Costa Mesa AR-180, How it all began for me.

My journey began in late March 2014 at a local gun show when I found this lonely Costa Mesa AR-180 on a table in the corner.

First Look AR-180

It really spoke to me but I didn’t know anything about them. I posted some questions in the retro forum over at and found a lot of very knowledgeable folks over there. I decided I wanted to buy this gun but did not have the owners contact info, but I had left mine. Luckily he gave me a call.

It took me a week to work out a parts plus cash trade with the owner and I was able to bring her home. Not only did I get the gun but lots of mags, an inverted post scope marked in meters, and all the original paperwork.

It is an early three digit gun made in Costa Mesa California. No production dates for individual guns are known but I suspect it was made in late 1969 or early 1970. It is in excellent shape. It has a few marks where the scope was mounted and where the bi-pod was attached. Other than that, it is like new. It is also the gun pictured on the first page of my blog.

Costa Mesa AR-180 Left Side Folded

The earliest scopes were marked in meters and featured an inverted post.

Early Armalite Scope Meters Inverted Post

Armalite Scope Inverted Post

Three manufacturers built AR-180 rifles. Costa Mesa, Howa, and Sterling.

4018 Costa Mesa AR-180 rifles were produced from 1969-1973.

3927 Howa AR-180 rifles were produced from 1970-1974.

12,362 Sterling AR-180 rifles were produced from 1979-1985.

Learning more about what I had, just fueled my hunger to find out more. I then began the process of finding and consuming all the info I could lay my hands on. I hope to bring what I have learned, and continue to learn, to you.

I also invite you to contribute and help guide the direction of this site.

Let’s make this the central depository for AR-180 information.