Sig MPX 9mm – Accurate Adaptation

SIG Sauer’s 9mm Pistol feels both new and familiar within the MPX line.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

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.

The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.
The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.

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.

 Takedown of the MPX is simple, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.
Takedown of the MPX is simple, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

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.

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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.

An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.
An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.
 A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.
A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.

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.

The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.
The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.

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.

With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.
With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.
Here’s Rob Pincus checking out the Sig MPX 9mm at Reno Guns & Range back in 2019


GUN REVIEW: Czech Out This Gun – vz58

Petite vz. 58 Bridges The Gap Between Submachine Gun And Rifle

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

The Samopal vz 58, or Automatic weapon model 58, was put into Czechoslovak military service in the late 1950s. A very lightweight 7.62×39 carbine with a short-stroke piston action, it was one of the first Czech arms to use the Soviet cartridge instead of the longer native round. Lighter than the AK-47 by 1.3 pounds, it also used alloy magazines that weighed half of the steel AK-47 mags. Although similar in overall size to the AK, the slimmer pistol grip and stock gave it a more dainty look. Besides Czechoslovak army use, the rifle was exported to about 20 countries, mainly in the Third World. With the 15.4-inch barrel extended to 16 inches with a shroud and automatic capability removed, it is now available in the US through Czechpoint USA of Knoxville, Tenn.

The action design is a short-stroke piston that acts on a locking block, which is separate from the bolt and carrier but attaches to both. It’s almost like a rifle version of the Walther P38 or Beretta M9.

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.

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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.

The lightweight magazine holds 30 rounds, and 10-round magazines are available for bench shooting or for restricted states. The magazine can also be topped off with stripper clips.

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 runs extremely cleanly, and the receiver contains minimal carbon residue even after 1,000 rounds. The lightweight barrel and the operating system seems better suited for personal-defense.


Czechpoint USA’s vz. 58 Carbine in 7.62×39 is the equivalent of the Czech automatic weapon model 58 with a few modifications: an extended 16-inch barrel with shroud and the automatic capability removed.
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.

Here’s Youtuber Larry Vickers running the Vz58.

AmSJ



GUN REVIEW: Volquartsen’s .22LR Featherweight

Volquartsen’s .22LR Featherweight

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

The original function of the basic Ruger 10-22 was reliable shooting with passable accuracy. Over time more specialized models appeared, such as heavy-barreled target versions for utmost accuracy, and lightweight take-down designs for portability. Gunmaker Scott Volquartsen’s genius was to find a way to combine light weight with high accuracy. His UltraLite .22 is a featherweight even by rimfire standards, with the barreled action massing under 2.5 pounds, and the lightest of the stocks adding less than a pound to that. The lighter weight is mainly attributed to the materials used for the barrel: a carbon-fiber tube with a thin steel liner.

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Eight-year-old competitive marksman Alexis Nicole sporting her Volquartsen UltraLite weighing in at just under 3.5 pounds.


Carbon fiber has been used in the aerospace industry since the 1970s. Light, strong and distinctive looking, it has more recently become the prestigious and coveted component of fast cars, super-light bicycles, portable but rigid camera tripods and last, but not least, competition rifles. Thermal expansion of carbon-fiber parts is half steel and a third aluminum. That’s a great plus for all carbon-fiber constructions, but presents additional challenges to mixed-metal and composite designs. The same challenges are, of course, present whenever any two materials are mixed in an area subject to intense heat. More importantly for the shooters, carbon fiber conducts heat half as quickly as steel and nearly ten times slower than aluminum, protecting the shooter’s hands from burns. Wood insulates even better, but a much greater thickness is required for the same strength. The insulating quality of the material is terrific for hunters who don’t subject their barrels to intense heat. This is also true for rimfire shooters whose guns burn miniscule amounts of powder with each shot.

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alex_volquartsen_ultralite_BDM50rd_DSC7361hires-minOn the down side, carbon-fiber composites are expensive, and machining them uses up drill bits fast! That’s partly the reason why the Volquartsen UltraLite lists for $1,100. The other is the adjustable 2-pound trigger which, by itself, sells for $260. The fit and finish of this gun is far ahead of the standard 10-22, which the UltraLite shares an overall design with, but the details are much finer. The muzzle, for example, may be threaded for a sound suppressor or for Volquartsen’s well-designed muzzle brakes. Since the 22LR has little recoil, much of the brake function is to divert the noise of the report away from the shooter. Other options include extended magazine releases, numerous hard-anodized colors, a variety of stocks, and either a Picatinny rail or threaded holes for direct mounting of the industry-standard C-More red-dot sight. All said and done, one of these rifles will cost from $1,400 to $2,000. What kind of performance would you get for that much money?

