The stylish Henry Octagon in .45-70 Government is a hardworking short-range riﬂe with a quick and smooth action.
STORY & PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK
For a cartridge introduced in 1873, the .45-70 Government has enjoyed some serious staying power. The same may be said of lever-action riﬂes that date back a decade further. The combination of the two, ﬁrst made in 1881, logically joined two good things into something perennially popular.
Bone Orchard offers a .45-70 Government cartridge with a 300-grain bullet.
Today, several companies make such riﬂes. Henry oﬀers three models, with the Octagon being the most visually striking of the lot. The ﬁt of the metal and wood is tight, and the ﬁnish is even and well applied.
A 22-inch blued octagonal barrel is installed on a brass receiver, with brass buttplate on a straight-grip stock of quality walnut completing the ﬁrst impression. Weighing in at about 8 pounds, the riﬂe feels substantial without appearing heavy. For ﬁeld carry, it comes with sling swivel studs already installed.
The magazine tube holds four cartridges and loads from a port underneath, the same as Henry’s rimﬁre riﬂes. While slower than gate loading, this approach is easier on the shooter’s ﬁngers and doesn’t damage soft bullet points. And, considering the power of the .45-70 cartridge, 4+1 capacity is generally suﬃcient.
The Octagon sports a quality American walnut grain stock and checkering on the grip.
WHILE HISTORIC .45-70 LOADS used bullets in the 405- to 500-grain range, most modern hunting ammunition is 300 grains. Loads such as Winchester and Federal with expanding bullets develop velocities in the high 1,800s, and recoil is correspondingly brisk. For this reason, a slipon recoil pad is a recommended accessory.
For people who use .45-70 for fun rather than hunting, such as cowboy action shooters, Velocity Munitions sells a mild 1,100-foot-per-second cast-lead load that makes this riﬂe an absolute pleasure to run. Other companies make more specialized loads, including Hornady with Leverlution polymer-tipped 325-grain, Lehigh Defense with Xtreme Penetrator fragmenting and multiple projectile rounds, and Buﬀalo Bore with several hot-loaded magnums in the 3,600-foot-pound muzzle-energy range. The magnum loads, however, are not recommended for use in Henry riﬂes, as regular 300-grain loads only develop 2,600 to 3,000 foot pounds. The intensity of recoil and muzzle rise with the extraenergetic ammunition can get unpleasant.
> The magazine tube holds four cartridges and loads from a port underneath.
Accuracy was the same for all three loads tested, an even 3 minutes of angle. Points of impact diﬀered signiﬁcantly between the full power and the plinking cartridges, as was to be expected. It appears that the barrel band holding the magazine to the barrel has some impact on overall point of aim. When we single loaded each round – cycling them through the magazine – for accuracy testing, the groups were roughly circular. When 4+1 were loaded up, the ﬁrst shot was always low right, the next two would overlap each other about 1.5 inches away, and the last two would again overlap, another 1.5 inches away, with the three holes forming a straight diagonal line.
While the riﬂe comes with open sights – brass-bead front post and semibuckhorn rear – the receiver is also tapped for a Weaver 63B or EGW Marlin Picatinny Rail. Having conducted accuracy testing with a 1-4x Trijicon Accupower scope, I would recommend a mildly magniﬁed optic only if you intend to hunt past 75 yards. Up to that distance, and especially for dangerous game, a red dot would be slightly quicker, a little closer to the bore, and more appropriate to the mechanical accuracy of the ﬁrearm.
Since the Henry Octagon is intended to be a short-range riﬂe, the 3MOA dispersion is irrelevant. At 25 yards, it amounts to a 3/16-inch maximum deviation from the point of aim on targets that have much larger vital zones.
THE LEVER ACTION ITSELF is quick and smooth, with the trigger crisp but a bit on the heavy side. Again, for a dangerous game riﬂe, that’s an appropriate design decision that makes accidental discharges under stress less likely. At the same time, it’s unburdened by the dangerously senseless “lawyer” cross-bolt safeties that plague the current Winchester and Marlin competitors. Those block only the striker, making a trigger pull while on safe appear to be a misﬁre. The Henry has a transfer block, so “safe” is carrying with the hammer down on a live round.
