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Centerfire Rifles - Semiautomatic or Gas Operated Centerfire rifles, carbines and other gas operated rifles.

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  #1  
Old 06-05-2017, 6:49 PM
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imarangemaster imarangemaster is online now
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Default My featureless AR180 project (NDS18S OLL)

My first AR180 was a Sterling that I got in about 1982, and used as a LEO trunk weapon until I stupidly traded it for a "real" AR-15! I bought my second Sterling made Armalite 180 when I was living in Mississippi IN 2009-2010, and sold that when I knew I was moving back to California in 2012. At the same time, a good friend offered me an original, low serial number Costa Mesa manufactured AR180 for a price I could not say no to (99+% finish, two original AR18 20 round magazines, and two steel AR18/AR15 30 rounders, all 99+% finish).

This was just as I was leaving Mississippi, so I bought it, and the Costa Mesa AR180 went to my buddy's in Elko, NV on the way back to CA. (since Armalite AR180s were banned by name here in 1990). I really haven't shot it more than a couple times in the last five years. Here are some some pictures of my Costa Mesa AR-180, taken in Elko, before the divorce of upper and lower!





For a long time, I was content to leave it in Elko, and just shoot it when I went to the desert. I wanted to leave it original. As I approach 65, though, I realized I wanted to enjoy it my AR180 without being a Californication felon, or having to go to Nevada to shoot it.

I am taking the upper half of the Costa Mesa mfg. AR180 and and mating it to a NDS18S forged lower (which is legal in California as long as fixed magazine or featureless). I am finishing it out as a California legal, featureless, NDS18S. Top half will be Costa Mesa - the original piston drive 5.56 - and the bottom half will have an AR180B fixed stock on the NDS18S lower. Yes, the upper will have more wear than the lower, but I'm too damn old to care about that. I am going to have fun with this gun before I get too old to enjoy it!

Here's everything except the stripped NDS lower (which I get out of the LGS on the 10th.). AR180B LPK completion set and butt stock from Big Rix, and the stock adapters from Stormwerkz. I already had a standard AR LPK and the assorted grips for the non-180B stuff for the lower. To be featureless to comply with the communist edicts of Californication, I got a CAV brake to replace the three prong, the AR180B stock is fixed, and I will use either a MMG or an A@ grip with a Monkieboi grip wrap (depending on which feels best). Nice thing about the CAV brake, it is the same dimension as an A1 or A2 bird cag, and my M7 or M9 bayonets still fit.


Last edited by imarangemaster; 06-05-2017 at 7:05 PM..
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2017, 6:59 PM
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Makes me cry so so so hard.
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2017, 7:02 PM
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Here are some pictures of the lower, which is in jail until 6-10-17. The nice thing is that it uses standard AR15 magazines - (of which I have plenty), instead of the slotted AR18/180 mags - (of which I only have four!). Also uses standard AR FCG and mag catch - with longer hammer and trigger pins.





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Old 06-05-2017, 10:46 PM
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Nice project I was considering doing the same with a pre-ban Colt AR-15A2 carbine that resides out of CA. AR-180s were always one of my favorite AWs.
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Old 06-06-2017, 4:16 AM
damon1272 damon1272 is offline
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Very cool. Don't have a 180 but nice to see something different.
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  #6  
Old 06-06-2017, 6:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by General View Post
Just got a Nodak Spud fo my 180B. I just can't bring myself to make it featureless. Can only dream of having a 180. I believe you can keep your folding stock as long as the overall length is 30" also you will need a break instead of the birdcage. Good luck, they are the best.
Thanks. Since I got the NDS18S after 12-31-16, I am limited to featureless or fixed magazine. I have already replaced the Armalite 3 prong with the CAV brake. As for folding, since I am going featureless to use my magazine button, I can't have folding. If I were doing folding, I would use a FAL style aCE folding stock. Stormwerkz has adapters for that.

I have MMG on my Colt SP1 Carbine clone (all Colt, except stripped NDS-601 lower), Kydex paddle on my AK, and Magpul MIAD with Exile Machine fin on it on my 20" flat top. I will see which I like best on this. My Inland M1 Carbine and Kel-Tec SU16B are featureless by design.
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  #7  
Old 06-06-2017, 7:47 AM
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I hope you get many years of enjoyment out of it! Thank you for sharing.


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  #8  
Old 06-06-2017, 8:04 AM
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A Costa Mesa AR180 has always been a dream for me. Most beautiful of its kind.

