium armor. Armour bulkheads separate the crew compartment from the fuel tanks. The top panels of the tank are designed to blow outwards in the event of penetration by a HEAT projectile. The tank is protected against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare.


The commander's station is equipped with six periscopes, providing 360 degree view. The Raytheon Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) provides the commander with independent stabilized day and night vision with a 360 degree view, automatic sector scanning, automatic target cueing of the gunner's sight and back-up fire control.

The M1A2 Abrams tank has a two-axis Raytheon Gunner's Primary Sight- Line of Sight (GPS-LOS) which increases the first round hit probability by providing faster target acquisition and improved gun pointing. The Thermal Imaging System (TIS) has magnification x10 narrow field of view and x3 wide field of view. The thermal image is displayed in the eyepiece of the gunner's sight together with the range measurement from a laser rangefinder. The Northrop Grumman (formerly Litton) Laser Systems Eye safe Laser Rangefinder (ELRF) has a range accuracy to within 10m and target discrimination of 20m. The gunner also has a Kollmorgen Model 939 auxiliary sight with magnification x8 and field of view 8 degrees.

The digital fire control computer is supplied by Computing Devices Canada. The fire control computer automatically calculates the fire control solution based on: lead angle measurement; bend of the gun measured by the muzzle reference system; velocity measurement from a wind sensor on the roof of the turret; data from a pendulum static cant sensor located at the center of the turret roof. The operator manually inputs data on ammunition type, temperature, and barometric pressure.

The driver has either three observation periscopes or two periscopes on either side and a central image intensifying periscope for night vision. The periscopes provide 120 degrees field of view. The DRS Technologies Driver's Vision Enhancer (DVE), AN/VSS-5, is based on a 328 x 245 element uncooled infrared detector array, operating in the 7.5 to 13 micron waveband. A Raytheon Driver's Thermal Viewer, AN/VAS-3, is installed on the M1A2 Abrams tanks for Kuwait.


The M1 is equipped with a Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine. The Allison X-1100-3B transmission provides four forward and two reverse gears. The US Army has selected Honeywell International Engines and Systems and General Electric to develop a new LV100-5 gas turbine engine for the M1A2, in common with the Crusader self-propelled howitzer, as part of the Abrams/Crusader Common Engine Program. The new engine is lighter and smaller with rapid acceleration, quieter running and no visible exhaust.

AC-130:  A Lockheed C-130 Hercules variant configured as a gunship.  Also called "Spectre" and "Spooky".  For more information see "Gunship".

ACCOUTERMENT:  All equipment carried by a soldier on the outside of their uniform, such as buckles, belts, canteens and other uniform adornments not including weapons.

ACK ACK: Slang for Air Defense Artillery.  So named as the term sounds like the "ack ack" sound barking out from the World War II guns that fired in rapid succession. Around the world, guns are still an integral part of most air defense systems.

ACTION: 1. The combination of the receiver or frame and breech bolt together with the other parts of the mechanism by which a firearm is loaded, fired and unloaded.  2. The working mechanism of a firearm.  

Various types of ACTIONS exist, including single-shot, multi-barrel, hinged) action, revolvers, slide or pump-actions, lever-actions, bolt-actions, rotating actions, semi-automatics and automatics. For more information see the details on Firearm Actions below.

Firearm Actions

HANDGUN ACTIONS: The working mechanism of the handgun. The term action specifically refers to the "actions" the moving parts and the shooter take that are required to make a firearm function.  Thus "The Action" determines the process by which the handgun is cocked, fired, and reloaded.  Common handgun action types are: Single Action, Double Action and Double Action Only.  

Action: There are three general types of actions commonly used on handguns, each performing the two basic steps slightly differently.  Please note that most "Traditional Double Action Handguns are in fact Double Action / Single Action types, where the first shot is fired with the hammer or striker down and forward and the subsequent shots are fired with the hammer or striker back in the cocked position.  This action is more accurately referred to as DA/SA or Traditional Double Action.  The advantage to the follow on shots being made in Single Action is that the amount of pressure needed to release the action [ Fire the Gun - Pull the Trigger ] is reduced, since the guns action is already cocked and the action only needs to release the sear or engagement mechanism. 

Typical trigger pull weights for commercially available handguns is in the range of 8 to 12 pounds in Double Action and only 3 to 6 pounds in Single Action.  Current commercially available handgun actually have a heavier DA pull weight than the pistols made 20 years ago.  This is an attempt to lesson liability and to make the guns more "Lawyer Proof" and harder to fire with the hammer down.  A good gunsmith can lighten both the DA and the SA pull weight on most handguns.

Single Action - When the trigger is pulled on a single action handgun, it performs only Step 2 - release of the hammer from its cocked position. In single action handguns, the hammer must be cocked manually (Step 1).  The hammer can be cocked buy thumbing the hammer back on a loaded chamber or by cycling the slide / action to load a round in the chamber and to place the hammer in the cocked position.  The best example of a Single Action Handgun is the venerable Colt Model 1911 and it's many clones. Single Action is abbreviated SA.

Double Action - When the trigger is pulled on a double action handgun, both Steps 1 and 2 are performed. The hammer is cocked and then released by pulling the trigger. Since the process of cocking the hammer compresses the mainspring, the force that must be applied to the trigger of a double action handgun is greater than that of a single action gun. The hammer of a double action handgun, however, can be manually cocked.  Double Action is abbreviated DA.

Double Action Only - Double action-only handguns function essentially the same way as double action handguns, except it is not possible to manually cock the hammer. When the trigger is pulled to fire a round in a loaded chamber, the action cycles and the hammer is allowed to return to the down or uncocked position.  Some Police departments mandate this type of action to reduce negligent discharges and to attempt to make their department "Lawyer Proof".  In my opinion, this is a mistake, as the heavy trigger pull weight make precision shooting more difficult.  Safety and accuracy can only be increased with the proper training of good quality officers. 

Double Action Only is abbreviated DAO. Double Action/Single Action is abbreviated DA/SA.

       See details and definitions on specific types of handgun actions below.

SINGLE ACTION: A handgun working mechanism where pulling the trigger does only one action.  The single action releases the hammer or striker type firing pin to initiate discharge.  When applied to revolvers, the Single Action Revolver is a gun which must be manually cocked before firing each shot.  Examples of single action revolvers include the Colt "Peace Maker," and the Ruger "Black Hawk".  

In reference to semiautomatic pistols, "single action" means that the gun must be loaded and cocked, by retracting or pulling the slide to the rear and releasing it, before firing the first shot.  Or if a round is already chambered, the hammer must be manually cocked.  The discharge energy of the gun then re-cocks the hammer for each subsequent shot.  The Colt 1911 and Browning Hi Power are examples of single action pistols.  Abbreviated SA.

DOUBLE ACTION: A handgun working mechanism where pulling the trigger does two actions, action one retracts the hammer or striker and cocks the firearm and the second action releases the hammer or striker type firing pin to initiate discharge.  After the first shot the hammer stays cocked and the gun operates in Single Action.  Most modern semi-automatic handguns are "Double Action" or Double Action  - Single Action.   Specific examples of "DA / SA" pistols include the SIG P series, Walther handguns, and most of the Glock models.  Abbreviated DA and DA/SA.

DOUBLE ACTION ONLY: Double Action Only or DAO guns are those which are fired by using the trigger to first cock the hammer and then fire the firearm for each shot.  However unlike the DA/A above, in the DAO the hammer returns and rests forward, uncocked between shots.  The downside of a DAO pistol is the increased trigger pull required to fire not only the first shot, but all subsequent shots.  A heavy trigger pull, though it may increase safety, also increases the chance of a miss, because the shooter typically pulls off the target while pulling the heavy trigger.  

Many Law Enforcement Agencies specify DAO side arms for safety & liability, but that is what happen when lawyers choose duty guns in stead of professional gun men.  Most modern semi-automatic pistols are also available in the DAO configuration.  Abbreviated DAO.

The Action of a Handgun: In order to fire most handguns, two specific actions must take place. 

Step 1: The mainspring must be compressed to generate potential energy.  This is often done by cocking the hammer. On a semi-automatic pistol this is normally done by pulling the slide to the rear and releasing it. On a revolver it is done by manually pulling the hammer to the rear or by pulling the trigger.  Some handguns do not have hammers, others have internal hammers or the mainspring is directly connected to a spring-loaded striker.  In these "Striker Fired" models the striker can be part of the firing pin, or a separate device that strikes or hits the firing pin.  An example of a hammerless striker fired handgun is the Walther P99.

Step 2: The mainspring is released, normally by pulling the trigger, thus converting the stored potential energy to mechanical energy.  The mainspring releases the hammer or striker, which impacts the firing pin.  The firing pin is pushed forward hitting the primer or the rim of the cartridge which ignites and causes detonation of the charge.  Most handguns (revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, and Derringers)  perform these two steps in order to discharge the cartridge. The exception being the new family of electronically fired guns and a few exotics. The action of a handgun refers to the mechanism used to perform these steps.

Long Gun Actions

LONG GUN (RIFLE & SHOTGUN) ACTIONS: The working mechanism of the rifle or shotgun.  This "Action" determines the process by which the rifle or shotgun is cocked, fired, and reloaded.  Common types are; bolt action, lever action, slide or pump action.  See the definitions on specific types of rifle and shotgun actions below for more details.

ZM Weapons LR-300 - M16 Variant with Select Fire Automatic Action

AUTOMATIC:  A firearm that loads, fires, and ejects cartridges as long as the trigger is depressed and there are cartridges available in the feeding system (i.e. magazine or other such mechanism).  Automatic Rifles are also referred to as "Select Fire" Firearms, in that a selector switch is positioned to select Safe, Semi or Automatic modes of operation.  Automatic action firearms are classified as Machine Guns" by the BATF.  Note: Since National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) it has been unlawful to sell or possess an automatic firearm or machine gun without special permission and licensing from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, BATF in addition to other administrative measures.  It is also illegal to convert a semi-automatic firearm into a machine gun.

Semi-Automatic Action - Browning Automatic Rifle BAR II

SEMI-AUTOMATIC:  A firearm in which each pull of the trigger results in a complete firing cycle, from discharge through reloading. It is necessary that the trigger be released and pulled for each cycle. These firearms are also called "autoloaders" or "self-loaders." The discharge and chambering of a round is either blowback operated, recoil operated, or gas operated. Note: An automatic action firearm loads, discharges, and reloads as long as ammunition is available and the trigger is depressed. A semi-automatic firearm only discharges one cartridge with each squeeze of the trigger.  Often semi-automatics are referred to as "automatic".

Blaser Bolt Action Rifle

Bolt Action Blaser R93 Attaché Safari Classic

BOLT ACTION:  A firearm, typically a rifle, that is manually loaded, cocked, and unloaded by pulling a bolt mechanism up and back to eject a spent cartridge and load another.  Bolt action firearms are popular for hunting, target shooting, and biathlon events. A bolt action rifle allows the shooter maximum accuracy, but may be too slow or cumbersome for some shooting sports and are defiantly too slow for defensive or military usage.

Lever Action Rifle
The Winchester Model 94.  A common & very popular Lever Action Rifle.

LEVER ACTION:  A firearm, typically a rifle, that is loaded, cocked, and unloaded by an external lever, usually located below the receiver.  Lever action rifles are fast and handy and are well suited for guide work and can even be considered for defensive use, but are not as fast as a semi-automatic.  Note: Lever Actions are the type of rifle used in most Western movies.

