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The AR-7 Survival Rifle

AR7 Blog Feature

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going to go over another iconic firearm today, the AR-7. This notable survival rifle has persisted for over half a century and continues to see use to this day. Our goal with this blog post is to provide a brief overview of the AR-7 while delving into interesting traits, features, and more. Without further ado, let’s go over the AR-7 survival rifle.

 

What is the AR-7?

The AR-7 is a semi-automatic survival rifle initially developed by Armalite in 1958 by Eugene Stoner. After being introduced in 1959, the design is still produced today. The rifle is chambered in .22 Long Rifle and utilizes a blowback semi-automatic method of operation. The AR-7 features a 16” barrel and utilizes detachable box type magazines which hold eight rounds of .22 Long Rifle. Notably, the AR-7 survival rifle is a compact firearm that is capable of being broken down and stored within its stock. Simply put, the compact firearm can be made even smaller and optimal for storage.

As a survival rifle, the AR-7 was designed to be a compact firearm that could accompany pilots and other end users who had to be conscious of the size and weight of their equipment. Tight areas such as cockpits, aircraft, and other vehicles require end users to be smart and efficient with their gear storage. In its stowed configuration, the AR-7 can easily be stored in different nooks and crannies which would be incompatible with larger firearms.

Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle
Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle
Stowed Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle
Stowed Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle

AR-5 Origins

The AR-7’s design was developed from Armalite’s AR-5. Like the AR-7, the AR-5 was capable of being broken down and stored within the buttstock of the rifle. The rifle utilizes a bolt action method of operation and features a detachable box five shot box magazine. The AR-5 was chambered in the .22 Hornet and designed to function as a survival tool for pilots and aircrew personnel.

The development of the AR-5 was spurred by a request from the U.S. Air Force for a compact and accurate rifle for use with XB-70 aircrew survival kits. Development of the rifle began in 1954 and the AR-5 was eventually adopted by the Air Force as the MA-1 aircrew survival rifle. In the form of the MA-1, the AR-5 remained in service from 1956 to 1959. After plans for the XB-70 fleet were canceled, the Air Force was unable to provide funding for additional rifles beyond the 12 test models they had received. As a result, ArmaLite utilized the tooling and research and development done for the AR-5 to develop the AR-7 survival rifle.

 

Who Mades AR-7s?

As mentioned above, the AR-7 was originally developed by ArmaLite. Production of the AR-7 rifle by ArmaLite took place from 1959 to 1973. From 1973 to 1990, Charter Arms produced a variety of AR-7 models for the commercial market. These models included pistol and rifle variants for the AR-7 design. Other companies such as Survival Arms and later AR-7 Industries would produce AR-7s commercially throught the 1990s and early 2000s.

Notably, Henry Repeating Arms acquired the rights to the AR-7 and now produces their Henry U.S. Survival Rifle. The Henry offering is available in a variety of colorways and can even be had with a case for carrying the rifle. In a departure from the original design, the Henry AR-7 features a rail to accommodate optics. Additionally, the Henry’s stock design allows an end user to stow two magazines outside of the receiver rather than the one allowed by the ArmaLite design.

 

Military Usage

While the AR-7 did not see usage by the United States military like its predecessor, the AR-5, it did see some degree of military use. Notably, ArmaLite produced and sold AR-7 rifles for Israel to be used as air crew and pilot survival rifles. The new AR-7 rifles were meant to replace the 9mm Luger Beretta M1951 handguns which were used at the time. The AR-7s in Israeli use departed from the standard form of the AR-7 as they featured shorter 13.5” barrels, telescoping stocks, different front sights, and FAL style pistol grips. Additionally, the new stock used by the Israelis featured a proivision for holding two spare magazines while the pistol grip stores 40 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammo.

Despite not having the military track record of the AR-5 and other survival rifles, the AR-7 saw great commercial success and was used by shooters of all types. Pilots, hikers, and many other types of outdoors-oriented individuals have utilized the rifle, allowing the AR-7 to build its reputation.

 

Takedown Process

The AR-7 rifle is easily broken down into four distinct parts; the barrel, receiver, magazine, and stock. To disassemble a fully assembled AR-7, one must first ensure that it is unloaded and free of ammunition. This is easily done by removing the magazine and checking the chamber to ensure it is clear. After the rifle is rendered empty and safe, the barrel can be removed by loosening the ring around the barrel where it meets the receiver. Once loosened, the barrel assembly can be pulled out of its indexing point and removed from the firearm. From this point, one can begin the process of removing the stock from the receiver. To do so, one can loosen the screw at the bottom of the grip on the stock until the receiver comes free. Once the receiver is free from the firearm, the firearm is completely disassembled.

From this point, the rifle can either be reassembled or the components can be stored within the stock of the rifle. To access the storage compartment within the stock, one must simply remove the buttpad at the rear of the unit. This will reveal the channels and compartments designed specifically to fit the barrel, receiver, and magazine(s) into the stock. Once the components are placed into the stock, the buttpad can be installed again to seal the contents and ensure they stay put.

Stowed Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle & Stowed ArmaLite AR-7 Explorer
Stowed Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle & Stowed ArmaLite AR-7 Explorer

Ability to Float

A unique feature of the AR-7 is the fact that the rifle was designed to be able to float if it found itself in water. The rifle is capable of floating in either assembled or disassembled form. The hollow nature of the stock provided a degree of buoyancy and water resistance, meaning the AR-7 would float for a period of time before eventually beginning to sink. The original ArmaLite produced models features stocks which retained their buoyancy longer than some of the other AR-7 models. This is due to the fact that the original stocks were foam-filled plastic shells. Simply put, the AR-7 was designed to be able to float for a period of time if one finds themselves in a watery survival situation.

 

Conclusion

All in all, the AR-7’s legacy persists in the 21st century. The rifle is well-known among generations of shooters of all types. Hunters, recreational shooters, historians, collectors, and more will enjoy the AR-7. We here at True Shot Ammo occasionally carry in addition for .22 Long Rifle ammo well-suited for use in converted rifles. Whether you are looking to feed an AR-7 or need ammo to feed something else, we have got you covered. As always, happy shooting.

 

Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.

 

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6 Responses

    1. Hello Don,

      The Henry model of AR-7 tends to float between $200 – $300 these days. I believe I paid about ~ $240 when I purchased the Henry AR-7 featured in this blog back in December, 2013.

      As far as older models from ArmaLite like the one in the blog, they can be had for a bit more money and typically go for around $600 or so. As used, old production items, prices tend to fluctuate on the ArmaLite offerings.

      Gunbroker and other auction sites will be your best bet as far as tracking down vintage AR-7s.

      Hope this helps,

      Tyler

  1. I have the Henry survival rifle, great little gun, I’ve successfully hunted grouse with it.

  2. I was just in a gun shop last week and saw one on the wall. They were asking $329 for it.

    My Charter Arms AR-7 was the very first gun that ever purchased over 50 years ago and is still one of my favorites. Excellent firearm!

  3. Great article for a great rifle. I have a Charter Arms AR7 that my father gave me in ’82.
    I’ve hunted squirrels and rabbits with it for years. Easy to pack and carry and accurate.
    Had to replace the peep sight and spring guide. It now stays in my truck for promptvto excursion.

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