Of the three models Henry oﬀers in .45-70, the All-Weather, the round barrel carbine, and the brass-receiver Octagon, the last is the most stylish. It also brings 4 extra inches of sight radius to the game, along with a slight uptick in velocity and less glare in backlight, thanks to the faceted barrel. It’s also the only one with the oversized lever look for easier use while wearing thick gloves. Strictly from the stylistic perspective, it would look best with some traditional-looking low-magniﬁcation scope.
The receiver is also tapped for a Weaver 63B base or EGW Marlin Picatinny Rail.
Among the riﬂe’s appeals is its simplicity of maintenance: just open the action and undo the lever retention screw. The lever then comes out, and the bolt follows. For normal cleaning, that is the full extent of the disassembly required.
The Octagon .45-70 is a fashion statement as much as it is a capable tool. But unlike most fashion statements, it’s timeless, eminently practical, and will most likely become a multi-generational heirloom. MSRP is $950.
> The Octagon feels substantial without appearing heavy, and weighs in at about 8 pounds. For field carry, it comes with sling swivel studs already installed.
[su_heading size=”30″]SIG Sauer’s 9mm pistol feels both new and familiar, and is an impressive addition to the MPX line.[/su_heading]
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.
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.
As with other gas-operated pistol-caliber guns, the MPX favors full-power ammunition for reliability – in my testing, it ran perfectly with 115-, 124- and 147-grain SIGbrand defense and range ammunition, but short-stroked occasionally with wimpy commercial remanufactured ball. With full-power ammunition, MPX has less felt recoil than blowback guns had with subpar loads.
WHEN SUPPORTED, the MPX pistol is superbly accurate. When rested on an convenient cardboard box and sighted with a red dot, the pistol shot very small groups at 25 yards, especially favoring 124- and 147-grain SIG JHP ammunition.
Similar or slightly better results were obtained using the MPX submachine gun in semiautomatic mode. In auto mode, running at about 850 rounds per minute, it remains fairly controllable and will keep two- or three-shot bursts in A zone at 25 yards. The mechanics of the MPX design are very sound. Compared to HK MP5, it runs a good deal cleaner, especially when sound-suppressed. Takedown for cleaning and especially the reassembly are much simpler, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.
MPX ergonomics are similar to AR-15, but with an emphasis on ambidextrous controls. Slide lock levers and magazine release buttons are duplicated on both sides, a helpful feature. On the left side, the controls could use more separation, as trying to lock the slide back sometimes caused a dropped magazine. The transparent, metal-reinforced polymer magazines made by Lancer are extremely reliable, durable and were easy to load. While more expensive than typically used single-feed Glock magazines, they are far more convenient in use. Available in 10-, 20- and 30-round capacity, MPX magazines ﬁt any purpose, from combat to concealed carry to shooting from a range bench.
THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE between the SBR and the pistol is ergonomics. The pistol comes with a QD socket at the rear of the receiver, right under the rail for the arm brace or the stock. In theory, a solid shooting position can be established with the use of both hands and a stretched sling. In practice, holding a 6-pound weapon in outstretched arms gets tiring fairly soon. Practical accuracy is no better than with a conventional pistol, and the sling length and position make effective concealment difficult.
An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.
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.
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.
[su_heading size=”30″]The Savage 220Y And The Winchester SX3 Provide Accuracy And Power Where Riﬂed Shotguns Are Needed Or Required[/su_heading]
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.
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap]n 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.
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.
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.
A folding rear notch sight allows use of optics mounted low on the cantilevered rail of the Winchester SX3.
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.
PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL FIVE loads I tested were short, 2 3/4-inch shells, and both shotguns had 3-inch chambers. To maximize accuracy, you’d want to use 3-inch-long versions, as the projectiles wouldn’t have to jump extra quarter inch of freebore.
I picked the shorter loads to save wear on my shoulder which, in retrospect, turned out to be excessive caution. The recoil from both shotguns was fairly mild.
As a point of caution, the muzzle rise was fairly pronounced with both, so it’s worth holding onto the forend well to avoid a black eye from the scope eyepiece. Using a hasty sling, riﬂe style, provides both the stability for aimed shots and the extra resistance to muzzle rise.