Practical accuracy is often unachievable even with mechanically accurate lightweight rifles because pulling the trigger would disturb the aim. With the crisp, highly adjustable triggers of the UltraLite, the entire potential of the precision barrel proved easy to realize with good ammunition. With bulk loss-leader cartridges, groups were as huge as 2 inches at 25 yards. The CCI Mini mags shot slightly better than 1-inch groups at 25. Eley Match grouped pretty much on top of each other, with 2/3-inch groups at 50 yards! It pays to put premium ammunition into this premium gun. The other contributor to accuracy is the rigid laminate thumbhole stock, which locks the rifle securely to the shooter’s hold.



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Without the advent of technology and lightweight options like Volquartsen’s UltraLite, the next generation of competitive shooters would possibly have to wait a few more years before starting out.

The emphasis on weight becomes important in two venues: hunting and competition. Meant mainly for rimfire steel challenge and similar fast-paced disciplines, the UltraLite swings quickly and easily. The greatest benefit accrues to kids and smaller-statured women. With Blackhawk Axiom’s collapsible stock and a red-dot sight, the UltraLite used by eight-year-old competitive marksman Alexis Nicole is still under 3.5 pounds, and fits her tiny frame perfectly. When she grows up, the same stock extended will still fit her. For now, variable length means the ability to fine tune the length of pull for standing, sitting or prone positions. Without the carbon-fiber barrel, she would have had to use a thin, sportier-weight steel barrel, get less accuracy and still struggle with more weight up front.

Lightweight rifles also give an advantage to hunters who use bigger scopes and sound suppressors. Even with a hefty varmint scope and a rimfire silencer, the resulting rig is portable and not excessively front-heavy. Placing the same accessories onto a bull barrel 10-22 would have resulted in a barely portable rifle that would also be difficult to steady offhand. Ruger’s own target model weighs more than twice as much! Could a big, strong male wrestle this rifle along? Sure. But it would be less fun for him, and next to impossible for the bantam-sized rifle operators like Alexis. Since weight and balance are critical for teen and preteen competitors, the extra cost is hardly optional. Without the investment of this specialized tool, the next generation of competitive shooters would have to wait a couple of years before starting out. AmSJ

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Jordanne Calvin demonstrates the light weight and balance of the Volquartsen carbon-fiber-barrel-based .22. The UltraLite is an excellent option for competitors and hunters alike, especially those using larger, heavier long-range scopes.

Hybrid Hunting

The Savage 220Y And The Winchester SX3 Provide Accuracy And Power Where Rifled Shotguns Are Needed Or Required

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

This 25-yard, three-shot group from a Savage 220Y firing Brenneke K.O. slugs measured 0.5 inches.
This 25-yard, three-shot group from a Savage 220Y firing Brenneke K.O. slugs measured 0.5 inches.

In modern America, rifled shotguns are hybrid creatures spawned mainly by regulatory compliance. Several states require them for deer hunting, with the justifications ranging from reduced range for densely populated areas to deliberately limited effectiveness to give deer a fighting chance. Their technical provenance, however, goes back quite a bit further.



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.

Dupleks Monolit 32 produced 0.6-inch three-shot groups at 25 yards with rifled Winchester SX3.
Dupleks Monolit 32 produced 0.6-inch three-shot groups at 25 yards with rifled Winchester SX3.

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.



Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck rifled shotgun with Holosun red dot sight.
Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck rifled shotgun with Holosun red dot sight.

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.

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A folding rear notch sight allows use of optics mounted low on the cantilevered rail of the Winchester SX3.
A folding rear notch sight allows use of optics mounted low on the cantilevered rail of the Winchester SX3.

Savage 220Y.

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.



Direct loading of a Brenneke K.O. slug into the Savage 220Y ejection port.
Direct loading of a Brenneke K.O. slug into the Savage 220Y ejection port.

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. AmSJ

The Savage 220Y shotgun with 1-4x Vortex scope.
The Savage 220Y shotgun with 1-4x Vortex scope.


