Holloway Arms HAC-7

Bob Holloway, then of Fort Worth, Texas, in the 1980s built on his experiences in Southeast Asia and Rhodesia to design a .308 caliber military rifle, what eventually became the HAC-7. His rifle was an amalgamation of Armalite, FN, and Kalashnikov designs, with a considerable amount of his own ingenuity thrown in. The result is now one of the most interesting “might-have-beens” of the 20th Century: A lightweight .308 infantry rifle two decades older than the FN SCAR-H.

Not much is known about Mr. Holloway, and what’s known of his rifle has mostly been gained through study of the less than 350 weapons that were made between 1984 and 1985.

The rifle, besides being a collection of “good ideas” from other rifle designs, has benefited from a number of clever and original ideas: The bolt has ample underlug (the distance the carrier is allowed to retract before rotating the bolt out of the locked position), but this created a problem in how the moving parts group interacted with the ammunition below it in the magazine during feeding. To solve this, a large fixed plate was attached to the bolt to prevent the ammunition “fishtailing” in the magazine. The weapon is designed to be stripped with only a round of ammunition. To this end, screw heads are designed to accept the case head of a round as a driver, pins are designed to be pushed out by bullet tips, and two parts even are designed to use the cartridge case head as a wrench.

In the 1980s, 5.56mm rifles were the hot item, and Holloway’s decision to use the more powerful 7.62mm round probably had a major effect on his ability to sell the weapon, and Holloway Arms Company closed in 1985. Nevertheless, the design was a simple, well-thought-out firearm that – had it been born three decades earlier – could have become very successful.

While there isn’t much information available on the HAC-7, those who own and love the weapon are very passionate about it. As a result, owners (known as “Hackers”) of these rifles can participate in a dedicated forum* for the HAC-7, hosted at BiggerHammer.net, which also mantains a dedicated HAC-7 page. In addition, Forgotten Weapons has a HAC-7 article and video, and the Aftermath Gun Club also has a more extensive field strip video showing the use of a round as a takedown tool. The club (which is clearly very enthusiastic about obscure modern infantry small arms) also maintains a registry of the weapons (which apparently came with promotional belt buckles) at HollowayArms.com.

*The HAC-7s produced were all semi-auto weapons, made in the United States and sold to US customers. Every rifle made probably remains in this country, and most of those owners probably have internet access. Owning the rifle, then, is something unique that every owner has in common, and it’s only natural that in looking for more information on their weapons they would find and gravitate toward the HAC-7 forum.

Users Manual

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • andrey kireev

    Some company should look into making those….

    • echelon

      I was thinking the same thing. Surely there aren’t patents and if there are how expensive would they be to obtain?

      If you could make a short barreled version with a Sig brace and have it come in at under $1000 I think you’d have a winner!

      • Ethan

        I am curious why no one has expanded the “not-an-sbr” market into 308 territory.

        • I believe IWI-USA is planning on it with the Galil ACE.

        • Steve Truffer

          If I remember correctly, someone on TTAG or TFB tried that, and said it was rather unpleasant, and best left to smaller calibers.

        • echelon

          I’ve seen some short barreled 308s with a brace on them. I think you can just get the end that accepts an AR buffer tube and then just put the pistol tube on it.

          The bigger problem is the price. I find it hard to believe that many of these stamped out sheet metal guns can possibly cost that much to manufacture. I’m personally not paying over $2k for a Pakistani made MP5 clone, brace or no…

  • Squirreltakular

    That rifle is BEAUTIFUL. I want one. Someone needs to pick this up. In today’s market, I bet it would sell at $1600, easily.

    Anyone know if the mags are proprietary? G3 style? That would be a huge selling point.

    • They sure do look nice, don’t they?

      Mags are modified original pattern AR-10 mags.

    • I’ve been able to get Magpul .308 Pmags to work.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Ethan, it sounds as if you are a very proud ( and privileged, I might add ) HAC-7 owner. Would you be willing to tell us a little more about your personal experiences with the rifle? This might be the basis for a really interesting and informative article that would do wonders on TFB, FW or In-Range TV — and therefore a huge boon to the historic firearms community. Thanks for sharing!

  • UCSPanther

    We need more 7.62 NATO battle rifles, and if someone could build something like this for the Canadian market, I would be all over it, especially if it was a classic style without those quad rails…

  • Thank you very much, roguetechie.

  • gandalf23

    When I was growing up in Fort Worth, a gentleman at my church worked for HAC. Mr. Raines. He or his dad ran Raines Machine Products, too. I recall talking to him about it once, he said they used CNC machines with tapes of some sort to do the programing. Paper maybe? It’s been a while. I was more interested at the time in the gun and not how it was made.