A most surprising sale at GunBroker in which hot bidding led to a relatively ordinary Colt AR-15 Sporter (Serial SP1 11001) selling for a mighty high four large.
There are reasons it might have gone that high. For one thing, as pictures showed, it was in very, very good condition, and if we know one thing about collectors, “Condition, condition, condition” is as much their mantra as “Location, etc.” is to realtors. This rifle shone as if new.
It also had a memorable serial number that tracked it to 1968.
SP1s of that period still retained most early-production AR-15 features, because as rolling changes replaced parts on the .mil side of production, any leftover parts of the old, obsolete variety were diverted to civilian SP1 production. Early parts include a front sight base that has been ground smooth front and rear, and a second-type three-prong flash suppressor. The three-prong was eliminated from new production of military firearms in 1966, but would remain in inventory until the A1s were replaced with A2s, twenty years and more later.
Another early feature is the “Edgewater” buffer, so called because it was packed with edgewater washers.
While the three-prongs are common as a loose part, the Edgewater buffer, scaled down from the one used in the original AR-10, sells for hundreds when one is available.
One of the few late M16A1 features was a Parkerized bolt carrier, cut for forward assist. The previous chrome finish was easier to clean but was thought to conceal the development of cracks; military officers also complained about the rifle’s shiny bolt in the field.
Here’s how the seller described the gun:
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL EARLY PRODUCTION EARLY 1968 COLT AR-15 RIFLE IN INCREDIBLE NEAR MINT CONDITION! IT IS 100% ALL CORRECT AND ALL ORIGINAL FROM END TO END!
He also noted that it was a re-listing due to a deadbeat buyer. Hopefully, second time did the trick. Here’s some more of his description (paragraphs added for legibility):
This is a stunning AS NEW near mint “Early 1968 (January, 1968.) ” production Colt AR-15 SP1 semi-automatic rifle with its original and unaltered parts.
This rifle has NEVER had any parts replaced or exchanged at any time. Nothing has ever been reworked or refinished.
It has the early style upper receiver with no provisions for a forward assist. The lower receiver has the Colt three line markings with the 6 digit serial number “SP1, GREAT Serial Number 11001” indicating production in January 1968, the 4th full year of Colt AR 15 production.
It is fitted with the early original Colt marked parts such as the original non-chrome lined barrel. Barrel has the MP marking on the right side under the sight post. The barrel is fitted with the early three-prong flash hider with fine checkered split washer. It still retains its original first generation (and very rare) old style, large head, two-piece type recoil edgewater buffer.
Note also the front sight is finished smooth front and back with NO drain hole. Later on, they added the drain hole and the flashing ribs remained front and back.
It is also fitted with it original black plastic pistol grip, early triangular handguards with no L and R markings on the inside shields.
The stock is also the early version that lacks any provisions for the internal storage compartment. It is correctly fitted with a solid rubber/plastic buttplate with no provisions for the later trap door. Rear stock has swing sling swivel. (Those were later changed to a fixed configuration).
Complete with one original Colt marked AR-15 20 round magazine.
(Also note, that by mid to late 1967 the bolt carriers had the notches for the forward assist which is correct for this rifle. Those assists were only on the Military M16a1 Models and not the commercial rifles. However, the carriers were still used on the commercial AR15s and only modified at the rear bottom base of the carrier (milled back a bit) to deactivate it’s a ability to shoot in full automatic mode. So the notched carriers are completely correct for this gun. I’ve seen several and it’s totally right! They would not be correct for SP1’s from 64 through 66. And perhaps to about mid 67.)
Condition: Outstanding near mint with 99.9% of its original Colt parkerized/anodized finish on all the parts with the least bit of wear on the most moved parts. The bolt carrier assembly retains 98% of it’s original finish. The plastic components are near mint! Mechanically as new.
This is probably one of the finest early Colt AR15’s that remains in existence today. It’s a truly high end collectible museum quality piece that is completely original and 100% all correct as issued in early 1968. These are sure getting incredibly hard to find at all, let alone this nice!
For a long time SP1s were unwanted by collectors and even by the rabid retro heads, leading to many rifles like this being parted out to make M16 clones. This auction is an early sign that it is a more rewarding path to keep a high-condition SP1 intact. (That’s good, as worn rifles are currently like African rhinos: due to the rarity of one or more parts, they’re worth more dead than alive!)
Now that this mint-condition rifle has sold for $4k, expect a spate of neckbeards to list shagged-out beater SP1s with a starting bid of $4k, and wonder why the things don’t sell. But anyone sitting on a minty early SP1 might want to start thinking about following prices, and perhaps adjusting his insurance. Remember: Condition, condition, condition. And if the market doesn’t clear, price is not set right.