While elegant isn’t a term usually associated with an AK-47, the C39v2 earns the descriptor. With a milled receiver machined from a solid 11-pound block of 4140 ordnance-quality steel and lightening grooves on each side, gone is the rough industrial look of the traditional stamped AK. Marry this receiver to the high-quality wooden forend furniture and Warsaw-length stock, finish the receiver and barrel inside and out in black nitrite, and you have one classy-looking rifle!
The obvious upgrades to the v2 include the sights, magazine release and safety that have been changed from the original Century Arms C39. After much feedback they brought back the traditional AK iron sights, allowing those with standard AK sight tools to breathe a sigh of relief. The new oversized T-shaped extended magazine catch might appear to be cumbersome at first glance; however, just as oversized controls on pistols and shotguns have proven useful, the v2’s large release proved an asset for aggressive and fast magazine changes. Proof in point that bigger can be better. The safety has a very positive, crisp feel, and includes a notched detail that receives the charging handle and locks it in place, keeping the bolt open. In combination with the modified dust cover the C39v2 safety won’t over-rotate past the dust cover, as with some stamped AKs, and is easy to remove for servicing.
Century Arms didn’t cut corners when it came to components. Green Mountain makes the C39v2’s 16.5-inch barrel with a 1:10 twist and a concentric left-hand 14×1 metric thread that comes equipped with a chevron muzzle break. They chose a high quality barrel and used black nitrite to coat it inside and out, which ensures longevity and accuracy over the life of the gun. Similarly, the double-stack bolt design and lightening slots in the bolt carrier – whether you are a fan of that feature or not – show quality machining throughout.
Century Arms answered the demand for a better trigger in the v2 by creating and manufacturing the RAK-1 trigger group. Using a double-hook single-stage trigger with Wolf springs, the RAK-1 is arguably the closest thing to an AK match-grade trigger on the market. An innovative relief cut allows the RAK-1 to be used in receivers designed to only accept single-hook triggers. Most AK triggers require polishing on the top to eliminate bolt hang up. The RAK-1’s top-profile design is already optimized, making additional tweaking unnecessary. For an AK trigger the RAK-1 has very little uptake, breaks at 5 pounds and has a crisp reset. While this trigger is nothing fancy compared to what the M4 market is accustomed to, it is well made, does the job and fits other AK-variant rifles and pistols such as the RAS47, WASR, N-PAP and C39s.
But how does it shoot? Get the rifle off the bench and onto the range! Zeroing from the prone position at 100 yards with Wolf ammo, the C39v2 shot a consistent 2-inch group. Why zero at 100? Because friends don’t let friends zero AKs at 7 yards! Century Arms claims that the C39v2 shoots one minute of angle out of the box, which very well may be the case in the hands of a more experienced AK enthusiast.
Over the 500-plus rounds fired through this gun while testing, there were no malfunctions other than the most infuriating and common AK malfunction: running dry! The rifle cycled with boring reliably and smooth operation without interruption, as is expected of a well-made AK. If you love AKs, you probably love a pump shotgun for the physical handling required to effectively run both. Reloads are the best example: rocking the empty mag out with a new one and slamming the next one home isn’t a delicate operation. Simply put, the more aggressive you are with this AK, the better it performs.
Concerning the C39v2’s durability: It’s an AK. They were designed to be driven over, dropped, submerged, survive the Russian “push up test” (where the person doing the pushup balances the AK upright on the magazine, and holds each end while conducting pushups – all the weight, pressure and balance point is on the magazine resting on the ground) and run as intended, depending on the volume of gravel accumulated in the action. That being said, it’s easy to tear down, clean and get back up and running because, well, it’s an AK. Being made with quality components only stands to increase the C39v2’s durability and longevity in the hands of a hard-use discerning shooter.
Downsides to the C39v2? For some, the additional weight from the milled receiver that brings the rifle to a whopping 8.2 pounds may be an issue. Because Century Arms designed the receiver to be compatible with after-market modern Kalashnikovs (slight modifications may be required) and polymer furniture, these components can be changed out if weight is that critical. Gym memberships may also be an option for consideration.
The chevron muzzle break may be the only component that some would wish to change out. That being said, it’s a simple procedure, and arguably the only metal component on the rifle that may not suit an AK shooter’s tastes. A contemporary AK shooter will wish there was a side mount for optics while AK traditionalists may shed a tear when they find the C39v2 lacks a bayonet lug and cleaning rod. However, this allows it to adhere to California laws, and is available in a bullet button version to make West Coasters leap with joy.
Out of the box the v2 already has the majority of value-added upgrades most enthusiasts look to change in stock versions. Century Arms has delivered an affordable, quality AK with the added patriotic benefit of sourcing and making it entirely in the US. Given our nation’s ever-changing import bans and regulations, having an AK-47 manufacturer stateside that listens to its customers and is willing to evolve their product is a great asset to the US firearms community. As more shooters experience the C39v2 and appreciate it, the only question that remains is, can Century Arms keep up with demand? ASJ
Review by Gy6vids Youtuber:
-The shooting test is not an accuracy test but on quick target acquisition
-Gy6 takes the C39V2 through its pace by going through some target acquisition – doing single, double and triple taps with magazine change.
-A great feature that you can install is the increase paddle mag release. It will help you do magazine change quickly with this ambidextrious paddle.
-Gy6 also does some dirt torture testing, where he tosses the C39V2 into the dirt with the bolt closed and open and fires it with no problems.
-If you’re looking to decrease your trigger pull down to 3 lbs, have a look at CMC triggers.
Some advantages to having this weapon is the ammo.
-Ammunition, the 7.62x39mm has some oomph when compared to the .223 round. This obviously has more stopping power at close range and long ranges. For home defense, its perfect for close quarter encounter, its not likely that you will be sniping at your burglar.
-Ammo economics, for some high quality brands of 7.62x39mm costs about $225 per 1,000 rounds. (thats not bad)
THE ORIGINAL HENRY RIFLE was an important technical milestone, but the brand itself lasted only six years, from 1860 to 1866. The manufacturer, New Haven Arms Company, became Winchester Repeating Arms and its 1866 “Yellow Boy” became a runaway commercial success. It improved on the original design by sealing the tube magazine from the environment, and made it more suitable to military use with gate loading through the side of the receiver.
The Henry brand name went unused until it was resurrected in style by Louis and Anthony Imperato. This wasn’t the ﬁrst rodeo for Louis, who had resurrected the Iver Johnson brand back in 1973 and, for a time, produced commercial M1 carbines of good quality. With the Henry brand, production began with modestly priced .22 riﬂes of good mechanical quality but a cheap-looking ﬁnish, then quickly progressed to a much better ﬁt and ﬁnish, and more recently to a vast variety of rimﬁre and centerﬁre models.
The mainstay of the Henry brand remains the original H001, with well more than a million manufactured. Originally introduced at about half the price of its Browning and Marlin competitors, this classic proved as accurate and as reliable. Produced in blued and brasslite ﬁnish, it set the visual pattern for most Henry models. More recently, a silvery weatherproof ﬁnish was added as an additional option for hunting riﬂes.
Almost all Henry lever-action models follow the same design, using a rimﬁre-style magazine with a removable follower. While slower to load than the King’s patent gate introduced on Winchester 1866, this style of loading doesn’t ding up bullets or catch ﬁngertips in the spring-loaded gate cover.
The tube magazine is covered by a wooden forend, except on the commemorative “Classic” 1860-style model with the original external magazine follower latch. The 1860 model improves on the original in the metallurgy and caliber options – .45 Colt or .44-40 Winchester instead of the weak and less safe .44 rimﬁre – without losing any of the historic feel. Considering that only 14,000 original Henry riﬂes were ever produced, having an extra 11,000 made for history buﬀs in the past couple of years deﬁnitely makes them more accessible to modern shooters. Henry also produces improved variants of the semiauto AR-7 Survival Riﬂe, a kids’ Mini Bolt and a pump in .22LR and .22WMR. Most recently, box magazine lever actions, break-open and suppressor ready models have been introduced – Henry clearly has no intention of resting on its laurels.
IN MY EXPERIENCE WITH HENRY OWNERS, I’ve found that few possess just one. In fact, it’s extremely common even for modest collections to have multiple lever actions, often spanning all calibers from .22 to .45-70. It’s also common for a Henry owner to buy additional Henry riﬂes as gifts for family members. Of all current riﬂe brands, Henry appears to command perhaps the highest customer loyalty. So, besides the good quality manufacturing and great accuracy, what draws and retains people to and with this maker to the exclusion of competing brands?
