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  #51  
Old 11-03-2012, 03:11 AM
madmike madmike is offline
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I loved that gun.Carried a Sterling AR180 while on Patrol while serving on a NW Indiana Sheriffs Dept.Used it on the Tactical Team(SWAT).My friends who carried H&K,AR15 used to make fun of the charging handle.They called it a "Crank".That little AR180 Cranked out some very good accuracy at the range.Dont have it anymore,sold it in Arizona.
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  #52  
Old 11-03-2012, 05:03 AM
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I owned # S 01XX which I bought directly from the Costa Mesa facility. The CEO of Armalite at that time was Colonel Burton Miller (USAF-RET). He was a friend to many law enforcement agencies in our area plus one of our officers would assist him in demonstrations to other agencies. I used it for years both during my time on SWAT and for recreation. It was an excellent weapon that never gave me any problems. I fired thousands of rounds through it and it worked flawlessly. I sold it and many others in my collection to help pay for my son's medical bills just prior to his death. I was sorry to see it go but tough times require unwanted decisions.

I tried to purchase a replacement later on but their value has gone sky high. Too high for this old retiree. I liked it better than the M16/AR15. I had trained on both. One thing, it did not need was a forward assist and always worked during various tests that I did. In addition to the standard model there was the short barrel version (10.25" if memory serves me right) which also was easy to control on full auto. I fired many AR 18's in both models back then thanks to Col. Miller. Both the 18 and 180 were and I assume still are nice weapons. Thanks to this thread for the memories.
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  #53  
Old 11-03-2012, 05:10 AM
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Based on the press of the day (mostly gun rags) the AR-18 was intended as a low tech rifle that could be produced with relatively simple and generally available industrial machines. Imagine if Guide Lamp Division of GM had tooled up to make AR-18s like they did M-3 Grease Guns!
Given changes in technology the difference in price between the stamped AR-18 and the cast AR-15 is negligible or even negative and AR parts are very easy to buy on a competitive market.
I remember the abuse heaped on the Sterling AR-180s by "Pistolero" Magazine. "A light duty semi-auto that broke the extractor." "I personally think that the gun is an absoute piece of trash. It's overrated junk, it is useless. I believe it is dangerous to the user as well as to the person that you'd be shooting at." Pg. 62 Pistolero March 1982. These were Sterling made rifles.
Geoff
Who went to the Gun Room and found the reference.
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  #54  
Old 11-03-2012, 05:14 AM
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An oddity regarding the AR-180 selectors; The Howa AR-180s are marked SAFE and FIRE and the selector rotates 180 degrees - the Sterling's and Costa Mesa AR-180s are marked SAFE and SEMI and the selector rotates 90 degrees.

Put together a picture for the AR-180 selectors differences between Howa and Costa Mesa/Sterling produced models. The bottom left is from the ones posted by 45Wheelgun of his Howa AR-180 earlier in this thread. The other two are from pictures I already had, forgot where they came from.


Last edited by Foxtrot; 11-03-2012 at 05:36 AM.
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  #55  
Old 11-03-2012, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEN L View Post
In a word, YES. If you are using original AR18/180 mags. There may be a problem with converted AR15/M16 mags. There is a ledge on the rear of the follower that is supposed to activate the bolt hold open device. Sometimes when people convert AR mags they don't get that part of the conversion right.

I'm surprised Jaymoore hasn't weighed in on this thread as he has an AR180 (I believe a Sterling) that he converted to use M16 mags. Maybe he hasn't seen this thread yet. I'm sure he'd be glad to post some pics..........
Had not seen the thread until KenL brought to my attention. I had a Costa Mesa which was fine, but it just seemed nutty use anything but M16 mags which are all over the place. I even keep some in the range bag as a permanent thing, just in case.

Went and made form block which was a force fit into the mag well and then carefully "massaged" the bump from the outside. Didn't even mar the finish on the outside. The inside does show polishing marks. Milled a slot for a mag retaining bar which was attached to a bit of rod that had a nut on the far side to capture the spring. The nut also bore againt the underside of the old mag release which had the catch dressed back far enough not to mar the M16 mags. It worked perfectly after a minor adjustment to lower the top surface of the new catch, which was done on purpose, just to ensure I hadn't made a positioning error.

If there's any Costa Mesa purists out there, then it'll be an affront, but the conversion seems entirely practical. Probably not economical unless someone tries to streamline the process, but my experiment was dandy!

Can't remember why I sold it. Nothing at all wrong with the rifle. Probably to buy something outrageously expensive that sees less use...Maybe that LMT L129a1 clone.
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  #56  
Old 11-03-2012, 09:39 AM
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Is there a good source for parts for these?
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  #57  
Old 11-03-2012, 03:41 PM
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I wish I didn't see this thread since it brings back the deep
regrets I've had, for years, of selling my, Costa Mesa, AR 180.