For most meat hunting, the first shot matters the most, and each of these rifled shotguns should provide sufficient accuracy and power out to 100 to 150 yards, depending on the skill of the shooter and the size of the game. For dangerous game, the more powerful 12-gauge autoloader would also provide quicker follow-up shots in case the quarry isn’t alone or the first hit isn’t perfectly placed. For stalking meat game, either would work well, weighing in at around 8 pounds with the respective optical sights. ASJ
[su_heading size=”30″]Seven-shot Riﬂe Comes In Sporter, Classic, Varmint Models[/su_heading]
Review And Photographs By Oleg Volk
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]K[/su_dropcap]eystone Arms has long been known for single-shot .22-caliber bolt-actions for kids. Last year, they introduced a very unique repeater bolt action, which was released during the rimﬁre-ammunition shortage that happened not long ago. This gun came out with no fanfare and made very little impression in the gun industry. The Model 722, named for its seven-shot capacity and caliber, comes in three variants: the simple $262 Sporter, the more reﬁned $315 Classic and the $340 heavy-barreled Varmint. They share all parts except the barrel and stock.
The bolt has a locking lug opposite the handle, which acts as a second lug, and the short length of the action permits a 20-inch barrel.
THE SEVEN-SHOT MAGAZINE is genius. The thick stainless-steel lips are smooth to the touch, and all seven rounds can be loaded quickly and effortlessly. Since all of the external edges are smoothly radiused, a handful of these mags can be carried in a pocket with no worry of them scratching each other.
You won’t ﬁnd a magazine catch on this gun. The magazine is retained on both sides by a springy mag well. The magazine locks in solidly until the shooter pulls down on the magazine with moderate effort, and they cost around $22 each. Even though I have several, I found myself just reloading the same one in the ﬁeld because the process was so quick and effortless.
The action is smooth and easy to run, and the symmetrical design operates with only a 50-degree throw, easily clearing even the largest scopes.
The seven-shot capacity is dictated by the curve of the ammunition stack. If there were more than seven, the cartridge would have to curve forward even more, requiring a more complex magazine body shape.
ALL VARIANTS OF the Model 722 come with a crisp 2-pound trigger with an overtravel adjustment. The bolt has a locking lug opposite the handle, which acts as a second lug. The action is smooth and easy to run. The symmetrical design operates with only a 50-degree throw, easily clearing even the largest scopes. The short 1.5-inch cycle distance makes for very quick loading. The short length of the action permits a 20-inch barrel on a very light and compact gun. The 13.25-inch length of pull makes it feel even smaller. The safety is a lever – forward for ﬁre, back for safe. It clicks very positively, but the angle of throw is fairly small, so it’s sometimes hard to tell at a glance if it’s on. On the left side of the receiver there is a spring-loaded bolt retainer. The bolt does have to be cycled briskly for reliable ejection.
There isn’t a magazine release on this rifle. The magazine is retained by a springy magwell.
KEYSTONE ARMS’ SISTER company is Revolution Stocks, a premier aftermarket manufacturer. It’s no surprise that the stock quality for all three variants is superb, with a tight wood-to-metal ﬁnish. The decades of metalworking experience behind the Crickett brand also make for excellent action ﬁt. Keystone didn’t skimp on the manufacturing process – even the trigger guard is a nicely machined part.
Just push the magazine in until it locks solidly into place, and pull down with moderate effort to remove.
THE CLASSIC IS lightweight at just 4.6 pounds, and feels even lighter, thanks to the good balance. The Varmint is a couple of pounds more, but the sculpted thumbhole stock makes
steadying it off-hand quite easy. The Classic comes standard with Williams Firesights, ﬁber optic front post and semibuckhorn rear that adjusts for windage and elevation. Picking up the front is very easy in any kind of light, but the bright ﬁber optic pipe on the front sight obscured at least 2.75 inches of the bull’s-eye, making precise alignment difficult. At best, my groups were 2 inches at 25 yards. After trying several kinds of ammunition, I gave up and scoped it with the dedicated Primary Arms 6x rimﬁre BDC scope in low rings and tried again. The results improved greatly: From prone at 80 yards, the CCI Green Tag ammo grouped at 1.25 inches, or about 1.5 minute of angle. Ammunition quality matters. Bulk .22 gave me 3MOA at best. Even with bulk Federal ammo, the BDC reticle made hits on pop cans placed 50 yards downrange routine. Shooting off of a lead sled indoors, without wind, produced 1.25MOA with Aguila Match, 1MOA with Aguila Super Extra subsonic and 2MOA with Federal 550-round bulk pack. I am guessing Green Tag would have come in at about 1.25MOA as well.
