First Look: BRN 180 Upper Receivers In 7.62x39mm

A gas piston system for the 7.62x39mm cartridge that works with AR-15 lowers.

posted on August 10, 2022
BRN-180 upper in 7.62x39mm

Brownells is now offering their popular BRN-180 gas piston uppers for the 7.62x39mm intermediate cartridge, made famous across the globe by the Kalashnikov rifle and the SKS carbine. The BRN-180 10.5 inch barrel length uppers are currently shipping, with 16 inch barrel length upper receivers to follow shortly. Like other BRN-180 variants, these still retain the adjustable gas system settings and folding stock capabilities that BRN-180 enthusiasts have come to enjoy.  

The Brownells BRN-180 upper receiver is a collaborative effort between Brownells, Primary Weapons Systems (PWS) and FM Products. The upper draws inspiration from the original Armalite AR-18 and AR-180 designs of the 1960s that were meant to follow Armalite’s original AR-15 design. The BRN-180, like the original Armalite version, makes use of a gas piston mechanism compared to the AR-15’s direct gas impingement method. As a nod to the original design, the BRN-180 still includes a retro style three prong flash-hider. However, shooters today will certainly appreciate the M-Lok handguards on these uppers that obviously weren’t available during the 1960s when the AR-18 and AR-180 was first introduced. Another change from the original version is that the Brownells BRN-180 upper is intended to be used with standard AR-15 lower receivers, making compatible with a wide range of available accessories.

Brownells suggests the use of C-Products Duramags or Unimags for best results with their 7.62x39mm uppers. As this caliber’s case has a strong tapering profile, buyers should be aware that not all AR-pattern magazines can reliably feed them into a gun’s breech. This is why Kalashnikov magazines have that very distinctive curvature. Please be aware that these upper receivers are not compatible with Kalashnikov pattern magazines.   

The retail pricing for both the 10.5 inch and 16 inch 7.62x39mm uppers start at $969. For more information about BRN-180 uppers, parts, stocks, and accessories, please visit Brownells’ website at


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