Black powder loads can certainly be ﬁred in repeating riﬂes, such as my Browning copy of the old Winchester 1886 saddle-ring carbine with its 22-inch-long barrel. The main difference between the repeaters and most of the single shots is that the single shots – such as the Sharps or the rolling block – actually have no maximum cartridge length.
On the other hand, lever-action riﬂes have a maximum overall cartridge length, generally just over 2½ inches, so the cartridges can cycle through the actions. Also, the trapdoor single shots might not accept cartridges quite as long as the Sharps or rolling block because their cartridges must be initially loaded at an angle. And those trapdoors and repeaters might actually chamber cartridges that are too long for them to eject if still loaded, so to unload the riﬂe, those long cartridges will have to be ﬁred.
During the “on duty” days of the .45-70, there were some variations in the loading of the cartridges. The ﬁrst and the oldest was the .45-70/405, which was designated as the “riﬂe load.” Because that powder and bullet combination can be considered quite a blast when ﬁred from a carbine, a “carbine load” using 55 grains of powder under the same 405-grain bullet was also used. The carbine load might sound like it is melted down compared to the standard riﬂe load, but don’t cut it too short. Carbine loads can stand on their own while offering comfortable shooting.
MAKING THE CARBINE LOAD IS SIMPLE. This can begin with new unﬁred brass which has been run through the neck expander to accomplish two things: it bells the mouth of the cases just a bit to accept the cast bullets, and it rounds out the mouth of any cases which might have gotten squeezed a bit out of round. Of course, ﬁred brass needs to be treated the same way. Then the cases are primed and ready for 55 grains of black powder. Once the powder is poured into the case, no compression is required and you can easily seat the lubricated cast bullet down over the powder.
The bullets used for these carbine loads were Lyman’s #457124, the old ideal style of grooved bullets that were the standard 405-grain slug for the .45-70. Some of the old-style bullets did have fewer and wider lube grooves, but those don’t show once the bullets are loaded into the cases.
Bullets for carbine loads are seated rather deeply, to ensure that no air space was left in the case above the powder charge and to make the carbine loads instantly identiﬁable to the shooters. For my loads, the bullets were seated just deep enough so the mouth of the case could be slightly crimped over the top of the forward driving band.
A crimp groove in the bullet is not necessary with black powder loads because the bullet is resting on top of the powder charge. There is very little opportunity for the bullet to be pushed further into the case, even when used in a tubular magazine.
IF THERE WAS EVER A CLASSIC BULLET for the old .45-70, it would have to be the old Lyman/Ideal #457124. I say that for a couple of reasons, but they can be netted out into just a couple of short statements. First and foremost, it is a very historical design, and Lyman refers to it (in their old Handbook of Cast Bullets, from 1958, the one with an engraved converted Sharps carbine on the cover) as “the regular standard .45-70 Government bullet.”
For our shooting needs these days, this remains a standard bullet, and is useful for any .45-70 riﬂe or pistol being single shot or repeater. It can be used with carbine loads using 55 grains of powder or with full riﬂe loads burning 70 grains of powder. This old standard is still an all-around bullet for the .45-70 and it can be used in most other .45-caliber riﬂe cartridges as well.
The original weight of #457124 was listed at 405 grains. I don’t think any design change has been incorporated over the years but now this bullet is most often listed at 385 grains. That weight difference is simply from the alloy the bullets are made or cast with.
My favorite use for the #457124 is in carbine loads, such as the cartridges pictured above. These are loaded with 55 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F. That is simply a nice load, good for shooting all day without cleaning as long as the bullets are well lubed. When you shoot it all day, this load leaves you with good feeling in your shoulder too. While that is the carbine load, it remains good load for hunting, perhaps for deer-sized game at ranges within 100 yards. It is not a long-range powerhouse, but it doesn’t lack much either. In fact, the above load scoots an average of 1,245 feet per second when shot out of a 30-inch barrel. That’s not bad at all.
