AR180S Pistol Grip Prototype

Been wanting a better pistol grip to use on my Nodak NDS-18S lowers pretty much since they came out.

I used an ArmaLite grip but only bought a couple before they stopped selling them. (Sound familiar?) It also didn’t have the right shape.

Since I have been working with Fusion 360 I have been thinking of all kinds of things to design. Why not a better looking pistol grip.

I’ve still got a few kinks to iron out then I can make a more detailed print. I’m confident it would be a functional part when I am done and will certainly put it through it’s paces. It is very comfortable in the hand.

I’m diggin’ it. Anyone else?

Backing Out of the Upcoming AR-18S Auction

RIA Auction

Just wanted to thank all those that contacted me with well wishes and to buy a few things but I am announcing that I no longer plan to go after this gun. I have learned a lot about this gun including the fact that it is somewhat famous and several people with deep pockets will be pursuing it.

I want to let my readers know first so that they may put their hat in the ring if they so wish.

Here is what I know about the gun in question.

It was sold from Armalite in 1985 as an “S” model and was either a mule or part of the companies collection.

It was became somewhat famous when it appeared in the Small Arms Review article “The Lost Armalites”

The black and white photos make it hard to tell if the upper on the gun is the same as when it was sold in 1998 but I think it is. Is the upper the same as when it was sold in 1985 is the real question. One can never be sure.

While this gun surely belongs in my reference collection I can not justify the expense at this time and I intend to pursue a “Normal” AR-18 as my first machine gun.

Early Howa AR-180 Part 2

One feature of early Howa AR-180 rifles that is unique is the flash hider, or recoil compensator as it is referred to in the factory documentation.

These were of a different design and had serial numbers stamped into them. What I did not realize was that the barrels were also different. As you can see in these two pictures, the contour of the barrels is not the same between this early Howa shown first, and the early Costa Mesa shown second. I plan to remove the flash hiders to see if the threaded sections are the same. I suspect the Howa will have shorter threads because a lock nut is not used. Late Howas also have the same contour (the step up at the muzzle end) so this may not be true as they use lock nuts.



The fact that no lock nut is used means that special care had to be taken to get the flash hiders to be timed properly. I believe that the flat washer behind the lock washer must have come in different thicknesses to accomplish this.

Finally, one of the fantastic guys over at the Retro Forums (isplice) reports that where the flats ended up and where the serial numbers were stamped was not consistent.


If viewed from the firing position my example has the flats at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock with the serial number stamped at 9 o’clock. On gun 96x, the flats are in the same orientation but the serial is stamped at 3 o’clock. Guns 34x and 82x, the flats are at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock and the serial number is stamped at 6 o’clock.

Reader and AR-18 Guru, Pete points out that he has noticed a difference in the windage knobs on Howa guns and all the others. I looked through the picture I shot this weekend and sure enough, he was right.

Howa – Knurled


Costa Mesa – Lines


I have found the earliest incarnation of the extra cut out on the bolt carrier as seen in my last post.

This picture is of the very first AR-18 serial number X001. It was scanned from an early  AR-18 manual. If you look closely you can see that the cut out is along the full length of the bolt carrier.

Bolt Carrier Cut_zpsypezaskf

The first AR-18s did not have a dust cover, it was a later improvement after military testing found fault with the opening allowing dirt and debris to get into the action. When the dust cover was added the cut out was shortened so that the second cut could be made. This second cut is there to cam open the dust cover.

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