Lets look at the more interesting side of AR-18 serial number 057.
There are early features everywhere over here!
Of course like the other side you see no reinforcement at the front of the mag well. The most obvious difference is the lack of a dust cover. Early testing showed that there was just too much space for dirt and debris to get into the action. This was fixed during later production.
No curved charging handle on these early models, just like the AR-16 that proceeded it. To my understanding the spent cases would sometimes hit the charging handle and bounce back into the ejection port. To remedy this they changed the design to act somewhat like a shell deflector.
Reminds me a lot of the AR180B.
Other features that may not be so obvious, the reinforcing ribs in the upper extend all the way to the rear. They stop short on regular production models.
Finally we move onto the lower receiver. Compare the front of the trigger guard to the one in your gun safe.
(What do you mean you don’t have one?) (Go get one.) (You know you want to.)
On regular production models the front of the trigger guard serves double duty as a guide for the rear of the magazine. Not so on this example.
Let me know what you see that is different. There is at least one more thing that can be seen in the above photo. Can you spot it?
Friend of the site Andrew Huber had the opportunity to look over more than a few weapons at the West Point museum and one of them is a very early example of the AR-18. Serial number 057.
Lets look over a few of his pictures and compare those to later production examples.
The most notable feature from this angle is actually what it is missing, the reinforcement around the front of the mag-well. While not as strong I think it has a sleeker look to it. Next would be the roll marks. They certainly made a few changes when they went into production. Unlike the first prototype that is shown in early literature this example uses the traditional folding stock retention stud. Like the first prototype this one does not have a dovetail scope mount on the upper receiver.
It also features an inspection mark on the upper that I have never seen before.
Do you see any other interesting details that I missed?
Make sure you respond, share and subscribe. I’ll dig into the other side of the receiver in the next article so stay tuned. Awesome stuff and I can’t thank Andrew enough for doing the hard work gathering these pictures?
Got an email the other day and I knew y’all would be interested in it.
A brand new Sharpshooter kit.
This one is packaged as coming from Timberline Hawk and differs in construction from my example. The hand guard cover is improved by the addition of Velcro to allow it to be removed easily. The butt stock cover is the real pain in the ass to install. If I made a new version of this I would certainly use Velcro for that as well.
Just for fun I am including a pic from the movie Daylight’s End showing a Sharpshooter in use.
The most obvious and interesting thing about serial number 021 AR18S is the hand guard. Lets have a closer look.
The hand guard is made of wood and is the only one I have seen like this. What wasn’t apparent until these auction photos surfaced was that it is made of multiple pieces and different materials.
The upper hand guard is much taller than a traditional AR18 part almost making up the entirety of the hand guard itself. This setup does not use a metal retainer like other 18S models do. No picture are shown of the top but I am going to guess there are vent holes and ribs just like the standard pieces.
The left side shows some damage. The right side has a crack that might turn into a break like this.
The front of the hand guard was the most interesting to me. It looks like a different material was used, possibly fiber board. Hopefully something that can withstand the heat. This piece appears to be pinned and glued to the main hand guard and is retained by a protrusion on the front sight base. we will explore the FSB in another article.
What I can’t be sure about is if this piece is slotted so the hand guard can be removed in a normal fashion or if the front sight base must be removed first and the hand guard slid off the front.
The lower piece looks to be made of yet a different type of material. I’m guessing Micarta.
It is retained at the rear my the lug on the trunion but I can not for the life of me figure out how it is attached at the front. Looking closely at the first picture in this article you can make out ribs cut along the bottom. I first thought it might be held on with a screw into the FSB but I don’t find one.
I welcome any comments about things you see that I have missed.
And if anyone wants to buy this gun and let me inspect and document it for posterity just head over and throw in a bid. I’m staying out of this one.
I just received an email from a good friend alerting me to a shorty AR-18 that is up for auction but to fully appreciate it we need to check out an article in Small Arms Review titled “The Lost Armalites”