AR15.Com Archives
 Gwinn/Bushmaster Assault Rifle/Armspistol Pics (big pics, 56k killer)
boywonder777  [Member]
6/11/2007 6:16:48 PM EST
So after acquiring the Armspistol many years ago, my interest in these early Bushmaster/Gwinn firearms was sparked.

Over the years, I have run across the Bushmaster Rifle and Assault Rifle. I decided to do a write up on the differences I see between them. These are the 3 products they produced before Quality Parts (AKA Bushmaster today) bought them out. Firearms were produced with the Gwinn name from 1972-1974 according to some sources on the web.

Here is what I found from another site:

The Gwinn Arms Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, were in business from 1972 -1974 before Gwinn went bankrupt, and Quality Parts (reformed as Bushmaster ) bought them out. Mark Gwinn was the inventor of the original bushmaster rifle. Later Mack W. Gwinn JR Started the MGI - Mack Gwinn Industries (Modern manufacturer of quick change barrel system and other components for the AR-15).


The wooden stock one is marked

BUSHMASTER RIFLE
GWINN FIREARMS
BANGOR, MAINE USA
5.56MM
R0012XX


The Folder is marked

BUSHMASTER
ASSAULT RIFLE
BUSHMASTER FIREARMS
PORTLAND, MAINE USA
5.56 MM
F013XX


You can see the difference between them.

The folding stock operates with a latch but doesn't stay folded. I read somewhere there was a magnet that was supposed to stick it to the receiver but mine does not do that. The wooden handguards are also shaped a little different between them. Both appear to have the skinny M16 barrels.



The front pivot pin on the wooden rifle is much like the AR pins of today, the folder has an E-clip between the ears that goes into a slot on the pin.

The front sight base is a little larger on the folder, there is also a channel drilled in the barrel that is exposed, like where the taper pins for a front sight base on an AR would go. Not sure if this was a recycled barrel from an AR.

The charging handle on the wooden rifle is on top while the folder has it on the left side. The rear sights are also completely different.



You can see the wooden one with the charging handle on top has a larger rear sight, it's actually part of a dust cover on top that slides off to clean the piston. The whole top can be exposed by removing the rear sight and taking out the charging handle/piston.

The folder is more like an AR180 where you have to take the charging handle all the way back and then it comes out to remove the piston. The dust cover stays intact.


The Armspistol is marked

BUSHMASTER PISTOL
GWINN FIREARMS
BANGOR, MAINE USA
5.56MM
0056XX



You will see the charging handle on the wooden rifle and arms pistol are almost identical, they both have dustcovers that come off to remove the piston.




The folder was produced at a later time since it bears the Bushmaster name, but the front pivot pin seems to be more crude with the e-clip. Kind of strange, I would like to hear any thoughts on why they would do that.

Also there were multiple variations in all their firearms. There are at least 3 recorded variants of the Armspistol. On the rifles, I have seen the handguards swapped btw. the folder and nonfolder.

Here are some more online articles regarding this little piece of Bushmaster history:
biggerhammer.net/armpistol/
www.securityarms.com/forums/showthread.php?t=584
www.securityarms.com/20010315/galleryfiles/2900/2974.htm
www.securityarms.com/20010315/galleryfiles/2400/2474.htm

Hope you enjoyed the little writeup.
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yekimak  [Team Member]
6/10/2007 8:00:54 PM EST
NIce writeup, thank you.
EHilderbrand  [Team Member]
6/10/2007 8:05:59 PM EST
Very interesting. Thank you for the cool pictures and the good read.
fivepointoh  [Team Member]
6/10/2007 8:07:10 PM EST
wow that's really neat. Thanks!
JD42  [Member]
6/10/2007 8:17:37 PM EST
Very nice wright up and pictures. On the Arm pistol. Is that a Bull Barrel or a std. Barrel with a shrowd? I have not seen one in a long time.
boywonder777  [Member]
6/10/2007 8:52:22 PM EST

Originally Posted By JD42:
Very nice wright up and pictures. On the Arm pistol. Is that a Bull Barrel or a std. Barrel with a shrowd? I have not seen one in a long time.


I think the barrel is actually part of the receiver. I don't see any way to swap barrels. It does start of thick at the receiver and taper down.

