AR-15 Found In PA Lake While Fishing

Anyone lose their AR-15 during an unfortunate “boating accident” recently? No really, did anyone lose an AR? Someone on Reddit posted about an AR-15 that was found while fishing at Red Hill Dam in Pennsylvania. It’s a pretty nice AR too, from another Redditor’s post in the thread:

The rifle itself is a base-model E-series (thanks sh3llsh0ck!) Ruger SR-556. Considering the handguard, upper receiver, and lower receiver are all comprised of aluminum, it’s no surprise that it looks so clean. The rust evident on the barrel and gas block is significant enough to suggest that the rifle is probably ruined permanently (without replacing most of the components other than the receivers). It’s hard to say exactly how long it’s been submerged, but I’d put money on a period of a few weeks to a month or two, at the most.

The optics on top are an EOTech EXPS3 and an EOTech G33 Magnifier. Both optics are likely ruined: water damage to the electronics in the EXPS3 is virtually guaranteed, the magnifier likely suffered some degree of rust and/or containment failure of the tube (full of water). EOTech rates both optics are waterproof to 33 feet, but it’s likely been under more water than that…and if it’s been long enough to develop rust, they probably leaked over time as well.

Aside from the optics, the rifle has a one-point bungee sling of indeterminate make (Condor? Blackhawk?), a 30rd Gen 2 non-windowed PMag, and Mako T-POD G2 vertical grip/bipod.

It should also be noted that there is a very unusual amount of wear evident on the side edges of the EOTech, and along the side of the aluminum handguard rail segment. That wear is not consistent with any form of normal use that I’m familiar with, and is completely inconsistent with the relatively unworn condition of the rest of the rifle. It may indicate that the rifle slid down a steep embankment of stone or concrete, or was otherwise dragged for some distance across such a surface.

Were the rifle in new condition, it would be worth between $2500-3000 as configured. In all probability there is very little in that picture capable of being salvaged.

I bet with a little bit of CLP, a couple runs down the barrel with a Boresnake and some new batteries for the EOTech it will function just fine.

Ray I.

Long time gun enthusiast, archery noob, Mazda fan, Sci-Fi nerd, Whiskey drinker, online marketer and blogger. My daily firearms musings can be found over at my gun blog and Instagram.

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  • Blake

    or the EOTech was bought used which explains the extra wear on it

    • Emir Parkreiner

      They could also be knock offs, or the gradual result of the lake current.


    If it was an AK, the damn thing would probably still fire!!

    • Katrina Armanda Nadeau

      if it was an AK it belongs in the bottom of the lake

      • iksnilol

        Tovarishkinja Katarina is just jealous of AK superiority.

        • valorius

          Ak’s are garbage.

          • john huscio

            My SLR 106fr says otherwise…

          • valorius

            The ak series, proud rifle of cannon fodder since 1947.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            That statement is definitely about as far from the hard, objective truth as we are likely to get. Whatever your reasons for saying so, no amount of rhetoric, repetition of conventional myth, emotion or misguided patriotism is ever going to change the facts. It would be far better to acknowledge our erstwhile opponents and their capabilities, learn to moderate our egotistical, self-congratulatory sense of self-esteem, learn from others, apply the lessons thereof and then get to a higher achievement level than everyone else — and even then that would be no excuse for arrogance.

          • valorius

            Blah, blah, blah- junk.

      • DrBackJack

        In a trash can in the bottom of the lake.*

      • Beaumont

        Just curious — are you related to any Nadeaus around Ft. Hood?

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Could you perhaps justify your somewhat sweeping statement with some hard, real-world technical facts? Please note that patriotism ( as much as I respect, understand, agree with and support it ), hearsay, NIH syndrome, personal preferences, emotion, etc., are NOT relevant to a hard objective comparison or evaluation. A firearm of any kind, regardless of national origin or design, either works in a given set of situations or it does not. If it works better than a competing rival, it does — and not because you or I feel that one or the other should or should not.

    • Came down here to say this!

    • Zak Mitchell

      Nope, a AKM would have the exact same problems that this AR does

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        While I respect your point of view, could you please cite known instances of such, or at least your technical criteria for saying so? It would be of benefit to all of us here on TFB in terms of knowledge gained. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding.

