Had a chance to put some rounds through a freinds brand new AR 180B yesterday.
It looks better in person than the originals that I've seen (including Costa Measas) . At first, just out of the box, the plastic lower looked "cheap" somehow, but after a thurough pre-shoot cleaning it looked much better. I suspect the 'cheap look' was produced by mold release agents still coating the plasic. Whatever- it now looks to be of the same quality as on my SW 99 frame. The good stuff, hopefully.
The really good news is this- it handles as well or better than any CAR I've seen, and feels more 'familiar' in rapid-aquisition drills due to the low sight line. For a combat rifle the trigger is fine, although a bit gritty. I suspect that once the sear wears in a bit, that gritty feeling will dissapear. At any rate, if you feel the need to drop in a Jewell or other AR trigger, supposedly it will drop right in. It's not a target rifle, though, but to each their own. I know a guy who mounted a 4-12 scope with a gigantic objective lens on a carry- handle sighted .223 CAR. Why, I don't know, but he liked it.
I can't comment on it's accuracy, as we're still in the breaking-in stage, and are only running cheap fodder ammo through it so far. After the scope mount becomes available, if anyone is interested, I could probably do some more serious shooting with it and post the results, but this isn't a target rifle. I can tell you it'll almost definately shoot minuite-of-human out to the realistic max range of the weapon system, which I would call about 400 yards based on the caliber, iron battle sights, and an 18.5" barrel length. For what my call is worth, anyway.
More good news is that unlike a lot of poly lowers designed for AR mags, the AR-180B takes Orlites and Thermolds. They're too snug to readily fall free, but they function like that in ARs, too. My freinds' rifle has also yet to malfunction, although that's hardly a 'torture test' result at this early stage.
I only have 3 bitches on it so far. I wish the pistol grip was a bit thicker, but that's just personnal. Someone with small hands and heavy gloves would likely find it adequate. The next complaint is also not real serious and easily remedied at home. That is- Why have the lower swing swivel mounted on the pistol grip when the stock no longer folds? I guess ArmaLite wanted to preserve the look of the original as much as possible, so they went with the old style sling mounting system. But I'd much prefer the lower point to be in the usual position on the heel of the buttstock.
Again, just preference. If you could properly 'sling up' this rifle for field accuracy, it'd be a real bitch, but as the forestock isn't free-floated anyway it just doesn't matter all that much. To me, anyway.
Lastly, the barrel doesn't appear to be chrome lined. Someone with younger eyes than mine and a good borelight would be a better judge than me casually looking down the barrel at the range, but neither of us could see anything that leads us to beleive the barrel is lined. While this is good news for people who wish to slap on a scope and use this weapon to as a perimeter/designated marksman type rifle, I beleive it could reduce it's utility as a combat rifle. We could be wrong, however- the lining could just be really well done.
So far, overall, it looks like an excellent lower cost alternative to the AR clone and Robinson tactical rifles. And now, thanks to ArmaLite, we average Joes get to see if the AR180 myths of good accuracy and improved reliability over the AR series are in fact reality.