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Old 10-24-2005, 03:02 AM   #1
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History for the Federal Ordnance M14 Rifle Owners

I had the very good fortune recently to interview Steve Karnes, son of Jack and Ilia Karnes. He was very gracious. He filled in a number of the missing pieces to the puzzle. The research on Federal Ordnance, National Ordnance and A. R. Sales seems to have "stabilized" at this point. If you have any further information, please post here or PM or e-mail me. At any rate, here's the story on Federal Ordnance et al.

From the October 13, 2005 version of M14 Rifle History and Development by Lee Emerson Copyright 2005:

"A. R. Sales Co., National Ordnance, Inc. and Federal Ordnance, Inc.

A. R. Sales Co. was established in 1968 and owned by Ilia I. Karnes. Jack Karnes, his wife Ilia, and their two children ran the company. Mr. Karnes was a tool and die maker by trade. When the family business started, its first large contract was to make M16 scope mounts. The two letters, A.R., were taken from the first two alphanumeric characters of the commercial name for the M16 rifle. Next, A. R. Sales produced high-end lightweight alloy M1911 style pistol frames and accessories.

A. R. Sales started on the semi-automatic M14 type rifle project by October, 1971. There were two M14 receiver production lots for the company, one in 1974 and the other in 1976. The first production lot of Mark IV receivers was cast at Rimer Casting Company using Karl Maunz’s receiver master die. The first production lot of Mark IV receivers was machined by A.R. Sales. The second production batch of Mark IV receivers was cast at Gray-Syracuse, Inc. and machined by Valley Ordnance Co. The first lot of receiver serial numbers ended somewhere between 1 and 225. The receiver serial numbers for the second lot were started at a number below 226 and ended at number 250. Twenty-five serial numbers were skipped between the first lot and the second lot. The missing serial numbers were allotted for tool room samples and for intended-but-never-realized forged receivers. The Mark IV receivers were heat treated by a local company. A. R. Sales Co. at first bought M14 parts brand new directly from USGI contractors.

Ford Motor Company was formed on June 16, 1903 by Henry Ford and eleven other business associates. In 1925, Ford Motor Company bought Lincoln Motor Company, a manufacturer of luxury automobiles. For the 1972 model year, Lincoln introduced the Mark IV two-door luxury sport coupe. The Mark IV was longer, wider and slightly lighter than its very popular predecessor; the Lee Iacocca designed Lincoln Mark III. The 1972 Mark IV was Ford’s answer to General Motors Corporation’s Cadillac Eldorado and was a major success for Ford Motor Company. Lincoln Mark IV automobile production ended with the 1976 model year. Mr. Maunz was impressed with the plush style of the 1972 Lincoln Mark IV. Thus, he suggested to A. R. Sales that its semi-automatic M14 receiver be named Mark IV. A. R. Sales Mark IV receivers are of decent quality. 2

Ilia Karnes sold the manufacturing side of A. R. Sales to Ranger Machine & Tool about 1977 or 1978. Ranger Machine & Tool continued to produce the pistol frames and accessories but did not produce any M14 receivers or rifles. The retail business of A. R. Sales was shut down in 1984 by Ilia Karnes.

At the same time, in the early 1970s, when A. R. Sales was developing its Mark IV receiver, John Arnold was pursuing the same goal of manufacturing and marketing his own semi-automatic M14 type receiver. Mr. Arnold owned National Ordnance, Inc., a firearm manufacturing company, and Federal Ordnance, a firearm parts and ammunition supplier. Mr. Bob Penny was a business partner in this endeavor with John Arnold. John Arnold, Jack Karnes and Bob Penny were all former associates of Golden State Arms. Mr. Wyant Lamont, Jr., managed the day-to-day operations of National Ordnance.

The two sister businesses were located adjacent to one another on Alpaca Street at Potrero Avenue in South El Monte, CA. The street address for National Ordnance, Inc. was 9543 Alpaca Street South El Monte, CA 91733 or about one half of a city block from A. R. Sales. From 1965 to 1970, National Ordnance produced 22,500 newly manufactured M1903A3 receivers and assembled them into complete rifles using USGI surplus parts. National Ordnance also manufactured 2000 M1 Garand welded and investment cast receivers and an unknown number of M1 Carbine investment cast receivers in the 1960s. The M1 Carbine and newly manufactured M1 Garand receivers were cast by Rimer Casting Company.

Employees from both A. R. Sales and National Ordnance visited the facilities of one another to discuss set up of machine tools. A. R. Sales did assist National Ordnance in its BM59 project but there was no collaboration between the two firms specific to M14 receivers. A very small number of National Ordnance stamped semi-automatic M14 type rifles were produced. Fuller reports two completed receivers for the company but a more reliable source closer to the events of the time estimates a half-dozen National Ordnance receivers were finished. The National Ordnance receivers were investment cast by Rimer Casting using the Maunz master die but machined by another Ohio business according to one source. Two other sources state that a business in Spain made the raw castings for National Ordnance. National Ordnance went out of business about 1974 or shortly thereafter with the death of Mr. Arnold. As part of the liquidation of the company’s assets, assembled M14 type rifles and parts kits were sold off.

