History of the American 180

The American 180 was designed and developed in the United States of America in the early 1970's. However, initial production was contracted through an Austrian based company. The finished Austrian Import was brought back into the United States by Christopher and Associates. These early guns were all "Pre-86 Dealer Samples". Christopher and Associates was located in California.

The original market for the American 180 was local Police Departments. A substantial number of guns were sold to the police. Federal and State Penitentiaries were also purchasers of the American 180 for prison population control. When equipped with the Laser-Lok siteing system, it is rumored that the projected red dot tended to have a very calming effect on whomever it came to rest. Many Federal Penitentiaries still have the gun in service, and periodically will exhibit its intimidating firepower to inmates.

Ironically, this same intimidating 1500 rounds per minute (1800 rounds per minute when chambered for .22 short magnum) pounding action of the American 180, which could easily demolish a cinder block wall, also had the power to defeat most soft body armor that certain prison gaurds wear. For this reason, some State Penitentiaries retired the American 180 shortly after they were acquired.

It is interesting to note that in the early years of Austrian production, the only serial number which appeared on the American 180 was on the barrel. The receiver initially contained no serial number. This configuration was approved by ATF for importation into the United States. Later, versions did contain a serial number on the receiver as well as all guns manufactured in the United States.

A group in Salt Lake City, Utah purchased the company and hence American Arms International was formed. American Arms continued production of the American 180 with Austrian produced parts. American Arms did explore domestic manufacture of the guns through several subcontractors. This resulted in 24 fully-transferable American 180s made by a company called S&S Arms.

Domestic production continued with various improvements. The "A" models being Austrian. The "B" models being the first produced in the United States. The "D" models being the last made by American Arms International. In 1986, production ceased due to legal problems with BATF.

The owners of American Arms were prosecuted by ATF for allegedly submitting form 2's for guns they really hadn't made, in the days right before the 1986 making ban. Many legal documents are available related to this case.

In 1987, Illinois Arms Company, Inc. (ILARCO) bought out American Arms International. Production continued using American manufactured parts. It was during the Illinois Arms ownership period that the heavier barrelled version appeared on the market. (The research and development of the heavy barreled version was performed by American Arms International, but certain production problems were resolved after the Illinois Arms buy out.)

All of the American 180s manufactured by ILARCO were Post-86 dealer samples for law enforcement and Class 3 dealers only.

Illinois Arms, teamed with Feather Industries, for the production of semi-automatic versions of the American 180.

This partnership ultimately went bankrupt. E&L Manufacturing, Inc. purchased the remaining inventory. They continue to offer parts, accessories, and service for the American 180.

"A", "B" and "D" serial number prefixes existed for the American 180. It is unclear as to what model changes were associated with each version.

The "V" serial number prefix is associated with the E&L Manufacturing, Inc. produced American SAR 180/275. The Semi Automatic Rifle American 180 is still being manufactured by E&L Manufacturing, Inc. on a custom order basis.

We understand that the American 180 was used (in the line of duty) on two occasions. One undocumented use allegedly occurred in Utah. We have no additional information regarding this incident. In regards to the second, we now know that it occurred in Lauderhill Florida on November 24 1974 by Police Officer Mike Gillo, along with his partner Gary P. Jones. Mike fired approximately 40 rounds from his laser equipped American 180 through the rear window of a fleeing 1974 Camaro occupied by two robbery suspects, after the suspect in the passenger seat fired at Gary. Gary fired his shotgun at the fleeing auto. However, all the buck shot managed to miss both occupants. Shortly after, the Camaro was located with one suspect slumped over in the passenger seat dead from multiple .22 caliber slugs in the back. The driver, who fled and was later apprehended alive, also had several .22 caliber wounds in his back. You can read all the details about this incident in Gary's soon to be released book, "BADGE 149 SHOTS FIRED".

Various 8mm video tape archives exist related to the American 180. These include Network television interviews, news footage, demonstrations, and dual mounted and quad mounted American 180 demonstrations.

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