Back in the day my friend had a jig that we used
to convert many AR15 magazines to AR180's.

We also used to make a replacement pin that the folding stock pivots, swings on.
The replacement pin had a head (mounted up) with a hole in it that would accept a sling
clip. We used a ring, with hole up & to the left, on the barrel for the other mounting point.

For about 5 years, back in the late 70's early 80's, my main ccw was the AR180,
with the stock removed. With the sling set-up mentioned above I could sling it on my back,
under my heavy, or light for that matter, coat, and quickly swing it up into action,
which saved my bacon one night. The other guy had a snub nose revolver and he quickly
thought better of what he was doing when he seen the 180 appear out of "nowhere."

That was actually only one of two times that the 180 was in the right place, at the
right time, both times is was up against a snubbie revolver, although once was
when I was in my truck, where I had a rack for it mounted on "the floor hump."

The only trouble I had with mine was when firing rifle grenade parachute flares off of it.
I blew the gas-piston, which turned it into a "single shot" that night, and when contacting
Armalite found out that, based on the serial no., my original piston was an early one,
made in Japan, from a batch with known metallurgical issues that created a brittle condition.
They sent me a new one right away, no charge.

Ah, the memories of a rifle that I truly felt one with.......
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  #58  
Old 11-05-2012, 08:54 AM
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Just thought i'd bring up something that shows even the Armalite AR-18/180 basic and dependable design (which beats the stuffing out of Colts M4 dependability with a well manufactured and maintained AR-18/180) is alive and well in modern day weapons. Take a look at this video of the Remington ACR (a current competition contender for replacement of the M4 carbine) and see if anything looks familiar when they start taking it apart (in animation).

Remington ACR

Last edited by Foxtrot; 11-05-2012 at 08:58 AM.
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  #59  
Old 11-05-2012, 10:56 AM
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Remington ACR - awesome looking rifle and concept. What I find very interesting, if it's identical to the Magpul/Bushmaster ACR version, is it has a melonite barrel.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:57 PM
M14sRock M14sRock is offline
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This thread brings back fond memories.

I picked up a NIB Costa Mesa from a customer in about 1993/4. Traded him a spare Armscorp M14 I had.

Made mags out of USGI M16 mags and still have several with the slot cut in the side. I never needed to flatten the hump to get them to fit, or work.

Ended up selling it to a friend who passed away about 5 years ago and don't know what happened to the 180.

I still have the original manual, though.
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  #61  
Old 11-08-2012, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjbrdn View Post
...Also, is the charging handle/bolt supposed to lock in back position? Mine does not.
Steve
Steve using the picture below to compare does your rifle have the spring loaded pin at the rear of the magazine well?


The reason I ask is if the gun is dry fired with the action open the hammer strikes that piece and breaks it off ,
Once that piece is broken off the bolt will not lock back after the last round is fired....I know this because it happened to me in the early 80's, luckily parts were still available from Armalite back then.
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  #62  
Old 11-08-2012, 10:36 PM
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Man I want one of those so badly!

There is the 180b which has a polymer lower and accepts standard AR mags (notch on the same side). I can't recall what else they did to it though.

Midwest Industries makes a rail for the upper receiver too!
Midwest Industries: MI QD Scope Mount

If this was all mentioned sorry I missed it!
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  #63  
Old 11-09-2012, 07:29 AM
Foxtrot Foxtrot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stebo View Post
Remington ACR - awesome looking rifle and concept. What I find very interesting, if it's identical to the Magpul/Bushmaster ACR version, is it has a melonite barrel.
The reason they are so similar is that MagPul/Bushmaster also worked on the development at some point during its development iterations. From what i've been told the military ACR will have a chromed barrel and civilian version will have variations of melonite and chromed but this was early information and a little out dated now so don't know if its changed of not.

Haven't had a chance to fire an ACR yet. Remington was going to send a development military version of the ACR to us so we could take a look at it but not sure of the time table for that yet.

Last edited by Foxtrot; 11-09-2012 at 11:49 PM.
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  #64  
Old 11-13-2012, 09:35 AM
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I am looking for a "Howa" magazine for my rifle. Does anyone have a photo of the floor plate to show me what to look for?

I have been told it is the armalite logo that contains the Lion, but I have never seen a magazine with that logo on it. For those of you that have a Howa with it's original magazine can you tell me what it looks like?
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  #65  
Old 11-13-2012, 11:24 AM
Foxtrot Foxtrot is offline
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Dave;

You can still get the 20 round original magazines here (but they are used) > Magazine, .223 Cal., 20 Round Gun Parts | 702390 | Numrich Gun Parts < might give them a call and see if they can shed some light on your question.

