Military Wiki
Armalite AR-5
Type Rifle
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1956
Used by United States Air Force
Production history
Manufacturer ArmaLite
Caliber .22 Hornet
Action Bolt-action

The AR-5 was the basis of the MA-1 aircrew survival rifle, adopted by the US Air Force in 1956, as a replacement for the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon. The M6 is a superposed ("over-under") combination weapon with a .22 Hornet rifle barrel over a .410 shotgun barrel. While there is an advantage to such a combination, the AR-5 has the advantage of rapid fire, using the same .22 Hornet cartridge as the M6's rifle barrel. The AR-5 was developed by ArmaLite, a division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation. The AR-5 was submitted in response to an Air Force request shortly after the division was established on October 1, 1954.[1]

The MA-1 is a four-shot, bolt-action rifle, chambered for the .22 Hornet cartridge, a round somewhat heavier than the common .22 Long Rifle cartridge, with a higher velocity and range, yet with a light, controllable recoil.

22 Hornet

Designed to be stowed in cramped aircraft cockpits, the rifle was made from lightweight plastics and aluminum alloys. The MA-1 was unique for being able to be disassembled with all working parts stored within the stock. When stowed in this manner, the rifle was able to float.[2] The MA-1 established ArmaLite as a recognized firearms company, leading to several other rifles of varying success. However, the Air Force never received funding to buy more than the original 12 test models due in part to the number of M4 and M6 survival weapons already in the inventory.[3]

Armalite used the research and tooling for the AR-5/MA-1 to develop the AR-7, an eight-shot semi-automatic rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Released in 1959[4] as a civilian survival weapon, the AR-7 is related to the AR-5 in terms of its overall layout, and retains the same modular takedown, storage in stock, and the ability to float.

See also


  1. ArmaLite history PDF
  2. Stevens, R. Blake & Edward C. Ezell. The Black Rifle: M16 Retrospective. Cobourg, Canada: Collector Grade Publications, 1987. (Page 22)
  3. Duncan Long, AR-7 Super Systems, Paladin Press, 1990. pp.4, 5.
  4. ArmaLite history PDF

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