What's cool about the Armspistol is that it tilts to either the left or the right and the rear sight can be moved to either direction. This allows the mag to rest on your forearm and more importantly to direct the direction of the spent brass. It was designed for helicopter use where you would not want the spent brass going into the blades.
nicholsmf  [Team Member]
6/10/2007 11:16:19 PM EST
Nice photos and info. It is nice to see some different stuff on here sometimes.
osprey21  [Team Member]
6/10/2007 11:52:27 PM EST
Interesting, thanks.

and tagged for response by twl.
SC-Texas  [Team Member]
6/11/2007 5:43:52 PM EST
Phil Engeldrum's Assualt weapon tests magazine said he firearms were reliable but horribly inaccurate.
JTuckett  [Team Member]
6/11/2007 5:47:41 PM EST
very good write up and thanks for the pics.
Knife_Sniper  [Team Member]
6/11/2007 8:56:15 PM EST
The arm "pistol"

Is sold as a true pistol?

Kinda looks like you could snuggle up to it, you know... use that rear portion as a stock.
SorryOciffer  [Member]
6/12/2007 2:27:13 AM EST
Thanks for the neat write up and pics!

S.O.
boywonder777  [Member]
6/12/2007 8:52:18 PM EST

Originally Posted By Knife_Sniper:
The arm "pistol"

Is sold as a true pistol?

Kinda looks like you could snuggle up to it, you know... use that rear portion as a stock.


Yeah it was sold as a pistol. It is beefy at the back end, i suppose you could rest snuggle it and bumpfire it. but the price of .223 these days makes that not so fun
EasyD  [Member]
6/18/2007 2:43:20 PM EST
boywonder,

Ever seen one of these rifles labeled "Assault Rifle" and having a wire collapsable stock, not unlike a M-10/M-11?

Local fun shop up my way has one... Been sitting for a long time...

--EasyD
jim  [Member]
6/18/2007 4:23:09 PM EST

Originally Posted By boywonder777:

Originally Posted By JD42:
Very nice wright up and pictures. On the Arm pistol. Is that a Bull Barrel or a std. Barrel with a shrowd? I have not seen one in a long time.


I think the barrel is actually part of the receiver. I don't see any way to swap barrels. It does start of thick at the receiver and taper down.

What's cool about the Armspistol is that it tilts to either the left or the right and the rear sight can be moved to either direction. This allows the mag to rest on your forearm and more importantly to direct the direction of the spent brass. It was designed for helicopter use where you would not want the spent brass going into the blades.


the arm pistol was also used moderately in South and Central American countries. its design made it ideal for use in dense bush. the arm pistol was also mfg in 2 varieties. the most common one was a stamped receiver. there are still a few models of the early prototype out there. that one was made from a milled receiver and the charging handle was attached by countersunk allen head bolts. a former aquaintence of mine is still in posession of it. it has a 2 digit serial # !
the one i owned was fairly accurate but had issues with the bolt cam pin/receiver rail causing occassional malfunctions.
if interested i still have the owners manual that came with mine. it came as a photo copied paper. and i may still have the accessory catalog that offered you a wooden buttstock for the arm pistol (iirc)
boywonder777  [Member]
6/18/2007 5:54:00 PM EST

Originally Posted By EasyD:
boywonder,

Ever seen one of these rifles labeled "Assault Rifle" and having a wire collapsable stock, not unlike a M-10/M-11?

Local fun shop up my way has one... Been sitting for a long time...

--EasyD


Haven't seen that variant. Sounds cool though. Sounds like there were a lot of variations, probably put together with what they had laying around.
boywonder777  [Member]
6/18/2007 5:55:31 PM EST

Originally Posted By jim:

Originally Posted By boywonder777:

Originally Posted By JD42:
Very nice wright up and pictures. On the Arm pistol. Is that a Bull Barrel or a std. Barrel with a shrowd? I have not seen one in a long time.


I think the barrel is actually part of the receiver. I don't see any way to swap barrels. It does start of thick at the receiver and taper down.

What's cool about the Armspistol is that it tilts to either the left or the right and the rear sight can be moved to either direction. This allows the mag to rest on your forearm and more importantly to direct the direction of the spent brass. It was designed for helicopter use where you would not want the spent brass going into the blades.


the arm pistol was also used moderately in South and Central American countries. its design made it ideal for use in dense bush. the arm pistol was also mfg in 2 varieties. the most common one was a stamped receiver. there are still a few models of the early prototype out there. that one was made from a milled receiver and the charging handle was attached by countersunk allen head bolts. a former aquaintence of mine is still in posession of it. it has a 2 digit serial # !
the one i owned was fairly accurate but had issues with the bolt cam pin/receiver rail causing occassional malfunctions.
if interested i still have the owners manual that came with mine. it came as a photo copied paper. and i may still have the accessory catalog that offered you a wooden buttstock for the arm pistol (iirc)


wow, never knew that it was actually used in practice. i'll send you a PM, don't have an owner's manual.
CavVet  [Team Member]
6/18/2007 6:06:08 PM EST
Interesting article, good job & pics.

