*The Infamous AR7*
Ah, enter the AR7, the original brain child of the great Eugene Stoner, designed and produced in 1958....We have all probably heard of it, the little black rifle that disassembles and fits into its' own stock that floats, .22 long rifle semi auto.....Ah the memories, 20 years ago I was a poor starving College student and used part of my GSL to buy a Charter Arms AR7. I was beginning to get serious about survivalism and this was my first really "big" purchase. I look back on this time in my life as fond memories and that crummy little Charter Arms AR7 was a part of it......Really cool little rifle I thought. Bought some .22's, went out in the woods, loaded it.....Bang, jam, bang, jam, bang, bang, jam, jam, bang, jam.
And so it went, disappointed I asked around and received many answers, "Total piece of junk" was typical. The "sights" consisted of a cheap flat stamped out piece of sheet metal in the rear and a pot metal blade on the front, when it did shoot it did not hit where aimed. The barrel appeared to be warped slightly and if you held it next to your eye outward you would swear it was . I mounted a scope on it, purchased a 30 round magazine for it, polished the internal parts and had it working good sometimes but adding a scope ruined the original purpose of the take down little carbine. I fought the Charter Arms offering for about a year then bought a Ruger 10/22, that was 19 years ago...
Years later, when my firearms collection began to grow, I read an article in the July 1999 American Survival Guide,. I was assembling a "BOB" and thought this carbine might be worth another try as it was now made by Henry....The article described in detail how to solve the jamming problem and the author could get 3/4" .groups at 25 yards with it. I ordered one and discovered it only weighed 2 1/2 pounds and now incorporated a copolymer barrel with a steel insert that was a straight as a new Easton arrow. I was amazed how light this was...Please note the size of the AR7 as compared to a Colt AR15 Target Sporter in the photograph below.
Henry now calls itself "Survival Arms" which seems appropriate. The original AR7 concept was to issue aircrewman a light weight workable carbine of small caliber to use if stranded (Shot-down) on foreign soil. Armalite made the original model but the civilian version was named the "Explorer" and they are now a semi-collectors item. I spotted a pristine model at a local gun show last year and the dealer ask for and received $250.00 for it! The Armalite had a reputation for a good working firearm and the company made a tidy profit from brisk sales....Somewhere along the trail Charter Arms acquired the AR7 and produced a pistol version and did a poor job in manufacturing and quality control. Survival Arms is a much better version but still had the feeding problem, which luckily is fairly easy to fix. Choat used to make a "peep" sight for the rear, I still had one from my Charter Arms and it fit on the Survival Arms AR7, it is a vast improvement over the stock offerings. The Henry AR7 incorporates an extra well in the stock to accommodate and extra magazine, which is included, another improvement over Armilite and Charter Arms.
The feed problem encountered is an easy fix and I probably could have done it on the Charter Arms crummy AR7. The chamber needs a very slight chamfer on the receiving end so the bullet does not hang up while being fed from the magazine on the sharp corner. I used a .30 FMJ bullet dipped in lapping compound and slowly and gently twisted it on the chamber, slowly and a little at a time. I would work the chamfer job then reassemble the rifle and go in the back and test fire a full magazine, 8 rounds, in my fire barrel. I repeated this process until the rifle did not jam any more EXTREME care must be taken not to chamfer too much, you will wreck the accuracy if you do. It works now and never jams and the accuracy was not effected. I use CCI mini mags in most of my .22s' and the AR7 likes this ammo also. . The take down features on this little rifle are clever and unique. The barrel, receiver and spare magazine all fit into the stock and held in place tightly by the plastic butt-plate. Assembly is straight forward and simple. Remove the receiver, place it on the front of the stock, screw the self aligning thumb bolt into receiver, remove barrel, line up barrel lug to receiver notch and screw on the barrel collar. Disassembly is in reverse order. I leave a loaded magazine in the receiver so I can pull back the bolt and jack a round in quickly. With a little practice this entire process can be accomplished in 20 seconds. The AR7 when disassembled fits nicely in a small ALICE pack and at only 2.5 pounds it is not too much of a burden.
It ain't the most accurate little carbine, nor the prettiest but the take down feature, the floating capabilities, the .22 lr semi auto function and the modest price of 125.00 (Wholesale in Shot Gun News) makes it a handy and affordable tool. I finally have one I like and trust and have sold many for the Henry Survival Arms Company. I take the AR7 out when shooting with friends, they try it, like it, buy it, happy shooting and as always, Semper Paratus
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