The Non-Stoner Armalites. AR-18/AR-180

Brownell’s has relaunched the AR-180 with the much lauded BRN-180 line of products. But where did this niche Armalite originate?

Initially launched as complete uppers that would fit on AR-15 standard lowers, the line expanded to include AR-180 “inspired” lower receivers too.

Image via Brownells

These are AR-18/AR-180 receivers cosmetically only. The stamped metal of the inexpensive Armalite ventures have been replaced with forged or billet aluminum that take advantage of a myriad of modern products like those of the Sig Sauer MCX, the folding adapters for stocks being the most obvious additions.

The lowers themselves use AR-15 internal and fire control groups for ease of access but the aesthetic is maintained, and let’s all be honest… It’s the aesthetic and the gas piston system that we like, we couldn’t care less about it being a stamped lower.

I would love to see Brownell’s put a few of these together as machine guns with SSF triggers but maybe that’s just me.

Now, if you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “That sure does look like an MCX or a…” you’re probably right. It’s one of those situations where there is nothing ‘new’ in the gun industry, just certain things done better.

Most short-stroke piston, multi-lug rotating bolt rifles in service today have features that relate back to the AR-18/AR-180 because, while the rifle itself never picked up in popularity, design elements of it certainly did.

Operating group parts all in the receiver? Folding stocks? Short-stroke adjustable gas piston? It’s describing a standard suite of modern service rifle features, and nearly every one that isn’t an AR-15 or AK is an AR-18 derivative.

Ian goes over many of them in the video, as well as who built the AR-18/180 and during which time period. All fun and games as I watch a school bus get hauled out of a ditch through my window.