April 2nd, 2017 by Sam Morstan

Conversion kit a well-designed, well-made unit that gives CZ-75 owner two guns in one. 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY ROB REED

While there are many dedicated .22 LR pistols on the market, one of the best for everyday use is not a pistol in the pure sense, but instead is a conversion kit for the popular CZ-75 from the Czech Republic. And although this is not a new product, it remains one of the best of its kind on the market.

The CZ Kadet .22 LR conversion kit is an all-steel slide with a fixed barrel that mounts on most CZ-75 variants. (CZ USA)

The CZ-75 Kadet (and the more recent Kadet II) .22 LR conversion kit is a CZ factory-made unit that allows a shooter to quickly and easily convert a CZ-75 series pistol from centerfire to rimfire ammunition (and back again). This gives the shooter a lighter recoiling gun, which shoots less expensive ammo, while retaining the same trigger, controls, and overall feel of the pistol.

The Kadet unit consists of a replacement slide assembly with a fixed .22 LR barrel. The rear sight is adjustable for both elevation and windage. The entire unit is made of steel and is coated with a durable black polycoat. A Kadet kit-equipped pistol closely replicates the weight and feel of a standard pistol. The kit includes two 10-round .22 LR magazines. The Kadet magazines are made with a .22 LR inner liner sleeved in a full-size centerfire
metal magazine body. The integral baseplate and followers are both plastic. The magazines cannot be disassembled and, unlike some other designs, there is no way to compress the magazine springs for easier loading.

To install the Kadet kit on a pistol, take the complete pistol and pull back the centerfire slide until the witness marks on the slide and frame line up, push out the slide stop, and slide the centerfire top end off from the front. (This should be familiar to any CZ-75 owner.) Then, slide the .22 LR unit on the frame, line up the witness marks, and reinstall the slide stop. It’s that simple.

The smaller diameter of the .22 LR muzzle is the only thing that gives away that a Kadet kit is installed on this CZ-75. (MARIE VERHEYEN)

BECAUSE A TIGHT FRAME-TO-SLIDE fit is important for accuracy, certain points on the rails of the Kadet slide are very slightly oversized. This may require the user to fit the kit to the pistol the first time it is installed. All this takes is a needle file, a little focused time, and some patience. Simply note the high points on the rails of the kit slide and alternate between a few file strokes on the Kadet slide and test fittings until the Kadet slide goes completely onto the frame.

The Kadet kit was recently redesigned slightly to work with the newer Omega trigger system, and these newer kits (the Kadet II) may not require as much, if any, fitting. The Kadet kit works on the full-size CZ-75 and SP-01 and the compact CZ75 models, including the P-01, P-06, PCR, and RAMI. The Kadet kit will not work on the CZ-97, CZ-75 TS, or P-07 Duty models. When used with the compact models, the magazine will protrude below the mag well.

In my experience the CZ-75 Kadet kit has proven to be reliable, accurate, and fun. I’ve owned mine for over a dozen years and have fired untold thousands of rounds through it in that time. I’ve found the Kadet-equipped pistol to be more reliable than most other .22 LR pistols I’ve tried.

This view of the author’s well-used CZ-75B with a Kadet kit installed shows both the small area of the slide that reciprocates and the fixed barrel.

The only times I have a problem is when the pistol gets excessively dirty, usually after several range sessions without cleaning, especially if using the cheaper .22 LR ammo that is known to leave more residue behind. The problem typically manifests when the slide starts to feel gritty or “sluggish,” and sometimes includes failures to feed or failures to extract. These problems typically clear up with the application of additional lube at the range, followed by a thorough cleaning before the next trip.

Of course, like any .22 LR pistol, the Kadet-equipped CZ-75 will likely show a preference for certain ammo for both reliability and accuracy. As this often differs from gun to gun the best way to find what shoots best is to try different brands and take notes.
THE FIXED BARREL HELPS PROMOTE accuracy. While it’s not up to the standards of a NRA Bullseye competitor’s pistol, in my experience it shoots as well, if not better, than any “plinker grade” or entry level .22 LR target pistol. The adjustable sights allow the shooter to sight in for any particular load or distance and are easy to see. While the exact trigger feel and weight depends on the specific host frame, I’ve found the gun is capable of very precise shooting, especially when fired single-action.