Last edited by God Bless America; 06-06-2017 at 9:26 AM..
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  #9  
Old 06-06-2017, 8:32 AM
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Originally Posted by God Bless America View Post
A Costa Mesa AR180 has always been a gream for me. Most beautiful of its kind.
I totally agree! I had just sold my second Sterling preparing to move back to Californistan when a buddy of mine approached me with it. I really think it may have been unfired, as it had the two original factory mags, and they (as was the rest of the gun) were pristine except for some handling/safe marks. There was no carbon build up anywhere! He had never fired it, but got it from his dad, IIRC. He was not a black rifle guy (more of a Winchester 94 guy!) I could have wet myself like a happy puppy!

I don't believe in safe queens, so when I got to Nevada on the way back, we went to the desert and cranked out some rounds. I often wonder if Sullivan or Stoner ever handled it. You sure see where the Stoner 63 gets some of its lines!

Last edited by imarangemaster; 06-06-2017 at 8:35 AM..
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Old 06-06-2017, 3:43 PM
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I read there was a offlist early ar180 not the B either. The howa? Stuck with sterling mags though.
The big rix stock looks good. I think the grip wrap would be more comfy but the mmg is good to. Looks like it's gonna be a great build.
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  #11  
Old 06-11-2017, 7:55 AM
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Picked up my NDS18S lower yesterday. Wow, that is one nice piece of forged aluminum. VERY sturdy lower. May get time to put it together and hang it on the upper today or tomorrow. PICS forthcoming.
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Old 06-11-2017, 8:04 AM
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Thanks for sharing! I'm drooling on myself. Not sure if it's the pics or if I'm hungry.
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  #13  
Old 06-11-2017, 5:32 PM
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Sweet! Everything went together perfect. With the AR180B and NDS18S lower, the bolt hold open is set for AR15 magazines. The AR180B upper has clearance for it, but the original AR180s do not. Their BHO is contained below the level of the upper, and a spring detent acts against the bottom of the upper to keep it from engaging until the mag is empty. WELL, I refused to cut a mint Costa Mesa upper to make a notch.

The armorer/tinkerer in me kicked in: I modified the AR180B BHO by flattening it out straight, then bending the end up at a 45 degree angle. I filed the rear edge of the mag follower at a corresponding angle. The result is that it feeds the last round from the AR15 magazine (with modified follower), without a hiccup, and actuates the BHO when the mag is empty...ALL without screwing with the original upper.

The bonus is, that by using this angle instead of the AR180 low step, the mags still actuate the AR15 BHO when empty. That was actually the plan. Now I can modify the rear of all my Magpul followers in ALL of my 30s so all will work in either my AR180 or my AR15 SP1 Carbine!

Pics tomorrow, including the modification.
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Old 06-11-2017, 5:43 PM
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Nice rangemaster. I always enjoy your write ups and the guns you have owned.
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Old 06-12-2017, 7:53 AM
Drew Eckhardt Drew Eckhardt is offline
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That is too cool.

I find my interest in less common guns growing with time but remain unsure whether that's evolving tastes with age or having enough of the old standards.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:35 AM
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Teaser:

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Old 06-12-2017, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imarangemaster View Post
At the same time, a good friend offered me an original, low serial number Costa Mesa manufactured AR180 for a price I could not say no to (99+% finish, two original AR18 20 round magazines, and two steel AR18/AR15 30 rounders, all 99+% finish).
That's pretty sweet. I still have couple Sterling 40 rounders... pristine from what I recall, maybe some scuffs from banging around in a crate with parked GI mags.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:03 PM
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More: The BHO tab was originally a stair step affair that rose up 1/8", then over 90 degrees to be the actuator that engages the square edge of the BHO activator on the magazine. I flattened it in a vise, then marking then, bent the last 1/4" or so upward at a 45 degree angle. With the BHO all the way up, only the tab that engages the mag follower extends up above the level of the bottom of the upper receiver. Before, it needed a 1/4" notch cut in the bottom of the upper to move upward. As you can see, only the small back rectangular area on the rear of the mag follower, needed to be filed at a 45 degree angle to match the angle of the BHO actuator tab. Because of the design of the standard AR15 BHO ( a long tab extending forward) it still hits the follower on the front of the 45 degree slope, and activates the BHO.








