With all the recent press on retro-styled AR rifle offerings by Colt, Troy and others, I thought it would be fitting to highlight one of the original (and most technically accurate) manufacturers of “clone” receivers and parts. Beginning in 2005, NoDak Spud, a small firearms manufacturing company based in Edina, Minnesota, introduced high quality AK receivers for parts-kit builders like myself.
At the time, kits like those cut from imported unfired Romanian AK rifles that included original barrels, were priced between $70 to $90 from online retailers like Copes Distributing. Within a few years, the supply of affordable AK parts kits began to dry up, due in part to the implementation of the ATF barrel importation ban in the mid 2000’s.
Shortly after entering the AK market, NoDak Spud’s co-owner Mike Wetteland and his partner Harlan Ekre began designing and producing striking reproductions of the M16A1, XM16E1 and very early versions of the “slick side” M16 receivers. Catering to a unique group of clone builders like those found on AR15.com, NoDak soon became the go-to manufacturer for technically accurate receivers and parts.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Wetteland about everything from NoDak’s humble beginning’s in a small office inside Coonan Arms, all the way to their recent projects like the NDS-18S, a lower receiver for the original AR-180 rifle. Because they use classic lathes and mills, NoDak could be called “Old-School”. But one benefit of the ‘OG’ title means that NoDak employs real craftsman who have a deep understanding of traditional machining, which is a dying breed according to Wetteland. “Anyone can push a button and walk away from a CNC machine. But there’s a lot more to it than that.”
Wetteland began working on the NDS-18S after a persistent AR15.com member urged him to make a direct replacement for the AR-180B polymer receiver. After six months of part-time work of the project, NoDak had made a commercially viable lower that could accept upper receivers from the Costa Mesa, Howa and Sterling rifles as well as the original AR-180B. Still, the market for the NDS-18S is very limited, due in large part to the lack of newly manufactured AR-180 upper receivers.
Wetteland briefly considered making complete uppers for the 180, but instead decided to focus his efforts on a super-secret project set to debut sometime this fall. When pressed on whether the project was pistol, rifle or shotgun-based, Wetteland just laughed; “I really can’t say.”
From NoDak Spud’s product page:
This receiver is made in house on our CNC’s, machined from 7075 T6 511 billet aluminum, and finished in a black Type 3 Hard Coat anodizing.Built for a lifetime of service, the NDS-18S is a rugged, versatile lower that gives you the modern modularity you want. The rear of the receiver is set up to use the high quality stock adapters from Stormwerkz.
One of the many projects on my wish list in a XM177(ish) clone that incorporates an Allen Engineering AE22 suppressor. While it’s no where near technically accurate as clone builds go, my love for everything suppressed takes precedence over historical accuracy. When the time comes, I’ll be using NoDak receivers.
We will check back in with Nodak Spud in a few months for additional details on their ‘secret project’ currently in development. I have no doubt it will be a hit.
Sorry, I almost forgot. The name? Ekre used to be a potato farmer in North Dakota. Hence, NoDak Spud.
7683 Washington Ave. South, Edina MN. 55439
Order form here.
Ordering instructions here.