In addition to using it for general shooting, I’ve found a Kadet-equipped CZ-75 to be an excellent training pistol for new shooters. The similarity of the controls to other centerfire pistols is a bonus, as is the general accuracy and reliability of the unit.

There are, however, a few issues with this design worth noting. The first is that the requirement that the Kadet slide be hand-fitted to the host pistol may be off-putting to some shooters. This is mitigated by how easy it is to do and the fact that the new units require less, if any, fitting. But frankly, if this is an issue for you, perhaps you shouldn’t invest in a conversion kit in the first place.

Another view of the author’s CZ-75B with the magazine in place

In order to make the action work with less powerful .22 LR ammunition, the Kadet slide had to be redesigned from the centerfire original. Instead of a one-piece slide, which moves on the frame, the Kadet slide is made of two pieces. The larger piece, which includes the top and bottom of the slide, stays in place with only the smaller cutout portion of the slide actually reciprocating. This makes manipulating the slide to load the pistol a bit more difficult as the
moving part is smaller than the complete slide and some shooters find it hard to grab.

The other potential issue is with the Kadet magazines. While well made, they cannot be disassembled for cleaning or maintenance. Fortunately this has never become an issue for me, but is something to be aware of.

The CZ-75 Kadet .22 LR conversion kit is a well-designed, well-made unit that gives the CZ-75 owner “two guns in one.” A Kadet kit-equipped CZ-75 is easily the equal of any .22 LR pistol in its price class and is practically a must-have for any CZ-75 fan. ASJ

A CZ-75 with a .22 LR Kadet kit installed looks and, more importantly, handles like a regular centerfire CZ pistol, while allowing the use of less expensive .22 LR ammunition. (CZ USA)

Contact: CZ USA cz-usa.com/products/view/cz-75kadet-adapter

Posted in Handguns Tagged with: , , , , ,

October 10th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

CZ-USA’s new All-American Trap Combo was designed specifically to help you shatter more clays.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE

“Pull!”

A bright orange disc flies out of the trap house at a pace only slightly slower than the speed of light. You were hoping for a lob, a gimme, or a straightaway that you could transform into orange powder and boost your confidence a little. But you don’t get any of those, and instead the demonic chunk of clay goes hard left – your worst angle – and you struggle to catch up with the meteor. Finally, you stop the gun and slowly lift your cheek off the comb in defeat as the intact disc spins away to safety.

From somewhere nearby, you swear you hear a snicker.

This nightmare scenario is played out time and again on trap shooting ranges all over the country, and sometimes we reluctantly find ourselves in the starring role. But maybe, like me, you have a desire to break out of your present skill level for busting clays. Perhaps this will be the year you do what it takes to improve those scores.

I don’t suggest that I’m a rocket scientist in these matters, but in all honesty, it isn’t rocket science. We all know what the experts tell us. If you want to improve, you’ll have to take action to come up in the world on the trap, skeet or sporting clays range. You have to get serious and burn more powder. You have to find some good, qualified instruction, because just listening to the buddy you shoot with every other Saturday ain’t gonna cut it.

Oh, and one more thing – one really important thing. You have to get a good shotgun, one that is built for the task; a shotgun designed to make it easier for you turn those elusive little clays into powder.

Now, I admire the man or woman who shoots trap, ducks and turkeys all with the same shotgun. But if you are going to get serious in this game, you need to start thinking about a shotgun built for the job, and CZ-USA has something new that may be just what you are looking for.

CZ-USA HAS TURNED OUT impressive shotguns for several years, but the brand-new player in their lineup is the All-American Trap Combo. David Miller – CZ’s shotgun guru and the current Guinness Book of World Record holder for the most clay targets broken in one hour – travels all over the country shooting shotguns. He knows a thing or three about them, and between trigger pulls, he told me all about the company’s new smoothbore.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” he said, “I remember talking to Alice Poluchova [president of CZ-USA] on how important it was for us to tap into the American trap market
way back in 2010, but to do so would take a special product.”

Miller finally began working with CZ-USA’s partners at AKKAR, the shotgun makers in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2014. In those early talks, he stressed how durable the gun had to be, and what sort of features a shooter would want in a high-quality shotgun specifically designed for American trap shooting. That list of features soon made their way to Semih Polat, the product manager at the AKKAR factory. It was a pretty impressive list (see sidebar), so I’ll discuss the main features one group at a time.

