Main Battle Rifle

Personal Critical Review of Firearms – Kel Tec SU 16 CA

Personal – There are several versions of this rifle, I purchased the rifle for my youngest boy, I had a previous version, but chose the CA incarnation because of the threaded heaver barrel, shorter length, and improved front sight (back aperture sight is crap). I like it… I am not a fan of .223 but the rifle is handy, capable of reasonable accuracy and is based more on the AK than the AR platforms. Very light weight, and it has a neat folding stock making it very small an easy to pack. I found I liked the folding stock that folds out into a traditional stock, it looks a bit queer but it feels good in the hand for shooting, very comfortable.

Function – Excellent reliable function, an earlier version also was excellent in reliability, this version has been 100% with every magazine I have tried, it likes both 20 and 30 round Thermold (LE marked) 20 and 30 round Tapco, and two old 30 round Adventureline magazines someone gave me years ago.

Design flaws – The front folding hand-guard will fold out into a “bipod” if you want to call that spindly insect like abomination a “bipod” I used it for a few magazines worth and never bothered again my first thought was “tits on a boar-hog” and that did not change after I gave it a chance, have not bothered to unfold it again except to clean under it.

Light weight also translates to lightly constructed, you would not want to hit someone with it like you could a Mosin-Nagant, but the construction is not THAT bad, that is as bad as some input I have seen from who think that every gun has to help fight you out of some muddy foxhole.

There is a trick to getting the bolt in and out, follow the directions it is not “user intuitive.” Take great care not to launch parts into low earth orbit (or into your body) in disassembly, spring loaded parts could be easy to loose. Rear sight aperture is crappy cheap and the safety is a funky shotgun-style cross bolt. The full stock of the CA model will not allow the rifle to fire folded, that could be a problem if you needed a quick “get to” while folded, but the weirdo version of the pistol grip folder is just too funky, when I ordered my “california” version the dealer also ordered one of the funky pistol grip versions for the shop – Blech! even he said he hated that version and liked the CA better.

Quality – Molded polymers – and you can tell there are some “corner cutting” parts here and there – you can tell this was intended as a light duty carbine. I would choose the SU16CA rifle over the Mini 14 (problems and all) any day

Caliber/Ammunition – .223 small, inexpensive (well, as inexpensive as surplus or new center-fire is going to get nowadays), light recoil, accurate, not all that exciting but it is a carbine, what did you expect?

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Use – Accuracy is reasonable, better grouping when hot (or cold) than any Mini-14 I have ever seen but NOT on par with the AR15, about halfway from Mini-14 to AR, and less expensive than both. Uses standard AR15 magazines and has two little 10 rounders that press fit into the stock and can stay (well they are supposed to stay in, just don’t hit it too hard when open) there when folded – as the Russians would say “is very nice, yes?” – of course, and inexpensive also.

Current production – Waiting at the Kel tec factory fresh off the molding machine, this entire series of rifle is one of their most popular products, and is not always in great supply.

I consider this rifle a secondary choice carbine or a nice light weight, light duty carbine for small users. The SU16 series is in a mid range price level and is less expensive than either the AR or Mini 14. Currently in production, using popular easy to find magazines, and small limited parts interchangeability with the AR make this an attractive choice. I use this rifle myself for hunting where a light carbine is required, but was intended for the smallest child, he loves it. (Update: I have acquired a second SU16CA and both are now regulated to the two women in the family. We use them for small game and varmint hunting quite regularly and both have received a solid diet of reloaded brass and steel cased ammo with no function problems.)

Categories: Camping and Hiking, Firearm Overview, Firearm Review, Firearms, Hunting, Main Battle Rifle, MBR, Prepper Info, Prepping, Primary Rifle, Rifles | Tags: | 2 Comments

Personal Critical Review of Firearms – SKS 45 (Soviet Simonov Self-loading Carbine 1945)

Personal – I have a fondness for russian weapons (possibly my Slovak background), I have owned many versions and copies of this carbine from Soviet to satellite to Sino. The standard version of this rifle fires the intermediate (mid level from rifle to pistol) power 7.62×39 round. I mention “standard versions” because I have heard rumors of gunsmiths converting the SKS to other “wild-cat” calibers – but I have never seen one in anything other than the 7.62×39. Recoil is mild to all but the smallest women and children, my two youngest children find the recoil disturbing. The shorter length makes the carbine quite handy and it will typically shows better accuracy than it’s Soviet younger cousin the AK 47. The rifle is about as inexpensive and simple to operate as any self-loading rifle can be. I do regret selling my Russian examples, and I found the red chi-com fiberglass stocks a good match for the Chinese imports, reducing the weight. I most likely will never buy any additional examples as I have abandoned use of the 7.62×39 in favor of .308 (large family members) and .223 (small family members).

