Breaking: Jim Sullivan, AR-15 Designer, Makes Some Controversial Statements on HBO Tonight

UPDATE: Jim says he was mis-represented by HBO. He responds here.

Jim Sullivan helped design the AR-15 back in 1957, and later the Ruger M77, the Stoner 63, Ruger Mini-14 and the crowd favorite Ultimax 100. Most recently he was the brains behind Surefire’s 60 and 100 round quad-stack AR-15 magazines.

In a few hours an interview with Jim will be aired on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT). Normally I trash cable TV press releases when they hit my inbox, but the release about the interview caught my eye. Jim Sullivan makes some quite controversial statements. Below are some quotes sent to me by HBO.

Jim claims that the 5.56mm was, at the time of its introduction, the most lethal cartridge fielded by any army in history.

JIM SULLIVAN: “The hits on the enemy, were just fatal– almost anywhere. One guy had been hit in the ankle, and it killed him.”


JIM SULLIVAN: “They couldn’t stop the bleeding. I mean, there was just so much damage.”
DAVID SCOTT: “No matter where you hit the enemy, you’d take him off the battlefield.”

JIM SULLIVAN: “That’s right. It was more lethal than any cartridge that was fired by any army in, in history.”

This is controversial because I would argue that the 7.62mm NATO, .50 BMG, 14.5×114mm, 6.5×55mm, 6.5×50mm and 7.62×54mmR to name a few were much more powerful than the 5.56mm/.223 Remington which is essentially a varmint cartridge (I might go as far to say the .45-70 (designed by the US Government almost 100 years earlier was more lethal … although far less convenient .. I know which I would rather be wounded with).

Jim, who also designed the Ruger Mini-14 (a scaled down .223 Remington sporting version of the military M-14), goes on to say he never envisioned the rifle having any civilians applications:

DAVID SCOTT: “Did you ever imagine—“

JIM SULLIVAN: “No. Never even considered that—it had any civilian application.”

DAVID SCOTT: “Concern you at all?”

JIM SULLIVAN: “Of course, everybody gets concerned when there’s one of these school issues where children are killed by an AR-15. I mean, that’s sickening. But that was never the intended purpose. Civilian sales was never the intended purpose.

In 1955, the year before the M16/AR-15 was designed, the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) begun selling military surplus M1 Garands (military semi-automatic rifles) to the public. Therefor it was obvious by then that there was civilian demand for military rifles. Sporting semi-automatic rifles date back long before then to at least 1906 when John Browning’s Remington Model 8 was introduced to the market. Ten years after the AR-15 was designed Jim went onto design the consumer semi-automatic Mini-14.

Now Jim is an old man. His memory may have faded in the last 60 years and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Jim goes onto say that a fully automatic M16 is not more lethal than a semi-automatic AR-15

DAVID SCOTT: “The lethality of the AR-15, is that reduced in the civilian semi-automatic mode?”


DAVID SCOTT: “It’s not?”

JIM SULLIVAN: “Same effectiveness. I mean, in fact,  the gun is functioning exactly the way the military model is in semi-automatic.”

This could be interpreted to mean that full auto is just as safe as semi-auto, so why are we not allowed full auto? I ask myself that almost daily!

We as a community have a lot to thank Jim Sullivan for. He is one of the great firearm designers of the 20th century. I will not judge him by a few comments on a cable TV show, anymore than I judged General Kalashnikov for comments he made in his later years. Jim has earned our eternal respect and gratitude.

In 2002 Jim patented a new rifle called the MGX:

L. James Sullivan’s Rifle Patent – The MGX

Forgotten Weapons did an interview with Jim a couple of years ago that is worth watching

UPDATE: Jim says he was mis-represented by HBO. He responds here.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • kzrkp

    Well that’s a shame to hear, but he did work with Bill Ruger. I do take that entire transcript with lethal doses of salt until the footage is shown, it is so easy to chop someone’s words in to anything in TV editing, I’ve done it myself.

    • Bill was no friend of ours.

      • ostiariusalpha

        No, Bill was a friend. He just got scared, and ended up losing the faith. I don’t forgive him for it, but I don’t discount everything he accomplished before that either because of it.

        • or is a more simple explanation could be that he was a businessman, nothing more, nothing less. Nothing wrong with being a businessman, but that did not make him our friend.

          • Captain Obvious

            Bill Ruger’s company was under siege by lawyers, the media and the gov’t after several mass shootings by people using Mini 14s. In order to save his company, his employees and his rifle he offered up hi-cap mags as the scapegoat. I didn’t agree with him but I understand why he did it. He did a lot of good for shooters, I can’t condemn him forever for doing one stupid thing.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I’m sorry that you think that way about him, you’ve apparently never looked very deeply into his life. Bill Ruger was obsessed with guns (and to a lesser degree cars) his whole life; he not only designed them himself, but kept himself involved as much as he could with the work of designers that he employed (much to Jim Sullivan’s amused chagrin, when Bill dropped a breakfast sausage on a blueprint that he had just completed drafting while going over it with him). In fact, he was very vocal that he didn’t ever want a pure businessman running his company because he didn’t like them. He was also involved in firearm support organizations and philanthropy (a good chunk of the Buffalo Bill Center collection was donated by him, and he sat on its board). The man was definitely not “just a businessman.” That doesn’t in any way excuse what he did with the proposal for a magazine capacity limit, but at least try to remember that SAAMI supported him in this effort, and that means that Remington, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Browning, Mossberg, and Marlin were involved as well, even if they were hiding behind Bill and letting him bear all the blowback.

      • Edeco

        Rawr! *power fist gesture*

      • FightFireJay

        Why is it that Jim deserves our eternal respect and gratitude but Bill does not?

        Jim just said that there is no use for civilians owning semi-auto rifles. At Bill sold them to us, even if he didn’t sell us standard size magazines.

        • Dan

          Where did he say there was no use for civilians owning semi-auot rifles?

      • kzrkp

        he sure wasn’t. i’m saying that Jim’s stance, what warped version we’re reading through media, is like Bill’s. trying to find middle ground with people that want to dismantle our rights by any means for more perceived safety is insanity.
        but considering Jim just designed the Ultra High Capacity Assault Surefire 100 Round Magazine for us, I’m skeptical.

  • Cus Ak’s R Betta

    From the genius how put a aluminum barrel in the M16 prototype for military testing………

    • Tod Glenn

      Are you sure you aren’t thinking of the titanium sleeved barrel on the AR-10. The AR15/M16 never had an aluminum barrel – even prototypes like them M177.

      • ostiariusalpha

        He’s confusing George Sullivan, the founder of ArmaLite, with our boy Jimmy. Jim worked for George, but they were otherwise unrelated. It was George’s idea to use the aluminum sleeved barrel on one of the AR-10 trial rifles, which blew up during torture testing by the Springfield Armory and guaranteed that they were out of the competition for adoption as the U.S. service rifle.

  • Rebellivesmatter

    Jim could have been fed loaded questions, as well as leading questions. These so called “journalists” have an agenda and will word questions in a way to get the answers they want. Low-life scum as far as I’m concerned.

    • the_duck

      Not to mention how they choose to edit the final product as well.

      • Which is why I turn down requests for TV interviews.

        • PK

          A wise choice in today’s world, however unfortunate the situation is.

        • wetcorps

          You get requests for interviews?

        • McThag

          My dad was a spokesman for an anti helmet law group and he found a novel way of getting an honest interview out of the press.

          Before signing the release forms, add in verbiage that gives you an unedited copy of all the footage taken that day.

          The news will either refuse to take the interview or they’ll have to play fair knowing you can produce footage with full context.

          • PavePusher

            Or simply make your own recording of the entire thing.

            In fact, if you do, and don’t tell them, you have the ability to trap them in their lies…..

          • GrumpyDave

            Wow! That sounds like the plot for the Abortion Video Sting™, and we all know how well that turned out for their cause . . .

          • PavePusher

            Depends on circumstances. If you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re merely protecting yourself.

          • Mark

            Another technique that I was taught and have used is to have your “sound bite” so well crafted and condensed that you can use it to answer almost every anticipated question. Use it so frequently in your interview that, if they edit out your message, they have nothing left except soundless images for lip-readers. It is tough when you have a lot to say, but it does work and it is unrealistic to expect the controlled media to let you air paragraphs of truth.

          • Kevin Craig

            Exactly: never, ever, engage in conversation or attempt to answer an open-ended question.

          • cube47

            Stay “On Message”

          • Not a bad idea

          • Phillip Cooper

            Very wise indeed!

