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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I saw an online gunshop selling two "A. R Sales Co. Mark IV" civilian M14s for sale. Is this a Devine M14 sold via the A.R. Sales Co. in 1971? The dealer describes one of the rifles as follows:

"7.62 NATO; excellent bore, excellent stock, 22'' barrel, A very early civilian produced semi-automatic version of the US M14 rifle. Manufactured starting in 1971 with very low production. A newly made receiver with USGI parts. This rifle has a TRW barrel, SAK operating rod, H&R trigger housing with extended safety, SA bolt, USGI walnut stock with the selector hole filled and a repair done to a chip at the buttplate. NM front and rear sights. USGI maintenance kit in the butt trap. Vented fiberglass handguard. Will include a 10 round magazine only. Has an M14E2 muzzle stabilizer attached, marked 7791661. Also includes a steel scope mount with a Griffin & Howe base and rings, holding a Bushnell 3-9 scope with Butler Creek flip open lens covers. Does not show much use, Excellent overall condition."

Info appreciated. GI1

4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, I Googled the A.R. Sales M14 and found a few discussions about it here on the M14 forum. I don't know if the rifles I saw advertised are of high quality (durable, reliable, safe to shoot, etc.). The dealer's price for each rifle is $2750. Does that price seem about right?

9,465 Posts
I saw an online gunshop selling two "A. R Sales Co. Mark IV" civilian M14s for sale. Is this a Devine M14 sold via the A.R. Sales Co. in 1971?
No. In 1971, A. R. Sales Co. (South El Monte, CA) and Springfield Armory, Inc. aka L H Gun Company (San Antonio, TX) both produced semi-automatic only civilian legal M14 type rifles.

From M14 Rifle History and Development Fifth Edition by Lee Emerson copyright 2012:

"A. R. Sales Co., National Ordnance, Inc. and Federal Ordnance, Inc.

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the Los Angeles area was the firearms manufacturing capitol of the western United States. Three southern California firms from that period were connected to the commercial M14 rifle, A. R. Sales Co., National Ordnance, Inc. and Federal Ordnance, Inc. A. R. Sales Co. was established at 9624 Alpaca Street South El Monte, CA in 1968 by Ilia I. Karnes. Jack Karnes, his wife Ilia, and their two children ran the company. Mr. Karnes was a tool and die maker by trade. When the family business started, its first large contract was to make M16 scope mounts. The two letters, A.R., were taken from the first two alphanumeric characters of the commercial name for the M16 rifle. Next, A. R. Sales produced high-end lightweight alloy M1911 style pistol frames and accessories.

Ilia Karnes sent a couple prototype Mark IV receivers to the BATF for approval. These prototype receivers were not approved as they included the operating rod rail dismount notch and forward underside groove. After several months, the BATF approved the third prototype receiver from A. R. Sales. The third prototype receiver lacked select fire machining cuts. A. R. Sales Co. started on its semi-automatic M14 type rifle project by October 1971. An advertisement for its Mark IV rifle appeared in the October 15, 1971 issue of Shotgun News. The response from the civilian market was overwhelming. This included 2000 or more mail-in orders with the $15.00 deposit for a stripped Mark IV receiver.

A. R. Sales received its initial batch of Mark IV receiver castings by no later than March 07, 1972. This first set of receivers were used by Jack Karnes to set up fixtures and tooling for the machine tools. There were two Mark IV receiver production lots for the company. The first occurred in the winter of 1973. The first Mark IV rifles and stripped receivers were delivered to customers in January 1973. Mark IV serial number 0143 had been delivered to the buyer on March 02, 1973. The first production lot of Mark IV receivers was cast at Rimer Casting Company (Waterville, OH) using Karl Maunz’s receiver master die according to two sources and at Prico (Los Angeles, CA) according to a third source, all highly reputable. The first production lot of Mark IV receivers was machined by A. R. Sales. The first lot of receiver serial numbers ended at a number less than 0226 with 200 receivers produced.

The second receiver production lot was made in 1976. The receiver serial numbers for the second lot were started at a number below 0226 and ended at number 0250. The second production batch of Mark IV receivers was cast at Gray-Syracuse, Inc. and machined by Valley Ordnance Co. About twenty-five receivers were produced in the second batch.