You can also get some parts still > Search | Numrich Gun Parts

Don't know all the details, but I do know this much;

Markings for the Costa Mesa and Howa magazine floor plates logo varied, some had no marking, some had the Armalite crosshair, some had the Armalite leaping lion. Most all of them had the AR18 marking. The Howa magazines are less likely to have the leaping lion logo on the floor plate and more likely to have put out magazines with no logo on the floor plate. The government of Japan had a tight leash on Howa and when the thing about exporting Howa's to only non-combatant non-asian countries came about this did not include magazines but Japan did not want Japan indicated as the country of origin on the magazine.

The Sterling 20 round mags came in two versions, one used the same design as the Costa Mesa magazines. The Sterling black aluminum 20 rounders were made by a USA sub contractor manufacturer and not Armalite or Sterling. Then there was a second version of the Sterling magazine made of parkerized steel and came in 20, 30, and 40 round versions.

Color varied from black, to black with a purplish tint, to a grey color. Material for the magazines changed also, some were 6061 aluminum and some were 7075 aluminum, Sterling used steel in one version of their magazine, some were an alloy. Finish also changed and not all were parkerized. Armalite and Sterling are the only ones to have consistantly used their manufacturer location names on the floor plate ("Armalite Costa Mesa" or "Sterling England").

All of them were really AR18 magazines. The Sterling first version black magazines with the purple tint were the less durable.

Last edited by Foxtrot; 11-28-2012 at 06:50 AM.
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  #66  
Old 11-24-2012, 01:13 AM
majick47 majick47 is offline
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45wheelgun over the years I'v done quite a bit of checking around and my conclusion is the alloy mags with the "leaping lion" are the correct mags for the Howa AR180 rifles. The "leaping lion" is the same as on the receiver side plate of the Howa AR180. The design used on the Costa Mesa AR180 baseplate mimicks the design on the side of the receiver of the Costa Mesa AR180. I was aware that the IRA prefered the Howa AR180 but didn't realize the large number they were able to aquire. It took me a while to collect a number of the Howa mags and as noted they don't show up often due to the few Howa AR180 that made it here/or stayed in the US. As best I can tell I have samples of all the makes/models magazines of the three AR180 rifles. One of the most interesting are a couple of parkerized steel 30rd AR15/AR18 mags with no markings on the base plate. The polycraft package induicates they were mfg for the US Army in 1969. Also have a very rare 4x20 ArmaLite scope, only about two dozen came from Japan well after ArmaLite Coista Mesa ceased buisness. I agree that the black alloy 20rd Sterling mags were mfg by a subcontractor for ArmaLite since they are not up to the high standards of all the other items made by ArmaLite, they work fine in the semiauto AR180 but wouldn't stand up to auto use in a AR-18. Foxtrot I'll check the markings on my Howas and Costa Mesa rifles. Also some of the scopes had serial numbers and others didn't.
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  #67  
Old 11-27-2012, 11:44 PM
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majick47, thank you for your insight. I have heard that the "leaping lion" were the mags I was looking for from another source. I have just never seen one and was beginning to think they didn't actually exist.

I guess I will keep searching. I have been told that I should be looking for a twenty round magazine. Is that accurate?

I am only looking for 1 to complete my guns setup, so if you happen to come across one I would appreciate a heads up.

Thanks again.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:26 PM
majick47 majick47 is offline
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45wheelgun that's it the Howa mag has the ArmaLite lion on the floorplate, the mag is gray alloy like USGI AR15 mags and is 20rds. I'v got a good number of AR18/180 mags but the Howa 20rd are the fewest in number I have. If I run into a "few" more I'll keep you in mind. Right now I'm looking for a couple more Sterling 20d parkerized gray steel mags that are curved not straght.
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:24 PM
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I got to fire an American 180 back around 1972. I am sure it is brain fade but I seem to recall that they called this an AR 180. The one I fired was a drum fed full auto .22 RF. The drum held 200 plus rounds, and sat horizontally on top of the reciever. It fired from an open bolt. I don't mean to confuse the discussion. I just had one of those memory flashbacks when I saw the AR 180 title.
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  #70  
Old 12-09-2012, 01:19 AM
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I've had my Sterling for 25+ years. For a long time it was a safe queen but a couple years ago I started shooting it again. Stormwerkz makes a picatinny rail that fits on the scope mount so any optic can be mounted. I purchased an extra set of front hand guards (made for the AR180B) from Armalite and put a rail on the bottom of them for mounting stuff (didn't want to modify the originals). It still sits in the safe most of the time but I like taking it out every now and then. I've modified a bunch of AR mags to work in it.