The common manual of arms across most of the line-up is a true but minor point. The simplicity of their half-cock safety compared to the lawyer-mandated crossbolt “safety” of other brands (something that may be better termed a “disabling button”) is another small point in Henry’s favor. Another brand’s manual of arms was a rude surprise to me: pulling the trigger with the safety on produced what seemed like a misﬁre, with no indication that the safety was engaged, just the condition for dangerous game hunting! No such issues with Henry .45-70 or smaller riﬂes.
Many new shooters who have tried lever actions alongside other types come back to the Henry riﬂes citing the subjective “fun of operation”, just hands-on enough to be interesting but suﬃciently eﬃcient for real-world uses such as hunting and marksmanship training.
Perhaps the more prominent reasons for the brand’s consistent popularity rest in the character of the company’s owner and employees. The slogan “Made in America or not made at all” speaks convincingly to people who prefer to see precision manufacturing jobs stay stateside. The lifetime warranty on riﬂes is another obvious argument for Henry. Since the defect rate is low, Henry has been able to honor warranties in a timely manner, and this sometimes includes completely replacing arms that have been damaged beyond repair by ﬂoods or ﬁre.
Of all the current makers of ﬁrearms, the Henry company may have the most personally accessible owner. Deeply involved in the dayto-day operations of the company, Anthony Imperato remains reachable at trade shows and by phone or email. To Anthony, the reputation of the enterprise is a personal matter, and he tries to communicate to Henry customers as directly as possible. The personal involvement by him and other key members of the company have fostered an extensive and widely ﬂung community of Henry riﬂe owners worldwide. As of this writing, the Henry Repeating Arms Facebook page has nearly 450,000 likes, an impressive level of popularity for a niche manufacturer selling a conservatively styled product.
As a student of commercial and political advertising, I must also note that when our previous president was snarking about people “clinging to their guns and their religion,” Henry print ads had a photo of a Bible in them. And while Henry doesn’t position itself as a “Christian” company, the manifested respect for its core constituency at the time when they were seemingly being beleaguered from the bully pulpit of the White House was a class act, and the attitude was noted and appreciated. Numerous tribute models celebrating public service and trade organizations – from the Boy Scouts to EMS – also added to the appreciation of the gun maker.
In the past two years, the number of models in the Henry line-up has nearly doubled. The expansion of its user base with less traditional owners has also accelerated, in part due to restrictions choking oﬀ more mainstream modern designs, and also to the quality and “non-scary” look of the riﬂes themselves. With a quality product, a growing user base, a responsive corporate culture and a hands-on owner, Henry Repeating Arms seems to be the poised to carry the old brand name far into the future with grander outlook than ever before. ASJ
Contact: Henry Repeating Arms henryusa.com
For a cartridge introduced in 1873, the .45-70 Government has enjoyed some serious staying power. The same may be said of lever-action riﬂes that date back a decade further. The combination of the two, ﬁrst made in 1881, logically joined two good things into something perennially popular.
Today, several companies make such riﬂes. Henry oﬀers three models, with the Octagon being the most visually striking of the lot. The ﬁt of the metal and wood is tight, and the ﬁnish is even and well applied.
A 22-inch blued octagonal barrel is installed on a brass receiver, with brass buttplate on a straight-grip stock of quality walnut completing the ﬁrst impression. Weighing in at about 8 pounds, the riﬂe feels substantial without appearing heavy. For ﬁeld carry, it comes with sling swivel studs already installed.
The magazine tube holds four cartridges and loads from a port underneath, the same as Henry’s rimﬁre riﬂes. While slower than gate loading, this approach is easier on the shooter’s ﬁngers and doesn’t damage soft bullet points. And, considering the power of the .45-70 cartridge, 4+1 capacity is generally suﬃcient.
WHILE HISTORIC .45-70 LOADS used bullets in the 405- to 500-grain range, most modern hunting ammunition is 300 grains. Loads such as Winchester and Federal with expanding bullets develop velocities in the high 1,800s, and recoil is correspondingly brisk. For this reason, a slipon recoil pad is a recommended accessory.
For people who use .45-70 for fun rather than hunting, such as cowboy action shooters, Velocity Munitions sells a mild 1,100-foot-per-second cast-lead load that makes this riﬂe an absolute pleasure to run. Other companies make more specialized loads, including Hornady with Leverlution polymer-tipped 325-grain, Lehigh Defense with Xtreme Penetrator fragmenting and multiple projectile rounds, and Buﬀalo Bore with several hot-loaded magnums in the 3,600-foot-pound muzzle-energy range. The magnum loads, however, are not recommended for use in Henry riﬂes, as regular 300-grain loads only develop 2,600 to 3,000 foot pounds. The intensity of recoil and muzzle rise with the extraenergetic ammunition can get unpleasant.
Accuracy was the same for all three loads tested, an even 3 minutes of angle. Points of impact diﬀered signiﬁcantly between the full power and the plinking cartridges, as was to be expected. It appears that the barrel band holding the magazine to the barrel has some impact on overall point of aim. When we single loaded each round – cycling them through the magazine – for accuracy testing, the groups were roughly circular. When 4+1 were loaded up, the ﬁrst shot was always low right, the next two would overlap each other about 1.5 inches away, and the last two would again overlap, another 1.5 inches away, with the three holes forming a straight diagonal line.
While the riﬂe comes with open sights – brass-bead front post and semibuckhorn rear – the receiver is also tapped for a Weaver 63B or EGW Marlin Picatinny Rail. Having conducted accuracy testing with a 1-4x Trijicon Accupower scope, I would recommend a mildly magniﬁed optic only if you intend to hunt past 75 yards. Up to that distance, and especially for dangerous game, a red dot would be slightly quicker, a little closer to the bore, and more appropriate to the mechanical accuracy of the ﬁrearm.
Since the Henry Octagon is intended to be a short-range riﬂe, the 3MOA dispersion is irrelevant. At 25 yards, it amounts to a 3/16-inch maximum deviation from the point of aim on targets that have much larger vital zones.
THE LEVER ACTION ITSELF is quick and smooth, with the trigger crisp but a bit on the heavy side. Again, for a dangerous game riﬂe, that’s an appropriate design decision that makes accidental discharges under stress less likely. At the same time, it’s unburdened by the dangerously senseless “lawyer” cross-bolt safeties that plague the current Winchester and Marlin competitors. Those block only the striker, making a trigger pull while on safe appear to be a misﬁre. The Henry has a transfer block, so “safe” is carrying with the hammer down on a live round.
Of the three models Henry oﬀers in .45-70, the All-Weather, the round barrel carbine, and the brass-receiver Octagon, the last is the most stylish. It also brings 4 extra inches of sight radius to the game, along with a slight uptick in velocity and less glare in backlight, thanks to the faceted barrel. It’s also the only one with the oversized lever look for easier use while wearing thick gloves. Strictly from the stylistic perspective, it would look best with some traditional-looking low-magniﬁcation scope.
Among the riﬂe’s appeals is its simplicity of maintenance: just open the action and undo the lever retention screw. The lever then comes out, and the bolt follows. For normal cleaning, that is the full extent of the disassembly required.
The Octagon .45-70 is a fashion statement as much as it is a capable tool. But unlike most fashion statements, it’s timeless, eminently practical, and will most likely become a multi-generational heirloom. MSRP is $950.
For more, see henryriﬂes.com. ASJ
The MPX family of pistol-caliber ﬁrearms ﬁxes the main ﬂaw of close-bolt blowback designs: excessive bolt weight. Adapting the AR-15 platform to 9×19 Luger with a gas-piston action, SIG engineers cut the overall weight and the reciprocating bolt carrier in particular, making MPX lighter than other 9mm ARs and cutting the recoil intensity at the same time. The resulting weapon is available as a 16-inch carbine, and as submachine gun, short barrel riﬂe and pistol, all available with 8-inch or 4.5-inch barrels.
In the carbine form, the 7.6-pound overall weight of the weapon is no different from a riﬂe-caliber AR-15, making it more of a practice version of the 5.56, with less expensive ammo, less concussive report but substantially similar handling and manual of arms. The shorter barrel and forend of the 8-inch SBR and submachine gun variants bring the weight down to 6 pounds, and collapsed length down to 17 inches.