I had an Armpistol some years ago, was in love with the concept and idea, wish it was as good of a gun as my AR's, I would still have it.




Now IM me a shipping addy, and I will send you the one last piece I have from my Armpistol spare parts stash, a spring (~9.5"x 3/8").

custom-concepts  [Member]
6/18/2007 6:16:18 PM EST
The assault rifle (folding stock version) was my first high powered rifle. You are correct about the magnet to hold the stock over to the reciever. It was rectangular and on a clip that snapped onto the stock. Marred the hell out of the receiver. God that brings back memories ... $12 / 100 rds of .223... Damn that was a while ago.

Thanks for posting the pics and write up. Brings back good memories of blasting away at the range during a summer Sunday, many years ago.....
twl  [Industry Partner]
6/18/2007 6:16:26 PM EST
Hi,
I work with Mack.
What would you like to know?

Regarding the part about how the company went over to Quality Parts when they bought the Bushmaster name from Mack, I'm not so sure all that info that you got from some site on the internet is accurate.
I never heard about any bankruptcy, although I never have asked about that particular issue.
And, clearly Mack still owned the company which was named Gwinn Firearms, when it was located in Maine, so I don't think things happened exactly as that passage you quoted describes.

At any rate, this was Mack's first venture in the early '70s, and things weren't very neat and tidy in these early years of production. There were quality control issues, and the gun got a very mediocre reception because it was so unusual and sometimes had relibility problems.
But, ya gotta start somewhere, and this is where Mack started.
I think it's safe to say he learned a few things since then.

I've heard Mack saying more than once, that he'd like to update and improve that Armpistol concept and bring it back to market in a good working reliable form.

One thing that you can say about Mack, and that is that he never likes to run in the pack. He always makes things different and unusual than the normal run-of-the-mill products. He's a free-thinker.
CavVet  [Team Member]
6/18/2007 6:20:39 PM EST

Originally Posted By twl:
I've heard Mack saying more than once, that he'd like to update and improve that Armpistol concept and bring it back to market in a good working reliable form.


I'd be all over that like a cheap suit. Compact, versatile, Oh my goodness. One in every vehicle and a few more for the hell of it. As I said, I loved the concept, mine was just a pos.


Build it and we will buy it.....But hurry, the Dems are coming, the Dems are coming.
scottryan  [Team Member]
6/18/2007 7:00:20 PM EST
Excellent topic!
scottryan  [Team Member]
6/18/2007 7:02:58 PM EST

Originally Posted By twl:
Hi,
I work with Mack.
What would you like to know?

Regarding the part about how the company went over to Quality Parts when they bought the Bushmaster name from Mack, I'm not so sure all that info that you got from some site on the internet is accurate.
I never heard about any bankruptcy, although I never have asked about that particular issue.
And, clearly Mack still owned the company which was named Gwinn Firearms, when it was located in Maine, so I don't think things happened exactly as that passage you quoted describes.

At any rate, this was Mack's first venture in the early '70s, and things weren't very neat and tidy in these early years of production. There were quality control issues, and the gun got a very mediocre reception because it was so unusual and sometimes had relibility problems.
But, ya gotta start somewhere, and this is where Mack started.
I think it's safe to say he learned a few things since then.

I've heard Mack saying more than once, that he'd like to update and improve that Armpistol concept and bring it back to market in a good working reliable form.

One thing that you can say about Mack, and that is that he never likes to run in the pack. He always makes things different and unusual than the normal run-of-the-mill products. He's a free-thinker.



I have always wanted to see the BAR come back and made just like it was in the 1970s. Very simple, basic, clunky, and unrefined but with modern machining and reliability and sell it for under $600 street price.

I would love to have one of these for a truck gun.
kap_x  [Team Member]
6/18/2007 7:19:25 PM EST
Do the pistols have sights?