The Benelli Nova.  A modern Pump or Slide Action Shotgun

PUMP ACTION:  A firearm that features a movable forearm or slide that is manually actuated to chamber a round, eject the spent casing, and put another round in the chamber to fire.  The technically correct term for a "Pump Action" firearm is actually "Slide Action" as indicated below.  Examples of the "Pump or Slide  Action" Rifles include the Marlin Model 94.  There are several examples of "Pump or Slide Action" shotguns including the Mossberg 500 series and the Remington 870 family.

SLIDE ACTION:  The technically correct name for a "Pump Action" firearm.  Some time during the 20th century the term "Pump" seemingly took over in common usage by the military, police and sportsmen to describe the "Slide Action".  Definition is the Same as Pump Action above.

A shooting sport in which the competitors attempt to hit a number of small paper and metallic targets of various shapes in the shortest possible time using a pistol drawn from a holster.  See IPSC.

ACCIDENT: An unexpected and undesirable event caused by circumstances beyond the control of the participant(s). The term Accidental Discharge or AD is often improperly used to describe a Negligent Discharge or ND.  There are practically no firearms related "accidents."  See Negligent Discharge.

ACCURACY: Term describing a firearm's ability to shoot consistently where aimed.  Accuracy  2:  In firearms using single projectiles, the measure of the dispersion of the group fired.  The optimum would be one hole no larger in diameter than a single projectile hitting at the point of aim.  In the United States, accuracy is typically measured in Minutes Of Angle or MOA at 100 yards.  Using this methodology and terminology, a 1 inch group fired at 100 yards would be referred to as 1 MOA.

Accuracy Diagnostic Check List: The best accuracy possible is everybody's goal. A standard 29-point diagnostic is the straightest line to that goal. Many times the diagnostic process itself drastically enhances accuracy.

Each diagnostic begins by first measuring all critical tolerances such as the bore diameter, groove diameter and throat diameter and length.  With the use of optical inspection equipment the condition of the bore’s surface is checked along with the condition of the barrels crown.  

Also important is the consistency of the bore diameter and consistency of the twist.  Chamber casting will open windows onto any flaws or irregularities in the chamber and throat.  After that the rifle is carefully disassembled.  As the rifle is disassembled one looks for anything that might impair accuracy, such as poorly tightened scope mount or guard screws or stress torque into an assembly.  

Vibrations are the result of a lack of rigidity or from stress resulting from the poor relationship of a rifle's different components or subassemblies. Through the use of dial indicators these problems can be identified and solutions can be recommended. Many times these problems are reduced or eliminated during proper reassembly.  Some problems are not as easy. Poor chamber work can be devastating to good accuracy. 

The best match grade barrel and pillar bedded stock will never yield good accuracy if your chamber has a crooked, or over size throat.  Each of the 29 points are checked or measured then given a grade of 1 to 5, 5 being perfect.  

The 29 Point Accuracy Check List

1. The crown

2. Magazine box position
3. Bolt handle binding on the stock or receiver
4. Scope tracking
5. Scope adjustment range
6. Quality and condition of scope mounts
7. Proper scope mount torque
8. Scope mount stress
9. Trigger guard screw torque
10. Trigger guard screw firmness
11. Action bedding flex & stress
12. Barrel channel, proper fit
13. Headspace
14. Chamber finish
15. Chamber concentricity
16. Neck diameter
17. Neck concentricity
18. Throat diameter 
19. Throat concentricity
20. Throat length
21. Throat erosion
22. Recoil lug engagement
23. Proper barrel twist rate 
24. Consistent twist rate
25. Proper groove diameter
26. Proper bore diameter
27. Consistent bore and groove diameter
28. Trigger pull, weight and creep
29. Effects from firing pin fall 

To improve the accuracy of a rifle or handgun, normally by mechanical improvements or adjustments.

A Kind of Short Course to "Accurize" an M1 Garand

Written by Chuck Pottsmith of the Garand Collectors Association

One of the easiest ideas to get an idea ignored is to preface it with the admission that the idea may not work all that great. But it's always kind of fun to try, so if what follows doesn't make a dramatic difference in your Garand's X-ring capability, at least the technique does not do the rifle any visible harm and it costs nothing. If this article is just reading material for you, than at least this is more fun than essays on all the ways the government can chop M1s or crooks assembling sniper fakes.

My assumed qualifications to go off on this accuracy thing from the short end are based on having used Army Marksmanship Unit and Springfield M1s issued as "national match grade" (NM) in two trips to Camp Perry, where I fed my issue Garand that beautiful M72 match grade GI boat tail ammo where the only excuse left was me. With lessons learned, I have "glass bedded" about seven of the rifles, which hardly qualifies me for hot shot armorer, but admittedly some of the rifles improved and at least consistency, a key buzz word, was predictable. My method can't do a thing for a shot out barrel or a "marksman" who shuts his eyes before he yanks the trigger. Take courage: the mysteries of glass bedding are spared here. The GCA's fine publication lists where to get that done.

Ml Garands are not born match rifles. They met a wartime standard that was more than the soldier really needed. The have remarkable triggers and sights, but they have a lot of stuff hanging on that skinny barrel. That's where you come in. Remove the barrel and receiver group from the butt stock, and take out the operating rod spring and its hooked follower rod. Right side up, you now have a "limp" assembly. Tilt the muzzle down 45 degrees and the weight of the rod should close the bolt. When the muzzle is up 45 degrees the rod should fully open and retract the bolt. This is the essential test for operating rod fit. If it binds someplace or tries to get out of track on the receiver's right side, you have a bummer that only a trained expert can correct by bending (scary to watch), so replace it or live with it until you can replace it. For now, remove the rod. Check next the middle band that's supposed to be pinned to the barrel. Many surplus rifles seem to lack this pin. If your rifle's pin is gone, make one that needs a light tap to seat. Having firmed that band, you should then check the fit of the lower hand guard between that band and the front receiver ring. If it seems very tight, relieve it. It's a frail piece of wood, especially some of the oriental wood replacements on imports. The easiest way to get it off the barrel is to remove the gas cylinder with lock and plug (a wooden or plastic-faced mallet helps get the cylinder moving). The upper hand guard should then slip off easily. That middle band is now free to slide ahead so removing the thin lower guard becomes much less risky (but be very careful). Using masking tape as a guide at the rear end, mark no more than the thickness of a dime for removal. No more! Sand lightly up to the tape mark, stop, and lightly dress the new sharp top edge with a touch of linseed oil before snapping the guard back. Return the band to fit the wood, re-pin the band, and reassemble the upper hand guard and gas cylinder, but not the cylinder lock or its plug. It's now time for a close look at how the gas cylinder hangs on the barrel.

The rear ring of the gas cylinder should surround but not touch the barrel. Fat chance. But you could get lucky and ready for a big leap forward, but let's say she doesn't. Opt for the ring touching the barrel on the lower side. The trick is to lightly peen the spline cuts in the barrel. These cuts are very soft. The top one contributes only overall firmness of fit, not angle, so leave it alone. The two side ones in the eight and four o'clock positions can influence the cylinder's angle of fit. Generally speaking, light peening of the cuts' upper edge to the front and lower edge to the rear will cause the gas cylinder to tilt slightly and bring the rear ring in contact with the underside of the barrel as desired. It might not make it, but not to worry. You have the opportunity, after a long hard look before reaching for the hammer and flat nosed punch, to get a better cylinder/barrel fit. Get a buddy to hold the barrel over a block of hardwood while you work your magic. Better not enough than too much. Let's move on.

Tap the upper hand guard until it contacts the middle band's groove. Actually, this is almost a drop-on fit. Drive your newly firmed fitted cylinder until it presses lightly on the hand guard's metal face. Screw on the gas cylinder lock so it contacts the forward face of the cylinder. Ideally the lock will stop at about eight o'clock, meaning it can be backed off a bit. Maybe and maybe not. The theory behind all this fitting of the stuff hanging on the barrel is that it's all going to get hot under fire. Everything expands, both wood and metal parts, and collectively they can create a shish kebab seated against the front receiver ring at the rear and the gas cylinder lock at the muzzle. What this can do to barrel harmonics at firing if binding tight or rattling loose can't be for the good. Admittedly, the most rattletrap Ml I ever saw at Perry was borrowed from the Marines by our Minnesota team captain, and she used it to complete her points at 600 yards to earn her Distinguished honors.

In the last consideration which involves the gas cylinder lock that seats at the eight o'clock position and then can be backed off, the intent is to create enough relief so there is little play between the upper hand guard and the rear ring of the cylinder. Better a little play than too much pressure. This completes the work on the barrel's burdens without invasive surgery or metal changes.

One last trick: how to gain some of the benefits of glass bedding without it. There are two ways of mounting match barrels. One is free floating and the other is controlled pressure, usually from underneath. Ml barrels can be put under pressure, but the fore stock pulls the barrel down instead--opposite the usual. So, put everything back together and study how the trigger guard locks the thing together. The better the wood the better this works, so if you're stuck with an oil-soaked, over-sanded original or some oriental timber, you can hope this works. Cut about a dozen thin metal shims 3/4" X 1/4". Loosen the trigger guard almost all the way, and start tucking these shims in equal numbers under the flats of the receiver that contact the top of the wood on either side and push the shims as far forward as possible. The stacked-up shims will raise the tail of the receiver off the wood so that closing the trigger guard will require some effort. Don't overdo it. When the rear of the receiver goes down to the wood, the barrel tries to rise at the connection of the middle band and the stock's front ferrule. Not much of a metal to metal connection, but enough to form downward pressure. After the shims compress into the wood over a period of time, adding a couple more may help.

The bottom line: skilled armorers probably will roll their eyes over this so-called accuracy approach, but the point is it does not destroy the value of a collectable Garand and may bring a mongrel into the poodle class on the firing line. This is for the guy who likes to enjoy the target, too. Common sense things like a rear sight tension that will hold elevation during recoil and good GI ammo or hand loads that avoid slow powders like 4350 or 4831 like poison will also help. M1s are mellow old relics of a rugged era. If the clips can bring $1.25 each, the rifle should have a future shooting won't hurt. Have fun.

Acronym for Advanced Combat Optical Gun sight.  ACOG's are internally  adjustable compact reflex or fixed power telescopic sights with tritium illuminated reticule patterns for use in low light or at night.   Many models feature bright daytime reticules using fiber optics which collect ambient light.  The ACOG's combine traditional, precise distance marksmanship with close-in aiming speed.  Although the ACOG's have many features which are advantageous for military use, they were developed by Trijicon without government funding.  Many ACOG's feature the Bindon Aiming Concept or BAC.  See BAC below.


ACOG Specifications

acog-trijicon.gif (13934 bytes)
Trijicon ACOG 4x32


acog.jpg (12367 bytes)
M16 Mounted ACOG


acog-ret.gif (43307 bytes)
ACOG Reticules Types in Triangle - Amber Dot and Crosshair
MOA = Minute of Angle = 1 inch at 100 yards

For information on the new Reflex II ACOG's see Reflex Sight.


Trijicon Incorporated
49385 Shafer Avenue
P.O. Box 930059
Wixom, Michigan 48393-0059

Tel 248-960-7700    Fax 248-960-7725

Web Site: http://www.Trijicon-Inc.com

Customer Service 1-800-338-0563

E-mail [email protected]

ACOG information and images courtesy of Trijicon, Inc.

ACP:  Designation for a cartridge originally designed for the Automatic Colt Pistol.  Today most commercially available .45 caliber ammunition is of this type.  The basic .32 caliber is also .32 ACP but as there are no other common sizes of .32 the ACP is normally not used. Usage, "I need a box of  .45 ACP."

