Armalite AR-180 Serial and Production Numbers

I feel a bit remis that I have not covered some of the more basic information for collectors on the Armalite AR-180 serial and production numbers.

I have been trying to verify this information through other sources but so far I have come up empty handed, so here is what I have been able to find.

Production began in July 1969 in Costa Mesa CA and continued till 1972. Howa production was from 1970-1974. Sterling production was from 1979-1985.
Costa Mesa rifles
S0001-S0012 July 1969 12 rifles
S0014-S0050 no date 37 rifles
S0030 no date 1 rifle
S0077 no date 1 rifle
S0101-S4067 no date 3967 rifle
TOTAL 4018 rifles

Howa rifles
X000001-X000012 Oct 1970 12 rifles
S000001-S001000 no date 1000 rifles
S10001-S12915 Feb 1974 2915 rifles
TOTAL 3927 rifles

Sterling rifles
S15001-S27363 1979-1985 12,362 rifles

The first 1000 Howa rifles had the serial number on the upper and the flash hiders have matching serial numbers on them.

Total production was 20,307 not all of which were imported to the US. Some were also exported to Ireland and there has been some attrition as well. I estimate something like 15,000 to 17,000 left in the US.

Quite rare when you compare them to even Colt SP1 numbers which approach 225,000 not to mention the number of M16’s made.


Latest Happenings at

I just wanted to touch base with y’all to let you know what has been happening. My new job has kicked into high gear and it has me out of town most weeks and that has the unfortunate side effect of keeping me away from the blog. I am home this week and hope to have an article of substance before I head back out on the road.

A couple weekends ago I found a reasonably priced Mill/Drill on craigslist. Unfortunately it was a 4 hour drive away. I rented a trailer and my wife and I went on an adventure to go pick it up. It had lead a relatively hard life as a drill for an off-road fabrication company and would need a little TLC. What can I say, I am a sucker for a project.

It is a Jet JMD-18 and it is the perfect size for my home shop. Being a round column it will require special consideration to order of operations to reduce the need for raising the head.IMG_0359 IMG_0360

Got it home and it took some doing to get it off the trailer without a cherry picker but we got ‘er done.

IMG_0363 IMG_0365

IMG_0368 IMG_0370

I had originally intended to modify my drill press and use it for small milling jobs so I had purchased a cross slide vise from Harbor Freight but it just didn’t work out. I returned it and picked up a chain fall that allowed me to put this mill on the table.

IMG_0373 IMG_0374

I pulled the spindle apart to get the number off the bearings and put in an order with McMaster Carr. That finished off my weekend as I had to pack and leave town the next morning.


Last weekend the bearings were installed and a run in procedure was initiated.

The head is back together and it runs much quieter.

Cleaning now starts on the table. It stayed locked in one place for years it would seem, so the ways are a little cruddy. A little bit of rust needs to be cleaned off the surface.

Chuck over at the GunLab  keeps cranking out the AR-180B parts and I am hopeful that I will have some kits in my hands soon. Several have emailed me stating their interest and I will be starting up a waiting list. Email me through the contact form and I will put your name on it.





I am also juggling several gun projects myself. I am now on the fence about the 458 SOCOM AR-180B, it may turn into a mid length gas carbine in 5.56. I already have the barrel so it will be cheap but not nearly as cool. I have a Sten MkIII kit that I want to work on after I get the mill up and running. I also want to try my hand an an 80% lower. Not sure which way to go with a buttstock for the AAA SAP. Folder, original, or mill one out of Delrin?

On top of that I have to prepare for a new Advanced Electrical class I am teaching next week and attend a teaching workshop this week.

Brain Overload.



Mystery Bolt: Reader Needs Your Help

A reader sent me some pictures this weekend and we were unable to identify the maker of this bolt. It has many similar attributes to the AR-180 bolt but the dimensions are not the same.

The overall length is 2.75″ and the “tail” is 1.0″ long.

The bearing surfaces look to be in the same place as on the AR-180 bolt, but the tail is too long.

AR180 bolt

AR180 bolt 2


A 5.56 cartridge fits perfectly.

AR180 556 crop


Please comment with your thoughts on this and lets see if we can’t help him figure out what this bolt fits.