Twenty-five serial numbers were skipped between the first lot and the second lot. The missing serial numbers were allotted for tool room samples and for intended-but-never-realized forged receivers. Both production lots of Mark IV receivers were heat treated by a local company in southern California.
A. R. Sales Co. at first bought M14 parts brand new directly from USGI contractors. Mark IV rifles were assembled with new and used USGI M14 parts and USGI M14 wood stocks. Any used M14 parts that were broken or worn were compared to the USGI drawings and rejected in the build procedure. The stock selector cutout was filled in for each assembled Mark IV rifle. According to the October 1971 A. R. Sales Co. specification sheet for the Mark IV rifle, “While most of our rifles will be built with N.M. barrels, we do not glass bed the actions, nor do we produce match grade weapons. We feel that this is best left to those who specialize in accurizing and building match grade weapons, and we do not wish to infringe in their domain.”

Ford Motor Company was formed on June 16, 1903 by Henry Ford and eleven other business associates. In 1925, Ford Motor Company bought Lincoln Motor Company, a manufacturer of luxury automobiles. For the 1972 model year, Lincoln introduced the Mark IV two-door luxury sport coupe. The Mark IV was longer, wider and slightly lighter than its very popular predecessor; the Lee Iacocca designed Lincoln Mark III. The 1972 Mark IV was Ford’s answer to General Motors Corporation’s Cadillac Eldorado and was a major success for Ford Motor Company. Lincoln Mark IV automobile production ended with the 1976 model year. Mr. Maunz was impressed with the plush style of the 1972 Lincoln Mark IV. Thus, he suggested to A. R. Sales that its semi-automatic M14 receiver be named Mark IV. A. R. Sales Mark IV receivers are of good quality.

Ilia Karnes sold the manufacturing side of A. R. Sales to Ranger Machine & Tool Corporation in November 1979. Ranger Machine & Tool continued to produce the pistol frames and accessories but did not produce any M14 receivers or rifles. Ranger Machine & Tool Corporation was purchased by Federal Ordnance, Inc. in May 1981. It occupied 9624 Alpaca Street from 1981 until 1984 when it merged with Federal Ordnance at 1443 Potrero Avenue. A. R. Sales moved in 1981 from 9624 Alpaca Street to 1900 Tyler Street in South El Monte. The retail business of A. R. Sales was shut down in 1984 by Ilia Karnes.

Golden State Arms (Pasadena, CA) was established in 1952 by Alvin Gettler. From 1960 onward, the firm was owned by Seymour Ziebert. It was a major importer of surplus firearms and ammunition. Golden State Arms went out of business in late 1966 along with two other related businesses, Pasadena Gun Shop and Pasadena Firearms, Inc. Jack Karnes, Burton "Bob" Brenner and Robert E. Penney were all former associates of Golden State Arms.

Bob Penney and John Arnold co-founded National Ordnance, Inc. and Alpine Sales in May 1960. National Ordnance manufactured M1 Carbine receivers and assembled carbines using surplus USGI parts. In 1962, this work was done at 235 S. Irwindale Avenue Azusa, CA. Alpine Sales was the sales half of the joint venture. In December 1962, the two gentlemen went their separate ways. Mr. Penney was left with Alpine Sales for the purpose of selling commercial M1 Carbines. He wanted to manufacture a commercial M14 receiver but in the early to mid-1960s there were no USGI M14 parts available in the surplus market. Mr. Arnold took over National Ordnance to concentrate on manufacturing M1903 and M1 Garand rifles. During their respective histories, Golden State Arms, National Ordnance and Federal Ordnance built semi-automatic BM59 rifles by welding together cut up BM59 receivers.

National Ordnance moved from Azusa, CA into the newly constructed building at 9643 Alpaca Street South El Monte, CA in 1965. From 1965 to 1970, National Ordnance produced 22,500 newly manufactured M1903A3 receivers and assembled them into complete rifles using USGI surplus parts. National Ordnance also manufactured 2000 M1 Garand welded and investment cast receivers. In the early 1960s, the firm manufactured an unknown number of M1 Carbine investment cast receivers for Alpine Sales. The newly manufactured M1 Carbine and M1 Garand receivers were cast by Rimer Casting Company. In the early 1970s, when A. R. Sales was developing its Mark IV receiver, John Arnold was pursuing the same goal of manufacturing and marketing his own semi-automatic M14 type receiver.