Gun Review: The Walloper Pistol

Evaluating Guncrafter Industries’ Model No. 4 50 GI

Story and photographs by Oleg Volk

Handguns are almost always inferior to rifles in terms of accuracy and stopping power. Since defensive fighting usually happens up close, those qualities are important, but casual carrying of long guns is not socially acceptable in much of the world. The solution is to use the most powerful handgun that’s still practical for unsupported firing.
Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 Hunting pistol attempts to create exactly that kind of weapon by combining 6 inches of barrel with a .50-caliber bore, the largest legally possible without National Firearms Act paperwork. That way, the projectile already has an impressive frontal area, 23 percent wider than .45 ACP, and 15 percent higher velocity for the same 230-grain bullet weight. For hog hunting use, slower but much denser 300-grain bullets are available. While less energetic than a hot 10mm auto load, the 50 GI is more efficient by not having to use as much of the kinetic energy to expand the projectile.

Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 50 GI packs a powerful punch
Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 50 GI packs a powerful punch, whether you’re carrying for self-defense or hunting hogs.

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.

Gun reviewer Oleg Volk reports that the plain rear sight combined with a tritium front sight works well in moderate light, and it’s easy for the eye to pick up the chartreuse vial.

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.

Unlike the texturing on some high-powered handguns’ grips, the 50 GI comes with enough to hold onto it while it kicks, but isn’t so rough that it’ll chew up your hands at the range. The reviewer reports that while it shoots like any 1911 out there, the difference is in how much impact it delivers downrange.

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.

DEAD FOOT ARMS

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. AmSJ

A close-up of the wheelhouse of the 50 GI.
A close-up of the wheelhouse of the 50 GI.


GUN REVIEW: The Magnum Lite .22WMR

The Magnum Lite Autoloader

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

Magnum Lite 22WMR Rotary Magazine
The rifle uses a rotary magazine common to the discontinued Ruger 22WMR model. Each cartridge is contained between two pawls and thus protected from interference by the rims of other rounds. With the heavy return spring, an oversized bolt handle comes in handy.

The creation of an accurate .22 Magnum autoloader has long been plagued by cycling challenges caused by the cartridge shape and construction. The long, skinny case has a lot of surface area and resists extraction. Extracting it while the gas pressure is high runs the risk of blowing out the thin case head typical of rimfire ammunition. Balancing these conflicting requirements was a huge technical challenge to overcome – until the Magnum Lite.

Magnum LIte 22WMR
The rail is elevated enough to permit scopes with objectives up to 50mm – quite useful for varmint hunting.

Magnum Research calls the action “gas-assisted blowback,” but it is not. Gas assistance uses a muzzle booster to move the whole barrel (as on a Maxim machine gun), or diverts a small amount of gas that is tapped off just in front of the chamber and uses it to move a piston impinging on the bolt. The gas is then diffused and vented into the forend.
DEAD FOOT ARMS


The Magnum Lite uses neither, and the mechanism is more simply described as blowback with a gas pressure regulator. According to the manual, it keeps the pressure curve consistent for reliable and safe cycling. The manual sternly warns about using ammunition under 30 grains. My best guess is that the pressure curve spikes sooner in the cycle, leading to ejection failures and possibly blown-out brass.

 

The heart of the Magnum Lite is the graphite-wrapped barrel, which is 19 inches long and tipped with a stainless-steel cap. While the extra 3 inches over the minimum non-NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) length gives no more than a 100-feet-per-second advantage with some loads and none at all with others, it does reduce the muzzle blast a bit and moves it further away from the shooter.

Magnum Lite .22
The Magnum Lite 22WMR, complete with a thick graphite-wrapped barrel and integral Picatinny rail machined onto the receiver, is under 4.5 pounds. Between the ergonomically sculpted thumbhole stock and light, crisp trigger, the Magnum Lite is quite accurate off hand.

The optic that I installed for testing is the Nightforce 3.5-15x, with an adjustable parallax. Off-hand shots were done with it set to minimum magnification, and supported set to medium. The top setting is reserved for use with a bipod or a sandbag. Given the small size of rodent targets and the relatively modest kill zones for 22WMR on larger creatures, the higher magnification comes in handy. The glass is quite heavy, almost 2 pounds counting the rings, which is why the weight saved by the use of a graphite-fiber barrel is so helpful.

 

Magnum Lite 22WMR
Since 22WMR chamber pressures vary from minimal, with Winchester Dynapoint, to high, with defense ammunition meant for shorter barrels, the Magnum Lite vents into a diffuser block, which in turn lets the excess gas into the stock.

While no ammunition maker markets 22WMR-match ammunition, it’s been my impression that the consistency of most US loads is quite good. Further, .22 Magnum bullets have a longer bearing area than heeled 22LR bullets, therefore have the potential for decent accuracy.


