Soldier Of Fortune/Spring 1977

A 2nd Evaluation Of The 180

By Tom Ford

The American 180 is a selective fire weapon. On semi-automatic it shoots accurately and reliably as long as good ammunition is used. Cheap ammo like Wildcat, will not work. Cases blow up and as powder charges are not uniform, performance of the weapon suffers, sometimes going full automatic even though the selector is set on semi-automatic.

I have kept all 177 rounds on a silhouette target at 150 yards, also I have kept a tin can bouncing at 100 yards for the full drums capacity. I must admit to an occassional miss on that tin can or suffer the slings and arrows of outraged friends who have seen me shoot. The 180 will do an adequate job with the iron sights it comes with but will serve as a moderate range anti-sniper rifle with the addition of a Redfield 3/4" scope. Still better, for night time use is the Laser sight which offers pinpoint accuracy and has an intimidation effect on the adversary.

The .22LR round lends itself to police work because it will take a man down but is not too powerful for city work as is the 7.62 NATO round. The .22 is also low in recoil which allows anyone to control the American 180, even on fully automatic bursts. Ammunitions costs are low, another benefit for police and military budgets. But budgets be hanged. The important thing to remember is 27, 40 grain slugs in the same spot, in one second. THAT'S POWER!

As owner of Ford's Firearms Co., I can speak with some authority about the American 180. I was one of the first distributors in the country to use and sell the 180 and I have probably fired more rounds through the 180 than anyone short of the manufacturer. I have shot the 180 under all conditions: heat and cold, rain, wind and mud and it always works. The 180 is a little tricky to learn to operate but works well once the technique has been mastered.

The 180 is easy to fire, even in full automatic mode, all 177 rounds can be expended in six and one-half seconds. During demonstrations, I have fired many full drums of ammo without a hitch. By the same token I have had problems. On a couple of occassions I have forgotten to wind the drum's spring drive, other times I turned the partially filled drums backwards causing shells to fall from the second or third level to the first causing a jam. This is a shooter error, not a weapon error. For a period of time I did not clean my weapon and over 3200 rounds were fired with NO malfunctions. Then because of excess dirt the gun jammed but was easily cleaned and was returned to action.

Full automatic fire is easy to control with Laser or conventional sights. At combat range one can concentrate long bursts, even all 177 rounds on the face of a regular building block and in an instant reduce it to rubble. Horizontal traversing fire is devastating, with bullets spread not more than inches apart assuring combat hits.

Every 5 man SWAT Team should be equipped with an American 180.

The M-16 cycles at a rate of 800 rounds per minute while the American 180 spits out twice that, some 1600 RPM. The 180 is easier to control, so it obtains a higher percentage of hits and that is what it is all about. Suppressive fire is increased also. The M-16's like the G3-A3, FAL and others, offer only 20-30 rounds before reloading. The American 180 delivers 177 rounds, or one shot per second for three minutes (semi-automatic) before reloading. Should a car run a police roadblock, should a platoon be hit by a massed attack where firepower is needed, assault rifles are capable of up to 30 shots in 4 seconds as compared to 177 rounds in 6 1/2 seconds. Five magazines fired by an assualt rifle deliver at best, 150 rounds, which does not equal the capacity of one 180 magazine not to mention 5 drums or 885 rounds. The 180 delivers firepower.

The American 180 is not perfect. The manufacturer has labeled me their "test facility" as I have put my 180 through severe tests. I have broken the safety latch and have broken several selector bars. The 180's rapid rate of fire vibrates and crystallizes the metal and causes breakage. These were only momentary setbacks for it takes only a short time to repair such problems on the 180. I have broken spring guides and bent main springs, ringed barrels and seen magazine spring drive units break but the same old 180 continues to shoot and shoot and shoot. My gun is an early one and parts on later weapons have doubtlessly improved.

The trick to all of this is to know your weapon well. Practice with the 180 and use it as often as possible. As with any other weapon one cannot use it but once a year and expect to get maximum results in times of stress.

In summary, the American 180 provides accuracy, control and massive firepower when you need it.