        • Zak Mitchell

          AK’s will suffer from the same damage that a AR will. There’s no magical AK material that they are made from that will not be damaged like a AR will

          Overall AK’s are no more reliable than a properly build and lubed AR. The AK’s reliability is greatly exaggerated

    • Whack the charging handle with a hammer to break it loose, run a cleaning rod thru the barrel to be sure it isn’t plugged, rock and roll!

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      There are, among innumerable well-documented cases, instances of AK’s having been left submerged in creeks and streams for prolonged periods of time ( to hide then from the enemy ) and then retrieved, given a basic cleaning and oiling, and thus fully restored to 100% operating condition. The same holds true of AK’s that have been buried without proper coverage or wrapping in damp or wet soils in hot, humid, tropical conditions for years. There are few — if any — other standard military-issue weapons, let alone LE or civilian-grade weapons, I can think of that will stand up to this kind of abuse and still function reliably.

  • Fred Johnson

    Hmmm. Did someone try to ditch a gun used in a crime???

    • erwos

      That was my first thought. Given the awful state of the gun, it’d be little loss to turn it in to the local PD to see what they think.

      • Replace the barrel, and it should be fine.

        • John Smith

          Yeah, I have no clue why everyone is saying it’s not salvageable. New barrel kit. MAYBE a new LPK. WAY less than a new complete rifle. Most AR enthusiasts probably have spare lower and barrel parts laying around anyways.

    • Man pippy

      And not bother taking the accessories off? Shooting at a lake for fun is probably not uncommon, maybe it was an accident or they got spooked by L.E and decided to ditch it.

      On the criminal angle more likely it was the gun of someone they killed and they dumped their body along with their DNA infused and probably traceable gun in the lake. That would explain the scuff marks on the rifle, they were sustained while dragging the body with rifle attached.

      Considering the sophistication and cost of the rifle, they must have been pretty powerful enforcers.

      • Ryan

        Red Hill Dam is on the Susquehanna River near Three Mile Island.

    • Verner

      $2500-3000 AR-15 /w tactical accessories? I’d say HIGHLY unlikely.

      • Ryan

        Rugar SR-556 retails for about $2000. The EOTech RDS retails for $600 and the Magnifier hits about $500. Do the math.

        • Verner

          Ok, $3100. So what?

          • Ralph Brooks

            So it’s not only likely, it is.

          • Jeremiah

            I think he was saying that a gun of that value was unlikely to be used in a crime.

          • Man pippy

            Unlikely, but the heaviest hitting mexican cartels would have equipment like that. But are they really so militarily active in the U.S mainland?

          • Verner

            I’m not from the US, so I wouldn’t know, but if they would be, that’s scary. An AR-15 set up like this would suggest they employ some professionals.

          • Man pippy

            The biggest mexican cartel are the Zetas which was setup by members of the mexican version of Delta Force. So they are as professional and deadly as they get.

          • Verner

            I’ve heard about them, but do they operate deep in the U.S.? I thought they employ local ‘talent’ for distribution an such.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Cartels do employ professionals. That’s not to say ALL of them are, but many of them have military training.

          • john huscio

            Short answer is “no”. Cartels, even if they did operate this far north, wouldn’t want to draw attention to themselves with firefights and assassinations……bad for business and worse for themselves……this isn’t mexico and any cartel that tried to operate north of the border as they do south of it wouldn’t last long…..

          • Verner


          • Ryan

            Ok I’m going to jump into the stupid pool that is this thread…again. In the US if you lose or misplace your registered gun you report it stolen. Just in the off chance that it gets found and then used in a crime, or found and attempted to be sold. Just because it was reported stolen doesn’t mean it was used in a crime. It’s just a way for you the owner to notify the authorities that you no longer have possession over the firearm.

            Drug cartels in York County Pennsylvania? Ha ha haha. At worst we have local thugs and lots of them. But trust me the closest thing we have to Drug Cartels are the Amish…yeah the Amish.

