Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    Just when a person thinks that he/she knows almost everything there is to possibly know, something obvious and totally missed comes along and slaps him/her in the face. Whaaaap!

    Back in the 1970s when I and some friends all had FFLs, we were having a blast ordering guns for resale. Those were the days when the G was actually encouraging kitchen table gun dealers. So long as guns were being logged into the bound book . . . ATF seemed happy.

    At some point I purchased a lot of ten (10) Armalite AR-180 rifles for something like $229 each. Those were Sterling built in England and to us then, they seemed crude with typical British painted metal. At the time, the fit and finish of those Sterling AR-180 rifles looked like something seen on old Sten guns along with primitive welds.

    Aside from the marginal finish, those AR-180 rifle were excellent shooters and seemed to be highly reliable. A couple of drawbacks of the old AR-180 were the unique magazine that was particular to that rifle. We were able to notch out a slot on the standard AR-15 and make them "fit" the AR-180. The dog leg shaped charging handle on the original Armalite Costa Mesa, Howa and Sterling built AR-180 rifles was somewhat weak and has a tendency to break off. Aside from those and other design flaws, we deemed the AR-180 to be equal or perhaps superior to the AR-15 with it's somewhat weak gas system.

    I've been on the look out for a lightweight, rugged and dependable .223 / 5.56 rifle for some now. Want something that my wife can handle if needed. Thought about the mini-14, but just can't get excited about those. There's no interest at all in the AR-15 series as I just don't like the things and never will.

    Two weeks ago while poking around at a gun show, I came across two AR-180 rifles. One was an old Sterling made variety with a fat $1499.00 price tag. Next to it was another made by the new Armalite Company. That was marked as the AR-180B. Huh??? Price on that one was $700 or best offer. The dealer seemed anxious to make a sale and at once dropped the price to $600 with unspecified goodies thrown into the pot. He was hot to sell but I was just window shopping.

    In doing a little research online, I was greatly impressed with the Armalite AR-180. Seems that flaws in the original AR-180 have been corrected with the AR-180B model. First off, the rifle uses standard AR-15 magazines. The trigger group is off-the-shelf AR-15 parts. Charging handle has been enhanced and beefed up. Instead of the flimsy sheet metal stamped receiver of the earlier AR-180, the AR-180B has that component made of high grade polymer material like that of Glock pistols. It's tough stuff! The weight of an unloaded AR-180B is something like just over 6 pounds. All in all, the AR-180B looks to be a very decent .223 / 5.56 rifle.

    Seems as if the Armalite Company has done a totally lousy job in marketing their AR-180B rifle. Though it has been manufactured for a few years now, I for one didn't even know that the AR-180B even existed until a couple of weeks ago.

    Does anybody own one of these Armalite AR-180B rifles? How do you like it?



    Last edited by Capt Quahog; September 2nd, 2009 at 02:09 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    i was excited when armalite first brought the 180B to market but was disappointed when i finally had the chance to handle one. it felt flimsy and cheap in my opinion and i didn't like the milled whatever you call it at the tip of the barrel. i think it would have been much better if armalite had added a muzzle brake instead. with that said i agree that armalite did a lousy job marketing the rifle and it became the bastard stepchild of the armalite line. i guess it was bound to be a failure since the AR15 hysteria far outweighed any interest in the 180b so armalite focused their attention on that market. it's my understanding the 180b has been discountinued and they were never big sellers so it's not surprising they're no longer made. i've read very few reviews on the 180b and what i read was mixed. it would have been nice if armalite had marketed a real new and improved version of the 180 complete with metal receiver, flash hider and side folding stock. had they taken this approach i'm sure the rifle would have been a hot seller and cut into the ar15 market.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    I've always thought they were a nifty looking rifle. There is a glowing review of the Armalite version on Gunblast, but then again, I don't recall ever reading a non-glowing review on that site.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    Quote Originally Posted by wellcraft View Post
    with that said i agree that armalite did a lousy job marketing the rifle and it became the bastard stepchild of the armalite line. i guess it was bound to be a failure since the AR15 hysteria far outweighed any interest in the 180b so armalite focused their attention on that market. it's my understanding the 180b has been discountinued and they were never big sellers so it's not surprising they're no longer made.
    With the new gas piston rifles popping up, I looked into the AR180, and also got the impression that they were discontinued. I don't know that I've ever even seen one in person.

    I think it was Midwest Industries that was making a quad rail handguard for them. If I find one at a gunshow for a reasonable price, I might have to really check it out.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    AR-180B are fairly popular up in my neck of the woods. Considering a piston operated AR is quite a bit more bucks if piston is what you want is is a good bet.

    http://www.stormwerkz.com/ is an excellent place to get all your AR-180 stuff form as well.

    Sabre~!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    I see them at gun shows all the time. Never saw one for $600 plus stuff thrown in. If that happened at the right moment it would be in my safe. But also not sure I saw an AR-180B, specifically.

    6 lbm sounds good to me. Of course it feels like junk, it's 6 lbm. If there is nothing wrong with it besides being light, I might go for it.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    Lighter than an AR15, more nimble to the shoulder. Not many high-speed do-dads to put on it, but a good basic rifle. Get a rail scope mount and you have a nice shooter. Sure, no flash hider, but a decent muzzle brake is on it.
    You can modify the stock assembly to a folder, or M4 style. But mine shoots better than a Mini 14, easier to clean than my 1978 vintage AR15, and weighs less then a tricked-out M4 with ACOG and rails.
    If you get one, do buy spare extractor & spring and spare firing pin. Keep the wear points between the bolt carrier and hammer well lubed (I us M1 Garand bolt grease) as this is a known "wear point" on my own 180B. Don't dry fire it a lot as you will have mushrooming of the metal around the firing pin, on the carrier assembly, and have problems removing the firing pin from the carrier. Previous owner of my 180B buggered up the carrier from too much dry firing. I deburred & honed the inside of the carrier & haven't had problems since then.
    Accuracy with mine has been on par with my 1978 AR15, using Remington 55 grain FMJ's. Haven't fed it any military surplus or Wolf-type ammo. Good ammo in = good accuracy.
    No known feeding problems with standard aluminum mil-spec mags. Handles best with 20 round mags.
    Only gripe is sling mounting on the 180B sucks. No rear sling swivel on the stock. Front sling swivel is part of the front sight assembly, and if you want to use a CMP type sling/hold you will move the front sight to the right with too much pressure (torque those allens screws all you want, the sight still moves).

  8. #8
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    On the New 180B did they fix the problem of the receiver flexing too much? Do some research on this.

    I like the older ones, in Ireland they call them 'widow makers" for obvious reasons.

    Nyman

  9. #9
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    Default Re: ~ Armalite AR-180B - Anybody own one of these rifles?

    Early 180B's had problem with breaking the front hinge area on the lower receiver. I heard they fixed this. Just be careful when "shotgunning" the 180B. You shouldn't open it like an AR-series (popping open and letting the upper & lower seperate). Do it slowly and be aware that the pivot/hinge is plastic and can break if abused.
    If you break this part, you cannot fix it. Your lower is kaput. You wouldn't hammer nails with a Glock pistol. But, you could do it with a steel framed M1911A1. Same applies here: don't abuse your weapon & know it's limitations.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: ~ Didn't Dirty Harry say something like that?

    To quote Dirty Harry . . . . "A man's gut ta know the limitations of his Aaaaaa . . . Arrrrrrrr . . . One-Eighty Bee . . "

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