The old standby, CCI Maxi Mags make a ½-inch group at 25 yards, and the Gold Dots closer to a third of an inch. With the high initial velocity, they don’t go transonic until they’ve reach 150 yards or more, and give consistent accuracy for at least that distance. Given the mechanical and ergonomic capability for excellent accuracy, this Magnum Research design has amply deserved its popularity. I only wish for one upgrade – a muzzle threaded for a sound suppressor. That option exists on the 22LR model but not on the 22WMR. AmSJ



Kel-Tec Sub2000MK2 Upgrades

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

The story of this carbine goes back to 1997, when Kel-Tec introduced the Sub-9 carbine. In general, it was a conventional blow-back gun with the magazine inserted through the hand grip. Designed during the high-capacity-magazine-ban years, it used popular and available pistol magazines, but the Sub-9’s claim to fame was its unusual folding form.

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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.

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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.


Kel-Tec 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.

  • 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.

    DEAD FOOT ARMS

    The gun ran reliably with all types of ammunition, except 50- to 60-grain hyper velocity 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 Sub2000Mk2The 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. –AmSJ

    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

    Henry Rifle is the People’s Choice

    Quality products, an expanding user base, a responsive corporate culture and hands-on ownership have Henry Repeating Arms at the Top.

    STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

    Although the brand dates to the middle of the 19th Century, the Henry Repeating Arms company that we know of today was founded in 1996 by a father-and-son team. Originally located in Brooklyn, it started production of .22 rimfire lever-action carbines in 1997. Ten years later, the headquarters moved to Bayonne, N.J. Around that time, Henry added a large production facility in Wisconsin, having bought out a major parts supplier. The two factories together add up to over 400 employees on nearly 250,000 square feet of floor space. In 20 years, Henry Repeating Arms produced more than 2.3 million rifles. Today, they are the seventh largest domestic gun maker in the US. That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident.

    rider on horse w 22

    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.

    Henry’s lightweight AR-7 Survival Rifle in .22 fits inside its own waterproof stock when disassembled.

    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.

    22plinkster, who goes by Dave Nash but withholds his real name, holds a Henry .22WMR pump.

    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.

    Two Henry Big Boys on a safari, one in .45 Colt, the other in .45-70 Govt.
    A Henry Big Boy in the classic .30-30 chambering.

    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. AmSJ

    Even a 6-year-old can understand gun safety if taught correctly, and this Henry Mini Bolt is just the right size for her to practice what she has learned.

    Contact: Henry Repeating Arms henryusa.com

    Aero Precision M5E1

    The Triple Play

    Aero Precision’s M5E1 is an evolutionary improvement on the basic AR-10 theme.

    The Aero Precision M5E1 is a logical development from the 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.

    Aero Precision M5E1 (Oleg Volk)

    Its realistic niche is for a designated marksman or a hunter working from a blind.

    Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)
    The creation of this rifle was driven by the need for a relatively handy rifle that yields maximum muzzle velocity.

    Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)

    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.

    Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)
    The edges of the receiver and the forend have all been carefully chamfered and smoothed, making gloveless handling comfortable.

    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.

    Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)
    The area where the free floated handguard and the barrel attach to the receiver has been beefed up relative to the typical AR-10-style guns.

    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 break point 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 Averaged Results
    Prvi Partizan 175-grain match 0.75 MOA
    Pierce Munitions 168-grain match 1.5 MOA
    Federal Fusion 150-grain 2 MOA
    Hornady 168-grain match 2 MOA

    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.

    Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)
    The trigger is smooth during take-up, with a crisp breakpoint, but still at military standard weight.

    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.
    If you’re wondering how this fare up against top AR-15, don’t even consider it. AR-10 has its long range purpose but if you still want to read about this debate, click here for AR10 vs AR15.

    Here’s another perspective from Youtuber sootch00.

    AmSJ

    Review and photographs by Oleg Volk


    Chiappa 1873 10-Shot Revolver

    The Short And Long Of It All –
    A Look At Chiappa’s SAA 1873 10-Shot Revolvers

    The Chiappa 1873 10-shot represents an effort to bring an affordable single-action plinker to the market. Using a cast zamak-alloy frame, they look and feel like the old .45 Colt Peacemakers without being as expensive to buy. Depending on the model they retail anywhere from just under to just over $200. These revolvers are available in the US and come with either a 4.75-, 5.5- or 7.5-inch barrel, the last with adjustable target sights.