            There is a Nuclear Power Plant up river from where this weapon was found. A Nuclear Power Plant that has a security staff of mostly former military or law enforcement individuals. More likely than being used in a crime is the possibility that it was lost or misplaced, then reported stolen.

          • “In the US if you lose or misplace your registered gun you report it stolen.”

            With very few exceptions, if any, rifles are not “registered” in the US (well, not legally anyways, what illegal records are kept is another matter, such as PA’s de-facto registry) and handguns are not legally registered in PA (see previous notation) either. By law all state records of any firearm sale are supposed to be destroyed within 48 hours. Dealers (if one is used, only handguns are required to go thru a dealer in PA) keep the paperwork for the purchase on site as required by federal law, indefinitely.

            You only report a gun stolen/missing so if it turns up at a crime scene it can’t be traced back to you thru sales records. The manufacturer has record of who they sold it to, the distributor it goes thru does the same, that leads them to the gun shop it was sold at, and if you are the purchaser on record that lands the cops at your door.

            It’s not ‘really’ a registry, yet, but it’s uncomfortably close.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            You only report a gun as stolen ONLY when it is stolen. Reporting a missing gun as stolen creates a multitude of legal problems if/when it is located.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Does make one wonder. There’s got to be a good story behind this weapon. Too bad we’ll probably never know it.

      Would I keep it? Absolutely. A nice long soak in vinegar may even find several of the components are salvageable. You’d be surprised what it will do- I’ve taken smallblock heads sitting in the weather for decades that looked like a lump of rust, soaked them in a rubbermaid container for a week or two, and they were completely good with minor pitting once I took them out. Granted, the mating surfaces needed to be milled, but that is a pretty regular occurence with heads anyway.

      • claymore

        And you would be committing a crime is it worth it?

        • Emir Parkreiner

          Assuming he isn’t prohibited from legally owning a firearm, exactly what crime would he be committing here?

          • claymore

            Converting found property is a crime in every state. One must turn in found property to police then wait the specified amount of time stipulated by law. If no rightful owner comes forward to claim said property then the property can or may be turned over to the person that found PROPERTY THAT WAS NOT HIS.

            and it’s also morally wrong.

          • phuzz

            I thought he was implying that he’d keep the gun *after making a reasonable effort to return it to it’s rightful owner*. that’s just basic politeness.

          • claymore

            Then he should have said just that. But it still doesn’t comply with the law.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            Conversion only applies to lost or misplaced property. Given the fact that it was found in a lake and has sustained substantial corrosion, it would be classified as abandoned property rather than lost or misplaced property. Abandoned property has no legal owner and ownership can be transferred to whomever takes possession of it.

          • claymore

            Wrong. However you try and spin it the firearm was not HIS.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            The fact that it was not his is immaterial. Suppose you drive past an apartment complex and see an old worn couch on the curb in front of the building. There is no one in the vicinity and no signs indicating ownership. If you were to take that couch and furnish your living room with it, would that constitute criminal conversion? The answer is unambiguously no, as the location and condition of the item in question clearly indicate abandonment by the prior owner.

          • claymore

            Wrong whatever. A couch on the curb has been found to be trash not the same in this case.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            They are exactly the same, as seen in the 1988 case California v. Billy Greenwood and Dyanne Van Houten.

          • claymore

            Wrong nice try but what ever happened to honesty in this country.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            You keep saying I’m wrong yet make no effort to substantiate these claims. If I truly am as wrong you say, proving it should be fairly easy.

          • claymore

            I did see my first post. No more than is needed it’s really very simple search your state laws on found property.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            As I stated in my response to that post: the condition and location of the rifle clearly indicate that the rifle is abandoned property, not lost or misplaced property. Consequently the protocol regarding lost/misplaced property is entirely unnecessary when dealing with abandoned property. I know property laws, and more importantly; I know that it would behoove you to learn the legal differences between lost, misplaced, and abandoned property.

          • claymore

            Wrong again condition has nothing to do with this case. You know for a fact hat the owner doesn’t spend his weekends trolling for HIS rifle?

