When we last left off in 1958, the Army had canceled all future funding for AR-15 development. They got the M-14, and the SALVO project was the future.
But that decision wasn’t good enough for one hard-nosed Air Force general who had no problem “cracking skulls” to get what he wanted.
We last left off from this tale in 1955, where Gerald Gustafson and William Davis had their funding cut off for any further research into small-caliber high-velocity (SCHV) cartridges. The Army Ordnance Board, responsible for developing new small arms, was well down the path to adopting the 7.62 NATO and M-14 rifle. The AR-15 seemed dead, and it might have been if not for the Army Infantry Board.
By the mid-1950s, Gerald Gustafson and William Davis had taken up as champions of the little .22 cartridge. They were involved in D.L. Hall’s earlier work, and now they wanted to continue proving to the Army that this research path was a worthy contender for an infantry rifle.
In 1950, Donald Hall sought to explore alternatives to the full-sized battle rifle cartridge. He built upon R.H. Kent’s work decades earlier, and found similar conclusions that challenged Army thought.
The Hitchman report from 1952 is one of my favorite bits of Army research. Like the 1930 Kent report before it, the findings eventually led to the adoption of the M-16 rifle and 5.56 NATO cartridge.
Way back in 1930, R.H. Kent proposed that a small bullet at high velocity would be as effective as the common 30-06. This report had the potential to change the direction of small arms development.
During the SCHV trials, and performance testing of the AR-15. The Army did a study in 1959 that showed the little rifle to be a more potent combat weapon than the larger .30 cal.