The All-American Trap Combo in the standard over/under configuration ... (CZ-USA)

The All-American Trap Combo in the standard over/under configuration … (CZ-USA)

THE FIRST GROUP OF FEATURES consists of drop-in replaceable action components, three sizes of replaceable locking lugs, and easy-to-replace firing pins and bushings. The drop-in parts feature is huge. A well-used trap gun will fire thousands of rounds a year, and no matter how well made it is, some parts will wear out faster than others. The ability to quickly replace things like bushings, hinge pins and firing pins will be greatly appreciated by the avid shooter.

Neale Flynn, gunsmith at CZ-USA, provided even more detail on the replaceable locking lugs. “The locking block engages the bites of the barrel underneath the bottom of the chamber,” he said, “and the locking block wears over time. Slowly, the top snap lever will go from the right, when the gun is shut, to center.”

“Once at center,” he continued, “the locking block needs to be replaced. On other over/under shotguns, you have to weld and machine the locking block that was in that gun to begin with. It’s more time consuming, and we have to do it in-house to ensure it’s correct. With these drop-in locking blocks of different sizes, it allows us to send the next size of locking block to a customer for their local gunsmith to replace, no major special surgery required.”

Next on Miller’s list were an unsingle singles trap barrel with full floating rib, and a matching set of midheight rib over/under barrels. “Unsingle” refers to a single-barreled option on this gun to shoot singles, with the barrel being
“under” on the bottom. Opinions vary, but many shooters prefer the barrel to be on the bottom in a single barrel configuration, compared to a “top single” model such as one made by Krieghoff.

... and in the unsingle configuration. (CZ-USA)

… and in the unsingle configuration. (CZ-USA)

HOW THE RIB IS ATTACHED is important, and Flynn advised me that the rib on the All-American Trap Combo is silver-soldered to the barrel. The solder used is 45 percent silver, and is done in an oven at 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to lead- and tin-based solders, or tin and antimony solder, which is more common on less expensive guns, this method is significantly stronger.

And a matching set of over-and-under barrels allows the All-American Trap Combo shooter to compete in all phases of American Trap shooting – singles, doubles and handicap.

Finally, we come to a fully adjustable butt pad plate (also adjustable for length of pull), a four-way adjustable parallel comb, adjustable trigger shoe positing, and select wood grain. Just as Miller requested, everything that can be adjusted on this gun is adjustable. The comb adjusts, but it is also parallel. When your cheek is against the comb, your head will not raise or lower if you move back and forth on the stock.

The butt pad adjusts for length of pull, toe in and toe out (slant of the pad from top to bottom), and even for cast on and off. The trigger is adjustable up to   inch, and the wood in the stock is listed as “select” – it is drop-dead gorgeous.

Byers made the most of his CZ-USA All-American Trap Combo test, scoring a 23 on his first round with the new gun.

Byers made the most of his CZ-USA All-American Trap Combo test, scoring a 23 on his first round with the new gun.

I PUT SEVERAL BOXES of Browning’s new BPT shotgun ammo through the All-American Trap Combo and watched others do the same. The gun seemed lively and naturally pointed, yet was still heavy enough that I saw no problems with recoil.

After putting it through its paces, I offered a few other shooters the opportunity for a test drive. Austyn Byers, a high school 4H shooter from Auto, W.Va., picked it up out of case, walked onto the trap range and shot a 23 on his first round.

The Trap Combo consistently turned heads when the author opened up the gun case.

The Trap Combo consistently turned heads when the author opened up the gun case.

I also trolled the All-American Trap Combo past some of the instructors at the Greenbrier Resort Gun Club in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The gun was very well received there and turned heads everywhere I took it.

“Now that CZ-USA is stepping into the realm of trap shooting,” Miller said, “we will be automatically compared to the shotguns that are already proven to work in such games. For example, Caesar Guerini’s base model is called a Summit Combo and it’s a fantastic gun, but it costs $7,995. There are other great trap guns available, but none will give you more for your money than the AllAmerican Trap Combo.”

MSRP is $3,399. If you can find another shotgun that is as well made and has as many features as this, I suggest you buy it. ASJ

West Virginia high school student Austyn Byers (left foreground) and his fellow 4H shooters liked what they saw of CZ-USA’s new All-American Trap Combo shotgun.

West Virginia high school student Austyn Byers (left foreground) and his fellow 4H shooters liked what they saw of CZ-USA’s new All-American Trap Combo shotgun.

Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

October 3rd, 2016 by Sam Morstan

Dixie Gun Works offers Uberti’s ‘new’ Cattleman Flat-Top single action in .44/40

STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT

Back in 1961, Colt allowed some announcements to leak out about a new target-sighted single action they’d soon release. At the time, I’d hoped for a return of the early flat-top target model of their famous Single Action Army, but instead, they introduced the New Frontier model. And while that is an exceptionally fine revolver, it really didn’t appeal to my oldtime, traditional tastes.

Finally, a mere 55 years later, Dixie Gun Works has added the Uberti Cattleman Flat-top to their catalog, and it was worth the wait. In addition to being historically correct, this is a six-gun built for accurate and fine shooting.

The details of that historical correctness begin with the cartridges this gun is chambered for. Currently (although things can change), the flat-top Cattleman is offered only for the .45 Colt and the .44/40. Of those two cartridges, the .45 is certainly the most common today, just as it was years ago. If all of my wishes had come true, this new gun would be offered in .44 Smith & Wesson Russian/Special too. However, with the .45 Colt and the .44/40 to choose from, one of the .44/40s was my choice.

The blue and color case hardening, combined with the excellent fit and finish, make this a beautiful gun.

The blue and color case hardening, combined with the excellent fit and finish, make this a beautiful gun.

THE MOST OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE between this target model and the standard frame guns, in addition to the flat-top frame, is the sights. At the back, the rear sight sits in a dovetail and it is easily windage adjustable, with a small set screw to lock it in place. The front sight is a blade pinned into a lug soldered to the top of the barrel. Originally, the front sight could be changed, and that should be possible on this gun too (simply drive out the pin), but a new front sight blade would have to be made.

Another feature I really like is the wide trigger. Instead of the standard narrow trigger found on most Colt Single Actions and their clones, this trigger is the same width as the trigger guard. That will give the trigger finger a much better “grip” while aiming for the shot.

Interestingly enough, in reviewing some original flattops, I discovered that not all of them had the wide triggers. Additionally, a few of the models with wide triggers had their triggers checkered. To me, that’s an interesting detail about the rare original Colts, and likewise for these rather uncommon copies.

The “flat-top” is clearly seen in this image, along with the adjustable rear sight.

The “flat-top” is clearly seen in this image, along with the adjustable rear sight.

Shooting the Flat-top in .44/40 is like shooting a very rare piece. As you may know, Colt originally made only 21 of their flat-top Single Action Army revolvers in this caliber. (Of course, that doesn’t count the 78 flat-top .44/40 Bisley Models which were also made.) Most of my shooting was done with black powder loads, but that is certainly not
a requirement. I will even admit that my best shooting was done with smokeless powdered loads.

THOSE LOADS ARE GOOD ENOUGH to mention in detail. First, the bullets used for all of my loads were cast from Lyman’s mold #427098, usually out of a soft 30-1 alloy, sized to .429 inches, and lubricated with BPC lube (Black Powder Cartridge lube from Montana Armory). Primers used were always CCI’s standard Large Pistol.

The black powder load used 33.0 grains of GOEX’s Olde Eynsford powder, which fills the Starline .44/40 cases almost to the top. Then the powder is compressed simply by seating the bullet down on it.

For a smokeless powder load, all of the above remains the same except for the powder charge. Instead of using black powder, I used a charge of 7½ grains of Unique. That is basically a recommended load, not near maximum at all, and some very comfortable shooting can be done with it. That is an accurate load too, good enough for pleasing groups and controllable enough for Cowboy competition.

This gun has the “black powder frame” with the base pin held in by a screw.

This gun has the “black powder frame” with the base pin held in by a screw.

To make load identification very easy, I load my black powder ammo in Starline’s nickel-plated cases, while the smokeless load go into standard brass cases.

Both of those loads seem to hit at about the same elevation. For my “accuracy check,” I posted a couple of pistol targets at 50 feet, and fired the flat-top from a rest. While holding the sights at 6 o’clock, right at the bottom of the black, very good hits were made, mostly in the 10 ring. The smokeless load did produce a somewhat smaller group than the black powder loads, but I only made this comparison once, and I’m certain a lot of “human element” was involved.

The trigger is as wide as the trigger guard, making this revolver very comfortable to shoot.