Function – Reliability is excellent with this rifle even with the worst surplus corrosive ammunition. Dirty surplus ammunition will foul the gas system and if not cleaned, corrosive ammunition will create rust along the gas piston tube and lock the rifle up. I have never reloaded for this rifle and never felt the need, there are reasonsble choises in loadings and bullets from surplus FMJ to soft point hunting rounds. After-market magazines have a bad reputation for unreliable feeding and stove-pipe failures, the non removable 20 round fixed chi-com magazine also had problems. The few SKS rifles built or converted to take AK magazines do not share the unreliable feeding problems with the after-market magazines. This rifle/carbine is best left in its original form.

Design flaws – The simple gas system can be “locked in” with corrosion if maintenance or cleaning is totally ignored. This corrosion lock in is not so much a flaw as a severe lack of maintenance issue. I had a friend that did this to both his AK and SKS at the same time from using Chinese corrosive ammo and not cleaning out the gas tubes. The SKS was made to be loaded with clips from the top of the action and the standard model only holds 10 rounds. Some early Russian rifles had a spring return firing pin that could help prevent slam fire issues. SKS models with a simple sliding floating firing pin have been noted to produce slam fire incidents. This dangerous condition is usually caused by a dirty or grease packed firing pin tunnel. The rifle in it’s standard configuration is heavy for a carbine, but noted for rugged construction. The attached bayonet can lower the rifle’s accuracy and is added weight with little use, I recommend removing the bayonet.

SKS slam fire, causes and modification to spring return firing pin.

Quality – Most produced are of good to reasonable quality, some makers better than others, I consider the Russian imports (often KBI) to be the highest quality version with the Yugoslavian versions a second and the chinese a third.

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Caliber/Ammunition – 7.62×39, in an SKS is moderate to reasonable in accuracy. Hundreds of hunters in the US find the SKS and 7.62×39 combination an effective pair for hunting deer, coyote, wild hogs and other game. This round is currently used in many countries as the main cartridge for infantry use.

Use – Easy to find, popular, and relatively inexpensive many different versions of the SKS are available, attachments, spare parts, and ammunition are available from what seems like an endless parade of retailers, gun stores, and online merchants.

Current Production – There is only limited current production of this rifle (if any) but surplus SKS carbines in even almost new condition are common.

Fondness aside, I personally would consider this rifle a secondary choice at best for a current MBR. It does share interchangeability of ammunition and stripper clips with the AK47 type rifle and is inexpensive. The benign look and impression the rifle gives (in original wood stock and without bayonet) makes it a good choice for a “trunk gun”, hunting and hiking carry.

Categories: 7.62 x 39, Firearm Overview, Firearm Review, Firearms, Hunting, Main Battle Rifle, MBR, Prepper Info, Prepping, Primary Rifle, Rifles | 2 Comments

Personal Critical Review of Firearms – The how an why of the series

This series of articles was originally posted online as a series of reviews and the occasional rant.

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I don’t claim to be anything other than a well versed enthusiast, former manufacturer of ammunition, and firearm retail store owner. I keep a collection of various rifles and I rotate them in and out with new additions and thinning down with what meets my fancy at the moment.

I have started dispersing my personal collection to friends and family to encourage some gun ownership and also to follow the concept of one rifle per freedom-ista. One beauty of giving your guns to friends and family is that you can still shoot them from time to time!

I started collecting rifles and reloading at a very young age (reloading at 10, and buying my own rifles at 12, swaging at 15) I worked my entire freshmen year at high school to buy a new and complete reloading bench, presses, swaging dies and supplies.

In college I had gotten involved with the re-enactors as a hobby and spent lots of time with two friends who were class 3 dealers. On my 21 birthday I celebrated by filling out my forms for a Class 6 and FFL for myself (this habit can get bad BTW) I disposed of both the class 6 and FFL after marriage (and facing the fact that I could not make a decent profit in the business).

I don’t think I have ever fired a rifle I did not like learning about, but I have developed some personal dislikes and likes over the years for various reasons… There are no bad guns, only design limitations, quality, use, and dealing with the possible belligerent, annoying, and often ignorant, cult members-fans that faun over them.

To break this down logically I needed to come up with a list of categories to evaluate likes and dislikes, facts, reasons, and the needed content for a more full review.

Personal – what items are strictly personal, things like “my hands are too big”, “the design is uncomfortable to shoot”, “it looks funky”, “I hate limey guns (and limeys) and similar items of personal reaction.

Function – there are operational and or design features that lend an element of unreliability.

Design flaws – features or construction can lead to parts breakage or unsafe/dangerous continued operation.

Quality – the majority of samples of the rifle are of poor quality and or construction.

Caliber/Ammunition – the choices of cartridges are limited to obsolete, unusual/hard to find, or poor performing/ineffective for use ammunition.

Use – the rifle is to specific for one use and does not have a wide enough venue of operation (like a collectable or high end hunting rifle, or heavy, shinny, not weather resistant and more).

Current production – While this would not negate a good rifle it could prove to make the rifle hard to repair or even obtain to begin with, availability IS an issue. No new production of units or repair parts could render a rifle useless, many excellent military rifles fit into this problematic category due to obsolescence.