ACTIVE SAFETY DEVICE:  An active safety device is one which requires the user to actively engage or  respond to the device for it to be effective.  There are various gradations to these types of devices, from those which are totally dependent on the user, such as trigger locks, to those which act automatically but require a user to respond to the device, such as loaded chamber indicators.

ADJUSTABLE CHOKE:  A device built into the muzzle of a shotgun to change the barrel from one type of choke to another.  See Choke.


AFIS:  Pronounced A Fizz - Abbreviation for Automated Fingerprint Information System.

AIMING AREA:  The center area of the target as against an aiming point on the target which is extremely difficult to attain due to the universal presence of movement in the shooter's hold.

AIR GUN: Not a firearm but a gun that uses compressed air or CO2 to propel a projectile. Examples: BB gun, pellet gun, CO2 gun.

AIRLINE REGULATIONS:  Federal Regulation restrict the ways one can travel by commercial airline with a firearm.  However, you can legally travel in the U.S. with an unloaded firearm locked in checked baggage.  You should contact the specific Airline for details. Some guidelines are below.

Minimum Requirements for Airline Transportation of Firearms:

  • You must declare the firearm and fill out some paperwork when you check in.

  • The firearm must be unloaded.

  • The firearm needs to be in a lockable container within the baggage.

  • The luggage needs to be lockable.

  • The ammo can not be in the same baggage as the firearm.

  • Ammunition must be in a locked checked bag.

For specific guidelines and regulations see:

Federal Aviation Administration - FAA regulations for commercial airliners transporting a passenger's firearms.

See Also

AK:  Abbreviation for Avtomat Kalashnikov.  From the Russian for Automatic Kalashnikov also called the Kalashnikov Avtomat.   Famous Assault rifle designed by (AK47)

ALTITUDE:  Distance or height above sea level (ASL), measured in feet or meters.  Variable used in reloading and to evaluate or predict load performance.

ALUMINUM CASE:  A cartridge casing made of aluminum.  The case holds the bullet, powder and primer and can be made from various metals.  Brass is the most common material used in ammunition cases, but aluminum is also popular.  Unlike brass cases, aluminum cases cannot be reloaded.

AMBUSH: A military combat mission or maneuver characterized by a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy.

AMMUNITION:  is generally referred to as a "cartridge" or a "round of ammunition". The commonly used term "bullet" actually refers to the projectile itself, and not the complete cartridge that is loaded into the firearm. A complete cartridge consists of four parts : the bullet, the case, the powder and the primer.  Ammunition 2.    Generally refers to the assembled components of complete cartridges or rounds i.e., a case or shell holding a primer, a charge of propellant (gunpowder) and a projectile (bullets in the case of handguns and rifles multiple pellets or single slugs in shotguns. Sometimes called "fixed ammunition" to differentiate from components inserted separately in muzzleloaders.  For specific Ammunition Specifications, see the detail blocks below.

Ammunition Specifications Tables

Factory Rifle Ammunition Specifications
- Muzzle Velocity indicated in Feet Per Second (fps) -
- Bullet Weights in Grains -

Rifle Cartridge
Bullet Weight   Bullet Type   Bullet
Barrel Length
.17 Rem. 25 HP Rem. 4040 24
.22 Hornet 45 PSP Rem., Win. 2690 24
.22 Hornet 46 HP Win. 2960 24
.222 Rem. 50 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3140 24
.222 Rem. 55 HP Rem. 3140 24
.222 Rem 55 FMJ Win., Fed. 3020 24
.223 Rem 53 HP Win. 3330 24
.223 Rem 55 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3240 24
.223 Rem 55 HP Rem., Fed. 3240 24
.22-250 55 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3680 24
.220 Swift 50 PSP Rem. 3780 24
.224 WBY Mag. 55 PSP WBY 3650 24
.243 Win. 80 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3350 24
.243 Win. 85 BTHP Fed. 3320 24
.243 Win. 100 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2960 24
6mm Rem. 80 PSP Rem., Win. 3470 24
6mm Rem. 100 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3100 24
6mm BR Rem. 100 PSP Rem. 2550 15
.25-20 Win. 86 SP Rem., Win. 1460 24
.250 Savage 100 ST, PSP Rem., Win. 2820 24
.257 Roberts 117 PSP Rem. 2650 24
.25-06 Rem. 100 PSP Rem. 3230 24
.25-06 Rem. 117 PSP Fed. 2990 24
.25-06 Rem. 120 PSP Rem., Win. 2990 24
.257 WBY Mag. 117 PSP WBY 3300 26
.270 Win. 100 PSP Win. 3340 24
.270 Win. 130 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3060 24
.270 Win. 150 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2850 24
.270 WBY Mag. 130 PSP WBY 3375 26
7mm BR Rem. 140 PSP Rem. 2215 15
7-30 Waters 120 BTSP Fed. 2700 24
7mm Mauser 140 PSP Rem., Fed. 2660 24
7mm-08 Rem. 140 PSP Rem. 2860 24
.280 Rem. 140 PSP Rem. 3000 24
.280 Rem. 150 PSP Rem., Fed. 2890 24
7mm Rem. Mag. 150 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3110 24
7mm Rem. Mag. 160 BTSP Fed. 2950 24
7mm Rem. Mag. 175 PSP Rem., Win. 2860 24
7mm WBY Mag. 175 PSP Rem. 2910 24
30 Carbine 110 SP Rem., Fed. 1990 20
.30-30 Win. 150 SP Rem., Win., Fed. 2390 24
.30-30 Win. 170 SP Rem., Win., Fed. 2200 24
.300 Savage 150 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2630 24
.308 Win. 150 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2820 24
.308 Win. 165 BTSP Fed. 2700 24
.308 Win. 180 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2620 24
.30-40 Krag 180 PSP Rem., Win. 2430 24
.30-06 Sprg. 125 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 3140 24
.30-06 Sprg. 150 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2910 24
.30-06 Sprg. 180 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2700 24
.30-06 Sprg. 220 SP Rem., Win., Fed. 2410 24
.300 H&H Mag 180 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2880 24
.300 Win. Mag. 150 PSP Rem., Win. 3290 24
.300 Win. Mag. 180 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2960 24
.300 WBY Mag. 180 PSP Rem. 3120 24
7.62x39mm 123 SP Win. 2365 20
.303 Brit. 180 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2460 24
.32-20 Win. 100 Lead Rem., Win. 1210 24
.32 Win. Sp. 170 SP Rem., Win., Fed. 2250 24
8mm Mauser 170 PSP Rem., Win., Fed. 2360 24
8mm Rem. Mag. 180 PSP Rem. 3080 24
.338 Win. Mag. 250 PSP Rem., Fed. 2780 24
.340 WBY Mag. 250 PSP WBY 2850 26
.348 Win. 200 ST Win. 2520 24
.35 Rem. 200 SP Win., Fed. 2080 24
.350 Rem. Mag. 200 PSP Rem. 2710 20
.358 Win. 200 ST Win. 2490 24
.35 Whelen 200 PSP Rem. 2675 24
.35 Whelen 250 PSP Rem. 2400 24
.375 Win. 250 PSP Win. 1900 24
.375 H&H Mag. 270 SP Rem., Win., Fed. 2690 24
.38-55 Win 255 SP Win. 1320 24
.38-40 Win. 180 SP Win. 1160 24
.416 Rem. Mag. 400 SP Rem. 2400 24
.416 Rigby 410 SP Fed. 2370 24
.44-40 Win. 200 SP Rem., Win. 1190 24
.444 Marlin 240 SP Rem. 2350 24
.45-70 Gov. 300 HP Win., Fed. 1880 24
.458 Win Mag. 500 FMJ Rem., Win., Fed. 2040 24
.460 WBY Mag. 500 FMJ WBY 2700 26

Ammunition Abbreviation Key

Brit.  British Mag Magnum
BTHP Boat Tail Hollow Point mm millimeter
BTSP Boat Tail Soft Point PSP Pointed Soft Point
Fed. Federal SP Soft Point
FMJ Full Metal Jacket Sprg. Springfield
H&H Holland & Holland SWC Semi Wad Cutter
HP Hollow Point Rem. Remington
JHP Jacketed Hollow Point WBY Weatherby
LWC Lead  Wad Cutter Win. Winchester
Factory Pistol Ammunition Specifications
Pistol Cartridge   Bullet Weight   Bullet Type   Manufacturer Velocity   Barrel Length  
221 Rem. Fireball 50 PSP Rem. 2650 102
25 Auto 50 FMJ Rem., Win., Fed. 760 2
30 Luger 93 FMJ Win. 1120 4.5
32 Auto 71 FMJ Rem., Win. 905 4
32 S&W 88 Lead Rem. 680 3
32 S&W Long 98 Lead Rem., Win., Fed. 705 4
32 H&R Mag. 85 JHP Fed. 1100 4.5
380 Auto 88 JHP Rem. 990 4
380 Auto 95 FMJ Rem., Win., Fed. 955 4
38 S&W 145 Lead Win. 685 4
9mm Luger 88 JHP Rem. 1500 4
9mm Luger 115 STHP Win. 1225 4
9mm Luger 124 JHP Fed. 1120 4
9mm Luger 147 STHP Win. 1010 4
38 Super 130 FMJ Win. 1215 5
38 Spec. +P 110 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 995 4
38 Spec. +P 125 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 945 4
38 Spec. 148 LWC Rem. 710 4
38 Spec. 158 LSWC Win., Fed. 755 4
38 Spec. +P 158 LSWC Rem., Win., Fed. 890 4
357 Mag. 110 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 1295 4
357 Mag. 125 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 1450 4
357 Mag. 140 JHP Rem. 1360 4
357 Mag. 158 JSP Rem., Win., Fed. 1235 4
357 Mag. 158 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 1235 4
40 S&W 155 JHP Rem., Fed. 1140 4
40 S&W 155 STHP Win. 1205 4
40 S&W 180 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 985 4
10mm Auto 155 JHP Fed. 1325 5
10mm Auto 175 STHP Win. 1290 5.5
10mm Auto 180 JHP Fed. 1030 5
10mm Auto 200 FMJ Rem. 1160 5
41 Rem. Mag. 170 JHP Rem. 1420 4
41 Rem. Mag. 210 JSP Rem., Win. 1300 4
44 S&W Spec. 246 LRN Rem., Win. 755 6
44 Rem. Mag 180 JHP Rem., Fed. 1610 4
44 Rem. Mag. 210 STHP Win. 1250 4
44 Rem. Mag. 240 JHP Rem., Win., Fed. 1180 4
45 Auto 185 JHP Rem. 1000 5
45 Auto 230 FMJ Rem., Win. 835 5
45 Colt 225 JHP Fed. 900 5.5
45 Colt 255 LRN Win. 860 5.5
45 Win. Mag. 230 FMJ Win. 1400 5
Rem.   Remington Fed.   Federal
Win.  Winchester WBY.  Weatherby
PSP  Pointed Soft Point FMJ   Full Metal Jacket
BTSP   Boat Tail Soft Point BTHP   Boat Tail Hollow Point
SP  Soft Point JHP   Jacketed Hollow Point
HP  Hollow Point LWC   Lead Wad Cutter
STHP  Silver Tip Hollow Point LSWC   Lead Semi Wad Cutter

  A quantity of cartridges made by one manufacturer under uniform conditions from the same materials. Ammunition within a lot is expected to perform in a uniform manner.

AMMUNITION LOT NUMBER:  Code number that identifies a particular quantity of ammunition from one manufacturer.  It is usually printed on the ammunition case and the individual boxes in which the ammunition comes.

