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Brownell’s releases two new lower receivers for the BRN-180 platform

At the 2020 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show Brownell’s unveiled a pair of new lower receivers for the BRN-180 upper receiver. The BRN-180 is forged and resembles the classic profile of the Armalite AR-180 and the BRN-180M is a modernized billet version.

BRN-180 forged lower receiver

Last year, Brownell’s rolled out the BRN-180 upper receiver. This was a modernized take on the aforementioned AR-180 and includes several significant improvements over the original by incorporating a 7075 T6 aluminum receiver and MLok compatible hand guard topped with a Picatinny rail.

BRN-180 forged lower receiver

While the upper could be mounted on a milspec AR lower, the buffer tube was unnecessary as the BRN-180 is a true short-stroke piston system which does not require a buffer system. Builders had the options of either running a fixed stock on a buffer tube, an AR folding tube adapter or a Picatinny adapter to run a SIG MCX folding stock as the MCX has origins in the AR-180 system as well.

Folding stock adapter

Assembly is similar to building a typical AR-14 lower. As mentioned, there is no buffer tube or castle nut to stake. A Picatinny extension on the rear of the receiver allows installation of an MCX-type folding stock.

BRN-180 build

Of course these lowers will also accept AR magazines and pistol grips, Ironically, even though it was an Armalite design after the AR-15, the original AR-18/180 used a proprietary magazine.

BRN-180 pistol build

As fans of the original platform, these lower receivers are a welcome addition to Brownell’s lineup in support of the BRN-180. The stamped sheet metal original receivers of the AR-180 would have been nice for history’s sake, but this author sold his personal AR-180 back in the 90’s because the magazines were impossible to find.

BRN-180 build

We find it ironic that the driving force behind the AR-18 was to allow third world nations to build cheaper folded or stamped sheet metal lowers as opposed to machining forgings, etc. as on the M16 platform. In today’s day and age, that dynamic has completely flipped.

These receivers should be available now at an MSRP of $129 for the forged version (BRN-180) and $149 for the billet version (BRN-180M).


Of course the dilemma that goes with that is which version to acquire for this modern day take on a classic design? Perhaps the forged for a rifle build and the billet version for a braced pistol or SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) build.

Decisions, decisions. Just another first world problem!

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