Unfortunately, National Firearms Act restrictions make the SMG unavailable except to government or corporate users, and the tax stamp and yearlong ATF turnaround on approving applications restrict the SBR. That leaves the pistol as the less legally encumbered purchase that can be turned into an SBR at a later date.
The 9mm Luger cartridge generated far smaller volume of gas than 5.56x45mm, so the MPX gas port is almost right at the chamber to generate sufficient pressure for cycling. With most 9mm loads, 8 inches is sufficient to get most of the potential velocity increase from the limited case volume. With the A2 ﬂash hider, the muzzle signature is nonexistent.
As with other gas-operated pistol-caliber guns, the MPX favors full-power ammunition for reliability – in my testing, it ran perfectly with 115-, 124- and 147-grain SIGbrand defense and range ammunition, but short-stroked occasionally with wimpy commercial remanufactured ball. With full-power ammunition, MPX has less felt recoil than blowback guns had with subpar loads.
WHEN SUPPORTED, the MPX pistol is superbly accurate. When rested on an convenient cardboard box and sighted with a red dot, the pistol shot very small groups at 25 yards, especially favoring 124- and 147-grain SIG JHP ammunition.
Similar or slightly better results were obtained using the MPX submachine gun in semiautomatic mode. In auto mode, running at about 850 rounds per minute, it remains fairly controllable and will keep two- or three-shot bursts in A zone at 25 yards. The mechanics of the MPX design are very sound. Compared to HK MP5, it runs a good deal cleaner, especially when sound-suppressed. Takedown for cleaning and especially the reassembly are much simpler, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.
MPX ergonomics are similar to AR-15, but with an emphasis on ambidextrous controls. Slide lock levers and magazine release buttons are duplicated on both sides, a helpful feature. On the left side, the controls could use more separation, as trying to lock the slide back sometimes caused a dropped magazine. The transparent, metal-reinforced polymer magazines made by Lancer are extremely reliable, durable and were easy to load. While more expensive than typically used single-feed Glock magazines, they are far more convenient in use. Available in 10-, 20- and 30-round capacity, MPX magazines ﬁt any purpose, from combat to concealed carry to shooting from a range bench.
THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE between the SBR and the pistol is ergonomics. The pistol comes with a QD socket at the rear of the receiver, right under the rail for the arm brace or the stock. In theory, a solid shooting position can be established with the use of both hands and a stretched sling. In practice, holding a 6-pound weapon in outstretched arms gets tiring fairly soon. Practical accuracy is no better than with a conventional pistol, and the sling length and position make effective concealment difficult.
Furthermore, the ambidextrous charging handle retained from the AR-15 has a tendency to entangle with the plastic sling ﬁxtures, pulling the bolt out of battery and disabling the gun. At close range, especially indoors, the MPX pistol would be more stable if ﬁred from the hip using a green laser for aiming.
In my opinion, the best ﬁghting pistol made by SIG would be something like a full-size P226. The MPX is terriﬁc as a carbine or a submachine gun, but – thanks to ﬁlling a regulatory niche created by illogical government regulations – is a pistol in name only. In reality, it’s a stockless carbine and would be best treated as a pre-SBR that the owner gets to take home before the tax stamp arrives.
If NFA regulations and restrictions aren’t your cup of tea, the 16-inch version of the MPX is superbly accurate, has almost no felt recoil and has a proper stock without requiring a tax stamp. For unsuppressed use, carbine-speciﬁc 9mm loads, such as 77- (2,000 feet per second) or 115-grain (1,500 fps) Overwatch, provide ﬂat trajectory and effective terminal ballistics. From the 8-inch barrel, Sig V-Crown defensive loads are superior. With lower muzzle pressure than the pistol it also suppressed even more effectively, particularly with the SIG subsonic 147-grain load.
Unlike the 5.56mm AR-15, the MPX has no perceptible gas blowback reaching the shooter. Given the excellence of the MPX concept, we can only hope that NFA regulations would be rolled back in the coming year, putting all of its features into the hands of a large and very appreciative group of American ﬁrearms enthusiasts. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on SIG Sauer’s MPX line, see sigsauer.com.
The ﬁrst bolt-action riﬂe adopted by Prussia in late 1840s, the Dreyse “needle gun”, used projectiles somewhere between 16 gauge and 20 gauge – a 1-ounce bullet riding a paper sabot at around 1,000 feet per second. As riﬂe designs improved and metallic cartridges came into use, several 1870s designs in Europe and the U.S. settled around .44 caliber, with ¾-ounce projectiles launched around 1,500 fps, a velocity suﬃcient to expand soft lead and provide massive stopping power on soft-skinned foes such as humans or leopards. Incidentally, that ballistic envelope is very similar to today’s 20-gauge hunting loads.
As people came upon more thick-skinned game, including Cape buﬀalo and grizzly bears, large-bore riﬂes gained popularity, culminating in the massive .700 Nitro Express. Similar to the 12-gauge shotgun in bore size, the .700 NE had three times the energy and massively greater penetration. Limited to lower-pressure actions, shotguns could not compete.
Big-bore riﬂes, however, had their downside as well. They were very expensive, had massive recoil and launched a day’s wages downrange with every trigger pull. Shotguns, while less powerful, were far cheaper to shoot and didn’t beat up the hunter nearly as badly. For most North American game, whether dangerous or merely edible, 12-gauge slugs were more than suﬃcient at close range.
At distance, some accuracy could be gained with riﬂed chokes or fully riﬂed barrels. As game regulations forced riﬂes out of hunters’ hands in several states, riﬂed shotguns enjoyed a resurgence. A few hunters even chose them over riﬂes for close-range use because of the massive payloads available, up to 2 ounces in 12 gauge. In many areas, the riﬂed shotgun became the working man’s safari riﬂe.
I TESTED TWO EXAMPLES of such hunting arms, the bolt-action Savage 220Y, a lightweight youth 20 gauge, and a Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck, a gas-operated semiauto 12 gauge. Both have fully riﬂed barrels intended mainly for sabot slugs. In addition to sabot loads, I also tried Brenneke-style slugs, which work in smooth or riﬂed barrels.
The Savage 220Y has no provision for iron sights, so I used it with a 1-4x Vortex scope. With ¾-ounce Brenneke K.O. slugs, it had moderate recoil and gave consistent three-shot groups at ½ inch at 25 yards, the longest distance available to me during the testing. Minimal muzzle ﬂash, good accuracy and respectable terminal performance – around 18 inches of gel penetration with slight expansion to about 0.72 inches – all combine to make it a very viable load for deer or hogs. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest slugs suitable for riﬂed bores, at under a dollar per round! Rated at 1,475 fps at the muzzle, it comes out just a shade slower from the 22inch tube.
The Savage shotgun also did its part to help accuracy. Its Accutrigger is nice and crisp, and the bolt action was smooth. The only catch was inserting the two-shot box magazine: it has to be pressed against the back of the magazine well to lock in. Single shells may be loaded over an empty magazine through the ejection port.
I then tried 250-grain Hornady FTX and 260 Winchester Dual Bond Elite sabot slugs. Streamlined expanding bullets in plastic sabots have a reputation for accuracy, and both are rated at 1,800 fps muzzle velocity for ﬂat trajectory. With the barrel slightly shorter than the test rig, both were in the low 1,700s from the 220Y, with a pronounced muzzle ﬂash.
With both loads, I was quite surprised by the initial results: a bull’s-eye with each, followed by a hit half an inch oﬀ, followed by a third nearly 2 inches from the initial hole. I reshot the groups with both, and every time they opened up to nearly 7 minutes of angle with just three rounds.
Reading up on the problem, I discovered that sabot slugs shoot straightest from a cold bore. On the return range trip, I was able to shrink the groups by cooling the barrel for a couple of minutes between shots with the bolt open. Both loads shot within 1 inch at 25 yards, reasonable for 100-yard shots on deer, but not living up to the reputation.
With the ﬂatter trajectory oﬀset by decreased accuracy, these looked less useful than the Brennekes, except for one factor: most deer hunting involves one shot on a stationary deer. The ﬁrst-shot accuracy – point of impact corresponding to the point of aim exactly – was excellent with both loads, and the ﬂatter trajectory (about half as much drop at 100 yards compared to Brenneke) makes range estimation less critical.