It's interesting to see some of the parts commonalities between these and AR15s. A1 stile grip, magazine catch, selector switch, receiver pins. An AR15 upper couldn't fit onto one of these, could it?
jim  [Member]
6/18/2007 7:49:17 PM EST
different concept with the arm
the trigger had a wire(iirc) connecting it to the disconnect. front sight was ion the gas tube that swiveled with the bbl, rear sight was similar to the MAC-11 cobray's
different bolt assy too. the cam ran on the right side rail vs. inside a bolt carrier like the ar does.
twl  [Industry Partner]
6/19/2007 3:24:07 AM EST
This gun was a classic example of very advanced thinking, but some spotty execution. If it had been manufactured by somebody that was a pro at manufacturing, it would have been a different story.

Mack was fresh out of the service after retiring as a Captain in the US Army Special Forces where he did 7 tours in Nam with MacVSog. Started out as an enlisted man, made it into Special Forces, and worked his way up to a battlefield officer's commission during his Vietnam years. So he knew weapons and had studied alot of design, but didn't have manufacturing experience.

If you think about what is being lusted after by many people today, this is pretty close to many people's dream weapon.
An ambidextrous bullpup in 5.56 with an AK-style piston operating system, AR mags, and super compact.
And this was on the market over 30 years ago, before hardly any of the more well-known bullpups even appeared.

And that kind of forward thinking can still be seen in Mack's designs today, where he's broken new ground with a modular AR design that is sort of like the "erector set" or "Transformers" of the AR15.

It's just the way he does stuff. He's not satisfied until he breaks some new ground somewhere.

Probably if we wrapped this thing in some kind of injection-molded plastic body that looked like it came out of a science fiction movie, people would shit their pants over it. But, that's not really our style.

And I agree that if he could get this thing into the lower price ranges, that it would be a great seller.
Problem is that we can't make things in super high production numbers, so we can't really compete as well in the price game as somebody like Bushmaster.
Maybe someday.

boywonder777  [Member]
6/19/2007 5:17:30 PM EST

Originally Posted By custom-concepts:
The assault rifle (folding stock version) was my first high powered rifle. You are correct about the magnet to hold the stock over to the reciever. It was rectangular and on a clip that snapped onto the stock. Marred the hell out of the receiver. God that brings back memories ... $12 / 100 rds of .223... Damn that was a while ago.

Thanks for posting the pics and write up. Brings back good memories of blasting away at the range during a summer Sunday, many years ago.....


cool, i guess the magnet was lost on the rifle i bought. they did put a piece of velcro on the wooden forearm to keep it from being banged up by the metal stock.
boywonder777  [Member]
6/19/2007 5:21:40 PM EST

Originally Posted By twl:
Hi,
I work with Mack.
What would you like to know?

Regarding the part about how the company went over to Quality Parts when they bought the Bushmaster name from Mack, I'm not so sure all that info that you got from some site on the internet is accurate.
I never heard about any bankruptcy, although I never have asked about that particular issue.
And, clearly Mack still owned the company which was named Gwinn Firearms, when it was located in Maine, so I don't think things happened exactly as that passage you quoted describes.

At any rate, this was Mack's first venture in the early '70s, and things weren't very neat and tidy in these early years of production. There were quality control issues, and the gun got a very mediocre reception because it was so unusual and sometimes had relibility problems.
But, ya gotta start somewhere, and this is where Mack started.
I think it's safe to say he learned a few things since then.

I've heard Mack saying more than once, that he'd like to update and improve that Armpistol concept and bring it back to market in a good working reliable form.

One thing that you can say about Mack, and that is that he never likes to run in the pack. He always makes things different and unusual than the normal run-of-the-mill products. He's a free-thinker.


it would be cool if we could get a timeline and variants that were produced.

i would also like to know why the bushmaster folder (produced later than the gwinn), had the inferior front takedown pin section.

what was the reason behind the change of the charging handle on top with removable dust cover to side charger with faxed dust cover? what about the change in rear sights?

also it would be great if he had a box of leftover parts... wishful thinking right?
twl  [Industry Partner]
6/20/2007 5:24:30 AM EST

Originally Posted By boywonder777:


it would be cool if we could get a timeline and variants that were produced.

i would also like to know why the bushmaster folder (produced later than the gwinn), had the inferior front takedown pin section.

what was the reason behind the change of the charging handle on top with removable dust cover to side charger with faxed dust cover? what about the change in rear sights?

also it would be great if he had a box of leftover parts... wishful thinking right?