THE REAL ACCURACY testing was with the Varmint version. Prone at 25 yards produced a single seven-shot hole scarcely larger than the bullet diameter. Topped with the superb 6-24x Weaver with an adjustable objective, this riﬂe made extreme accuracy the default result. The slim 1-inch tube with a 40mm objective permitted low rings and thus minimal sight height over bore. The mildot reticle provided for drop compensation, and the focusable objective made for a crystal-clear view of the bull’s-eye obliterated by precision ﬁre. Both CCI Green Tag and Aguila Riﬂe Match grouped near 0.6MOA, and Eley Match was right at 0.5MOA at 50 yards – a great performance for any riﬂe, and even more so for the budget-priced 722.
The Classic comes standard with Williams FireSights, fiber optic front post and semibuckhorn rear that adjusts for windage and elevation.
One exception to the versatility of the Varmint model comes from its match chamber incompatibility with the CCI Stinger hypervelocity round often used by actual varmint shooters. The Aguila equivalent works ﬁne, as does the Winchester, but neither hypervelocity load equals the standard velocity loads in outright accuracy under controlled range conditions. In the real world with wind drift and imperfect range estimation, the faster loads perform almost as well as the match bullets.
Twin forend studs allow for simultaneous installation of a bipod and a shooting sling. Despite the greater weight, I consider the Varmint version the best of the three models not only for rested shooting but also for ﬁeld hunting. The exception would be left-handed shooters, who would have to stick with the ambidextrous Classic stock design.
All variants of the Model 722 come with a crisp 2-pound trigger with an overtravel adjustment.
OTHER THAN THE QUICK but imprecise iron sights, Classic is a strong competitor to CZ455 Military Trainer. With optics, the 722 Varmint gives up nothing at all to the competition. Overall, the riﬂe is just fun to use. Its operation is so transparent that it feels like a natural extension of the marksman. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more info, go to keystonesportingarmsllc.com.
[su_heading size=”30″]Jard’s J67 Bullpup Carbine Comes With Uncommon Features • GUN REVIEW J67[/su_heading]
Review And Photographs By Oleg Volk
This 7-pound bullpup has an overall length of 26¼ inches with a 16¾-inch barrel that is optionally threaded for a flash hider or sound suppressor.
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]D[/su_dropcap]ean Van Marel of Jard, Inc. designed the J67 bullpup to be simple and inexpensive. Based loosely on Sten and Sterling submachinegun features, this odd-looking bullpup folded from aluminum sheets is quite diﬀerent in actual use. At 7 pounds, it hearkens back to the age when pistol-caliber guns were sometimes front-line infantry weapons. Unlike Sten and Sterling, J67 ejects down behind the magazine and the controls are ambidextrous. The safety lever is modeled on M1 Garand, and Marel chose Glock magazines, common and available in various calibers, as the standard. In my experience, the Glock magazines worked perfectly, but aftermarket magazines wouldn’t lock into the magazine well at ﬁrst. The mag-release lever has to be manually pushed forward the ﬁrst time on each new aftermarket magazines, such as those from ETS Group and Magpul, but then the mags worked ﬁne. Designed with a mag catch on both sides of the well, the J67 works only with Gen4-compliant magazines.
THE ACTION is straight blowback, but delivers less recoil than most .22 riﬂes. The trick is a relatively heavy – 18.8 ounce – bolt and substantial over travel past the magazine on each cycle. The same layout gives Keltec RDB and Ultimax 100 their low recoil, as well. Overall construction is extremely simple, and takedown is easy: Back out and remove the thumbscrew in front of the action, pull the lower back to separate it from the upper, pull the captured recoil-spring assembly and drop the bolt out of the back of the upper. That’s it for ﬁeld stripping!