Last edited by imarangemaster; 06-12-2017 at 12:07 PM..
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  #19  
Old 06-12-2017, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crufflers View Post
That's pretty sweet. I still have couple Sterling 40 rounders... pristine from what I recall, maybe some scuffs from banging around in a crate with parked GI mags.
I still have a couple 40s somewhere, from when I had my 2nd Sterling. Not too worried about it, though, as 30s are as long as I like to use. 40s (and 50s!) are REALLY long, LOL
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imarangemaster View Post
I still have a couple 40s somewhere, from when I had my 2nd Sterling. Not too worried about it, though, as 30s are as long as I like to use. 40s (and 50s!) are REALLY long, LOL
I hear you. I prefer 20's myself.
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Old 06-12-2017, 3:58 PM
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My Magpul Gen 3 30s are full of MK262 MOD1 77 grainers for my 1/7 twist SP1 Carbine clone, so I won't bother with those followers right now (as the Costa Mesa upper is 1/12" twist and need M193 55 grainers). All of my Aluminum USGI 30s, though, I will modify to work in both platforms...
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Old 06-19-2017, 11:21 AM
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I would be interested in the "extra" parts if they are for sale I live in Oregon where we are a year or so behind with our gestapo laws.
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Old 06-19-2017, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nodon View Post
I would be interested in the "extra" parts if they are for sale I live in Oregon where we are a year or so behind with our gestapo laws.
Thanks, but the rest of the Costa Mesa is waiting patiently in my buddy's gun safe in Elko. I will shoot it on the correct lower when I visit him, and who knows, I may even move to Free America some day!
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Old 06-19-2017, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imarangemaster View Post
full of MK262 MOD1 77 grainers for my 1/7 twist
Any tips on where to get a deal on MK262 MOD1? Do you have Black Hills or Federal?
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Old 06-19-2017, 1:27 PM
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Right now I am using IMI Razor 77s. I have shot them side by side with the Black Hills, and they are as accurate and group exactly the same POI/POA. Widner's had them, as well as Selway Armory, SGAmmo, and Lucky Gunner. Even from a 16" at 200+ yards, from a 16" Kel Tec SU16B or my SP1 carbine clone on NDS lower, it whacks coyote DRT.
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Old 06-19-2017, 1:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imarangemaster View Post
Right now I am using IMI Razor 77s. I have shot them side by side with the Black Hills, and they are as accurate and group exactly the same POI/POA. Widner's had them, as well as Selway Armory, SGAmmo, and Lucky Gunner. Even from a 16" at 200+ yards, from a 16" Kel Tec SU16B or my SP1 carbine clone on NDS lower, it whacks coyote DRT.
That stuff is expensive no matter who makes it. PMC is about $13.15 per box shipped from SG... in 200 round packs.
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Old 06-19-2017, 2:03 PM
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Yep, it is expensive, but it is GOOD! There is a reason it is preferred by real life operators (at least according to my nephew who was a Marine Sgt. in Afghanistan). It even preforms well from 12" barrels. Don't get me wrong, I'm not even a 'wannabe' operator. I'm just an old, busted up 'usetobe" ex-military and retired LEO - that believes in peace through superior firepower!

Last edited by imarangemaster; 06-19-2017 at 2:06 PM..
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Old 06-23-2017, 6:46 AM
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Mr RangeMaster, "a man after my own heart" the AR180 was my first AW long gun I ever bought! Way back in the 80's. I still brag about it to this day to my two sons, on its reliability and accuracy. 3' inch groups at 100 yards all day long. Reading your article gives me hope to one day change its format to commiefornia compliant, to once again enjoy that badboy!, And show these youngsters that ol' school firearms are nothing to laugh at. To this day I would first rather pick up that 180 over their HK MR'S, Scars, galil's, Super V's and finally steyer aug's. Thanks again for your article.

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Old 06-23-2017, 6:57 AM
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Originally Posted by HKfan7 View Post
Mr RangeMaster, "a man after my own heart" the AR180 was my first AW long gun I ever bought! Way back in the 80's. I still brag about it to this day to my two sons, on its reliability and accuracy. 3' inch groups at 100 yards all day long. Reading your article gives me hope to one day change its format to commiefornia compliant, to once again enjoy that badboy!, And show these youngsters that ol' school firearms are nothing to laugh at. To this day I would first rather pick up that 180 over their HK MR'S, Scars, galil's, Super V's and finally steyer aug's. Thanks again for your article.

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Thank you, Sir! I agree. It is piston drive, has a heavy BCG that aids feeding, has clearances like an AK for dirt and debris, and is very accurate. The folding stock, though not as rugged as a FAL's, is better than the plastic crap on some expensive rifles now. The AR18 was the basis for Britains L85 bullpup, and the only problems they had with it were areas where they modified away from the Armalite design.

i really feel that if they had used standard un-modified AR mags for the 180 back then, it would have flourished. The AR180B was too little, too late. A poorly designed polymer receiver prone to breaking killed it.

I just got a Stormwerks scope mount and a cheap, armored 4X. I run iron sights, but want a 4x to pop on sometimes for coyote busting. The AR180 scope mount design absolutely re-zeros every time.
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