If any .45-70 shooters out there don’t have a #457124 mold from Lyman in their gear, their “possibles” are simply incomplete. Lyman has dropped many molds from their catalog over the years, but thankfully #457124 is still on the list; it’s just too good to ignore. These quality bullet molds are available from almost any handloading supplier, and Lyman lists this one for $90.95 without handles.
I must give plenty of credit to these slow .45-70 carbine loads. My loads for this carbine and my lightweight Sharps riﬂe as well perform just as I want them to. Carbine loads will actually perform just as well if not better in any of the heavier riﬂes too. There is nothing wrong with loads that send the bullets out a bit slower than the full charges. They can actually be better if they help us make better hits. ASJ
Contact: Lyman Products Corporation Lymanproducts.com
These reasons are also why the gun continues to be replicated by a variety of manufacturers. One of these, Century Arms, Inc., has found success with their semiauto version, the Centurion UC-9.
The original Uzi was made mostly of welded metal stampings and had a rock-solid metal collapsible or ﬁxed wooden buttstock. It featured a simple blowback design, utilizing the weight of the heavy bolt alone to keep the action locked, and the recoil energy of the ﬁred casing to cycle it. The ﬁring pin was machined into the bolt face, and the weapon ﬁred from an open bolt. Though very heavy – over 9 pounds loaded – its good balance permitted one-handed ﬁring.
This compact balance was achieved by setting the 10inch barrel deep in the stamped sheet metal receiver so its breech was above the trigger. The bolt encased the barrel breach to about the midway point and the magazine was inserted up through the grip frame. All of the mechanical operation of ﬁring took place directly above the gripping hand rather than in front of it, as on a typical, much longer submachine gun (such as the MP40). The Uzi grip was positioned on the receiver slightly rear of center to counter the effects of recoil.
The Uzi saw use in the hands of good guys and bad through the 1980s, and was a staple in movies and on TV. Anyone who remembers seeing the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on the news knows it was used by our Secret Service too. Seemingly out of nowhere, an agent pulled one out and stood watch as other agents wrestled the attacker to the ground. It remains perhaps the second most recognizable submachine gun in the world after the Thompson.
ISRAELI MILITARY INDUSTRIES (IMI), the original maker, ﬁrst offered semiautomatic versions of the Uzi, and these guns are rightly considered the best. Other clones, both domestic and Chinese, soon followed. And, as parts kits from demilitarized IMI- and FN-made subguns ﬂooded into the American market, several other ﬁrms started making receivers for gun-building hobbyists to assemble their own semiauto guns.
Century Arms, already famous among collectors for their semiauto copies of post-World War II select-ﬁre military weapons, set about producing their own ﬁnished semiauto carbine. Their Centurion UC-9 utilizes many original-part designs coupled with an American-made semiauto-only bolt and receiver.
The UC-9 is mechanically identical to previous Uzi clones. It has a 16-inch barrel instead of the 10-inch one found on the submachine gun. One caution: 10-inch barrels for it are available on the parts market, but before installing one, you will
need to register the gun as a Short Barreled Riﬂe (SBR) with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and pay the appropriate taxes.
It ﬁres from a closed bolt using a striker and modiﬁed trigger components. The extra spring in the striker makes the bolt more difficult to pull pack than the fullauto version. The top cover is original, but the ratcheting mechanism is deactivated. That feature kept the bolt from ﬂying forward and accidentally discharging a round if the cocking handle slipped from the shooter’s grasp, and is useless on a closed-bolt semiauto.
The receiver has a rounded bar welded along the inside of the right side of the frame behind the ejection port. The semiauto bolt has a corresponding groove cut down its right side to clear this bar. Because of the bar, a full-auto bolt will not ﬁt in the receiver. The bottom left side of the bolt is milled away to accommodate the striker mechanism beneath it. The arm of the striker has a cut to engage the sear in the trigger mechanism. A portion of the bottom on the right side of the bolt is also relieved so it will clear the other side of the sear.
The safety in the grip assembly is marked only “F” for ﬁre and “S” for safe. The thumb selector is blocked internally and cannot be pushed forward into what would normally be the full-auto position, though a stamped line indicating the “ghost” location is still there.
