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.
The idea of entering the small arms industry caught the interest of then-company president Richard Boutelle at Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, and ArmaLite was incorporated as a division of Fairchild on October 1, 1954. ArmaLite's first design, the AR1 Parasniper from 1952, used foam-filled fiberglass furniture and a composite barrel using a steel liner inside an aluminum sleeve. This was little used, but when the company were asked to compete in a contest for an aircrew survival rifle its AR-5 and AR-7 designs from 1956 saw production use. This was followed by an invitation to compete for the new combat rifle for US forces, which led to the AR-10. The AR-10 lost the 1957 contest, but many of its ideas were reused in the smaller and lighter AR-15.
Tired of repeated failures in the market, Fairchild licensed the AR-10 and AR-15 designs to Colt, and the AR-10 to a Dutch company. Fairchild sold its interest in ArmaLite in 1962. That year, Colt sold the AR-15 to the United States Air Force to arm base security troops. Commercial models were then sent to special forces in Vietnam, who reported success using the weapon.[clarification needed] This led to its being adopted as the US Army's main combat rifle starting in 1964. Officially designated Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16, it remained the US's primary combat rifle in one form or another to October 2016; however it is in the process of being replaced by other weapon systems, notably the M27-IAR, and is expected to be out of service by the mid 2030s. It was adopted by many NATO countries in the 1980s.
ArmaLite had further brushes with success, especially with the ArmaLite AR-18. These were not enough to keep the company going, and it ceased operations in the early 1980s. The design rights and name were purchased in 1996 by Mark Westrom, who re-launched the company ArmaLite, Inc., now headquartered in Geneseo, Illinois.
In 2013, Westrom sold ArmaLite, Inc. to Strategic Armory Corps, which also owns AWC Silencers, Surgeon Rifles, Nexus Ammo, and McMillan Firearms. Strategic Armory Corps was formed with the goal of acquiring and combining market-leading companies within the firearms industry. In 2014, 3-Gun Champion Tommy Thacker was appointed president. In 2015, ArmaLite introduced 18 new products including AR-10 and M-15 platform firearms. In mid 2018, ArmaLite was relocated to Phoenix, Arizona.
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