The 'other' AR: A look at a 1970s-vintage Howa AR-180 (VIDEO)

One of the (almost) forgotten Armalite designs, the AR-18, wasn’t very popular but did go on to see some production overseas and now have almost a cult status.

Paul Levy goes into Brownell’s vault to lay hands on a piston-driven AR-180, a variant of the rifle made by the Japanese firm of Howa in the 1970s. The gun had the curious problem of being a budget follow-up to the AR-15 but, since Armalite sold all the rights to that gun to Colt, the AR-18 is very different from its older brother.

While the military passed on the ’18, the gun was made in small quantities by Armalite in Costa Mesa, California and then picked up not only by Howa but also Sterling in England. Relegated to the sidelines of firearms history, the gun did go on to show up in a wide range of films and in the hands of 1970s SWAT teams as well as some guys in Ireland. But that’s another story.

Also, if you wonder about the jump between the AR-15 and AR-18, the AR-16 never got past the prototype phase and the AR-17 was Armalite’s shotgun.

Proof of the latter, below.

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