Production of the AR-18 started at the Howa Machinery Company of Nagoya, Japan (1967). For Japanese political reasons the Howa rifles were allowed to be sold only to non-combatant nations, and even then, only to non-Asian nations. During the Vietnam War, the AR-18 could not be exported to the United States. In mid-1968, Armalite set up pilot production in its Costa Mesa plant for AR-18s and AR-180s. The Japanese government subsequently eased restrictions and allowed the commercial semi-automatic AR-180 to be exported to the U.S.. By the late 1970s, U.S. production halted.