I am a hunter. It’s in my DNA. While my big game endeavors are almost over for the year, there is a different type of hunting I participate in almost daily. And there is no season or bag limit. I hunt for firearms that have either piqued my interest, to replace one I stupidly sold, or have a historical interest for me. My latest acquisition is from the latter category . . .
I’ve been looking for an original AR-7 for quite some time. I’ve looked at the modern ones from Henry, but they just don’t ‘sing’ to me. That, and after reading TTAG’s review, I knew I didn’t want a modern one. So while a Charter Arms version would have been OK, after much searching I finally found the one true AR-7. A genuine, pre-1973 model made in Costa Mesa, California, an ArmaLite AR-7 Explorer.
A short history of the rifle may be in order. ArmaLite, being the little brother of Fairchild Aircraft, was more interested in developing firearms and then selling the designs off. In 1958, the first gen AR-7 was made. In 1959, ArmaLite moved from Hollywood to Costa Mesa, CA. In 1973, Charter Arms bought the rights and kept up production. In 1990 Survival Arms in Florida was the producer until 1997 when Henry Repeating Arms obtained the rights and continues production to this day.
The AR-7 was one of Eugene Stoner’s ideas. Call me blasphemous, but I’d put Eugene Stoner just below or along side of John Browning in the gun designer pantheon.
The rifle I found was on a local gun forum/buy-sell-trade web site. And as I like my firearms like Obama likes his voters — undocumented — the price was very reasonable at 200 bucks, no dealer involved. No fingerprints, no form 4473. Just a guy who wanted to sell something and a guy who wanted to buy it. My kind of deal.
I’ve probably called 20+ people who had these for sale, and while a Costa Mesa AR-7 isn’t too rare a cat, most of the time it ends up being a Henry. The really old Costa Mesa versions usually are sold by dealers. While I have bought plenty of firearms through dealers, I like “garage sale deals”. It’s that freedom, exercising ones rights that appeals to me.
After calling the gent who placed the ad, it only took a few questions before I knew I had to meet up with him.
A nice public parking lot with a coffee shop is to my liking. After meeting up with the seller and exchanging pleasantries, he pulled this beauty out of a bag.
While there are minor micro scratches on the plastic butt stock, it is pristine considering its age. It must have taken me a couple of minutes to get the end cap off, it was tighter than a bull’s ass at fly time. After getting it off though, there was treasure within.
You can plainly see the steel liner inside the aluminum barrel. The guy who sold it to me said he had owned it for a good many years and never fired it. I believed him. The inside of the barrel is mint. As is the receiver.
The threads on the receiver show just a tiny bit of wear from the locking ring being screwed onto it. The magazine has no brass, lead or copper discoloration from being loaded or unloaded.
The fully assembled rifle is pretty neat looking.
I’m excited to take it out and shoot it. I’m not expecting extreme accuracy from it, but I have a dozen different brands of .22 to try and see what works best. I believe it’s accuracy was described as “minute of squirrel”. For a hunter, that’s not bad.
So if the game hunting season is over you, and you’ve got that one gat you’ve been hankering for, give a different kind of hunting a try. Get out and exercise that Second Amendment. Aim small, miss small.