The Sexy Retro Shorty: Original AR-180 Police Carbine

When Armalite designed the AR-180, they needed a factory to produce it, as their own production capacity was limited. Initially a license was granted to How in Japan, but this only lasted a few years before US involvement in the Vietnam War led Japan to cease allowing arms to be shipped to the US. In 1974, Armalite instead gave the production lice to Sterling in the UK. Sterling made a total of 12,368 AR-180 rifles, or which 10,946 were sent to the US.

In addition to standard rifles, Sterling also made a carbine version. The barrel was shortened to 10.5 inches and the gas system and handguard shortened to match. A small conical flash hider was added, and sometimes a vertical front grip. The action and stock remained identical to the standard rifle. Both semiauto and full auto carbines were made, with the semiauto ones being numbered SS225 through SS334 and the full auto ones AS001 through AS327. Few (if any) of the carbines went to the US because of their short barrel status, and most were sold in the UK – like the ones we are looking at today.


  1. An autocorrect typo. Because it’s an actual word, it gets missed by the author. Also note the license was granted to How, rather than Howa. I doubt either had very many lice involved in production or even design.

  2. Youtube says “Sign in to confirm age – This video may be inappropriate for some users.” – ridiculous nonsense.

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