Rare early AR turns up in Italy

Very early Colt AR, mostly original, ex-Malaysia. Click to embiggen.

An Italian collector is a proud owner of a very very early Colt AR-15. How early? The initial production of the Colt AR-15 Model 601 (the first model produced in quantity) began with Serial Number 000101. This is number 000115 — making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, 601s in existence. (Colt and Reed Knight may have earlier copies).

It has been altered to semiauto in accordance with Italian law (such an alteration is not legal in the USA, so this gun can never come back to the States under current law).

We’ll let the owner, Paolo, speak for himself. This is what he posted in the ARFCOM Retro Forum (lightly edited for punctuation and paragraph division):

My name is Paolo. I live in Italy and I am a guns collector.

I want to show you a rifle extremely rare, a rifle museum !  I own an original Colt Armalite model 01 (601) made in December 1959, S/N 115 and as you well know the production run started with S/N 101 so, is the rifle number 15, probably the first day of production.  In the month of December were produced the first 300 rifles, and Colt has decided to paint the furniture green after about the first 100 products, these are the original brown !

This rifle comes from the Malaysian army, where he was taken for evaluation test. In the book, THE M16 Jean Huon said that Malaysia had 25 of these Rifles, of those rifles survivors the Italian importer has recovered 7, but only a few were with charging handle, stock, grip and handguard original, the others had those of ‘M16A1. This rifle was the best preserved and the S / N, the lowest .

The guns arrived in Italy with the standard 30 rounds magazine and see the rifle without his waffle magazine was very bad! Fortunately I was able to find one original in the U.S., so now the gun is perfect !

Unfortunately the Italian law does not allow full auto guns, so it has been modified to fire only in semiautomatic mode.
The modifications concern :

  • bolt carrier is milled equal to the semiauto model
  • auto sear removed and enlarged the hole of the sear pin, filled with a steel block welted
  • Hammer milled like the semiauto
  • selector filled welted in position full auto
  • new drill hole to insert a roll pin to stop the selector in semiauto

In addition, different marks the Italian importer that has made the modifications (NuovaJager) and a new S / N , and obligatory for all guns, the proof marks.

Many will ask how much this rifle, well … 5000 € including taxes (21%) … without waffle magazine

I know that the rifle is partly ruined forever , but this is the law, would not have been more possible to re-import in the United States and in many European countries would have been deactived … would never even sung in semiauto !

I hope you understand what I wrote and forgive me for not’ll understand all the answers
now I leave the pictures speak.

We’ll give an answer Paolo will understand: mille grazie, signore.

Now, US law (and the force-of-law, unilateral regulations of the ATF) would not allow the importation of this weapon, even though it was made right here in Connecticut, or even of some of its major parts, so the best hope for its preservation is a European collector like Paolo.

The gun itself is almost completely original. (The ejection port dust cover is suspect). The original first-100 unpainted red-brown fiberglass stocks are correct. The “duckbill” flash suppressor is correct. The triangular charging handle grip area is correct. The bolt and carrier appear correct.

Were it in the USA and on the NFA, this weapon would be worth easily ten times the € 5,000 that Paolo says he spent. But of course, that is partly the function of a law enforcement agency that is militant against collectors, while actually supplying arms to violent criminal cartels, and of the bad lawmaking which produced the laws that distorted that agency.

You can see all the pictures, including detail shots, at the ARFCOM thread.