          • linker

            A lesson well learned. The media always has an agenda they conveniently neglect to tell you about when they are smiling at you face to face while planning on stabbing you in the back.

        • Just Sayin’

          Me too!

          (Oh wait, never been asked now that I think about it).

        • n0truscotsman

          You’re smart for doing that.

          They would no doubt twist your words into those of a everytown-esque gun control proponent.

          and there would be those of us that would be wondering if you hit your head and woke up with a different personality

        • Cmex

          Could I perhaps interview you? I swear I’m a gun guy and would publish the whole darn thing in full.

        • I appreciate the concern but it’s better to try for positive publicity. Requesting a copy of the raw footage or taking your own audio is a good precaution, especially if there’s a reason to suspect a hostile or “Couric’d” interview.

          We can’t get a message outside our small circle circle (friends, website you manage, etc.) without engaging with people outside that circle.

    • Couldn’t agree more—

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    (Give or take) 30 years ago the NRA board and most of it’s members leaned that way.

    • Edeco

      Yep, it was very disheartening. I’m glad Gun Culture 2.0 is a thing. We were close to losing our philosophical spine forever.

    • Fozzy

      Exactly… It’s not an uncommon opinion at all… And the guy worked on the M16 directly and you question the intent of the
      cartridge and suggest his “mind is going”? Grow up. If you had any perspective
      you’d know this is a non-story.

    • jwjesq

      You mean there was a time when gun advocates were reasonable, rational, and moral?

      • SirOliverHumperdink

        My dad always says’ if you can’t hunt with it, it’s useless and at one time, he was the majority of the gun rights crowd. Over time, the tactical craze will simmer, just like the frenzy at gunshows after Sandyhook ect.. Without a doubt, he ‘anti-gun banners’ made AR/Ak’s more popular than the ‘pro-gun’ people ever did. ‘Banned’ is the best marketing tool ever conceived.

  • Bill Waters

    The original reason why machine guns (and short barreled shotguns) were severely restricted was the $200 tax required by the National Firearms Act of 1934. That is about $5,000 in today’s dollars. t The reason the short barrelled shotgun go caught up in this net was the NRA let it fall through the cracks when keeping pistols out of the tax snare.

    More recent legislation bans “transferable” machine guns registered after May 19, 1986 form being privately owned unless they are either “pre-sample” or “post sample.” Then only a dealer can own the firearm.

    • Tod Glenn

      The whole Miller case revolved around a short barreled shotgun.

      • DwnRange

        And the federal Judge from the Western District of Arkansas Judge Heartsill Ragon in 1938, a former WW I veteran, who knew that during trench warfare of the war, soldiers sawed off shotguns and flatten the barrels turning them into “trench-sweepers” declared the NFA of 1934 “un-constitutional”.

        When the BATF appealed this decision before the Supreme Court the fed attorneys lied to the the Supremes and told them that sawed-off shotguns were never used by the military and although there were 2 former WW I vets sitting on the bench (who should have known, but apparently didn’t); with no defense to point out this “LIE” we are still stuck with the un-constitutional NFA of 1934 today.

    • Joseph Goins

      The hell are you talking about? The NRA was essentially a sporting association of gentlemen shooting for accuracy and safety back in 1934 as opposed to the lobby it is today. (It actually started it’s lobby activity as a response to the NFA.) The NFA regulates short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, destructive devices, machine guns, suppressors, and any other weapons. You are transposing your view of the NRA today on the organization as it existed eighty years ago. Get off the gun forums and go read a book.

      Also, try to remember the culture of gangsters that existed back then. You could literally buy a BAR, a Thompson, and a stick of dynamite through a Sears catalog. The closest thing you have ever seen in your life is the Clinton assault weapons ban and the post-Sandy Hook hysteria.

  • Big Daddy

    Inaccurate and bizarre. The whole story of the gunshot wound causing death from a hit to the leg, did they ever hear of a tourniquet? if that story is even true he did not know the circumstances of it. more fuel for the anti-gunners, like the idiot general on TV talking to congress and saying the AR is a military combat weapon and the 5.56mm round is a killer.

    The original design was inaccurate and yes it was deadly at short distances, but no more so than any other military rifle of the time, it was just smaller and lighter. As the bullet was stabilized to improve accuracy it lost short range lethality. All this is documented.

    • Major Tom

      A hit to the leg is quite fatal if you hit the femoral artery. You have like seven minutes or less to stop the bleeding if you get nicked in that particular part otherwise you die from blood loss. Technically the femoral artery does reach down to the ankle, but it doesn’t deliver the same kind of blood flow that far down. (It’s known as the popliteal artery behind the knee and branches into the tibial arteries below that.)

      • Big Daddy

        It’s an anecdotal story I have heard now for 50+ years since Vietnam.

        • Jonathan Ferguson

          Anecdotal perhaps, but part of an official US mil report – see the comment below about Project AGILE.

          • Big Daddy

            True story from Afghanistan, got an email my friend in country a few years back, saved a guy’s life. It seems a Ranger forgot his true safety and his M4 went off. The bullet went through a wall, maybe a few and hit a guy laying in his bunk in the leg. He was bleeding out and my friend saved his life because he knew what to do. The guy that got hit from what I understand got a medical discharge and his leg is mangled for life. He was not hit in the femoral artery. Would it have been different if it was M80 ball or some 7.62x54R or 7.62×39?

      • With the femoral artery severed you WILL bleed to death very quickly without immediate intervention. We’re talking a very short time.

        • Major Tom

          Yeah the time frame is like seven minutes for a “minor” hit and down to less than two for a major one. Very quick way to die it is.

          About the only way to die faster from blood loss is sever the aorta and/or rupture the heart.

    • CommonSense23

      Tourniquet knowledge wasn’t what it was today. Lot of people bled out in the legs are arms in both sides.

      • ChierDuChien

        Tourniquets have been documented as far back as Alexander the Great. When your entire lower leg is lopped off with a sword or as an amputation, a proper tourniquet could save your life.

        • Major Tom

          And the “modern” form, use and techniques for applying one have been around since at least the First World War.

          • Ron

            Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) which was an outgrowth of both the Ranger’s experience in Mogadishu and work done by the IDF brought tourniquets back into common use. Prior to about 2002 for Marines and 2004 for big Army (and still done in some basic first aid and combat life saver course), troops were taught to use them as the last resort, and only to do after direct pressure, pressure points and elevation failed. In the pre-TCCC training you were taught to make an improvised tourniquet because they were not in the first aid kits, but testing done in 2003-2004 found the average troop took approx. 5 minutes to put together an improvised tourniquet, this lead to the great tourniquet race that resulted in the CAT being standardized for the services.

        • CommonSense23

          And they were considered a last ditch effort until the last two decades. They had a horrible reputation for over a century.

          • marathag

            Beats bleeding out.

          • CommonSense23

            Of course it does. But the common practice of throwing a tourniquet on a limb wound immediately is pretty only a couple decades old.

          • Sianmink

            Tourniquets won’t be fully accepted until we start using them on head wounds.

          • CommonSense23

            Saw it once you on a neck wound successfully. Still can’t believe it worked.

          • Major Tom

            According to whom?

          • CommonSense23

            US military, British military, the vast majority of Nato countries. Tourniquets were supposed to be last resort, not the first. They were tought that tourniquet use was writing off the leg. Even when they started to gain somewhat more favor, you had idiotic practices such as loosen it every 15 minutes to allow blood flow the leg.

        • Bill

          They have been documented, but it took the current conflicts and a rigorous study of traumatic combat casualty care to develop better models and protocols for their use.

    • Joseph Goins

      Your comment is ill-informed.

      1A) Tourniquets had been out of favor since WWII up until GWOT. (This is true of every nation, although some have still not reinstated its use.)

      1B) Keep in mind the time and enemy of the US when 5.56 NATO was developed. Medical care in the 1950/60s by Asian medics and doctors was pretty non-existent. With the exception of surgery, today’s paramedics learn more about medicine with their two year degree than backwater doctors.

      2) Like it or not, the AR-15 is a derivative of the AR-10. That weapon was created to compete in military trials so the Army could find a replacement for the M1 Garand (the contract went to the M14). The military then sought a new rifle with a smaller diameter, and thus the AR-15 was born. So, the AR-15 was designed as a “military combat weapon” and didn’t see the civilian market for the first five years of its life.

