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ArmaLite AR-18

Automatic Rifle

Infantry / Small Arms

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Side profile view of the Armalite AR-18 automatic rifle.
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Bodyguard armed with an Armalite AR-18 automatic rifle; note foregrip and scope attachment.

The Armalite AR-18 was a complete redesign of the classic AR-15 automatic rifle and meant for simplified Third World license production methods.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 5/9/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
With Eugene Stoner's AR-15 rifle design firmly entrenched as the M16 under production by Colt, his Armalite firm turned to the design and production of a similar yet simplified version of their AR-15 design, moreso to license this version out for production in Third World markets. As the base AR-15 proved to be too difficult to manufacturer without the need for complex production facilities (it relied on aluminum forgings in its construction), the AR-18 was to be the "budget" assault rifle alternative in a market where the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge was becoming as readily-available as the 7.62x51mm NATO type.

The gas-operated AR-18, looking every bit like its AR-15/M16 cousin, was produced with simplicity in mind utilizing plastic components and steel metal pressings throughout. Along with this cost-cutting approach, general operation of the weapon was kept to minimal expectations resulting in a reliable weapons system that was easy to maintain. The AR-18 was chambered to fire the 5.56x45mm cartridge and came with a foldable plastic butt. Magazines were also offered in 20-, 30- and 40-round counts with the system reporting a cyclic rate of fire of 700-800 rounds-per-minute.

As the United States military had already settled on the M-16 (AR-15) as its primary assault rifle, this left the AR-18 to attempt to find success on the global stage. The rifle would find a market niche through the UK-based Sterling Armaments concern and net its first quantitative sale. From then on, more foreign outlets began producing the system in more localized forms ensuring that the AR-18 would live on with various forces around the world.

AR-18 manufacturing spanned from 1969 to 1978. Armalite brought the AR-18 back into the fold in 2002 under the designation of AR-180B.


Armalite - USA / HOWA Machinery Company - Japan / Sterling Armament Company - UK
National flag of Australia National flag of Botswana National flag of Ireland National flag of Japan National flag of Singapore National flag of Swaziland National flag of United Kingdom National flag of United States Australia; Botswana; Haiti; Ireland; Japan; Singapore; Swaziland; United Kingdom; United States
- Frontline / Assault
Overall Length:
940 mm (37.01 in)
Barrel Length:
457 mm (17.99 in)
Weight (Unloaded):
6.61 lb (3.00 kg)
Iron; Optional Optics.
Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt; Short-Stroke Piston
Muzzle Velocity:
3,250 feet-per-second (991 meters-per-second)
700 rounds-per-minute
AR-18 - Base Production Model.
AR-180 - Semi-Automatic Model.
AR-180B - Updated AR-180 model appearing in 2002.
SAR-87 - British produced variant.
SAR-80 - Singaporean produced variant.
HOWA Type 89 - Japanese produced variant.
SA-80 - British produced variant; bullpup configuration.
Bushmaster M17S - American produced variant; bullpup configuration.

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