I am always interested in how weapons are made, a major reason for this site.  So when I had the opportunity to stop at a friends house on this last trip to look at components of the AR-180 in in various stages of manufacture I jumped on it. For those of you that do not know what a AR-180 is here are a couple of pictures.


DSC_2634cClose up of the receiver.




The Ar-180 is a gas operated multi-lug  sheet metal stamped  rifle. Eugene Stoner is one of the designer of it and it was design to be produced in countries that did not have a strong manufacturing sector. To me it is interesting to see the steps necessary to make this weapon. I don’t have all  pictures of the different stampings however there are enough to see how it is made.

So lets start with the lower receiver. This first set of pictures is the completed cut out flat prior to any press shaping.


DSC_2274sBoth sides are  shown and you will notice that the slots are not cut for the fire control and magazine catch.

This next series of photos show the initial pressings that are put in for the magazine housing.




DSC_2280sStill no fire control or magazine release cut outs. There is a set or two missing between these photos and the next ones. This next set shows the body bent now.




DSC_2283sYou can see that flat had been pressed out for the fire control group of the AR-18. The hole for the selector and magazine release has not been put in yet and none of the holes for the fire control group have been punched or drilled. The holes on the bottom of the receiver have been punched though. No engraving has been performed and the front strengthening stamping has not been spot welded on.

this next series shows what is now looking close to a complete lower receiver. This is where it gets a little confusing. There are samples showing different states of completion. This leads me to think that the holes for the fire control group were drilled in and done on a fixture. These  next series of photos will show three different lowers some with holes and some without.


DSC_2296sYou can clearly see that the front strengthening stamping is installed but that the holes are not drilled yet.



DSC_2291sThese photos shows all the holes for the fire control group in the receiver and the front strengthening stamping located but not spot welded on yet.




DSC_2307sThis series of photos shows the magazine guide welded into place and the trigger guard installed but the fire control holes not drilled yet. There is also no front strengthening support welded on yet.

Now there are a variety of answers for these differences. The first is that the AR-180 went through a number of changes as to design and manufacturing methods. The second is that samples were pulled from the line as example board production steps. The third is that they were manufacturing examples for the floor personnel. This concludes this portion. In the next installment I will show the upper receiver being made.




12 comments to Ar-180

  • John D.

    The AR-16 and AR-18 were designed in an era when steel stampings were developed by ‘trial and error’. Keeler grid technique enters use in the 1970’s and computational modeling enter use in the 1990’s.

    A stamping of this complexity would have gone through several (3 or 4) kirksite die iterations before a set of steel stamping dies would have been attempted.

  • kaiserpanda

    so much great info on your blog, thanks

  • Great post! I’m curious to see how the front trunnion is attached to the upper. Is it really just some spot welds on the sides?

  • Black Talon

    which company is producing these? i know there was a company that started producing these again a few years back i believe around 2008 or 2009, but it thought they stopped producing and selling them because there was no demand.

  • Danny Boy

    To echo Black Talon: who is making these? I know NDS makes milled lowers which is the actual firearm, so if your friend who does this isn’t looking to be an FFL he can still make the rest and sell them. I am eager to build an AR180B if possible, and while Armalite seems to sell a lot of parts they are missing crucial things like the upper and barrel. Any extra resources to view is definitely welcome!

  • Aries144

    Black Talon,

    Are you thinking of ArmaLite (actually Eagle Arms that bought the rights to the ArmaLite name) and the AR180B wither polymer lower yhay took AR15 mags? My experience with them revealed that the company really didn’t see the rifle as anything more than a side project and wasn’t interested in investing the time to solve its design issues.

  • Thank you very much for publishing these pictures as I am sure many of us were curious how these were made.

    I imagine from looking at your photos that at the Howa or Sterling plant these would have gone from one machine to the other with each doing the next stamping operation. With the small facility in Costa Mesa, how do you think they did it? Perhaps they made batches then changed the tooling? Did they sub-contract some of this?

  • This information is fantastic. I recently became aware of this rifle. I’m so taken by it that I just bought a 180b. I’m in California and unfortunately for everyone here the feindstein had the ar180 banned. I haven’t got my rifle yet it’s in the mail. But I did get the domain name as I am a collector of those. I’m hoping you won’t mind if I post your pictures up, I will give you credit and a link to your blog. Contact me if you object.

    Thank You very much.



  • Crash

    Looking for an AR-180 bipod. Help please.

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