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ArmaLite AR-18

Automatic Rifle [ 1969 ]

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: 05/09/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


Automatic Rifle

Armalite - USA / HOWA Machinery Company - Japan / Sterling Armament Company - UK
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of Australia National flag of Ireland National flag of modern Japan National flag of Singapore National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States Australia; Botswana; Haiti; Ireland; Japan; Singapore; Swaziland; United Kingdom; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Automatic Function
Features a mechanical function to automate the firing action.

Overall Length
940 mm
37.01 in
Barrel Length
457 mm
17.99 in
Empty Wgt
6.61 lb
3.00 kg

Iron; Optional Optics.


Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt; Short-Stroke Piston

Short-Stroke Piston
Type of gas operation typically found in rifle-type arms; relatively short amount of piston movement with reliance on sudden blow for quick acceleration of said piston; lever connected to the bolt is actuated, taking on the resultant energy, subsequently passing it on to the awaiting bolt.
Rotating Bolt
System utilizes internal mechanism to lock the breech or rear barrel assembly prior to firing.
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


5.56x45mm NATO

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 5.56mm intermediate rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed

20-, 30- or 40-round detachable box magazine
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Muzzle Velocity
3,250 ft/sec
(991 m/sec)

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.

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
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Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.

Images Gallery

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

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