There are a few other differences between the semiauto Uzi and its full-auto ancestor. The semi’s push pin that holds the grip assembly onto the frame is larger (9mm versus 8mm), its sear is lighter and smaller, and machinegun barrels won’t ﬁt because of changes in the mounting points. All these changes allow the ﬁrearm to be sold as a normal semiauto long gun.
OVER THE YEARS, Century Arms has received criticism regarding the quality control of the classic modern military ﬁrearms they re-engineered into legal-to-own semiautos. In their defense, much of this criticism has stemmed from a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. As any gun manufacturer will tell you, it’s hard enough making something work perfectly when you design and build it from scratch, and Century’s semiauto military clones are short-run projects compared to your typical sporting arm. It’s the difference between a few thousand units and tens of thousands.
I’ve never had a problem so serious that I had to return a ﬁrearm. I’ve heard of some over the years, but to my knowledge Century took care of each customer. And, in my opinion, on those occasions when Century didn’t get it right, they got it mostly right and it was a matter of some ﬁne adjustment to get it perfect. The way I see it, at the low price point they sell these collector ﬁrearms at, mostly right is still a bargain.
THE ACCURACY OF THE UC-9 I tested surprised me in light of the short sight radius and less than comfortable metal stock. The rear aperture is set for 100 and 200 yards, but elevation and windage are easily adjusted at the front sight and I zeroed for a more realistic 50 yards for my testing. I set my chronograph up 15 feet from the muzzle. The UC-9’s weight made felt recoil light.
The most accurate load during testing was Federal American Eagle 124-grain FMJ, which averaged 2.38 inches at 1,232 feet per second, with the best group being 2.25 inches. All of the other loads I tested were 115-grain FMJ, and I achieved the following results:
CCI Blazer Brass averaged 2.59 inches at 1,396 fps, with the best group being 2.31 inches. Black Hills averaged 3.66 inches at 1,382 fps, with the best group being 2.19 inches. Winchester USA Forged steel case averaged 3.63 inches, with the best group being 3.75 inches, and Remington averaged 4.59 inches with the best group being 3.75 inches.
The heavy, 12-pound single-stage trigger pull was sort of like pushing a refrigerator, but once I got it going, it moved along pretty easily.
Out of hundreds of rounds shot in testing, I had a handful of failures (ejection and sometimes chambering) that seemed related to the squared-off tip of the ﬁring pin penetrating the cartridge primer. More common was a chambering failure of the ﬁrst round from a fully loaded magazine. It would commonly get hung up at a 45-degree-angle point on the feed ramp and rim in the feed lips. However, the more I shot, the less this issue occurred, and I attribute it to the old military-surplus magazine, which I neither cleaned nor oiled.
General workmanship of the UC-9 was very good despite what some web critics claim. I compared the welding on the front of the frame to a part from a genuine FN demilled subgun, and the UC-9 was just as well executed, if not better.
There’s no practical advantage to a very heavy 9mm semiauto carbine like this, but if you have pangs of nostalgia for this historically important design, the UC-9 is a worthy clone at an affordable price.
The MSRP is $749, but actual selling prices are closer to $650, and magazines are as cheap as $10 each.
For more on the UC-9 and other Century Arms ﬁrearms, visit centuryarms.com or call (800) 527-1252 to locate a dealer near you.
THE ACTION is straight blowback, but delivers less recoil than most .22 riﬂes. The trick is a relatively heavy – 18.8 ounce – bolt and substantial over travel past the magazine on each cycle. The same layout gives Keltec RDB and Ultimax 100 their low recoil, as well. Overall construction is extremely simple, and takedown is easy: Back out and remove the thumbscrew in front of the action, pull the lower back to separate it from the upper, pull the captured recoil-spring assembly and drop the bolt out of the back of the upper. That’s it for ﬁeld stripping!