      3) Few designs stay in their original configuration after a few years. Hell, even the AK-47 was designed with a left-sided charging handle that didn’t reciprocate. So yes, the rifle wasn’t initially accurate. It needed a chrome-lined barrel. While “this is all documented,” you didn’t even acknowledge this simple fact.

      • Big Daddy

        1-The first thing I leaned in the army over 30 years ago was how to use a tourniquet.

        2- 5.56mm nato? That was much later. I was given 55 grain .223 rounds for my M16A1.

        3- WTF?

        4- Inaccurate as in the bullet would start tumbling easily. Inaccurate in a combat situation. Not on a bench. A chrome lining did nothing for that, the faster twist and heavy bullet did.

        5- You have no idea what you are talking about Joe.

      • FormerEnlisted

        I have no idea where you got your information but you need to give it back.
        We were taught to use tourniquets for combat injuries of a limb and I used a bandoleer on my own leg when it was nearly severed by a rifle bullet in 1967. If I hadn’t, I’d have been dead.
        Most of the wounds I saw with the early M-16 were quite unimpressive. Most were simple through-and-through and the guy kept running even after you saw the dust come off of him when you hit him.
        There’s a whole lot of horsepuckey about the experience we had with the M-16 and combat in general. Try to restrain yourself when you are talking about something that you don’t have any experience with.
        Company E, 2nd Bn, 1st Marines, 1966-67

      • Capt. Harlock

        .223 was adopted due to new theories on how to fight a direct war against another Super-Power. The AR-15 was adopted as the M16 to fight the Soviet Union, not the Viet Namese.

  • Aklover91

    It’s worth noting that M193 ball, especially out of a 1/12 barrel inside a certain range for velocity, is known for violently fragmenting and producing a pretty horrific wound. In gel it’s not particularly deep but the wound channel looks like hamburger.

    He’s probably not far off base, especially in regards to how hard it is to control bleeding with a wound like that.

    • Tod Glenn

      The initial twist was 1:14, and the M193 would fracture at the canneleure and create a lot of fragments. This is very well documented. But contrast, the more pawerful M80 ball and Soviet M43 were and are much more spatble and would just pass right through the target, retaining most of their energy. However, due to poor accuracy at subzero temperatures, the twist rate was increased to 1:12. With the adopts of the heavier 62 grain ball the rate of twist was increased to 1:7 (mostly to stabilize tracer ammunition since 1:9 stabilizes both M193 and M885 adequately.

      • Joseph A. Merrill III

        1:14 twist with the original stick propellant gave the field test M16’s a higher base velocity and reduce stability add in the effects of high day time temps the velocity goes even higher. I have seen hard copy photos taken in the field of wounds produced during the initial testing. The closest I have seen in person were from 180 gr Hornady soft points out of an 30-06 hitting the spinal column and shredding the off side shoulder on a Mule deer. Yes the early ammo and rifle combination was lethal on the subjects being engage with it.

    • Also consider the increased hit probability of that ammunition when fired from a lightweight rifle. Now take that and increase it some more in up close fighting in Vietnam against unarmored opponents. Can’t verify the source, but IIRC lethality increased in Vietnam by 11% after switching to 5.56mm AR15s.

    • Jwedel1231

      Good points. Mr. Sullivan said “lethal”, not “powerful”, possibly meaning when all things are considered, at the time it was the best round for taking out un-armored targets at intermediate ranges with high accuracy and rate of fire.

  • Major Tom

    “Jim goes onto say that a fully automatic M16 is not more lethal than a semi-automatic AR-15”

    Well technically he’s not wrong from a certain point of view. If anything on a per round basis, full auto can be less lethal because in a full-auto magdump the hit probability per round is often a lot lower, especially at range. Especially in the hands of those who have poor control and/or a lack of training and proficiency.

    But that’s not evidence or suggestion that full-auto should be or remain illegal.

    • jeffro

      Well full auto isnt illegal not should be. Just has to be registered before May 19 1986

      • Evan

        Unless you have $5000 lying around for a MAC10 or some similar ultra low end machine gun, or up to tens of thousands for something good, you can’t get it legally.

      • iksnilol

        Uh, it is practically illegal.

        Because of the high cost and paperwork involved. I mean, a new decent AR costs like 600 bucks. A beaten to hell 30 year old auto sear is a bargain for 10k.

        So for practical purposes it is illegal. Especially considering you can’t get new guns that are FA.

        • Major Tom

          Not to mention there are places *cough* Chicago *cough* where FA is illegal even if you have the NFA paperwork straight.

          • Bill

            Not just Chicago, try the whole state of Illinois, along with surpressors and SBS.

    • TheGreens

      Or maybe it shouldn’t be legal- you’ve let to prove why it should.

  • Audie Bakerson

    It doesn’t help if you ask yourself that every day.

    What helps is if you ask your elected officials and (better yet) candidates for office that every day.

    As soon as one cracks every other guy in congress that claims to be “pro-second amendment” has to co-sign or lose their jobs in the foreseable future.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    “This is controversial because I would argue that the 7.62mm NATO, .50
    BMG, 14.5×114mm, 6.5×55mm, 6.5×50mm and 7.62×54mmR to name a few were
    much more powerful than the 5.56mm/.223 which is essentially a varmint cartridge (I might go as far to say the
    .45-70 (designed by the US Government almost 100 years earlier was more
    lethal … although far less convenient .. I know which I would rather be
    wounded with).”

    Tell that to Nathaniel F. He’s made several posts and comments on this blog arguing that the 5.56x45mm NATO round has superior terminal performance than .308 and .50 BMG ball ammo.

    • Vitor Roma

      Hummm depends on the ammo. The M855A1 can be nasty, in some situations can be more deadly than the M80, but if we apply the same technology in a bigger and more powerful package, yeah, it would be iffy to make that claim.

      • iksnilol

        14.5mm with m855A1 bullets?

        Good God.

    • Kristoff

      So getting shot square in the chest with a .308 or .50 BMG is less lethal than getting shot square in the chest with a 5.56?

      • A Fascist Corgi

        According to Nathaniel F, yes.

        • iksnilol

          I think both are kinda lethal.

          • Cymond

            “kinda lethal”
            So they’re mostly dead?

          • iksnilol

            Basically. I know plenty of people who died.

            Makes Jesus risiing from the grave seem not that special, really.

          • Man that’s darn near crossing the line easy does it buddy—

          • iksnilol

            No, I mean, I know guy who literally got shredded with MG fire. Like, woke up in the morgue after intern surgeons used him for practice.

        • I do not agree with that opinion. I’ve seen .308 and 5.56 wounds and while I don;t want to get hit by any of them the .308 will make a nasty exit wound.

          • CommonSense23

            What type of rounds we talking about.

    • Let’s talk instead about how you comment on every single even tangentially related article on this site blowharding about something I said which only sounded controversial to you because you have the reading comprehension skills of a shelled peanut.

  • Tod Glenn

    “No. Never even considered that—it had any civilian application.” The rifle was first ordered in large batches in 1963 and adopted in 1967. But civilian sales stared in 1963. Clearly Colt understood that there was a civilian demand.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Should it really surprise anyone that he hadn’t considered civilian sales while he was designing the rifle for the military? I mean, that wasn’t exactly his job, he was more focused on just making sure it worked. I don’t think Browning looked at the BAR and said to himself, “This will be perfect for a home defense weapon! Can’t wait to see how she does in the civilian market.”

      • PK

        “I don’t think Browning looked at the BAR and said to himself, “This will
        be perfect for a home defense weapon! Can’t wait to see how she does in
        the civilian market.””

        Now that you mention it, twenty rounds of 30-06 would be awfully useful for HD…

        • Anon

          But the BAR itself is just terrible, it was obsolete before WWII even started.
          Will I argue against the 30-06’s effectiveness? No, because it’s a great round, but the BAR is an unwieldy piece of crap, I’d rather have an FG42.

          • PK

            Well sure, you’re comparing a gun from the 1910s to one from the 1940s. For the time it was developed, the BAR was fantastic. Still one heck of a fun gun to shoot, the weight really keeps recoil from being much of an issue at all.

          • Anon

            Fair enough, just pointing out that it wouldn’t be my first choice for a vintage full powered rifle.

          • iksnilol

            What’s funny is that the new BAR is pretty light. The shorttrac in 308 is like 3 kg.

          • LT Rusty

            … slightly different thing, iksnilol. The Browning Automatic Rifle sold today for hunting and the Browning Automatic Rifle from back then are not even remotely similar. They have completely different ancestry and heritage, and no connection other than a coincidentally similar name.

