AR180 Field Strip

    The Armalite AR180 is the civilian version of the select-fire AR18 rifle. Chambered in 5.56, they were intended to allow nations with limited machining capabilities the ability to manufacture modern military rifles in the spiffy new 5.56×45 cartridge. While the rifle did not enjoy much success or proliferation, its gas system serves as the basis for more modern designs.

    Transcript …

    – [Voiceover] Hey guys it’s Alex C. with TFBTV and for today’s field strip we’re going to be doing an Armalite AR-180.

    The Armalite AR-18/AR-180’s were designed by Armalite in Costa Mesa, California and made in three places, that’s going to be in the United States by Armalite, in Japan by Howa, and in England by Sterling, the same company that made the Patchett Sterling SMG that everybody likes with that weird side feeding magazine but, basically these guns were marketed as a cost-effective version of the AR-15.

    They have similar pattern magazines, not identical.

    They fire 5.56, and they have some really nice ergonomics for the time period of course.

    However they are very crude, you can see it’s stamped and you know, you can see the welds on the outside and everything, so not exactly the most handsome or well-finished firearm, but they had some cool features like a nice folding stock on there which is actually quite nice, not the most solid, but definitely not the worst.

    The rear sight is stamped, but has the nice AR-15, F16 flips, features and is similarly adjustable, with a reasonably standard front sight post, nothing spectacular there, but the ergonomics, if you shot an M16 AR-15 will be pretty familiar to you, the magazines like I said, are not interchangeable because of mostly the way that the magazines are retained.

    They do have a reciprocating charging handle, and they are right-side charging, but as you can see they do have a dust cover reminiscent of one found on an M16 AR-15 which is kind of nice.

    The safety is also ambidextrous which was kind of unusual in the 60’s so, that’s a plus for this gun.

    Now of course to begin the field strip process, you’re going to press this little D tent located on this arm behind the rear sight, and push that in, and open the receiver up.

    This will allow you to separate the two halves, and at this point it’s easiest to remove the front pivot pin.

    Now it is not captive like an M16’s front pivot pin, so be careful and don’t lose that.

    What I like to do is pull that out of there, and then stick it right back in the lower, so it doesn’t roll off whatever surface you’re working with.

    Now here you’ll notice that even the ejector is stamped, the hammer is stamped, I mean this gun made very liberal use of stampings to give countries that didn’t have appropriate milling technology the ability to basically produce a comparable rifle in terms of performance.

    Now at this point remove the recoil springs and guide rods, plural, which is kind of unusual.

    Pull the bolt to the rear, and then remove the charging handle once it is stopped.

    At this point you can go ahead and push the bolt carrier and bolt out from the rear of the upper receiver.

    Now here you’re going to remove the firing pin, retaining pin, usually you would use a bullet tip, however I didn’t have one handy, kind of hard to believe I guess, but I just used a pin and pushed it right out of there.

    At this point remove the firing pin and spring from the rear, push the bolt in, and you can pull the cam pin right out of there, at which point you can pull the actual bolt out of the carrier assembly.

    So not wildly different than taking a M16 AR-15 bolts apart.

    Now to remove the gas system, first pull off the top hand guard, pull the actuator/op-rod to the rear, remove the connecting rod, pull the piston out, and then pull the op-rod out.

    Now this is this weapon’s greatest feature, you hear a lot of people say XYZ gun has an AR-18 derived gas system.

    And it is true, the Howa 89, the SA 80, and a lot of guns like that pretty much copy this directly.

    Very, you know, simple guns, relatively speaking, nowadays it seems ludacris that stamping was inexpensive, because nowadays milling aluminum is cost-effective which was a far cry from what they thought would be possible in the 60’s but, this gun was a product of circumstance.

    People needed a rifle that had the capabilities of an M16 AR-15 but was also cost-effective and can be made on older tooling, in the days when stamping was king, and the AR-18 was born, unfortunately it never really found a lucrative military contract, they are actually reasonably hot civilian firearms, but they never really caught up to the AR-15 M16’s despite being cheaper so.

    Big thanks to Ventura Munitions for helping us out with our shooting videos guys.

    This is Alex C. with TFBTV, hope to see you next time.

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.