Because the felt recoil on the J67 is so low, the shooter may not find it necessary to upgrade to a recoil pad.
THE CARBINE’S OVERALL LENGTH is 26¼ inches, which includes the 16¾-inch barrel, and the muzzle is optionally threaded for a ﬂash hider or sound suppressor. The carbine would work well suppressed, as the vents gas well away from the shooter. I shot 150 rounds of various ammunition and had zero stoppages of any kind. Moreover – and very unusually for 9mm carbines – the J67 shot all kinds of bullet weights and types well. Everything from Liberty 50-grain hypervelocity loads screaming at 2,550 feet per second to Federal 147-grain subsonic JHP fed, ﬁred, extracted and printed between 2 and 3 minute of angle. Since the J67 is not a target riﬂe, I did my testing prone without a bipod: multiple ﬁve-shot strings of the same load grouped variously between 2 and 3MOA due to the marksman’s limitations. For a 9mm Luger long gun with a nontarget scope, that’s very respectable. It oﬀers an excellent single-stage trigger – a Jard specialty – that helps with practical accuracy. Although each load shot tiny groups, the diﬀerence between impact centers of diﬀerent loads could exceed 4MOA, so zeroing for a speciﬁc cartridge is recommended for long-range use.
After 150 rounds fired over the course of 30 minutes, there was very little debris in the J67’s action. There is a lot of room for particles to settle, should the gun run dirty for an extended amount of time.
AS REMARKABLE as the accuracy was for the variety of loads the J67 digested – ball, frangibles, hollow points, the highly sculptured G2 Rip – they all ran ﬁne. All of the spent the brass collected right under the gun too. The ejection port is far enough forward that conventional marksmanship position with a shooter’s left hand under the buttplate works ﬁne. Since I didn’t like the look of the corrugated metal buttplate, I originally put a Hi-Viz gel recoil pad on it. I shouldn’t have bothered, as the felt recoil, even without the pad, is negligible – easily less than with a semiauto .22 riﬂe. The length of pull is already fairly long at 14¾ inches, and one enhancement I do recommend is a neoprene cheekpad for use in cold weather. The heat endurance is good: I felt no appreciable change in temperature of the forend or the receiver after 150 rounds ﬁred over half an hour. I deliberately photographed the action without cleaning it: very little junk goes into the receiver, and there’s lots of room for particles to settle should running dirty be required.
In field testing, we used numerous types of ammunition to include Liberty Civil Defense, Maker Bullet, L-Tec, Southern Ballistic Research, G2 RIP, Freedom Munitions and Federal, and all worked without failures over numerous rounds shot.
The nonreciprocating charging handles felt a little gritty at the start of the stroke, and could use more surface area for comfort, but it’s a minor gripe. Jard plans to oﬀer larger charging handles as options. I would have liked some form of manual or automatic bolt hold-open, both for administrative chamber checks and to know when to reload. The absence of felt recoil or any hesitation during feeding makes it hard to feel when the gun runs dry. Fortunately, in serious use, that would only happen every 33 shots. While the carbine ships with a 17-round Magpul magazine, extended magazines make sense for the ease of handling as well as the higher capacity. I found that the safety lever ﬂag would sometimes get activated when pushed against a bag in prone, but a stronger spring is available on request.
THE GUN MIGHT LOOK rough but it balances beautifully, and may run eﬀectively with one hand. Because of its reliability with hypervelocity ammunition, the J67 has a pretty good aimed range. I ran with a 5x Primary Arms scope and a red-dot for closer ranges. At very close distances, Viridian X5L light/laser provides another aiming option with less bore oﬀset than the topmounted red dot.
Field-stripping the J67 is a breeze. Just back out and remove the thumbscrew in front of the action, pull the lower back to separate it from the upper, pull the captured recoil-spring assembly and drop the bolt out of the back of the upper. That’s it!
