The AR-17 was developed from the earlier AR-9 prototype. It was marketed commercially in the mid-1960s but did not sell well, with only about 1,200 being produced. It was offered with both a gold anodized finish or a standard black finish.
The AR-17 was a recoil-operated, self-loading shotgun that was chambered for 12 gauge shells. It utilized the same forward-locking bolt design of the AR-16, with a series of multiple lugs that locked into a barrel extension. Like the AR-9, the external components of the AR-17 were constructed from lightweight materials, including an 7001-T6 aluminum receiver and barrel, and polycarbonate furniture.
Three chokes were offered with the gun to facilitate for different types of shot and removable dead weights that could be placed inside the stock and receiver to adjust the center of balance. The shotgun does not have a tubular magazine or magazine of any kind. Instead it has a brace that can hold a single shell as well as a shell being chambered, allowing for 2 shells max.