            And in this case IF the rifle serial number was ever checked the possessor (the guy that said he would keep it) would also be in possession of STOLEN property.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            Condition has everything to do with the case as it definitively proves abandonment. Since the rifle was inadvertently found by someone wholly aware of its existence, it stands to reason that the original owner could have easily found it via retrial magnet, diving, and any number of viable alternatives. The fact that it remained in the lake long enough to accrue substantial corrosion clearly indicates abandonment. This can not be contested no more than it could be denied.

            It wasn’t until after Phillip posted his original comment that the rifle was confirmed stolen and bears no relevance to the hypothetical scenario he initially established.

          • John doe

            Bull Shite!! I don’t have to turn over any property that I find. where does it say that in any law?? besides that if you turn a firearm over to the police you will not get it back. especially if they get F TROOP involved.

        • Phillip Cooper

          It’s found property, not a straw purchase. I am not forbidden to own weapons. Please explain – in detail – what law is being broken by my intent?

          • Joe

            In most states it is illegal to keep found property without reasonably trying to find the owner. It is a form of theft just like taking a wallet you find in a parking lot would be. The correct procedure, as other have stated, is to turn it in to LE and if no one claims it, its yours.

          • Sulaco

            According to the above It was reported as stolen by the local PD so it would be possession of stolen property and probably a felony to boot.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Please quote where it says it was reported stolen. I have re read the article and can’t find it.

          • Sulaco

            Per JT in comment 4 days ago: “:The person who found it posted that he took it to the local PD and it had been reported stolen.”
            You didn’t look very hard.

          • claymore

            The number one thing it is not your property and you said you would keep it. That is illegal in any state. Look to my post above to learn why.

          • Patrick Henry,The2nd

            No, you are wrong again and again, so stop talking about things you don’t know about.

          • claymore

            No really stop just stop.

          • Phillip Cooper

            We understand your feelings. But you keep insisting it’s against the law, but won’t cite sources.
            At this point you’re just using Leftist argument tactics… ‘how does it feel’ without citing rational data

          • claymore

            I gave the answer many times if you can’t look up the relevant statues in your state I’m not going to spoonfeed them to you.

          • Emir Parkreiner

            The burden of proof is upon you. You can’t honestly expect the opposition to support your claims for you. If you don’t care enough to cite sources, just stop posting.

          • claymore

            Why must I do the work if you really want to know look it up.

          • glad i dont live in arizona

            Further more it was mine I didn’t want it and threw it out ..and now what is that guy still a criminal should he still turn it over to the Nazi’s so they can interrogate him on where he found it what kinda day was it who was he with did he shit that day was anyone around to coraborte his story blah blah blah

          • livefree1200cc

            Heck if you buy something that was stolen you can get punished. They keep it and don’t reimburse you if they find out. Something like a gun which is closely regulated and has serial numbers – they would really frown on

          • Jon doe

            you never didn’t say why da!!

      • John Smith

        So many armchair lawyers. You understand a crime requires intent in all 50 states, right? Finding an article while fishing doesn’t establish intent. Establishing intent would require something along the lines of seeing a “lost AR15 while fishing near Red Hill Dam ” sign or ad in the newspaper, then failing to surrender the item to the person or police. At that point, a reasonable person would think it may be the item in question, and concealing the weapon would establish intent. Please understand, a cop can arrest you for anything. It doesn’t mean anything until there’s a conviction, and barring something similar to that sign, the DA wouldn’t even waste his time and reputation trying to establish intent to a jury for this “crime”.

        • claymore

          Finding something and taking it as yours, as he said he was going to do, is a crime in every state. Very simply his taking it home and not to the police shows his intent. People are and have been convicted of this crime no matter how much you like to think not. Not an armchair lawyer but a 20 year police officer that has made arrests for this.

          • John Smith

            Wrong. As I said, a pig can arrest anyone for anything. An arrest isn’t guilt. Good luck with your jury.

          • claymore

            I did have good luck they were convicted. Next time you need help don’t call the pigs just call your buds to take care of it.

        • Brannon LeBouef

          Your over generalized statement is incorrect. MANY crimes in all 50 states do not have intent as a required element.

          • John Smith

            I’m sure you’re going to show us MANY examples, Champ.

