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Manufactured by Armalite before the rights were sold to first Charter Arms and then to Survival Arms and finally to Henry Repeating Arms, the AR-7 is a take down survival rifle that fires .22 cal long rifle.
Originally designed as a replacement for the AR-5 and M-6 survival rifles used by the USAF the AR-7 was never placed into widespread issue due to the large numbers of AR-5 and M-6 rifles in the inventory. The AR-7, it was decided, would be marketed to civilians instead.
I was given my first AR-7 in 1972 as a Christmas present from my older brother and I kept it until the late 1990’s when the receiver got badly dented, the stock destroyed, and magazine just gone after a 1300 foot fall during airborne operations when my ruck sack got torn on exit from the aircraft.
The AR-7 used in this Instructable was given to me as an early Fathers Day present by a buddy of mine from my Army days a few years ago. As you can see, it too has seen some wear and tear over the years and does need to have the stock replaced (which is on order) and it could stand a coat of paint which it will be getting once the new stock comes in.
The original owners manual that came with the AR-7 was vague on the proper care of the weapon. It lacked any good, detail photos or illustrations on how to take the internal parts out to facilitate removal of the bolt for cleaning. I hope that this corrects that problem.
The steps in this article should translate to any of the AR-7’s produced by the various manufacturers.
All the components of the AR-7 fit neatly in the butt stock when the weapon is taken apart. The stock itself is filled with styrofoam so it will float if dropped in the water.
The main parts of the AR-7 are the receiver, barrel, magazine, stock, and butt plate.
The rifle fires the .22 cal long rifle cartridge and can be a little finicky when it comes to what brand of ammo it fires. This particular AR-7 fires without any problems with CCI Stingers and Remington high velocity hollow points. Any other bards of ammo tend to cause jams after 2-3 rounds, as do any brand of flat nosed bullet. The feed problems seem to cross all of the older AR-7 platforms though don’t seem to effect the newer Henry produced rifles.
With the left side of the receiver facing upwards:
Remove the receiver cover screw and receiver cover
- Hold the magazine release spring in place and remove the magazine release
- Carefully remove the magazine release spring
- Remove the magazine release pivot pin
- Remove the ejector
- Lift up gently on the hammer spring and remove the small pin at the rear of the trigger
- Remove the trigger pivot pin
- Remove the trigger
- Remove the hammer
Once all of the parts are removed from the receiver flip it over and:
Pull back slightly on the charging handle until it is squarely over the slightly larger opening in the track
Hold bolt in place by using your finger placed inside the receiver and pushing on the bolt face
Remove the charging handle
Carefully let the bolt slide forward until it is out of the receiver
You now have the weapon field striped for cleaninig.
For cleaning I have two micro fiber towels, one for wiping excess Break Free from the weapon and one for general cleaning with Break Free. A properly sized cleaning rod, bore brush, patch tip, and .12 ga “mop”, and cleaning patches cut from an old tee shirt approx. 1″x2″, you may have to trim the patches for a proper fit in the barrel. The screw drivers are for removal of the receiver cover screw and to aid in moving the hammer spring.
After the receiver is stripped start by attaching the .12 ga “mop” to the handle of the cleaning rod and spraying a small amount of Break Free on the “mop”. With a rotating motion run the “mop” into the receiver making sure to scrub the entire length of the receiver tube. Next use one of the towels to wipe any excess Break Free from the receiver.
Remove the “mop” and attach the other length of cleaning rod and the bore brush. Using the straw on the Break Free can spray a small amount of Break Free into the barrel and run the bore brush through the barrel. I prefer to run the brush from the muzzle end down through the chamber, others may advise you to run the brush from the chamber through to to muzzle. Either way you prefer is fine. Once you have run the brush through the barrel remove the brush from the cleaning rod, pull the rod out of the barrel, spray some more Break Free into the barrel and repeat the whole process at least three (3) times or more depending on how dirty the barrel is.
Next remove the bore brush and attach the patch tip and add a cleaning patch. Spray a small amount of Break Free on the patch and run it through the barrel in the same direction you ran the bore brush Once you have run the patch down the barrel remove it and pull the rod out. I repeat this step at least three times with a “wet” patch. Once you have run the wet patches down the barrel place clean, DRY patch in the patch tip and run it down the barrel. Repeat until the patch passes through the barrel and come out completely clean.
If you find you have run a bunch of patches down the barrel and none of them are clean repeat the steps with the bore brush and “wet” patches as often as necessary to get clean patches to pass through the barrel.
Using one of your rags and some Break Free, wipe down the bolt, recoil springs, and recoil spring guide. You can use Q-Tips to get into those hard to reach areas on the bolt. Make sure you wipe down the bolt face and get it clean.
To re-assembly the weapon:
- Place the two (2) recoil springs into the holes in the rear of the bolt
- Place the recoil spring guide (the plastic part with the two prongs) into the recoil springs
- Place the bolt assembly into the receiver
- Push the entire bolt assembly to the rear and hold it in place with a finger
- Place the charging handle into the bolt
- Place disconnector into receiver
- Put magazine release pivot pin in place
- Put the magazine realse spring in place
- Put the magazine release in the receiver (be careful not to pop the spring out of place)
- Place the trigger and trigger pivot pin in place
- Place the hammer into the receiver
- Carefully lift the hammer spring with the small screw driver until it clears the trigger
- Place the hammer spring retaining pin in the trigger (the small pin at the rear of the trigger)
- Let the hammer spring down onto the retaining pin (Make sure you note that the arms of the spring criss-cross, so the left arm is on the right and the right on the left)
- Place receiver cover plate on receiver ensuring all pins line up
- Replace receiver cover screw and tighten
Completely assembly the weapon, making sure you DO NOT insert the magazine! Don’t be the guy who shoots himself or worse someone else, because you loaded a weapon for a function check!
Pull the bolt to the rear and release it. Place the weapon on safe, point it in a SAFE direction and try to pull the trigger. Nothing should happen.
Take the weapon off of safe, still pointing in a SAFE direction, and pull the trigger, you should hear the hammer fall. Keeping the trigger pulled all the way back, with your other hand pull the charging handle to the rear all the way and release it.
Release the trigger, you should hear a metallic “click” or “thunk” sound. Pull the trigger to the rear again and you should hear the hammer fall again.
If you don’t hear a sound when you pull the trigger after cocking the weapon, the weapon doesn’t cock, the hammer falls while the weapon is on safe, or you can’t get the trigger to reset after the first time the hammer falls the weapon has failed the function check and you must make sure the barrel is on tightly and that all of the internal parts are in properly.
I have enjoyed the AR-7 for many years, I have taken it one on nearly every deployment I have ever been on and have found it to be a great “back-up for my back-up”. I have used it to take everything from rabbit to squirrel to small birds in a survival situation, and have found that at close ranges it will take out a coyote if need be, though it will take more than one round (it took me three with two head shots before the coyote stopped moving).
The sight system (a small aperture peep sight) does take some practice in order to hit your target with any degree of accuracy but it is functional and can be made more so by drilling out the rear peep sight just a hair larger (which I did).
Currently,when it isn’t tucked neatly in my bug out bag, I use it to shoot prairie dogs in our pasture out to about 60 yards with devastating effects.
Over all the AR-7 is a handy, light weight rifle that makes a great addition to any B.O.B.
I look forward to reading your comments and as always, Train to survive!
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