Eugene Stoner

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Eugene Stoner
Mr. Eugene M. Stoner.jpg
Born(1922-11-22)November 22, 1922
DiedApril 24, 1997(1997-04-24) (aged 74)
Engineering career
Significant design AR-15 and other small arms

Eugene Morrison Stoner (November 22, 1922 – April 24, 1997) was an American firearms designer who is most associated with the development of the ArmaLite AR-15 rifle that was modified by the US military as the M16 rifle.


Early life

The son of Lloyd Lester Stoner and Billie Morrison, [1] Stoner attended high school in Long Beach and upon graduation worked for the Vega Aircraft Company installing armament.

During World War II, he enlisted for Aviation Ordnance in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific and northern China.


In late 1945 Stoner began working in the machine shop for Whittaker, an aircraft equipment company, and ultimately became a Design Engineer.

In 1954 he came to work as chief engineer for ArmaLite, a division of Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation. While at ArmaLite, he designed a series of prototype small arms, including the AR-3, AR-9, AR-11, AR-12, none of which saw significant production. Their only real success during this period was the AR-5 survival rifle, which was adopted by the United States Air Force. [2]

ArmaLite AR-10 AR-10 in the National Firearms Museum.jpg
ArmaLite AR-10

In 1955, Stoner completed initial design work on the revolutionary ArmaLite AR-10, a lightweight (7.25 lbs.) select-fire infantry rifle in 7.62×51mm NATO caliber. The AR-10 was submitted for rifle evaluation trials to the US Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground late in 1956. In comparison with competing rifle designs previously submitted for evaluation, the AR-10 was smaller, easier to fire in automatic, and much lighter. However it arrived very late in the testing cycle, and the army rejected the AR-10 in favor of the more conventional T44, which became the  M14. The AR-10's design was later licensed to the Dutch firm of Artillerie Inrichtingen, who produced the AR-10 until 1960 for sale to various military forces. [3]

ArmaLite AR-15 ArmaLite AR-15 SPAR 3240 DEC. 17. 2004.png
ArmaLite AR-15
M16A1 rifle M16A1 brimob.jpg
M16A1 rifle

At the request of the U.S. military, Stoner's chief assistant, Robert Fremont along with Jim Sullivan designed the Armalite AR-15 from the basic AR-10 model, scaling it down to fire the small-caliber .223 Remington cartridge, slightly enlarged to meet the minimum Army penetration requirements. The AR-15 was later adopted by United States military forces as the M16 rifle. [3] [4]

After ArmaLite sold the rights to the AR-15 to the Colt Firearms Company, Stoner turned his attention to the AR-16 design. This was another advanced 7.62 mm rifle but used a more conventional piston and a number of stamped parts to reduce cost. This weapon saw only prototype development but adaptation to .223 resulted in the somewhat successful and often imitated Armalite AR-18. [3]

Stoner 63 rifle Stoner 63.JPG
Stoner 63 rifle

Stoner left ArmaLite in 1961 to serve as a consultant for Colt. He eventually accepted a position with Cadillac Gage where he designed the Stoner 63 Weapons System. [3] This was a modular weapons system which could be reconfigured to be a standard automatic rifle, a light machine gun, a medium machine gun, or a solenoid-fired fixed machine gun.

The Stoner Weapons System used a piston-operated gas impingement system. Once again, Robert Fremont and Jim Sullivan took a Stoner rifle and redesigned it for the .223 Remington cartridge, to create the Stoner 63 Weapons System. [5]

Stoner then worked with TRW by designing the TRW 6425 25 mm Bushmaster auto cannon, which was later manufactured by Oerlikon as the KBA. [2]

He co-founded ARES Incorporated of Port Clinton, Ohio, in 1972, but left the company in 1989, after designing the Ares Light Machine Gun, sometimes known as the Stoner 86. It was an evolved version of the Stoner 63. At Ares, he also designed the Future Assault Rifle Concept (FARC). [2]

KAC SR-25 rifle SR-25 pic02.jpg
KAC SR-25 rifle

In 1990, he joined Knight's Armament Company (KAC) to create the Stoner Rifle-25 (SR-25), which currently sees military service as the United States Navy Mark 11 Mod 0 Sniper Weapon System. While at KAC, he also worked on yet another version of the Stoner Weapons System, called the Stoner 96. Among his last designs were the SR-50 rifle and the Colt 2000. [6]

Mikhail T. Kalashnikov

Eugene M. Stoner, left, and Mikhail T. Kalashnikov hold the rifles they designed, taken May 1990. Stoner meets Kalashnikov.jpg
Eugene M. Stoner, left, and Mikhail T. Kalashnikov hold the rifles they designed, taken May 1990.