Categories: Firearm Overview, Firearm Review, Firearms, Handguns, Hunting, Main Battle Rifle, MBR, Prepper Info, Prepping, Primary Rifle, Rifles, Shotgun, SHTF | Leave a comment

Personal Critical Review of Firearms – HK91 and PTR91 (HK91 Clone)

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Personal – My personal first choice for caliber, inexpensive magazines and reliability, UGLY but funky-retro space-gun cool. Made for large individuals with large hands with heavy winter clothing on (short butt stock). My favorite trick with the HK91 here at the heretic abode is to add a bit of braided para cord to the charging handle, it makes a quick grab even with thick winter gloves.

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Function – Reliable function second only to the AK, so reliable that it is often referred to as the “Kraut Kalashnokov” or the “AK of the West”. I have personally fired my HK91’s in sub-zero temps, and also sopping wet with slime in 100 plus temps with the only malfunctions based on ammo. Weak charges will stove pipe, and bullets over 190 grains can cause excessive recoil and shake the next bullet out of the magazine in front of the bolt causing a double fed or have a cartridge folded in half by the bolt face as it turns sideways.

Design flaws – No bolt hold open, poor ergonomics for small hands and arms, poor heavy trigger (without modification), fluted chamber engraves brass this does not make it un-reloadable contrary to stories you hear on the internet. The PTR91 “GI/Special edition” will have the odd brass chewer that dents the side of the case – an ejection port buffer fixes this and changes the direction of ejection to forward 2-3 O’clock.

Rifle has extremely violent fired case ejection – woe to anyone on the right of the shooter to catch one on the noggin! (I have a scar on my forehead from a friend who moved while shooting from a bench).Felt recoil is higher with this delayed blow-back system.

Press-formed sheet steel construction is heavier than some other metals (and stronger) and because it is formed into shapes a large enough blow or crushing force to the steel can cause deformation that can lead to malfunctions, most knocks can be “ironed out” some with common tools and severe dents with special internal forms. With decades of military service including Africa, the design holds its own in even the worst of conditions and care, including possible dents.

There is some debate that states it is possible that the G3/HK91 was specifically designed to work with brass cased cartridges, and that firing steel cased ammunition can damage rifle parts and excessively wear the throat of the barrel. It is possible that if the steel case shows signs of excessive amounts of hot gas jetting past the flutes in the chamber and into the case shoulder this could erode the metal in that area. There was some indication that the German engineers actually designed the G3 rifle to handle not only full power cartridges but also cheep steel cased ammo with a very wide range of acceptable powder burn rates in the 4895 category.

Quality – While the construction of the frame is of relatively inexpensive precisely formed steel, contrary to internet ignorance “stamped steel” does not equate to low quality but rather inexpensive production, most car frames are made of formed steel, even the “muscle cars” of US production were of formed steel. Both the HK and PTR clone’s internal parts are very high quality construction, interchangeable and examples of first world production. The last of the PTR rifles to arrive in the collection had a Rheinmetall AG bolt carrier!

Caliber/Ammunition – .308 an accurate and effective cartridge, one of my favorites, easy to reload, but is a large full power cartridge and some consider it excessive in recoil (this recoil is heightened in the HK system). .308/7.62 is one of the most popular cartridges for rifles in the US and high quality commercial and surplus ammunition is widely available. While on a related subject the HK91/G3 uses one of the best designed and reliable .308 box magazines ever produced, currently there are several high quality choices the older steel (heavy but very tough), aluminum, and then the polymer magazines (the only magazine from this company I would recommend and the Thermold magazines count for US compliance parts).

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Use – Accuracy out of the box will be good to excellent (suffering somewhat from the heavy “drop proof” pull of the original trigger), the trigger can be adjusted or worked by companies like Williams Trigger Specialties (an excellent “set trigger” I use is available) and Bill Springfield. There are services available where the action can be stiffened and attachments such as the SuperTune to dial in loadings. The HK91 uses the least expensive detachable magazine available in the US market, there are steel, polymer, and aluminum magazines readily available. I am on my original locking rollers and have cooked off thousands of rounds (over 7k) on my current original HK made rifle. A must addition to this rifle on top of the para-cord handle is the Tac-Latch to replace the removed magazine release from the back of the magazine well (the Tac-Latch returns the rifle to the easy either-hand/two hand operated magazine release).

Current production – PTR is considered the highest quality clone in current production, repair parts are widely available, but HK stopped official production years ago forcing the existing HK produced rifles in circulation into the “collectable” market.

I consider this rifle a first and primary choice for a current MBR, high price is a possible concern with the true HK build collectable rifles, but when considering the inexpensive magazines, the total price can be lower than expected (I consider 8 a minimum of magazines per rifle). Because the Special Edition “GI” PTR91 clone is the least expensive .308 except the .308 AK from Saiga and the used magazines are so inexpensive it is difficult to find a better deal.

Categories: .308 / 7.62 x 51, Blogging, Firearm Overview, Firearm Review, Firearms, Hunting, Main Battle Rifle, MBR, Prepper Info, Prepping, Primary Rifle, Rifles | 2 Comments

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