By: Friedrich Seiltgen
Born in Gosport, Indiana in 1922, Eugene Morrison Stoner would go on to become a prolific firearms designer and an icon in weapons design.
Stoner grew up and went to high school in Long Beach, California and upon graduation, went to work for the Vega aircraft company. Vega was a subsidiary of Lockheed, producing civil aviation aircraft, but started transitioning into defense work in 1940. Vega manufactured 2,750 of 12,000 B-17s under an agreement with Boeing, and Stoner worked there installing armaments on the bombers. With the U.S. entering the War, Stoner enlisted in the Marines and was assigned to Aviation Ordnance in the South Pacific and northern China.
After the War, Stoner began his journey as a firearms designer. He began with Whittaker Aircraft, eventually becoming a design engineer. After nine years, Stoner moved on to the Armalite Company, a division of the Fairchild Aircraft company, where he was chief engineer.
Stoner was responsible for several designs during his work at the company. One of the first was the AR-5 survival rifle, military designation MA-1, which was purchased by the USAF for issue to air crews. You know this rifle today as the AR-7!
Other models include the AR-10, and his most famous piece of work, the AR-15! Stoner’s AR-10 design was the basis of the AR-15. Stoner, with chief assistant Jim Sullivan, basically downsized the AR-10 for the U.S military, as they wanted it to use their new wonder caliber, the .223 Remington. In 1959, Armalite sold the rights to the weapon to Colt, as they were more of a research and development company than a firearms manufacturer.
In 1961, Stoner left Armalite and spent some time as a consultant at Colt firearms, but then left for Cadillac Gauge. It was there that Stoner designed the Stoner 62 in 7.62.
Of course, the military wanted a system in .223, so the Stoner 63 Weapons System was born. The Stoner 63 was unique in that it could be configured as a standard automatic battle rifle, a light machine gun, a medium machine gun, or a solenoid fired fixed machine gun. The Stoner was used primarily by SEAL teams until 1983.
In 1971, Stoner founded Ares Incorporated, a weapons design and research company in Port Clinton, Ohio. Stoner made some modifications to his Stoner 63 and created the Future Assault Rifle Concept, or FARC, which utilized new materials for both the weapon and ammunition.
In 1990, Stoner found himself at Knights Armament in Florida, where he designed the SR25. Stoner was the designer of the original AR-10, which competed and lost to the Springfield M14. He combined the caliber of the AR-10 with the gas system of his AR-15, and voila! 10 plus 15 equals 25, hence the nomenclature, Stoner Rifle 25!
Stoner passed away in 1997 and was laid to rest in Quantico National Cemetery. He left behind a legacy of more than 100 weapons design patents and weapons systems, but his most famous design was the AR-15.
That’s all for now folks! Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article ideas. And as always – “Let’s be careful out there.”
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, Active Shooter Response, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in RECOIL, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.