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Gene Stoner: Legend vs. Reality

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Badger Arms, May 24, 2009.

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  1. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    Don't get me wrong, the AR-10 was a really great design, as was the AR-16. The problem is, that virtually everything BAD about the AR-15 (later M16) was contributed by Stoner and everything GOOD was contributed by others. Let's run down the features Stoner patented:

    1) Gas system: This was purely Stoner's design. It piped the gas along the side of the barrel... Stoner didn't think of putting it on top. The gas system is the most criticized feature on the AR-15/M16. Though it allows a free-floated barrel and is almost half the weight of competing piston designs, it was also finicky with the type of powder used, clogging with powders that traditional pistons didn't skip a beat with. It heated the bolt and bolt carrier excessively and led to premature failure of extractor springs, extractors, and ejector springs.

    2) Aluminum magazine: Originally intended as disposable magazines to hold only 20 rounds, Stoner took the logical approach and created a straight-body aluminum magazine with waffle-reinforcements. This didn't last, but the straight mag-well DID last and is the current source of many problems getting magazines that just work.

    3) Triangular handguards: Fragile, complex, these had two different halves and, though they had a neat flat surface for shooting off of sandbags, they had tabs around the cooling holes that constantly broke. Of course, they lasted a while and hindsight is 20/20.

    4) Trigger mechanism: Somewhat derivative, the narrow receiver in this area made later burst mechanisms more difficult to implement. The 180 degree rotation of the safety is unnecessary and awkward.

    5) Cartridge: To be fair to the late Gene Stoner, he never expected the cartridge to be adopted as is, with no further development. His designs were an expedient to prove the concept and meet the specs required by the Army, nothing more. The case is straight, the base too small for good extractor bite, and to meet velocity requirements it operates at too high a pressure.

    If you're looking for more Stoner features... uh, sorry. Here are the features that other designers contributed to the AR-15 design.

    Mel Johnson:

    1) Rotating bolt with multiple lugs. To be fair, though Stoner used these features, Johnson borrowed heavily from the Remington model 8 rifle. First used in the Johnson M1941, the bolt is simple and fairly straightforward to manufacture.

    George Sullivan:

    1) Foam-filled fiberglass stock. This allowed the rifle to have a strong buttstock with mass that was tough and stiff on the outside but lightweight on the inside. It also provided a cavity for the recoil spring and buffer.

    2) Barrel extension. I would argue that this is the true genius of the Armalite rifle. It allows a lightweight aluminum receiver that can be forged, drilled, and tapped, quite simple operations on 7075 T6 aluminum but not good for locking lugs. The lugs need to be hardened. This is a separate sleeve or "barrel extension" that is attached to the soft barrel by means of a pin that also served to index the three parts together. This is a simple, elegant solution to various engineering and production problems

    There are others. Fremont contributed the 30-round magazine, Jerry-rigged to work with the straight magwell. Sturtevant contributed the dreaded 3-round burst mechanism and forward assist. Waterman developed the EXCELLENT M16A2 stock that was many times stronger than the original buttstock.

    Stoner is on record as saying various things in defense of his work on the AR-15 over the years. Notably, he distanced himself from the magazine. The army specified 20-rounds. Stoner would have designed a fully-curved magazine if he'd had a 30-rd requirement. Also the cartridge. He complained that he didn't expect his design to be a fully-developed production design.

    Part of the problem was that other forces were at work. McNamara wanted the M16 and loved Stoner. A bit of hero worship ensued in which if it was Stoner's design, it must have been done right and anybody saying otherwise was a heretic. Sure, there was enough UNFAIR criticism of the M16 out there that there was reason to suspect ALL criticism as unfair. In the end, an underdeveloped and unrefined prototype was put into production with little change from the prototypes. This, also, Stoner criticized. Had 1/10th of the development effort for the M14 or 1/100th that for the Garand had been lavished upon the AR-15 from the onset, the M16 would have been a viable production model without all the difficulties that ensued over the years.

    Again, don't get me wrong. Stoner redeemed himself with his later designs and was, in fact, a brilliant designer by all accounts. I have enough respect for some aspects of the AR-15/M16 that I own at least one, I just think the record needs some straightening.

    And don't get me started on Kalashnikov.
     
  2. dscottw88

    dscottw88 Member

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    That seems like a rather particular run down. I found it interesting.

    On another note, if you wanted to "get started" on Kalashnikov, I'd be just as interested to read that article as well. I find it interesting to see where people got their inspiration from.
     
  3. JHansenAK47

    JHansenAK47 Member

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    I actually prefer that feature it is made for muscle memory.
     
