The AR-7 Survival Rifle – Review
The AR-7 is a little .22 caliber auto-loader. It is an interesting gun because the barrel and receiver disassemble and store in the stock making a veer small and lightweight package. I’ve always been curious to own one of these little rifles, so when I saw one at a recent gun show for a hundred dollars, I picked it up. Pictured below: Charter Arms AR-7
The AR-7 was designed by Eugene Stoner and manufactured originally by Armalite in hopes that the military would adopt it as a replacement for the AR-5 bolt action survival rifle. Things didn’t work out so Armalite began selling the AR-7 on the civilian market. Over the years the design and manufacturing right were sold to Charter Arms and then the Henry Co. The AR-7 that I bought was made by Charter Arms which I have read did not produce the best version of this product.
The stock of the gun is a synthetic that is filled with foam. Supposedly the gun will float if dropped in water, but I haven’t tried this personally. The barrel is made of aluminum with a rifled steel inner sleeve and unscrews from receiver. Pictured below: Barrel unscrewed from receiver
The barrel, receiver, and magazine can then be stored in the butt of the stock which is closed by snapping the plastic butt-cap back in place. Pictured below: top, components; bottom, Barrel, receiver, and magazine stored in stock
When assembled the rifle is 35 inches long. Disassembled and with the barrel and receiver stored in the stock, the AR-7 is 16 inches long. The total weight of this weapon is 2.5 pounds. Pictured below: AR-7 broken down and packed
The AR-7 is chambered for .22 longrifle. It is an auto-loader with a blow-back bolt and double bolt springs. The factory magazine holds eight rounds. Pictured below: top, Magazine in mag port, bottom, magazine removed
The bolt springs are fairly stiff and will only cycle reliably with high velocity ammo. .22 longs, short, and CB’s will not operate the bolt although they can be single loaded and fired. Round nose bullets are said to load more reliably, but I always buy hollow points so that’s what I am using in this test.
The AR-7 is intended as a survival weapon. This means small game at fairly close range, so I am going to be firing it on a thirty yard range. The sight on the AR-7 is a fixed blade on the front with a rear peep-sight that is removable but not adjustable. Pictured below: peep sight
I am no sharpshooter, so I decided that in case I just wasn’t shooting any good I would fire from the same distance, and from the same prone position with the AR-7, a Hi Standard .22 revolver, a Savage combo gun in .22 over 20 ga., and a Ruger 10-22. I could then compare the targets and see how the AR-7 performed against other weapons.
The results were not very favorable for the AR-7. It was the worst performer of the four weapons fired. Of the first eight rounds fired through the AR-7, I had two jams. These jams were not from failure of a round to chamber properly. They were caused by failure of the extractors to pull the fired rounds from the chamber. Because the bolt doesn’t lock back I had to manually hold the bolt open while pulling out the spent cartridge case with my pocket knife. A real pain. Of the eight rounds fired only six cut paper and they were all over the place; no consistent pattern whatsoever. Pictured below AR-7 target number one.
Next I fired eight rounds through the Hi Standard revolver. No misfires and all eight rounds on the target. Seven of the rounds were within a six inch circle. Pictured below: Hi Standard revolver and target.
As pictured below the Savage combo put all eight on the paper including one bull, and the Ruger 10-22, predictably, shot the tightest group including one bull. Pictured below: top, Savage target; bottom, Ruger target
So when all is said and done I would say that if you have the opportunity to buy a Charter Arms AR-7, don’t. If you are looking for light-weight and compactness, a good quality revolver will out perform the Charter Arms AR-7. I can’t tell you about the Armalite or Henry versions of the AR-7, and I have heard that they are of higher quality. But as for the Charter Arms……..save your money.