By 1973, John Arnold, a U. S. Navy World War II veteran, owned or partially owned at least three companies: National Ordnance, Inc., a firearm manufacturing company, Sporting Arms, Inc., a distributor of sporterized military rifles, and Cadmus Industries. The three companies were located on the same block of Alpaca Street. Mr. Wyant J. Lamont, Jr., managed the day-to-day operations of National Ordnance in the early 1970s.

Employees from both A. R. Sales and National Ordnance visited the facilities of one another to discuss set up of machine tools. A. R. Sales did assist National Ordnance in its BM59 project but there was no collaboration between the two firms specific to M14 type receivers. A very small number of National Ordnance stamped semi-automatic M14 type rifles were produced. Stephen Fuller reported two completed receivers for the company but a reliable source closer to the events of the time estimates a half-dozen National Ordnance receivers were finished. Electro Crisol Metal, S.A. (Santander, Cantabria, Spain) made the raw receiver castings for National Ordnance.

Mr. Arnold passed away from cancer on December 23, 1973. Walter Rayno, head foreman, and Jessica LaMont, wife of Wyant LaMont, were left to run the company. Shortly thereafter, National Ordnance was purchased by Bob Brenner. Mr. Rayno passed away suddenly on June 05, 1975 while enjoying the horse races at Santa Anita. Operations were moved to 9649 Alpaca Street in 1976 and appear to have ceased in South El Monte the following year. As part of the liquidation of the company’s assets, assembled M14 type rifles and parts kits were sold off. The tooling and molds for the M1 Carbine receivers were sold to Rock Island Armory.

As soon as Golden State Arms had closed down and its assets auctioned off, Bob Brenner went into business for himself on November 16, 1966 as Federal Ordnance, Inc. Initially, he worked out of his home in Pasadena, CA. The company imported ammunition and U. S. and foreign made rifles and hand guns. By the late 1960s, Mr. Brenner’s business was doing well and he became very good friends with John Arnold. Federal Ordnance moved in with National Ordnance at 9643 Alpaca Street. Federal Ordnance collaborated with National Ordnance to produce M1903 and M1 Carbines with commercial receivers and surplus USGI parts for sale to the public. In 1969, Federal Ordnance had outgrown its leased space and moved to the adjacent building, 9649 Alpaca Street South El Monte, CA.

In 1981, the business was moved due to further business growth from 9649 Alpaca Street to 1443 Potrero Avenue South El Monte, CA 91733. By no later than 1982, Jack Karnes went to work for Bob Brenner at Federal Ordnance as the chief machinist. He was employed by Federal Ordnance until 1984. Mr. Karnes then did consulting work for the company until 1985 or 1986. Robert Thomasser joined Federal Ordnance, Inc. in 1982 as a machinist. Later, he was promoted to Vice President. As Vice President, Mr. Thomasser managed the machine shop employees producing the Ranger M1911 style pistol and the Federal Ordnance M14 rifle. Other Federal Ordnance employees included Linda Thomasser and Bob Brenner’s wife, Barbara, and son-in-law, Robert Siegal.

In early 1982, Federal Ordnance was finishing up its production of newly made M1 Garand and M1 Carbine receivers. Federal Ordnance, Inc. also manufactured the Model 713 Deluxe Mauser rifle (1986 - 1992) and the All American Sporter Bolt Action rifle (1991 - 1992). Federal Ordnance reached its peak of manufacturing activity around 1985 with about 120 employees. In the late 1980s at least, Federal Ordnance, Inc. supplied a list of firearms manufacturers and importers addresses with its factory literature and a note encouraging customers to contact the manufacturer or importer to get an owner’s manual. Federal Ordnance sold lightweight alloy M1911 style pistol frames marketed under its name and a trade name as well as selling a Springfield Armory, Inc. high-end M1911 style pistol.

