“The AR’s Future is Bufferless!” – So… it’s the AR-180?

Author with the XM5 Service Rifle

With CMMG, DRD, and even Law Tactical with their ARIC announcement this year, 2022 appears to be the year of the buffer tube’s obsolescence.

But though these guns are entering the arena and this is by no means a new concept. Even to the “AR” evolutions.

The original AR-15 “bufferless” evolution was designed right after it to compete against it is less logistically developed nations. Heck, it was designed the year before the AR-15 hit the civilian market.

In 1963 Armalite released the AR-18 and AR-180 semi-auto only. These were, in essence, no buffer AR’s that can fold their stocks. Granted, manufacturing was vastly different but looking at the layout of rifles today, the 18 has had a good run on influencing rifle design too. Perhaps more than the AR-15 when all is said and done.

Short stroke gas piston, multi-lug rotating bolt, STANAG or STANAG adaptable magazine fed rifles are pretty much an international standard. While the AR has been in service a long time and has that institutional staying capacity, requiring as drastic improvement to justify replacement, the competition of good service rifles harkening more closely to an AR-18 or Hybrid design is deep.

  1. FN SCAR
  2. G36
  3. HK433
  4. ACR
  5. MSBS
  6. BRN-180
  7. XCR
  8. IWI Carmel
  9. MCX

Nine widely (mostly) used and well regarded designs, all of which hit closer overall to the AR-18 than the AR-15. The reason for the AR’s longevity is that it too is still and will remain a fine and functional rifle. The additional comforts provided by the AR-18 derivatives over the AR-15 were not seen as essential.

We got all the shiny new creature comforts in the XM5 because we’re changing calibers, if we had stuck with 5.56 rifles there would have been too few improvements to justify the change when most of the creature comforts could have been added. It’s the reason I keep calling them creature comforts. A folding adjustable stock and ambidextrous controls are nice, but in the grand scale do not significantly add to or alter the efficacy of the base rifle by much over a similar rifle with more mundane features in the same caliber.

So is the future “bufferless?”

Probably, but in no great hurry.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.