[SHOT 2023] The Carry Handle Corner: Retro And Clone AR-15 Compendium

Daniel Y
by Daniel Y
Perhaps no modern trend is as polarizing as the resurgence of the carry handle equipped AR-15s. Love them or hate them there were many of them on the show floor at SHOT 2023. Last year my Retro Roundup featured mostly AR-related items. This year there were so many new non-AR items that the Retro Roundup became two parts. Part One is already posted here. This article will focus on both retro carry handle guns, and clone ARs (or closely-related systems).

[SHOT 2023] The Carry Handle Corner: Retro And Clone AR-15 Compendium

Palmetto State Armory

PSA showed off a Harrington and Richardson M-16A1 last year, and it may have been my favorite gun of the show. Well, this year they dialed the retro up to 11. The H&R M-16A1 clone was on the firing line and available at Industry Range Day. It felt and functioned just like the original. These will be available with 1/7 or 1/12 twist barrels, probably in late March 2023. The anticipated price point is between $1200-1500.
Mike Wetteland, the former owner of NoDakSpud and current CEO of Harrington & Richardson, took some time to chat with me about what the company is up to. They are not stopping with the M-16A1. A Model 723 carbine has made its way to the PSA website for purchase and a Model 635 9mm subgun is in the works as well. Both the 635 and 723 were on hand in the PSA booth. They both feature a black finish on the receiver sets, which is much easier to match than the gray sets used on the M-16A1.
They are also working on waffle-style magazines with H&R branding similar to those shown with the M-16A1. I asked about C7 and A2 uppers, and both are on the way as well. H&R has forgings for both of those uppers on hand and they are working on getting them to market. Mike also spoke with Hop for the TFBtv video about the H&R lineup, and it was so exciting that Hop showed human emotion.
[SHOT 2023] The M-16A1 was on the firing line for Industry Day At The Range. Also note the waffle mags, which are also in the works
[SHOT 2023] H&R Model 635 9mm
[SHOT 2023] H&R Model 723 Carbine


DPMS is part of the PSA family too, but their booth was physically separate from PSA’s booth so they get their own subheading. Those of us who remember the AR-15 scene in the early 2000s, remember the Kitty Kay 7.5″ AR. It was of the first really short AR upper options. The rebirth of DPMS as a PSA company also means the Kitty Kat is back. DPMS also had some A4 carbine and rifle variants on display.
[SHOT 2023] DPMS Kitty Kat
[SHOT 2023] DPMS A4 carbine and rifle models on display

Windham Weaponry

We already covered the Windham XM-177, but it deserves to be mentioned here again. It was not alone, though. The Windham A1 Government rifle was also on display. It is a decent homage to the M16A1 but uses an A2 barrel profile and stock. Despite those inaccuracies, it is close enough for the vibes to be right, and for many people that is enough.
[SHOT 2023] Windham XM177
[SHOT 2023] Windham A1 Government rifle


Doublestar Corp. is the primary source for true retro CAR stocks. Their ACE Essential Retro stock is made from aluminum just like the originals. It includes the correct two-position buffer tube. They are on the market now, priced at $170.99. Doublestar also offers the early-style 3-prong flash hider for clone builders.
[SHOT 2023] Doublestar Essential Retro stock and 3-prong flash hider on display


Brownells made an appearance at Industry Day At The Range with two guns that (arguably) fit on this list. First is the BRN-180. A modernized AR-180 is still an Armalite pattern rifle so I’m counting it. The gun at range day was equipped with the somewhat recent BRN-180 folding stock. It looks like a close approximation of the original but feels more sturdy. The BRN-180 is produced in both pistol- and rifle-length versions and is available in 7.62×39, 300 Blackout, and, of course, 5.56 NATO.
[SHOT 2023] Brownells BRN-180
The other Brownells product on the firing line was their BRN-4 HK-416 clone. It is a true clone of the original with 100% parts compatibility. Brownells hopes to soon have all parts available so that consumers can build a complete rifle. This is a huge win for clone builders who want to assemble their own M27 or any of the other 416-pattern military rifles in use.
[SHOT 2023] Brownells BRN-4


While we are on the topic of 416 clones, Zenith Firearms showed off a whole range of 416- and 417-pattern rifles. Variants of the ZPD-10 were shown in .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .277 Fury. Many were shown with suppressors as well. The ZPD-10 is the 416-pattern option and there were tons of models on display. I am very excited to see what the final versions look like.

Not For Sale

If you read this far into this article, you would probably be interested in these too, even though they are not for sale. Knight’s Armament had the evolution of the AR-10 on display. It included the original AR-10, Eugene Stoner’s personal SR-25, and the latest version of the M110.
[SHOT 2023] Knight's Armament display on the evolution of the AR-10
Off on the side of Colt’s booth was a little international display, featuring some awesome Colt Canada products. The C20 DMR is serving with the Canadian military and recently was picked up by the Danish military as well. Along with the C20 was the C8A4 carbine. Colt, if you are listening, I want to buy both of these in the US. Thank you in advance.
[SHOT 2023] Colt Canada C20 DMR
[SHOT 2023] Colt Canada C8A4

That’s all until next year.

TFB and TFBTV’s coverage of SHOT Show 2023 is proudly sponsored by 5.11 Tactical. Click here to check out their new products.
Daniel Y
Daniel Y

AKA @fromtheguncounter on Instagram. Gun nerd, reloader, attorney, and mediocre hunter. Daniel can still be found on occasion behind the counter at a local gun store. When he is not shooting, he enjoys hiking, camping, and rappelling around Utah.

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2 of 20 comments
  • Int19h Int19h on Feb 14, 2023

    Is C8A4 going to be the standard issue for Canadian infantry? That looks like a surprisingly sleek yet no-nonsense build - not too heavy, conservative but ergonomic furniture choices, and it looks like it's already set up for a can?

    I wonder what the UBGL story is.

    Also, what is the mag in it? And why is it not a PMAG like on the DMR?

  • Larry Franklin Larry Franklin on Feb 15, 2023

    Nice to see the industry is still innovating and progressing. looking forward to enjoying the shooting sports for decades to come!