Miculek and the Stoner 63

Stoner 63

If you are not familiar with the Stoner 63, it was a modular weapon system that could convert from assault rifle to light machine gun by changing a few parts around. As you might guess, Eugene Stoner was the man behind the development of this rifle.

Many people are not familiar with the Stoner 63. However, these guns were used in combat by US Navy SEALs and were considered by the USMC.

Jerry Miculek had a chance to shoot one at the Institute of Military Technology (IMT). C. Reed Knight, Jr. is the founder of IMT and talks about the gun with Miculek in this video. Knight may be better known to some readers as the President and owner of Knight’s Armament Co.

Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is http://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/.


  • R2

    Robinson Arms made a clone of it? And would the Ares Shrike be a successor?

    • gunsandrockets

      For a time yes, but not anymore. I so badly wanted one of these back in 1999, but availability was spotty back then and the gun-control clock ran out before I could get one.

  • dp

    Mr. Miculek (who calls himself “michoolek”) is a wonder kid, no question about that. Now, lets look back to time of Wild West; any above average “quick” shooter became typically a target for ambitious bozo. Thanks God, those times are over and Mr. Miculek can keep amazing us with his skill: https://www.youtube.com/user/MiculekDotCom

    • Maxim Elias

      His name is actually pronounced “Mitch-uh-leck”….. he doesn’t just “call himself” Miculek. If you take note…. Miculek is not exactly the name of your average “Johnny Protestant,” and won’t be pronounced the same, either.

      Would be pretty cool if people respected non-British names.

    • Jim

      The “wild west” is a myth of modern fantasy. The wild west was generally peaceful, and people were usually too busy working to fight amongst one another. Yeah, there was robbers, raids by Native Americans, and the occasional spat between farmers, but usually stagnant.

      People like Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill prove that it was completely possible to not be killed simply for being a good shot.

  • dp

    To the subject: Stoner 63 was an ultimate small arm package. It was far above and ahead of anything else at the time. What I believe caused a hurdle in sense and prevented adopting (part of usual politics) was range of this design’s scope. You can hardly do a GPMG out of what is originally rifle and compromises must be made; at least in world of technology it is always that way. You can have either excellent rifle or excellent MG but hardly both on same platform.

  • mechamaster

    The legacy of Stoner 63 system live on modern ARES Shrike 5,56 system.
    I love to see how to convert from belt-fed machine gun to assault rifle and vice versa.

  • dan citizen

    I had only a passing knowledge of the stoner 63, I did not know about the whole flipping the receiver over trick, really neat.

  • smartacus

    Deceptive headline 😉

    • smartacus

      For a moment, i thought i fell into some twisted twilight zone hottub time machine and Miculek and Stoner were 63 yearz old

  • Seburo

    Elie Stoner really got screwed by our armed services. He made many guns but the worst one was adopted.

    • Zachary marrs

      Who is Elie stoner? And have you actually used the ar 15 outside of seeing whatever crap the history channel has to say about it?

      • Seburo

        Fixed type and yes I have. Both the 63 and Ar-18 are better weapons but any real improvement over DI has been sabotaged since the late 60’s.
        The only reason anyone would prefer an AR is because they never used anything else.

        • Zachary marrs

          Maybe back in the 1960’s there was a reason to go to a piston system, but the ar 15 has received many updates that will surface once again once you move towards a piston system, and even them, would it be worth the cost to switch when you only get 10% more reliability within the guns lifetime? I have had ZERO jams with my ar, approximately 2500 steel cased wolf, with no jams, and really, if the myth that ar15s jam 3000000% of the time and get the shooter killed, we wouldn’t still be issuing them, period. If you have trouble with your ar, put in a heavy buffer, and get some pmags. That alone will fix 99% of ar 15 problems

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    DP is correct in saying that a significant part of the problem with the Stoner 63 system was that it was not only too far ahead of it’s time in concept and the ability to gain general acceptance ( a result of politics within the military-industrial complex, and of the fact that military organizations often tend to be understandably conservative when considering new or unfamiliar weapons systems on a large scale ), but also because it was handicapped by the perceived need to be all things to all users. When utilized in the belt-fed mode on a bipod or tripod, it would have been a satisfactory LGPMG / SAW if treated and utilized as such, but no more. To treat it as a full-fledged GPMG would have been asking too much, and probably been outside the scope Eugene Stoner had in mind for it anyway.

