When you are a child, your ability to pick and choose a firearms to shoot are pretty grim, you basically get whatever adults allow you. As I remember back to my earliest shooting experiences however, I distinctly remember having an affinity for a particular rifle. My Grandfather is the source of much of my firearm affection, and as soon as I was old enough to hold a gun, Grandpa was happy to help me with one. And every time we visited Grandpa, I always asked him to get out the AR-7.
The AR-7 Rifle
The AR-7 came about in the late fifties from the man himself during his time at Armalite. The whole idea behind the rifle was to have a compact takedown rifle that could be easily stowed in aircraft or vehicles for use as an emergency survival weapon. It is a blow-back operated semi-automatic rifle that uses detachable ten-round box magazines. The peculiar look of the rifle is due to it’s core-design to be taken down to a very compact sixteen-inches. The action, barrel and spare magazines are stored inside the polymer buttstock when the rubberized rear cap is removed. The rifle is assembled by attaching the action to the stock with a captured thumbscrew, the barrel is then seated in the action indexed with a pin, and a barrel nut holds the ensemble together. The simple design was meant to be functional, more than beautiful.
As a child, I killed a lots of cans with Grandpa’s AR-7, though I believe my love for the rifle had more to do with the semi-auto feature than anything else.
It’s not often that you nearly miss a whole gun because the box is so small, but that nearly happened with the AR-7. The boys in the warehouse nearly tossed it out with empty boxes because “there’s no way there’s a rifle in there.” But as I opened the box, I saw that old familiar shape that I always looked for at Grandpa’s house.
In less than a minute I pulled the rifle out of the stock and had it assembled, much to the surprise of the young fellows behind the counter who had never seen such a thing. Just as I remembered, the rifle was easy, light, and fugly as can be. The design of the rifle and its compact stowage impede the practical use of a rifle scope, though it does have a rimfire sized mounting rail. But for a survival rifle like this I suppose I could make an exception for once and go without a riflescope.
In perhaps a foolish decision, I decided to put the rifle to an actual test of its stated purpose. I decided I would take it into the cold and snow-covered Rocky Mountains, to see if the rifle could prove itself as an actual survival weapon. A 22Lr is not exactly the best option in my opinion, but plenty of folks have taken deer with them over the decades. Of course, my survival situation being self-induced, demanded I follow the local hunting regulations so deer was off the menu.
With a few snacks and a water bottle in my bag, and an odd-looking bulge in the side of my backpack, I headed into the white frosted mountains near my home. Had I actually been lost in these mountains and starving, I’m quite confident I could get within fifty yards of a deer and eat well for a few days. Since that option wasn’t available to me, I had no choice but to seek the game that was available to me. I’ve never tried coyotes, and it would surely have to be a survival situation for me to start on one. So, all that left me for table fare would be a very small assortment of rabbits, hares, possibly a squirrel if I could find one mad enough to brave this cold. I suppose people eat coons too, but he’s way down my list next to the coyote.
I happened across a covey of Chukar Partridges earlier today, so perhaps if I could get the AR-7 to shoot shot shells I could even have a tasty bird dish. Either way I would be cooking my prize over a fire improvised from whatever dry wood I could find.
Before I got too far into this survival trip, I figured I’d better get proficient with the rifle that my life depended on. And since this wasn’t a traditional survival episode, I figured I could carry a bunch of extra ammo to practice with. Using pinecones on a fallen pine tree as a target, I tested my aim using the rear peep-sight on the AR-7. After a magazine or two I felt I had the hold figured out. I was actually quite surprised at how repeatable the shots were with the little AR7, even at one-hundred yards, repeatedly hitting grapefruit sized targets was not that hard. Though there was a concern in my mind about a shift in impact should I disassemble the rifle and risk having to start all over. But overall, I felt that most any small game animal inside forty to fifty yards could end up on a stick over my fire. Continue Reading Here…