          • iksnilol

            I know that one.

            Like, the new BAR is amaze. Whilst the old WW2 BAR was not so amaze.

          • linker

            You are talking about a generation of difference in firearms development. But the gun was still used in WWII and used to great affect. Terrible? I don’t think so. I have an M1 it is now at least 3 or 4 generations outdated but quite fun to shoot still. It would also be a gun I would use for home defense if need be but only as a second or maybe even a third choice. It would work well though and I can hit with it.

          • Anon

            One of the main problems with the gun is that it was designed with “walking fire” in mind, which was not exactly a big thing in WWII.

            Admittedly, saying that it’s just “terrible” is hyperbole, but this gun was just outclassed by a lot of things in WWII, including the Bren LMG, the aforementioned FG 42, the MG 42, the MG 34, and so on.

          • johngardner

            Used in Korea, too.

      • Major Tom

        One of the first markets for the BAR was civilians, particularly businesses like Western Union or LEO’s. It was advertised as the perfect anti-bandit gun. Yes the whole bandit thing was still around in the 1920s.

        • The Thompson was also advertised to sell to civilians. Ranchers in an early ad.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Thompson only turned to the civilian market after his hopes of a big military contract were dashed, it wasn’t his first choice. He had to make money or go under.

          • sean

            That is a Western I would want to see!!

        • ostiariusalpha

          Bandits or not, they didn’t sell very well in the 20’s. A civilian Monitor cost $300 at the time, while you could get 25 of Colt’s 1911 pistols for the same price. It wasn’t till Depression era criminals started buying black-market BARs (Clyde Barrow stole his from various Midwestern Army National Guard armories) that law enforcement took interest in using the gun themselves, though they were more often than not simply borrowed from the military rather than actually purchased by the law enforcement department. It was only in 1934 that Colt managed to sell 24 guns to various non-Federal LE organizations like banks and security companies.

      • Jwedel1231

        Actually, he probably was. Full auto was 100% legal back then (‘gun control’ hadn’t been invented. Some of us are born in the wrong time period) and he started out making guns for hunters and trappers. JMB might be one of the most civilian-minded prolific gun designers in history.

        • UnrepentantLib

          The same thinking seems to have been common at Winchester. They designed their “Light Military Rifle” to compete against the AR-15. It looked somewhat like an enlarged M1 Carbine. (Pretty sure it’s been mentioned here before). Unfortunately, it was at an earlier stage of development and, if I recall, was chambered originally for the .222 Rem instead of .223, so didn’t fair well in the competition. If Winchester had continued development and worked the bugs out, then offered it to the civilian and law enforcement market it would have owned that niche before the Ruger Mini-14 came off the drawing boards. But Winchester apparently didn’t see the possibilities. Too bad. I’d love to have one.

        • iksnilol

          But not too many people bothered with FA, I mean, ammo was and is expensive. Then you add in WW1 and the depression later on and it is easy to see why FA wasn’t popular.

      • PavePusher

        Since EVERY other military rifle up to that time had also been sold on the civilian market, in either original, or slightly modified, form, yes, it certainly should have occurred to him.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You mean every American rifle; that is patently untrue of the majority of military rifles in the rest of the world, where any military features were thoroughly stripped off and most often chambered in non-military cartridges. In Browning’s case, none of those previous rifles had been fully automatic, so there was little reason to assume there was any appetite in the civilian market for such a gun; and, in truth, there was no such appetite, the guns never sold in anything more than 1-3 units a year till long after Browning was dead and buried.

    • politicsbyothermeans

      I’m sure if you asked some of the original ARPANET engineers whether it would be used to post cat pictures and act boorishly toward total strangers they probably would have said no too.

      • Phillip Cooper

        I’m thinking you’ve never actually met one of these old greybeard DARPANET engineers…they’re not exactly sociable critters for the most part.

    • Steve_7

      And JFK was one of the first if not the first person to have a semi-auto AR-15! And bear in mind back in 1963 you could buy full-autos, totally different mindset, where are those pictures of Miss America shooting one?

      I think the first actual use of the AR-15 in combat was between the British and Indonesians in Borneo in 1963. Both armies had purchased AR-15s.

      Anyway, Gene Stoner told me back in 1993 that the SR-25 was chambered in a “real caliber”, he didn’t care for .223 Remington as Jim Sullivan points out in that video.

  • datimes

    “Now Jim is an old man. His memory may have faded in the last 60 years”

  • ChierDuChien

    Elderly folks are not always in full control of their mental facilities. As smart as they may have been 60 years ago, most have loss of memory and intelligence. Anything they say should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Bjørn Vermo

    I remember newsstories from the time telling that the high velocity made wounds much more dangerous than the same hit from a 7.62 round, which would just go through. Remember, this was before general issue body armour.

  • janklow

    “Now Jim is an old man. His memory may have faded in the last 60 years and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

    i’m not. we’re going to hear this soundbyte thousands of times in the future. aid and comfort to the enemy, blah blah blah.

    • Joseph Goins

      What is wrong with what he said? The author didn’t prove anything.

  • Jonathan

    I really had to check the date on this post. I swear I’ve heard this exact set of interview questions and answers before. Can anyone tell me where or did I discover a glitch in the Matrix?

    • OJS

      Mandela effect

  • Doug Packer

    AR-15 is a fun toy, but I wouldn’t pick that round to go to war with.

    • CommonSense23

      Why wouldn’t you?

      • ostiariusalpha

        Probably because he’s never had to do the logistics for waging a war. People can say all kinds of cute things when they don’t know what they’re talking about.

      • Doug Packer

        Despite his admiration for his creation, the 5.56 is a marginal round with little knockdown power. It’s good for long range accuracy, but even the 7.62×39 has more energy at impact. An AR-10 would be my 1st choice. I own several AR-15’s (among others) and it’s just not powerful enough to be my first choice.

        • Malthrak

          No first rate military issues full power rifles in calibers like 7.62×51 as standard issue. Everyone is using smaller caliber rounds and nobody is finding any statistical data on intermediate power sub 6mm rounds being poor in the lethality department. Not NATO, not Russia, not China, etc. Either every major military force on the planet is wrong…or you dont need full power 7.62×51 to adequately kill people.

          • Doug Packer

            7.62X39 isn’t sub 6mm I didn’t think? After action reports in Iraq and Afghanistan show when we shoot them with 5.56 the fight isn’t over, yet when they shoot us with 7.62 it usually is (assuming they hit what they’re aiming at). “Every major military force on the planet” isn’t an accurate claim because very few use the smaller rounds. (“everyone” isn’t, and it’s laughable to suggest otherwise)

          • Anon

            Can you read? They said “first-rate”, which does not mean the same thing as every military.
            Also, as for the 7.62×39, you know that the majority of the round’s use is by third-world countries, right? Newsflash: that round was replaced by the 5.45×39 round in the Russian military, because they saw just how awesome M193 ball is, so they decided that yes, Small Caliber, High Velocity was in fact, a good idea. Heck, the Chinese went on board with that idea.

            Most of the time, if there is a case of 5.56 not performing well, it is probably one or both of the two (assuming FMJ use, M855A1 and that one 77 grain ammo I think it was, have reduced the need for velocity in order to be effective): it was M855, low velocity at range (also, this is why SBRs are not necessarily better, because not only do they decrease the lethality of whatever round you’re using, due to lower velocity, but it also makes the gun louder).

            As I’ve said before, some of the most common types of 7.62×39 are known for ice-picking (going straight through, doing little damage, unless it hits bone, which believe it or not, doesn’t always happen. So unless NATO is wrong, Russia is wrong, China is wrong, and many others, the Small Caliber, High Velocity idea is an excellent idea.

          • Malthrak

            7.62×39 isn’t frontline standard issue for any first rate military. The Russian Federation issues 5.45x39mm rifles to front line units, with 7.62×39 being retained mostly for rear echelon and internal security forces simply because they have untold mountains of the stuff stockpiled. China uses a 5.8mm round these days and hasn’t used 7.62×39 as their primary small arms caliber for many years.

            5.56 kills people just fine, evidence to the contrary is exclusively anecdotal as far as I’ve ever found. it’s not an ideal round for trying to hit someeone 700m away on another hill in a mountainous country, though neither is 7.62×51 or 7.62×39 (even less so) and small arms in general are poor at such ranges.

            There is no statistical evidence that sub 6mm intermediate rounds substantially lack killing power next to 7.62mm rounds. Volume of fire and shot placement both are orders of magnitude more important than raw power, and cailber is even less important.