ANIB: Firearms abbreviation for "As New In Box".  Used to refer to a firearm that is like new and still in the original box.

ANNEAL: The process of altering the structure of any metal so as to relieve its' working stresses and increase its' ductility.

ANNEALING: The process of making brass more malleable by controlled heating followed by rapid cooling.  Usually applied to the neck and shoulder area of cases which are to be reformed to a caliber or design different from the original  (makes them less prone to cracking during the reforming process ).  This should not be done to the head of the case, since reducing the strength of this part may result in failures.

ANTI-MATERIEL RIFLE:  A heavy caliber rifle intended for long range attack on vulnerable high technology targets such as communications centers, command vehicles, radar sets, parked aircraft or fuel storage containers.

ANVIL:  Internal metallic part of Boxer primer.  The anvil is raised in the center to form a cone, and has three legs which rest against the bottom of the primer pocket, spanning the flash hole.  It offers concentrated resistance to the firing pin as it dents the primer, crushing the priming compound between them, which is ignited by the resulting sharp friction.  The blow from the firing pin crushes the priming mixture against the anvil causing ignition of the primer and the gun powder in the case.  

APERTURE SIGHT: A rear sight assembly consisting of a hole or aperture located in an adjustable rear sight through which the front sight and target are aligned. 

aperature.gif (5877 bytes)
Aperture Sight

This type of rear sight used on rifles and shotguns that features a thick-rimmed aperture with a small opening mounted on the firearm's receiver.  It is used with a flat topped rifles and a blade front sight and provides a high degree of accuracy.  However, it is difficult to use in dim lighting conditions, especially if an extremely small opening "target" type aperture is used.  This type of sight is also know as a Peep Sight.

APERT'URE SIGHT: Alternate spelling of Aperture Sight.

ARM:  An abbreviation or slang of firearm.

ARMALITE:   American Firearms Manufacturer currently located in Geneseo Illinois.  ArmaLite manufacturers the AR-15, the AR-10 and the new AR-50 as well as many other firearms products. Like Colt and most other firearm manufacturers, ArmaLite has passed through a number of management and ownership phases.  For a detailed history of ArmaLite see the detail box below. 

Great American Gun Makers
Welcome to ArmaLite, Inc.
ArmaLite Incorporated - On the Web at http://www.armalite.com

ArmaLite History

Edition of April 23, 1999

© 1999 ArmaLite, Inc.®


1954-60 1961-83 1983-1987 1995-present Developments

Few firearm manufacturers have captured the imagination of American Shooters as thoroughly as ArmaLite. ArmaLite first rose to prominence during the late 1950s, with a series of innovative rifles that looked unlike any produced before. Although ArmaLite itself was unable to reap the full benefit of their work, the ArmaLite design team created innovative designs that still are setting the standard by which new models are evaluated.

There is great interest in the history of ArmaLite. This document is a team effort that summarizes ArmaLite’s origin in 1954, its corporate shifts and changes over the years, and the developments that have taken place over that period. It ends with the current status of the new company today, 45 years later. It is the official corporate history of ArmaLite.

This document was established in an ArmaLite letter dated March 1974, and subsequently updated in 1998 and 1999. It includes information taken from ArmaLite documents whenever possible. It remains a work in progress, with information, updates, and corrections continuing to arrive from ex-ArmaLite personnel. This document is the copyrighted property of ArmaLite, Inc. It is released for private, individual use. All rights are reserved.

Like Colt and most other firearm manufacturers, ArmaLite has passed through a number of management and ownership phases. Each will be discussed, with the participation of company officials of the time used where available.

Fairchild's Pegasus logo with crosshairs for ArmaLite... ArmaLite Division, Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation.
ArmaLite was first established as a Division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation on October 1, 1954. At least two years of privately funded development preceded the Fairchild supported program. The ArmaLite Division of Fairchild is the first phase of the company’s history.

There had been very little fundamental development in the small arms industry for over fifty years. Increasing military use of the machine gun and production of semiautomatic rifles were the main significant changes. No fundamental change in military rifle doctrine had been made since the latter half of the nineteenth century, and production materials and techniques were also largely unchanged. ArmaLite believed that a ready market existed for firearms of advanced design featuring lightweight, modern alloys and plastics and economical production procedures.

The initial plan was to produce fine sporting firearms for the commercial market. It was considered likely that in due time some of the concepts used in the commercial firearms would have acceptance by the military.

Shortly after Fairchild established the ArmaLite Division, ArmaLite was invited to submit a rifle to the U.S. Air Force as a replacement for the then-standard survival rifle. A few weeks after receiving information as to this requirement, ArmaLite submitted the AR-5, .22 Hornet Survival Rifle for Air Force evaluation. The AR-5 was adopted and designated the MA-1 Survival Rifle.

The initial success with the AR-5 led Fairchild to reverse the strategy of focusing on the commercial market first, then entering the military market. With the adoption of the AR-5 and with a quantity purchase seemingly assured, ArmaLite decided to defer entry into the commercial field until such time as their reputation and financial position were established as a result of military sales. For the next five years almost all ArmaLite activity was directed to the development of military firearms.

The concept of using the latest technical advances in plastics and alloys was the idea of George Sullivan, Chief Patent Counsel for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Sullivan had started work in his own garage shop after WWII. This work came to the attention of Fairchild in 1953 when Sullivan and Fairchild’s Corporate Secretary, Paul S. Cleaveland, discussed the principles at a meeting of an aircraft industry committee. Cleveland called attention of this work to Richard S. Boutelle, Fairchild’s president and a long-time gun enthusiast.

In 1954, Eugene Stoner, who served in the Marines during World War II and who was something of an ordnance expert, became Chief Engineer for ArmaLite. Stoner had been working on small arms independently since WWII. Stoner’s patents form the basis of much of ArmaLite’s work.

From the beginning, Charles Dorchester directed and coordinated all development programs, first as General Manager of the ArmaLite Division of Fairchild, later as President of ArmaLite, Inc., and still later as Chairman of the Board. The combined efforts of these three individuals from this point on resulted in revolutionary changes in combat weapon concepts.

ArmaLite’s initial project, begun even before Sullivan brought ArmaLite to Fairchild’s attention, was the AR-1 Para Sniper, a lightweight bolt action rifle started in 1952. The 1956 success of the later AR-5 caused ArmaLite to shift its attention to military designs.

The AR-10 became the main focus of attention beginning in 1955. At that time the Army was considering the Springfield Armory T-44 (an updated Garand) and the T-48, a version of the FN FAL, as replacements for the M1 Garand. ArmaLite hoped to present a rifle capable of displacing both models.

The AR-10 was stunningly different than any previous design. It was produced with aircraft grade aluminum receivers, and therefore weighed less than seven pounds. The lightweight material was possible because the bolt locked into a steel extension on the barrel, not into the receiver itself. The stock and other furniture were plastic, while the T-44 and T-48 were of wood. The configuration of the rifle itself, with its integral carrying handle and charging handle distinctively mounted within it, sparked intense curiosity.

In the end, the AR-10 wasn’t able to catch up; the T-44 was adopted as the M-14 rifle in 1959. The AR-10 fell victim to both its own weaknesses, (normal in early models of any product) prejudice within the Army Ordnance Corps, and the head start of the other rifles.

Based on what they saw in the AR-10, however, other Army officials asked ArmaLite to develop a smaller version of the AR-10 in 1956. The ensuing rifle was called the AR-15. Like the AR-10, it was a developmental model. Not only was it too late to be considered against the T-44 and T-48, it didn’t match the long-range marksmanship doctrine of the day.

The AR-10 was licensed to the Dutch Arsenal, Artillerie Inrichtingen, for sale on the international market. ArmaLite and its agents and assignees demonstrated the rifle around the world, but sales were limited. Even the Dutch failed to adopt the rifle built in their own arsenal. Despite the background Army interest in a smaller caliber rifle, ArmaLite licensed the designs and trademarks to the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt’s in January 1959. AR-10 licensed to Artillerie Inrichtingen

Early Colt AR-15s, their magazines, and their operators manuals were marked with ArmaLite’s name. Colt’s retained the AR-15 designation on commercial rifles. To this day Colt’s has a model designation with the letters AR, which stands for “ArmaLite”.

The mid to late 1950s was a period of intense development at ArmaLite. The engineering staff was especially strong, with Eugene Stoner, James Sullivan, and Robert Fremont present at the same time. Development of the AR-17 12 Gauge Shotgun was started in the mid-1950s. In 1959 ArmaLite developed the AR-7 .22 caliber survival rifle, which exploited some of the features of AR-5. The rifle entered Production for the commercial market. Small numbers were sold to various military forces for use as survival rifles.

In 1959 ArmaLite began developing the AR-16, a sheet metal version of the AR-10. Three specimens were produced. The adoption of the M-14 by the Army and ArmaLite’s focus on the AR-10 caused the AR-16 to be dropped.

The engineering team started to split up at the end of the decade. Fremont left for Colt in 1959. Sullivan left in 1960, and Stoner left in 1961 to serve as a consultant to Colt.  ArmaLite was late with the AR-10 and, in a way, early with the AR-15. With both models gone ArmaLite was in trouble. It’s only rifle in production was the .22 caliber AR-7. It wasn’t enough. The second phase of ArmaLite’s history therefore began in early 1961.

ArmaLite Incorporated.

In 1961 Fairchild was undergoing financial troubles, and the original principals of ArmaLite acquired ArmaLite from Fairchild, including rights and title to all ArmaLite designs except the AR-10 and AR-15, which had previously been licensed to Colt’s.

The organization continued from this time on as ArmaLite, Inc., with substantially the same nucleus of key personnel. From the latter part of 1962 until near the end of 1971 the major portion of the ArmaLite development programs were funded by Capital Southwest Corporation of Dallas, Texas. In November of 1971 Charles Dorchester, Chairman, and Richard Klotzly, President, acquired the majority common stock position in ArmaLite held by Capital Southwest Corporation.

It was obvious from Army purchases of the AR-15 that Fairchild had erred in selling the AR-15 in 1959. To recover from that error, ArmaLite set about to develop a new rifle that wouldn’t violate the Stoner gas system patents, which now belonged to Colt’s. The result was the AR-18, which began development in 1963. The combat effectiveness of the .223 caliber cartridge was now well proven. ArmaLite hoped to build a new rifle capable of displacing the AR-15 in the hands of the Army. The AR-18 combined the lessons of the AR-15 and the AR-16 in a rifle capable of competing for the many expected contracts for new rifles.

The AR-18 is best described as a sheet metal AR-15, with a different gas system. It was to prove the main focus of ArmaLite’s efforts for the next two decades.

ArmaLite arranged exhaustive tests by the H.P. White laboratory of Belair, Maryland, to verify their claims for the AR-18 with the hope of attaining DOD and State Department endorsement of the rifle toward filling the void existing for a modern combat rifle for friends and allies around the world.

The Army conducted tests of ten prototype rifles at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, and at Ft. Benning, Georgia, during 1964. The rifle was considered as “having military potential.” The Army requested an additional 29 rifles in1964 for further testing. These 29 rifles, with a detailed operator’s manual, were produced on a tool room basis in a four-month period in compliance with the government contract. The tests were conducted as part of the Army’s Small Arms Weapons System (SAWS) tests. Not surprisingly, the early rifles needed further development.

With the military market going nowhere fast, sales were shifted to the commercial market. A commercial, semiautomatic-only version of the AR-18 was produced as the AR-180.

In 1967 production of the AR-18 was started at the Howa Machinery Company of Nagoya, Japan. For Japanese political reasons the Howa rifles were allowed to be sold only to non-combatant nations, and even then only to non-Asian nations. During the Vietnam War, the AR-18 could not even be exported to the United States.