On May 16, 1990, Eugene M. Stoner and Mikhail T. Kalashnikov would meet for the first time. They would spend the next few days talking, sharing stories, shopping, going out to dinner and touring Washington D.C. They visited the Smithsonian Institution, the NRA’s National Firearms Museum, and a hunting lodge owned by the gun club at Star Tannery, where they went shooting. They would also visit the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, where they watched new weapons being tested. During this short visit both men, intimately familiar with the other's work, shared a common bond and became friends, "not needing an interpreter to get their thoughts across." [7]


Eugene Stoner died as a result of cancer at the age of 74 on April 24, 1997, and was later interred in the Quantico National Cemetery, Quantico, Virginia.

He was survived by his wife, Barbara Hitt Stoner, whom he married in 1965; his first wife, Jean Stoner Mahony of Newport Beach, California, from whom he was divorced in 1962; four children from his first marriage, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Weapon designs

Armalite designs

Other designs

Related Research Articles

Colt AR-15 Type of Semi-automatic rifle

The Colt AR-15 is a lightweight, magazine-fed, gas-operated semi-automatic rifle. The "AR” stands for the first two letters of ArmaLite. It was designed to be manufactured with extensive use of aluminum alloys and synthetic materials. Colt was but no longer is marketing to civilian customers and is presently only marketing to law-enforcement customers, due to oversaturation in the civilian market. Colt's Manufacturing Company currently uses the AR-15 trademark for its line of semi-automatic AR-15 rifles.

ArmaLite AR-15 Type of assault rifle

The ArmaLite AR-15 is a select-fire, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle manufactured in the United States between 1959 and 1964, and adopted by the United States Armed Forces as the M16 rifle. Designed by American gun manufacturer ArmaLite in 1956, it was based on its AR-10 rifle. The ArmaLite AR-15 was designed to be a lightweight rifle and to fire a new high-velocity, lightweight, small-caliber cartridge to allow infantrymen to carry more ammunition.

CAR-15 carbine

The Colt Automatic Rifle-15 or CAR-15 was a family of M16 rifle based firearms marketed by Colt in the 1960s and early 1970s. However, the term "CAR-15" is most commonly associated with the Colt Commando(AKA: XM177); these select-fire carbines have ultrashort 10.5-inch (270 mm) and 11.5-inch (290 mm) barrels with over-sized flash suppressors.

ArmaLite AR-10 Type of Battle rifle

The ArmaLite AR-10 is a 7.62×51mm NATO battle rifle developed by Eugene Stoner in the late 1950s and manufactured by ArmaLite, then a division of the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation. When first introduced in 1956, the AR-10 used an innovative straight-line barrel/stock design with phenolic composite and forged alloy parts resulting in a small arm significantly easier to control in automatic fire and over 1 lb (0.45 kg) lighter than other infantry rifles of the day. Over its production life, the original AR-10 was built in relatively small numbers, with fewer than 10,000 rifles assembled. However, the ArmaLite AR-10 would become the progenitor for a wide range of firearms.

The ArmaLite AR-18 is a gas-operated assault rifle chambered for 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. The AR-18 was designed at ArmaLite in California by Arthur Miller, Eugene Stoner, George Sullivan, and Charles Dorchester in 1963 as an alternative to the ArmaLite AR-15 design, which had just been selected by the U.S. military as the M16. A semi-automatic version known as the AR-180 was later produced for the civilian market. While the AR-18 was never adopted as the standard service rifle of any nation, its production license was sold to companies in Japan and the United Kingdom, and it is said to have influenced many later weapons such as the British SA80, the Singaporean SAR-80 and SR-88, the American Adaptive Combat Rifle, the Belgian FN F2000, the Japanese Howa Type 89 and the German Heckler and Koch G36.

Stoner 63 Type of Modular weapon system *Rifle *Carbine *Assault rifle *Light machine gun *Squad automatic weapon

The Stoner 63 is a 5.56×45mm NATO modular weapon system. Using a variety of modular components, it can be configured as a rifle, a carbine, a top-fed light machine gun, a belt-fed squad automatic weapon, or a vehicle mounted weapon. Also known as the M63, XM22, XM23, XM207 or the Mk 23 Mod 0 machine gun, it was designed by Eugene Stoner in the early 1960s. Cadillac Gage was the primary manufacturer of the Stoner 63 during its history. The Stoner 63 saw very limited combat use by United States forces during the Vietnam War. A few were also sold to law enforcement agencies.

M1941 Johnson machine gun Type of Light machine gun

The M1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun, also known as the Johnson and the Johnny gun, was an American recoil-operated light machine gun designed in the late 1930s by Melvin Johnson. It shared the same operating principle and many parts with the M1941 Johnson rifle and the M1947 Johnson auto carbine.

