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 willyp | Home > Weapons of the world photo Albums > US Colt/Armalite AR15/M16 (5.56) > 
Armalite AR18/180 (5.56mm)
Armalite sold the mfg rights of the AR15 to Colt who marketed it to the US Govt, early in this process the AR15 went through a "bad" period, Armalite, in hope of capturing military contracts designed the AR18 to compete w/the AR15, it used the same basic locking system/action as the AR15 but used a piston assembly rather than direct gas impingement as on the AR15, it also utilized stamped steel for the upper/lower receivers rather than the AR15's forged receivers & Armalite believed the rifle would be more reliable, simpler, and less expensive to buy & operate. It was tested by the Army in 64-65, at the time it wasn't near fully developed & was "passed" over, later it was retested, around 1969, & found to be a reliable & accurate weapon but at this point the M16 was already in service in large numbers so it's chance had passed. It was developed into the AR180, a semi-auto variant & built/sold by Armalite in Costa Mesa Ca, later it was license built by Sterling in UK & Howa in Japan. The rifle pictured in the album is an original Costa Mesa (USA mfg) AR180.
Album by willyp. Photos by willyp. 1 - 42 of 42 Total. 5319 Visits.
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Enlarge photo 1

AR18/180 & AR15/M16 rifles
A comparison photo of:
Top:  Armalite AR180
Mddl: M16A1
Bttm: M16A2
The AR180 was designed to address some of the perceived "problems" of the AR15/M16 early in it's life.


Enlarge photo 2

Ar180 w/accessories
Right view of the AR180 w/Armalite mount/scope combo, sling, M7 bayonet/scabbard. Many early design features of the AR15 were found in the AR180, sling swivel at base of grip, multi-lug locking bolt, 2 piece "swing open" upper/lower receiver combination, early 3 prong "duckbill" style compensator, mounting for the standard US M7 bayonet.

Enlarge photo 3

Ar180 view w/M7 bayonet affixed
Some of the changes in the design of the AR180 vs the AR15/M16, the AR180 used a gas piston system rather than direct gas impingement, an attempt to cure the "fouling" problems w/the early M16's (which wasn't really a problem w/the design), this also enabled Armalite to do away w/the rear recvr xtension (or buffer tube) which made it easier to incorporate a folding stock which had been a difficult problem w/the AR15/M16, it also used stamped steel upper/lower receiver halves which were easier & cheaper to mfg.

Enlarge photo 4

Ar180 right view
The general layout of controls etc & the basic design follow the AR15 pretty well.

Enlarge photo 5

Ar180 w/stock folded
Here you can see how compact the rifle is with the stock folded, operation of the stock was a simple procedure & the stock simply folded to the left & locked on a pin in the left receiver wall, fire control was operable from both sides so folding the stock did not interfere w/operation.

Enlarge photo 6

Buttstock
Right view, simple plastic buttstock w/rubber buttplate, stock was thin & folded easily.

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Action right w/stck folded
You can see the selector lever here on the right side, the mag release & charging handle.

Enlarge photo 8

Ar180 R action

Enlarge photo 9

Top rear view of receiver
Here you can see the rear sight (compare w/pics of the AR15/M16), stock fold mechanism & the scope base which is an integral part of the upper receiver.

Enlarge photo 10

Action w/ejection port door open

Enlarge photo 11

Armalite scope assembly
The scope is the same as the AR15 3x20 scope but is marked Armalite, the mount is specific to the Ar180 & has a spring loaded "pin" at the rear that fits against the rear sight base, you push back w/the pin against the base until the mount slips over the base rails on the upper receiver then the spring pushes the mount forward to it's lock position, the lever at the bottom front of the mount is then used to lock the mount/scope assembly into position. Note also the seperate charging handle which is not part of the bolt carrier, it fits into a cutout in the carrier & must be removed to get the carrier/bolt group out of the receiver.

Enlarge photo 12

Forend right side
The AR180 uses an upper/lower component handguard set like the later M16A2 but the AR180 handguards are still 2 different pieces which are not interchangeable (which the M16A2 handguards were) like the earlier M16-M16A1 triangular right/left sets.

Enlarge photo 13

Right side muzzle w/M7 bayonet affixed
The standard US M7 bayonet for the M16 fits the AR180 rifles. Also note the straight 3 prong "duckbill" compensator, very similiar to the original early AR15 "duckbill" that was replaced early in service by the "improved" 3 prong.

Enlarge photo 14

Muzzle close-up
A detail view of the right side of the muzzle showing the front sight, sling seivel, forward barrel which was 1/12 twist, same as the m16 of the era & the "duckbill" flash suppressor which appears to be the same as the early AR15/M16 model except the AR180 uses a nut between the suppressor & barrel to lock against, also note the suppressor is fitted w/"rings" which enable use of rifle grenades.

Enlarge photo 15

AR180 w/action opened
Same concept as the AR15/M16, upper/lower receivers seperate at rear & are hinged at front allowing removal of bolt carrier/bolt group & gas piston system through rear of upper receiver for field maintenance.