As a result of continued ArmaLite effort, the Army was directed to re-evaluate the AR-18 during at the end of 1969. It was too late. By the end of 1969 the Army had already standardized the M-16, and the AR-18 was unable to displace it. Further efforts focused on overseas and commercial domestic sales.

The AR-18 suffered similar results in the United Kingdom a well. The Ministry of Defense first evaluated the AR-18 in March 1966. It was found to be attractive in terms of its light weight and ease of manufacture. It suffered, in the eyes of the British, from lack of gas adjustment and the lack of a buffer system. Automatic accuracy was considered somewhat inferior, and it was considered unsatisfactory in mud and “drag sand” conditions. The rifle was modified with reinforcement of the hinge area of the lower receiver, addition of an ejection port cover and an improved muzzle brake/flash suppressor and re-tested in August of 1966. The strengthening was appreciated, but the sand and mud test results were largely unchanged, and the lack of a buffer continued to be criticized.

A Howa version was evaluated by MOD in January 1969. While it again failed the mud test, most criticism concerned minor physical characteristics that could be readily resolved.

In fairness to the AR-18, the MOD evaluations are somewhat suspect. The Royal Small Arms Factory could hardly be considered objective evaluators. The relationship between Sterling and RSAF was rocky at best, with RSAF benefiting from government preference and a willingness to appropriate the work of others. It’s especially interesting to note that the RSAF’s later 5.56mm rifle, the SA-80, (later adopted as the L85) was nothing more than a bull pup version of the AR-180. That rifle is now regarded as probably the worst of the recent military rifles. Lessons learned during evaluations of the AR-180 were ignored in the development of the L85, and ArmaLite’s knowledge of the mechanism wasn’t available.

Nonetheless, it was apparent that the AR-18 had not benefited from the intense field use, criticism, and rework that had been lavished on the AR-15. Major elements of its design have reappeared in several other rifles, but the AR-18 itself remains an unfinished work.

The Irish Republican Army illegally acquired a number of Howa AR-180s in the early 1970s, and in 1973 the Japanese government halted all exports of AR-18 and AR-180 rifles. Howa produced 3,927 AR-180s between October 1970 and February 1974.

In mid-1968 ArmaLite set up pilot production in its Costa Mesa plant. ArmaLite produced 1,171 AR-18s and 4,018 AR-180s at its Costa Mesa plant between July 1969 and June 1972. The Japanese government subsequently eased it restrictions and allowed the commercial, semi-automatic AR-180 to be exported to the U.S., and by the late 1970s U.S. production halted.

In order to concentrate full effort on the military sales program, ArmaLite elected to discontinue its other commercial firearm activities. In mid-1973 ArmaLite sold the AR-7 rifle to Charter Arms.

The Japanese restrictions on export of the AR-18 and AR 180 forced ArmaLite to move the production machinery to a new licensed producer. In 1974 Sterling Armament Company of Dagenham, England, was licensed to produce ArmaLite’s rifles. It took 15 months to complete setup and begin production. ArmaLite imported the Sterling rifles into the U.S., and Sterling and ArmaLite both tried to market the rifles around the world. Sterling manufactured 12,362 AR-180s between the 1975 and 1983, when ArmaLite and Sterling were both sold. 10,946 AR-180s were exported to the United States.

The AR-18 was highly regarded, but didn’t find the favor that it could have. Even as ArmaLite marketed the new small caliber rifle, FN and HK were selling more traditional 7.62mm rifles around the world. Colt was selling AR-15s. The AR-18 remained somewhat prone to breakage, and never enjoyed the success ArmaLite expected.

The AR-18, however, has proven to be another seminal weapon from ArmaLite. A number of later rifles, including the problem-plagued L85 (UK), the more reputable SA-80 (Singapore) and the new G-35 (Germany) were derived from the AR-18.

With the floundering of the AR-18, ArmaLite’s owners elected to sell the company. In 1983 ArmaLite was sold to Elisco Tool Manufacturing Company, of the Philippines.

ArmaLite Division of Elisco Tool

The short-lived third phase of ArmaLite’s history began with Elisco Tool Manufacturing’s 1983 purchase of ArmaLite. The new ArmaLite operation was headed by an Englishman hired to serve as interim President, Mr. Bruce Swain. Mr. John Ugarte later replaced Swain. ArmaLite continued to market existing rifles and parts manufactured by Sterling under the leadership of the new vice-president of Marketing, Mr. Joe Armstrong.

Elisco Tool had successfully produced the M16A1 for the Philippine armed forces and police. Difficulties with Colt over M16 licensing prompted Elisco to seek another 5.56mm rifle, and the AR-18 was the only real contender.

Inventory, tooling, and machinery were therefore dispatched from Sterling’s plant to the Philippines. The process fell apart not in the U.S. market, but due to political events in the Philippines themselves. In short, Ferdinand Marcos was overturned and went into exile. The political and economic links of the government were dramatically shifted, and Elisco was unable to carry out the AR-18 production. The U.S. arm of the operation was closed in 1987.

Eagle Arms ArmaLite Incorporated II
Independent of ArmaLite, Karl Lewis and Jim Glazier formed a company named Eagle Arms in Coal Valley Illinois in 1986.

Lewis had manufactured a wide variety of both commercial and military parts for M-16 rifles, and Eagle Arms assumed the increasingly distracting retail business from Lewis’ company, Lewis Machine and Tool (LMT). Eagle Arms initially marketed M16 and AR-15 type rifle parts. The early Stoner patents had expired, and Eagle was able to build both parts and complete rifles. In 1989 Eagle commenced production of complete rifles, with LMT serving as the major supplier.

In January 1994 Mr. Mark Westrom purchased the company. Westrom was a former Army Ordnance Officer and a civilian employee of the Weapons Systems Management Directorate of the Army’s Armament Materiel and Chemical Command (AMCCOM) at nearby Rock Island Arsenal.

After the purchase, he continued producing Eagle Arms EA-15 rifles. Plans were made to add a line of telescopic sights to the product line. Westrom’s background in military Service Rifle competition produced a focus on high grade target rifles even before the AR-15/M-16 rifles came to dominate American Service Rifle competition in the mid-90s.

In November 1994 Westrom decided to initiate the design of a .308 caliber AR-10 type rifle, to be called the “M-10” in line with Eagle’s production of .223 caliber “M-15” rifles. Work on the project began in November 1994. The bulk of the engineering work was contracted out to LMT, with an experienced Quality Assurance expert, Mr. David Dorbeck, doing the bulk of the work.

By coincidence, the president of the company manufacturing telescopic sights for Eagle, Dr. John Williams, had worked for ArmaLite in his youth. He introduced Westrom to the former Production Manager for ArmaLite, Mr. John McGerty. McGerty led Westrom to John Ugarte, the most recent President of ArmaLite.

ArmaLite Ugarte had retained rights to the ArmaLite trademark. In early 1995 Westrom purchased those rights, and production of ArmaLite rifles resumed in Illinois. The corporation was reorganized as ArmaLite, with Eagle Arms converted to a division of ArmaLite. First shipments of new ArmaLite rifles began in 1995.

With the reorganization as ArmaLite, the M-10 rifle was renamed. ArmaLite/Fairchild had already used the AR-10 designation with its 1950s era .308, and had developed the AR-10a as an improvement on it. The planned M-10 rifle series was designated the AR-10B series, and deliveries commenced in January 1996.

The AR-10B rifle was developed using unusual reliance on computer design and simulation. In fact, the rifle was never prototyped. Individual sub-components were tested on a special lower receiver made of two slabs of aluminum fitted to an SR-25 upper receiver assembly. The full prototype AR-10B was the first rifle off the production line.

This approach was risky, but required by the limitations on cash at that time. It proved stunningly successful. Results from the prototype and the first production rifles disclosed that the only error was in not installing a firing pin retarding spring. The spring was planned early in the development, but left out of the final design because there seemed to be no need for it. Subsequent problems with the surplus ammunition used by some customers required manufacture of the spring. Fortunately, space for the spring was built into the Bolt Carrier, and it was quickly dispatched to the field and the production line. Subsequent adjustments to dimensions and tolerances of the AR-10B have been minor.

In late 1997 ArmaLite began development of a new rifle, the AR-50 .50 caliber rifle. Chambered for the Browning Machine Gun cartridge. this innovative single-shot rifle was designed strictly for the commercial market. It was introduced to the industry at the 1999 SHOT Show, and is in production at the time of this writing. The AR-50 is an innovative single shot rifle conceived by Mark Westrom and the design team of George and Paul Reynolds.

George Reynolds also brought two new projects of his own to ArmaLite in 1997: a Blank Firing System and Sub-Caliber Device for the Mk 19 Mod 4 Grenade Machine Gun. These projects have been designated the AR-22 and AR-23.

ArmaLite continues to produce firearms and design new ones. It has shipped far more .223 caliber rifles than ArmaLite did during its first through third phases. It has shipped more AR-10s than ArmaLite/Fairchild and Artillerie Inrichtingen combined. There are more active development projects in process today than any time since 1961.

Throughout the past 45 years, ArmaLite’s durability has been based on one core theme: the innovation present in its firearms. That theme continues to serve both as the basis of ArmaLite’s corporate strategy, and as a challenging image to maintain.


The following firearms were developed or produced by ArmaLite. Other AR family firearms were designed by Eugene Stoner but not developed by ArmaLite, and aren’t listed.

AR-1 (1954 and before)

Mark Westrom's ArmaLite AR-1

“Parasniper” rifle, using either military or sporting calibers, including 7.62 NATO. The Para Sniper is a very high quality, lightweight bolt action rifle designed as a fine sporting rifle or for special military sniping operations.

The AR-1 began life at ArmaLite’s first location in Hollywood, California. It broke new ground by using foam filled fiberglass stock (in brown) and an anodized aluminum barrel with a thin steel liner. A variety of 
receivers were to be used, with a Remington action common. The rifle with scope weighs a modest 6 pounds. Very few AR-1s were made.

AR-5 (1954-55)

Bolt Action ArmaLite AR-5 in .22 hornet

A bolt action, four shot magazine, .22 Hornet survival rifle adopted by the Air Force in 1956. It weighed a mere 2 ¾ pounds.

It distinguishing characteristic was the ability to detach the barrel from the action, and the action from the stock, and place both within the stock. With the butt cap replaced, the rifle would float. The government specification for the MA-1 called for a second, .22 long rifle barrel to be attached outside the stock.

After adopting the AR-5 as the MA-1, the Air Force failed to follow through with a purchase. The main effect of the AR-5 was to whet ArmaLite’s appetite for government business. It led to development of the AR-7.

AR-7 (1959-60)

Semi-automatic ArmaLite AR-7 in .22 rimfire

The AR-7 Explorer was the first commercial item to be put into production by the ArmaLite Division of Fairchild.

This rifle is the civilian version of the Air Force adopted AR-5 Survival Rifle. The AR-7 fires the popular .22 long rifle rim fire cartridge. The rifle disassembles without the use of tools and stows inside its plastic butt stock. The AR-7 weighs as little as 2 ¾ pounds and will float in water, either assembled or in the stowed configuration. The action is semi-automatic and is fed from an eight-round magazine.

It has been in intermittent production since.  ArmaLite reintroduced it in early 1998.

AR-10 (1955-56)

ArmaLite AR-10 (1955-1956)

Basic infantry rifle, caliber 7.62mm NATO. The AR-10 was conceived by Eugene Stoner, and was tested by US. Ordnance as early as 1956 at Springfield Armory. It was licensed to Artillerie Inrichtingen in Holland in 1957, and with the AR-15 was licensed to Colt’s Patent Firearms Company in 1959.