Leader Dynamics Series T2 MK5 Type of Assault rifle/carbine

The Leader T2 MK5 Series firearms were chambered for the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge and manufactured by Leader Dynamics of Smithfield, NSW, Australia (1978-1982/1983). The Leader was the brainchild of weapons designer Charles St. George. It was originally a contender for a 5.56 mm Australian military service rifle to replace the then-issued Lithgow L1A1-F1 SLR and Colt M16A1 rifles. What was unique about this endeavor was that Australia had never designed or manufactured its own commercial gas-operated semi-automatic rifle. The rifle was abandoned when the Steyr AUG was adopted for use by the Australian military.

ArmaLite AR-7 Type of Survival rifle

The ArmaLite AR-7 Explorer is a semi-automatic firearm in .22 Long Rifle caliber, developed in 1959 from the AR-5 that was adopted by the U.S. Air Force as a pilot and aircrew survival weapon. The AR-7 was adopted and modified by the Israeli Air Force as an aircrew survival weapon in the 1980s.

The Bushmaster M4 or M4A3 is a semi-automatic or select-fire carbine manufactured by Bushmaster Firearms International, modeled on the AR-15. It is one of the Bushmaster XM15 line of rifles and carbines.

The ArmaLite AR-5 is a lightweight bolt-action takedown rifle chambered for the .22 Hornet cartridge and adopted as the MA-1 aircrew survival rifle by the United States Air Force. It was developed by ArmaLite, a division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation in 1954.

The Knight's Armament Company Light Assault Machine Gun (LAMG) is a light machine gun system developed by Eugene Stoner and manufactured by Knight's Armament Company (KAC). It was previously known as the Knight's Armament Company LMG. It is the current evolution of the Stoner Light Machine Gun concept.

STANAG magazine

A STANAG magazine or NATO magazine is a type of detachable firearm magazine proposed by NATO in October 1980. Shortly after NATO's acceptance of the 5.56×45mm NATO rifle cartridge, Draft Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4179 was proposed in order to allow NATO members to easily share rifle ammunition and magazines down to the individual soldier level. The U.S. M16 rifle's magazine proportions were proposed for standardization. Many NATO members, but not all, subsequently developed or purchased rifles with the ability to accept this type of magazine. However the standard was never ratified and remains a "Draft STANAG".

Bushmaster M17S Type of Bullpup semi-automatic rifle

The Bushmaster M17S is a semi-automatic bullpup rifle that was manufactured by Bushmaster Firearms International from 1992 until 2005.

ArmaLite American small arms engineering company

ArmaLite, or Armalite, is an American small arms engineering company founded in the mid 1950s in Hollywood, California. It ceased business in the 1980s. The company was revived in 1996 by Mark Westrom.

Oerlikon KBA Type of Autocannon

The Oerlikon KBA is a 25 mm (25×137mm) autocannon, developed as a close range weapon for the mechanized battlefield originally made by Oerlikon Contraves AG.

AR-15 style rifle Lightweight semi-automatic based on the Colt AR-15 design

An AR-15 style rifle is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle based on the ArmaLite AR-15 design, which is itself a scaled-down derivative of Eugene Stoner's AR-10 design. ArmaLite sold the patent and trademarks to Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1959. After Colt's patents expired in 1977, Colt retained the trademark and is the exclusive owner of the "AR-15" designation. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act restricted the Colt AR-15 and some derivatives from 1994 to 2004, although it did not affect rifles with fewer features.

An SR-25, AR-10 or LR-308 pattern magazine is a type of detachable firearm magazine based on the original Armalite AR-10 "waffle" magazine design introduced in the late 1950s. The design has been used on many AR-10 derivatives, for instance in the Knight's Armament SR-25 and DPMS Panther LR-308, as well as bolt action rifles such as the Mossberg MVP .308, Ruger Precision Rifle and Q FIX. Aftermarket magazines are produced by Magpul, Lancer Systems, and others. Not all AR-308 rifles use magazines compatible with the SR-25 pattern. For example, HK417/MR308/MR762 uses a proprietary design. Notably, Armalite switched from their original pattern magazines to modified M14 magazines in 1996 with their new AR-10B model, but reintroduced their original magazine design with the AR-10A model in 2012.


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  2. 1 2 3 Rottman, Gordon (2011). The M16. Osprey Publishing. p. 9. ISBN   978-1-84908-690-5 . Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Chivers, C. J. (2010). The Gun . New York: Simon and Schuster. pp.  292–295. ISBN   978-0-7432-7076-2.
  4. Cutshaw, Charles Q. (2011). "Assault Rifles". Tactical Small Arms of the 21st Century: A Complete Guide to Small Arms From Around the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 235. ISBN   978-1-4402-2482-9 . Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  5. Johnston, Gary Paul (2006). "New from DPMS A 308 That Delivers the Goods". Soldier of Fortune. Boulder, Colorado: Omega Group, Limited. 31: 24. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  6. Lewis, Jack (1 January 2004). "Colt's All american 2000". The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications Craft. p. 49. ISBN   978-0-87349-658-2 . Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  7. "Kalashnikov and His Gun Visit America". Erenow.