A Prominent Hartford Citizen Recalls The First Test of the AR-15 Rifle

by Categorized: Defense, Technology Date:

Before the AR-15 rifle came to Colt Firearms, before it became the M-16, before anyone even dreamed it would become America’s most popular gun, David E.A. Carson was there.

Carson, a Hartford resident and the retired CEO of People’s United Bank, played a key role in the first testing of the first-ever models of the rifle, which were delivered to Fort Benning, Ga. for Army testing after ArmaLite made the prototypes.

David E. A. Carson.jpg

It was a competition to see which gun would succeed the World War II-era M-1 as the Army’s infantry rifle. The AR-15 was a radical design based on a smaller bullet and lightweight materials.

“In 1958 I was Private First Class Carson, mathematical statistician for the Small Arms Division of the US Army Infantry Board,” Carson wrote in an email  “There were three rifles in the test, one from Springfield Arsenal, another from Remington Arms and the third from ArmaLite and Gene Stoner.”

“It was a fascinating experience!  My job was to take the test data and analyze it using the mathematics of that era. We had no computers and used mechanical calculators.”

Carson’s conclusion: “The Armalite AR-15 was the clear winner!”

Others agreed. But the Army instead chose the Springfield Armory model, dubbed the M-14.

If the ArmaLite had won, it’s entirely possible that a struggling Colt’s would not have bought the design, and it’s possible there would be no Colt’s today.

Click here for more on Colt’s AR-15 history.

The ArmaLite lost in part because of a controversial water test, which Carson recalls.

“To some extent all the rifles had a problem with the water test, however the AR-15 had the most severe problem and yet potentially the easiest solution. I have always thought that the water test was not realistic.

“The rifles were put in a fixed mount with the barrel pointing up. A water hose was fixed to shower the weapon for a period of time and then the rifle was fired. This was unlike other user tests where the rifle was fired by a soldier. There was a lot of discussion about this test both its design and the reporting of the results.”

Carson, then age 24, thinks he could be the last person alive involved in that test.  He has not, for the record, taken a public position on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed ban of the AR-15.

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11 thoughts on “A Prominent Hartford Citizen Recalls The First Test of the AR-15 Rifle

  1. pete

    And so. Why is this news. Just another story by the liberal rag Courant to push the socialist liberal agenda to disarm American citizens so only the criminals who support the democratic party will have guns. Notice how there is no talk what so ever to executing criminals.

    1. Steve

      Relax Pete, I don’t think any guns at present should be banned but the article is just pointing out the history of the AR-15 that’s all!

    2. gerald zuckier

      Talk about knee-jerk; exactly what part of this article suggests to you “the socialist liberal agenda to disarm American citizens so only the criminals who support the democratic party will have guns”? The part where it says “He has not, for the record, taken a public position on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed ban of the AR-15.”? This kind of aggressive paranoia is what makes people start thinking about gun control.

    3. Steve (CT)

      Relax Pete, Mr. Haar appears to be the only one at the Courant who is reporting without anti-gun bias.

      This blog post is just a personal story about the history of the AR15.

      Please keep writing & calling your legislators to oppose new gun restrictions!

  2. Catspaw

    “The liberal rag socialist liberal agenda mongers anger another gun nut.” Now that’s News!

    It sure makes it easy to take their guns away. The hysteric is always his own worst example of responsible behavior and thinking.

    Anyone who can’t control themselves is dangerous. Add a gun and you have a killing machine.

    That’s what the Mr. Carson’s AR-15 audition history is about. These are weapons of mass destruction designed for the military to kill by the hundreds even thousands in any condition.

    Some in the ‘cold dead hand’ brigade think discussion is wrong. That’s what people who have lost the argument do; fingers in ears, hands over eyes.

    Sorry, we’ve moved on. Never Forget, Newtown.

    1. one little

      You should direct your efforts to getting alcoholics and drunk drivers, some of whom have been convicted of drunk driving, and on occasion multiple times, off our roads. They have killed many, many more people than guns have and the slaughter continues annually.

      1. gerald zuckier

        I guess you may not know it, but I believe there are actually some efforts directed towards keeping drunk drivers off the roads. We haven’t exactly taken everybody off the drunk-driving beat to go door-to-door taking away your guns.

        Of course, the efforts to keep drunks out of cars and guns away from crazies are similar, in that both are half-hearted at best, for similar reasons; we don’t mind if the average person grabs a few drinks now and then, but we don’t want to go to the effort of providing any way for them to get to and from bars other than driving, and we don’t mind if the average person has a firearm, but we don’t want to go to the effort of making sure he can be trusted to handle or store deadly appliances.

  3. Jim

    The federal government doesn’t think that an assault rifle ban is even worth voting on because they know they’ll be voted out for doing that. They must have seen through the skewed polls and garbage studies to realize which side their bread is buttered. I don’t need a ban on guns to remember that a madman committed that heinous crime and I don’t need to strip guns from legal gun owner’s hands as some sort of revenge for what happened.

    1. gerald zuckier

      It’s kind of predictable, given that the canned response of the “gun lobby” is just that cold dead hands shtick, that when gun legislation is rolled out anyway, that they will complain how it’s not realistic and full of mistakes and overly punitive to honest citizens and doesn’t address the problem, all of which are perfectly typical of government reaction to any problem when it gets bad enough to alarm the public.

      Hey guys, it would be nice if you could actually contribute something from your knowledge and experience, then, and help craft something workable and functional? But I guess then the NRA wouldn’t be able to scream that Obama wants to steal our guns and leave us defenseless against his Socialist Illegal Immigrant Army unless we send them all our money, and Wayne LaPierre might have to look for an honest job.

  4. A Bolduc

    People in Law Enforcement and the armed forces are not blind to the reasons for a competently armed citizenry, but . As one of the above mentioned I am sick to death of these monotonous rants from intransgient gunlovers. The type waving the constitution and decrying the other 25% of the populace that votes against their guy couldn’t even name all of the rights spelled out in the 2nd amendment, let alone protect those of anyone else. It’s factions, pure and simple. Remember the Maine, the Alamo, the Gulf of Tonkin, Yellowcake. Bully crap.

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