Sullivan:I had never met Gene Stoner before I joined Armalite in 1957. He, of course, had been there for several years (started in ’53 or ’54 I believe) and had brought his 30-06 prototypes with him with his unique gas system and 8-lug rotary bolt concepts that were then used in Armalite’s AR-10 and AR-15. He was Chief Engineer and my boss at Armalite and later at Cadillac Gage on the Stoner 63 program.
Stoner was a great guy with a tremendous sense of humor and a pleasure to work for. He was a brilliant inventor as everyone knows but he was not a one-man show.
First of all, he had nothing to do with the Armalite AR5 and AR7 survival rifles or the .222 “Stoppette” rifle or AR9 or AR17 shotguns. Those were all designed by other people, mostly by John Peck and Art Miller. Stoner designed two guns while at Armalite, the AR-10 and the AR-16 (not to be confused with the M16), both 7.62 mm NATO caliber assault rifles. But he is also credited with designing the 5.56 mm AR-15 (M16) “scaled down” from his AR-10 and the 5.56 mm AR-18 “scaled down” from his AR-16 and has been called the “Father of 5.56.”
However, the first 5.56 mm assault rifle designed at Armalite was the “Stoppette” designed by a guy, whose name I’ve forgotten, using the .222 Remington cartridge. Stoner didn’t believe the small caliber (5.56 mm) cartridge was a suitable military cartridge and designed only .30 caliber rifles until 1973. In the meantime (1957 to 1959), Bob Fremont and I designed the AR-15 (M16) and its 5.56 mm cartridge (modified from .222 Rem). Art Miller designed the AR-18 in 1963 after Stoner left Armalite.
In 1962, Bob and I joined Stoner again at Cadillac Gage where he was designing the 7.62 mm Stoner 62 rifle and machine gun. The owners of Cad Gage wanted a 5.56 mm model so Bob and I designed the Stoner 63.
I designed three more 5.56 mm weapons after that, the Mini 14 for Ruger in ’67, the Singapore Ultimax 100 in ’78 and a double drum rifle/machine gun in ’81 called the ARMi for Beretta. The Mini 14 and Ultimax were successful but the ARMi died when the Italian military adopted an earlier Beretta design. I did however salvage my double drum magazine from the ARMi program and redesigned it as the C-MAG in ’84, which has been adopted by the Germans so it’s done okay.
I believe Stoner designed two 5.56 mm weapons, the FARC in 1973, which was never produced, and the Stoner ’86 machine gun (designed in ’86). It’s rumored that the ’86 MG is starting in production. I wish it well.”