    When used as a modular, highly-mobile and adaptable platform for light infantry and special forces operations, the Stoner 63 performed well. I seem to recall that the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Teams in Vietnam adopted it and obtained very good battlefield results in some of the toughest prevailing environmental conditions at the time. It is also largely forgotten that the same SEAL units favored the Ithaca 37 pump-action shotgun for point defence because it could be fired by simply holding down the trigger and racking the slide repeatedly to put out a very high weight of fire in a very short amount of time, all while retaining the ultimate reliability of a pump-action shotgun.

    In the end, I think it is a matter of a combination of many factors outside of sheer material quality and brilliant conceptualization — not the least of which are “use the right tool for the right job at the right time” and “proper market timing”. Regarding the latter, we all know of so many otherwise excellent firearms and firearms-related products that have fallen victim to “market timing”.

    • Geodkyt

      It performed well IN THE HANDS OF SEALS. Likewise, Army SF troops managed to make them work.

      It failed utterly in the hands of PVT Snuffy, as the compromises to make it “all guns for all roles” meant it was rather cranky and needed more maintenance to make it run only as well as the M16s already in service. . . and it never worked as well as the M60 (not to mention no one in the Army wanted a belt fed 5.56mm LMG).

      The SEALs used it primarily as a belt fed SAW/LMG, because they didn’t have ANYTHING in that weight/size range with near that performance, and so were willing to put up with the additional maintenance issues. Sometimes, even a, (captured) RPD or chopped M60 (and more importantly, its ammo) was too heavy.

      But as a weapon for line grunts (whether “Big Army” or the Corps), it was an utter failure in performance versus logistics.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Very good observations and comments — thanks for sharing your thoughts. I largely concur with your assessment. We should keep in mind, though, that the absence of wider acceptance also meant that the Stoner 63 system did not have the advantage of a real impetus for product development and improvement, which is important in the long-term evolution and ultimate success of any weapon. It ended up being used pretty much in its original form as is / where is, so to speak, by people who knew how to make it work for their purposes, and little more. When the perceived need for the Stoner 63 by its erstwhile users disappeared, the weapon quietly faded into relative obscurity, to be replaced by more modern and well-developed systems.

        Still, I can’t help but think that if the Stoner 63 had had a chance to evolve and mature, it might have been a pretty satisfactory infantry general weapons system, in the same way the AR-18 could have become an excellent service rifle.

  • Mongo

    Hell he should have e-mailed me I would let him shoot my Stoner 63A as a belt fed as well as a carbine.

  • gunsandrockets

    Ah, cutting the cost of machineguns. I had never heard that before about the Stoner system. Very interesting. (I wonder if that means the USMC M-27 winner has a significant cost advantage compared to some of the competitors?)

    And I have to say the Stoner 63 assault rifle has a classic look. Sleek and businesslike.

  • Michael Gary Spight

    When I was in SVN (1970-71) I was a crewman aboard and Assault Support Patrol Boat (ASPB) in River Assault Division 153. We were co-located with a Platoon of SEALs from, I would assume, SEAL Team 1. We were often tasked to insert/extract 4 man ambush or recon teams and it was common to see their Operators carrying a Stoner configured as a LMG or in the assault rifle configuration, as seen above. Usually, the other two men would be armed with a cut down M60 variant and the other with an M16 or CAR with an early variant 40mm GL mounted underneath the forward handguards.

  • Twelvegage

    Somewhere I have an old gun magazine, late 1960’s vintage (can’t remember which one, but it might have been GUNS) there is an article all about the semi-automatic sporting version of the Stoner 63. Came with 5 round magazine. Had black and white picks of guys hunting with Stoner 63 out in the woods. Anyone have one of these 60’s ‘sporting’ versions? Were they ever really put into production back then?

    • Mongo

      No, ATF declared the design too easy to convert to a machine gun and CG never pursued it after the ruling.