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Jo6pak
July 5, 2012, 06:25 PM
A recent post about "the other Armalite rifle" brought to mind a conversation I had with a few shooting buddies a while back.

The real history (condensed)
After the AR-15 was adopted and the patent was sold to Colt, the engineers at Armalite started work on another rifle with an eye on the export market. This rifle was to become the AR-18.
More info > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armalite_AR-18.

So here is the "possible history."

In the early days of it's adoption and use in Vietnam, the M-16 is plagued by issues (for reasons which are widely known and are not important to this discussion.) So, the government does what governments do, they over-react and go to a knee-jerk reaction of dumping the entire M-16 platform. They look around and find Armalite's other design in the AR-18 and decide to go with that design.

And here is the hypothetical discussion.

If the AR-18 was adopted by the US military, would it have seen the same success as the AR-15/M16? Would we still be using it 50 years later? If so, would we have all the variants and options available as we do for the AR15?

I'll hold my opinion for now, as to leave it open for a free discussion. I'd like to keep this from becoming another "AR15 vs the world" bickerfest. What I'm really looking for is opinions from true students of military weapons and those who have hands on experience with both the AR18/AR180 and M16/AR15.

Let the games begin..

5.56RifleGuy
July 5, 2012, 10:06 PM
I think we would still be using it.

It was basically designed to steal the contract from colt by being cheaper and easier to produce.

The reason we didn't end up using it is likely the same reason if we had settled on it originally it would still be around.

There hasn't been much to come about that offers that much of an advantage to justify the cost of switching.

The military had just bought a butt load of m16's. They weren't going to turn around and buy another in a few years.

Eghad
July 6, 2012, 03:24 AM
Blame the Air Force and General LeMay and Robert McNamara

The first M16s were shipped to the troops with no instruction on maintenance or lubrication and little cleaning supplies and no chrome lined chamber. Mix that with a wet tropical climate and you have trouble. Plus the powder used in the ammo was causing problems. Once the self inflicted problems were corrected it became a more reliable rifle.

I started out my Military Service with the M16A1 and then the A2. Retired before the M4s were issued. I have a couple of AR 15 Carbines now. Never had any trouble then or now. Do proper maintenance, cleaning and lube and they are reliable. Mine even love the steel cased stuff. I now use Slip Carbon Killer and EWL lube instead of CLP.

BlueTrain
July 6, 2012, 07:22 AM
It is an interesting question but like all "what if" questions, the answers will all be "sure, why not?" variations. One thing you might say is that, once large procurement of the AR-15 began, there probably wasn't going to be any turning back. Besides, other things were happening at the same time.

The AR-18 was not the only other 5.56mm rifle out there and the Stoner rifle had a leg up on the AR-18, in a manner of speaking. Eugene Stoner had a hand in developing all of these rifles. The thing is, the Stoner weapons system was purchased in some quantity and was actually used in Vietnam, where I believe the AR-18 was not. By the way, the British actually began acquiring AR-15s before the US Army did and they were manufactured by Colt. So anything else would have had an uphill battle for marketing. That's one reason small arms seem to leapfrog over improved designs. They will not be replaced until they begin to be more of a maintenance headache than a useful weapon and actually need to be replaced. That doesn't mean newer acquisitions of the current standard rifle or other weapon won't incorporate any improvements, provided they don't result in something so different that it's basically a different weapon. There have been more cases of current weapons being modified to use a new cartridge than there have been of new weapons being adopted that use the old cartridge.

But to answer the hypothetical question, I'd say that if it had been, it would have.

Skans
July 6, 2012, 07:46 AM
When it comes to (US) government, its all about which is cheaper to produce and cheaper to maintain. The AR18's are durable and reliable - and they fire the same round, 5.56. I think the only drawback is that the barrels may be a bit harder to swap. But, AR barrels are not a 2-minute swap in the field either. I used to see tons of AR-180's kicked around at gun shows; not so many anymore. Wish I bought one when I could get a good one for $500.

Slamfire
July 6, 2012, 08:35 AM
If the AR-18 was adopted by the US military, would it have seen the same success as the AR-15/M16? Would we still be using it 50 years later? If so, would we have all the variants and options available as we do for the AR15?

So, the government does what governments do, they over-react and go to a knee-jerk reaction of dumping the entire M-16 platform. They look around and find Armalite's other design in the AR-18 and decide to go with that design.
You are incorrect in your assumption that the Army/Navy/Air Force over reacting and dumping an errant major program. Instead the opposite was true and is true, the DoD always circles the wagons around a non performing program and protects it to the bitter end.

