After reading my last article I was contacted by Michael Vickers from Helston Forensics. He linked me a couple articles that he felt my readers and Jonathan Ferguson in particular would be interested in.
The first article is just chock full of interesting tidbits including Sterling AR-18S mods Sterling made, like a longer barrel to increase reliability, SAR-80 info as well as the connection to Mark Westrom, who went on to build the AR180B. Check it out Here.
Also mentioned in the article was the FAC-70. The Foote Automatic Carbine that Sterling considered making before taking on the AR-18/180 from Armalite. Michael sent me a second article that digs deeper into the particular weapon. The original article is Here.
I had never heard of this particular rifle before. I definitely want to learn more. It reminds me of the ARAK-21 line of rifles. I need to build a clone, don’t you think?
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.
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.
Reader David sent me some pics of his home made upper receiver shell. He also made gas system parts, guide rail, and a scope mount. Great work. I love seeing this type of ingenuity. Keep the pics coming as the build continues David.
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.