THE CARBINE’S OVERALL LENGTH is 26¼ inches, which includes the 16¾-inch barrel, and the muzzle is optionally threaded for a ﬂash hider or sound suppressor. The carbine would work well suppressed, as the vents gas well away from the shooter. I shot 150 rounds of various ammunition and had zero stoppages of any kind. Moreover – and very unusually for 9mm carbines – the J67 shot all kinds of bullet weights and types well. Everything from Liberty 50-grain hypervelocity loads screaming at 2,550 feet per second to Federal 147-grain subsonic JHP fed, ﬁred, extracted and printed between 2 and 3 minute of angle. Since the J67 is not a target riﬂe, I did my testing prone without a bipod: multiple ﬁve-shot strings of the same load grouped variously between 2 and 3MOA due to the marksman’s limitations. For a 9mm Luger long gun with a nontarget scope, that’s very respectable. It oﬀers an excellent single-stage trigger – a Jard specialty – that helps with practical accuracy. Although each load shot tiny groups, the diﬀerence between impact centers of diﬀerent loads could exceed 4MOA, so zeroing for a speciﬁc cartridge is recommended for long-range use.
AS REMARKABLE as the accuracy was for the variety of loads the J67 digested – ball, frangibles, hollow points, the highly sculptured G2 Rip – they all ran ﬁne. All of the spent the brass collected right under the gun too. The ejection port is far enough forward that conventional marksmanship position with a shooter’s left hand under the buttplate works ﬁne. Since I didn’t like the look of the corrugated metal buttplate, I originally put a Hi-Viz gel recoil pad on it. I shouldn’t have bothered, as the felt recoil, even without the pad, is negligible – easily less than with a semiauto .22 riﬂe. The length of pull is already fairly long at 14¾ inches, and one enhancement I do recommend is a neoprene cheekpad for use in cold weather. The heat endurance is good: I felt no appreciable change in temperature of the forend or the receiver after 150 rounds ﬁred over half an hour. I deliberately photographed the action without cleaning it: very little junk goes into the receiver, and there’s lots of room for particles to settle should running dirty be required.
The nonreciprocating charging handles felt a little gritty at the start of the stroke, and could use more surface area for comfort, but it’s a minor gripe. Jard plans to oﬀer larger charging handles as options. I would have liked some form of manual or automatic bolt hold-open, both for administrative chamber checks and to know when to reload. The absence of felt recoil or any hesitation during feeding makes it hard to feel when the gun runs dry. Fortunately, in serious use, that would only happen every 33 shots. While the carbine ships with a 17-round Magpul magazine, extended magazines make sense for the ease of handling as well as the higher capacity. I found that the safety lever ﬂag would sometimes get activated when pushed against a bag in prone, but a stronger spring is available on request.
THE GUN MIGHT LOOK rough but it balances beautifully, and may run eﬀectively with one hand. Because of its reliability with hypervelocity ammunition, the J67 has a pretty good aimed range. I ran with a 5x Primary Arms scope and a red-dot for closer ranges. At very close distances, Viridian X5L light/laser provides another aiming option with less bore oﬀset than the topmounted red dot.
.IN SUMMARY, the J67 is a reliable and capable carbine that’s fun to use. Excellent practical accuracy and imperceptible recoil make it a contender in recreational and hunting applications. Excellent reliability and suppressor compatibility make it viable for self defense. At $899 list price, it’s not as inexpensive as intended, but the performance justiﬁes the price and then some! The only serious competitor to it in low recoil and accuracy is the more expensive Sig MPX. To learn more, go to jardinc.com/jard-j67. ASJ
Frank Ehrenford, owner of Big Horn Armory, was one of those who dreamed of a lever gun in .500 S&W Magnum. In 2008 he partnered with Greg Buchel, master machinist and engineer, to see the project come to fruition. They tested a variety of lever-action rifles from the Marlin 336 to the Model 1895, but none were deemed suitable. So a year later they decided to build their own rifle from the ground up.
As a starting point they chose the Winchester Model 1886, the Browning-designed lever gun that features dual-opposing locking lugs to contain powerful cartridges. The Model 1892 is the same action scaled down to handle pistol-caliber cartridges. Unfortunately, the Model 1892 is too small for the .500 S&W Magnum.