Once the Army became “a little pregnant” with the M16, it fought for it more fiercely than a Lioness protecting its young. You can see that in the Icord report on the M16: the Army defends the M16 and Colt Industries all the way.

It takes an very dedicated effort by a Secretary of Defense fighting Congress to cancel a major weapon systems acquisition, and it takes years and billions of cost over runs for a major weapon system to be canceled.

Here is an example, program supposed to the 5 billion, best estimates to complete 15 Billion, the program is canceled after wasting $2.9 billion.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/washington/11satellite.html?pagewanted=all#step1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Imagery_Architecture


these show the problems the Army went through fixing M16 issues:


Report of the M16 Review Panel Appendix 4 Appendix 4 Ammunition Development Program.
Report of the M16 Rifle Review Panel Volume 7 Appendix 6 review and analysis of M16 System Reliability.
Report of the M16 Review Panel Appendix 5 Procurement
Report of the M16 Review Panel Appendix 7 Vietnam Surveys
Report of the M16 Panel appendix 10 the small arms program
Report of the M16 Review Panel Summary Report.

Go to http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/index.html, type in the name of the report, and there it all is.

So why are those reports relevant?: What you see are problems that pop out once an under developed system hits the real world.

And absolutely implicit in your assumption, just as it was in the early proponents of the M16, is that the AR18 was a fully developed system, wilth all the kinks and strange things worked out.

And I am positive the AR18 was no more a fully developed weapon than the M16, and I am 100% certain that having been burnt on that issue, the Secretary of Defense was no more interested in buying another pig in the poke rifle.

So given the institutional reaction to circle the wagons and once burnt, twice shy, there was no way anyone was going to adopt something new.

Brian Pfleuger
July 6, 2012, 09:13 AM
Please answer the question gentlemen. Whether or not the circumstances of the question would have come about is irrelevent.

IF the AR-18 had been adopted, would it still be in use? Would it be as versatile? Would it have as much after-market support?

The validity of the supposition is NOT the question.

Slamfire
July 6, 2012, 01:32 PM
Regardless of which service rifle is adopted by our military, the civilian market wants it and wants gadgets to fit.


I would rather live in the alternate universe where the M14 is still our service rifle.

BlueTrain
July 6, 2012, 02:05 PM
We're all dying to hear your opinion now, Mr. Jo6pak. Say, are you by any chance Czech?

Well, to make another puncture at your original question, I would have to say that the chances of them retaining the AR-18 would have been less than 50/50 for this reason. If they were willing to replace the AR-15 when it had only been in service a relatively short time, they would presumably be more willing to replace it in turn when something better came along, if anything did. Even so, the M14 was replaced relatively quickly, although other rifles were replaced even more quickly.

Regarding the AR18 itself, what does versatile mean in such a rifle? Accessories for the AR15 can be fitted to just about any rifle without all that much effort or imagination. So I don't think those two elements even make a difference.

Crow Hunter
July 6, 2012, 03:13 PM
I think it would depend on whether the upper or the lower was the serialized part and whether it had the same push pin change ability.

Much of the modularity with the AR series in the civilian world is the fact that you can change anything as long as the lower receiver is the same and you can do so with just pushing out some pins.

If I remember correctly, it was manufactured using stampings. That would be another minus because stampings, while a simple process, requires specialized machinery that are not as easy to control quality on as a milled forging and probably would not have gained as much benefit from the CNC technology as the AR series has.

Also, if history is any indication, the rifles would have ben just as, if not more problematic than the AR series. The civilian versions seemed to have been hit or miss on the quality scene.

But I don't have first hand knowledge of this, just hearsay related to collectors talking about the various generations of the AR-180 production and problems there-in.

James K
July 6, 2012, 03:27 PM
ANY rifle adopted as standard by the U.S. military is going to have a very high level of civilian interest (at least as long as we are free to own guns), and there will be civilian versions with gadgets, "improvements", etc.

It has happened with every cartridge rifle since the trapdoor and would certainly have happened with the AR-18 as well.

I own an AR-180 (the semi-auto version of the AR-18) and IMHO it is a better military rifle than the AR-15/M16 with the exception of the original folding stock connection. It was designed to be inexpensive, so long term durability was not as much of a concern, since in quantity production, the Army could have bought four AR-18's for the price of one AR-15. In other words, it could have come close to being a "throwaway" gun.