I'll ask Mack about some of these things the next time I talk with him.

I don't know about the change in pins in the later Bushmaster version.
However, I'd like to point out that "Bushmaster" was Mack's name for the company, before it was sold to the later owners, so Mack originated that name along with the company.

I do know that after the company was sold, Mack retained some percentage of ownership, and when some changes and activities began that he didn't agree with, he sold off his shares and parted ways.

Regarding leftover parts, yes he has quite a supply.
They might get used on some guns in the future.
We talked last night about making a small limited-production run of Armpistols, using the remaining receivers that he has left over, which are all pre-86 and/or pre-ban, and even resurrecting the old "Gwinn Firearms" rollmarking for them, so that they are like classic collector pieces.
I don't know what may come of this idea, so don't hold your breath about it.
HardShell  [Team Member]
6/20/2007 5:32:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By boywonder777:

Originally Posted By custom-concepts:
... You are correct about the magnet to hold the stock over to the reciever. It was rectangular and on a clip that snapped onto the stock...


cool, i guess the magnet was lost on the rifle i bought. they did put a piece of velcro on the wooden forearm to keep it from being banged up by the metal stock.


Mine has a snap (like you'd find on a cheap windbreaker) instead. I don't know if it was a production change or an owner before me replaced the magnet with the snap.

I picked mine up many moons ago and it came with both lower receivers -- a fixed and a folder. (FYI, for those unfamiliar, on these rifles it was the upper receiver that was the serialized/transferrable part, not the lower as on a standard AR.)



boywonder777  [Member]
6/20/2007 6:01:44 PM EST

Originally Posted By HardShell:

Originally Posted By boywonder777:

Originally Posted By custom-concepts:
... You are correct about the magnet to hold the stock over to the reciever. It was rectangular and on a clip that snapped onto the stock...


cool, i guess the magnet was lost on the rifle i bought. they did put a piece of velcro on the wooden forearm to keep it from being banged up by the metal stock.


Mine has a snap (like you'd find on a cheap windbreaker) instead. I don't know if it was a production change or an owner before me replaced the magnet with the snap.

I picked mine up many moons ago and it came with both lower receivers -- a fixed and a folder. (FYI, for those unfamiliar, on these rifles it was the upper receiver that was the serialized/transferrable part, not the lower as on a standard AR.)

i2.photobucket.com/albums/y12/HardShell/RWB%20-%20Rifles/DSC01353.jpg



is the fixed stock wood? can you shoot a close up of the snap?

glad to see these coming out of the woodwork
HardShell  [Team Member]
6/21/2007 5:54:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By boywonder777:
is the fixed stock wood? can you shoot a close up of the snap?

glad to see these coming out of the woodwork


Yep, the fixed stock is black-painted wood, as is the handguard.

I'll see if I have a hi-rez shiot where I can zoom in on the snap clearly ( ETA: Nope, just the cropped/reduced ones ) -- if not, I'll take a new close-up pic when I can think of it...
boywonder777  [Member]
6/21/2007 5:01:52 PM EST

Originally Posted By twl:

Originally Posted By boywonder777:


it would be cool if we could get a timeline and variants that were produced.

i would also like to know why the bushmaster folder (produced later than the gwinn), had the inferior front takedown pin section.

what was the reason behind the change of the charging handle on top with removable dust cover to side charger with faxed dust cover? what about the change in rear sights?

also it would be great if he had a box of leftover parts... wishful thinking right?


I'll ask Mack about some of these things the next time I talk with him.

I don't know about the change in pins in the later Bushmaster version.
However, I'd like to point out that "Bushmaster" was Mack's name for the company, before it was sold to the later owners, so Mack originated that name along with the company.

I do know that after the company was sold, Mack retained some percentage of ownership, and when some changes and activities began that he didn't agree with, he sold off his shares and parted ways.

Regarding leftover parts, yes he has quite a supply.
They might get used on some guns in the future.
We talked last night about making a small limited-production run of Armpistols, using the remaining receivers that he has left over, which are all pre-86 and/or pre-ban, and even resurrecting the old "Gwinn Firearms" rollmarking for them, so that they are like classic collector pieces.
I don't know what may come of this idea, so don't hold your breath about it.


Also with those partial serials I posted, can he let me know the years they were produced?

When did he start marking them with Bushmaster Firearms instead of Gwinn Firearms?

Was that a change that happened at a certain date or were they being produced with both names for a while?
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