ArmaLite AR-18

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ArmaLite AR-18 – 5.56x45mm
ArmaLite AR-18 with 30-round magazine – 5.56x45mm
AR-18 fitted with scope with stock folded – 5.56x45mm
AR-18 with scope and sling fitted – 5.56x45mm
AR-180B – 5.56x45mm

The AR-18 is an American assault rifle developed in the early 1960s as a low-cost alternative to the AR-15 (a design originally from ArmaLite but later sold to Colt) and was produced by ArmaLite in the U.S. and manufactured via contract by Sterling of England and Howa of Japan. The AR-18 is a 5.56x45mm select-fire assault rifle that used simple stampings for ease of manufacture. The semi-automatic civilian version of the rifle is called the AR-180.

Hoping to capture the third-world market as an alternative to the more expensive M16 assault rifle, ArmaLite was set for a disappointment when the U.S. Government commissioned, bought, and then gave away hundreds of thousands of M16s during the course of the 1960s and 1970s (to stem the tide of Communists arming "their side" with free weapons). ArmaLite discontinued AR-18 production in the late 1970s. Although never adopted officially by any armed forces, it did somewhat serve as a testbed for weapons such as the Sterling SAR-87, SA80, SR-88, H&K G36 etc. The AR-18 was notoriously supplied underground to the Irish Republican Army hence the Armalite and Ballot Box strategy and remains an enduring symbol of the 1970s and 1980s period of The Troubles.

Between 2001 and 2007, ArmaLite manufactured the modernized civilian AR-180B, with a new polymer lower receiver that accepts the vastly more common AR-15/M16 STANAG magazines. The original AR-18/180s has a similar-looking magazine to the AR-15, but it was a proprietary design, and the magazines for the two rifles are NOT interchangeable unless modified; a cut-out space on the magazine to catch in the magazine well was on different sides for each weapon, but a skilled armorer could modify one magazine to fit in the other. The AR-180B also does not come with a side-folding stock, and requires aftermarket parts and modification to have one. The AR-180B has yet to appear in any movies or television shows.

In 2019, Brownells, Inc released a new, modern version of the AR-18 upper receiver known as the BRN-180, utilizing an updated short-stroke piston system found on the AR-18. The BRN-180 is compatible with most common AR-15 lower receivers and can be fired with the stock folded, unlike a standard AR-15.




  • Type: Assault Rifle
  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs (3 kg)
  • Length: 38.2 in (97 cm)
  • Barrel length: 18.3 in (46.4 cm)
  • Feed System: 20-, 30- or 40-round box magazine (AR-18), STANAG Magazines (AR-180B)
  • Fire Modes: Semi-Auto/Full-Auto

The ArmaLite AR-18 and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:


Title Actor Character Note Date
Silver Streak Ray Walston Edgar Whiney 1976
Silver Streak Stefan Gierasch Johnson 1976
Silver Streak Gene Wilder George Caldwell 1976
Silver Streak Patrick McGoohan Roger Devereau 1976
The Enforcer 1976
The Spy Who Loved Me KGB Assassins 1977
Sorcerer Venezuelan soldiers 1977
The Gauntlet Phoenix Police 1977
Stingray (AKA: Abigail Wanted) Sherry Jackson Abigail Bratowski 1978
Good Guys Wear Black Soon-Tek Oh Mhin Van Thieu 1978
Good Guys Wear Black The Black Tigers 1978
For Your Eyes Only Michael Gothard Michael Corben Carbine 1981
An Eye for an Eye SWAT officers 1981
Stripes Capt. Hollister Extended cut 1981
Harry's Game Derek Thompson Billy Downes 1982
Octopussy South American soldiers 1983
The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator 1984
Ninja III: The Domination Jordan Bennett Officer Billy Secord 1984
Hold-Up Montreal SWAT 1985
Water (1985) Bill Bailey Major Hollister AR-180 1985
US soldiers
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! terrorists 1988
In the Name of the Father IRA member 1993
Bad Blood Seen in Chang's headquarters and in gun dealer's car; with M16-style buttstock 1994
Original Gangstas Fred Williamson John Bookman 1996
Godfrey Marcus
Tim Rhoze Blood With sniper scope
Tomorrow Never Dies Pierce Brosnan James Bond 1997
The Last Train Treva Etienne Ark Tribesman 1999
Shergar Andrew Connolly Concannon 1999
Innocent Voices Salvadoran Army soldiers 2004
Serenity Nathan Fillion Mal Reynolds 2005
Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia Colombian Rogue Unit soldier 2009
The Guard 2011
Get the Gringo Mel Gibson The Gringo With scope 2012
Daylight's End survivor 2016
The Foreigner Jackie Chan Ngoc Minh Quan With stock removed and improvised suppressor 2017
IRA members


Show Title Actor Character Note / Episode Air Date
S.W.A.T. Christopher George Mr. Bravo 1975-1976
S.W.A.T. James Coleman Officer T.J. McCabe 1975-1976
S.W.A.T. Mark Shera Officer Dominic Luca 1975-1976
The Professionals Lewis Collins Bodie 1977-1983
The A-Team Ismael Carlo Salvador 1983-1988


Film/Series Title Character Notation Date
Blue Exorcist Konekomaru Howa AR-18, with wood stock 2011
Upotte!! Ichihachi Howa AR-180 2012 - ????

Video Games

Game Title Appears as Mods Notation Release Date
World of Guns: Gun Disassembly Armalite AR-18 Aimpoint sight, classic AR-18 scope and bayonet 2014
Ghost Recon Breakpoint 2019

See Also

  • ArmaLite - A list of all firearms manufactured by ArmaLite.
  • Howa - A list of all firearms manufactured by Howa.

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