.IN SUMMARY, the J67 is a reliable and capable carbine that’s fun to use. Excellent practical accuracy and imperceptible recoil make it a contender in recreational and hunting applications. Excellent reliability and suppressor compatibility make it viable for self defense. At $899 list price, it’s not as inexpensive as intended, but the performance justiﬁes the price and then some! The only serious competitor to it in low recoil and accuracy is the more expensive Sig MPX. To learn more, go to jardinc.com/jard-j67. ASJ
Jard’s J67 bullpup carbine was created for use with Glock Gen4-compliant magazines, and offers extremely low felt recoil – less than most .22s – and high accuracy.
[su_heading size=”30″]International Guns And Gun Laws[/su_heading]
Story by Alexandria Kincaid
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]P[/su_dropcap]icture a tiny, Christmas town filled with classic Alpine chalets and surrounded by mountains, with the citizens working dutifully to contribute to the common good, and you will envision Zermatt, Switzerland. Zermatt is a picturesque tourist town that would fit the typical political progressive’s idea of utopia on earth: modern, clean and government-controlled. Environmental preservation is key. Residents pride themselves on the pure, glacial water flowing through the town. Cars are banned, except for the few licensees who are permitted to drive electric vehicles. I spoke with a shopkeeper who explained the government’s protection of the Swiss deer. If you hit a deer on the road, you had better report it and pay your fine. Unlicensed deer murderers are not tolerated. Switzerland’s per-capita income is extremely high, but according to this shopkeeper, much of her taxes fund government programs.
Gun laws around the world vary greatly. Many countries have very lenient gun-ownership laws, and statistics show that they benefit from very low crime rates.
On our first morning in Zermatt, my husband and I, like most tourists, gazed at the Matterhorn through our hotel room window and eagerly stepped out for a walk. This walk is where the progressives’ utopia would end: Within five minutes of leaving our hotel, a young man with a rifle slung over his shoulder passed us heading in the opposite direction. No one was staring. No one was concerned. No one got hurt. The man, in fact, was the epitome of normal. He looked ruddy and healthy, and was clean-shaven and well-dressed.
While visiting Switzerland, I came across a local gentleman walking down the street casually carrying his rifle. This is common here, and not considered a cause for alarm. (OLEG VOLK)
FIREARMS IN SWITZERLAND are no cause for concern. Until recently, the Swiss could own almost any kind of firearm, including anti-aircraft guns and howitzers. Since 1291, it has been said that Switzerland does not have an army – it is an army. With a “rifle behind every blade of grass,” the same was thought about the United States years ago. Swiss men undergo mandatory military training, which is voluntary for women, and until 2011, these militia men and women ranging in age from 20 to 42 were even required to keep their military rifles at home. In 2011, the laws were changed and now allows the militia an option to keep their rifles in a local armory.
Like the US, Switzerland’s leniency towards firearms has taken a bashing from gun prohibitionists in recent years. The Swiss also receive pressure from the UN and the European Union, to which Switzerland does not subscribe, but from which the country will apparently be influenced. In 2013, anti-gun organizations attempted to ban army rifles from homes altogether. To the relief of Swiss gun owners, the change was rejected by 56 percent of voters. However, some changes to the laws were implemented, such as a list of now-forbidden firearms.
Despite the recent changes, Switzerland still has a relatively lenient gun-ownership system. Approximately 2.3 to 4.5 million military and private firearms are estimated to be in circulation in Switzerland – a lot of firearms for a country with a population of only eight million people. While citizens wishing to purchase a firearm from a dealer must obtain a government-issued permit, the government routinely and without hassle provides these permits to applicants who do not have a criminal background and are not mentally ill.
Transfers between private individuals do not need a government permit, but the buyer and seller must create a written record of the transaction, keep the record for 10 years and provide a copy to the government. No government background checks are required on these private-party transfers.
WHILE THE EXACT NUMBERS differ depending on who is counting, the conclusions about Switzerland’s gun ownership and crime rates are the same: gun control laws are relaxed (virtually any citizen can own a firearm), gun ownership is high and crime rates are low.
