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The AR-180B is now available

2745 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Munenn
Since the previous SHOT Show over a year ago I've been awaiting the release of the AR-180 from Armalite. They had them on display at the show and they were supposed to be on their way to the distributors but one delay led to another. All that matters is they are now available.

The April 2003 issue of SWAT magazine has an article by Mike Detty on the "new" AR-180B. What's new about it? The lower receiver is injection molded, saving about a pound in overall weight. It's also stronger than the original lower receiver. The only downside is the stock, while resembling the original, does not fold like the original. Oh, and did I mention the AR-180B can use AR-15/M-16 magazines? I like it!
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New AR-180B

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.
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Got to update you.

In the above note, I reported that the plastic Thermold (Canadian issue) and Orlite (Israeli issue) M-16 mags worked in the AR-180B. We slapped one of each in, empty, and as they locked in place and held the bolt back, we made the assumption that they'd work.

They don't. My apologies.

The problem is that the lever that is popped up to block the carrier by the magazine follower is wider in the AR 180B than the equivalent part in the AR-15 platform ( mine, anyway). It's also wider than the notch in the back of the Thermold and Orlite surplus M-16 mags. This means that the "last round bolt hold-open" device is actuated after every round, making the AR 180B essentially a single-shot firearm with those mags.

This wouldn't be a tough fix, of course, but those of you who (like me) stocked up on plastic mags need to be aware that surgery will be necessary if you want to use mags with similar small notches in your rifle.
Looks nice, but...

Saw 5 different rifles at the last gun show, and all of them had front sight housings that were noticeably (to me) canted. Gonna be fun to zero those... woulda bought one to try if I had found a "good" one.
I have been more than satisfied with mine. I have been shooting it for over a year, and find it to be reliable, accurate, and fun. My AR180B takes, and functions with Orlite mags. I put 250 rounds of Winchester WhiteBox ammo through it last Sunday, and was able to shoot consistant 5 shot groups of 1 1/4 to two inch. Zero malfunctions of any kind. Just consistant, reliable shooting fun. I paid $600 for it NIB.
A friend of mine had one of those last year . We put about twenty magazine through it one afternoon ( thirty rounders ) . I never missed a beat but it did get pretty hot to handle a couple times Accuracy seemed very good and I like the way it handles . I think if I was to get one it would have a four power scope and go on chuck duty with me .

Has anybody heard anything about ArmaLite issueing a "post ban" AR 180 B?
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