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, 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
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.
The rail is elevated enough to permit scopes with objectives up to 50mm – quite useful for varmint hunting.
Magnum Researchcalls 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.
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.
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
The story of this carbine goes back to 1997, when Kel-Tec introduced the Sub-9 carbine. In general, it was a conventional blow-back gun with the magazine inserted through the hand grip. Designed during the high-capacity-magazine-ban years, it used popular and available pistol magazines, but the Sub-9’s claim to fame was its unusual folding form.
When folding or collapsible stocks were not legal, the Sub-9 worked around that concept by creating a carbine that folded in half at the chamber, halving its overall length for storage and transport.
The folding is initiated by pulling down on the back of the trigger guard, which allows the front of the gun to swing up and back eventually locking the front sight into a recess on the butt-stock.
In 2001, the machined aluminum receiver was replaced with a plastic clamshell, resulting in a lighter and less expensive Sub-2000 model, and since it was made to fit several makes of pistol magazines, in 9mm Luger and .40S&W, this carbine became extremely popular.
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.
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.
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.
Overall, the gun favors lighter-weight ammunition. The absolute winner in the accuracy department is the all-copper 100-grain OATH Halo with a consistent 2.6 MOA. A mild load with 1,250 feet-per-second velocity also produces minimal recoil and expands reliably.
One hundred and fifteen-grain Corbon JHP and, surprisingly, Winchester’s “white box” FMJ are almost as good with 3 MOA. Remington Golden Saber 124-grain is less accurate with 4 MOA, but works well up close with 1,350 fps velocity. Winchester 147-grain JHP lagged at 4.5 MOA, but would be accurate enough for its intended short-range use with sound suppressors.
Although 60-grain Liberty ammunition did not cycle, it did reach 2,550 fps and could be used for varmints out to nearly 100 yards.
The trigger pull is about 6.5 pounds and not very smooth, with a gritty second stage and some over-travel. Fortunately, the wide trigger guard allows for a safe addition of a trigger shoe designed for a P11 pistol. This wide shoe improves the feel of the trigger and gives it better control. This carbine uses an internal hammer with a sufficiently energetic pin-strike which makes misfires unlikely. In fact, I’ve had no malfunctions of any kind, even with over 300 rounds of mixed-type ammunition.
The bolt does not stay back on the last shot, but the difference in the feel is sufficient to tell when the gun is empty, and the charging handle can be locked back to show a clear chamber. This carbine fits 17- or 33-round Glock magazines and works well with 50- and 100-round drums; all drop freely when released. Smith & Wesson M&P magazines are the next in line for production after the Glock-compatible model.
In practical terms, it’s a competent companion to a center-fire pistol. Its main advantage over the pistol is improved practical accuracy and some increase in muzzle velocity. Folded, it can safely fit into a laptop case with a loaded magazine in the grip. While ballistically weaker than a true rifle, the Sub2000Mk2 is also lighter and quieter. For firing indoors, the reduction in concussion is very helpful, not to mention many ranges do not permit 5.56mm and other rifle calibers. –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.
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.
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.
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.
Its realistic niche is for a designated marksman or a hunter working from a blind.
The creation of this rifle was driven by the need for a relatively handy rifle that yields maximum muzzle velocity.
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.
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.
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.
The trigger is smooth during take-up, with a crisp breakpoint, but still at military standard weight.
The fit and finishof 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.
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.
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.
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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.
Single-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.
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.
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.
A well-made, accurate and good-looking AK-47 that is 100 percent made in the USA with no imported parts actually exists. Century Arms introduced the C39v2, 7.62x39mm semiautomatic rifle in 2014, and it continues to exceed our expectations. After receiving quite a bit of user feedback from the original C39, Century Arms made some intelligent changes and upgrades, resulting in the C39v2, which has set it apart from other AKs on the market. Even AK purists are having a hard time finding fault with their latest C39 variant.
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!
Century Arms’ C39v2 offers many upgrades from their earlier versions, and is California-law compliant.
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.
The integrated Green Mountain barrel has a 1:10 twist and a concentric left-hand 14×1 metric thread that comes equipped with a chevron muzzle break.
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 has streamlined the lines of this AK by engineering a milled receiver using 4140 ordnance-quality steel and lightening grooves on each side.
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.
According to Tatiana, the only malfunction she encountered while testing the C39v2 was running dry.
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)
Review by Tatiana Whitlock • Photography by Oleg Volk