POTD: An AR-14

Probably my favorite “retro” AR-15 build comes from ar15.com poster and master AR builder John Thomas, and isn’t a faithful representation of any actual historical AR-15 at all. Rather, it’s a “what-if?” that John calls the “AR-14”:

11-1 16 2635

The historical AR-14 was a civilian sporting rifle, but John’s AR-14 concept combines several early AR-15 and AR-10 features like the “can” compensator and brown furniture with a very 1950s-esque flattop upper receiver with a folding carry handle. The removal of much of the details on the firearms certainly help sell the rifle as a concept/very early prototype.


  • M.M.D.C.

    I like the Bakelite-esque furniture.

  • marathag

    Needs the M76 Grenade launcher

  • iksnilol

    It reminds me of a FAL for some reason.

    • Riot

      Its the handle and lack of brass deflector and bolt carrier serrations.
      (+forward assist obv)

    • ostiariusalpha

      That is an FAL carry handle. The Artillerie Inrichtingen AR-10 “Marinier” LMG had a carry handle also.

      • Paul Epstein

        Arguably it had two. That looks awesome, though.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Ha! Yeah, two indeed. They had to add the second handle because of the change in balance from the heavy barrel and metal forend.

  • Mike Padalecki

    I like the AR-7 in there as well!

    • Kivaari

      Has anyone ever found an AR7 that functioned?

      • Mike Padalecki

        I have a charter Arms AR7 that I bought back around 83 -84 time frame. It is still right on the money and I use it all the time.

        • jcitizen

          I had one from the ’70s that with a 20 round custom magazine, made a terrific jack rabbit getter. I eventually mounted a scope on it, because the rifle worked so well. Here was the secret though. Don’t oil it. – the carbon and dirt acted like the best lubricant for reliable functioning I’d ever found!! I suppose it was because of the aluminum bolt on aluminum receiver that made it work that way. Remington long rifle hollow point with brass plated “Golden bullet” did the best on performance. The was before the insane velocity 22 long rifle ammo came out. I have no idea how well they would work now. I had switched to a Calico M100 since then, so I’d have the fire power to do some real damage on the prairie dog towns in our pasture.

  • Riot

    I like it – would look at home in fallout and the like, as a very simple AR

    • Jolly

      Fallout 4! can’t wait!

  • John

    That. is. awesome. Whoever built that has a heck of an eye for design. Simple, retro, beautiful.
    Very… steampunk.
    If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought it was a 1950’s prototype.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Technically, that kind of ’50s retro sci-fi is called atompunk.

      • wetcorps

        Those “-punk” genres are getting out of hand 🙂

        • Dan

          There is a “punk” genre for out of hand punk genres

          • MR


          • undeRGRound

            Like Kramer, “Hipster-Doofus”!

    • jcitizen

      Snicker smirk!

  • gunsandrockets

    Very pretty.

    I’ve always been curious about that muzzle brake design and I would like to see more posted about it.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t know that we have much hard data on how well it worked. There might be a report from Springfield in an archive somewhere.

      • ostiariusalpha

        They actually worked quite well, you TFB guys would have had a different experience if you had run that FA AR-10 with one on the muzzle.

        • Jeeze, where on earth would you get one?

          • ostiariusalpha

            This guy has a few of them…

          • Well, becoming best friends with Reed Knight (and being named heir to his collection) is on my to-do list.

          • Trey Knight might have a thing or two to say about that.

          • Trey can get in line. 😉

          • ostiariusalpha

            Good luck, you’ll need it! The original aluminum compensator body couldn’t take the heat of FA, and tended to distort itself into uselessness apparently. They replaced it with a titanium version, but nobody was going to field expensive titanium comps for thousands of rifles. Be sure to inherit that Ti! LOL!

          • Yup!

        • Rock or Something

          I believe I read some accounts from Portuguese soldiers that were issued AR-10s that came with the same or similar muzzle brake design during their bush wars (Angola?). Reports came back it was actually quite effective on taming that 7.62X51 beast on full auto, but again, it’s always subjective to individual soldiers.

  • Ross

    Is the furniture plastic? Or a nice set of wood?

    There are wood sets for the AR-15, until now I wondered who the heck would ever buy as set.

    • Plastic.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Fiberglass. 😉

        • “Fiberglass (or fibreglass) is a type of fiber reinforced plastic where the reinforcement fiber is specifically glass fiber. The glass fiber may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet (called a chopped strand mat), or woven into a fabric.”

    • Southpaw89

      Appears to be at least mimicking Bakelite (plastic reinforced with wood fibers) in appearance. I’m guessing it’s just plastic furniture painted to look the part though, and if that’s the case I would like to know how he did it. It sure looks good on that AR-7 as well as the AR-14.

      • ostiariusalpha

        You and M.M.D.C. both mentioned that. I guess you don’t see a lot of fiberglass reinforced polyester resin ( :p Nate) these days, but it’s obvious to me.

