Early HOWA AR-180; One of the First 1000

As luck would have it, after writing the article about The First 1000 Howa AR-180 I came across one and it has now joined the collection. Special thanks goes to one of my readers (you know who you are) that stayed out of the fray and let me take a run at it. I certainly could not have competed against him for this rifle.

Other than sling swivels and original Howa magazines, this Howa AR-180 is complete. Condition leaves a lot to be desired for many. For me it is perfect. Everything rattles and is loose. There is a slight hint of rust in a few places. It has “Patina”. I love it. Best of all, I can shoot it and have fun with it.

In addition to having one to help round out my collection, I wanted it because I was curious about the differences between these rifles and later versions.

This is the picture that first caught my eye.


If you look closely you will notice a difference in the bolt carrier compared to any others that I know of.

Here is the bolt carrier next to the one from my early Costa Mesa rifle. (The one shown on the splash screen at the top of page and in your emails from me)


Both of these early 180 bolt carries started life as AR-18 carriers but there are differences. The most striking and the reason I wanted this example, was the extra machined cutout on the right side of the carrier.


The left sides are very similar with only a few distinctions. A radius on the cam pin and the quality of the machine work, with the Howa coming out on top.

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The firing pins differ as well. The early Costa Mesa using an AR-18 firing pin and the Howa using what I think is a modified AR-18 pin.


This is just one of the unique features of these fine weapons. Stay tuned for more in-depth articles soon.

Now some more pics for you, the Early Howa and the Early Costa Mesa.

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Navigating Armalite.com

I’ve gotten quite a few folks emailing me to ask how to find parts on Armalite.com.

They still have some AR-180B parts and many are on clearance. There won’t be any more once these are gone.

The best advice I can give you is to look in your manual and find the part number for the part you want and search for that. The break down can be found on pages 8 – 12.


Your second option is to do a search for 180B. That brings up many parts but will leave you somewhat lacking when you consider that some parts used on these guns are actually AR15 parts.

Armalite re-configured their site a few months back and there are no longer direct links on the homepage to the 180B parts. They are still there if you know how to search.

AR180B Parts & Accessories

Now some other interesting information can be gathered from looking at the manual, the part numbers are in three different formats. This gives us a clue as to their origin.

Parts with a four digit number are the same as Original AR-180 Parts. They may or may not have been left over stock but they are a direct replacement.

2641 Operating Rod

Parts with an eight digit number are 180B only parts.

1882000 Front Sight Base

Finally parts with six digits and are prefaced with letters are AR15 parts that were used on the 180B.

EU0190 Front Sling Swivel

So there you go. Get them while they last, or at least before I buy them all.



Update: Mystery Bolt: Reader Needs Your Help

Some of you may recall a post some time back with a mystery bolt that a reader was trying to identify.

Mystery Bolt

He just sent me an email and said he found out what it was.

Bushmaster Bolt Carrier Group

A Bushmaster Assault Rifle.

A very interesting rifle with concepts taken from the AR-180 and the long stroke piston design most commonly seen in the Kalashnikov rifles. I particularly like the captured recoil spring. It looks like something I could build in my shop at home.

A fantastic dis-assembly post over on AR15.com can be found here.

For anyone who might be interested, there is a new in box one for sale on gunbroker for a very reasonable price. Click Here

These rifles never caught on and like the AR-18/AR-180, they never got the years of refinement needed to make them truly great rifles. They both however, show many of the design elements found in modern rifles like the SCAR 16, the HK G36/SL8-6, and the Magpaul Masada/Bushmaster ACR.


Photo above showing the SCAR 16 and SL8-6 was found in an excellent article on The Truth About Guns.


Photo above showing the Bushmaster ACR bolt carrier group. Credit unknown.



A New AR-180S Upper is in the Works

A new AR-180S Upper

I just wanted to make a quick post to show you some pics of my progress today.


This is the barrel I found at my local gun store after I stripped the front sight base and extension. It is unmarked but I think it might be an Olympic due to the.750″ cast front sight base. I cut it off right behind the gas port.


After a bit of lathe work.


Here it is between my first shorty and a full size 180B.


Shown here with the original AR-18S lower hand guard.


An finally, a shot from the front showing the barrel profile. I tried to imagine what it would look like if Armalite had released a 180B pistol or SBR version and emulate that.

Still to be done. New OP rod. Drill gas port then parkerize the barrel and flash hider. I also need to make another flash hider and end cap. Maybe I will work on doing these in CAD so they can be reproduced more easily.

What’s Been Happening at AR180S.com

What’s been happening at AR180S.com?

Just busy as all get out.

Shipped out the first batch of AR180 Lower Parts Kits. I hope that leads to more AR-180 enthusiasm as more NoDak lowers get sold and more Stormwerkz adapters get sold, and finally uppers begin to come out of the GunLab. I’m sure that there will be a time soon that you will be able to build your own AR-180 from scratch.

Chuck has a few extra Bolt Hold Opens and I will be posting those up for sale individually after I get them in my hands.

Work has me traveling all over since one of our trainers left to teach at a community college and I am filling in for him in the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully we will get a new person to take over that territory and I can stay closer to home.

New AR-180S

I am looking to build a second shorty upper and I hope to bring you details as the build continues.

I have a 180B stripped upper and found an HBAR AR15 barrel as a starting point. This will allow me to turn the profile to exactly what I want and not have to sleeve the barrel under the gas block like my first one. I will also be extending the hand guards a fraction of an inch to match the original AR-18S lower hand guard that I have. This will become the standard length an will allow me to design an endcap and they won’t have to be custom made for each gun.

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You can see in this picture how the hand guard is long enough to retain the reinforcing rib.

I am also toying with the idea on an even shorter version with hand guards cut off at the first rib.

This matches the description of the AR-18K but I have never seen a picture of said weapon.

If anyone has any info about these short versions, please drop me a line. I would love to chat about it.

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Thanks for hanging out with me for a few minutes and if you are new or have not subscribed to AR180S.com, please drop your email in the box on the right and you will get emails whenever a new article comes out.