Bob Brenner restarted Federal Ordnance about 1979. Jack Karnes went to work for Bob Brenner when Federal Ordnance was revived. He was employed by Federal Ordnance until 1984. Mr. Karnes then did consulting work for the company until 1985 or 1986. In early 1982, Federal Ordnance had plans to produce M1 Garand Rifles using newly manufactured receivers. By no later than 1984, Federal Ordnance was located at 1443 Potrero Avenue South El Monte, CA 91733. It sold military surplus firearms. In the late 1980s at least, Federal Ordnance, Inc. supplied a list of firearms manufacturers and importers addresses with its factory literature and a note encouraging customers to contact the manufacturer or importer to get an owner’s manual. Federal Ordnance also sold lightweight alloy M1911 style pistol frames marketed under its name and a trade name as well as selling a Springfield Armory, Inc. high-end M1911 style pistol.

Federal Ordnance began production of its M14 type rifles by 1984 and ended around 1992. About 1992 Federal Ordnance, Inc. changed to Bricklee then shut down. The business was revived twice more under different names before finally withering on the vine. According to a very reliable source, Federal Ordnance used the same Spanish company as National Ordnance, at least initially, to supply the raw receiver castings. Karl Maunz supplied some receiver castings in 1987 to Federal Ordnance. Federal Ordnance M14 type rifle serial number 22XX was inspected in the factory on February 26, 1987. Likewise, rifle serial number 677X was inspected at the factory on November 17, 1989. Federal Ordnance receivers machined while Jack Karnes was on board were of good quality. 3

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a Federal Ordnance M14SA in 1988 was $629.00. The rifles were sold with a one year parts and labor warranty. Each Federal Ordnance M14 type rifle sold was accompanied by a factory inspection tag, warranty registration card, a copy of U. S. Army FM 23-8 and a fourteen page booklet on firearms safety and care. The safety booklet was written by Federal Ordnance, Inc. in 1984. The factory inspection tag included the following information about each rifle: date, stock number, a description, caliber, and signature fields for checking of headspace, test firing and inspection. The stock number for the fiberglass stock M14 was GU-0715. USGI M14 accessories such as magazines, magazine pouches, slings and cleaning kits were available from Federal Ordnance.

Federal Ordnance built two types of M14 rifles, one with USGI parts and one with Chinese parts. USGI parts were used extensively in Federal Ordnance rifles through at least S/N 8877. Through at least serial number 394X the USGI parts were taken off USGI M14 rifles imported from Israel. By serial number 205XX, if not earlier, Chinese and Taiwanese reproduction parts were used to assemble its rifles. For example, Federal Ordnance M14SA serial number 502XX was assembled at the factory on September 13, 1991 with Chinese manufacture bolt, operating rod, trigger group and barrel. Federal Ordnance sold complete rifles as well as stripped receivers.

Synthetic stocks on Federal Ordnance M14 rifles may not have been USGI models but of unknown commercial manufacture. The original owner of Federal Ordnance M14SA serial number 22XX reports that the synthetic stock never had a selector cutout or USGI markings inside the magazine well. Further, the Federal Ordnance stock had a slightly rough finish. The butt plate was glossy black color instead of phosphate coated.

Century Arms International assembled some of these Federal Ordnance receivers with Chinese parts at their facilities in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1990 just before the imported parts ban of November 29, 1990, brought them into the United States with the military style features (twenty round magazine, bayonet lug, flash suppressor, and hinged butt plate) which was legal at the time and sold them to the commercial market. Century Arms International ceased operations in Montreal around 1993.

The Federal Ordnance marking may be located on the right receiver leg instead of the receiver heel for Century Arms International assembled rifles. Some Federal Ordnance M14SA receivers have serial numbers with the letter C prefix followed by a hyphen then four digits, e.g., C-0116. These letter C prefix serial number receivers were sold as stripped receivers to Century Arms International in 1990 for assembly into complete rifles. Century Arms International assembled very few M14 type rifles with Federal Ordnance receivers and Chinese parts, as compared to the number of Chinese rifles it later sold. Serial number C-0388 is the highest serial number for this series observed to date.

As an aside, Jack Karnes manufactured some mortar round fin assemblies in 2002 for the Paramount Studios movie We Were Soldiers. These rugged fin assemblies were made to withstand the pressure generated by the mortar ignition charges which designed to create 18 ” flames out of the mortar tube. His son was one of the armorers for the movie production unit."
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