The trigger is as wide as the trigger guard, making this revolver very comfortable to shoot.

WHAT WAS A LOT MORE FUN, as you could probably guess, was plinking with the black powder loads. One particular small target was teasing me, and that was a clothespin hanging on a wire at a distance of 25 or 30 yards. There was a good dirt bank backstop behind it, and I could spot exactly where my shots that missed actually hit. It took me only three tries to hit that clothespin, and it disassembled quite nicely on my third shot.

AS FOR TECHNICAL INFO about the gun, the 7½-inch-long barrel is rifled with grooves .004 inch deep and a rate of twist at one turn in 20 inches. The groove diameter of the barrel is .429 inch. This gun’s front sight is a silver blade that is held with a screw in the blued steel base. The rear sight is a nice wide square notch that sits in a dovetail. It is windage adjustable and it has a set screw to hold it in place. This gun measures 13.25 inches overall, and it weighs about 2½ pounds. Dixie’s price, at this writing, is only $450.00, making this a lot of gun for the money.

Good groups! The smokeless group is on the left, and the black powder group is on the right

Good groups! The smokeless group is on the left, and the black powder group is on the right

Shooting with the Flat-top Cattleman is, for me, a real pleasure. And now, if they’ll bring back the flat-top Bisley Model, I hope my name is at the top of their list.

I also hope that I don’t have to wait another 55 years. ASJ 

It pays to enjoy your work. Here, author Mike Nesbitt grins as he fires the Uberti Cattleman .44/40 with full black powder loads. (JERRY MAYO)

It pays to enjoy your work. Here, author Mike Nesbitt grins as he fires the Uberti Cattleman .44/40 with full black powder loads. (JERRY MAYO)

 

Posted in Handguns Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

September 30th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

The Century Arms UC-9 Carbine remains a popular semiauto version of the classic Uzi.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY FRANK JARDIM

The classic Uzi 9mm submachine gun was developed by Uziel Gal in the 1950s for the Israeli military, and in its day was considered an excellent combat weapon. And although guns with similar features had become pretty standard by the end of World War II, the Uzi changed the paradigm for submachine guns with its compactness, ergonomics and easy handling.

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.

The Centurion UC-9 utilizes many original Uzi part designs, coupled with an American-made semiauto-only bolt and receiver.

The Centurion UC-9 utilizes many original Uzi part designs, coupled with an American-made semiauto-only bolt and receiver.

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.

The Centurion’s semiauto grip assembly and safeties.

The Centurion’s semiauto grip assembly and safeties.

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

 The rear aperture uses a 100-yard and 200-yard flip rear sight, but elevation and windage are easily adjusted at the front sight

The rear aperture uses a 100-yard and 200-yard flip rear sight, but elevation and windage are easily adjusted at the front sight

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 UC-9 will accept 25- and 32-round magazines.

The UC-9 will accept 25- and 32-round magazines.

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 Century Arms Uzi clone field strips easily into just a few parts.

The Century Arms Uzi clone field strips easily into just a few parts.

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.

Shooters of smaller stature will have no problem firing the Centurion UC-9 at the zombie of their choice.

Shooters of smaller stature will have no problem firing the Centurion UC-9 at the zombie of their choice.

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 author believes the UC-9 displays solid workmanship. Here is a comparison of some front-of-frame welding on an FN subgun (left) and the Century Arms UC-9.

The author believes the UC-9 displays solid workmanship. Here is a comparison of some front-of-frame welding on an FN subgun (left) and the Century Arms UC-9.

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.

Frank Thomas fires the Century Arms Centurion UC-9 at a recent Zombie Shoot event in Kentucky.

Frank Thomas fires the Century Arms Centurion UC-9 at a recent Zombie Shoot event in Kentucky.

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. 

Posted in Firearms Industry Showcase Tagged with: , , , , , ,

August 6th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

The AR57 Is An Excellent High-capacity Yet Affordable Alternative For Self-defense, Varmint Hunting

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY OLEG VOLK
The AR57 (also known as the AR Five Seven) upper receiver for the AR-15 has two claims to fame: a 50-shot capacity and downward ejection for ambidextrous operation. Operating by simple blowback, this upper is available in 6-inch pistol and 16-inch rifle versions, with the latter being reviewed here.

