New American 180: The Viper
Few select-fire weapons are as affordable to feed as the American 180. Chambered in .22lr, the American 180 resembled a Thompson SMG with its drum laid flat on top. Unlike the Thompson, the American 180 was a rimfire machinegun that saw no combat in its original form.
Though strangely enough, the Slovenian military thought the weapon showed promise. So they ended up copying the design under the MGV-176 designation. Still in service today with police units, the MGV-176 is a nearly identical copy of the American 180. It differs with its use of a folding wire stock, shorter barrel and slightly reduced capacity of 176 rounds. (Hence MGV-176)
This story would be sufficiently strange for a dedicated episode of Forgotten Weapons, but it doesn’t end there. Evidently, this year, the small importer, Armametos USA in Florida, have decided to build semi-automatic hybrid clones of the two weapons. They’re calling it, the Viper.
Military .22 SMG?
Under the name, MGV-176, the full-auto version of the Viper saw extensive use during The Slovenian War of Independence. Where its 1,200 rounds per minute rate of fire was very useful in defending urban areas due to limited range engagements. Even if the gun was replaced quickly thereafter when an official Croatian military was established, it’s still noteworthy as a rare example of a rimfire combat weapon.
Although first-hand reports are scarce in the West, most soldiers and guards spoke highly of the MGV-176. Apparently what it lacked in ballistic efficacy, it made up in sheer volume of fire. Even the most anemic caliber poses a sufficient threat with 150 of them heading towards a single target.
Makes one wonder just how hellacious this thing could be if loaded with CCI Stinger high velocity rounds. Even more interesting, would be if the select-fire version could cycle CCI rat shot. It might make the ultimate anti-rodent CQC weapon… or not.
Feeding from standard 150-round pan magazines, the Viper is ostensibly, and internally, an American 180. That said, there are some differences. For instance, the prototype shown at SHOT Show 2020 features a standard AKM pistol grip, and a fixed polymer stock. Though the one shown was simply a 3D-printed mock-up.
Still, the prospect of a new, affordable American 180 is enough to get most shooters salivating. Especially though fortunate enough to have an SOT and the mechanical knowledge to convert it to select fire. For more (albeit limited) information, visit http://www.armamentosusa.com/index.aspx
Jim is a freelance writer, editor, and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.