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The Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection: America's Black Rifle and Survival of the Fittest

By Will Dabbs, MD

In 1859, Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection: Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Within its pages, Darwin proposed that creatures spontaneously improve in response to pressures from their environment. While the sci-entific, theological, and moral considerations of this tome play out in our culture even today, Darwin’s basic concepts find splendid application in the field of small arms.

Staatsbedrijf Artillerie Inrichtingen in the Netherlands produced some of the earliest AR-10 rifles. While these Dutch guns were sold in modest quantities around the world, many of them ended up in the hands of Portuguese Special Forces fighting in Africa. The Portuguese para-troopers who used these early AR-10 rifles in combat covered them in praise.

War Story, AR-10

Captain Ilio Capozzi was a former Italian Naval Special Forces officer who fought in the Dominican Republic through its several revolutions in the early 1960s. A mysterious fellow, Capozzi was rumored to have served with the German Gestapo in World War II. Enamored with the AR-10 based upon its limited use with Italian Naval commandos, Capozzi somehow acquired one of the few AR-10 rifles sold to Cuba immediately prior to its fall to communism.

As Capozzi fought alongside forces loyal to Dominican reformist leader Juan Bosch, his AR-10 rifle was his constant companion. Images of Captain Capozzi with his ArmaLite rifle are availa-ble in the Life Magazine archives from the period. On May 19, 1965, Capozzi led a brazen assault on the national palace in an effort at restoring constitutional rule to this battered country. Captain Capozzi died in this action clutching his prized AR-10.

Running the Portuguese AR-10

The Dutch-built Portuguese AR-10 is lighter than its contemporary competition, the FN FAL and G3. However, it is still more than 40 inches long. The in-line design aligns the recoil vector with the firer’s shoulder and helps minimize muzzle climb. The controls are all in the familiar spots.

The charging handle is a trigger-looking appendage that slides within the carrying...

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