        • Southpaw89

          I’ve seen a fair bit of fiberglass, mostly with an epoxy resin though. Can’t remember what we used in A&P school but I think it was epoxy based as well, like the look though, will have to look into it.

  • ostiariusalpha

    This is, to me, more like a “What If” fantasy where Artillerie Inrichtingen had kept the AR-10 license and developed some sporter versions of the AR-15, like an AR-152 to match the AR-102. It makes me grin to see that classic handguard, though if he had managed to recreate the Portuguese handguard, slanted magwell, and (hope-beyond-hope) a top charger, the fantasy would have been perfectly realized.

  • sam

    Though vaguely period correct (yep, I googled it) I’m having trouble
    believing the embossed-tape label… would prefer freehand paint letters, slightly playful engineering type font. Maybe skip the word “only”.

  • Lars Thorsen

    What a great rifle re-design. The only thing that has me scratching my chin, is that the carry handle appears to be fastened in place by wrapping itself around the gas tube. I know that as long as tolerances on the receivers’ gas tube hole are tight, and the cutout for the handle itself does not allow back and forth motion, the handle and tube will be fine for a little while… but any force made to misalign the gas tube from the gas key is going to lead to a malfunction.

    • M40

      Not if it’s done like a FAL carry handle. This feature appears to be borrowed from the FAL design, so there should be a steel insert around the gas tube that is pressed in from the front of the receiver.

      • Lars Thorsen

        It is a modified FAL handle, true. The creator has described using twin bushings, but they are not cylindrical bushings flanged to shroud the gas tube and there does not appear to be any visible insert. I’m not knocking it as much as knowing from experience that a misaligned gas tube can seriously jam and gouge the upper receiver.

    • jcitizen

      Redesign from what? I forget which came 1st – the AR18 or the AR14. – my Eugene Stoner history is fading from my mind.

  • Kivaari

    The retro look is intriguing. If I were young and more flush, I’d have to have one.

  • Kelly Jackson

    Exactly what I thought of too

  • BlackTalon2000

    That historical AR-14 looks good. Reminds me of the early Winchester SLRs. Do an article on that. Maybe companies will start cloning that like they did the AR-15.

    • I know next to nothing about it, but if I find out more, I’ll be sure to put up an article on it.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Nate, if you want to find out more about the genuine, historical AR-14, than find someone with an AR-17 “Golden Gun.” The AR-17 is just an AR-14 adapted to fire 12g shot loads (the magazine is different too, of course), but the receiver and stock are near direct translations. Personally, I’d like more info on how the AR-11 “Stopette” rifle related in design to the AR-14/AR-17. I can’t find any pictures!

        • That was what Daniel had said; that it was closely related to the AR-17.

          The Stopette was supposed to be based on the AR-3/M7, and looked similar.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Hmm, so like a micro action version of the Stoner M8? That’s interesting.

    • ostiariusalpha

      If anyone wants to convince ARES Defense to come out with a side-charging .308 version of their SCR, you’d get a pretty close approximation.

      • ostiariusalpha

        And ArmaLite displayed an AR-17B prototype at SHOTShow 2013, it could potentially be converted with a design retrofit back to an AR-14.

        • BlackTalon2000

          this is why i like this site.

    • Wolf Angel

      There is also an AR14 that is sort of a cross between an AK and and AR. Even some parts swap.

  • John

    Wow. I stand corrected.

  • Sianmink

    Love the bakelite, the fence-less featureless receiver, wire carrying handle, straight (25rd?) magazine, and the finish. retro done right.
    The only thing I would have tried to add is a top-mounted charging handle like the AR-10 instead of the standard rear, but that probably would have taken so much more engineering to pull off.

    • ostiariusalpha

      That’s not Bakelite, but that magazine is awesome though, isn’t it? Apparently, he welded two straight-body 20rnd mags together to replicate the original, experimental 25rnd prototype. Did a great job too, you can’t see the seam at all.

  • Anon

    Every time I see that thing or the assault carbine im amazed that the courier somehow reloads without a charging handle.

    • Sam Deeley-Crane

      the courier has magic powers

  • Zebra Dun

    Everyone knows they put carrying handles on rifles just to piss My Gunny off.

  • The Brigadier

    Hmmm green and brown with a FAL-like carry handle. Interesting.

  • Wolf Angel

    They aren’t useless. The gauges tell you how much air or steam pressure is left in the stock reservoir. The bell would be like the initial racking of the shotgun, only fair sport! And don’t forget a generous helping of brass, copper and rivets. Brass or copper bands to hold the forearm together around the barrel. A nice rich wooden encasement of the pressure containment vessel (buffer tube?) and of course it would shot some odd ammo, or have an electrical bayonet (not present when not charged, so not a metal thing a field thing) and maybe the magazine would be filled with bullets loaded intricately into the chamber and then fired caseless by the steam, air pressure. A small CRT for the scope with a small camera. Detach the CRT to shoot around corners, or it is on some scissory mechanism.