Federal Ordnance began production of its M14 type rifles by 1984 and ended in late 1991. Federal Ordnance was not able to compete with the price of imported Chinese M14 rifles so production was halted. After the first fifty, M14 receivers were machined on one CNC machining center with several fixture set ups. All receivers were machined from castings of AISI 8620 alloy steel. Except for the first fifty receivers, the castings were supplied by Electro Crisol Metal, S.A. The M14 receivers were manufactured at a leased building one block up on Potrero Avenue. Heat treating was subcontracted to a vendor in El Monte, CA. Federal Ordnance M14 type receivers were heat treated and carburized according to USGI drawing F7790189. A company in Santa Ana, CA finished the receivers with a phosphate coating. Assembly of the Federal Ordnance M14 rifles was performed at a leased warehouse just west of 1443 Potrero Avenue. Each M14 was proof fired before assembly and function tested with three rounds as a complete rifle before packaging. Finished M14 rifles were stored on the first floor at 1443 Potrero Avenue. The total number of complete M14 rifles assembled by Federal Ordnance was more than 13,000. Based on information available, total M14 receiver production did not exceed 16,000.

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a Federal Ordnance M14A in 1988 was $629.00 and its M14SA listed for $700.00 in 1991. The rifles were sold with a one year parts and labor warranty. Each Federal Ordnance M14 type rifle sold was accompanied by a factory inspection tag, warranty registration card, a copy of U. S. Army FM 23-8 and a fourteen page booklet on firearms safety and care. The safety booklet was written by Federal Ordnance, Inc. in 1984. The factory inspection tag included the following information about each rifle: date, stock number, a description, caliber, and signature fields for checking of headspace, test firing and inspection. USGI M14 accessories such as magazines, magazine pouches, slings and cleaning kits were available from Federal Ordnance.

Federal Ordnance built two types of M14 rifles, one with USGI parts and one with Chinese parts. Model numbers M14 and M14A were designed to accept USGI bolts and barrels. Otherwise, the receiver was manufactured to mate with Chinese bolts and barrels. USGI parts were used extensively in Federal Ordnance rifles through at least serial number 8877. The USGI parts were taken off USGI M14 rifles imported from Israel. By serial number 9279, if not earlier, Chinese and Taiwanese reproduction parts were used to assemble its rifles. For example, Federal Ordnance M14SA serial number 502XX was assembled at the factory on September 13, 1991 with Chinese manufacture bolt, operating rod, firing mechanism and barrel. Chinese and Taiwanese M14 parts were purchased from U. S. importers. Receivers with serial numbers above 60XXX have engraved heel markings. The model number changed from M14A to M14SA between serial numbers 9139 and 9279. Four digit serial number Federal Ordnance receivers observed were marked on the side with the letter F inside a circle. This marking was sometimes lightly stamped. The circle F marking has not been observed on serial numbers above 10000. Federal Ordnance sold complete rifles as well as stripped receivers. Federal Ordnance sold a few M14 rifles to walk-in retail customers and through Shotgun News advertisements but most were sold to firearms distributors.

Some fiberglass stocks on Federal Ordnance M14 rifles appear to have been commercial manufacture of unknown origin. The original owner of Federal Ordnance M14SA serial number 22XX reported that the synthetic stock never had a selector cutout or USGI markings inside the magazine well. Further, the Federal Ordnance stock had a slightly rough finish. The butt plate was glossy black color instead of phosphate coated. Federal Ordnance M14 rifles were also sold with refinished wood, new walnut and USGI synthetic stocks. Federal Ordnance M14 related stock numbers were as follows:

GU-0560 Federal Ordnance M14 receiver
GU-0706 M14 with Viet Nam camouflage fiberglass stock
GU-0707 M14 with woodland camouflage fiberglass stock
GU-0708 M14 with desert camouflage fiberglass stock
GU-0709 M14 with USGI walnut stock with selector cutout filled in
GU-0710 M14 parts kit with minor, Federal Ordnance receiver and fiberglass stock
GU-0711 M14 parts kit in refinished condition, Federal Ordnance receiver and fiberglass stock
GU-0712 M14 parts kit in refinished condition, Federal Ordnance receiver and desert camouflage fiberglass stock
GU-0713 M14 parts kit in refinished condition, Federal Ordnance receiver and Viet Nam camouflage fiberglass stock
GU-0714 M14 parts kit in refinished condition, Federal Ordnance receiver and woodland camouflage fiberglass stock
GU-0715 M14 with fiberglass stock
SE-0221 M14 parts kit with minor wear and USGI walnut stock
SE-0222 M14 parts kit in refinished condition and USGI walnut stock
SE-0223 M14 parts kit in refinished condition and USGI fiberglass stock
SE-0224 M14 parts kit with minor wear and USGI fiberglass stock
SE-0225 M14 parts kit in refinished condition and woodland camouflage fiberglass stock
SE-0226 M14 parts kit in refinished condition and desert camouflage fiberglass stock
SE-0227 M14 parts kit in refinished condition and Viet Nam camouflage fiberglass stock