            Hence why Russia, China, and NATO all use sub 6mm intermediate rounds (as do basically all US police agencies for patrol carbines and SWAT teams). The armies still using 7.62×51 or 7.62×39 are using it because they have gargantuan amounts of it already and cant afford to just dump it all and buy new stuff.

          • CommonSense23

            So 5.56 sucks cause of M855. You are writing off a whole caliber cause of one round. And if you think 7.62 Russian routinely stops people you need to read up on Senior Chief Day.

        • CommonSense23

          How many people have you seen shot with 5.56?

          • Dave

            More than my fair share, though when choices were slim I carried a M4A5, but if at all possible, I always opted for my Maximi or SR25.

          • CommonSense23


          • TJbrena

            It’s an Aussie M4 variant IIRC.

          • Kristoff

            Oh like you have. Explain to me why you have to have seen people shot to know if a round is or isn’t effective.

            Following your logic, you’d have to have a disease first hand to know its effects. Fan boys…

          • crackedlenses

            “Explain to me why you have to have seen people shot to know if a round is or isn’t effective.”

            Then how does he know whether or not the round is effective? Either he has seen the effects himself or he has talked to someone who has seen the effects.

          • Kristoff

            Alright, so you can’t actually explain why you have to see someone who’s been shot to know if a round is or isn’t effective.

          • crackedlenses

            You haven’t given an alternative to determining whether or not a round is effective.

          • Kristoff

            I never said I was going to.

          • CommonSense23

            I’ve seen a good bit shot with a variety of calibers. I’ve seen people survive multiple rounds of 5.56, 7.62 nato and Russian, .45acp and 9mm. Seen individuals take a .300 win mag to the chest at 600 yards and walk over to us asking for aid. Even watched a guy take a round from a 50 to the chest at under 50 yards and survive. I have also seen guys take single rounds of all the calibers above and drop dead instantly. So I realise they are going to be lots of different experiences. But the reason I ask how many times some one has seen people shot is to see what they experience is first hand, or second hand. Then I ask. What rounds are we talking about here. M855? 193? MK262 or MK318? How about 885A1 or MK255? What about 70gr. Cause I have noticed a trend of people bashing 5.56 who either are going off second hand knowledge, or only have experience with M855.

        • Anon

          “Knockdown power”? Okay, I’m going to have to stop you there, because that term is terrible and means absolutely nothing.
          Also, if you bothered to do your research, you’d know that M193 ball was known to produce terrible wounds in combat, in fact, it was called “inhumane” because of how bad the wounds that it produced were.

          The only reason the 5.56 round got a reputation for being terrible is because of the M855/SS109 (thankfully, the M855A1, the round that replaced it, is MUCH better) round being a terrible performer at soft tissue and also since they shortened the barrel from the original 20 inches, lowering velocity.

          Also, the 7.62×39 is not as awesome as you think it is compared to the 5.56, because guess what? At least one of the most abundant kinds of that round was notorious for just passing through the body, doing little damage. Also, the 7.62×39 is just awful against body armor, since a slow, heavy bullet is easier to stop than a fast, light bullet.

          If you think that you need a 308 to get the job done for combat, well you need a reality check, because the 5.56 is not a joke, provided you used something better than M855 and have a decent barrel length.

      • iksnilol

        Because I am a civilian and thus can afford a bit more weight to get things like range and cover penetration.

        Range, and more importantly cover penetration is kinda important for me since I haven’t got:

        -Armor (both personal and the tracked kind)
        -air support
        -artillery suppport
        -ground support (AKA teammates).

        5.56 is great for the military, for civvies like me it is slightly less great.

        • CommonSense23

          So how much armor or cover penetration are you expecting to get using let’s say 7.62 nato over 5.56. And what round and rifle are you using that is going to give you a greater practical range than 5.56

          • iksnilol

            6.5×55 is gonna give me much greater range than 5.56. Out of a good old fashioned Mauser, since I am not a gunner or stuff.

            7.62×39 doesn’t weigh much more than 5.56 and gives me just the amount of cover penetration that I need. That’s what I use the most. If I need to go farther than 300-400, the Mauser is where it’s at. Otherwise, short barreled AK is the most practical firearm. Only thing that’d be more practical would be a shorty VZ58 or something.

            How much more penetration? I don’t know how you measure these things. All I know is I shot a brick wall with 5.56 and it didn’t go through, did the same with 7.62×39 and it went through. Now my thinking is, it’s better to shoot somebody through their cover since they’ll have an easier time hitting you if they need to get out of cover for you to hit them.

            Like I said, 5.56 is good for military, especially conscripts. But for a guy that isn’t a soldier and doesn’t have all the goodies that come with that? Slightly less good, still good nonetheless.

    • Joseph Goins

      The AR-15 is a platform, not a round.

      • Doug Packer

        what calibers does an AR15 shoot? PS that is a trick question because unless it’s modified that is the only round It shoots.

  • Richard

    I don’t really care what his personal philosophy on firearms ownership is, same as Bill Ruger – they both contributed significantly to the firearms industry and firearms design.

  • Same happened to remington 700 designer 50 years later. Look it up, I’mma ’bout to hit the sack.

  • ryan

    I think people forget that the human body is like a big varmint in a lot of ways. That being said a tumbling high velocity round is indeed best on soft targets. Hence I don’t think the guy is wrong. When you throw in body armor, certain cover yeah 5.56 starts to lack. Especially as you start trying to take hits at farther ranges. But with better bullet technology I think those limitations have also diminished. Yeah it be great to have a bullet that can devastate the human body and also puncture through barriers better on a consistent basis but has there ever been anything in life were you get everything? Until then I think swapping between a barrier blind ammo and a nasty soft target round gets the job done.

    • FarmerB

      Agree. In a military setting it has shortcomings (armor, barriers, etc), and the bullets are all wrong for big varmints. But to take one example, unfortunately, many kangaroos have to be culled every year to control their numbers. The largest run from 150-200 lbs and stand 5′-5’6″ high. Caliber used? .223 Rem.

      • Tassiebush

        I think the funny thing about roos is that anatomically the vulnerable areas aren’t particularly protected or deep under tissue or bone. The target area is more like a smaller animal’s. It’s really just a brain or a triangle of heart and lungs.

        • FarmerB

          Yeah agreed, almost like humans 🙂

          • Tassiebush

            Haha yeah it’s a valid observation. At the time it was developed too there wasn’t really much armour to worry about. Just clothing and shallow tissue to destabilize into.

  • Kivaari

    He’s a lot older than me and I am already noticing I am dumber than I was 40 years ago.

  • Kivaari

    Keep in mind that most people don’t know what he is saying. Yes, an AR15 is just the same as an M16 when the M16 is fired in semi-auto mode. A semi-auto setting in a select-fire rifle, is a semi-auto rifle. He is quite silly regarding wounding power. Now HBO viewers will think a hit anywhere on the body is lethal. Great! Just like the .45 hitting a pinky finger will flip a man head-over-heels.

  • Tjnsd

    I’ll hold any judements until the interview is aired and reviewed, and Jim responds. I don’t trust HBO or any of the major media to tell the truth, or to edit truthfully. They have lied and lied too many times. Wait and see….”Trust, but verify”

  • demophilus

    Some years ago Sullivan and his company Arm West LLC were showing a PDW concept that seemed interesting. All I saw was a line drawing, but it seemed to be a pistol sized thing with a sort of floating action, so the bolt or slide wouldn’t slam to a stop ejecting or going back into battery.

    Anybody got a line on that? I’d like to learn more about it.

    • iksnilol

      I think Sullivan rocked that concept with the Ultimax as well.

  • FightFireJay

    “Jim has earned our eternal respect and gratitude.”

    The man helped design a machine. If he hadn’t, someone else would have helped make something similar. Actually, a lot of people have designed similar firearms that we can purchase today.

    I don’t think he deserves my eternal respect and gratitude anymore than the engineers at Ford and Toyota that made sure the brake system in my vehicles work properly keeping me and my family from crashing into the person in front of me at a red light.

    The only reason why he was interviewed for TV is because they knew before hand that he had controversial claims to make.

    • PK

      ” If he hadn’t, someone else would have helped make something similar.”

      When it’s ‘railroading’ time, people build railroads. I agree with your thought on something like the AR-15 being designed, upgraded, and used for decades regardless of who initially did the work.

      I still think Jim is an interesting fellow and meant no harm, but he ought to have known better than to accept an interview with HBO.

