Brownells Makes History, Launches Retro Rifles Line

Models include four 5.56mm and two .308/7.62 variants

It’s been 79 years in the making and last week at SHOT Show, Brownells joined the ranks of America’s gun manufacturers. Given the company’s long history of serving the firearms community with firearms, parts, and accessories, it only makes sense the company’s first firearms are legitimately old school – retro AR-15 rifles that will appeal to those interested in historically accurate recreations of early models of America’s Rifle.

Brownells newly-created Retro Rifles line features four 5.56mm variants and two .308/7.62 variants.  The 5.56mm models feature the correct styling for rifles issued to GIs in the 1960s. The .308/7.62 models reflect the lightweight styling of Eugene Stoner’s original AR-10 design.

Several models are available and shipping now. The BRN-16A1 is a close copy of the iconic M16A1 first fielded in 1960s. The matte gray anodized receivers mimic the originals and the rifle features black furniture with period-correct contours with a full fence M16A1 profile lower receiver and a 20” 5.56 lightweight chrome-lined barrel with 1-12″ twist that terminates in a M16A1 Flash hider. The upper features an M16A1 bolt carrier group with phosphate finish and chrome lining and a standard charging handle. The 16A1 ships with a 20-round aluminum magazine, all for a $1300 MSRP.  

The 16A1’s brother, the BRN-601 is a copy of the original USAF contract rifle with green furniture and matte gray anodized receivers with a “slabside” lower which results in a non-captive front take-down pin. This retro-styled rifle features the early “duckbill” 3-prong flash hider with split washer and a slickside upper with matching slickside carrier, yielding no accommodations for shell deflectors or forward assists. The 601 has the same barrel as the 16A1, but has the triangle charging handle and ships with a 20-round waffle mag for the same $1300 MSRP.

Filling the gap between the 601 and M16A1 is Brownell’s XBRN16E1, which includes features from both of the above rifles, including matte gray anodized receivers and period-correct furniture, a partial fence lower, 3-prong flash hider, chrome M16 BCG with forward-assist serrations, and a modern charging handle. Rounding out the 5.56 retro offerings, the XBRN-177E2 is a copy of early Special Forces carbines. The 177E2 adds a period-correct flash hider with grenade ring, collapsible stock, and full-fence M16A1 lower topped off with a 12.7″ chrome-lined barrel. Inside is a phosphated, chrome-lined BCG manipulated via a standard charging handle. Like the other 5.56 retros, both of these also retail for $1300.

Brownells also announced the BRN-10, the first .308 rifle in its Retro Rifles line.  The BRN-10 will have the “trigger-style” charging handle in the top of the receiver, under the carry handle, and the same lines and contours as the first production AR-10s from the 1950s.

With upper and lower receivers designed in conjunction with FM-Products, the BRN-10 is compatible with standard DPMS/SR25 components including triggers, magazines, barrels, bolt carrier groups, muzzle devices, buttstocks, pistol grips, handguards, and buffer assemblies.  It also features a newly-designed rear sight assembly with a peep sight adjustable for windage and elevation, with elevation setting viewable through the rear of the receiver.

Not available yet, Brownells is currently taking pre-orders, with shipping expected this spring.  The first BRN-10 models include the BRN-10A, a copy of early rifles like those issued in the Netherlands with a chrome Retro BCG, nitrided 20” fluted barrel with 5/8″-24 threads and a 1-10″ twist, brown furniture, 3-prong flash hider, and custom bolt catch, takedown pins, selector and mag release to match the retro style. This model will retail for $1700.  The BRN-10B is a copy of later rifles like those adopted by Cuba and others. The 10B adds black furniture and a Portuguese-style closed-prong flash hider and retails for $100 less.

Unfortunately, neither of the .308 retro rifles will be compatible with Magpul PMAGs because of the modified lower design.

In addition to complete Retro Rifles, Brownells also has offers a full line of Retro Parts, including 5.56 receivers, furniture, barrels and other parts. Retro parts in .308 will be available late in the year.

To see both the Retro Rifles and Retro Parts, visit

This is a part of our ongoing coverage of what’s new from SHOT Show 2018 in Las Vegas, made possible in part by our coverage partners, including Shot-Force Pro AR500 targets, Sticky Holsters, RepackBox ammo storage boxes, and Gunz Incorporated. Be sure to check them out. to find out more more about our coverage partners, click here. To see more from SHOT Show 2018, keep watching right here and on the GunLink Forums.


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