A Day in the Shop

Spent a full day in the shop just playing with stuff and it was very relaxing.

Started off with a new purchase that arrived while I was out of town.

The KGB Stinger47 pistol strut. It is designed for AK pistols and allows the use of a TailHook pistol brace. For those that haven’t heard the ATF now allows you to add a pistol brace without turning it into an SBR. I kept seeing Josh at Stormwerkz posting pics of his on different guns, including an AR180B. I had to snag one. Click here for info.

I have one of my pistol lowers that has been modified with two holes drilled and tapped so I didn’t need an adapter for mine.


I then decided to try out the folding mechanism I have. I was thinking I would fold it to the left like an original 180 but it blocked the safety so to the right it is.

I could not use the 180B charging handle so I swapped out the bolt carrier for one that I had modified back in the day. Stuck a Sterling charging handle in and Bob’s your uncle.

It then struck me that I have always wanted to add an original 180 ambi safety on a 180B so I fanally said “No more thinking about it, just do it.”

Took a spare safety that I sell as part of the Lower Completion Kit and broke out the tig welder. Stuck a big blob on the end then started turning and milling and filing and cutting a grove for the snap ring.

I then took it back apart and ran it through my table top park tank. The welded on section did not get as dark as I would have liked. Maybe I need to try a different filler metal next time.


I’m really happy with how it turned out even though it took me a long time.

A day in the shop is cheaper than therapy.

I also hand fitted and bagged up the last of the Lower Completion kits. If you are thinking about getting one or need the parts for spares just hit up the link at the top of the page. I am off next week and can get them shipped out right away.

If you are on Instagram give me a follow (BigRix)

I often post pics of what I am up to when I don’t have time to do a full blown blog post.


AR18-S Shorty Upper Project

Work progresses sporadically since I am mostly only able to work on this during the weekends. I formed a thicker front hand guard retainer and tried my hand at silver soldering for the first time. Got a little carried away with the amount of solder but at least the centering sleeve is not gonna come loose.

A quick glass bead to clean it up and off to my tabletop park tank. (stainless bowl from goodwill on a hot plate)

I also modeled up a set of fixtures to hold the front sight base and receiver for drilling and reaming the taper pins. Didn’t quite get it perfect the first time so I adjusted the model and printed another one.

Cut down a set of hand guards and we are almost there. Looking the part now.

Need another flash hider so I better get that modeled up as well.

Having built 5 shorty uppers so far I can say it is getting easier. I’ve worked out the bugs but even now I discover new things. What did I learn this time? I learned that the curves of an original AR180 upper hand guard are different than the AR180B. This is the first time I have cut down an original upper hand guard and now it makes sense why the retainers I have milled out of aluminum do not match pictures I have compared them to.

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.

Tax Stamp, Range Time, & The Jesus Clip

My Tax Stamp was approved and I couldn’t wait to assemble my AR180S and get it to the range.






I started with one round in the mag and it fired and the bolt locked back. Went for two and that went well. Five rounds, ten rounds, mag dump. All went flawlessly. I started sighting it in and it ran great until it didn’t. Trigger wouldn’t budge. I looked down and saw this.


I knew right away what happened. The Jesus Clip. Popped the top and of course it was gone. Hence the name, “Jesus where did that clip go” Also known as the F*ck Clip.

I have spares but didn’t bring them to the range. I finished sighting it in on my other SBR lower and it was smooth sailing.

Some of you may have experienced this same problem and didn’t know what the cause was. I’ve even seen lowers that someone took a center punch and peened around the hole in a fruitless attempt to fix the problem.



The reason the pins can walk out is because of a very small clip, that is almost impossible to see when installed, breaks or falls out. I really can’t even get a picture of the clip installed but one is in the middle of the hammer and the other is to the right side of the disconnector.


The flat part of the spring protrudes into the hole in the hammer or trigger and locks onto the groove in the pin. That is until something goes wrong. This little “Clip” can put your gun out of commission.

Rather than replace mine I elected to do what Sterling did near the end of production. Replace the pins with ones that use an external “E-Clip”.



These came with a bunch of Sterling parts I bought and I have seen them on several late model Blue Sterlings. I am pretty sure they are factory. I think I might work on some pins either like these of of the non-rotational variety for those who want to shoot their guns a lot.

The 180B shorty that I fixed in my last article ran like a raped ape but brought to light a glaring problem with my 180S clone, the trigger on the original guns SUCK. Of course I’m comparing apples to spaghetti what with my drop in POF trigger on my 180B and the stock trigger on my 180S. I still need to figure out something. I can’t imagine it was any lighter than 10-12 lbs and feels like a mile of bad road before it breaks.

I wonder if I can adapt a drop in AR15 trigger somehow?

The more I shoot these guns the more I see the lack of improvements that would have happened had the AR18 been approved for military service. I guess I will have to make said improvements myself.

Speaking of trigger and hammer pins I have a small supply of original AR180B pins for spares or use in your Nodak NDS-18S lower receivers. I have written several articles on the options we have for these and I am happy to announce that I can bring y’all the real thing.

Send me an email to rick@ar180s.com if you are needing a pair. $20 a pair shipped in the CONUS.


AR-180B Shorty Project Does 2-Gun

I was invited by some of my students to join them at the 2-Gun Action Challenge. For those unfamiliar with  2-Gun it is basically a great way to test yourself and your equipment in a dynamic environment. The two guns you need are a pistol and a rifle. I chose a Python and my Shorty 180. I wasn’t planning to win or even be competitive. I just wanted join my friends and do a little run and gun. Lots of both were to be had along with some ducking and crawling to boot. Turns out it was a Vietnam themed event this time and had I been more prepared I might have done ok. The pistol stage for example was limited to 5 rounds. Revolvers could have been competitive in more practiced hands than mine.  I was using an old school police rig with dump pouches. Speed loaders or even speed strips would have been a welcome addition.

It was my first time and even though I did badly and my shorty had malfunctions, I had a great time. I shot the Irons category and chose to use the small aperture as I felt it would be more accurate. The distances were too close and I found that was a bad idea. I switched to the large aperture on the next stage and it was at distance. Another bad idea. The shorty was barely able to get two or three shots in a row before it would short stroke. I brought a back up gun but decided to be stubborn and stick with my shorty till the end. As a result I timed out on every stage but almost cleared the last stage, one shot shy. Thinking that I needed to open up the gas port I decided to do an autopsy on it today. As I was stripping it down I noticed that the op rod was way too far recessed into the trunion. Turns out the front sight base was too far forward. Not only did that cause increased travel of the op rod, it covered up part of the gas port. I’m surprised it ran at all. Either I didn’t tighten it enough and it moved forward as it was fired or I didn’t get it in the proper place when I put it back together last time. I’ve been taking it apart a lot lately to take measurements as I have been building my AR180S clone.

I think I am hooked and I am looking forward to next months match. I might keep running the Python and pick up some speed loaders and pouches. I need some sort of mag holder for my rifle mags and I will be ready to go.

I also picked up a universal folding mechanism from Josh at Stormwerkz.com. I used it to fold the pistol brace on my 180B pistol. I’m liking it so far just handling it around the house. Time will tell how it works in the real world. I think I will make it my back up gun at the next 2-Gun.




One last update. I have purchased a limited quantity of original AR180B fire control pins. This has always been a problem for those of us building a Nodak NDS-18S lower from scratch. $20 a pair so shoot me an email at rick@ar180s.com if you are interested in picking some up. Get an extra set for spares!