Ehrenford, Buchel and Dan Brown, their machinist, decided to upsize the Model 92 to harness the new chambering. One regular complaint about the Model 92 is the dinky loading gate. Especially with larger cartridges like the .44-40, .44 Special/Mag and .45 Colt, it can become downright painful to load the magazine more than a couple of times a day. To address that issue, the team decided to adapt the loading gate design on the Model 86 to the new action. Loading the Model 89 is not as challenging as it can be with a Model 92.
What they ended up with is a rifle about halfway between the size of an 86 and an 92 Winchester, hence the moniker Model 89. Parts for the rifle are made by stock removal on CNC machinery. There are no investment cast parts in this rifle, nor are there any forgings. As the company gets on its feet parts are made by an outside contractor located in the United States. Receivers are manufactured in Wyoming, and the stocks are made in Texas. Big Horn Armory began shipping completed rifles in 2011.
My range time showed me that a careful shot with superb eyesight might be able to stretch the range to as much as 300 yards, but for most of us mere mortals, two football fields should be considered max. I was able to hit an 18-inch square gong at 300 yards about four shots out of ten from a benchrest. A younger shooter with better eyes probably might pick up perhaps three more of those dingers at that range.
My sample Model 89 showed superb workmanship throughout the metal and wood. I had some initial concerns that the curved lever might prove painful under the stout recoil of the big .50 caliber, but those concerns proved meaningless. There’s plenty of room even for my bratwurst-sized digits in the loop, and the pistol grip helps greatly in controlling the rifle. The otherwise traditional look and lines of this rifle are melded with a couple of modernizations to help in its handling.
First, the traditional two-piece walnut stock is shod with a 1-inch-thick Pachmayr decelerator recoil pad. As a traditionalist, I normally tend to favor the old crescent-style steel buttplate – wickedly beautiful and equally wicked on the shoulder. Here is where good sense trumps tradition: the substantial recoil pad allows one to run this rifle without bludgeoning one’s shoulder into a massive hematoma. Too, a Marble receiver-mounted aperture sight replaces the traditional buckhorn or semibuckhorn sight usually seen on a lever action. This one is threaded in case you want to add a smaller, more precise peep to it, but the ghost-ring sight picture is perfect for this kind of rifle.
There are two basic versions of the Model 89 – rifle and carbine. Interestingly, because the rifle has a half magazine and the carbine is full length, the carbine holds two more rounds than the rifle. On the company’s website, BHA offers a plethora of options and upgrades. Buchel even showed me a prototype receiver with color case hardening for those customers who demand the most beauty in their guns.
As lever actions go, the stock on the Model 89 is straighter than on most other lever-guns – noticeably straighter than on a Model 94 Winchester, for example – and this helps with handling recoil. The drop at the comb is but ¾ inch. Nonetheless, the Model 89 turned in a respectable average of 2¼-inch groups at 100 yards. That’s plenty good for the brush where 100 yards is a long shot.
The 7¾-pound weight isn’t too much of a burden to pack, considering the power this rifle delivers. If I were traipsing around bear country in Alaska, the stainless-steel version would be a very comforting companion. Last year Big Horn Armory added a couple of new versions of its flagship rifle, the Model 90 in .460 S&W Magnum and the Model 90A in .454 Casull. For more information and an exhaustive list of accessories and upgrades check out bighornarmory.com. ASJ
About the author: Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s, eventually graduating to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated magazine.He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as an “editor in recovery.” You can keep up with Campbell at davecampbelloutdoors.com.
Review and photographs by Oleg Volk
The story of this carbine goes back to 1997, when Kel-Tec introduced the Sub-9 carbine. In general, it was a conventional blow-back gun with the magazine inserted through the hand grip. Designed during the high-capacity-magazine-ban years, it used popular and available pistol magazines, but the Sub-9’s claim to fame was its unusual folding form.
When folding or collapsible stocks were not legal, the Sub-9 worked around that concept by creating a carbine that folded in half at the chamber, halving its overall length for storage and transport. The folding is initiated by pulling down on the back of the trigger guard, which allows the front of the gun to swing up and back eventually locking the front sight into a recess on the butt-stock.