          • Brannon LeBouef

            No sir. Your statement is so grossly inconsistent with easily verifiable facts, examples are not necessary.

          • livefree1200cc

            while I can’t think of many – The IRS can charge you for falsely filing an income tax return. An honest mistake has no intent. Vehicular manslaughter has no intent. Falling asleep at the wheel and damaging property has no intent

        • livefree1200cc

          When did Phillip say anything about the legality of anything?

        • Zebra Dun

          I’d ask around, show it to the police and if they wanted it they could have it, I’d ask to claim it after so many days if it wasn’t hot or used in a crime.
          Finding an item not banned or illegal isn’t a crime.
          I’d also clean this AR up and see if I could get it working if not it would be a fine wall hanger with a story or parted out.

    • J.T.

      The person who found it posted that he took it to the local PD and it had been reported stolen.

    • M

      Prolly someone ditching a stolen rifle. Which is funny… since a couple months ago, I was recently inquiring about an SR-556 near that area… the seller was trying really, really hard to unload an SR556 on me…. when I decided it was too good to be true, he dropped the price to $500….

      • valorius

        Thats why i always go through an ffl for a nics check when buying a gun off a stranger.

        • Xaun Loc

          Doing the transfer through a ffl to get the ncis check does NOTHING about the provenance of the firearm itself. The dealer runs the ncis check on the BUYER, not the seller and not the gun.

          • valorius

            It gives me a paper trail to point to if it ever comes back to my doorstep.

          • Рон Джамин

            Copy their drivers license and give a receipt.

          • valorius

            I do that too.

          • floppyscience

            That’s what a bill of sale with the pertinent personal and firearm information is for.

          • valorius

            I want to make sure i am not personally arming a felon. So i insist on a nics transfer.

          • Kimber Kelley

            You don’t know what the hell you’re doing..smh..people like you who think they know it all..STUPID!!

          • valorius

            Um, what?

            Did you post in the wrong place?

      • John Yossarian

        Perhaps you should inform the police of that person’s contact information?

  • sianmink

    I never thought anyone took the ‘lost my collection in a tragic boating accident’ thing seriously!

    • iksnilol

      See? It was true afterall.

      Got to get myself a metal detector.

      • Zebra Dun

        A large strong magnet also if you are searching lakes and rivers!

  • Ken

    I wonder if you can send it back to Ruger. At least for their Blackhawk revolvers, they tend to work on them for just the cost of parts, free labor.

  • That’ll buff right out.

  • Ryan

    The top voted post says that it was reported stolen out of Gettysburg. Wasn’t there a gun shop that got robbed close to Gettysburg recently?

  • Mark

    it still good the rifling in them thangs are high polished an high polished metal part take a little while to rust, just need some tlc

    • John

      Yeah, they probably don’t need much for the weapon to be still functional. For a normal AR, all that’s really needed for the weapon to fire is to check for a clear bore, gas port/tube, and functioning BCG. To have one that works like clockwork would take more work however…

      It looks like the rifle only rusted where they skimped on the detail, like parkerizing the parts under the gas block, under the flash hider, etc.

  • gunslinger

    did they find a safe and a locked door to a ‘secret room” along with it?

  • Professor Hale

    This happens all the time. Especially when politicians contemplate passing laws restricting gun ownership. It’s all very tragic. People should tie their guns down when they are out boating with them.

    I would bet money that the main parts are all perfectly fine. I would replace the springs on principle but the aluminum upper and lower and the stock are likely pristine. Even the barrel is easily recovered depending on the condition of the inside. The rust is likely only surface rust.

    I wouldn’t write off the optics yet either. Even if they are toast, the factory might have some sort of reconditioning they can do.

  • Lance

    The Ar will still work may have been used in a crime though and was dumped into the lake not worth the risk of keeping.

    • JoeThePimpernel

      Long guns are used in less than 1% of gun crimes, and semi-auto rifles are a subset of long guns, so probably not.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Although I tend to agree with you, Lance still has a good point, if nothing else at least taking into account all due caution. One never knows, and until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt, it might be better not to make assumptions in this kind of situation.

