Surefire teamed up with Jim Sullivan, designer of the AR-15 to help create the Surefire Optimized Bolt Carrier Assembly.
Jim Sullivan is 85 years old and still drives like a bat out of hell. For those unfamiliar with the name, Jim Sullivan designed the AR-15 60 years ago.
Eugene Stoner is most commonly credited for the AR-15 but that isn’t entirely accurate. Stoner designed the AR-10 (he was a .30-caliber man) with Sullivan as his assistant. Sullivan’s input on the AR-10 is why the cam pin is shaped the way it is and why the gas system sits on top of the barrel instead of on the side. The AR-15 was left almost entirely to Jim Sullivan and the project helped set him on the path of miniaturizing popular rifle designs. (His first was the AR-15 and his second was Ruger’s Mini-14.)
I recently had the opportunity to make the drive from Prescott, Arizona, to Gunsite with Sullivan at the wheel, availing me the opportunity to ask the man all the questions that I’ve accumulated over the years. Most of those questions were centered around his opinion of what’s become of his creation.
Sullivan never anticipated the rifle becoming so popular. Love it or hate it, the AR-15 has spawned an industry all its own. Most of what’s happened to the rifle since its inception has taken it far from the initial design parameters.
The AR’s Evolution
One of the first major changes to the M16 was to shorten the barrel and the gas system that sat on it. Moving the gas port closer to the chamber meant the rifle started the extraction process much earlier than Sullivan intended. “Colt had an excellent engineer at the time that came up with a