In 2001, the machined aluminum receiver was replaced with a plastic clamshell, resulting in a lighter and less expensive Sub-2000 model, and since it was made to fit several makes of pistol magazines, in 9mm Luger and .40S&W, this carbine became extremely popular.
This year Kel-Tec launched the Sub-2000Mk2 (Mark 2). An upgraded version of the Sub-2000 but very similar mechanically and incorporates many improvements that were requested by users but often supplied by after-market accessory makers.
• It is 29.1 inches long when deployed and folds down to 16.1 inches.
• It has a higher standard of fit and finish, which shows immediately in the smoothness of cycling and accuracy.
• The plastic front-sight tower, with its ring-post protector, has been replaced by a machined, non-glare metal tower with protective ears around an AR15-compatible post.
• Windage and elevation adjustments are now repeatable, and the red-dot sight-picture is clearer than before.
• The muzzle now extends past the sight tower and provides threading for a suppressor or flash hider.
• Cooling vents on the sides double as an M-Lock accessory slot, and the pistol grip has been reshaped for better ergonomics.
• The unloaded weight with a magazine is only 4.4 pounds.
Performance has improved. Racking the bolt is easier, although the two-finger extended charging handle from Twisted Industries would still be a useful addition. The barrel appears to have improved as well. The old Sub-2000 ranged from 5 to 6 minute of angle while the new one shoots 2.6 to 4 MOA with the same red-dot sight. The top rail even allows the use of magnified optics, since the carbine itself is accurate enough to justify them. Cantilevered AR-15 scope mounts should be used because the top rail only covers the front two-thirds of the forend.
The gun ran reliably with all types of ammunition, except 50- to 60-grain hypervelocity loads. Point of impact changed considerably from load to load and as much as 3 inches diagonally at 25 yards. For serious use, it’s best to find one load that shoots well and stick to it.
Overall, the gun favors lighter-weight ammunition. The absolute winner in the accuracy department is the all-copper 100-grain OATH Halo with a consistent 2.6 MOA. A mild load with 1,250 feet-per-second velocity also produces minimal recoil and expands reliably.
One hundred and fifteen-grain Corbon JHP and, surprisingly, Winchester’s “white box” FMJ are almost as good with 3 MOA. Remington Golden Saber 124-grain is less accurate with 4 MOA, but works well up close with 1,350 fps velocity. Winchester 147-grain JHP lagged at 4.5 MOA, but would be accurate enough for its intended short-range use with sound suppressors.
Although 60-grain Liberty ammunition did not cycle, it did reach 2,550 fps and could be used for varmints out to nearly 100 yards.
The trigger pull is about 6.5 pounds and not very smooth, with a gritty second stage and some over-travel. Fortunately, the wide trigger guard allows for a safe addition of a trigger shoe designed for a P11 pistol. This wide shoe improves the feel of the trigger and gives it better control. This carbine uses an internal hammer with a sufficiently energetic pin-strike which makes misfires unlikely. In fact, I’ve had no malfunctions of any kind, even with over 300 rounds of mixed-type ammunition.
The bolt does not stay back on the last shot, but the difference in the feel is sufficient to tell when the gun is empty, and the charging handle can be locked back to show a clear chamber. This carbine fits 17- or 33-round Glock magazines and works well with 50- and 100-round drums; all drop freely when released. Smith & Wesson M&P magazines are the next in line for production after the Glock-compatible model.
In practical terms, it’s a competent companion to a center-fire pistol. Its main advantage over the pistol is improved practical accuracy and some increase in muzzle velocity. Folded, it can safely fit into a laptop case with a loaded magazine in the grip. While ballistically weaker than a true rifle, the Sub2000Mk2 is also lighter and quieter. For firing indoors, the reduction in concussion is very helpful, not to mention many ranges do not permit 5.56mm and other rifle calibers. –ASJ
Note: Some of the photos for this article show a pre-production version of the Sub2000mk2 carbine without the threaded muzzle. All production guns will have a threaded muzzle.