THE WINCHESTER SX3 comes with a four-shot tube and an optic rail cantilevered oﬀ the barrel. That way, barrels may be swapped and replaced without a substantial shift in the zero. It also had a set of post and notch iron sights visible through the trough in the optic rail.
While adequate, these sights didn’t strike me as ideal, so I put a Holosun red dot on the rail for accuracy testing. I picked it over a larger magniﬁed optic for two reasons: proximity to the bore line and the unlimited eye relief. I wasn’t sure what kind of recoil to expect.
It turns out that my concern was unfounded. The SX3 had no more recoil than the 20-gauge bolt action, thanks to the gas-operated autoloading. The solar-assisted red dot has two reticle options, a plain 2MOA dot and a dot inside 65MOA circle with hash marks for horizontal and vertical reference. That second reticle proved very useful for testing.
Since the main reason to choose a 12 gauge over a 20 is the raw power available, I went with two full-bore loads, Brenneke Green Lightning Short Magnum and DDupleks Monollit 32. Brenneke 1¼-ounce slugs rate at 1,475 fps, but actually recoiled less than the 1⅛-ounce Monolit rated at about 1,400 fps, which suggest the DDupleks load is more optimized for the relatively short 22-inch barrel. In fact, chronograph reports velocity closer to 1,500 fps.
Downrange, Brenneke Green Lightning expands very little, around 5 percent, but has nearly 35 inches of penetration. Combined with a semiwadcutter proﬁle, it is less likely to glance oﬀ such barriers as hog skulls, and that makes it a very viable dangerous-game round.
The Latvian-produced Monolit 32 is a full-machined steel wadcutter supported by plastic driving bands and base. It shows no expansion upon impact and tends to resist deflection by branches and foliage. Gel penetration with it exceeds 40 inches in a straight line. Also, breaking large bones on the way to the vitals will use up quite a bit of the energy.
The two rounds are worthy of each other in terms of accuracy. With just a red dot sight, Brenneke yielded 0.6-inch groups at 25 yards, while Monolit spread 0.67 inches. The groups were extremely consistent and not aﬀected by the barrel heating up. Points of impact moved very little between these two loads, at least at the distance to my backstop.
PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL FIVE loads I tested were short, 2 3/4-inch shells, and both shotguns had 3-inch chambers. To maximize accuracy, you’d want to use 3-inch-long versions, as the projectiles wouldn’t have to jump extra quarter inch of freebore.
I picked the shorter loads to save wear on my shoulder which, in retrospect, turned out to be excessive caution. The recoil from both shotguns was fairly mild.
As a point of caution, the muzzle rise was fairly pronounced with both, so it’s worth holding onto the forend well to avoid a black eye from the scope eyepiece. Using a hasty sling, riﬂe style, provides both the stability for aimed shots and the extra resistance to muzzle rise.
For most meat hunting, the first shot matters the most, and each of these rifled shotguns should provide sufficient accuracy and power out to 100 to 150 yards, depending on the skill of the shooter and the size of the game. For dangerous game, the more powerful 12-gauge autoloader would also provide quicker follow-up shots in case the quarry isn’t alone or the first hit isn’t perfectly placed. For stalking meat game, either would work well, weighing in at around 8 pounds with the respective optical sights. ASJ
THE SEVEN-SHOT MAGAZINE is genius. The thick stainless-steel lips are smooth to the touch, and all seven rounds can be loaded quickly and effortlessly. Since all of the external edges are smoothly radiused, a handful of these mags can be carried in a pocket with no worry of them scratching each other.
You won’t ﬁnd a magazine catch on this gun. The magazine is retained on both sides by a springy mag well. The magazine locks in solidly until the shooter pulls down on the magazine with moderate effort, and they cost around $22 each. Even though I have several, I found myself just reloading the same one in the ﬁeld because the process was so quick and effortless.
The seven-shot capacity is dictated by the curve of the ammunition stack. If there were more than seven, the cartridge would have to curve forward even more, requiring a more complex magazine body shape.
ALL VARIANTS OF the Model 722 come with a crisp 2-pound trigger with an overtravel adjustment. The bolt has a locking lug opposite the handle, which acts as a second lug. The action is smooth and easy to run. The symmetrical design operates with only a 50-degree throw, easily clearing even the largest scopes. The short 1.5-inch cycle distance makes for very quick loading. The short length of the action permits a 20-inch barrel on a very light and compact gun. The 13.25-inch length of pull makes it feel even smaller. The safety is a lever – forward for ﬁre, back for safe. It clicks very positively, but the angle of throw is fairly small, so it’s sometimes hard to tell at a glance if it’s on. On the left side of the receiver there is a spring-loaded bolt retainer. The bolt does have to be cycled briskly for reliable ejection.
KEYSTONE ARMS’ SISTER company is Revolution Stocks, a premier aftermarket manufacturer. It’s no surprise that the stock quality for all three variants is superb, with a tight wood-to-metal ﬁnish. The decades of metalworking experience behind the Crickett brand also make for excellent action ﬁt. Keystone didn’t skimp on the manufacturing process – even the trigger guard is a nicely machined part.
THE CLASSIC IS lightweight at just 4.6 pounds, and feels even lighter, thanks to the good balance. The Varmint is a couple of pounds more, but the sculpted thumbhole stock makes
steadying it off-hand quite easy. The Classic comes standard with Williams Firesights, ﬁber optic front post and semibuckhorn rear that adjusts for windage and elevation. Picking up the front is very easy in any kind of light, but the bright ﬁber optic pipe on the front sight obscured at least 2.75 inches of the bull’s-eye, making precise alignment difficult. At best, my groups were 2 inches at 25 yards. After trying several kinds of ammunition, I gave up and scoped it with the dedicated Primary Arms 6x rimﬁre BDC scope in low rings and tried again. The results improved greatly: From prone at 80 yards, the CCI Green Tag ammo grouped at 1.25 inches, or about 1.5 minute of angle. Ammunition quality matters. Bulk .22 gave me 3MOA at best. Even with bulk Federal ammo, the BDC reticle made hits on pop cans placed 50 yards downrange routine. Shooting off of a lead sled indoors, without wind, produced 1.25MOA with Aguila Match, 1MOA with Aguila Super Extra subsonic and 2MOA with Federal 550-round bulk pack. I am guessing Green Tag would have come in at about 1.25MOA as well.
THE REAL ACCURACY testing was with the Varmint version. Prone at 25 yards produced a single seven-shot hole scarcely larger than the bullet diameter. Topped with the superb 6-24x Weaver with an adjustable objective, this riﬂe made extreme accuracy the default result. The slim 1-inch tube with a 40mm objective permitted low rings and thus minimal sight height over bore. The mildot reticle provided for drop compensation, and the focusable objective made for a crystal-clear view of the bull’s-eye obliterated by precision ﬁre. Both CCI Green Tag and Aguila Riﬂe Match grouped near 0.6MOA, and Eley Match was right at 0.5MOA at 50 yards – a great performance for any riﬂe, and even more so for the budget-priced 722.
One exception to the versatility of the Varmint model comes from its match chamber incompatibility with the CCI Stinger hypervelocity round often used by actual varmint shooters. The Aguila equivalent works ﬁne, as does the Winchester, but neither hypervelocity load equals the standard velocity loads in outright accuracy under controlled range conditions. In the real world with wind drift and imperfect range estimation, the faster loads perform almost as well as the match bullets.
Twin forend studs allow for simultaneous installation of a bipod and a shooting sling. Despite the greater weight, I consider the Varmint version the best of the three models not only for rested shooting but also for ﬁeld hunting. The exception would be left-handed shooters, who would have to stick with the ambidextrous Classic stock design.
OTHER THAN THE QUICK but imprecise iron sights, Classic is a strong competitor to CZ455 Military Trainer. With optics, the 722 Varmint gives up nothing at all to the competition. Overall, the riﬂe is just fun to use. Its operation is so transparent that it feels like a natural extension of the marksman. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more info, go to keystonesportingarmsllc.com.
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
The 50 GI accomplishes all that with the pressure of only 15,000 pounds per square inch. With the 6-inch barrel, especially, it gives much-reduced muzzle blast compared to other powerful defensive chamberings intended to supplant .45 ACP. While the case has a rebated rim like .50 AE, it’s straight rather than tapered. Seven cartridges ﬁt a regular 1911 magazine.
