Sunday, October 03, 2010

Range Day

We had a beautiful Fall day here in SE Pennsylvania today, and I got to spend it at the range.

I brought three rifles with me: an Arsenal SA M5 AK, Century Arms VZ-2008 Sporter (VZ-58 clone), and a Century Arms C93 Sporter (HK-93 clone).

I've had the SA M5 for several years.  It is an AK with a milled receiver, made in Bulgaria, and chambered for 5.56x45mm.  I needed to zero the rifle, since I had recently reinstalled the original rear sight in place of a Mojo peep rear sight.  I also wanted to test out two new 30 round magazines and a CNC Warrior flash hider.

As expected the rifle shot well although I did have one misfeed with an older 20 round mag.  The new 30 rounders worked fine, as did the flash hider.  The rifle originally came with a muzzle brake, which I'd replaced for awhile with a Bulgarian 24mm flash hider mounted via a 14mm to 24mm adapter.  That added too much weight to the muzzle, so I replaced it with the CNC Warrior Norinco Type 84-style flash hider.

The ammo I shot in the Arsenal was Prvi Partizan (PPU) 55 grain M193 Ball.  In my experience, PPU makes quality ammo.  I was able to keep my 100 yard groups about the size of the bull on an SR-1 target.  The rifle should be able to do better but for me the open sights with a short sight radius is the limiting factor.  However, one of these days I'll have to try some ammo with heavier bullets, since the rifle has a 1:7" twist, which should shoot well with bullets up to 77 grains.

I bought the VZ-2008 a couple years ago.  It's based on the Czech VZ-58 assault rifle but of course semiauto-only.  My initial experience with the VZ-2008 was problematic.  The receiver is parkerized and the finish was bit thick, so much that the first time I had it out to the range I had to "mortar" the rifle open after about half the shots.  Since then, I've smoothed out the rifle's innards by polishing them with Flitz and putting a few hundred rounds through the gun.  When I last shot it a couple months ago it ran fine.

Today I put 60 rounds -- two full magazines -- through the VZ-2008 and had no malfs.  The last time I shot the VZ, the stock was really whacking my cheek, so I decided to see if installing a muzzle brake would help.  CNC Warrior makes a copy of the Czech military brake, so I ordered one last month.

The new brake definitely lessens recoil and muzzle flip.  As expected, it greatly increases muzzle blast.  Overall though, I find the rifle more pleasant to shoot with the brake so it's staying on the gun.  It did affect the rifle's zero, dropping the 100 yard point of impact by about a foot.  I didn't really have time left at the range to futz with the sights, so rezeroing will wait until my next range trip with the rifle.

As with the Arsenal AK, my usable accuracy with the VZ-2008 is limited by the open rear sight and short sight radius.  I got about 6" groups at 100 yards.

The VZ-58 is a neat rifle, often mistaken for a Kalashnikov.  They look similar but the only thing the VZ shares with an AK-47 or AKM is the chambering, 7.62x39.  Nothing else is interchangeable, including the magazines, unfortunately.

The VZ has a milled receiver but weighs about as much as most stamped receiver AKs.

The AK uses a long stroke gas piston operation, while the VZ-58 has a short stroke design.  If anything, mechanically, the VZ-58 is closer to the WW2 German STG-44.

Most 7.62x39 AK magazines are made from steel, while the VZ-58 mags are aluminum.  The VZ-58 has a last round bolt hold open and a charger guide on the bolt carrier.  With the bolt locked back and a magazine in the rifle, you can load the mag using SKS stripper clips.  The AK has no last round bolt hold open.

Things did not go as well with the C93, my new HK-93 clone.

Before buying the C93 I'd read up on them on several online forums.  Reports were generally good.  However, I am finding that my rifle is short stroking with every shot.  This turns it into a heavy and awkward straight pull bolt action rifle.

After buying the C93 last week I field stripped and lubricated it, and measured the bolt gap, which was in spec.  I used the same PPU M193 Ball in the C93 as in my Arsenal AK.  I figured if the rifle's mechanism required a break in period it would do better with full 5.56 NATO spec ammo than .223 Remington spec loads, or worse, Wolf steel cased ammo, which is noticeably underloaded.

But even with the PPU M193, the C93 fails to eject empties.  When I manually extract and eject the cases, they looked OK -- no swelling, just the typical sooty striations typical of HK roller locked rifles.  All of the empties, except one, extracted easily.  One empty required a bit more force to extract.

I haven't had the chance to field strip the C93 since returning from the range.  When I do I plan to check for any spots where it appears internal parts might be binding.  I'll also make sure the chamber is clean and will try to see if there are any burs.

Hopefully I'll get to try the C93 again soon.  Next time, I will probably try some Lake City XM-193 Ball, just in case the rifle works better with it.

Functional issues aside, the C93 is extremely pleasant to shoot and seems to be accurate.  Compared with my Colt AR-15A2 Gov't. Carbine or even the Arsenal SA M5, the C93 is heavy.  Also, in my experience the HK roller locking system soaks up a lot of recoil.  To me, the C93 has even less felt recoil than an M1 Carbine.  If the C93 doesn't start functioning OK the next time I try it, I'll have to send it back to Century to get fixed.

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