Enlarge photo 16

Bolt/carrier group.
Action open for maintenance, carrier spring guide rods/receiver locking assembly at upper left, removeable charging handle upper right, bolt carrier/bolt group w/springs in center, upper/lower receiver receiver sections hinged up & ejection port door open.

Enlarge photo 17

Magazine, 20rd
The AR180 used basically the same 20rd magazine design as the M16 w/the difference being the location of the cut for the mag lock button:
Left: AR15/M16 mag, no cutout on right side
Right: AR180 mag, thin cutout on right side for lock button


Enlarge photo 18

Mag, 20rd, left sides
Left: AR15/M16 mag note rectangular cutout on left side
Right: AR180 mag, smooth on left side.
It should be noted that it's fairly easy to modify AR15 mags to work in an AR180 & vice/versa, also the currently mfg AR180B by Armalite uses standard AR15/M16 mags in it's design.


Enlarge photo 19

Mag followers
Left: Early AR15/16 20rd follower, alloy.
Right: AR180 mag, this mag has a black plastic follower but as far as I know it should be alloy like the Ar15 mag on right, this follower may have been put in as a replacement/repair.


Enlarge photo 20

AR180 vs AR15/M16 floorplates
Top: Armalite AR18/AR180
Bttm: Colt AR15/M16, note the .223 marking on the Colt mag, this reportedly was used up to 1969 when it was changed to 5.56
The floorplates, followers, springs etc are actually interchangeable between the mags, the bodies are also identical w/the exception of the cutout for the mag button lock as shown/described previously.


Enlarge photo 21

Ar180 scope marking
Top view of the Armalite marked scope/mount set.

Enlarge photo 22

Ar180 scope mount
View from the left front of the mount, the lever at left is the locking lever, the rear of the spring loaded "pin" which butts against the rear sight base is at right.

Enlarge photo 23

Ar180 scope rear view
Another view of the scope showing the rear lens, focus ring & "pin".

Enlarge photo 24

Ar180 muzzle left side
Early "duckbill" style AR15/M16 type suppressor from right & different AR180 (vs AR15/M16) front sight.

Enlarge photo 25

Muzzle w/bayonet affixed left view
The rifle was designed to utilize all the standard US military accessories of the AR15/M16, bayonet, sling (in this case the M1 type web sling), & cleaning gear.

Enlarge photo 26

Front sight & handguard detail
View of the front sight base & post (standard AR15/m16 early round post), also note the cooling vent on top of the handguard.

Enlarge photo 27

Top view of forend
Multiple cooling vents, flat top w/serrations adding strength, the AR180 guards were 2 piece, a top & bottom compared to the AR15/M16 (early triangle guard models which were a right & left side), neither the AR15/M16 or the AR180 were interchangeable although the later M16A2 variant w/round handguards had a top & bottom the A2 guards could be used top or bottom.

Enlarge photo 28

Left forend view

Enlarge photo 29

Lower view of AR180 forend
Note the bottom cooling vents & their locations compared to the upper handguard layout.

Enlarge photo 30

Left action view
A detail pic of the forward left side action area showing the stamped/spot welded mfg method, Armalite logo, front hinge pin & the pin that fits into a spring lock on the buttstock holding it in place when the stock is folded.

Enlarge photo 31

Left action view w/scope mounted

Enlarge photo 32

Left side action
Receiver markings, selector switch, stock lock pin & mount locking system can all be seen fairly well.

Enlarge photo 33

AR180 grip
Different style of grip used on the AR180 vs the AR15/M16, note the sling swivel mounted on the grip base which was also part of the early AR15/M16 design.

Enlarge photo 34

Let upper rear receiver section
Here you can see the rear sight, directly behind it the lever that locks/unlocks the upper/lower receiver halves (compared to the takedown pin in the AR15/M16) & the buttstock hinge, at the top of the hinge is the button which releases/locks the stock.

Enlarge photo 35

Stock hinge
A detail view of the stovk hinge & latch w/the stock folded. On the right is the latch mechanism w/a small "buttons" at the top & bottom which are spring loaded, the "arms" on the hinge at left simply swing over the buttons which then lock into holes in the arms, to open just push on the buttons.

Enlarge photo 36

Action view w/stock folded
When folded the stock held firmly by a pin which locks into a spring latch on the left side of the buttstock, with the stock folded the selector lever is covered on the left side but the lever is ambidextrous & can be worked from the right side also.

Enlarge photo 37

Buttstock
Top view of the buttstock & hinge showing how narrow the stock is, in spite of this it's very comfortable, much more than an AR15 collapsible stock (the early versions anyway) & the one on this rifle locks up solidly.

Enlarge photo 38

Buttstock left side
Here you can see the slot for the lock pin, the slot in the square plate on the stock contains an "H" shape spring, when the stock is folded this slot fits over the pin in the left side of the receiver, the pin then locks on the H spring holding the stock in the folded position.

Enlarge photo 39

Ar180 buttplate
Simple rubberized buttplate.

Enlarge photo 40

AR180 left w/stock folded
The rifle is very accurate, comfortable & solid, I'm very impressed w/it & is a great addition to an AR15/M16 collection.

Enlarge photo 41

AR180 left side

Enlarge photo 42

Ar180 left view w/scope & accs

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