Recoil was the same as with a standard .45 ACP Government model, and the pistol showed impressive practical accuracy. Fired at the rate of about a shot per second, Model 4 gave one inch dispersion at 10 yards with all four loads. The sights as supplied were regulated for 230-grain HP and 300-grain JFP ammunition, with 185-grain HP hitting slightly lower and a 275-grainer an inch higher. At 25 yards, the groups predictably scaled to 2.5 inches, which is quite good for a ﬁghting pistol with iron sights. The combination of plain rear sights and tritium front worked well in moderate light, with the eye focusing on the vial with ease. With the long slide providing a nice forward balance, the sights returned on target readily. Overall weight is only a couple of ounces more than a regular M1911. The pistol is available in a wide variety of ﬁnishes and with various sight options.
Magazines required a good smack to seat on a closed slide when full, and dropped free when empty. The textured slide release worked well, so that I didn’t even bother with dropping the slide with the weak hand. The degree of texturing was sufficient for retention, not enough to abrade the hands. Unlike .357 Coonan, the Model 4 in 50 GI didn’t require conscious wrestling back out of recoil. It shot like any other 1911, with the sole difference of delivering a greater impact downrange. The report was not noticeably different. The muzzle ﬂash was not visible in daylight.
So for the cost of dropping the full capacity from 8+1 to 7+1, it is possible to get a well behaved but more powerful weapon with the familiar form factor. The only down side I found has been the price: the pistol lists for a bit over $4,100, magazines are $50 each, and the ammunition runs $30 to $50 per 20-round box. I plan on talking to a couple of manufacturers to see if cheaper target ammunition may be developed for practice. ASJ
Gun laws around the world vary greatly. Many countries have very lenient gun-ownership laws, and statistics show that they benefit from very low crime rates.
On our first morning in Zermatt, my husband and I, like most tourists, gazed at the Matterhorn through our hotel room window and eagerly stepped out for a walk. This walk is where the progressives’ utopia would end: Within five minutes of leaving our hotel, a young man with a rifle slung over his shoulder passed us heading in the opposite direction. No one was staring. No one was concerned. No one got hurt. The man, in fact, was the epitome of normal. He looked ruddy and healthy, and was clean-shaven and well-dressed.
FIREARMS IN SWITZERLAND are no cause for concern. Until recently, the Swiss could own almost any kind of firearm, including anti-aircraft guns and howitzers. Since 1291, it has been said that Switzerland does not have an army – it is an army. With a “rifle behind every blade of grass,” the same was thought about the United States years ago. Swiss men undergo mandatory military training, which is voluntary for women, and until 2011, these militia men and women ranging in age from 20 to 42 were even required to keep their military rifles at home. In 2011, the laws were changed and now allows the militia an option to keep their rifles in a local armory.
Like the US, Switzerland’s leniency towards firearms has taken a bashing from gun prohibitionists in recent years. The Swiss also receive pressure from the UN and the European Union, to which Switzerland does not subscribe, but from which the country will apparently be influenced. In 2013, anti-gun organizations attempted to ban army rifles from homes altogether. To the relief of Swiss gun owners, the change was rejected by 56 percent of voters. However, some changes to the laws were implemented, such as a list of now-forbidden firearms.
Despite the recent changes, Switzerland still has a relatively lenient gun-ownership system. Approximately 2.3 to 4.5 million military and private firearms are estimated to be in circulation in Switzerland – a lot of firearms for a country with a population of only eight million people. While citizens wishing to purchase a firearm from a dealer must obtain a government-issued permit, the government routinely and without hassle provides these permits to applicants who do not have a criminal background and are not mentally ill.
Transfers between private individuals do not need a government permit, but the buyer and seller must create a written record of the transaction, keep the record for 10 years and provide a copy to the government. No government background checks are required on these private-party transfers.
WHILE THE EXACT NUMBERS differ depending on who is counting, the conclusions about Switzerland’s gun ownership and crime rates are the same: gun control laws are relaxed (virtually any citizen can own a firearm), gun ownership is high and crime rates are low.
In 2011, the Swiss Federal Police compiled statistics on gun-related crimes which showed that during 2009, the police investigated 236 homicides, of which 55 were allegedly committed with a gun. During the same year 524 aggravated batteries were reported, 11 of which involved gun use and 3,530 robberies were reported, of which 416 were committed with a gun. Switzerland has a population of 7.9 million. Switzerland also has the third-lowest homicide rate of the top nine major European countries. To date, Switzerland has not hosted a school massacre. This is true, despite kids and guns mixing freely in the Swiss culture. The traditional Swiss Knabenschiessen is an event for boys and girls age 13 to 17 years old in Zurich where they enjoy the pleasure of competing with Sig SG 550s. The event has taken place since 1657. The Swiss support this mix of kids, Sturmgewehr (the “SG” in Sig SG), Alps, cowbells, music and rifle fire as an event the whole family can enjoy.
Contrary to popular belief, Switzerland is not alone among European countries in its relaxed gun laws and low crime rates. Numerous Europeans own guns. Luxembourg, Finland, Lichtenstein and Belgium are a few other countries that allow citizens to obtain firearms after getting a permit; however, the applicant must generally provide a reason such as hunting, sport shooting or collecting. Self-defense licenses allowing a person to carry outside their home are generally more difficult to obtain but are available. Austrians also own quite a few guns. Austria maintains an expensive training, testing and permitting process. However, Austrians enjoy the ability to freely purchase some firearms, including certain bolt-action firearms and shotguns, provided they are registered within six weeks after purchase.
IN OUR QUEST for more information on both history and firearms, my husband and I traveled to Poland to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. How could the Poles not own guns? After all, it was the few Poles with firearms – just 10 handguns – in the Warsaw ghetto who were able to resist and begin the uprising against the Nazis. If the Polish people, comprising a population of about 45 million, each had owned even a single firearm, they could prevent an atrocity like the Holocaust from ever happening again. These prison camps have enshrined several tons of human hair, the prisoners’ eyeglasses, luggage and other belongings behind glass. We stood in the same spot as did the helpless, disarmed victims who were taken off the trains like cattle and sorted to live or die. I grew up listening to stories from my German grandparents of the horrors of World War II in Europe. The Poles, I thought, must own firearms. Not so.
Polish gun ownership is the lowest in the European Union. Yet, while recent changes to their gun laws would allow virtually any Pole to acquire a firearm, not many of them choose to take advantage of this newfound ability. Perhaps this will change in the future.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES with stricter gun-control laws include Germany and France. Despite this, Germany still has a high rate of firearm ownership – millions of firearms are legally possessed with a Waffenbesitzkarte (firearms ownership license). Hunting and sport shooting are held in high regard, although self-defense is not deemed an appropriate reason to receive an ownership permit. Better than the Oktoberfest, the German’s annual Schützenfest in Hannover attracts over 5,000 marksmen every year. The highest scoring sharpshooter is crowned the Schützenkönig amidst the parade (the longest in the world), bands, rides and beer tents.
France restricts the types of weapons and magazine capacities for firearms and requires a government-issued permit to own a firearm. The French do not have the gun culture found in other countries like Germany or Switzerland. After the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, Americans were quick to point out that if anyone had been armed, the death rate could have been much lower. Americans also pointed out that the gun-control laws banning certain firearms, limiting magazine size and emphasizing hunting and sport rather than self-defense did not prevent the terrorists from bringing guns into the country and slaughtering over a hundred people. Despite France’s gun-control system for citizens who obey the laws, the terrorists in Paris used AK-47s that were illegally possessed and illegally transported into the country. It appears that Europeans are reassessing their situation. While the Knabenschiessen and Schutzenfest attest to the fact that many Europeans view firearms and shooting as a wholesome community activity, the increase in defensive weapons sales also attest to the desire of Europeans to use firearms in self-defense.
In fact, after the influx of Islamic refugees to Germany in 2015, guns began “flying off the shelves,” according to a Czech TV report, in the countries where citizens could purchase them, particularly in Austria. The increase in crimes, including rapes and assaults, in countries where these immigrants are welcomed and where they are passing through has made citizens stop and think about their personal safety. Austrian gun stores reported being sold out.
When in fear for their safety, Europeans, like everyone else, desire the right to defend themselves, but some of these countries’ progressive laws have made their citizens vulnerable to attack from individual criminals and terrorists because some deny gun ownership to people wishing to own firearms solely for self-defense reasons. If the high rate of firearm purchasing in countries where this is possible is any indication, Europeans wish they had a Second Amendment.
