Should I get an AR-180B or FAL?


May 22, 2006, 09:54 PM
This will be a SHTF/Plinker and until I get my baby eagle, my HD go to gun. They both have pros and cons. The 180B is right near me and I would probaby have to order the FAL. A century fal or fal $600 or under

AR-180B Pros:
Cool stock with storage
Uses the most common mag out there
uses the most common rifle caliber out there
Not so much overpenetration

Probably not as durable
Can not reach out as far
Less common for parts in SHTF situation
Less customization ability

FAL Pros:
Long range
built like a rock
not as common mags but still common
A little cooler looking

over penetration sometimes
higher recoil
more expensive ammo

Im a pretty big fella so heft isnt a big deal to me as much as the over penetration. I dont want to endanger someone else ever. Say I fired into someone 20yds away, would that go right through them or do .308s fragment?

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fal 4 me
May 22, 2006, 10:03 PM
If the choice is between an AR 180b and a Century FAL, I would choose the AR 180b. Personally, I'd put a little more towards the purchase and step up to the Enterprise FAL, not quite DSA, but a little less expensive. As far as proper defensive ammo, I don't know enough about it to recommend anything.

May 22, 2006, 10:05 PM
How much can an enterprise FAL be had for? I can only spend $600. What is so bad about century?

May 22, 2006, 10:07 PM
i don't want to sound like rockefeller here,but if you can't afford both of them,get a sks. if shtf really,you can up grade soon after. but i would go with the fal.

May 22, 2006, 10:12 PM
I just cant afford a $1200 gun budget right now. If I could I would get a sig 556. What kind of FALs can I get for $600? Ive never been an SKS fan and feel that both of these rifles are superior.

fal 4 me
May 22, 2006, 10:17 PM
Many people complain about the mechanical skills of the "monkeys" working at Century. I've never owned a gun put together by Century, but have heard enough to stay away from certain Century offerings. Some people are perfectly happy with their Century FALs, others not so much. If buying used I'd be cautious. If you havn't been to I'd recommend it.

Enterprise's home page lists the standard model on sale now for $749

Deer Hunter
May 22, 2006, 10:19 PM
You could build a FAL for that kind of money.

Find a good FAL with an Imbel receiver, and you would be in great shape. If you can find a decent FAL within your price range, I'd jump on it. FAL magazines are cheap as dirt, too. Century FALs are a hit-and-miss from what I've seen. Some people love them, others have problems.

But, if you can't find an FAL that suits you, get an SKS.

May 23, 2006, 01:15 PM
I have been doing a lot of digging over on FAL Files because I am in the process of building a FAL. I have found some great deals; SA R1 parts kit on a DSA reciever, US made handgrip, gas piston, hammer, trigger, sear, and charging handle for under $600 (not counting tools).

On the FAL Files it seems that Enterprise is a step up from Century and both have a history of parts being out of spec. However, for every bad account of a Enterprise or Century reciever there are about 4 or 5 where the gun works just fine. My opinion is that it is a crap shoot, you will save a little $ with Enterprise or Century but there is the chance that it will not work out of the box. None of the reviews said that their guns were soo bad that a good smith couldn't fix them.

Or you could minimize the chance by buying a used gun that is a proven shooter.

May 23, 2006, 01:27 PM
I just bought a great FAL-kit for $400 (I've seen them for around $200 as well, but I opted to have the reparkerized option with great bore - all new furniture plus 3 additional US-compliance parts). All I'm looking for is a receiver; I was told on the forum that FAL-receiver manufacturers generally run from best to worst in this order:

1. DSA
2. Imbel
3. Coonan (aka DCI aka Nodakspud)
4. Entreprise
5. Century
6. Hesse (aka Vulcan)
7. Williams "alumibomb".

Some gunsmiths refuse to work on the latter 4 - for quality and safety-reasons as well as not being able to predict to the customer what it will cost to get them working properly. Of the first 3, it's a pity that DSA is known for late deliveries and terrible service for a great-quality product, Imbel is no longer imported (apparently) and Coonan is still waiting for their machining to be finished.