Manufactured by the eponymous AR57 LLC, and chambered in 5.7x28mm, this upper is less powerful than the standard 5.56mm version, but it has certain tangible advantages, including reduced muzzle blast, a high practical rate of fire, nonexistent recoil, and the ability to use folding stocks. Since the buffer is located within the receiver, folding stocks may also be used for compact storage or carry.

To load, place the baseplate of a standard FN P90 magazine into the recess on the front of the upper, then press the feed lip side down on the catch located above and slightly back of the bolt. To charge, pull on the right-side nonreciprocating handle and release. The right-side charging hand placement makes it accessible for operation by the strong hand. Since it only has to be operated once every 50 shots, the time penalty for moving the hand off the pistol grip isn’t too great.

Empties will eject downward through the nominal magazine well. Some people use a 20-round magazine body with the feed lips, spring and follower removed to act as a brass catcher.

The magazine has no provision for activating the bolt lock when empty, but the bolt can be locked open using the catch on the lower. The upper runs very cleanly and reliably, requiring no maintenance after the first 500 shots.

The AR57 comes with a medium fluted barrel, reasonable for a varmint rifle but excessive for a defensive carbine. Burning around six grains per shot, 5.7x28mm runs much cooler than 5.56mm, which burns four or more times as much. That yields much reduced muzzle blast and far greater heat endurance, of course at the cost of a roughly 40 percent slower bullet.

The baseplate of a standard FN P90 magazine fits snugly into the recess on the front of the upper.

CHOOSING LOADS

The adequacy of 5.7x28mm for stopping human aggressors has been in dispute ever since its introduction. Some of the lighter bullets available for the caliber have traditionally been tipped or leadless hollow points prone to excessive fragmentation. Firing a 27-grain lead-free hollow point at a full, upright 12-ounce beverage can did not produce a complete penetration – an excellent result for a range or a small varmint round, but not a man-stopper.

With no protruding magazine, the AR57 allows shooters to get very low into a prone position.

Expanding ammunition with better penetration is also available from FN, along with nonfragmenting 40-grain FMJ American Eagle. Recently, RR Weapon Systems introduced two 37-grain all-copper loads, 37F (fragmenting) and 37X (expanding). In testing 37X, I found it much hotter than the alternatives and a very reliable terminal performer. The three-petal bullets expanded to fill 2/3-inch circumference and penetrated around 12 inches into gel. Velocity was around 2,680 feet per second with a standard deviation of under 10, so it was no surprise that it produced groups a touch under 2 inches. Other than handloads with 40-grain Vmax, all other ammunition grouped closer to 2.5 to 3 minutes of angle when fired using a 2.5x scope.

The AR57 is an excellent choice for self-defense, especially for individuals of smaller stature.

The main limitation on the use of an AR57 for varmint control is the space available for optics. Because the magazine is lifted up for unloading, the potential length of the scope is sharply limited. I have been able to fit 2.5x or 4x prismatic scopes, but anything longer caused interference. Considering these sighting limitations, I would rate it as suitable for small rodents out to 100 yards.

Accuracy is a less important consideration for defensive use. Follow-up shots with the AR57 are limited only by the trigger finger dexterity, as it showed no muzzle rise at all. Up close, this platform would be better served with a red dot sight and a laser for rapid aiming. I’d like to see a defensive variant with a pencil-thin barrel and a more skeletonized forend developed alongside the current version.

Compared to the PS90, the AR57 is the heavier option, even when polymer lowers are used. It is also longer. But the advantages of an AR57 are numerous. Even a stock AR-15 has a better trigger than a PS90, and aftermarket options can enhance that difference a great deal. AR lowers allow adjustable length of pull, and AR ergonomics make more use of existing training, other than in the reloading process. The height of sights over bore is significantly less, making accurate hits easier.

This functional upper features several advantages, including reduced muzzle blast, a high practical rate of fire, and nonexistent recoil.

Compared to a 5.56 upper, the AR57 is simpler to clean, generates less felt recoil and much less muzzle blast. With no protruding magazine, it allows the shooter to get very low into a prone position. Two full 50-round P90 magazines weigh as little as one 5.56 30-rounder, so you can carry a lot of ammunition.

At $745 direct from the manufacturer or an authorized dealer, it is less expensive than a PS90 carbine (which lists at $1350), even after the cost of an AR-15 lower is added in. The 5.7x28mm ammunition costs about the same as 5.56x45mm, though the variety of available loads is definitely smaller.

