Sunday, May 22, 2005

AR-180B & Bulgarian AK Range Report

SWMBO let me out of the house today so I got to hit the range.

Instead of the range that I've been going to for about the past 10 years, I went to Wicen's Farm, near Doylestown, PA.

I was favorably impressed with Wicen's. The range is wide, with over a dozen well-constructed benchrests. On the right side is a 25 yard pistol range (although you can shoot rifles there, too), while most of it is a 100 yard range. Target frames are portable and there are markers set at 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards, so it can accommodate a variety of shooters. Price is $10 per day ($5 for kids under 12). The only restriction to put a slight damper on my fun was the ban on rapid fire with semiauto rifles. I gather that this is part of a deal with the township and is due to noise. I can live with that.

Anyway, I took my ArmaLite AR-180B and my Arsenal, Inc. SLR-101SG Bulgarian AK. I wanted to test my Bubba brass deflector on the AR-180B and sight in the Bushnell red dot I mounted on it awhile ago.

The Bushnell sight worked well and was no trouble to get sighted in. More importantly, the Bubba brass deflector worked! This is an unsightly lump I epoxied to the receiver abaft the ejection port. I made it from a rubber stopper and now, instead of pelting my face with ejected empties, they fall in a pattern a few feet to my right. I'll need to add a metal face to the deflector so that the rubber doesn't wear away, but now the concept is proven.

Unfortunately, the rifle is still finicky with respect to magazines. I first used a new NHTMG (same as OKay or Colt) 20 round mag. I had a couple failures to lock back on an empty mag, but worse, got a few bolt-over-base failures to feed on the last round in the mag. I then switched to a new 30 round USGI mag. Again, at first it worked fine but I then had a bolt-over-base FTF. This is damn annoying and frankly, is starting to sour me on the gun.

I put 60 rounds of Federal XM-193 Ball through the gun total, in 5 round strings.

Next up was the Bulgarian AK. I bought this last Fall but this is the first time I've had it to the range. This gun is by far the nicest AK I've ever shot, the others being a couple of pre-ban Chinese Norincos, a Romanian SAR-1, and a Hesse/Izhmash Russian AK-103 clone. Fit and finish is on par with or better than the Robinson Arms Veprs. Aside from the high quality workmanship, the milled receiver gives the gun a very solid feel.

I put 100 rounds of Wolf JHP through it without any feeding or ejection issues. During the first 20 or 30 rounds I did have two failures of the trigger to properly reset, which I'm guessing are due to a burr that needed to be worked out. After those two bobbles, it worked perfectly with either the OEM 5 round polymer mag, or a 20 round Hungarian AMD-65 mag (the 20s are my favorite AK mags). I'll consider the rifle truly "AK-reliable" after another 100 rounds without any problems.

The SLR-101 wears a fishgill style muzzle brake. It's hard to judge how effective it is without another rifle without the brake to compare it with side-by-side, but it ~seems~ to work. Recoil felt about the same as my old AK-103, which has an AK-74 type brake.

Weather permitting, I'm planning to hit the range again Thursday, since I'm taking a vacation day.

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