    PHOTO 2 fanning_hammer_1970-min
    The Chiappa’s short barreled (4.75-inch) revolver can be reliably used for point shooting, but aimed fire would require a bit of Kentucky windage.

    To me, the main appeal was practicing with inexpensive rimfire ammunition and enjoying the light recoil – in style! To that end, I obtained a highly decorated belt and holster set from Old El Paso Saddlery to ensure I had the complete package. I also obtained belts and holsters from El Paso for the kids and adult shooters which looked great functioned flawlessly.

    Single action revolver grips are usually fairly good fit for smaller hands, their triggers don’t require much reach, so I also planned to use them for teaching new shooters. To that end, I also got a more utilitarian set of holsters – one each long and short in left and right hand configuration – and adult and child size gun belts with cartridge loops. This way, a person can run the more precise long gun with the string hand and the lighter, shorter gun with the weak hand.

    Check out these Cool Gun Safes Click HERE
    to Check it out.

    aiming Chiappa Revolver
    The Chiappa 1873 10-shot revolver represents an effort to bring an affordable single-action plinker to the market. Using a cast zamak-alloy frame, they look and feel like the old .45 Colt Peacemaker without being as expensive to buy.

    Known principles

    SSA22_5377hires-minSingle-action, gate-loading revolvers are among the most hardy repeating gun designs. Sequential ejection enables the use of imperfect ammunition and brings the full impact of the ejector to bear on one empty casing at a time, and since the ejector rod goes into the casing from the front, even rimless ammunition can be used. With the cylinder fixed in the frame, alignment with the barrel usually remains good, even after a steady diet of hot loads. With rimfire ammunition the guns should last for many generations. Single-action triggers are generally quite decent, but loading may be slower than with break-open or side-swinging cylinders. Recent models, like this pair of Chiappa SAA1873s, hold 10 rounds each, which should be sufficient for a fairly high rate of fire for a short time.

    girl w Chiappa Revolver
    Single-action revolvers grips are usually a fairly good fit for smaller hands, and their triggers don’t require much reach, so the author plans to use them for teaching new shooters.

    old_el_paso_holster_1634-min

    The Test

    I headed to the range with high hopes and a brick of Federal 40-grain ammunition. The long-sight radius and crisp trigger should produce good practical accuracy, and the longer models with a 7.5-inch barrel should yield a very respectable velocity. Normally, the 40-grain CCI Velocitor manages about 1,250 feet per second and the 33-grain CCI Stinger zips out at 1,350 fps.

    The shorter revolver with fixed sights was test fired first. I discovered that the substantial gap between the cylinder and the forcing cone caused a louder than expected report. Despite good balance and a decent trigger, the best groups I could get were well over 2 inches at a distance of 25 feet. The problem with these entirely acceptable groups was their location – 3 inches down and one to the left of the point of aim. With a groove in the top strap for the rear sight and a fixed blade for the front, there was not much that I could do to reconcile the point of aim with the point of impact. The front sight could be filed and repainted to raise the point of impact, but I wouldn’t try to bend the casting for fear of breaking it. This revolver can still be used for point shooting, but aimed fire might require a bit of Kentucky windage.

    The longer model with the 7.5-inch barrel shot much better. A minute with a flat-blade screwdriver adjusted the target rear sight to correct zero. At 25 feet, all 10 rounds shot consistently and fit into a 1-inch circle. Success?

    Unfortunately, two issues plagued this sample. First, it actually jammed during loading. To load, the hammer should be placed at half cock, which enables the cylinder to spin freely. Opening the loading gate exposes the chambers. Half way through this process the cylinder would stop rotating. To get it to rotate further, I had to put the revolver on full cock, carefully lower the hammer (sometimes on a live round) and only that would free up the cylinder for the completion of the loading procedure. The other problem was the amount of misalignment between the forcing cone and the chambers. This caused lead shavings during firing. Outdoors, this could have been overlooked given the excellent accuracy, but indoors I found small chunks of lead hitting the lane dividers, which bounced off into my face. Though not very fast by the time they reached me, these bits were annoying.

    It’s possible that minor gunsmithing would resolve these issues, but the cost of that would quickly add up. My reluctant conclusion is that the budget single-action revolvers are hit and miss in terms of quality. ASJ

    The 1873 with a 7.5-inch barrel comes with an easily adjustable target sight, and shot a 1-inch group on a 10-round test fire at 25 feet.

    Story and photographs by Oleg Volk