The niche I see for AR57 – besides it being plain fun to shoot – is for self-defense by the same slightly built individuals who would have picked an M1 carbine in the past. It requires less upper body strength to use than most long guns, and gives 50 shots without reloading. A small teenager or a fragile senior can run it with ease, but the rest of us won’t need an excuse to enjoy using this upper. ASJ

 

Editor’s note: For more information about the AR57, visit 57center.com.

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , , , ,

August 4th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

With Quality Guns Like The MCX And A Branded Line Of Pellets And Targets, SIG Sauer Is Establishing Itself As A Leader In The Airgun Market

STORY BY TOM CLAYCOMB • PHOTOGRAPHS BY SIG SAUER

It’s probably a waste of our ink and your time to remind you that SIG Sauer makes some sweet guns, or how excited I was when my friends at SIG told me that they wanted me to test their new airgun line.

SIG Sauer’s MCX (above) features the same weight as the original model, and is designed to deliver comparable handling, ensuring that it will be fun and challenging to shoot (below).

For that small minority who may not have read last month’s review of SIG’s P226 airgun, not only did SIG launch an airgun line, they went the extra mile and developed a good selection of extremely accurate pellets and a large choice of airgun targets. This was extremely smart on their part, as this new line will be a huge drawing card for kids … and grown-up kids, of course.

So with that said, let’s discuss the MCX.1608-SIG-MCX-01c

It is the same weight as the original model, and is designed to deliver comparable handling. This “real gun” feel guarantees that it will be fun and challenging to shoot, but as with the P226, it’s also great for training purposes. The MCX is charged by CO2, which is a new experience for me. Even as a kid I have never had an airgun that used a CO2 canister. My airguns have always been pump-ups, break-action or PCPs.

The MCX is quite simple to operate. To begin with, it uses a 90-gram canister instead of the normal 12-gram ones. To install a canister you remove the butt stock, screw it in and replace the stock over it. I’m sure it was designed around a larger canister because it holds a 30 shot clip. And speaking of clips, the clip pops out the same as on your regular AR. Inside is a rotary belt that you insert pellets into, which will hold 30 pellets. To load it you pull back the bolt just like on your AR. The gun does have a forward assist bolt, but it is merely decorative, not functional.

The MCX uses a 90-gram CO2 canister. To install, you simply remove the butt stock, screw the canister in and replace the stock over it.

With it holding 30 pellets and being a semiauto, that makes it a fun gun to shoot. I fell in love with it right when I opened the box, and was impressed with how solid it felt.

For the initial voyage, we went out to shoot and chronograph. There were a few ground squirrels out, but we tried to focus on the task at hand. We had a lot of guns to shoot that day and pellets to test. But we finally broke down and shot ground squirrels for a couple of hours when we were finished with the real work.

The 30-shot clip pops out the same as on your regular AR.

Although the gun is listed as shooting up to 750 feet per second, we attained only 590. But fps can vary greatly for a variety of reasons, such as if you have a fully charged canister or not, what kind of pellet that you’re shooting and variations in temperature. I think it’d be fun to chronograph it in 30-degree weather and then again in 105-degree conditions, conducting both tests on a new canister and the same pellets, and compare speeds.

I was unhappy with the groups that I was getting on the range. But I took it along when we went to the mountains for some coyote hunting, and I was able to retest in the middle of the day when things slowed down. I got a little over a 7/8-inch three-shot group at 30 feet. That’s more like it.

The SIG MCX will make an excellent training rifle, as well as a fine varmint gun.

I wrote about hunting ground squirrels elsewhere in this issue, and mentioned that on a good day I’ll get 400 to 500 shots off, so the cost of .22 ammo can quickly add up. So for close shots in a similar hunting scenario, the MCX will not only be a fun little gun to shoot, but it’s also very economical.

The MCX comes with a 1-4×24 SIG Sauer scope, and I was impressed by how crisp and clear it is. The crosshairs have marks for distance and windage. The only downside is that the scope is a 1-4x; as I’m shooting small targets and pushing the limit on yardage when I’m hunting with my airguns, I wish that it was at least a 3-9x.

The trigger was really rough at first. But while I was trying to measure the poundage, it leveled out and pulled straight through at 6.25 pounds. Maybe it just had to break in to get smooth. Obviously, if it had a better trigger, I know that I could tighten my group.