The AR-18 was designed not so much for overseas sales as for overseas manufacture. It can be made with machines available in almost any country, using only ordinary stamping and welding equipment with some lathe work, unlike the AR-15/M16 which requires expensive and high tech forging and milling machines.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about military procurement shown in these posts. I don't suppose it will be possible to change that and I will probably bring a lot of hate down on myself, but some folks just don't understand what the military faces. They think just dropping one rifle and adopting another is like a hunter deciding to buy a new deer rifle.

That simplistic and somewhat childish view, always skewed by politics ("that dastardly President X and his corrupt cronies...."), does not take into consideration the millions of dollars spent long before a new rifle is adopted or all the considerations that go into the decision(s) that are made. Some decisions are political in one sense. When the U.S. Marines landed in Lebanon in 1958 with M1 rifles the U.S. was the laughing stock of the world. (Hell, even the kindergarten class at the local school had selective fire AK-47's, and one of the world's super powers could give their elite troops only WWII leftovers.)

The first result was the quick adoption of the M14, which everyone in the military knew was a stopgap. Not only was it heavy but it was uncontrollable in full auto fire and still looked like a Model T Ford next to the AK. So the Army tried to find a controllable, selective fire rifle. Enter Gene Stoner with the AR-10 and AR-15.

Now it would probably have made more sense just to adopt the AK-47 and pay royalties to Russia, but the chances of that happening were between none and none. But the light bullet and high velocity of the AR-15 looked like a good choice, and the M16 is controllable in a way the M14 could never have been.

Obviously, there were many mistakes made with the early deployment of the M16, and tragically, some Americans lost their lives because of mistakes, sometimes their own. But once the military spent the billions of dollars in contracting, paying for large scale production facilities, writing contracts, fighting with Congress, insuring that the districts of powerful Senators and Representatives got a piece of the action, getting manuals printed and trainers trained, making sure spare parts and accessories were available, and the whole nine yards of logistics and supply issues resolved, the idea that they would just trash the M16 and start over because someone in 2012 might think they should is laughable. They were stuck with what they had. True, the problems were mostly fixable and, in truth, have been fixed.

But there are still old folks in the "nothing but blue steel and American walnut" crowd who hate the M16 and everything about it. And will trumpet every story about its problems even if the stories are lies told by armchair generals who have never served a day in the armed forces.

True, the M16 did not get off to a good start. But it has proved to be a pretty good rifle and has served well in our recent conflicts.

Every time I read or hear about how bad the M16/M4 is, I am reminded of the stories about how bad the new rifle was - inaccurate, defective, prone to break, nothing but a bullet squirter, etc. The new rifle was the M1.

And then there was the junker rifle that was no good, inaccurate, too heavy, tinny, not graceful, etc. That was the M1903 Springfield.

Every generation of gun fans seems destined to have its own military rifle to hate, while the next will revere it.

Jim

Jimro
July 6, 2012, 03:31 PM
Since my last two posts were lost to the aether I'll try again.

If the AR-18 was adopted by the US military, would it have seen the same success as the AR-15/M16? Would we still be using it 50 years later? If so, would we have all the variants and options available as we do for the AR15?

Well lets read the tea leaves....

No, the AR18 would have been replaced relatively quickly. The stamped metal receiver of the M60 was replaced by the milled and riveted receiver of the M240. The stamped receiver of the M249 is being phased out by the USMC. The US Military for some reason adopts first gen stamped weapon (first gen for the US military anyways) and then moves on to something forged or milled.


I'll hold my opinion for now, as to leave it open for a free discussion. I'd like to keep this from becoming another "AR15 vs the world" bickerfest. What I'm really looking for is opinions from true students of military weapons and those who have hands on experience with both the AR18/AR180 and M16/AR15.

Opinions on alternate history are just as valid from an "expert" as well as an "idiot." Things outside the realm of reality are definitely not worth bickering over.

Jimro

Jo6pak
July 6, 2012, 04:54 PM
The validity of the supposition is NOT the question.

Thanks Brian for stearing this one back on course.

We're all dying to hear your opinion now, Mr. Jo6pak. Say, are you by any chance Czech?

:confused:, No, American. No hyphens, just an American.
My intent was to stimulate a discussion. If I had offered my opinion outright, the desire would not be to discuss openly, but to argue or debate my premise.

Opinions on alternate history are just as valid from an "expert" as well as an "idiot." Things outside the realm of reality are definitely not worth bickering over.

