Thursday, September 16, 2004

AR-15A3 & AK Range Report

First off, L'Shana Tovah (Happy New Year) to my Jewish readers.

I took today off and went to the Water & Wings range with my Colt AR-15A3 carbine, Saiga AK, and my Ruger Police Service Six. Due to time limitations, I didn't get a chance to shoot the Ruger.

I started off with the AR-15, which I bought Monday night in celebration of the sunset of the Clinton/Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban. It's a police trade-in gun made after 9/14/04, so until 12:01 AM this past Monday, this rifle would've been illegal for me to possess. With the sunset of the AWB, I can now possess a semiautomatic rifle which accepts detachable box magazines, and has a flash hider and collapsable stock.

The AR-15A3 came with a 16.1" heavy barrel, with a 1:9" twist. This will allow it to accurately shoot bullets up to about 65 or 70 grains in weight.

I stapled some paper plates (my favorite cheap target) to the frame at 50 yards. This was the furthest I shot today; longer ranges will need to wait. After loading the 20 round magazine with 5 Winchester .223 55 grain FMJ-BT loads from a 50 round value pack, I shot a group from the bench. It was little off to the left and about 1.25" in diameter. The carbine's short sight radius and somewhat stiff trigger prevented me from getting a smaller group. I'm sure the carbine is capable of MOA accuracy or better.

The Colt digest 100 rounds of the Winchester value pack 55 grainers without a hitch. My brother Josh accompanied me today, and he ran ~40 - 60 Federal American Eagle 55 grain FMJ-BT rounds though the gun, also without any problems. The last load I tried in the gun was Wolf 55 grain JHP. This is the "new" Wolf ammo, with gray polymer coated steel cases. It's considerably cheaper than American .223, so I like it for practice in my Mini-14, which eats it like candy. So, I was hoping that the Colt would like Wolf ammo as well.

Unfortunately, I got about 3 or 4 bolt over base failures to feed with the Wolf. It's loaded noticeably less powerful than the Winchester or Federal rounds, which may have contributed to the malfs. So, Wolf is good only as range ammo in my AR-15, although it did give me a chance to practice malfunction drills.

Overall, I am very happy with the Colt AR-15A3 Carbine. I'll be ordering an ambidextous safety, and looking into mounting a red dot sight.

I put about 80 rounds through the Saiga AK, which had been converted from a Saiga Sporter to an AK-103 clone by Hesse. After the first 140 rounds I put through the gun the fire control parts started to peen and cause malfs, so earlier this year I installed a Tapco G2 fire control group. Function is now 100% with 20 and 30 round mags.

This morning I was able to pick up the Tapco side folding stock I ordered last week, and which was waiting for me at the post office. It took me about 10 minutes to install this morning, including the time it took to remove the old shoulder stock. The folding stock seems well made, out of some kind of plastic, and is clearly marked with a "USA", so it can be used as a 922(r) compliance part. It's comfortable when shouldered. The one glitch I ran into is that the Galil-styled hinge mechanism is on the right side. I'm left handed, and when I shoot it bumps into my nose. Recoil with this rifle is very mild due to an AK-74 style muzzle brake, so it didn't bother me too much.

Today I brought my Romanian 75 round drum out for the first time. I only ran 20 rounds through it and had one bolt over base FTF. I'm not sure if it was ammo or magazine induced. After emptying the drum I switched over to the 20 round Hungarian AMD mag that I normally keep in the gun when it's in my closet. Aside from possible functioning problems, the drum makes the rifle awkward to hold. It's main purpose for me is to spite gun banners. :)

The 7.62x39 ammo I had with me today was Russian-made Sapsan 123 grain JHP. So far, I've shot up about 100 - 120 rounds of the stuff and it works fine. It's similar to Wolf, with lacquer coated steel case, but the powder fumes don't seem to stink as bad.

It was EBR day at Water & Wings, apparently. Aside from my two rifles, Josh had his post-ban Bushmaster XM-15 carbine, and a couple of other guys were there with ARs. In fact, one of them was a (formerly) LEO/military/export-only ArmaLite A2 carbine bought earlier this week at Surplus City, where I got my Colt.


Anonymous said...

What brand of magazines are you using? I've had huge problems with the cheap after-market ones and now stick to military surplus (OKay, universal industries, etc.). I have one Colt 20rd mag that also doesn't feed reliably.

Mine's an Olympic Arms PCR (Politically Correct Rifle) that's going to get a collapsible stack soon.


Dave Markowitz said...


My Colt came with one Colt 20 round formerly-LEO only magazine, which works great, despite some surface wear. Aside from that, I also used a couple pre-ban LaBell USGI 30 round mags which I obtained from CDNN Investments (www.cdnninvestments) back in July or August.

I also have a couple older, pre-ban Okay USGI 30 rounders, and one Chartered Industries of Singapore steel 30 rounder. The Okays are left over from when I had a Bushmaster Dissipator several years ago. I bought the Singapore mag a few months ago when I bought my AR-180B.

The only steel AR-15 mags worth buying are those from Singapore, meant for their SAR-80 rifles, and the British Royal Ordnance mags, meant for their otherwise POS SA-80 rifle.

US-made steel AR-15/M-16 mags are usually junk.