SIG Sauer’s MCX provides shooters with a “real gun” feel and the easy-to-use benefits of an airgun.

But despite the minor issues with the trigger and scope, it is a great little gun, and as soon as the ground squirrels come out in full force I’m going to burn the barrel out. Shooters of all ages will certainly enjoy it, but as with most modern airguns, it is definitely not a toy. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more, see sigsauerasp.com.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

October 22nd, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV Derringer

Story and photographs by Tom Claycomb III

I’ve never classified a gun as a fun gun to shoot, but that’s how I would describe the double-barreled Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV derringer. Bond makes a variety of calibers and styles, but I decided to go with the IV due to the longer 4¼-inch barrel, which I had hoped would be a bit more accurate, have less recoil and tighter groups.

The Snake Slayer IV can handle .45 Long Colts and 2¾- and 3-inch .410s. I guess it was really designed as a concealed-carry gun, but I wanted to use it against snakes while fishing. It would also be good for shooting big halibut before you boat them. A .410 will do the job nicely and not ricochet.

PHOTO 2 IMGP5722-min

The first time I shot the Snake Slayer IV, my daughter Kolby joined me. Just as I set up a target, a ground squirrel ran out. I had a 2 ¾ ounce No.6 chambered and killed it at 20 feet.

Every time my daughter Kolby and I go fishing in Oregon, we see rattlesnakes. One year I heard her scream – a snake had jumped in the boat with us. On another trip on a river in Idaho, I saw six rattlesnakes and one of those floated right by me. That would have caused panic if it had tried to crawl up on the driest thing around, which was my head!

While in town, I originally thought to carry my Slayer with .45 Long Colts, but then I tested the new Winchester PDX-1 shells. Wow, they’re bad – in a good way! They have four discs and 16 BBs. They would stop a bad guy in his tracks. I shot various loads through the gun, and the first time I used the PDX-1 it made my jaw drop. It was noticeably devastating.

Snake SlayerBond SSIV

The Snake Slayer IV can interchange 20 barrels for a range of 25 different calibers.

The first rattle out of the box with a .45 Long Colt, I managed a 2½-inch group at 10 and 15 feet using Hornady’s 185-grain Critical Defense ammo. That would be more than enough to stop a bad guy – that’s a big bullet! But, like I said before, my main use for this gun would be to shoot snakes, and after shooting a .410 with No. 6 shot, I found that it had a wicked pattern, so I’m pretty confident it would work as a self-protection load as well.

When I took my Slayer out for some extensive shooting, I managed a 4-inch group at 15 feet, but I’m not renowned for being a great pistol shot. I then shot groups of two out of the same barrel and managed 2-inch groups, so there is a little variation between barrels, as you would imagine. Not a big factor, though, because it’s a short-range weapon.

I need to point out that the gun is diverse because you can interchange 20 different barrels, or 25 different calibers with one base unit. That has to make these one of the most versatile guns on the market.

It is a heavy, nice-looking and well-made duty pistol designed to last for generations. I also love that it has an equally nice and heavy-duty leather holster that is form-fitted with a latch to hold the gun securely.

Bond Arms has transformed the lowly derringer into a linebacker. ASJ

PHOTO 1 IMGP5858-min

While fishing, a watersnake swam within a foot of me. This is why I carry the Snake Slayer IV. IT can readily be used as a great concealed-carry gun too.

 

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , ,

April 21st, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

sub2000mk2_onehanded_0231hires-min

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.

sub2000mk2_weaponlight_0238hires-min
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.

unfolding_keltec_sub2000mk2_2059hires-min

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.

Kel-Tec sub2000mk2
Kel-Tec sub2000mk2

Features and Upgrades

• 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.

• The butt stock is now adjustable for length-of-pull with three positions, and the buttpad is smoother and almost twice as wide as the original; this has considerably reduced the recoil effects.sub2000mk2_buttstock_2161hires-min

sub2000mk2_front_sight_tower_2162hires-min• There are now loops for two types of slings, and the forend is more rigid, slightly less bulky and endowed with Picatinny rails on the top and bottom.

• 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.

 

sub2000mk2_front_sight_tower_2165hires-min
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.Photo 1 Keltec Sub2000Mk2

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.

Photo 2 Keltec Sub2000Mk2

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.

sub2000mk2_accuracy_testing_2791hires-min

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,