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By Pat Lisi

Southern Utah Vets Aid, St. George Utah

My friends and I dubbed her “The Black Beauty” and for good reason.  There was no other assault rifle quite like it.  Its stark black frame was beautiful to hold, to load, to adore, and to shoot.  Even in single shot mode its cyclic rate of fire was impressive.  At full ‘auto’ with a magazine of 20 rounds, the last bullet was out of the muzzle before the first empty cartride hit the ground.  That’s how I sometimes fired it in Vietnam.  In the US it was pretty much a hunting rifle that I used on varmints and an occassional white-tailed deer.  For the most part it was illegal to rig an AR-15 to work as an automatic weapon, even though there were ways to accomplish it.

Mostly, we shot The Black Beauty just for fun at targets of opportunity like bonfires, stumps, beer cans, and even once at an old television set that didn’t work anymore.  My Nam buddies loved to come over and shoot it as did a couple of their wives.  My kids grew up firing The Black Beauty and they will miss it the most now that it isn’t available as an inheritance.  I’ve fired hundreds of rounds through that AR-15; I’ve even mounted (or ‘fixed’ as we would say in the Marines) a bayonet tothe front end of the rifle and fired off round after round at targets that would simulate a human being.  I had a lot of fun with The Black Beauty.

But, in the last few years the old AR-15 sat in the closet in its long, green hard-case and hasn’t seen any action at all.  It’s not my rifle of choice for hunting, never was.  There are firearms much faster and even more deadly to use on big game, so my AR-15, The Black Beauty, wasn’t getting the kind of attention it deserves for being such a perfect instrument of ground war.  Guys bitched a lot about their AR-15’s in Nam but not me.  I loved that rifle, all you had to do was be good to it and it would pay you back in kind.  It took me through many a firefight and it never failed me, especially when the odds were overwhelming and I needed to keep it working for hours on end.  It was one sweet killing machine over there, I can tell you that much.

A friend of mine here in St. George, Utah is a retired US Marshall.  Even better, he’s a former United State Marine.  I knew he collected guns and I had one to sell — The Black Beauty.  Steve came over to my house one afternoon to take a look at it and he fell instantly in love with her as I knew he would.  I knew I had him, so I closed the deal.  It’s his now and I hope he uses it more than I have in the last couple of decades, because there’s nothing sadder than to see a real thoroughbred lie out in a pasture waiting for its ugly demise.  I hope he keeps it clean and doesn’t allow it to seize up and not be able to perform.  Hopefully, he will resurrect The Black Beauty and take her out to the rifle range so she can sing a song of elegance and freedom.  She’s like an old friend to me and I need to know that she has a better life with Steve the US Marshall and former Marine.  I’ll always remember The Black Beauty and will cherish those times when the two of us worked in perfect harmony, from muzzle to target.


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