M1AR15: M1 Garand Iron Sights On An AR-15

Nicholas C
by Nicholas C

Thanks to my friend Paul for pointing this out at our FFL’s place of business. Our FFL had acquired a number of guns from a rather large estate sale. This AR-15 has M1 Garand iron sights on it. You read that right. M1 Garand iron sights on an AR-15 carry handle upper. I shall dub thee M1AR15.

Iron Sights @ TFB:

Unfortunately, there is no context with this rifle. Someone installed what appear to be M1A or M1 Garand iron sights on what looks like an A1 style carry handle upper. The M1A rear sight is installed in some kind of mount that is bolted to the A1 carry handle.

Look closely at the M1AR15 rear sight. The mount has lines engraved into it for windage reference. The mount does not look like some garage hack job but a somewhat proper mount that happens to fit the A1 carry handle. But in the photo above, you can see how the mount does not appear to be perfectly level.

So many questions arise when looking at this side of the M1AR15. But check out the front sight. Someone machined the original AR front sight and dovetailed it to fit an M1A style front sight onto it. “But why?” Your guess is as good as mine. This took actual planning and execution. Not exactly something a Dremel gunsmith could do on a whim. I did not notice any rust and the front sight tower looks like it was parkerized where the dovetail is. If it was milled, the bare steel would be exposed.

The M1AR15 upper is installed on a E.A. CO J-15 lower. I am not familiar with this manufacturer but a google search showed some info on ARFCOM. They are defunct and allegedly sold their tooling to DPMS.

The lower receiver is apparently cast and rather than engrave the markings they are molded into the lower receiver and stick out.

Look at the tabs that stop the safety selector. Also, I am not sure what that bump is on the left of the SAFE marking.

Thanks to some people who are more knowledgeable than me, there is a reference to iron sights like these in the Black Rifle Book.

The Rock Island Arsenal version of the M16A1 National Match Rifle, showing rifle assembled (below) and altered components (above). Rock Island Arsenal photo dated January 1972. courtesy Lou Woll

However, this version that my FFL has, has an HBAR barrel and the lower is not an RIA lower. We are not sure if this was made by RIA as well but we now know it was not just some garage gunsmith that made this.

Nicholas C
Nicholas C

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  • LabRat Knatz LabRat Knatz on Jul 19, 2022

    Looks like they were able to source the same parts RIA had used. The sights and mountings look 'pixel perfect' relative to the archive photo.
    Some quick research while writing this comment was very enlightening:
    The manufacturer was *Essential Arms made in Krohs Springs Louisiana*; DPMS bought them out after the AWB neutered their firearms side of their business around 95-96. The company seems to be known for making their own cast lower (the J-15) and may or may not have been assembling whole rifles with surplus parts. 'Kitbash' or not, this is a neat little artifact of pre-AWB custom ARs.

  • Int19h Int19h on Aug 08, 2022

    Not OK, Boomer!