The AR-10 combined a number of previous features with a new gas system patented by Stoner. In the Stoner system, gas ported off the barrel travels down a tube back into the upper receiver, and into the bolt carrier. It enters an expansion chamber, where it expands and drives the carrier to the rear. The rearward movement of the carrier transferred by a cam pin riding in a curved path and engaging the bolt, forces the bolt to rotate to unlock.

(Common reports that the Stoner system is copied from the Swedish Ljungman system are incorrect: the Ljungman system has a tube carrying gas ported off the barrel, but the tube simply directs the gas into a cavity in the top of the carrier to blow the carrier to the rear.)

The AR-10 was later improved with lessons learned from the early AR-15s. The new model was designated the AR-10A. It was produced in prototype form only.

The AR-10 was intended to compete with Springfield’s M-14 rifle and FN’s FAL. It was, unfortunately, a bit too late. Although it showed great promise during tests, it required a bit of further development. It was too late.

The major effect of the AR-10 was to lead to Army interest in a similar rifle of smaller caliber. That rifle became the AR-15.

AR-10B (1994-96)

AR-10B series (AR-10A2)

An update of the AR-10 placed in production in 1996.

The AR-10 was fielded in very small numbers: less than 6,000. Despite the small numbers, the fame of the rifle grew to take the rifle to cult status. It was, after all, the more powerful and rare precursor to the AR-15. Civilian shooters took great pains to recover used AR-10s from the surplus market and convert them to civilian rifles by means of new, semi-automatic only receivers.

The popularity of the AR-10 rifle led Knight’s Manufacturing and, later, ArmaLite to return it to production. Knight entered the market first with an AR-10 derivative called the SR-25.

The SR-25 combined features of the AR-10 with as many parts of the AR-15 as could be used. The ArmaLite AR-10B was then patterned on the SR-25 rifle. To improve function, the ArmaLite AR-10B employs far fewer parts from the M-15/M-16 rifles than the SR-25, and uses a modified version of the proven M-14 rifle magazine.

AR-15 (1956-1959)

ArmaLite 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.

The Army also ordered 85,000 rifles in 1963. An additional 35,000 were ordered in 1964, 100,000 in 1965, and 100,000 in 1966. These rifles were initially issued primarily to combat troops in the Dominican Republic and to Special Forces, Airborne, helicopter crews, Air Commando and other special category troops in Vietnam. The M-16 was type classified standard A in 1965 and became the military’s basic service rifle.

AR-16 (1959-60)

ArmaLite AR-16 with side folding stock

The folding stock equipped AR-16 is a basic infantry rifle of 7.62mm NATO caliber and capable of launching rifle grenades "without modifications or attachments" to the rifle. 

The primary reason for the development of the AR-16 was to produce a weapon with the performance capabilities of the AR-10/AR-15 series, but at a greatly reduced production cost.

Another consideration was to make a rifle less difficult to produce in countries without advanced technological resources.

Although the AR-16 didn’t enter production, elements of its design influenced the 1995 design of the AR-10B.

AR-17 (1956-62)

ArmaLite AR-17 (1956-1962)

The AR-17 is an innovative semi-automatic shotgun featuring a hard-anodized aluminum receiver and barrel and a brown wood grain plastic stock. The barrel was equipped with replaceable chokes. The AR-17 was called the “Golden Gun” due to the color of the aluminum components.

Two thousand sets of parts for the AR-17 were produced, but only 1,200 guns were sold. 

The AR-17 never met commercial success; it was semi-automatic, but held only two shots. It was lightweight, but was marketed to trap and skeet shooters, who normally fire many shots per day.

AR-18 (1963-65)

ArmaLite AR18 (1963-65)

Just as the AR-16 is basically a sheet metal version of the AR-10, the AR-18 is a sheet metal version of the AR-15.

The AR-18 was an effort to correct the 1959 mistake of selling the AR-15 to Colt’s. As the AR-15 became successful, ArmaLite needed a rifle that could compete in the same market.

The AR-18 is a .223 caliber, gas operated, 6.9 pound rifle equipped with a folding stock. It is capable of both full and semi-automatic fire.

The AR-18 uses steel stampings instead of alloy forgings, this simplifying manufacture and greatly reducing production costs. The main functional differences include the use of a Tokarev style sliding gas cylinder under the hand guards that avoided violating the Stoner gas system patent that was sold to Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company. The new system had the advantage of keeping powder residue out of the action. The second difference was the use of dual operating springs on rods in the upper receiver, which allowed the stock to fold to the side.

AR-20 (under development)

AR-22 (1998-present)

The AR-22 is a Blank Firing Device for the Mk 19 Mod 4 40mm Grenade Machine-gun, and is designed for training or testing the Mk 19. It employs the standard 7.62mm NATO Blank.

View the AR-22 in ACTION!


click thumbnail photos for full-size

The AR-22 was conceived by CW4 John Miller, and designed by George Reynolds. Reynolds brought it to ArmaLite when he began work on the ArmaLite AR-50 rifle (see below).


AR-23 (1998-present)

The AR-23 is a Sub-Caliber Training Device for the Mk 19 Mod 4 Grenade Machine-gun.  It will employ a special tracer cartridge designed to follow the same ballistic arc of the 40mm grenade.  

The AR-23 was conceived by CW4 John Miller, and designed by George Reynolds. Like the AR-22, Reynolds brought it to ArmaLite when he began work on the ArmaLite AR-50 rifle (see below).

AR-30 (under development)

ArmaLite AR-30

The AR-30 is a unique rifle sharing many of the technical features of the ArmaLite AR-50 .50 caliber rifle.  The rifles are based on an aluminum stock that merges a machine rest with a rifle stock for stunning stability.  It is intended for high-accuracy use such as varmint hunting, advanced target shooting, and law enforcement.

The machine rest elements consist of an octagonal receiver, a matching V-shaped channel in the stock, and a recoil wedge.  Conventional action screws draw the action down into the stock, and the recoil wedge forces the recoil lug into intimate contact with the stock.  No hand fitting or bedding compounds are required, and the action can be removed and re-installed without significant loss of zero.  It is immune to changes in temperature or humidity.

Two versions of the AR-30 are under development: a conventional turn bolt action, and a fast straight-pull action.   The receivers are equipped with special mounting slots in addition to conventional threaded holes.  The slots mate with ArmaLite’s special sight bases in a way that removes all recoil loads from the scope mount screws.  The AR-30 will be available with optional integral bases.

A later, larger version of the AR-30 will be built to handle calibers up to .338 Lapua. 

AR-50 (1998-99)

ArmaLite AR-50

ArmaLite’s normal pattern of sequential designation of models was altered for the AR-50. The model reflects the rifle’s caliber. It is chambered for the .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun cartridge, and is capable of being built to accept the more powerful Russian 12.7mm cartridge. It features a unique stock made largely of aluminum. The forend, in particular, is interesting. It is extruded with a V cross section that mates with an octagonal receiver. This allows precise, repeatable bedding with no hand labor. The butt stock includes a vertically adjustable butt pad and adjustable cheek rest.

The initial AR-50 departs from ArmaLite’s normal trend towards lightweight rifles: it weighs 41 pounds. It is intended for the commercial market, where the weight adds comfort when firing the powerful cartridge. Shorter and lighter versions are in development.


ArmaLite has a number of models in development or under consideration. They will be announced as soon as practical.


As noted above, this is a document in transition.  ArmaLite is seeking additions or corrections to this record, and is focusing especially hard on participation by previous ArmaLite employees. If you have information to add, historical documents, photographs, or hardware, please contact ArmaLite at:

ArmaLite, Inc.
PO Box 299
Geneseo IL 61254

Email: [email protected]


Edition of April 23, 1999

© 1999 ArmaLite, Inc.®

ArmaLite Incorporated - On the Web at http://www.armalite.com


ARMOR: A protective coating or shield used in combat.   2. A defensive covering for the body as in Body Armor.  See Bullet Proof Vest.

ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION: By federal definition, "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium. Such term does not include shotgun shot required by game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Secretary finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device."

- Armor Piercing Ammunition 2: Ammunition utilizing a projectile specifically designed to penetrate hardened, or armor-plated targets such as tanks, trucks, and other vehicles. Depending on the definition used for "armored" any small arms ammunition could be considered armor piercing. As an example, a target designed to resist pistol fire can be penetrated by rifle ammunition, or a target designed to resist rifle fire can be penetrated by a light cannon. Thus the term "bullet proof" is improper and the term "bullet resistant" should be used.

ARMOUR: Alternate spelling for Armor.  British English.

ARMORER: One that repairs, assembles and test firearms.  2. One that makes arms or armor.

ARMOURER:  Alternate spelling of Armorer.  British English.

ARMORY: A place where arms and are military equipment are stored.  2. A place where arms are manufactured as in Springfield Armory.


A.R.M.S. MOUNT: Atlantic Research Marketing Systems, Inc. - Manufacturers of the Finest Mounting Hardware in Service Throughout The Free World.   A.R.M.S. has the mounts that everyone tries to imitate, but are never able to duplicate.  The reason is that A.R.M.S. products have set the standards for interchangeability, accuracy and reliability.  A.R.M.S., Inc. specializes in advancing the capabilities of small arms weapons in function, reliability and accuracy. A.R.M.S., Inc. has mounting systems available for the M16 - AR15, M16A3 Flat Top Receiver, M4, M21/14, and many more. A.R.M.S. has mounts, rings, and adapters to accommodate Day  Optics, Night Vision, and Lasers.  http://www.armsmounts.com

ARSENAL:  A manufacturing or storage facility for arms and ammunition.  Government facility where firearms and ammunition are stored, repaired, or manufactured.   Best known in the United States for their development work are Frankford Arsenal, Picatinny Arsenal and Watertown Arsenal.  Also a term applied to the collection of firearms owned by an individual or a group.

ARTILLERY: A term now applied to heavy firearms, as distinguished from SMALL ARMS. It came into use in the mid-14th cent. with the introduction in Europe of GUN POWDER, which had been discovered many centuries earlier in China. First employed mainly against fortifications, artillery was increasingly used in the field from the early 17th cent. It was characteristically smooth-bore and muzzle-loaded, firing solid, round shot, until the late 19th cent., when breech-loaded, rifled, and shell-firing artillery became standard. Modern artillery includes a variety of long-range guns that fire their shells with rapid muzzle-velocity in a low arc; howitzers, which fire on a high trajectory at relatively nearby targets; antiaircraft guns, which fire rapidly and at high angles; armor-piercing antitank guns; and many field-artillery pieces and small tactical rockets used in support of infantry and other ground operations. Mobility has become a key factor in the usefulness of heavy firearms, most of which now either are self-propelled or can be towed.

ASSAULT RIFLE:  By U.S. Army definition, a select-fire rifle chambered for a cartridge of intermediate power.  When applied to any semi-automatic firearm regardless of its cosmetic similarity to a true assault rifle, the term is incorrect.  Real "Assault Rifles" as defined by the Department of Defense are Select-Fire Machine Guns.  The term has been stolen by Anti-Gun advocates to increase fear of legal firearms and to promote an anti-gun agenda. Modern military assault rifles are typified by the Soviet AK 74, the Heckler & Koch G36 and the U.S. Army M-16.  Modern assault rifles are chambered for an intermediate cartridge, have barrels under 20 inches, make extensive use of plastics, synthetics and stampings for light weight and ruggedness. Most modern military assault rifles use gas operation with a locked breech, fire from a closed bolt and have magazine capacities of 30 to 50 rounds with weights from five (5) to ten (10) pounds and are relatively light weight and compact.

