Heads Up: NOS AR-180 Manual Package

My friend Rich is selling some NOS AR-180 Manuals with bonus copies of some other manuals and inserts over on gunbroker.

I received a couple of these packages in a trade with him and I can tell you they are top notch.

His asking price is less than I feel the NOS manuals should go for so act fast before they are all gone.

AR-180 Manual Package

He is a great guy to deal with and a longtime AR-180 collector who gives his knowledge freely and without hesitation.

Tell him BigRix sent you.

AR-180 Manual PackageĀ 

AR-180B Shorty Project Pt. III

The next part that had to made were the hand guards. I first mocked them up to find the approximate length then cut them off with my bandsaw. I left them a little long and figured I could trim them if I had to.

I then trimmed a small piece of the front end of the cut off part and fitted them into the hand guard. This will allow me to use the existing end cap.

AR-180S Inside Bottom Handguard AR-180S Inside Top Handguard

Here you can see that I didn’t get things exactly right as there is a small gap at the front of the hand guards. They will work for function testing but I intend to build a set of new end caps that encapsulate the entire hand guard.

AR-180S Left

Here she is ready to head to the range and dial in the gas port size.

Featuring a Stormwerkz mount and Primary Arms Micro Red Dot.


Primary Arms Micro

I would also like to ask if everyone could help me test out the site by leaving comments so I can see if it is working.

Identifying Costa Mesa 30 Round Magazines

In the early days of production and sales in Costa Mesa, Armalite offered their own 30 round steel magazines.

These are often misidentified or overlooked because they have no markings at all.

You will notice that the bases plate shown in the picture below have no markings and feature a hole on one end. These are the ones you are looking for. (The top magazine has the incorrect base plate)

Costa Mesa 30 Round Base Plate

Unlike the Sterling magazines, these have no hole on the side of the magazine.

Right side.

Costa Mesa 30 Round Right

Left side.

Costa Mesa 30 Round Left

They also feature a unique spot weld design that I have seen on no other magazines. Three equally spaced spot welds are more prominent than the rest.

Costa Mesa 30 Round Spot Welds

You will also not that these magazines are designed with a full curve and not the partial curve of the Sterling or M16 magazines.

Costa Mesa 30 Round

Good luck with your hunt for these highly desirable magazines.

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Armalite AR-180 Accessories: Sterling Magazines

As you would expect with any gun that is produced, Armalite tried to provide accessories for you to purchase with your new AR-180.

Taken from this pdf available at Small Arms of the World we see many accessories that were available to outfit your new rifle.

Sterling AR-180 Accessories


The subject of this article are the steel Sterling Magazines.

Sterling Mags 4


These rifles shipped with two 5 round or 20 round aluminum alloy magazines and one of the first things many owners did was buy more. These particular steel magazines had an excellent reputation for reliability and durability. Something many aftermarket magazines did not. I’ve had confirmation from several sources that these were the magazines of choice for those lucky enough to own select fire AR-18’s. The original alloy magazines had a reputation for feed lip problems during sustained full auto. They were also advertised to fit the AR-15 as well and if you own both guns, it made sense to buy these magazines.

Here are some examples I own.

Sterling Mags 1

Sterling Mags 2

Sterling Mags 3

They can be identified by several features, the most notable of which is the base plate. Unlike the original Costa Mesa 30 round steel magazine, the base plates are marked as shown. They also feature a single hole, near the top, on each side.

You will also note that the 20 round magazine is unique in that it curved as well. All original alloy magazines are of the straight design.

Now is my time to speculate a little about the 20 round Sterling magazine.

They are very hard to find and I believe that is because many did not buy them. Put yourself in the mindset of a new AR-180 owner. Your rifle came with two 20 round magazines. If you wanted to buy more, would you order more 20 rounders? I wouldn’t, and I think this is why so few are found today.

This example is the only one I have seen in person and you can see from the picture that the condition is not pristine. It actually looked much worse than this when I got it. Covered in rust. I rubbed it down with some gun oil and steel wool and I was able to knock most of the rust off. I don’t know if I will try to get it any cleaner at this point.

Please comment and let me know if you have any more information about these magazines.