Entreprise and Century seem to be the "tweeners" - in between good and bad, depending on the luck of the draw and how much work you're willing to put into making them work right if sub-standard.

The Grand Inquisitor
May 23, 2006, 02:11 PM
In my opinion, for what you are looking for, in your price range, you should probably skip both rifles and get an AK-74 in 5.45. You can get a very nice 74 in 5.45 with either a regular stock or a military folder (like a Polish TANTAL, which can be had for about $600).

I had an Armalite AR-180B an liked it very much, but I traded it for a TANTAL (I'm an AK junkie, but I also prefer 5.45 to 5.56 and the AK platform is simply stronger). The 180B has some design flaws that don't crop up in everyday range shooting, but would show themselves under the stress of constant use (search some older threads about the 180B, an engineer here pointed out some very weak parts).

Also, instead of getting a low quality FAL (and if you are going to get an FAL, just wait and save to get a DSA) you should look into getting a CETME. CETME's can be had for around $500-600, and are phenomenal weapons (fielded by the Spanish, the South Africans, and about 35 other nations) ; I have one and I love it. It's comparable to the FAL in many ways (same cartridge first off...) and is a very nice, economical choice if you can't afford a DSA FAL for $1200.

If you are really interested in a weapn for a crisis situation, you should really think long and hard about getting an AK - the Kalashnikov platform has been everywhere and done everything on the battefields of the past 50 years and will continue for a long, long time.

May 23, 2006, 02:45 PM

Just remember when acquiring FAL's that you might have to worry about the US parts count. I had an L1A1 sporter with no muzzle brake, so it had to have 5 US parts: buttstock, pistol grip, hammer, trigger & CAI Imbel receiver (which they somehow counted as a US part). The trigger on mine was awful. At least 12-15 lbs, and I had to manually reset it forward after firing. After lubing a part that I shouldn't have to lube, the manual resetting went away, but the trigger was still VERY stiff. I didn't want to spend the time, energy or money to make it a decent shooter, so I sold it.

Also be careful about the Bushmaster .308 (which is now discontinued). To reassemble the extractor to the bolt it required a plastic hammer and a sturdy table. No kidding. The spring is MUCH stiffer and is angled down into the body of the bolt, and is a real bear to get seated correctly. Reassembly required at least 3 hands. That one's been sold too.

I also owned a CETME but found the roller locking mechanism a bear to reassemble to the weapon. I sold it.

The way I figure it, a good SHTF weapon needs to be easy to disassemble, clean and reassemble, so I went back to the .223 and got a Bushmaster modular carbine. No problems. No hassle. I don't care for weapons where I have to hold my mouth right to get them reassembled or get them to work. I guess I have a patience problem. I realize that some of these problems may have been just that I didn't know some little trick or secret, but I decided I was an old dawg who didn't want to learn any new tricks.

May 23, 2006, 04:03 PM
Sounds like the FAL gets the +1. Maybe since not as many people have 180B experience.

How hard is it to build a fal?

How much would it cost with the cheapest quality parts?

May 23, 2006, 06:21 PM
If you are like me and will crawl 5 miles through the mud to find a good deal, you can get all the parts you need to build a FAL for $500 -$600. Tools can be another problem, most are pretty common, with only 1 or 2 specialty tools needed. I am in an apartment right now and had almost no tools other than a hammer and pliers, luckily I found a mentor on FAL Files who is letting me use some of his tools and helping me through the harder parts. Tools can cost from $100-$400 depending on what you have and what you can borrow.

I have been told building a FAL is more like working on a car than real gunsmithing. There is very little machining involved and the hardest part is timing the barrel and headspacing. Here is a good online, step-by-step that also includes lists and prices of all the tools and parts used. (it is a few years old so prices might be off)

I stongly suggest going over to the FALFiles, there are reams of pages written on building a FAL, lots of knowledgable people willing to help, and lots of vendors and gunsmiths with good deals on parts.