  • jamezb

    I bet i could get it running and looking near new for one heck of a lot less than even a discount AR costs!,

  • JoeThePimpernel

    The receiver does have a serial number, you know.

  • LCON

    All I can think of is the death of king Arthur. When Excalibur was thrown to the lady of the lake.

  • Brad Eldred

    If it hadn’t been reported stolen I would have said it sounds exactly like something an angry wife would do. Tie your AR to the back of her car drag it thrrough town for your friends to see then toss into lake. It’s not obvious that my wife is a redhead from that statement is it?

    • not at all…… not at all……

  • ALTAC6

    Anyone who thinks the rifle is ‘ruined permanently’ needs to look through AjaxArms channel on Youtube.

    Compared to the other stuff he’s done, he’d probably have this thing running in the course of a lunch break.

  • jman

    Maybe the owner ditched it for insurance…

  • Seth Hill

    So that’s where my rifle went and I wasn’t anywhere near Pennsylvania.

  • Dick Hunt

    Might belong to a dog named Toby.

  • sapper

    That thing would shoot like new I bet. A view months submitted is not enough to significantly pit any thing.

    • livefree1200cc


  • GordonTrenchard

    Most likely a hot rifle with crime written all over it. I wouldn’t lay an ungloved finger on it.

  • sreynolds

    Someone probably threw it in the drink after committing a crime with it

    • Tantalus XVI

      Or an angry wife. I doubt some gang banger would know what any of the stuff on that gun is, maybe a professional though.

  • Aaron E

    I agree with Ray – I bet with some serious TLC this rifle would be up and running (minus the optics). Although I think a full bore cleaning is in order, not just a few swipes with a bore snake.

    The lost property argument – the deciding factor is if the found property has some form of identification that can lead to its lawful owner. In this case the serial number “could” do that, and in fact it did, since the owner had reported it stolen. Keeping property like that could lead to criminal charges in most States. The finder was legally required to report the find to law enforcement, and turn the rifle over to police for safekeeping while an attempt to locate the owner was made. However, if the owner cannot be determined, or fails to claim the property, the finder can file a claim for the property after a period of time set in law – usually around 3-6 months.

    We recently had a case where 2 punks saw an 80+ old lady drop an envelope with $2000 inside at a gas station. She reported the loss to police. Surveillance cameras clearly showed her drop the envelope, and the 2 punks taking it after she left. Their license plates were also observed. They claimed the “finders keepers law”, but since the rightful owner was known, their unwillingness to give back the money almost caused their arrest on felony stealing. Once police arrived at their door with intent to arrest, they quickly turned over the money.

    The “finder-keepers” claim would only apply to property that could not reasonably be identified to an owner. For example, you find a $20.00 bill on the sidewalk, there is nobody around, and no surveillance cameras (for reviewing to see owner drop it). Keep it, because there is no reasonable way of determining its owner.

    A found wallet with I.D. and money – better turn it in or you have stolen someone else’s property. That’s the difference – can the property likely be returned to an owner? If yes, turn it in, if no than you can keep it.

  • Zebra Dun

    While bumming around in the Canoe once I found an old bolt action .22 lr Revelation/Savage Model 115/46 it has a serial number Manufactured between 1969-1973 made by Savage and sold by western auto. It was not very rusty inside and only had surface rust and pitting, one spent round in the chamber, none in the magazine and mud stuffed in the first 1/4″ of the barrel. The inside of the barrel was clear and shined.
    The bolt handle hangs loose when it’s mounted as if in a rifle rack of a truck window, several off road trails for ATV and 4 x 4’s are in the area. I believe it was lost during an outing by vehicle perhaps during a roll over or stuck event.
    The wood stock wasn’t swollen so it wasn’t there long lying half in and out of the river water on rocks.
    I asked around but no one claimed it, I cleaned the old rifle up and oiled it, camouflaged it and it is accurate enough for squirrel and functions fine.
    I use it as my river canoe/ squirrel hunting rifle.
    Overall I consider it a lucky find.
    Too bad you didn’t find the AR sooner!

  • Rick

    Someone call Holder and let them know we found one of their “lost” guns.