OK, so if this thread is beneath you, feel free to exit the discussion. Some folks like to use their imagination and intellect at the same time, others do not. Leave us "idiots" be:p

Jo6pak
July 6, 2012, 05:38 PM
This thread almost prefectly mirrors the discussion we had on the subject. Some guys figured it would have been replaced rather quickly, and others (myself included) beleive that is is quite likely that, if adopted, the AR18 would still be with us 50 years later

Without getting into an endless debate of which rifle is better, the fact is that the AR18 shares many of the attributes that make the M16 so versatile.
1. The design of the lower and upper recievers makes both rifles very easy to customize to the deisred role.
2. Optics, rails, can be easily mounted without interfering with the functioning bits.

That is my opinion (which is worth just as much as you paid for it.):p

It's not really a question of AR18 vs AR15. It's a question of what else would have been available in the last 50 years.


And yes, the stamped M60 was replaced by the FN MAG(M240) but look how many years it was in service before "the pig" was taken to market.

Jimro
July 6, 2012, 07:47 PM
Joe I think you find insult where none was intended.

To get into some more actual history to compare to unrealized potential history....

The Pig and the M16 were introduced around the same time. The 240G coaxial machine gun has been with us for a long time and the phase out of the M60 happened since then (mid 80s, about the same timeline as the M16A2). The 240L is lagging behind the M4, but seems to be coming along the same timeline as the M4A1.

Had the AR18 gone through the same process of "upgrades" as the M16 it would be on the 5th generation of hardware upgrades from the original package. However, it should be noted that the "upgrades" for the M16 have largely flowed from the civilian shooting community to the military (match ammunition, red dot and halo sights, ACOGs, accessory rails replacing handguards).

But, if the AR18 followed the same path as the Pig it would have begun replacement by the mid 80s with a complete phase out by the end of the 1990s for active duty. However the M249 has had two upgrade packages since introduction, and only the USMC is moving away from it as an automatic rifle.

If we take a look at the Soviet analog to the AR18, the AK we see the evolution from 47 to 74 to AK-101 over a period of 50 plus years, so refinement of a rifle system does happen. Our own M14 got new life as the EBR due to ONS put forth by units, the first real upgrade in half a decade that flowed from the civilian shooting community to the military. So three upgrades for the AK, two upgrades for the M14, and 5 for the M16 all along the same timeframe.

So we see the most drive for improvements came to the system that had the most civilian shooters driving improvements. Would the AR18 get the same support? I don't know, the M1A didn't get that support but the AR-15 did.

As a complete civilian analog, the Ruger 10/22 was never adopted by the US Military but enjoys a plethora of aftermarket support. The Mini-14 has some support as well. What separates those from the AR18 is commercial success. I bet thirty years down the line someone else will be having this conversation about the Keltec SU16 and RFB and wondering why the .mil didn't jump on those weapon systems as clearly superior.

Jimro

Jo6pak
July 6, 2012, 09:30 PM
Great points, and I have to agree with most of the basic logic.

I guess the true question comes down to "the chicken or the egg" type questions. Military adoption and success fuels civilian interest, then civilian developments add to the evolution of the weapon, which in turn increases the capabilities to the military, which increases it's popularity, etc.
I believe this same situation would have improved the AR18 along the same lines and qluite possibly kept it in service until today.

I suppose it's possible to wholly remove the AR18 from the discussion and expand it to virtually any rifle that could possibly be adopted by the military. We could substitute Stoner's M63 system or even the Winchester .224 light rifle. Is it an issue of military adoption beginning the whole affair?

The stamped metal vs. machined/cast construction was never brought up in the original discussion, and is an interesting angle indeed. I'll have to bring that up next time we are talking guns. It is possible that the lower cost of manufacture may offset the increased rate of replacement.

Jimro
July 6, 2012, 09:52 PM
Is it an issue of military adoption beginning the whole affair?

I think rephrasing the question this way, "Would the AR-15 have been a successful platform had the US military not adopted it?" is a better way to get to an answer. And the answer is "no" as without several million men and women getting trained on the platform there would have been extremely limited market desires for an underpowered varmint rifle that can't legally take deer in a number of states.

What you see with all military rifles is that veterans get out, and because of familiarity through service gravitate towards a service rifle (or civilian equivalent). The 30-06 soared in popularity after WWI, the Garand soared in popularity after WWII, the M1A soared in popularity, and the AR-15 soared in popularity after the Gulf War (large flux of vets to the civilian population combined with the AWB making AR's sexy and taboo).