  4. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    the wright brothers first plane was rediculous looking, not to mention painfully slow, but you gotta admit, it was a one heck of an idea.

    i think even if the design was improved upon by many, the basic overall design, i.e. lowered bore axis with elevated sights, and everything in a nice straight line is the core reason that its the model still carried by the most awesome fighting force on the face of the earth.

    to me all those things are just better wheels on henry's ford.
     
  5. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

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    I don't think the trigger housing is the issue I think the stupid ass burst mechanism is the issue. Mechanisms tried to replace training and this proved it's better to train than to mess with a design.
     
  6. arizona98tj

    arizona98tj Member

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    It always seem easier to come along afterwards and make mods to someone's work. It happens in firearms, vehicles, etc. The challenge is, in my opinion, coming up with the original idea.
     
  7. TeamRush

    TeamRush member

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    Most of the 'Facts' stated above are not correct.

    The AR-15 first presented to the military were very much like the M-16 first adopted.

    Very early prototypes had some 'Issues', and like all things were worked out with time.

    Very early patents were applied for mostly to protect the base designs, and the manufacturing processes that it would take to make these rifles.

    The direct impengment gas system with gas tube on top was there from the very first submission to the military,
    Along with aluminum heat shielded and reinforced hand guards, and the standing front sight/gas block.

    The first stocks were WOOD,
    And the first forends grips were Bakelite, a high temprature material mostly used in electrical ovens at the time.

    HOLLOW plastic was adopted to save weight and increase serviceability since the wood would swell and distort in humid/wet weather, and Bakelite was fragile.

    All this happened BEFORE the military ever saw the first prototype for inspection,
    And the early VERY THIN barrel versions with Bakelite for end and wood stocks are worth over $1,000,000 each...
    Since there are exactly THREE left in existence, (and only THREE were made as patent models) it's not likely you will ever get your hands on one to find out if it's 'Durable' or not.

    VERY LITTLE was changed by the military...
    Some of the suggestions the military 'CAME UP WITH' were actually recommended by Stoner and AR before the rifle saw service...
    Things like integral cleaning kits,
    Chrome lined chambers,
    Anti-rattle swivels,

    The subject of forward assists didn't come around until the military decided to use NATO ammunition that liked to SWELL in the humidity of jungle enviorments.

    That 'FIX', the forward assist, to force the round into the chamber and get the chamber closed,
    Is probably the most enduring 'Military' recommended upgrade...
    And totally unnessary if the correct ammo had been used in the first place!

    And just for the record, I have a couple of the orignal 'Waffle' mags made by AR for the military.
    They are STEEL, not aluminum, and they were never intended to be 'Disposable' or there wouldn't be stripper clip loading rail mounts on the mags...

    I have NO IDEA why you want to detract from one of the 5 greatest firearms designers in the past 150 years,
    But Eugene Stoner was dedicated to making an infantry rifle to save our troops weight, aggravation, and keep them ALIVE!

    I personally think Eugene Stoner is right up there with John Moses Browning, The Mauser brothers, John C. Garand, Mikhail Kalashnikov and the other firearms designers that made HUGE STRIDES in firearms technology...

    And personally I'm not interested in seeing someone that CAN NOT keep up with that pack cast dispersions on him.

    I carried both the AR-10 and AR-15 in combat, and I can tell you first hand I NEVER had a moments hesitation wondering if my rifle would let me down!
     
  8. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    i would tend to agree that he should be right there with them, if not trump them in a few ways.

    the design was so radically advanced, and unlike anything that came before it.

    if im not mistaken, it has had a longer service life than any 2 other rifle designs combined, and no immediate sign of being replaced as the standard action of all the united states armed forces.

    i love my garand, but i cant ignore the greatness of the basic stoner design.
     
  9. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    There was no such thing as NATO 5.56mm ammunition until a couple decades after the forward assist was added to the rifle.
     
  10. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    ***, dude? who are you responding to? You carried the AR-10 in combat? Where? On what do you base the term "Dispersions". On what do you base the phrase, "CAN NOT keep up with the pack"? Did you bother reading my post or are you just picking apart, uh, nothing?
     
  11. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    i think the single most revolutionary feature of the ar15 was the fact that it was made of such lightweight components as aluminum and plastic (hence the name "armalite") . who thought that part of it up?
     
  12. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    George Sullivan... Not to be confused with Jim Sullivan, the guy who actually designed the AR-15 by scaling down the AR-10.
     
  13. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    i believe sullivan actually had his moments too.

    he was actually the reason the first prototypes were rejected

    Over Stoner's vehement objections, various experimental composite and 'Sullaloy' aluminum barrels were fitted to some AR-10 prototypes by ArmaLite's president, George Sullivan. The Sullaloy barrel was made entirely of heat-treated aluminum, while the composite barrels used aluminum extruded over a thin stainless steel liner.

    of the two rifles sent to springfield for testing and trials, George Sullivan had insisted that both prototypes be fitted with composite aluminum/steel barrels. Shortly after a composite barrel burst on one prototype in 1957, the AR-10 was rejected.

    this was a huge hurdle to overcome that could have been avoided had stoner had his way with those two trial rifles.
     