ASSAULT WEAPON: Any weapon used in an assault (see Weapon).


"The banned rifles differ from non-banned ones only in small decorative details: decorations like a folding stock, a bayonet mount, or a flash suppressor. Otherwise, the banned 'assault weapons' are ordinary rifles. They are not automatic military weapons."

by Clyde H. Spencer

Historically, the military has defined assault rifles as firearms used in teams to 'assault' a defended position. They have universally been capable of fully-automatic firing, selective firing of bursts of two or three rounds, and single shots.

Commonly, they have used cartridges of moderate size so that the individual soldier could carry more ammunition than was typical during the First World War or Second World War. Another consideration was that if an enemy were killed, only one soldier was put out of commission. If an enemy were wounded, then three or more were put out of commission as the wounded person was cared for. So, full-metal jacket bullets with moderate kinetic energy (except notably the US M-16) are typical of a true assault weapon designed to wound instead of to kill.

A muzzle-brake to reduce recoil and upward barrel movement (especially in full-automatic mode) is typical. Usually, the muzzle-brake also incidentally served to reduce the flash during night firing. However, a device that functions only as a flash suppressor would disperse the incandescent gases uniformly, unlike a muzzle brake.

Other accouterments that the military finds necessary, such as a lug for mounting a bayonet or attaching a grenade launcher, are typical of most military weapons, not just assault rifles. However, it would be ludicrous to attempt to use a bayonet on many of the smaller assault pistols.

Variations on the basic design may include the use of a folding stock for paratroopers or tank personnel.

One of the first true "assault rifles" was the Russian AK-47, first made in 1947. Although, one might consider the US M-1 Carbine (WWII) a prototype assault rifle because of its size, caliber, and magazine capacity.

It should be no great surprise that when society requires large numbers of young men to learn to use (and consequently come to respect) modern firearms in defending the interests of their country, they often want to own something similar to what they used in the military. Money-making movies like Rambo also glorify the use of modern firearms and create consumer demand.

However, since the possession of automatic weapons has been strictly regulated and taxed by the federal government for decades, and outright banned by some states such as California, the firearms industry has reacted in a good capitalistic way by providing firearms that appear similar to the true assault rifles and pistols used by the military.

Some military look-alikes make fine hunting guns. Many of the qualities required of a firearm under combat conditions translate well to hunting conditions. For example, one wants a rifle that will function reliably whether it is hot, snowing, raining, or it has just been dropped in the mud. It must maintain its point of impact despite harsh treatment, and if hunting in heavy brush, a short-barreled rifle is easier to point quickly. The gas-actuated semiautomatic action, along with the common muzzle brake, reduces the punishing recoil considerably, making it more useable for older men, and women and men of small stature. The typically smaller caliber (than what was used in trench warfare) can be quite effective on animals such as deer with the proper choice of bullet weight and construction. One of the most popular deer rifles for decades has been a lever-action 30-30 carbine. Contrary to popular belief, the AK-47 has ballistics almost identical to it.

Some people just enjoy 'plinking' or target practice with weapons they have used in the military or have seen their movie heroes use. Surely people who do not have a criminal record should be trusted to use their firearms responsibly. To not do so is a loss of freedom-of-choice through prior restraint.

There never was any compelling evidence that the so-called (and then as yet legally undefined) 'assault weapons' were any particular problem other than in some extraordinary instances such as the Stockton school yard shootings. In fact, a study done by the California Department of Justice was suppressed until after the passage of the original assault weapons law because it did not support the extravagant claims made by those pushing for the law.

The California legislature decided to legally define an "assault weapon" in 1989 as something different from the military usage. They selected a group of military firearms look-alikes that had many of the above mentioned military features, which were difficult to politically defend for any socially redeeming purpose, except perhaps self-defense. Some of the military look-alike rifles that were used more commonly for hunting and competitive shooting events were purposely excluded. The courts have repeatedly opined that the original law was ill-conceived and poorly written though.

A decade later, as the proportion of young males who commit most crimes of violence declined along with the homicide rate, some legislators and a governor who campaigned on a non-issue, decided it was time to correct some flaws in the original poorly written, unconstitutional law.

The author of the recently passed California law (SB 23), Don Perata, has zealously pursued the eradication of so-called assault weapons for over a decade. When he was an Alameda County supervisor, he used his office and staff to distribute Handgun Control Incorporated (HCI) literature in support of the then pending state assault weapons law. This was discovered accidentally by myself and independently confirmed by a friend, Leroy Pyle. Perata can not even make the claim that he didn't know what he was doing was illegal, because he and his secretary went to the extent of lying to a Channel 7 reporter when she called to verify my revelation. So what kind of a man (who used to be a teacher) would knowingly break the law to promote his personal crusade? Should we be concerned that a man who has little respect for the law should be in the position of writing laws? At the very least, it appears he is the kind of a man who believes the end justifies the means, and acts accordingly.

With little of the preliminary notoriety that accompanied the passage of the first law, SB 23 was recently quietly passed. Governor Davis, however, used the opportunity of the signing into law of SB 23 on July 19th, 1999, to let the public know he had kept his campaign promise of "getting assault weapons off the streets." The law has been promoted as closing the loopholes in the original law. The media has dutifully been reporting it as such. However, I suspect that none of the reporters have read the law, of if they did, did not understand it.

What the law has potentially accomplished is to add to the list of originally banned firearms, firearms that have been manufactured with different names and features -- commonly called copycat weapons. I say "potentially," because all one has to do is remove the feature(s) from the firearm that were used to broaden the definition. The law has also potentially added the rifles that were originally specifically excluded. Again, at the cost of reducing their value and perhaps affecting their utility as hunting or competitive target rifles, one can avoid having the firearm registered as an 'assault weapon' by removing the largely cosmetic features used to newly define an assault weapon.

Therefore, what Senator Perata, Governor Davis, and their supporters in the legislature have really accomplished is a de facto banning of the cosmetic features such as a "conspicuously protruding" (undefined) pistol grip, a flash suppressor (undefined), and a grenade or flare launcher (usually a separate device attached to the bayonet lug). 

It is clear that we don't elect our best and brightest to public office. Maybe this is what the electorate really wants. Really bright people with that much power would be dangerous. As Mark Twain observed, no one is safe while the legislature is in session. In any event, for those with only a casual or passing interest in the subject, it would appear that our 'leaders' have made the state safer for everyone, and guaranteed their re-election.

However, it seems unlikely that any gang member who owns a firearm with any of the features newly defining it as an assault weapon will be overly concerned about violating the registration when he may well use it to kill someone. There may even be some cachet in retaining the banned features. In any event, with or without the military-like cosmetic features, it is still a firearm with all the attendant dangers and potential for improper use.

What the legislature has accomplished though, is to create ill will among those, like myself, who will be inconvenienced by this miscarriage of the legislation process. They will keep the courts busy for years dealing with questions of prior restraint, taking of property, infringement of Second Amendment rights, whether a muzzle brake is a "flash suppressor," whether a folding bipod is a "second handgrip," and what "conspicuously protruding" means. (While May West might have provided some insight on that last topic, it would have no legal standing.) If there is an adjustable butt plate to accommodate shooters with different length arms, is it a telescoping stock? These are all questions that beg to be answered since the legislature did not address them.

People will find themselves arrested because they will unknowingly violate the law when they otherwise legitimately use firearms they have owned and used for years. Bench-rest target shooters and varmint hunters using thumbhole stocks on semiautomatic actions should be particularly upset with this new law.

We have been saddled with yet another ill-conceived, ineffective law by zealots who think with their hormones instead of their heads. It is poorly crafted legislation addressing a relatively minor social problem.

In summary, I would define a civilian assault weapon as anything that is used to assault another human being. That could be a baseball bat (currently in favor among gangs), an automobile, a kitchen knife, or a zip gun. What it looks like is not important. What is important is how it is used. We have had laws dating to biblical times prohibiting murder and robbery. We need the courage to enforce the fundamental laws against harming another human being and not try to sidestep the problem with laws of prohibition of objects. They just create additional problems and create a new class of criminal.  

Copyright © 1999 Clyde H. Spencer



ASSEMBLY AREA:  The designated zone in the rear of the firing line, approximately 25 yards, where the next relay of competitors can complete their preparations for the match and receive instruction and advice from their coach or team captain.

AT4: The AT4 is a recoilless, preloaded disposable Anti Tank (AT) weapon with a reliable and safe firing mechanism and its safety catch and trigger placed for quick and easy operation. It's also ruggedized, maintenance free, has a very long shelf life and can be used in urban warfare, in any terrain or climatic conditions without losing its effectiveness.

AT4 CS (CONFINED SPACE): The AT4 CS is an anti-armor weapon that has special internal ballistics, allowing it to be fired from confined spaces; tight jungle, in front of obstacles or even with own troops in close vicinity. It has also a high hit probability out to 300 m. Both these features make it the only anti-armor weapon in the world that can be used to full potential in urban combat or in confined space. 

The AT4 CS HP is preloaded with a specially developed HP (high penetration) warhead. This gives the system an armor penetration capability vastly exceeding 500 mm and the ability to defeat most types of armored targets on the battlefield.

ATF: Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau, also know as the BATF or Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.   The ATF is the primary federal enforcement agency for alcohol tobacco and firearm products.  Their official mandate is stated "ATF is a law enforcement organization within the United States Department of the Treasury with a unique combination of responsibilities dedicated to reducing violent crime, collecting revenue, and protecting the public."  For more details see the ATF info block below.

ATF Responsibilities

As suggested by its name, and unlike such agencies as the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, the ATF over the years has been assigned a variety of responsibilities that are not always obviously connected. 

The relative lack of focus is reflected in the agency's grandly amorphous mission statement: "ATF is a law enforcement organization within the United States Department of the Treasury with a unique combination of responsibilities dedicated to reducing violent crime, collecting revenue, and protecting the public." 

To deal with these vast challenges the ATF has set up a multitude of specialized programs. Among them are the following: 

Four special ATF Arson and Explosives Task Forces offer communities specialized assistance in the wake of serious incidents. 

The agency's Achilles program attempts to identify and remove "the most dangerous, armed career criminal and drug traffickers from our communities." 

A Criminal Firearms Trafficking Program aims at identifying and prosecuting those individuals around the country who are illegally supplying firearms to violent criminals. 

A National Tracing Center assists state and local agencies by tracking the movement of firearms. 

The Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) seeks to identify and investigate "the illegal sales of guns to youth / juveniles and to shut down traffickers" in 27 cities. 

The goal of a program called G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) is to "decrease gang activity by teaching special courses" to fourth and seventh graders. 

The ATF's Firearms Licensing Program joins with state and local authorities to ensure that the 104,855 federal firearms licensees operate in compliance with all laws. 

Yet another program protects consumers by preventing false or misleading claims on alcohol beverage labels and identifying and correcting situations where explosives are improperly stored. 

In addition, of course, the ATF is responsible for the fair and effective collection of federal taxes levied on alcohol and tobacco products. 

Given the small size of the ATF, only 3,988 employees in 1998, and the vast size of the United States, the goal of reducing violent crime and protecting the public against other unnamed dangers and regulating the tobacco and alcohol industries is exceedingly ambitious. A summary of possibly relevant incidents on the ATF Web Site suggests just how thinly the agency is stretching in providing useful assistance in just one of the above programs. From 1991 to 1995, the agency reported, there were 8,582 bombings and 2,506 incendiary bombings in the U.S. 