Now if we look at the Johnson rifle, it was not successful, but nor was it ever really offered in a civilian equivalent. The SEALs and their flat sided CAR-15s aren't any more popular than a modern M4gery (a cosmetic detail at best I suppose). The M1 Carbine didn't last in the civilian market either (although there have been a number of production runs over the years).

But if you look at popular civilian rifles, the Ruger 10/22, Mini-14, or Marlin 60, you see that they are popular despite a military pedigree (although the Mini could be argued to be based on the M14/Garand family). Why the Mini-14 is successful and the AR-18 isn't? Probably because Ruger had enough institutional inertia and a diverse enough product line to survive in the rather whimsical American gun market. I mean 20 years ago who would have predicted a resurgence of the 45-70 in popularity?

So I can't say that the AR18 would have followed the exact path of the M16 in upgrades (the Garand had upgrades, cut op rod, gas trap to gas port are the two biggest that come to mind). But, if all the other history stayed the same then a barrel with a 1:7 twist would have had to happen at some point to handle the tracers. So for sure there would have been an AR18A1.

Jimro

BlueTrain
July 7, 2012, 05:53 AM
You have some good points, Mr. Jimro, though I do not completely agree with all of them. However, the case of the Johnson rifle and machine gun are especially valid in this discussion and as a matter of fact are remarkably similiar to the Stoner 63. They were both acquired and used and for whatever reason, did not endure to remain in service. Although the M14 was eventually replaced by the M16 series, it could be said to remain in service.

The .30-06 cartridge was popular among civilians even before the M1 was adopted but that's the case of the cartridge. But just the same, the 7.62 NATO going under the name .308 Winchester was almost immediately successful as a civilian hunting cartridge long before the Springfield Armory M1A came on the scene. While the popularity of the M1 may have soared after WWII, I don't know when they became available or common. The M1 was still on issue in the 1970s in the National Guard. In fact, it's hard to see that there were enough around to sell to civilians since they were still being manufactured in the 1950s. However, they were showing up in magazine ads by 1959, with prices averaging about $100, more than double the price of a 1903 Springfield. I seem to recall seeing more references to carbines at the time. I suppose they didn't cost as much but I don't see any listed in my stock of old gun magazines. I'll have to check National Geographic just in case.

While we're on the subject of those particular guns, it is interesting that no aftermarket accessories ever developed for them to speak of, although the carbine inspired some copies and similiar rifles, some uninspired. Neither lent themselves to being sporterized either, that is, I've never seen one that was. So I imagine the accessory thing came later. I am tempted to say that it developed in the army itself, what with all the optical equipment that became available.

I think the logic concerning stamped versus milled parts if flawed. There is the suggestion that a gun starts with a milled basis, then goes to a stamped basis, because it's easier and cheaper. I don't thinkk that follows. The AK-47, which has had a certain amount of field use, was originally a milled receiver. Later ones were stamped. You can argue which is better and you can also argue whether it is a refinement or just a change. No doubt there are Russian gun enthusiasts who talk about "pre-1965 AK-47s" or some other year like that. There are Russian gun enthusiasts and they can even buy SKS rifles. But I stray from the topic. A stamped received is not necessarily one thing or the other. The design may or may not lend itself to a stamped receiver and an AR-15 does not appear that it would.

The question of whether or not the AR-15 would have become popular without the military adopting it (our military, that is) is a good one, though off the topic. I'd say it only may have. The AR-10 did not, in spite of being actually adopted and produced in some quantity. If it were select fire, that would be a problem. Remember also, the AR-15 created and popularized the .223/5.56 (don't talk about how they aren't the same). The first AR-15s were produced in .222 Remington but someone thought that wasn't good enough, so the .223 was developed just for that rifle. What would we have had instead of the .223?

Jo6pak
July 7, 2012, 10:06 AM
I think rephrasing the question this way, "Would the AR-15 have been a successful platform had the US military not adopted it?" is a better way to get to an answer. And the answer is "no" as without several million men and women getting trained on the platform there would have been extremely limited market desires.....

I agree and I think we've come full circle in the discussion. And changing up your question a bit, gets us back to the AR-18
Would the AR-18 have been successful if the US military did adopt it?

Jimro's analogy to the Mini-14 also brings up the issues that has plagued the AR-18. The AR-18 never had the support of a major manufacturer and suffered inconsistent manufacture and quality control. It was a virtual foster child design, moving from one home to another and never having the support or structure to further evolve the design. Military adoption by even a medium sized military or security force could have given it a place to realize it's potential.