COUNTRIES WITH STRONGER gun-control laws include Australia, Brazil, Great Britain and South Africa. After a mass shooting in Australia in 1996, the government instituted strict gun control through the National Firearms Agreement, which restricts possession of semiautomatic and automatic firearms, requires registration, permitting and instituted a buy-back program (which brought in over 650,000 guns from the citizenry). Previously, only handguns needed to be registered in Australia.
Similarly, after highly publicized criminal activity including a mass shooting in the late 1980s, the United Kingdom enacted new gun-control laws that included banning certain firearms such as semiautomatic rifles, creating a strict licensing and registration system and instituting a buy-back program. An outright handgun ban was passed after another mass school shooting in 1996. Despite these laws, crime rates continued to rise, and recent facts – checked by Politifact – indicate that England and Wales have more than double the violent crime rate of the United States (comparing violence with injury against a person, serious sexual crime and robbery).
All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered with the government, and self defense is not a valid reason to request a permit. All guns are registered, confiscations occur and permits to legally own guns are routinely denied. This has not stopped Brazil from being a world leader in homicide, a fact supported by the Crime Prevention Research Center.
South Africa is another country with a strict permitting system for legal gun ownership, and a professional hunter described to me how the right, let’s say, “motivation” for owning a gun, as well as certain financial incentives, is what will ultimately decide who can possess a firearm. Despite the strict permitting laws, South Africa’s gun violence stems from the illegal possession of firearms by the people who do not respect the law and disregard the permitting process.This seems to be a reoccurring theme. All of the countries with strict gun-control laws also boast higher violent-crime rates than countries with higher rates of legal gun ownership. England and Australia have virtually banned gun ownership, but have the highest rates of robbery, sexual assault and assault with force. Britain has the highest rate of violent crime in all of Europe – higher in the early 2000s than the United States or even South Africa. In addition, these countries may have low legal firearms ownership rates, but the possession of illegal firearms can be very high, particularly in Brazil and South Africa.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, guns are part of life the world over. Countries with gun cultures that respect firearms and integrate ownership and responsibility into daily life and sporting events enjoy high rates of legal gun ownership and lower rates of violent crime. In other words, there is no correlation between legal gun ownership and increased crime rates. Instead, countries with some of the strictest gun-control laws boast the highest illegal gun possession rates and correlating murder rates in the world, such as Brazil. Even with high rates of legal gun ownership, the United States and Switzerland do not lead the world in violent crimes, homicides or gun violence. Instead, it correlates to low rates of crime. These facts are laid out plainly in research that has been conducted and compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Institute and in additional fact-checking supported by Politifact. In summary, you can own firearms in many other countries, and in some a wide variety that are not readily available to US citizens. The laws often created by a country’s history and culture define the rule. ASJ
SINCE THE FIRST 1915 Fedorov’s Avtomat chambered for the 6.5mm Arisaka cartridge, Russian, then Soviet and later Eastern Bloc countries made little terminological distinction between submachine guns and light automatic rifles. What they termed automatic rifles were full power 7.62mm types, while the PPSh41 and AK-47 were both commonly termed avtomat. A technical term for submachine gun existed, but it wasn’t in common use. The doctrinal niche for the early automatic rifles was almost the same as for the pistol-caliber SMGs. To that end, the Czechoslovak vz58 was designed more along the lines of an MP5 or XM177 than an M16 or a Sig550. It’s handy in close quarters and usable further out, a more defense-oriented design than the rifleman’s ideal rifle of certain military branches that is only usable up close as an afterthought.
The action design is quite unusual: a short-stroke piston acts on a locking block that is separate from the bolt and the carrier, but it attaches to both. It’s almost like a rifle version of the Walther P38 or Beretta M9 in that regard. The lugs of the locking block engage with the steel rails inside the machined aluminum receiver.
The lightweight magazine, externally similar to the AK mag, holds 30 rounds and rocks in the same way, though with far less effort required for proper alignment with the receiver. With the action locked open after the last round or manually with the plunger near the trigger guard, the magazine may be topped off with stripper clips. Ten-round magazines are also available for bench shooting or in restricted states. The magazine may be safely used as a hand-hold, and there is absolutely no play in the lockup.
THE RIFLE IS AVAILABLE in three variants: with a fixed resin-impregnated wood stock, a folding-wire stock and a collapsible stock with railed forend. I mainly use the fixed wood stock by preference. Because of the short length of pull and relatively light weight, the carbine can be effectively run by 10-year-old kids. Felt recoil is very mild, even below that of the heavier AK-47, and the rotary safety is easy to reach, at least for right-handed shooters. While manual bolt hold-open is provided, bolt release requires operating the charging handle integral to the bolt carrier. All major action components, including the bore and the gas piston, are chrome-plated for better corrosion resistance.
RELIABILITY IN MY USE has been 100 percent over about 1,000 rounds without cleaning. The rifle runs extremely cleanly, and the receiver contains minimal carbon residue even now. However, the lightweight barrel and the operating system does impose tactical limitations, the most obvious being accuracy and heat endurance. The rifle can fire about 60 rounds in a row before the forend gets uncomfortably hot. For military use, that can be an issue, while for personal defense less likely. With the stock iron sights, I and other shooters got groups around 5 minute of angle with Comblock military surplus and Russian commercial ammunition, and about 4MOA with premium US and European brands, like Federal and Fiocchi. The constraint is almost certainly the sighting. The railed forend on the tactical version proved too unsteady for the red dot. Other forend options exist for this rifle, but I have not upgraded it yet. Neither of my carbines have side rails for optics. People who set up their vz58 rifles with magnified optics and raised cheek rests report 3MOA dispersion.
That makes sense: The 5.56mm version of vz58 with a red dot yields about 2MOA, thanks to the relatively heavier barrel – the outer diameter is the same and the bore is smaller. I left my 7.62 carbines unscoped, but replaced the front sight post with a Hi-Viz fiber optic for quicker acquisition. The rear-sight leaf marked from 100 meters to 800 meters is an exercise in optimism for single shots, but reflects the old military doctrine of creating beaten zones at long range using small arms.
In my mind, the best niche for this carbine is self-defense. It’s reliable, handy and may be fired with one hand if necessary. I have yet to find a record of a nonmilitary self-defense situation in which 4MOA or the two magazine rapid-fire heat endurance would have been deal-breakers. Using the tactical version with a vertical foregrip extends the heat endurance to about 100 rounds the barrel can take more heat than the shooter’s support hand. The 2011 tactical version I have was not a success overall: the current Czechpoint offering uses a modified Magpul forend instead for much better ergonomics.
THE RIFLE FEEDS SOFT-POINT and hollow-point ammunition reliably. So far, the best defensive loads I found are Corbon DPX, G2 Trident Ripout and Federal Powershock. All give substantial expansion – up to 0.9 inches with Trident – and 16 to 20 inches of gel penetration. While the vz58 classic has no flash hider, it produces minimal illumination with these loads. The tactical model comes with a needlessly concussive pinned-and-welded muzzle brake best replaced with a flash hider by a gunsmith. Vz58 is very suppressor friendly, despite the gas system without a manual regulator. One of the demo rifles used by Czechpoint is a short-barreled suppressed version that they run very hot during range events.
Vz58 appears to be what the Ruger Mini-30 was supposed to become, a light and handy .30-caliber carbine for short-range use. It fills the same niche as the M1 carbine, providing a little less accuracy but more power. The vz58 handles out of proportion to its specifications and proved reliable with a wide variety of ammunition. It’s one of the most pleasant intermediate cartridge rifles in range use, and I recommend it as one of the basic choices for self-defense. ASJ
After the new ATF rule affecting gun trusts was signed into law on January 4 2016, I quickly turned to my newly published book, Infringed, to see how much of the information would now be out of date. I devoted several chapters to explaining the possession and transfer of National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms and the benefits of gun trusts.
After reviewing all of the chapters with gun-trust specific information, I smirked to myself. Only one paragraph out of the entire book would need to be updated. Like much of the current gun-control measures, the new gun-trust loophole rule doesn’t accomplish much except to cause spontaneous, enthusiastic applause from those who believe the rhetoric.
It was asserted that Rule 41F will prevent gun violence, because it will require background checks “for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.”