  14. maskedman504

    maskedman504 Member

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    An inventor is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, device or other useful means. The word inventor comes form the latin verb invenire, invent-, to find.[1][2] The system of patents was established to encourage inventors by granting limited-term, limited monopoly on inventions determined to be sufficiently novel, non-obvious, and useful. See Inventor (patent).

    An innovator or pioneer (pronounced /ˌpаɪəˈnɪər/) in a general sense is a person or an organisation who is one of the first to do something and often opens up a new area for others and achieves an innovation.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Main Entry: im·prove
    Pronunciation: \im-ˈprüv\
    Function: verb
    Inflected Form(s): im·proved; im·prov·ing
    Etymology: Middle English improuen, emprouen, from Anglo-French emprouer to make profit from, from French en- + pru, prou advantage, from Late Latin prode — more at proud
    Date: circa 1529

    1archaic : employ, use
    2 a: to enhance in value or quality : make better b: to increase the value of (land or property) by making it more useful for humans (as by cultivation or the erection of buildings) c: to grade and drain (a road) and apply surfacing material other than pavement
    3: to use to good purpose
    intransitive verb
    1: to advance or make progress in what is desirable
    2: to make useful additions or amendments

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It was Stoner's concept/design. Then, progress was made in something that was desireable.
     
  15. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    wikipedia actually refers to the alloy design as stoners though
     
  16. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    Wikipedia is not what I would consider a source let alone a reliable reference.

    Yes, Sullivan was in charge and pushed his ideas (duh).... don't know if Stoner really objected, but the composite barrel was a good idea, just not well developed at that time.

    In-line design was part of the design Sullivan pitched to Fairchild as was the aluminum receiver and foam-filled plastic stock... all before Stoner came along with his gas operation system. The in-line design was borrowed from previous designs and reflects the strong Johnson influence; the Johnson LMG had an in-line design as did a few other contemporaries like the German FG42.
     
  17. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    lol, ok, i told you mine, now you tell me yours.

    im not right, im curious, so show me.

    im all for learning the subject.

    i honestly dont know, thats why i told you my source.

    i would be educated to see yours.
     
  18. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    lol, did you know that eugene stoner was born in a town named "gasport"
     
  19. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    About four or five secondary sources, patents as primary sources, various interviews and tidbits. If you want a good breakdown of the development, read "The Black Rifle" by Ed Ezell. He also did a book called "The Great Rifle Controversy". For patents, do a patent search on Google Patents for Gene Stoner and George Sullivan.
     
  20. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    Gosport, not Gasport. Close enough for irony, though.
     
  21. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    well, just in short research, i do see that he used the bolt design of the johnson rifle.

    that is certainly noteworthy, as i cant count the times ive heard others refer to the bolt design as being one of the main advantages of the platform.

    very interesting indeed.

    about that for sure, you aint wrong.

    on a funny side note, i bet the sullivan grandkids are mightry ticked off that knights armament doesnt build a sullivan sr25 rifle, lol.
     
  22. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    really?

    i got that from this eugene stoner biography page. it must be a typo.

    its in the second little paragraph there.

    http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/eugene-stoner/
     
  23. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    Don't fret about that, Johnson borrowed it from Browning and Browning might even have gotten the idea from somewhere else.

    Stoner worked for and with Reed Knight. Sullivan was a lawyer, I believe, when he patented his ideas. They were just ideas. It took proper designers and engineers to put them to palastic and metal. Gene Stoner, Jim Sullivan, Art Miller... these guys had more to do with the actual guns.
     
  24. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I always thought that the original AR design was intended as an Air Force survival rifle - kinda like an AR-7 for war zones.

    The .22 rimfire had to go, since it is soft headed. That's against the Geneva Convention of some year or other. So he modified a varmint round a little bit and made it a military round.

    Then the survival design had to be able to break down - without tools - to fit in a survival pack. It had to be light, corrosion resistant, and simple to use. It was never intended to be an automatic weapon or to be fired a lot.

    I think that the original AR design makes sense as a survival tool.

    As a main battle rifle, well, not so much.
     
  25. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    lol, i would never fret over learning something new. to be honest i thought when you first mentioned the johnson, that you were talking about that strange looking rifle that fired the 30-06 rounds from a strange looking rotary magazine.

    this one:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    but i dont think its the same johnson that you have referred to, because that one had the buttstock inline with the bolt and elevated sights oddly similar to an ar15, and this one i posted pics of doesnt.

    but i did see a pic of the johnson you were talking about, and it truly did resemble the ergos of an ar.

    amazing info. i had no idea.
     
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