Century Arms International assembled a relatively small number of rifles using Federal Ordnance receivers and Chinese parts. This work was done at their facility in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1990 just before the imported parts ban of November 29, 1990. The rifles were brought into the United States with the military style features (twenty round magazine, bayonet lug, flash suppressor, and hinged butt plate) which was legal at the time and sold to the commercial market. These particular Federal Ordnance M14SA receivers have serial numbers with the letter C prefix followed by a hyphen then four digits, e.g., C-0116. The Federal Ordnance marking may be located on the outboard side of the right receiver leg. If so, it will be stamped: top line - Fed Ord Inc. bottom line - So El Monte. CA USA. The receiver heel for the serial number C-1301 was marked as follows: top line - U.S. RIFLE second line - 7.62MM M14S third line - CENTURY ARMS INC fourth line - ST. ALBANS. VT. fifth line - C-1301. Century Arms International ceased operations in Montreal around 1993.

Federal Ordnance, Inc. produced 500 Vietnam Commemorative M14 rifles for the American Historical Foundation. They were made to similar finish specifications as the Springfield Armory, Inc. VME series rifles but with three noticeable differences. The Federal Ordnance VCE series M14 had a black color textured surface wood stock. The Federal Ordnance VME series rifles had the same traditional finish walnut stock as the Springfield Armory, Inc. VME series commemorative. On the Federal Ordnance rifles, the prefix changed at a point between serial number VCE 118 and VME 156. All 500 rifles had a black textured hand guard. Lastly, the receiver heels were stamped appropriately to the manufacturer. Federal Ordnance subcontracted the blueing, polishing, engraving and gold plating for the VCE and VME series rifle parts. The VCE series stock was supplied through another vendor to the American Historical Foundation.

A separate venture, Briklee Trading Company was established on April 20, 1992 by Bob Brenner. It was headed by Richard Siegal. Briklee Trading bought the assets of Federal Ordnance in late 1992. Federal Ordnance, Inc. ceased to exist as a California corporation on July 09, 1993. Briklee Trading imported firearms until the 1998 import ban. Mr. Brenner then started Pacific Ordnance (Pico Rivera, CA), an import business specializing in reproduction military holsters and related accessories. Pacific Ordnance was incorporated in November 1998 with Robert and Linda Thomasser on board to help run the company. Mr. Brenner retired in early 2002. As a result, the Thomassers formed Pacific Canvas & Leather Company (Phelan, CA) in February 2002. Bob Brenner passed away on August 09, 2009 after suffering from a long term illness.

As an aside, Jack Karnes manufactured some 81 mm mortar round fin assemblies in 2002 for the Paramount Studios movie We Were Soldiers. These rugged fin assemblies were made to withstand the pressure generated by the mortar ignition charges which were designed to create 18 " flames out of the mortar tube. His son was one of the armorers assigned to the movie production unit. Regretfully, Mr. Karnes passed away on May 27, 2008."

57 Posts
Well, I Googled the A.R. Sales M14 and found a few discussions about it here on the M14 forum. I don't know if the rifles I saw advertised are of high quality (durable, reliable, safe to shoot, etc.). The dealer's price for each rifle is $2750. Does that price seem about right?
1) Devine Rifles sold by A.R. Sales (the Karnes Bros) were sold as SA's. NOT A.R. Sales.
2) The A.R.'s like the Devine's where made exceptionally well since they were made to use USGI parts and Jack Karnes knew Elmer Ballance.

That's one heck of a price. But be advised the finish on the A.R.'s is commerical, the Devine's are right for an M14 clone.
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