Brownells Goes Retro With Their AR Parts — SHOT Show 2016

When I stopped by the Brownell’s booth at SHOT Show, I asked the question, “What’s new for 2016?” To my astonishment, they showed me a complete retro line for the classic M-16. Brownell’s, I think, has rightly identified that certain classic cars have become cool again, and in that vein, so has the original M-16.

So, in an effort to tap into the retro M-16, Brownell’s has designed (in conjunction with Nodak Spud,) the Brownells M16A1 Upper Receiver that matches feature for feature the original M16A1 Receiver. These include the original A1 profile, with no shell deflector, A1 rear sight housing and proper carry handle contours. Once machined, the upper is finished with a matte black, hard anodized finish.

Gone retro!

Brownells is branding their own parts now! Even period correct A1 lowers.

A look at the upper receiver.

A look at the old-school upper.

The BRN-16A1 Lower Receiver matches the features of the original M16A1 Receiver. This Lower Receiver has the proper M16A1 front takedown lug profile, and profile surrounding the receiver extension.


Everything you need for the build, and the tools you need to assemble it yourself.

Most forged lower receivers produced today feature “A2” profiles, which are incorrect for M16A1 reproduction builds. The lower starts off as a 7075-T6 aluminum forging, then is machined to mil-spec dimensions. Once machined, the lower is finished with a matte black, hard anodized finish.

Simple, engraved markings on the lower include:

  • Model: BRN-16A1
  • Caliber: 5.56mm
  • Mfg.: Brownells Inc

Both the upper and lower receiver retail for $150 each and are available now.

Uppers and lowers and barrels, oh my!

Their new barrels come in a variety of lengths.

Brownell’s has also introduced the M16A1 5.56 Barrel, which closely matches the barrels found on late model M16A1 rifles. This barrel has the same lightweight 2o-inch profile as the originals. Chrome-lined bore and chamber complement a 1-12 twist, the twist found on GI barrels. This barrel is inspected and proof fired just like the originals. Included is the barrel nut and handguard with the muzzle threaded ½-28, and is ready for installation of a classic flash hider. The barrel is marked MFR 12238 MP CHROME BORE 1-12.”

The retail price is $219.99 and is available now.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Andrew Moothart December 11, 2018, 5:21 pm

    Looking for an AR15/M16 upper receiver with non removable carry handle, what is your cost including shipping.?

  • Frank February 6, 2016, 6:44 pm

    How come these are not finished gray, but in black?

  • Dave February 3, 2016, 10:17 pm

    I had an Armalite A1 in basic (89). It was anodized green and the upper and lower we’re very loose. I told one of my drills how poor the fit was and he put a piece of electrical tape down by the mag well, trimmed it and closed her up. Never rattled again. Qualified Sharpshooter with that pos lol.

  • Jake January 29, 2016, 12:47 pm

    Some early selective fire AR-15’s were 1/14 twist but the M16 and M16A1 were virtually all 1/12. Our department had a selective fire AR-15 and some M16A1’s they got by trading a beautiful 1928 Thompson. The Sheriff was definitely not a gun guy.
    When the change was made to the A2 with 1/7 rifling supposedly to stabilize the M856 tracer round, the M193 55 grain’s accuracy went in the crapper so the civilian market went to the 1/9 compromise which works pretty well. Forgetting the tracer, some now think 1/8 is an ideal twist allowing best use of all bullet weights. We can order a barrel with any twist we want I guess.
    The original 1/12 with the M193 was far and away the deadliest combo fielded. It provided just enough stability yet when striking a target it destabilized immediately unlike the 1/7 with M855 which makes a neat little .224 hole. This gave rise to the stories of tumbling rounds and key holing at distance. What actually happens is the M193 out to 200 yards from the 20″ barrel immediately destabilizes on impact creating explosive wounds. As it goes sideways, there is a catastrophic separation at the cannelure with the projectile breaking in to two roughly 25 grain ragged projectiles whizzing through the victim. I do not see how this setup was not outlawed by the Geneva Convention. It was vicious.