In 2011, the Swiss Federal Police compiled statistics on gun-related crimes which showed that during 2009, the police investigated 236 homicides, of which 55 were allegedly committed with a gun. During the same year 524 aggravated batteries were reported, 11 of which involved gun use and 3,530 robberies were reported, of which 416 were committed with a gun. Switzerland has a population of 7.9 million. Switzerland also has the third-lowest homicide rate of the top nine major European countries. To date, Switzerland has not hosted a school massacre. This is true, despite kids and guns mixing freely in the Swiss culture. The traditional Swiss Knabenschiessen is an event for boys and girls age 13 to 17 years old in Zurich where they enjoy the pleasure of competing with Sig SG 550s. The event has taken place since 1657. The Swiss support this mix of kids, Sturmgewehr (the “SG” in Sig SG), Alps, cowbells, music and rifle fire as an event the whole family can enjoy.
Many people across Europe own firearms, and shooting events are highly anticipated community and family affairs. (OLEG VOLK)
Contrary to popular belief, Switzerland is not alone among European countries in its relaxed gun laws and low crime rates. Numerous Europeans own guns. Luxembourg, Finland, Lichtenstein and Belgium are a few other countries that allow citizens to obtain firearms after getting a permit; however, the applicant must generally provide a reason such as hunting, sport shooting or collecting. Self-defense licenses allowing a person to carry outside their home are generally more difficult to obtain but are available. Austrians also own quite a few guns. Austria maintains an expensive training, testing and permitting process. However, Austrians enjoy the ability to freely purchase some firearms, including certain bolt-action firearms and shotguns, provided they are registered within six weeks after purchase.
I expected my journey to countries with high numbers of Nazi concentration camps, such as Poland, to have citizens armed to the teeth in case they should have to defend themselves against such atrocities again. Not the case. While Polish laws are lenient on firearm ownership, citizens do not naturally opt to own them, and this country has some of the lowest gun ownership rates in Europe. (ERIC KINCAID)
IN OUR QUEST for more information on both history and firearms, my husband and I traveled to Poland to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. How could the Poles not own guns? After all, it was the few Poles with firearms – just 10 handguns – in the Warsaw ghetto who were able to resist and begin the uprising against the Nazis. If the Polish people, comprising a population of about 45 million, each had owned even a single firearm, they could prevent an atrocity like the Holocaust from ever happening again. These prison camps have enshrined several tons of human hair, the prisoners’ eyeglasses, luggage and other belongings behind glass. We stood in the same spot as did the helpless, disarmed victims who were taken off the trains like cattle and sorted to live or die. I grew up listening to stories from my German grandparents of the horrors of World War II in Europe. The Poles, I thought, must own firearms. Not so.
Polish gun ownership is the lowest in the European Union. Yet, while recent changes to their gun laws would allow virtually any Pole to acquire a firearm, not many of them choose to take advantage of this newfound ability. Perhaps this will change in the future.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES with stricter gun-control laws include Germany and France. Despite this, Germany still has a high rate of firearm ownership – millions of firearms are legally possessed with a Waffenbesitzkarte (firearms ownership license). Hunting and sport shooting are held in high regard, although self-defense is not deemed an appropriate reason to receive an ownership permit. Better than the Oktoberfest, the German’s annual Schützenfest in Hannover attracts over 5,000 marksmen every year. The highest scoring sharpshooter is crowned the Schützenkönig amidst the parade (the longest in the world), bands, rides and beer tents.
France restricts the types of weapons and magazine capacities for firearms and requires a government-issued permit to own a firearm. The French do not have the gun culture found in other countries like Germany or Switzerland. After the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, Americans were quick to point out that if anyone had been armed, the death rate could have been much lower. Americans also pointed out that the gun-control laws banning certain firearms, limiting magazine size and emphasizing hunting and sport rather than self-defense did not prevent the terrorists from bringing guns into the country and slaughtering over a hundred people. Despite France’s gun-control system for citizens who obey the laws, the terrorists in Paris used AK-47s that were illegally possessed and illegally transported into the country. It appears that Europeans are reassessing their situation. While the Knabenschiessen and Schutzenfest attest to the fact that many Europeans view firearms and shooting as a wholesome community activity, the increase in defensive weapons sales also attest to the desire of Europeans to use firearms in self-defense.