  • borekfk

    Maybe he meant that he thought there was no market for it back then, which maybe true considering how fudd everyone was back then.

    • Joseph Goins

      The AR-15 was developed in 1958 and wasn’t introduced to the market until 1963, a few years after ArmaLite sold the intellectual property to Colt.

      • Jonathan Ferguson


  • Tom01

    If you are speaking of original intent by the designers, neither the AR nor the AK were built with the civilian market in mind.

    We have a civilian market for them though and Mr. Sullivan has done a good bit of work in that realm. The answer wasn’t if civilians should have them, but what the original design intent was.

    He is not entirely wrong about the wounding characteristics of the original 55g fmj round fired from a rifle length barrel. A .308 punches through a target leaving a clean path (fmj remember). The old school 55g did not leave a clean path and often did all sorts of squirrelly stuff inside the body. Yes, a 308 in the vitals is more lethal, but if the person isn’t hit in the vitals the wounding path of the 55g has a good chance of being more difficult to treat. In field conditions that often means death.

    As to the full auto bit, well he is right. The bullet isn’t suddenly more deadly just because the rifle will fire another. It’s the hits that matter and often times, or with more range, multiple hits on a target are harder to achieve with auto fire. With many guns you are triple A after about 3 rounds.

    It doesn’t make much sense for it to be illegal. Hell if they are worried about mass shootings, the perp will generally hit fewer people and deplete their ammo more quickly. Beyond that it is mostly a way to spend money quickly. There are good uses but honestly, most just want the giggles and there is nothing wrong with that.

    I don’t hold this interview against Jim. I think his record speaks for itself.

  • Norm

    I think it’s pretty clear that when asked about the lethality of the weapon, he meant that with the same ammo as the military version (M193), the civilian version was just as lethal in semi-auto. Of course it would be. A full auto weapon is not intrinsically more lethal. If you shoot someone 5 times in semi, or a 5 round burst on auto, the damage potential is the same, just the time-frame the damage is done is compressed.

  • Joe Schmo

    Seems like Jim may have lost his marbles. I know that the media will edit around things to make them more sensational, but I don’t see how his words could be misinterpreted if the questions asked are accurate and he responded to them as reported.

    This seems like a strange stab in the back of the market and people that bought guns and appreciated Jim’s work. The AR is America’s rifle, I doubt he’ll complain about it. I doubt he complained when Colt started selling SP1s to civilians in the 1960s. I doubt he complained when Ruger released the Mini-14 and sold loads on the civilian market (which was a major part of the rifle’s design, to be a civilian rifle with military potential).

    Hopefully this interview will be forgotten, most people who are not interested in guns will probably retain little information on the details of the subject. But these are damning statements for the gun community and the second amendment. Some people will see this and say, “Oh man, even the guy who made these guns doesn’t think people should have them!” or some similar asinine statement. From my cynical point of view, this can only hurt us.

    Jim goofed, in my opinion. He’s hurt the community whether he intended to or not.

    • jamezb

      “Jim goofed, in my opinion. He’s hurt the community whether he intended to or not.”
      Oh, agreed.
      it’s an early and often misrecognized sign of dementia.. an underlying hatred of those younger and more able than you – because they are younger and more able than you. It is manifested by an attitude that expresses the dementia victim’s feelings that “these youngsters are all stupid – they can’t be trusted like WE could at their age”
      Now MY generation could be trusted with atom bombs.. but we need to take away these knee-knockers pea shooters, because they won’t let me drive at night any more!

  • LazyReader

    On HBO???? Damn wish I had that.

  • iksnilol

    Well, he ain’t lying. He didn’t design it to sell to civilians, they made it for the army. Luckily Colt was smart enough to sell it to civvies.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    I have yet to watch the full interview for myself (I will when I get off work) but from the excerpts he did not say that civilians should not own semi autos. He simply said the semi was no less deadly. That could just as easily be making a point for the legalization of full autos. If i missed some context from the video that makes that statent untrue then I will soon be corrected.

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    So according to him the poodle shooter, in its original form, was “more lethal than any cartridge that was fired by any army in, in history”. And “The hits on the enemy, were just fatal– almost anywhere. One guy had been hit in the ankle, and it killed him.”
    Now that’s all you need to know, folks. Stop that stupid search for barrier blind rounds that expand and penetrate well, and don’t even think about shooting someone more than 150 m away.

  • Jwedel1231

    This reminds me a lot of the hit piece on Remington that NBC aired a few years ago. They interviewed the engineer who designed the rifle & its trigger and used leading questions and editing to make him say that the rifle was inherently dangerous from the get-go.

    Did anyone else feel the same way, or am I on my own here?

  • Steven

    Sounds like he really doesn’t know much about the round his designed fired. That and age may have caught up with his mental capacity.

  • Jacen

    I think one of the last cable series about guns with little bias against guns was back when the History Channel meant something and it was their Tales of the Gun series.

  • Don’t worry he isn’t interested in talking with you. Since you question his background and knowledge would you share what your experience has been to validate your assertions.
    So everyone on this page who has commented is full of crap and you happen to be the only one who is right—hum interesting:-)

    • Joseph Goins

      I wholeheartedly believe in what the commenter was stating that you are bullying someone simply because you disagree with them. You proved it in how you responded to him. The man does make a valid argument concerning the lack of intellectual depth presented in the article by Steve (TFB Editor) . Then, Phil W “Associate Editor TFB” failed to address a comment with any semblance of professionalism. Instead, he resorted to attacking TheGreens (ad hominem mixed with an an appeal to authority). You should avoid that.

      The reason why this issue is important to someone like me is simple. I believe that TFB truly has a great platform to show professionalism in the firearm realm. The organization should be holding itself to the highest of standards, including writing. You ought not try to just publish information to “get the word out.” The gun community is looked down on very poorly by a lot of people, and you do a disservice to everyone by producing a less-than-stellar.

  • gunsandrockets

    Sigh. The anti-gunners, which have a striking overlap in membership with “professional journalists”, have an interest in propping up the mythological killing power of the AR-15, the better to sustain their favorite bogeyman.

    I don’t know what mixture of leading questions and creative editing was needed to get Sullivan to cough up the jaw-dropping quotes described. But those quotes will get repeated endlessly by the usual propagandists during this election year. Why now the anti-gunners have it upon the utmost authority what a menace to public safety the AR-15 represents! From Sullivan himself!

    We all know the AR-15 myths are B.S. I suspect even many of the anti-gun propagandists know it’s B.S. Which makes me wonder who is the target for this final desperate and disgusting attempt to justify AR bans. It certainly isn’t aimed at us, because we know better. The usual targets of this kind of propaganda are the indifferent public. But I suspect this interview is actually aimed at the anti-gun faithful, to keep them stirred up and above all prevent them from losing hope despite the overwhelming evidence that their cause is unjust, dishonest and losing.

  • Tritro29

    A part from the “most lethal calibre”, where does he get it wrong?

    1. The rifle he helped design was made for the military…There’s a distinct issue between a military program and getting rid of surplus rifles…It’s basically the same idea with most military rifles. In his mind those rifles were Military items. The first rifles ordered were by a military force (Somoza’s Nicaragua) which failed. Then the rifle was marketed to other Banana States…
    2. A select fire automatic rifle is not more lethal than a semi-only rifle. A burst of fire, can kill you as much as two squeezes. Or are we trying again to explain that the military got it wrong.

  • Jess Johnson

    This guy helped recently to design quadstack mags for surefire? Sure sounds like his opinions have changed since he helped design the mini 14.

  • smartacus

    i admire tank sergeant Kalashnikov for going along with the Soviet propanganda machine and putting his name on Hugo Schmeisser’s well thought out invention.
    i own a Russian one, Hungarian one, and two Romanian ones.

    • Tritro29

      Who told you to leave your bridge?

    • he retired a General

      • smartacus

        i know, right? that’s a good point. A Sergeant retiring as a General?
        Only in Soviet Union do impossible dreams come true 🙂

  • guest

    The “secret” behind *some* of the .223/5.56 ammo is that it “ball” ammo on paper, but at close range, performance-wise, performs like hollow point.
    If that’s what he is referring to – he is correct. If not, then he forgot to take his pills.

  • Ron

    There is no such thing as stopping power, during the first class we give in combat shooting for Marines, we tells them forget everything they have heard or seen on TV or the movies about what bullets do when they hit bodies because there are not magic bullets and failure to destroy the CNS, you are not going to stop someone until they bleed our of give up.