And I, as a fan of the rifle, would have loved to see that:)

BlueTrain
July 7, 2012, 12:13 PM
You didn't exactly ask if the AR-18 would have had commercial success in the US civilian market if the army had adopted it, though it is a good question. It's hard to say, for a couple of reasons.

First, as long as we're in a hypothetical world, as we often are, it is also a matter of what else it out there competing in the marketplace, at least in that particular market niche. But it was a while before the AR-15 really took off in the market, meaning when it was offered by a multitude of manufacturers. I owned once about 30 years ago myself and I think that was about the time they really became popular. Colt was just about it at the time.

But generally speaking, adoption by the army, however controversial, seems to result in increased consumer interest in that particular gun, speaking only of guns. It also doesn't seem to make a lot of difference how long that particular gun was in service, although the more there are of them, the longer the interest will otherwise be sustained, if you follow me. The adoption of the AR-15 was somewhat controversial, especially 20 or 30 years after the fact, but nowhere near as controversial as the adoption of a new pistol. Yet the new pistol is as popular as anything could hope to be, or so it seems to me. It probably made the old pistol more popular, too, in a strange sort of way.

What the army was doing with its new rifle in the meantime would also have a bearing on the success of the rifle, too. If all of the wars it was fighting were map exercises and simulation games, the rifle wouldn't have to face the sorts of varied experiences of real combat and the shortcomings would not be so obvious. Usually shortcomings in your own weapons are only apparent when you face someone who has significantly better weapons and even in real life that doesn't seem to have happened since before WWII or earlier. When the British went up against the Boers, it was obvious that you really had to have a clip fed rifle or you just hopelessly old-fashioned. Even then firepower meant something.

jason41987
July 7, 2012, 01:18 PM
ok.. if the AR-18 was adopted, would we still be using it?... people buy up whatever military issue rifles they can.. if the US standard issue was the AR18, i think it would have had sales similar to the AR15 because of it.. and because of these sales, and the popularity that comes with it, the AR18 would have had a HUGE aftermarket backing for it....

the AR18 like the original M16A1 was just the original model, through the years it would have had upgrades here and there as the design became more and more battle proven...

my evidence that the AR18 could be changed into a more modern, more versitile, more scalable and expandable rifle lays with its closest decendant, the japanese howa type 89..

the japanese howa type 89 is essentially what we're speculating and with the aftermarket of new grips, upper receivers, stocks, forarms, it would have enjoyed similar success as the AR15 platform..

remember, the AR15 though quite modular and expandable still has its downsides as well, for example, the inability to accept a folding stock

in my opinion, the AR18 could be made every bit as modular and tacticool as the ACR and SCAR rifles if it had the after market support for it.. i can imagine ambidextrous buttons, levers, full rail upper receivers, quad rail forearms, stocks that fold, and adjust for length and comb, a variety of cutom grips....

so yes... if the AR18 had become military issue, i think it would have evolved into something the US military would still have.. in fact, i hope someone starts making these again, if they dont id do it myself if i could find the blueprints

HiBC
July 7, 2012, 01:19 PM
I have owned two AR-180's,so long ago that the last one was $175 new in the box,and 5.56 ammo was plentiful in the 3 cent a round price range.

That is another way of saying memory is slightly fuzzy.

First was a Costa Mesa,second a Sterling.

They were both good rifles,very dependable,I liked both of them.

I was not a big fan of the folding stock,but,there is the M-16 vs M-4 Humvee factor.

The 180 has one l.o.p.I like the variable l.o.p of the AR telescoping stock.They did not use so much body armor back in 180 days

The AR-180 mixes some M-3 Grease gun tech with some AK-47 tech Stoner style.

Back then,there were not so many CNC machines,and the ran on paper punch tape..just as back then,folks at universities still used slide rules and computer work was about boxes of punch cards.

In a machine shop,the stamped blanks would be drilled on gang drill presses with fixtures that had drill bushings to locate the holes.

The technology has evolved.CNC machining forgings gives a lighter,stronger,more precise platform.That spot welded tapered dovetail optic mout was cool...if it was precise.The optic,OK,a BDC knob,hanging post 4x semi-cheap scope,but no mounting versatility.

Look at what the modernization projects do to the M-14;put rails on it.

The tack driver aspect of the AR is largely about free float.I wont say an AR180 can't be free floated,but there is an integrated design with how the bolt guide rods telescope into the forend and hold it on,giving access to the gas piston.

