Similar in many ways to the Yugoslav MGV-176 submachinegun that appeared later,
the American-180 was an innovative, special-purpose weapon designed in the early 1970s by American arms maker
Richard "Dick" Casull. A decade earlier, Casull designed the limited production
Model 290 semi-automatic rifle that featured a 290-round flat-pan magazine.
Compare the American-180 to the MGV-176 and the comparisons are striking.
Both are .22 LR low recoil SMGs with high rates of fire.
Both have high-capacity, layered magazines.
But the MGV-176 is more affordable than the expensive American-180.
In addition to .22 LR, the American-180 uses the more powerful, .22ILARCO (.22 Short Magnum rim fire)
ammunition. The American-180 features wooden stocks.
The American-180 is a conventional blowback SMG that fires from the open bolt.
Its overall length is slightly more than 35 inches. There is an 18.5-inch long barrel version
and a 9-inch short barrel version. Like the MGV-176, the American-180 fires single shots or
full auto—to the tune of an amazing 1,200 rounds per minute using .22 LR or an even more
spectacular 1,500 rounds per minute using the more powerful, .22ILARCO (Illinois Arms Company) ammunition.
The American-180 was intended for police and prison guards. The idea was to lay down a ton of lead,
but not penetrate walls and law enforcement bulletproof vests–if the weapon fell into the wrong hands.
In theory, .22 rounds cannot defeat body armor. But consistent rapid fire can defeat most
anything–to include concrete masonry unit (CMU) blocks as Israeli commandos later proved at an
airport in Africa named Entebbe.
But that's another story.
The American-180 has a machined steel receiver. Original steel magazines
(later converted to lighter, translucent plastic) hold 177 rounds. Later versions included three-layer,
165-round; four-layer, 220-round; and five-layer, 275-round magazines. Shell casings, like the MGV-176,
eject from below the receiver, ahead of the trigger guard.
The American-180 weighs a svelte 5.7 pounds without the magazine.
Loaded with a 176-round magazine, it tips the scales at a hefty 9.9 pounds.
The American-180 has a superior effective range (to the MGV-180s 200 feet) of slightly more than 300 feet.