    The most important things is where you hit the target, followed by who is hit and least important is what they are hit by. As CS23 noted, you see people hit with all kinds of weapons and not stop and you see people hit with minor, non-fatal wounds and they are out of the fight.
    There was a case in Kandahar district in 08 of a US Army turret gunner taking a RPG dud to the chest and continuing to shoot his M240 until he bleed to death. A dud RPG is around 80mms, if that stuck in your chest does not instantly stop that guy nothing will.

  • PavePusher

    Even ‘smart’ people can be FUDDs.

  • Paul Joly

    Where is Jim Sullivan in this interview?!
    “Jim goes onto say that a fully automatic M16 is not more lethal than a semi-automatic AR-15”
    No, according to your quote, he said that the ar15 and the m16 are as effective in SEMI-AUTO because the journalist thought there is a “civilian semi-auto mode”.

  • valorius

    so he designed the 60 and 100 round ar mags that are ONLY used by civilians because he’s so concerned about the AR’s lethality?

    What an ass.

  • Patriot Gunner

    Love how my comment was never posted. TFB does a better job of censorship than Facebook. As I was saying…1. Sullivan should have known HBO’s stance on the Second Amendment. I am not opposed to doing interviews with such outlets, but you need to know your walking into a lions den and plan accordingly. 2. A lot of people in this industry are not pro liberty, apparently Sullivan is one of them. 3. “Jim has earned our eternal respect and gratitude.” Eternal respect? The man is not Christ. When someone gives you the shaft you don’t keep respecting them. He will forever rightly deserve credit for being part of a team that developed the AR, that’s it. Oh and those SureFire 60 and 100 round mags are jam-o-matics.

  • 3RD LT Rico

    He sounds like a cuckservative.

  • jamezb

    Lets see..The RUGER Mini-14… No Civilian purposes…I’ve heard that before somewhere… OH, …of course..
    Bill Ruger.
    But even Bill Ruger’s anti-civilian stance didn’t stop him from selling HOW MANY of the things to civilians?
    I suppose he donated the proceeds to Brady?
    No? Kept it?
    Another Hypocrite among hypocrites. Eh..what do you expect from a Gumbal interview?
    Fair and balanced reporting?

    • BigFED

      Bill Ruger was also the primary reason one could not buy 20/30 round factory magazines! They made them, but marked them for “LEO USE ONLY” even before the Clinton ban!

  • Broz

    The extreme lethality was due more to the twist of the rifling than to any other factor. The original twist was 1 in 14 which barely stabilized the 55 grain bullet – when it struck soft tissue it ‘exploded’, or more correctly, ‘catastrophically destabilized’. The initial users were seriously impressed and early reports of the rifle’s effectiveness were spectacular…when the Ordnance Board got hold of the rifle to redesign it for general issue (as the M16A1) it, among other things, added the forward assist (which the designers never thought necessary, but which the Ordnance board insisted on) and changed the 1 in 14 twist to 1 in 12 to stabilize the heavier tracer rounds -this change reduced the ‘explosive lethality’ of the original twist rate and (among a host of other problems) led to complaints that the rifle was inferior to the M14. the introduction in the early 80s of the A2 series with the heavier 62 grain bullet and the 1 in 7 twist (in the attempt to increase the penetration of the new bullet at ranges of 600 meters) has led to even more complaints that at normal combat distances the heavier bullet merely passes through soft tissue without destabilizing quickly fails to create the large wound cavity that was the reason for the success of the very high velocity lightweight bullet of the original stoner/Sullivan design. Again, the military was trying to design one rifle with one round that would be all things for all needs, fort all people…exactly the same reason the M14 failed so spectacularly in the attempt to replace the M1 Garand,M3/M3A1, M1 Carbine and BAR…the design was sold to Colt (who had the ability to manufacture and deliver the rifle (as opposed to the Armalite Division of Fairchild Republic) and the first civilian ‘sporter’ – before that term was ever defined – version was manufactured in early 1964. The interviewer is obviously ignorant (whether this is simple ignorance or the more sinister type, known as ‘crass ignorance; is open for debate) of the history of the M16 series of rifles…and it obviously shows.

    • CommonSense23

      The lethality of M193 came from its speed. Take a 1 and 7 twist and shoot 193 from a 20 inch barrel and you still get the same wound patterns as the early 1:14 twist.

  • Having just watched the piece I can say that it looked very much of out of context use of his answers. If you ask questions a certain way which they did to get the answers they wanted to build their hit piece on AR-15 guns. I agree in that its best that no one who believes in gun rights should not deal with the press unless trained to. This has been proven over and over and yet people think they can “spin” or bring around the reporter even though there is no way to do it when the game is rigged when they control what the viewer will ultimately see.

  • Levi Rogers

    The military issue is called the M-16 isn’t it? I don’t know, I have never been in the Military unfortunately. Someone please let me know.

    • Levi Rogers

      I am a hunter and believe in the 2nd. But have a question about that.

    • Kevin Harron

      Military versions used by the US are M16, M-16A1,M16A2, M-16A3, M-16A4, M4, M4A1. with a whole bunch of prototypes and small batches with XM designations.

  • Da_Bunny

    And yet the police are more than willing to shoot civilians with them…

    • CommonSense23

      The fact that lighter faster rounds produced devastating wound has been known for almost a hundred years. It’s extremely well documented.

      • Da_Bunny

        And yet the Army stayed with the 30.06 until the 1950’s, when they adapted the .308. There was a contingent of ordnance people who fought the adaption of the AR platform, even going so far as to ignore the requirement to use flake powder and issue ammunition with ball powder, causing the M-16 to fowl in combat conditions. The Army didn’t know what they had, mostly because they didn’t want to. The M-16 was promoted as a rifle that didn’t need cleaning and completely failed to live up to that hype. It was the first .22 caliber combat rifle and the uneducated were at a loss to explain the lethality and most believed it was some whizbang technology when it was just a thin jacket, further weakened by the cannelure. Without CAD software, it wasn’t really practical to analyze in such detail. Research was done, it wasn’t understood until rounds started hitting people and the medical people started documenting it. Records were all paper and pencil work had to be transferred to tape or cards and the work processed at a glacial until it reached the pitiful computers that were essentially four function calculators. It took years.

  • Phillip Cooper

    I think what we have here is a lot less “old man with fading memory” and a lot more “Oh gee, look, I’m on TV, I get to run my mouth as if it’s important”.

  • linker

    The man lied more times than I can count. The bullet tumbling problem he alluded to was corrected in the Viet Nam and was due to a combination of incorrect bullet weight, rifling and powder. As far as the 223 being so powerful and dangerous it is often referred to by shooters as a “mouse gun cartridge”. I have heard stupid politicians refer to the ak47 and ar15 as being so powerful as to make the BAR, a 30 06 caliber gun, seem like a peanut. Ignorance is bliss but lying is unforgivable. When the “reporter” told Gumbel about 3 gun and other competions where ar15s are used the disgusted look on his face was telling. These people love to expound on subjects that they have no knowledge of. They only know they don’t like shooters. They wonder about us and we or at least I wonder why they are such wusses. They spoke often of the more than 12 million ar15s sold in this country but never disclosed that a small fraction, less than 1 percent are used in crimes. As I said earlier, ignorance is bliss but lying is unforgivable. Lying is the left’s stock and trade.

  • S

    I think he’s just trolling them with fudd memes.

  • robert h kruckman

    I had to comment on the first statement about the destructive effect of the orriginal M16. The reason this round was so destructive in origional form, was the barell twist, which was 1×12. the bullet was key-holing past 100yrds. which makes very destructive IF U could hit what U were aming at. I first shot the M16 at Lackland AFB in 1966. My drill instructors were amazed at the knock-down power of the bullet (they shot deer).

  • JBullets

    Controversial only if you thought you knew what Mr Sullivan was thinking when he designed the weapon. 2nd amendment really doesn’t care if the designer intended for the public to use the weapon.

  • johngardner

    May have been BS to help us have faith in we called the “Mattey Mattel” rifle, but we were told when it was issued to us before going to ‘Nam in ’67 that the M-16 was lethal with normally wounding hits because the bullet tumbled after about 100 meters. That, of course, decreased its accuracy but this really wan’t an issue as the M-16’s we were trained on and issued had sights that had two settings: “near” (i.e., under 300 meters) and “far” (i.e., over 300 meters). That was consistent with the Army’s post Korea desire increase squad firepower by adopting something like an assault weapon. The idea is to get the lead out there because you don’t normally see much of the enemy anyway (he’s trying to hide just like you are).