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Old 12-09-2012, 01:33 AM
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For those interested in a piston AR-style firearm Faxon Firearms is about to start shipping their ARAK-21 AR piston uppers. Very nice. https://www.facebook.com/FaxonFirearms
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:01 PM
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Sorry for the late followup on the M16 mag conversion. Here's the tooling to form the enlarged area on the left side:









Nuttin' fancy. Mostly 7075 aluminum (a scrap piece that was handy, hence the odd shape) with a square high speed lathe tool bit which was driven into the receiver. Worked better and easier than expected!

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Old 07-24-2013, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxtrot View Post
Very nice

There are also four different variations on the AR-180, some claim there are a few more, don't know the serial numbers for these and they are not included in the above. The variations are the AR-180 SCS (Phil Hart sporter) with a serial number prefix of PH (there were approximately 380 of these produced) - AR-180 Police Carbine (short barreled rifle) with a serial number prefix of SS (estimates are approximately 200 of these produced but its never been confirmed) - AR-180 Sniper with serial number prefix of SW (some estimates say 100 of these were produced but its never been confirmed, its more likely that only 1 was ever made) - AR-180 SP (pistol) with a serial number prefix of SP (some estimates say approximately 20 of these were made but its never been confirmed)
=====================================

Hi,

I'm new to this forum and a big fan of the AR-180. I'm interested in where you sourced this serial number info from?

I'm very pleased to say that I am the owner of what I believe is the only AR-180SW.

I will throw up a stand alone post on how I tracked it down (with pics) ... it only took me 8 years to find it again from when I first bumped in to it at a gun show (and very very foolishly didnt buy it)!

I recall reading a book years ago, mainly on M16/AR15's I think - I can't remember the title - that had the 180 serial numbers in the back. It listed the SW's serial number (SW23178) and stated it was the only one made, as a sniper prototype.

It's basically an AR-180SCS with a skeletonised wooden thumbhole stock and the folder's selector switch (at the side rather than on top like Phil Hart's)

If anyone has the name of the book can you please post it here as I'd love the hardcopy proof I have the sole one made.

Or if anyone can put me in touch with Foxtrot it would be greatly appreciated as I'd be keen to get the number sources confirmed.

Thanks

Dust-Off
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  #74  
Old 07-24-2013, 12:19 PM
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Love this conversation. I just ran in and opened my safe and pulled out my Howa AR-180 and find that my serial number is S00049x. It has the "first" thousand modifications as reported by Foxtrot. Mine has the 2nd version scope with the inverted post and the idiosyncrasies of stamping in the serial number and in AR180 designation. My right side SAFE stamping is light and seems to be a slightly different font. So cool. My lens covers have long been put away...the elastic shretched and worn out as reported...now I have to go find them and see if I can replace the elastic. I bought my gun in the 1990's and shot it for a while and like so many other guys, cleaned and oiled it and set in back in the safe to make room for new challenges. Armalite AR-10's are my long gun passion now. The AR-180 runs flawlessly. I have to admit to growing up looking at the AR-180 profile at the beginning of all those Shooters Bibles that I read page to page. I knew I would have to have one one day, the desire was imprinted on me. And then I enjoyed the Terminator shooting up that Police station with a AR-180... I'm a new contributor to this Smith and Wesson site and can't tell you how refreshing it is to find so much high quality info rolled up in one braintrust. I thank all of you for contributing to this conversation.
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  #75  
Old 07-24-2013, 11:23 PM
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bush.wacker

I'm originally from the Fort Myers/Naples area. I bought my 180 years ago at a Florida gun show. I just can't remember where. Could've been a Lauderdale show or maybe Punta Gorda or Sarasota. It's just been too long ago. Anyway, I was curious if you're a native Floridian and where you bought yours. Do you remember what you originally paid for it? That's a nice early one! The serial number on mine is S1129x. It's just a wonderful shooting gun, and I've never regretted getting it. but do regret never buying the AR18 when I was a Class III dealer. I have shot one in full auto though, and they are amazingly controllable! I've kicked myself for not buying a 180 that was new in the box, with all the goodies that came with it, several years ago. It was pricey then, and I could justify not spending the money, but have always wished I had bought it ever since.

Anyway, welcome to the forum! There is lots to learn here. Believe me, I learn something every day. The wealth of knowledge is endless here..................
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[Range Photos Added] Just picked up a new to me 6 1/2" Model 624 ANIB (Photos) Denver Dick S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present 13 05-31-2009 05:07 PM

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