The problem is, every person who uses a trust to purchase a firearm has always – even before this new rule – undergone a background check by completing Form 4473 at the dealer’s office
The problem is, every person who uses a trust to purchase a firearm has always – even before this new rule – undergone a background check by completing Form 4473 at the dealer’s office, just as with every other gun purchase in America. It is also worth noting that criminals do not create gun trusts or submit paperwork to the ATF to purchase a firearm. Even more, in a properly drafted gun trust, the trust terms specifically prohibit the transfer of firearms to anyone who is prohibited under federal, state or local law from possessing a firearm. In fact, one of the primary reasons I draft gun trusts for my clients is to help gun owners and their families obey the gun laws by working within the confines of our government’s parameters.
The “most dangerous weapons” referenced by the current Administration are firearms subject to the NFA – silencers, short-barreled rifles and shotguns and fully automatic firearms, to name a few. These firearms are rarely used by criminals. The mass shootings that have supposedly prompted this new rule did not involve NFA firearms.
Because it targets law-abiding Americans, not criminals. Contrary to the proposed assertion that Rule 41F only succeeds in imposing a new tax burden on working Americans to the tune of at least $5.8 million a year, and imposing more bureaucracy on law-abiding citizens who wish to acquire NFA firearms, lawful purchasers of these items will now need to submit even more paperwork – photographs and fingerprints – to the ATF and yet more to local law-enforcement agencies – a notice that they are attempting to purchase an NFA firearm. All of this is in addition to the special ATF forms requiring personal information and undergoing the regular NICS background check, which has always been standard.
Targeting law-abiding citizens to effect gun control is not new. When Congress passed the NFA in 1934, it did so with the intent to tax certain firearms so they would be unaffordable. The authorities knew the criminals would not register their firearms. Instead, they intended to make the purchase of certain firearms so expensive, due to the new tax, that the average American could not afford to purchase them. In 1986, another law affecting citizens was passed – the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) completely banned civilians from possessing or transferring machine guns manufactured after 1986. This law was passed even though approximately 175,000 machine guns were in circulation at the time, and not a single one was linked to criminal activity. The new law, however, made the limited machine guns that could still be possessed and transferred unaffordable for most. Despite the inconvenient effects of Rule 41F, rest assured that the rule does not affect the heart and soul of gun trusts. It does not change the primary reasons for creating a trust to hold your firearms. The rule only creates an inconvenience that should prompt you to create a gun trust and purchase NFA firearms prior to the rule’s effective date of July 13, 2016.
A gun trust is a special type of trust that is designed to hold all of your firearms and firearms-related accessories. Gun trusts make it much easier for your loved ones to handle your firearms should you become incapacitated or die, boosts your ability to share and transfer NFA firearms and helps ensure all state and federal laws are followed.
Gun trusts have become the planning tool for gun owners whose collections include NFA firearms. One of the primary reasons is the ability to share possession of the NFA firearms with other trustees. Unlike other firearms, unless restricted by your state’s laws, NFA firearms can only be possessed by the person to whom the firearm is registered. There is no exception for family members or other people with whom you live. If you leave your NFA firearm at home where it is accessible to other people, you and the other people in your home are violating federal law.
Most NFA gun owners are aware of this gun-trust benefit. But many gun owners are not aware that gun trusts are important tools for all gun owners, whether or not a collection includes NFA firearms.
Gun trusts are important for all gun owners, because they prepare you and your loved ones for your death and incapacity by responsibly addressing your firearms and keeping your affairs out of the court system. Planning for the possibility that you will be incapacitated (whether from age or accident), even if temporarily, is important for everyone. It is even more important for gun owners, because if you don’t plan, then government has a plan for you. The government’s plan is a public, expensive, judge-controlled system that will take away your right to own a firearm.
All gun owners should try to avoid the court system if they are incapacitated or die by creating general estate planning documents and a gun trust.
When properly written, gun trusts are powerful asset protection and estate planning tools. A well-drafted gun trust will achieve the following for the gun owner who creates the trust:
Rule 41F only affects gun trusts that will hold NFA firearms. If your trust holds or will acquire NFA firearms, know that anyone who is listed as a responsible party of the trust will need to provide additional information for the government registry.
All questions about the new rule cannot yet be answered. This is because the ATF will be issuing further guidelines in the future. These guidelines will explain the ATF’s interpretation of Rule 41F. Until these guidelines are issued, some questions about how Rule 41F will affect trusts remain unknown. For now, we know the following:
If your gun trust was prepared by my office, we may suggest a few revisions, but your gun trust is still a great tool and will not be invalidated by the new rule. Under Rule 41F, the only responsible parties in our trusts are the trust’s current trustees and the grantor (creator) of the trust. We are creating a method (and waiting for the ATF guidelines) to make the future acquisition of NFA firearms as seamless as possible for our clients. We will be updating you with more direction as soon as we believe the advice to be solid and unchanged by the new ATF guidelines.
♠ If you do not have a gun trust, now is the time to get it done and submit paperwork to the ATF for any NFA firearms you have been hoping to acquire. If you submit the paperwork prior to July 13, 2016, you will not need to submit an extra set of fingerprints or a photograph, or send a notice to your chief law enforcement officer (CLEO);
♠ If you acquire NFA firearms after July 13, 2016, you will need to submit a photograph, fingerprints and a CLEO notice, but you do not need to update the ATF when adding more trustees to your trust (responsible parties) after you receive your tax stamp. So, if you create a trust and submit an application to acquire these “most dangerous weapons” prior to the rule taking effect on July 13, then you will not need to provide additional information unless you make another purchase after adding responsible parties to your trust. There is no need to update the ATF when adding responsible persons (more trustees) between applications.
♠ My colleagues and I are actively working on materials to update trusts, advise if your trust needs to be updated, and provide future guidance on utilizing a gun trust.
♠ If you have a trust provided by a gun shop or an online form, we can assist you in reviewing your trust to determine if any changes need to be made. For people who purchased an NFA trust from a gun shop or someone who isn’t a lawyer, you are likely in need of a lot of assistance.
In summary, the undesirable affect on most individual gun owners of the proposed rule is that anyone considered a responsible person on a gun trust must submit a photograph, fingerprints and send notice to law enforcement to receive or make an NFA firearm.
Sharing the possession of NFA firearms through a gun trust remains a wonderful benefit of a properly drafted trust. However, our gun trusts are designed to provide this benefit and so much more: They are legal gun safes that will alert unknowledgeable citizens and attorneys to the restrictions on the transfer and possession of firearms, they outline a plan for the gun owner’s death and also for the gun owner’s incapacity, and they create a dynasty trust for the gun owner’s children. ASJ
Her first rifle was an S&W MP15-22, initially fired off the bench and later unsupported. Alexis is small for an 8-year-old, so gun weight has been a concern. Constant physical exercise and good technique have allowed her to run adult-size firearms effectively. After she attended several rimfire matches, Tandemkross, a New Hampshire company specializing in parts for customizing competition guns, sponsored her. In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to the Welch family, who live in Owensboro, Ky., which is along the Ohio River across from Indiana, and have been following Alexis’ progress ever since.
This girl’s main talent goes beyond pure shooting ability: she’s enthusiastic, effective and friendly. Articulate and unaffected, Alexis can work with adults, as well as play with kids. Picking up where Tryce started, firearm coaches Gary Welborn and Bob Sanders volunteered their time to train her, and during her first public shoot, Dani Bryan, a female firearms instructor and competitive shooter, took the time to coach her too. Alexis is very popular with teen marksmen as well, many of them treating her as an honorary little sister, and helping her learn more about the sport. She’s recently gained the affectionate nickname “Monkey,” and ran with it.
After Tandemkross, she was discovered by many sponsors to include Volquartsen Custom, Leupold Optics, Striplin Custom, Owensboro Rifle and Pistol Club, Sound Gear, Beck Defense, Gemtech, Weapon Shield and, unofficially, Trijicon. Besides institutional sponsors, Alexis has also been supported by the Bragg family, Richard and Carol Stokes and over 1,750 other fans who hail from as far away as Brazil and Russia. A custom rifle maker, Fighting Sheepdog, just joined in with a truly unique, pint-sized AR-15 that has a hydraulic-recoil compensator and other personalized features to make it just right for this diminutive shooter. Tryce supplies the chauffeuring and the ammunition.