    Some years after ‘Nam, the number of twists in the barrel were increased, much improving accuracy — and decreasing lethality. Tales began to come back about enemy taking multiple hits without being stopped as the rounds punched small holes “through and through”. So, now the M-4, I understand, automatically fires two rounds when in semi-auto mode.

  • Joe Schmo

    I was stating my opinion, my take on the article. What I feel is not representative of the whole community. Only one segment of my previous comment was political, the rest was relating to Jim’s statements and its effects on the gun community.

    Not once did I say that the community as a whole feels a certain way. Nor did I claim that anyone else in the community should feel the same way. To assume that my statements reflect anyone else’s feelings, or that I want them to reflect anyone else’s feelings, would be inaccurate. I did not “suppress” anyone else’s individuality or freedom to think by stating my opinion. If anyone felt that I, a random stranger on the internet, could “suppress” anyone’s freedom to think or speak by stating my own opinion, they need to evaluate what constitutes an opinion and what constitutes a command.

    Of course we are all free to say whatever we want, Jim did so, and I am saying how I feel about what he said. I’m very familiar with how freedom of speech works, and it is often action and reaction. Jim made his statements, I stated how I felt about them.

    I never stated that Jim needs to be some perfect demigod for the gun world, no one is. I don’t expect anyone, other than myself, to perfectly represent my opinions. I feel that his statements are really odd for a guy who spent his life designing firearms that he knew would most likely have sales to civilians in the United States. I feel that his statements are potentially harmful to the image of AR enthusiasts and people who like mil-surp guns/modern sporting rifles.


    My statements are how I feel. Not anyone else. To interpret them as a representation of a group or a forced representation of a group is inaccurate. I cannot tell anyone that their opinions are wrong, everyone has different opinions. Nor can I claim to represent anyone or any group other than myself.

    Also, I’m just a guy on the internet. Who really cares what I think.

  • FormerEnlisted

    Pathetic old twit. He wants to get all reminiscent, let’s hear what he has to say about the hundreds and more of us who were wounded or killed because the idiot AR-15/M-16’s early version failed catastrophically in combat. Nothing like having a weapon that tears cartridge case heads off, then feeds the next cartridge into that mess, fusing the bolt in place while everyone’s trying to kill you. Saw way too many Marines dead next to their broken-down and almost unclearable M-16s.
    The other lie he should own is the “lethality” of the early 5.56. Saw too many of the enemy hit and just keep going. Acted more like .22LR than anything else. I kept my M-14 because I saw how badly that early M-16 performed. I will never forgive those idiots that forced an unproven weapon on us when our lives depended on it.

  • cube47

    Bryant Gumbel…

    I’d rather watch 5 hours of senile Fidel Castro!

  • Stuart

    Mr Sullivan needs to be taught a lesson. Hopefully if he’s a member at any gun club, or an NRA member, or involved with USPSA/IPSC/IDPA somebody has the good sense to mark him as “persona-non-grata” for his statements.

  • Herman Johnson

    This fellow may have been a great firearm designer, but his timing chain definitely slipped to do an interview with HBO and anything to do with Bryant Gumbel.

    Left Wing Liar’s Network. That just about sums up that ‘media’ channel.

    And don’t get me started about Katie Couric’ liefest special on the Epix Channel…

  • RickOAA .

    The early rifle/ammo combo with the slow twist rate and original 55gr projectiles reportedly exhibited immediate and massive fragmentation. Energy transferred is more effective than energy wasted. 50BMG ball is less than ideal as it’s thick jacket and mild steel core just go through unless hitting something hard first. It has a reputation as a poor choice as a hunting round, with more traditional calibers of controlled expansion ammunition being preferred. 7.62 ball is known to yaw but not fragment in flesh.

    I think it’s always been a good round for the purpose. There’s no magic bullet and not everything works well in all circumstances. Everything is a compromise.

    The guy is a firearms designer. Everyone has opinions…and it’s hard to trust the source due to their bias. The media is tricky and treacherous in their ways.

  • Talos

    Can’t say I agree on full auto. Not even the military encourages that. Going full auto is either a sign of a bad marksman or you are about to be overrun and need a desperation move. Marines and army strongly discourage full auto except for specific weapons for that specific role. As to his comments on the AR 15 and civies, I’m sure he never did consider that issue, he was designing for the military and that was what was on his mind. His answer, in the current political environment, is also colored worn PC. If he had said, “no problem with civilians having the AR 15!”, it WOULD get spun into, “He’s a heartless gun nut with no concern for the children!”

    • Cottersay

      That’s no excuse. A man stands up for what he believes in, and doesn’t spout BS just to suck up to the enemy (anti-Constitution groups). Sucking up to the enemy is what we call “being a collaborator”.

      However, to give someone with Jim’s stature the benefit of the doubt, I think he more likely has Alzheimers than any real intention of selling out.

  • silentfor56years

    When the Defense Dept and Universities “invented” ARPA Net or the internet as we know it today, It was never intended for Civilian applications. Neither was teflon or computer chips or GUI. Come to think of it Kevlar too. Many things developed by or for the Military were not intended for civilian use when invented.

    • Herman Johnson

      Excellent point.

      If you take a moment to think about it, everything from weaponry to clothing to food to space travel to IT technology that was invented for military use eventually filters it’s way down to civilian applications. Nothing wrong with that.

      The issue here is that this ol’ boy agreed to sit down and talk candidly with a very Left Wing gun hating organization driven by an ideology absolutely determined to wipe out our freedoms, and oppressively control our lives.

      I certainly could have chosen many other appropriate forums from which to sit down and talk about these guns other than HBO.

  • USMC 64-68

    I’m putting it down to alzheimers or a nice check in his pocket from some anti-gun commiecrat.

  • AirborneSoldier

    Hes right about lethality with the 55 grain and the original barrel. That ended with the more stable 62 grain and the faster twist.

  • jim

    MGX? I like. Where? when? how much?

  • Core

    He’s also under heat from the antis trying to sue him and any manufacturer that makes Stoner rifles. I think he may be trying redirect the potential liability by saying that the gun he helped develop was never intended to be in civilian hands. This covers him and his estate from liability.

  • FloridaFits

    So then, I was doing it all wrong. Aiming for center mass (when possible) rather than ankle shots.

  • John J. Motil

    Saying the Ruger Mini-14 wasn’t designed for the civilian market is odd because Ruger always tried to fill that niche! Also the Ruger Mini-14 sure isn’t Mil-Spec and lacks LE durability!
    Except for the French, theirs are still working!?

  • I will say this about the Auto/Semi auto point. I trained to be Air Force Pararescue (never active duty, never deployed, full disclosure). But I never fired my M-16 in full auto. Not except when told to to ‘get the feel of it’. I found it a waste of ammo, couldn’t hit a thing and took all the fun out of it. So I can understand his point when he says it makes no difference in the lethal capacity…

  • William M Durham

    Since Stoner designed the original version of the M16/AR15 as a rifle to hunt mountain goats I find the story to be plain BS, in fact I believe I still have the original article from outlife/field an Stream can not remember which , show the airpolice of the air force using them as weapons for their dog handlers. Damn strange how the truth changes to BS over the years just for someone to gain the line light or boost their ego

  • Eric X Ericx

    But if the 5.56 is so deadly, why are the US armed forces looking for an alternative? Hmmmm…
    Senility… such a shame.

  • lambchowder

    “This could be interpreted to mean that full auto is just as safe as semi-auto, so why are we not allowed full auto? I ask myself that almost daily!”

    or it could be “interpreted” to say it’s just as dangerous. Rather half glass full situation. I like how you’re willing to write him off as a demented old man for not having a sufficiently cavalier attitude about the most sought after gun in the country. I’m sure they’re bought up by the millions so people can shoot squirrels during rodentgeddon.

    The Couric thing was obvious bias, but that’s no excuse for writing off the whole media or not responding to interview requests because the local nbc affiliate might just be in the international Jewish plot against your gun or whatever crackpot crap.

  • Dggnfool

    Wasn’t the 5.56mm so lethal because of the slow twist rate on the rifling that the bullets were keyholing throught the enemy? Thus the major carnage.

  • Jack Goldman

    I intensely dislike Couric but not because she revealed Palin as a know nothing politician. I dislike her because she screwed up CBS News when she took over Dan Rather;s spot and it still hasn’t recovered from all the dummies she installed.