To sum up,no dis to the 180,but to this day,the AR is suited to the efficiency and precision of modern CNC mfg methods.Stamping and spot welding is limiting,and stone knives and bearskins technology.

We are better off with what we have,and likely,the newer mfg techniques would have been applied to a new platform ,so,no,I do not think the 180 would have survived.

jason41987
July 7, 2012, 01:19 PM
you know what... lets all get AR18s and revive the design, and the aftermarket.. whos with me?

Jimro
July 7, 2012, 07:33 PM
You can argue which is better and you can also argue whether it is a refinement or just a change. No doubt there are Russian gun enthusiasts who talk about "pre-1965 AK-47s" or some other year like that. There are Russian gun enthusiasts and they can even buy SKS rifles. But I stray from the topic. A stamped received is not necessarily one thing or the other. The design may or may not lend itself to a stamped receiver and an AR-15 does not appear that it would.

I'm not arguing forging is better than stamping or MIM or whatever. I just happened to have a few real world examples of the military going away from stampings to forgings. Like I wrote before, this is all supposition anyways and not worth bickering over.

As far as the 30-06 increasing in popularity, please note that I specifically mentioned WWI. Lots of returning Doughboys were fond of the 30-06 as they trained on the 1903 Springfield and 1917 Enfield. The Remington Model 30 seemed to be popular for a few years there... It was WWII that would introduce a whole crop of Servicemembers to self loading rifles.

Jimro

Crosshair
July 7, 2012, 10:09 PM
Jimro's analogy to the Mini-14 also brings up the issues that has plagued the AR-18. The AR-18 never had the support of a major manufacturer and suffered inconsistent manufacture and quality control.
That right there I think is the reason why the Mini survived in the market and the AR-18 largely did not.

BlueTrain
July 8, 2012, 06:31 AM
You are correct, Mr. Jimro, I misread your post and saw WWI as WWII. In fact I believe it (the .30-06) was becoming popular even before that war. Townsend Whelen, when he was still a lieutenant, favored the round.

Another good question would be if the US had decided to adopt a different rifle to replace the M16, in this case the AR18, might they have taken the opportunity to introduce a new cartridge? I actually think the controversy over the cartridge (for an army rifle) came later; the original controversy was over the rifle itself more so than the cartridge. At the time (the 1970s), it had not yet become a NATO standard, so there would not have been that to consider. But there were not yet all the alternatives on the market claiming to be the next big thing in infantry rifles. What do you think about that?

Jo6pak
July 8, 2012, 08:41 AM
jason41987 speaks exactly to the points that I am trying to convey. I believe the AR-18 would have evolved along the same lines as the M16 platform.

HiBC brings up the point of accuracy. I've had a bit of trigger time with an old buddy's Sterling built AR-180. Accuracy was good, about inline with other combat style 5.56mm rifles. Probably 2-3moa. Not as good as a free-floated AR-15, but then the miiltary doesn't use or need the tack-driver accuaracy of a free floated rifle. To the civilian market tho, the AR-15 does have the edge there, as it would be quite difficult (if not impossible)difficult to free float the AR18 bbl.

you know what... lets all get AR18s and revive the design, and the aftermarket.. whos with me?

:)

Jimro
July 8, 2012, 11:13 AM
Another good question would be if the US had decided to adopt a different rifle to replace the M16, in this case the AR18, might they have taken the opportunity to introduce a new cartridge? I actually think the controversy over the cartridge (for an army rifle) came later; the original controversy was over the rifle itself more so than the cartridge. At the time (the 1970s), it had not yet become a NATO standard, so there would not have been that to consider. But there were not yet all the alternatives on the market claiming to be the next big thing in infantry rifles. What do you think about that?

Lets start by taking a look at what did happen, so we can look at what might have happened with some sort of framework. We know the Brits were looking at a 7mm round, but we also know that the studies being done at the time on WWII ammunition expenditures were pointing to "more bullets = more lethality" as a doctrine to support fire and maneuver. So whatever bullet adopted it would have been smaller and lighter than the 7.62x51. For the purposes of making things easy I'm going to consider the 222 Rem, 223 Rem, and 222 Rem Mag as one and the same from a developmental point of view.

If you ever get the chance to visit the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, there is (or used to be) a section on experimental and test weapons that the Army looked at. The number of AR-15 based variants is pretty spectacular when you think about how quickly the design started to get messed with.

