Brownells BRN-Proto Takes On The Earliest AR-15


Based on the AR-15 Serial Number One, Brownells BRN-Proto throws the rifle back to its earliest roots.

How the BRN-Proto recreates the early AR-15:

  • Utilizes AR-10 sized handguard.
  • Trigger-like charging handle situated at the top of the receiver.
  • Slick-side upper receiver.
  • Duckbill flash suppressor.
  • Brown polymer furniture replicates original’s fiberglass.
  • Matte gray anodizing give spot-on coloration.
  • A1-profile barrel.
  • 25-round steel bodied magazine.

If you haven’t heard, new-retro is sweeping the AR world. It sounds a little convoluted at first. After all, if you want a vintage specimen of Eugene Stoner’s masterpiece, why not invest the time and money to track one down? Sounds simple enough, but there are a few hitches to going this route.

BRN-Proto 1

This system only works with the variations that made the transition to the civilian market. If, on the other hand, it remained strictly a select-fire affair, then it’s a no-go. Not to mention, even without this hurdle, some would still remain out-and-out impossible to procure.

Brownells tackled both of these in its eighth addition to its Retro line of AR rifles. A step back to the earliest days of the AR-15, the BRN-Proto is a faithful and functional replica of the first prototype of the rifle — an adaptation of Stoner’s AR-10 by L. James Sullivan. And Brownells really drilled down into the minutia to pull off the primitive beauty, based on the 1959 AR-15 Serial Number One.

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The most striking and notable feature of the BRN-Proto — like the No. 1 — is its handguard. If it looks oversized, that’s because it is. The original prototype used an AR-10 handguard; similarly, the BRN-Proto is outfitted with the BRN-10’s handguard — Brownells’ throwback of the larger-caliber rifle. Furthermore, the handguard, stock and pistol grip are made of a brown polymer that does a pretty good job of mimicking the No. 1’s fiberglass furniture. As Brownells puts it, the polymer “replicates the look — but not the weaknesses.”

BRN-Proto 3

Brownell’s stayed true to a number of other aspects of the No. 1, including a “slick-side” upper receiver, skinny A1-profile barrel, top trigger-like charging handle, “duckbill” flash suppressor and a front sight that mirrors the original’s. All that and the throwback AR is built to chew through 5.56 NATO with the precision of a modern rifle.

The BRN-Proto is still presently on pre-order, due out later this year. And the rifle comes to market with an MSRP of $1,500. It’s certainly not the original — what is? But for serious AR-15 fans, the BRN-Proto is a must have for a collection.

BRN-Proto Specs

Action Type: Direct Impingement
Barrel Length: 20″
Capacity: 25+1-Round
Cartridge: 5.56 mm NATO
Finish: Brown
Front Sight: A1
Length: 40″
Magazine Included: 1 x 25-Round
Magazine Type: Removable
Muzzle: Flash Hider
Rear Sight: A1
Stock Material: Polymer
Weight: 7.5 lbs
MSRP: $1,500

For more information on Brownell’s BRN-Proto, please visit

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