History of the ATF

In its present configuration, the ATF is only 27 years old. In a functional way, however, some of the agency's official responsibilities can be traced back more than 200 years. 

The agency's duties to collect alcohol and tobacco taxes, for example, go back to the Revenue Act of 1789. During the Civil War the revenue realized from excise taxes imposed on alcoholic beverages was a significant source of income for the vast federal war effort. 

Another major milestone in the organization's long history was America's post World War One attempt to drastically reduce the consumption of alcohol. Under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in early 1919, an ATF predecessor agency played a major role in the federal campaign to eliminate the commercial sale of beer, wine and whiskey.  Prohibition, however, was extraordinarily controversial and came to an end with the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. 

One of the unfortunate consequences of Prohibition was the development of a number of violent gangs that served up illegal booze to all the Americans who desired it. The turf wars of these gangs was a major factor making the homicide rates of the early 1930s among the highest in the nation's history. (Some experts believe that the crack cocaine gangs of the 1980s made the same contribution to that era's high murder rates.) 

In both periods, one result was the passage by Congress of a long series of gun laws beginning with the National Firearms Act of 1934 and continuing through the so-called Brady law of 1993 and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  Long a division of the Internal Revenue Service, the ATF became an independent agency within the Treasury on July 1, 1972. 

While ATF agents have won high plaudits for their work in the 1993 terrorist bombing of the New York Trade Center and the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the agency also has been involved in situations that resulted in negative coverage by the media and sharp criticism from the courts and several Congressional committees. These situations included a raid on a religious cult in Waco, Texas, a botched attempt to arrest a part-time illegal gun dealer in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the disclosure in 1996 that for a number of years a handful of ATF agents had taken part in an informal gathering of federal enforcement agents called the Good Old Boys Roundups. 

All three situations are credited with contributing to a growing feeling of distrust about the government by some Americans, particularly in the western states. 

The ATF is online at URL: http://atf.treas.gov

ATTACK: A military combat mission or maneuver characterized by offensive action using unit or personnel movement supported by fire.  

Examples of Military Attacks are:

-  Hasty Attack:  An offensive operation for which a unit has not made extensive preparations.  It is conducted with the resources immediately available in order to maintain momentum or to take advantage of the enemy situation.

  -  Deliberate Attack:  An attack planned and carefully coordinated with all concerned elements based on thorough reconnaissance, evaluation of all available intelligence and relative combat strength, analysis of various courses of action, and other factors affecting the situation.  It is generally conducted against a well organized defense when a hasty attack is not possible or has been conducted and fails.

-  Spoiling Attack:  A limited objective attack made to delay, disrupt, or destroy the enemy's capability to launch an attack.

AUG: Abbreviation for "Armee Universal Gewehre" or Universal Army Rifle from the German.  The AUG model STG77 is made by Steyr Mannlicher and is a space-age assault rifle with many appealing features.  Based on the "Bull Pup" design, the AUG is chambered for the 5.56 NATO cartridge.  The term "Auggie Doggy" is affectionately used for the AUG Bull Pup, but this Bull Pup is certainly no dog.  The Steyr AUG STG77 is one of the worlds great guns.  For more information on the Steyr AUG see the detail block below.

Great Guns of the World

Steyr AUG Model STG 77 - 5.56 NATO

Steyr AUG "Bull Pup" Model STG77

Technical Data

Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehre)
Country of Origin: Austria
Manufacturer: Steyr Mannlicher of Austria
Steyr Daimler Puch of America
Caliber: 5.56 mm NATO - .223 Remington
9mm variant & conversion kit available
Barrel Length: 508mm 
20 inches
Barrel Twist: Right-hand twist of one turn in 9 inches
Chamber & Bore: Hammer Forged - Chrome Plated
Overall Length: 790mm 
31 inches
Height: 275mm 
11 inches
Without Magazine
7.9 pounds
Weight of Empty
0.3 pounds

Quality, Accuracy, Dependability, Versatility

Just a few reasons why the Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehre) family of weapons are perfectly suited to the special weapons needs of today's military, special operations & law enforcement community. The Steyr AUG weapon system is an example of modern manufacturing technology, the use of state-of-the-art materials, and forward thinking design innovations. Since the time of its introduction, the Steyr AUG has been the answer to a need for a modern, ergonomic, durable and accurate combat rifle. First fielded with the Austrian Army, the AUG in its various forms has been adopted by over 18 countries for use in their militaries and special forces units. Additionally the AUG has seen use in countless numbers of law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Steyr AUG Family

Steyr AUG Family

Short Overall Length

The Steyr AUG is designed on a "Bull Pup " principal which makes it 25% shorter than other rifles with similar barrel lengths without compromising ballistic performance. The Bull pup design does away with the folding stock feature found on many weapon types, allowing the AUG to be instantly available for accurate shoulder firing. A shorter overall length means unmatched maneuverability which gives the user faster target engagement and allows the AUG to be easily maneuvered through small spaces such as a patrol car, SWAT vehicles, and APC's. Additionally the shorter overall length gives the user a decisive advantage when close quarter environments are encountered. The Bull pup design also allows a longer barrel length thus enhancing accuracy and increasing the terminal velocities of the ammunition. Therefore the AUG has an advantage over conventional weapons which depend on a shorter barrel to decrease the overall length of the weapon.

Integral Optical Sight

The Steyr AUG comes standard with a 1.5x optical sight which is built-in to the receiver and is fully protected from damage by the aluminum receiver housing. Additionally, the optic is sealed in its housing and is waterproof to a depth of 30 feet. The optical sight housing also acts as a carrying handle for the weapon. The use of the optical sight has been proven to increase hit probability and decrease target acquisition time (spotting and identifying the target) and engagement time (the decision to fire and put a round on target). Target acquisition and engagement time with the AUG optical sight has been estimated at 1.5 seconds (where only two points are aligned) versus the conventional open sight at 3 seconds (where three points must be aligned). Target acquisition time is decreased by one-half which means the user is faster and therefore has a decisive advantage in the field. In low light or night environments optical sights have proven far better than conventional sights, and target acquisition is possible for the AUG long after the ability to use a conventional open sight has passed. The 1.5x magnification of the AUG optical sight allows the user to fire the weapon with both eyes open eliminating the worry of losing peripheral vision and developing "tunnel vision" while sighting through the optic. Additionally, the optical sight on the AUG decreases training time for the user - thus greatly reducing ammunition and training costs.

AUG Major Component Groups

Ergonomic Design

When the Steyr AUG was designed, special attention was paid to the shape of the weapon and how it would interact with the human user. The end result is a perfectly balanced and human engineered weapon. The AUG's center of balance is directly centered at the pistol grip allowing it to be operated with one hand if necessary as opposed to other weapon types which tend to be front heavy and cumbersome. Additionally, the safety mechanism is operated by the thumb and index finger and is fully ambidextrous, allowing it to be manipulated at will. This gives the AUG an advantage, as the safety may always be in the "on" position; at the moment the user has acquired a target and is ready to fire, the safety can be deactivated, the weapon fired, and the safety reactivated without any noticeable loss in target engagement time. The left handed person was also kept in mind, as the AUG can easily be adapted in seconds for left handed users with the installation of a left hand bolt assembly. The user does not have to think about looking for a fire selector on the AUG. Modes of fire are selected by the AUG's two stage trigger, short pulls of the trigger provide single shots and a long pull to the rear provides full auto or burst fire. Additionally the AUG selective fire rifles can be equipped to fire semi-auto only by the installation of a semi-auto hammer group.


The Steyr AUG has been designed to be the most durable and dependable weapon available today. More than 23 components of the AUG system including the stock, magazine and hammer mechanism are made of high-impact, extremely-rigid, synthetic material . These parts are friction resistant and need no lubrication to operate, giving them a very long life cycle. The receiver is made of a precision cast and machined high strength alloy which is corrosion resistant and easy to maintain. This receiver encloses a cold hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel with a minimum service life of 15,000 rounds. The AUG is easily disassembled to major components without tools, and most parts require no fitting. This decreases basic maintenance cost, as armory training is very simple.


The AUG weapon system is completely modular. All components, including barrels, receivers, and spare parts are completely interchangeable from weapon to weapon. This is an advantage, as with the addition of special equipment and accessories, a single AUG can be tailored to suit a wide variety of operational requirements. Using a "building block" principal, the user can configure the AUG in any of its various forms.

The Steyr AUG, An Obvious Choice

No other weapon system available offers quality, dependability, versatility, firepower, accuracy and ergonomic design in a package as compact as that of the AUG.  These advantages of the Steyr AUG render it the obvious choice of Military, Special Operations and Law Enforcement professionals.


Information Courtesy of:

Steyr Mannlicher AG & Co KG
P.O. Box: 1000
Mannlicherstraße 1
A-4400 Steyr
Tel: (+43 7252) 896 - 0
Fax: (+43 7252) 786 21
Email: [email protected]

WWW: http://www.steyr-mannlicher.com

AUTO: Slang for automatic or more likely semi-automatic firearm.

AUTO LOADING:  See semi-automatic.

AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT INFORMATION SYSTEM: Often referred to as A`Fis - AFIS is a new fingerprinting system that use an electro-optical scanner to take digitized images of a persons fingerprints.  The system is also capable of sharing the fingerprint information with a national network and doing matches and searches with specific criteria.  Many departments have recently switched to this system and many states now require this system of fingerprinting for application for a Concealed Carry or Federal Firearms License.

AUTOMATIC: A firearm designed to feed cartridges, fire them, eject their empty cases and repeat this cycle as long as the trigger is depressed and cartridges remain in the feed system. Examples: machine guns, submachine guns, selective-fire rifles, including true assault rifles.  This term is also commonly used for Semi-Automatic Pistols [see below] and Rifles in lea of the term  

- Fully Automatic.  A "Fully Automatic" firearm is capable of firing multiple rounds of ammunition with a single pull of the trigger. The speed at which it can fire is known as its cyclic rate. As an example, the Colt M16 rifle used by the armed forces has a cyclic rate of 600 rounds per minute. While that may sound like a lot, you must keep in mind that the firearm can only hold a limited number of rounds. At 600 rounds per minute, an M16 with a typical 30-round magazine fired in full-auto mode will be out of ammunition in 3 seconds. Full-Auto fire is generally considered inaccurate and is used primarily for suppressive purposes (i.e. to keep opponents hiding behind cover rather than as effective fires). In untrained hands, this phenomena is even more pronounced. The concept that a fully-automatic firearm will instantly transform someone into a formidable opponent is highly over-rated due to Hollywood fiction. This fact was recognized by U.S. Armed Forces personnel who now place greater emphasis on "trigger control" and aimed, precision fire. The most modern variant of the U.S. Army M16 has a 3-shot burst where only three rounds are fired with the single pull of the trigger. The  possession, use, and transportation of automatic firearms have been tightly controlled under federal law since 1934. See NFA 34.

AUTOMATIC COLT PISTOL (ACP):  Pistol and Sub-Machine Gun cartridge designation for the M1911 Colt Pistol.  Abbreviated ACP as in .45 ACP.

AUTOMATIC PISTOL: A term used often to describe what is actually a semi-automatic pistol. It is, technically, a misnomer but a near-century of use has legitimized it, and its use confuses only the novice.

AVTOMAT KALASHNIKOV (AK):  From the Russian for Automatic Kalashnikov also called the Kalashnikov Avtomat.   Famous Assault rifles designed by Kalashnikov including the AK-47, AK-74 and others. Kalashnikov rifles are used world wide in the millions and were exported and manufactured in great numbers by the former Warsaw pact countries.


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