May 23, 2006, 06:25 PM
The FAL is a beautiful rifle, I just don't like the weight or feel of it-please don't hurt me its just a personal opinion. :)

May 23, 2006, 06:31 PM
The FAL is rather long and heavy, but a beautifully designed firearm. If you want something smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to shoot offhand, go with the AR-15. Most FALs in the US are parts guns and may have functional problems. There are many, many new ARs in various sizes and configurations. I just got a DPMS Panther Lite for less than $650. It has a 16 inch medium weight barrel and weights 5.7 pounds empty. I really like it. I also enjoy owning my two FALs. Both the FAL and the AR are classic designs in modern battle rifles.


May 23, 2006, 06:33 PM
Here's a thread I recently started with some pics of groups at various ranges with my FrankenFAL.

It's not awful, but not that great, either.

There's some M1A groups in there for comparison, too.

May 23, 2006, 06:52 PM
Well it seems like the FAL is for me. How heavy are they anyway? I would probably one day cut the bbl down to 16in too. I might put a new railed handguard on it too. Ill probably modify it over time as the money comes. Sounds like the R1A1s/L1A1s can be good rifles. The guys over at falfiles dont seem to hate them that much.

May 23, 2006, 07:32 PM
Weight - just under 10 lbs, assuming no extras like bipod, scope, etc.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 23, 2006, 08:04 PM
Overpenetration will definitely be an issue with .308 as will recoil for fast shooting. You can reduce overpenetration concerns some by using a ballistic tip round like the Hornady 155 AMAX; but based on pigs I've seen, it will definitely exit a bad guy even with the AMAX. The good thing is it should be fragmented enough at that point that while it will still be dangerous, it won't have anywhere near as much penetration as an FMJ round.

On the other hand, the nice thing about .308 is that it is easier to get a .308 to penetrate less through careful bullet selection than it is to get a .223 to penetrate more.

May 23, 2006, 08:16 PM
if you are just plinking, buy the one you like best. Ammo costs more for the FAL, but then who worries about that? I have a 180B now, and had a FAl before, so I am familier with both rifles.
Personally, I find that plinking with a .308 hurts after awhile..........:)

May 24, 2006, 05:58 PM
At 20yds, either a .308 or .223 will go right through a person, even if they have body armor, providing it lacks ballistic panals. Both are good rifles. With rifles of different calibers, it is almost like comparing apples to oranges.

May 24, 2006, 06:33 PM
Hmmmm. Well its tough. They both even look similar. Because of the geography around here, I wouldnt need to reach out that far but a .308 is probably more accurate especially with irons at the longer ranges than I would need. Its just tough to find a good FAL for the money it seems. But at least I did find a good one for the same price as I found a 180. When it comes down to it, a FAL would probably be a better SHTF rifle. But I plink more than I sheild myself from S flying from the F. And the Mag and ammo availability is pretty great. Though parts would be tougher to come by. The 180B doesnt have the plethora of furniture the FAL does but you can put most AR handguards on with a modified bbl pin. I think I might get a 180B before I get a fal. But I WILL have both.

Jamie C.
May 25, 2006, 08:49 AM
An article on GunBlast about the AR-180B:

AR-180B (


May 25, 2006, 10:08 PM
Go with the FAL. .308 is the answer! Learn to shoot it and be comfortable with it. Better yet...get yourself an M1A.

May 26, 2006, 10:17 PM
Foxtrot, here are some Ar-180B links for you.
Midwest Industries (
Stormwerkz (
Arfcom 180B (

Good luck with your decision. I have both rifles and wouldn't want to have to choose between the two.

May 27, 2006, 02:08 AM
FAL hands down. They are pretty easy to work on so getting a parts kit, complaince parts and an Imbel reciever would be the way to go IMHO. While I have very little time for AGI video's (they're WAY too basic IMHO) the FAL video does a good job of going through step-by-step on how to build one. While over-penetration may be a concern in some areas, I'd rather have a round that can turn cover into concealment rather than a round that can turn concealment into cover. Also, if you are still looking at going with a .223 rifle, I would not want to bet my life on an AR-180B. There have been problems with the reciever breaking around the pivot pin area due in part to the plastic lower they're using.

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