    • Jon February 3, 2016, 11:58 pm

      I heard the police department in Fort Dodge, IA did the same type of trade.

    • rob October 9, 2016, 2:22 pm

      The “Geneva Convention” identifies combatant, non-combatants, and the rights of POWs. The Hague Convention placed restrictions on certain projectiles designed to cause undue suffering. The US and Germany didn’t sign the Hague. The ballistics experts at the time of the Hague would have had little to no understanding of how a high velocity rifle round reacts in a medium. In reality small arms have accounted for a small percentage of battle casualties with most coming from artillery and air dropped munitions.

  • Boss January 28, 2016, 7:11 pm

    The M16A1 I was issued had rust instead of chrome in the bore if I didn’t clean it twice a day. Some armorer proly thought that was funny,
    I am left handed, never had a problem with ejected brass hitting me except when someone was close to me and then I didn’t notice or care as I was too busy at the time.
    When I returned to the states I was issued a brass deflector and told to use it, but I kept forgetting it leaving it on rifle of the day.
    You could empty18 rounds out of the 20 round mag so fast you might lose count of how many magazines you had left.
    20 rounds in the magazine would, at times, spread the feed lips and double feed, not a good thing in a firefight.
    There were times you had to scrape the powder residue off the bolt carrier and receiver after a few hundred rounds.
    But as long as the chamber was clean and the magazine would perform it would run just the way Eugene Stoner planed it.
    His original rifle was 7.62×51 and he was very disenchanted to have redesign it for 5.56×45.

    2/4 3rd Mar Div Fox Co 67 -69
    “I practice the ancient art of Klik Pao.”

  • Ralph January 28, 2016, 12:04 pm

    For those of you that want parts to finish a retro AR15/M16, you can go to AR15 sport, or a website called “What A Country”. They have what you need.

  • Frank January 28, 2016, 7:29 am

    1in 12″ twist ??? I thought the originals were 1in 9″ twist ???

    • Steve Warren January 28, 2016, 9:11 am

      Nope. 1 in 12 inch chrome lined. It was for those little M193 – 55 grain bullets.

    • Dump January 28, 2016, 9:26 am

      The original twist is 1/12 and should work with both 55 or 62 gr. Bullets (or lighter). The M16a1 was issued out from Vietnam on up into the 90’s. I used one in basic (89) and in my NG unit (92). There is a shell deflector device you can use for these if you’re a lefty. Triangle hand guards and other correct parts are available on eBay and gunbroker.

      • T man January 28, 2016, 5:56 pm

        Actually, the original twist was 1/14.

  • Gerri January 28, 2016, 5:01 am

    I like what I see, but I have a question.

    Who is making the M-16 triangle-shaped forearms? And how much would they cost?


  • Evan January 28, 2016, 3:31 am

    An upper with no brass deflector. I’m lefty, you can count me right out. There’s a reason the A1 was replaced by better designs. Maybe if you’re a Vietnam vet or something nostalgic for your old service rifle (as I am with the FN military collectors series M16), but other than that?

    • Jon January 29, 2016, 12:18 pm

      I find the retro scene has exploded! Used to be able to find parts for decent pricing. Seems they went through the roof! Glad to see brownells jump on band wagon!

      It’s fun to build something and search for all the original parts you can find! There are so many different types and I call the retro black sickness. You don’t want to get it as then you search for parts forever! You cannot stop at one as it’s fun to build each model!

      The coolest ones for me so far are the early ar15 model 01 or 601 marked armalite and colt! Has furniture that’s brown underneath and yes the first guns the military adopted were marked AR15. Good luck in finding the complete hamdguard set! They are impossible to find! Just check out the original bayonet its $$$.
      What’s interesting is to feel the difference in weight and the sound etc when you compare the rifles to the current stuff. The old edgewater buffer makes the early guns seem to shoot faster! I have only noticed with the semi but seems faster even then!

      Have fun thanks brownells!

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