In fact, after the influx of Islamic refugees to Germany in 2015, guns began “flying off the shelves,” according to a Czech TV report, in the countries where citizens could purchase them, particularly in Austria. The increase in crimes, including rapes and assaults, in countries where these immigrants are welcomed and where they are passing through has made citizens stop and think about their personal safety. Austrian gun stores reported being sold out.
When in fear for their safety, Europeans, like everyone else, desire the right to defend themselves, but some of these countries’ progressive laws have made their citizens vulnerable to attack from individual criminals and terrorists because some deny gun ownership to people wishing to own firearms solely for self-defense reasons. If the high rate of firearm purchasing in countries where this is possible is any indication, Europeans wish they had a Second Amendment.
COUNTRIES WITH STRONGER gun-control laws include Australia, Brazil, Great Britain and South Africa. After a mass shooting in Australia in 1996, the government instituted strict gun control through the National Firearms Agreement, which restricts possession of semiautomatic and automatic firearms, requires registration, permitting and instituted a buy-back program (which brought in over 650,000 guns from the citizenry). Previously, only handguns needed to be registered in Australia.
Switzerland holds a traditional annual event for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 called the Knabenschiessen where they enjoy the pleasure of competing with Sig SG 550s. (OLEG VOLK)
Similarly, after highly publicized criminal activity including a mass shooting in the late 1980s, the United Kingdom enacted new gun-control laws that included banning certain firearms such as semiautomatic rifles, creating a strict licensing and registration system and instituting a buy-back program. An outright handgun ban was passed after another mass school shooting in 1996. Despite these laws, crime rates continued to rise, and recent facts – checked by Politifact – indicate that England and Wales have more than double the violent crime rate of the United States (comparing violence with injury against a person, serious sexual crime and robbery).
In the back of a little antique store in Sainte Mère-Église, France, among much WWII paraphernalia, I found this fantastic war-related rifle collection. The town is just a few miles from Utah Beach. (ERIC KINCAID)
All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered with the government, and self defense is not a valid reason to request a permit. All guns are registered, confiscations occur and permits to legally own guns are routinely denied. This has not stopped Brazil from being a world leader in homicide, a fact supported by the Crime Prevention Research Center.
South Africa is another country with a strict permitting system for legal gun ownership, and a professional hunter described to me how the right, let’s say, “motivation” for owning a gun, as well as certain financial incentives, is what will ultimately decide who can possess a firearm. Despite the strict permitting laws, South Africa’s gun violence stems from the illegal possession of firearms by the people who do not respect the law and disregard the permitting process.This seems to be a reoccurring theme. All of the countries with strict gun-control laws also boast higher violent-crime rates than countries with higher rates of legal gun ownership. England and Australia have virtually banned gun ownership, but have the highest rates of robbery, sexual assault and assault with force. Britain has the highest rate of violent crime in all of Europe – higher in the early 2000s than the United States or even South Africa. In addition, these countries may have low legal firearms ownership rates, but the possession of illegal firearms can be very high, particularly in Brazil and South Africa.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, guns are part of life the world over. Countries with gun cultures that respect firearms and integrate ownership and responsibility into daily life and sporting events enjoy high rates of legal gun ownership and lower rates of violent crime. In other words, there is no correlation between legal gun ownership and increased crime rates. Instead, countries with some of the strictest gun-control laws boast the highest illegal gun possession rates and correlating murder rates in the world, such as Brazil. Even with high rates of legal gun ownership, the United States and Switzerland do not lead the world in violent crimes, homicides or gun violence. Instead, it correlates to low rates of crime. These facts are laid out plainly in research that has been conducted and compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Institute and in additional fact-checking supported by Politifact. In summary, you can own firearms in many other countries, and in some a wide variety that are not readily available to US citizens. The laws often created by a country’s history and culture define the rule. ASJ
Gun laws around the world vary greatly. Many countries have very lenient gun-ownership laws, and statistics show that they benefit from very low crime rates. (ERIC KINCAID)
Petite vz. 58 Bridges The Gap Between Submachine Gun And Rifle
Review and photographs by Oleg Volk
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]he Samopal vzor 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.
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. ASJ