My first photo shoot with Alexis was a pleasant surprise. There aren’t too many adults, much less preteen kids, who can keep focused and enthusiastic about work for over 10 hours with only a few short breaks. Alexis could, and she did it with good cheer. Her images proved to be marketing gold, equally for promoting shooting sports, the right to bear arms and her increasingly numerous sponsors. Her eagerness to surmount every available challenge energizes her fans and supporters.
Starting with Steel Challenge in May, Alexis has participated in NSSF Rimfire Challenge, USPSA and multi-gun competitions. She’s had a good start on her future titles by winning the Indiana State Steel Challenge Champion Ladies 12 and under open category. Most recently, she was a guest at an event organized by Hunter “Nubbs” Cayll, known for shooting competitively even though he does not have hands, and shot her first event with a full-sized AR-15. Just prior to that, she helped in the production of a video for a veteran fundraiser, competently running M249 and M60 machine guns, as well as firing a 7.62mm SVD sniper rifle that intimidated some of the adult participants. She’s a member of Ozark Mountain Lead Slingers youth group, USPSA Juniors and a noncompeting member of 4-H Shooting Sports. Not limiting her interests to gunfire, Alexis plays soccer and softball, sings, plays music and practices gymnastics. Proving wrong many who perceive kids who shoot as hillbillies, she’s also a straight-A student. She’s already giving back by helping her 5-year-old brother learn gun safety and marksmanship, and often helps instruct adult novices as well.
Alexis’ plan for the future is to excel in shooting sports, get a college education and serve in the military. She will probably do well with it, given a history of challenges such as being born deaf and having to do speech therapy after successive surgeries. She’s already an effective ambassador for gun rights and shooting sports. To expand on the saying that the mind is the weapon and everything else is just a tool, I would estimate that the personality and mind of Alexis Welch will play a large role in the next generation’s work to retain our firearms freedoms. ASJ
Editor’s Note: You can follow Alexis on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alexisnicolefanclub.
The American Shooting Journal was proud to have Alexis Welch on the cover of our February 2016 issue.
Posted in Shooters Tagged with: 4-H Sports, Alexis Nicole, Alexis Welch, Beck Defense, Blackhawk Axxiom Stock, Bob Sanders, Carol Stokes, CMore Sight, Dani Bryan, Fighting Sheepdog, Gary Welborn, Gemtech, Hunter "Nubbs" Cayll, Leupold Optics, M249, M60, NSSF Rimfire Challenge, Oleg Volk, Owensboro RIfle and Pistol Club, Ozark Mountain Lead Slingers Youth Group, Richard Stokes, S&W MP15-22, Sound Gear, Striplin Custom, Tandemkross, Trijicon, Tryce Welch, USPSA, Volquartsen, Weapon Shield, Youth Shooter
The Aero Precision M5E1 is a logical development from their more basic M5 .308 autoloading rifle. It is positioned as a firearm that’s practical in the field, yet more accurate and capable of sustained fire than typical hunting or defense rifles. The main upgrade is the strengthened receiver designed to give monolithic-rail effects without its logistical disadvantage, namely the difficulty of changing the forend. The area where the freefloated handguard and the barrel attach to the receiver has been beefed up relative to the typical AR-10-style guns. The mounting surface for the forend is machined into the upper receiver, so the free-floated rail attaches with just four pairs of screws and no need for additional rings or hardware.
Its realistic niche is for a designated marksman or a hunter working from a blind.
The rifle I tested was a combination of all three variants offered by Aero Precision. It came with an adjustable Magpul CTR stock designed for the 16-inch carbine, a 15-inch forend for an 18-inch midlength rifle and a 20-inch barrel for a full-length rifle. The goal was to have a relatively handy weapon yielding maximum muzzle velocity. A variable-length stock allowed adjustments for various shooting positions and for body armor. Of the two colors available, I chose the flat dark earth cerakote, mainly to reduce the gun’s visibility and its tendency to warm up in direct sunlight during hot Tennessee summers. The edges of the receiver and the forend have all been carefully chamfered and smoothed, making gloveless handling comfortable. Extensively ventilated KeyMod handguards with a full-length Picatinny top rail proved well suited for field use, requiring only a short rail segment up front for the bipod, or a direct KeyMod bipod stud. The stock offered a quick-detach socket on both sides, and the QD rail-mounted receptacle for the front of the sling completed this field-ready rifle.
In cold weather, the all-metal forend would be insulated with rail covers, while in warmer weather, free air flow around the barrel would take priority. Due to the long barrel, the rifle starts out front-heavy, but adding a scope and a full 20-round magazine brings the balance to the front of the magazine well.
In keeping with the intended use of this rifle, I put a 1-6x Vortex Razor HD scope on it. With the optic set to six power, the M5E1 can be used to engage goblin-sized targets out to 600 yards from a bipod or an improvised rest. At intermediate magnification, it’s excellent for unsupported shooting. And at true 1x with daylight-bright reticle illumination, it works as an expedient red-dot sight for tracking motion. A rifle-length barrel with a flash hider keeps muzzle flash from showing up in the field of view, even in low light. The same length and the attendant inertia keep the muzzle rise to a minimum, so shooters can spot their own targets through the scope at all magnifications. The recoil is negligible, allowing full concentration on marksmanship without concern for the kick.
The rifle functioned reliably with over a dozen types of ammunition, from steel-cased ball to hunting soft points and match hollow points. The trigger is smooth during take-up, with a crisp breakpoint but still at military standard weight. Running it in winter gloves, I came to appreciate it for the tactile feedback it provided. The enlarged integral trigger guard helped make gloved use safe.
My M5E1 was test fired from a rest at the factory on my request, grouping around 1 minute of angle with Federal 168-grain Gold Match ammunition. All of my testing was conducted by a former Marine Corps rifleman under less formal conditions from sandbags or from a Lead Sled, usually with some crosswind.
The shooters remarked that they considered the rifle capable of better precision than it demonstrated, though I am convinced that 0.75 MOA is quite respectable, especially when the limitation of the six-power scope is considered. The barrel twist rate is 1 in 10, optimal for 175-grain bullets, while the older 1-in-12 standard works fine for the 168s. For short-range plinking or CQB training, the difference in mechanical accuracy would be of negligible importance, but heavier bullets would work best for deliberate long-range precision work. With initial muzzle velocity around 2,500 feet per second, most 175-grain loads stay supersonic out past 1,000 yards – well outside of the optical range of our setup.
The fit and finish of the rifle are excellent. Internals showed almost no visible wear after the first 400 rounds. While the lower has a threaded opening for a tension screw, I found it unnecessary because play between the lower and the upper was already negligible. I would have preferred an extended charging handle latch, but that’s an easy fix.
The rifle weighs 9.6 pounds empty, on par with an M1A match or FN FAL. Loaded and scoped, it tips in at 13.6 pounds. Its realistic niche is for a designated marksman or a hunter working from a blind. Despite the weight, the gun travels well slung, thanks to the absence of any protrusions. The M5E1 is an evolutionary improvement on the basic AR10 theme, and is a very enjoyable to operate and unfailingly reliable. With the recent price drop bringing the complete gun to the $1,300 to $1,600 range, depending on the variant, it is quite competitive with other precision alternatives. And that has long been Aero’s chosen field, good performance at a reasonable price. ASJ
Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: .308 AR, .308 M5E1, Aero Precision, AR 10, Federal 168-grain Gold Match ammunition, Federal Fusion 150-grain, Hornady 168-grain match, Oleg Volk, Pierce Munitions 168-grain match, Prvi Partizan 175-grain match
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has published the final lost and stolen in transit rule in the Federal Register. NSSF has actively opposed the rule since a version was first published in 2000. The rule becomes effective 30 days from today, on Feb. 11. Apart from ATF’s lack of statutory authority to impose the rule, the major problem with this rule is that it requires FFLs to report as lost or stolen in transit firearms that have already left their inventory. Once firearms have been sold FOB, shipped and recorded as a disposition, this rule essentially requires that they still be considered part of the shipping FFL’s inventory for purposes of timely reporting to ATF in the exceeding rare case when they are lost or stolen while in transit. Rather than putting the onus on the receiving FFL, who would best know whether the firearms they paid for and are expecting have arrived, and continuing the effective long-standing voluntary reporting program, ATF chose to publish the final rule:
Here is the whole shebang: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-01-12/pdf/2016-00112.pdf.