An AR-7 equipped with Eagle International “dress up” kit. This rifle has a brushed nickel finish and has a Choate pistol grip. It also employs an added recoil pad.
by J.M. Ramos
Part One of this two-part article covered the author’s own AR-7 rifle design which featured many useful improvements that made this survival type arm more practical and user friendly.
Part two of this series will cover “after market” dress up kits offered for the AR-7 during the heyday of the exotic gun market between 1980-1990. There were numerous accessories offered for the AR-7 during this time period. There are only three companies that I can recommend, which originally produced some of the finest dress up kits and accessories for the AR-7 as well as other popular sporting guns.
EAGLE INTERNATIONAL, INC. The exotic gun market boom, which started around the early 1980s resulted in the establishment of dozens of independent accessory producers in the United States. Their main thrust was producing and marketing high-technology accessories for many popular sporting rifles to include the Ruger Mini-14, 10/22, Charter Arms AR-7 and Remington Shotguns and hunting rifles made by some of America’s well known manufacturers.
Among the many independent producers of after market accessories, Eagle International of Arvada, Colorado no doubt created the finest “dress up” kit for the AR-7. The complete kit included a telescoping buttstock assembly, which was precision machined from aircraft aluminum and black anodised. It was keyed to hold the buttplate in a vertical position, had positive indexes, like the CAR-15 telescoping stock, that allowed length adjustments from 71/2 to 12 inches for individual fit. The rear of the buttstock was drilled and tapped at 90º to accept a 1-inch sling swivel attachment. An AR-15 pistol grip was machined on the top to fit the kit to the AR-7 receiver frame. The bottom of the grip had a built-in pivoting cover allowing the storage of extra ammunition, a match or fishing hook for emergency use. With the kit came the company’s own “Zypher 700” sighting system. The Zypher was a military style rear sight with hooded aperture, fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear base was machined from aircraft-quality aluminum alloy. To install the Zypher to the gun, simply remove the factory part and slide the rear opening of the replacement part underneath the sight base until it sits flush with the frame hood. The tightening screw is inserted through the peephole of the hood. Complementing the telescoping stock is a beautiful ventilated barrel shroud, which is also made from aircraft-grade aluminum tubing finish, black anodised. Installation of the shroud requires front sight blade removal to allow insertion of the part over the barrel. The rear of the shroud utilized a 360º sling swivel attachment. The kit came complete with a one inch black Nylon sling. Other optional accessories offered by Eagle for the AR-7 were an extended charging handle, which replaced the factory telescoping charging handle to make cocking easier. For shooters who wished to use the gun for hunting or precision shooting, a lightweight scope mount machined from durable aircraft aluminum was offered. It incorporated an adjustable rail, which accepts all Weaver-type rings. In addition to AR-7 accessories, Eagle also produced superb dress-up kits and high-capacity magazines for the popular Mini-14 and 10/22 rifles. When the ban on assault type weapons and high-capacity magazines became law in the 1990’s, Eagle International became a victim and went out of business.
Established in the early part of 1980s, this highly innovative company, originally based in Golden Colorado, produced some of the most innovative and unique after-market accessories ever offered for the very popular Ruger Mini-14 and 10/22. Ram-Line’s Syn-Tech stocks are considered the strongest and most durable on the market. The company also proved to be a leader in high-capacity polymer magazine design, the best one being the double stack 10/22 rimfire magazine, the first of its kind. This double stack magazine was offered in 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-shot variations. For the AR-7, the company produced a high-performance 25-shot curved plastic magazine in both clear and black. Ram-Line’s high-capacity magazines were also purchased by manufacturers such as Marlin and Charter Arms and offered as optional items for their production guns. A ventilated aluminum barrel shroud with built-in barrel retaining nut was also offered along with a matching aluminum flash hider and replacement front sight blade made of bright orange plastic material. In the beginning of the 1990s, Ram-Line operation was moved to a new location in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. With the threat of an assault weapon and hi-capacity magazine ban closing in, Ram-Line put their machinery to full force cranking out folders and high-capacity magazines 24 hours a day. Regretfully, the owners of the company called it quits and sold the company to Blount, Inc based in Onalaska, Wisconsin in 1994.
CHOATE MACHINE & TOOL COMPANY
Choate Machine & Tool, was another independent accessory producer that sprung up at the beginning of the exotic gun era. Unlike Eagle and Ram-Line, Choate products included tough DuPont Zytel and Rynite plastic mated to steel. Choate’s folding stock was one of the strongest available and combined the use of a solid steel arm coated by DuPont Zytel. These folders were offered extensively for shotguns and rifles. As the popularity of dress up kit for the 10/22 and AR-7 reached its peak in the late 1980s, Choate introduced his own version in 1987. The AR-7 kit consisted of a full-size pistol grip buttstock made from Zytel material complete with a 1-inch recoil pad. Complementing the stock was a blued ventilated steel shroud. Installation of the shroud required the removal of the factory barrel retaining nut. The shroud came complete with a built-in retaining nut. A folding stock and a muzzle brake would have been a nice addition to the Choate AR-7 dress up kit. Among the three leading after market producers that started their business back in the 1980s, only Choate managed to remain in business. Today, this resilient company from Bald Knob, Arkansas has proven to be more successful than ever, as more law enforcement and security agencies are employing their products to improve their equipment.
MIX AND MATCH
One of the biggest advantages of having multiple companies producing different style of dress up kits is being able to mix and match the various accessories to fit one’s personal taste or requirements. For example, the Choate fixed buttstock could be combined with the full-length Eagle ventilated barrel shroud for rifle/submachine gun configuration or vice versa. Those vent holes of the shroud were perfect for mounting front grips, be it Choate or a regular AR-15 part. The line of holes in the shroud was perfect for finding the right spot for mounting the most comfortable location of the front grip to fit individual reach or liking. My improved AR-7 looked much better as soon as I installed the Eagle telescoping stock unto it. For maximum firepower, if you have few 25-shot Ram-Line magazines, glue three of them together side-by-side to create a 75-round magazine system. Those golden days of exotic weaponry are over.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V7N10 (July 2004)|