As a complete side note: A lot of folks don't know that a bone stock Browning BAR in 300 Win Mag was put through the Sniper Rifle trials in the mid 1980s. The Army led the way on that one, but it took decades for FN to market a precision rifle based on the BAR action, the FNAR.

However if we ignore the "not invented here" problem (the .mil is getting better at this, the last three pistols we adopted have been foreign design, the M9, M11, and Mk45 and the 240B and 249 are both Belgian) we can take a look at what else was "state of the art" in the late 1950s. Specifically we can take a look at the G3. Designed in Germany and Spain it is still in service today, and the G3A4 is analogous to the "upgrades" done to the M16 series to produce the M4.

Conversely, this is something that we don't see happen with the FAL.

Given the powder technology of the era a 55gr bullet at 3,300 fps must have seemed like a good compromise. Although we are seeing some nifty rounds being chambered in AR-10s now (6.5 Creedmoor for example) and different options for the AR-15 (6x45, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, 204 Ruger, 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM, 300 Blackout) you have to realize that those rounds wouldn't exist except for the perceived inadequacy of 5.56x45 (although the 6x45 did have a short run as a poor mans benchrest round in the early 1980s, taking over from the old 222 Rem as the poor mans benchrest round). The AR10 has actually skated back on the popularity of the AR15, due largely to the perceived inadequacy of the 5.56.

So, to sum it up, if the .mil had decided on something other than 5.56x45, it would still be smaller and lighter than 7.62x51. If that hypothetical cartridge followed a similar path of the 5.56 it would have been necked up for "increased lethality" a la the 6x45 and 300 Blackout, or necked down to create a screaming varmint cartridge like the 204 Ruger. However, the "varmint" development specifically takes advantage of the AR15's ability to free float a barrel, something the AR18 doesn't do well, so it is plausible that "necking down" the service round wouldn't have happened for the AR18.

Next, the "necking up" for lethality, or creating new brass cases (such as the Grendel or 6.8 SPC) would likely have happened to support hunting IF the hypothetical cartridge was under 24 caliber (minimum to hunt in some states). I can't say what would have happened with any real certainty here, as the 6.5 also takes advantage of the AR15s ability to easily free float for long range accuracy.

Personally I would have started with the Czech 7.62x45 cartridge, necked it down to 25 caliber or 26 caliber and called it good. Lighter than 7.62x51, smaller in diameter for both brass and bullet, good penetration on large game (and humans) and even with the ability to launch some light projectiles very fast. Of course that would require a longer and slightly wider mag well than what either the AR15 or AR18 has.

I guess looking at the caliber selection, and specifically the accuracy portion of it that gives another nod to the AR15 as to why it was commercially successful. It is easy to make an accurate AR, it is much more difficult to make an accurate M1A. Since the AR18 is more like the M1A we might see civilian caliber adoption move along at that pace (not a lot of M1A's chambered in anything but 7.62x51) instead of the multiple choice option of the AR15.

But this is all supposition, so take it with a grain of salt.

Jimro

BlueTrain
July 8, 2012, 12:46 PM
Well, this is all speculation, so everything's fair game.

You make some good points. I think all rifles manufactured since WWII are still in service somewhere and some from even before the end of the war. WWII manufactured Stg-44s (MP 44) still turn up in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, the first FALs were designed around that same cartridge but because of the influence of the United States, that went nowhere. So the world got the 7.62 NATO. Not a bad cartridge at all but not suitable for replacing everything else. Perhaps the desirability of replacing everything with a single cartridge is overrated. If that had not been a (theoretical) requirement, maybe things would have turned out differently, although I have no idea just how.

Thinking of the AR18 in a different caliber makes it more interesting. I already mentioned, I think, how the original AR15 was in .222 Remington. My reference also lists .224 Winchester, which I know nothing about. That may be something like the .256 magnum, which disappeared almost before it showed up on the shelf, just like the 9mm Federal.

I think it interesting the way you point out that the popularity of the AR-15 has brought about a renewed interest (and production) of the AR-10, the antecedent of the AR-15. However, I do not know how soon after the AR-10 the AR-15 was produced. For what it's worth, I don't see much advantage of the AR-10 over the M-14 except for a slight weight savings of about 25 oz. Now the AR-15 is significantly lighter than most contemporary rifles (the M1 carbine is even lighter), that is, until all those accessories are attached.

Of course, a different cartridge probably wouldn't make any difference in whether or not the AR-18 would have made it big time or not.