The world of guns can be a weird one. Especially when it comes to popular designs. Since the AR 15 is easily the most popular rifle in the world we have a ton of oddball and strange AR 15s. Odd AR 15s are not exactly self-contained to this era either. We’ve had them coming out as long as we’ve had AR 15s. I’ve picked 5 of my favorite odd AR 15s. This includes some really cool designs, and some are interesting, to say the least. Let’s kick it off with the oldest one on my list.
5. The Colt 608 Survival Rifle
Let’s say you’re a pilot in the 1960s and the last big war had planes being shot down left and right with pilots who survived landing over enemy territory. You probably want something better than a K frame 38 or a 1911. However, space in your plane is cramped what do you do? Well, Colt designed the first Micro AR-style weapon the Colt 608 Survival rifle. As far as odd AR 15s go this one certainly shows it’s age.
Colt fit a very small, fixed metal stock on the end of the buffer tube. They also chose to cut the grip in half for some reason. I guess to reduce weight. They fit a conical muzzle device because as you’d imagine the muzzle blast from a 10-inch barrel is quite bright. Colt’s goal was to sell the weapon as a breakdown rifle, something the AR 15 design naturally already is. It’s super small, and as the Mk 18 showed these rifles could work, but unfortunately, the 608 didn’t go further than a few prototypes.
4. The M231 Port Firing Weapon
This weapon was designed solely for M2 Bradley crews. The M231 was designed to attach to the firing ports of the Bradley and fire if the APC is buttoned up. The weapon apparently serves two purposes. First, when loaded with mags full of tracers it could help direct a gunner’s fire. The secondary goal was a weapon to fight off close-range infantry when the Bradley was buttoned up. The M231 also had a wire style stock so the weapon could be used outside of the Bradley.
What’s neat about the M231 is that it’s an open bolt weapon, fully automatic only and the weapon is not fitted with sights. Bradley gunners use a periscope to direct the tracer fire. What’s really cool is the fact the firing rate is a rapid 1,200 rounds per minute. This thing would drain magazines absurdly fast. They are apparently still fielded today or at least were up until the Iraq war where we saw photos of the M231 in action with troops. Some builders have even cloned them with 80 lower receivers and parts kits. Pics Courtesy of Soldier Systems.
3. The Olympic Arms OA-93
The Olympic Arm’s OA-93 is pretty far from a AR 15’s standard design. The OA-93 is a AR 15 pistol and at first glance is one of the least efficient odd AR 15s. Prior to the advent of pistol braces, AR 15 pistols were heavy, clunky, hard to balance and hard to shoot accurately. The OA-93 gets rid of the buffer and buffer tube. Instead, we get the recoil system integrated into a flat-top upper receiver. The full-auto variants used in several movies did have a short buffer tube to accommodate an actual full auto BCG.
The OA-93 was most famously used by Willem Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger by badass Black Ops Commando John Clark. The weapon itself was an interesting development and the gun’s unique appearance and design have allowed it to make its way into several films. However, the gun never saw mass popularity mostly due to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. According to Olympic Arm’s website, the gun is still produced and for sale.
2. The Ares Shrike / FightLite MCR
The Ares Shrike is a belt-fed variant of the AR 15 intended to be an automatic rifle or light machine gun. This isn’t the first time someone has tried this. Colt saw limited success with their automatic rifle. However, the Shrike makes the list for a few reasons. I think it’s a better design, and I can own one. Ares has become Fightlite and Fightlite still produces Shrike upper receivers and rifles under the MCR name.
The Shrike or MCR uses it’s own proprietary upper that is a gas piston design. The upper receiver mates perfectly with a standard AR 15 lower. The Shrike has a quick change barrel, the option for a closed or open bolt, and a dual feed version that allows you to use a magazine or belt-fed design. As far as odd AR 15s go this is my personal favorite. Call it a machine gunner mentality but everything is made better when it’s belt-fed.
1 The FoldAr
Good Puns will always get points when I choose lists of guns. The FoldAr is both a great pun and a really cool design. As far as odd AR 15s go this may be the oddest. It folds, not just the stock, but the barrel too. Well, technically the double FoldAr will fold at the barrel and stock/brace area. The Standard FoldAr allows you to fold the barrel against the receiver to cut the effective length in half.
The FoldAr series use a proprietary upper with the FoldAr system that allows the barrel to safely fold and unfold over and over again while properly indexing. The Double FoldAr uses the Dead Foot Arms folding stock/brace system to make a completely folded up AR 15. This reduces the size of the gun drastically and makes it easy to store in nothing more than a backpack. Plus, like the Shrike/MCR upper it’s available to civilians.
Odd Ar 15s Rule
I like weird stuff, and it is truly fascinating how modular the AR 15 platform is. Look at what some enterprising and engineering minds can do to the platform. These are only a few Odd AR 15s and if popular demand allows I’ll dig into a few more. Odd AR 15s are more common than you’d think, but these are my five favorites.