Proof! Howa AR-180’s Made in 1966

I first talked about this in and article in 2015

It was speculated that the Early Howa AR-180’s actually started life as AR-18’s that were first produced prior to 1967. They were blocked from export to the US and that forced Armalite to step up and make them in Costa Mesa. Later this initial order of 1000 rifles were converted to semi auto and then imported in the early 70’s.

I was contacted by Jonathan Ferguson who is the “Keeper of Firearms & Artillery” at the Royal Armouries Museum ,UK. He is researching a book on the evolution of the British Bullpup rifles. One of the early concept rifles used an AR-18 that was converted to a Bullpup.

The best pictures of this converted AR-18 are on the Armament Research site.

From these photos I could tell it was a Howa but it had been scrubbed of markings. Jonathan was able to find a serial number on the flash hider and my earlier article led him to some interesting documents.

Assuming the flash hider had not been changed he found the the rifle had been acquired for testing in January of 1967. It was only later converted to a bullpup after testing had concluded. This is the first definitive PROOF that these guns existed before 1967! Very exciting news. This is the kind of primary source documentation that prompted me to start this site. It is critically important that these sources be found and the dots connected.


Jonathan has given permission to post this info but he will be going into much more depth on the subject in his book. I will certainly keep you abreast of any updates I get as to it’s release date.

3 Replies to “Proof! Howa AR-180’s Made in 1966”

  1. Rick this article really interests me to say the least. Was it possible that Howa did a run of AR18 prior to 1967, sure looks like it. Might be time for Mr Furguson to attempt to track down the people in Japan responsible for the Howa AR-18 before it’s too late, no doubt they are all getting up in years. A good number of Costa Mesa and Howa if not already will soon be C&R. I’m sure you will keep us advised if you receive any more info from Mr Furguson. If you have further correspondence with Mr Furguson could you ask him if he has any research on the SinglePoint Sights, there is a good amount of misinformation out there, ArmaLite was the US distributor for military and law enforcement sales, also sales to civilians. A side note re the Howa AR-180, some time back I received an email from an owner of a Howa AR-180 who advised me that the USMC tested 10 rifles, he was in possession of one of them with the USMC markings. I also mentioned to you prior that a number of years ago I saw a Sterling AR-180 marked Naval Weapons Lab. With this news re the British testing and converting a Howa AR-18 to bullpup falls well within what appears to be the practice of other military organizations. Rich.

    1. Nothing at the moment Rich, but there could well be something in our archives on UK trials of singlepoint sights. We have a couple of examples of sights in the collection but nothing you won’t have in the US.

  2. Great post! Glad to have been of help. I apologise on behalf of the British establishment for butchering this poor rifle, but hey, it’s doubly historic now, I suppose??

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