Gratuitous Gun Pic: FN-FAL

So now that the Gummint has admitted that small-caliber guns are not “military” equipment, I think it’s time to look at a couple decent “civilian” rifles, which I will do here, and again over the next few days or so.

Everyone has written or is writing about the Usual Suspects (AR-15, AK-47 etc.), so I’ll look at what I think are viable alternatives.

Here, for example, is the SA-58 line in the manly 7.62x52mm NATO caliber from DSArms:

This should trigger all sorts of memories among men Of A Certain Age who served with it as the FN-FAL in various European armies during the mid-20th century period.  As the L1A1 it was the rifle of choice in the British and Commonwealth armies and as the R1, it was the standard-issue rifle during my time in the Seffrican Army (SADF). While my particular rifle was an absolute pig (shot-out barrel and a quirky mag release, to name but two “features”), that shouldn’t prevent anyone from getting one now.

And any gun designed by Dieudonné Saive (he of the improved Browning High Power design) should always be afforded a respectful hearing.

The biggest knock against the FN was its unreliability in dusty conditions (it’s the main reason the Israelis dumped it in favor of the Galil), although it should be said that later versions performed much better in this regard.  (For an overview of the FN-FAL, go here.)

As far as I’m concerned, its main problem is its weight — as I recall, mine (with a 21″ barrel, don’t ask) weighed in at just under 6kg (13lbs) unloaded — but I see that DSA has got their modern version down to a far more manageable 8.25lbs, which is good news.

You can get it still lighter with some versions, but then the lighter frame doesn’t handle the 7.62’s recoil as well.  Newton will not be denied.  Here’s what we’re talking about:


I’m not a big fan of the collapsible (“paratrooper”) stock, but I will grant that this feature allows for easier storage and carrying.  You may want to invest in a shoulder pad, however, if you’re going to have an extended range session with this puppy.

The FN-FAL doesn’t compete with the AR-15 much, because it’s more of a rifle for wide-open spaces, as opposed to short-range urban activities where it’s disadvantaged compared to its smaller counterparts.  I do think, though, that it’s a better rifle than Stoner’s AR-10 because it handles recoil better.

The only thing you need to know about the SA-58 is that it’s based on the “metric dimension” of the Steyr version, so it can’t use parts from “inch-dimensioned” variants common in the U.S. and Canada.

Would I take an SA-58 today over an AR-15?  If it was the shorter-barreled Combat Tactical Carbine (CTC) version, in a heartbeat.  (And I should also note that it’s a bear to make the basic FN tacti-cool, but the CTC makes it easy.)

Would I take an SA-58 over an AK47?  Probably not — unless I was facing the prospect of open-country (ergo longer-range) shooting.  Then, I believe the 7.62x51mm cartridge is a much better choice than the shorter 7.62x39mm, and I’d forego the CTC for the 18″-barreled fixed-stock option, and just pump iron for a few weeks first so I could handle the extra weight [sigh].

As always, comments are welcome.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Pistol-Caliber Carbines

From deep inside Commie Blue America, Reader Brad R. writes:

I am faced with a dilemma. I need/want to buy a relatively inexpensive (<$400) pistol-caliber carbine. I also must take ownership of said carbine before June 13, 2018, because worthless, pointless recently approved LOCAL gun ban. While not an absolute requirement, I’d prefer a carbine in 9mm that is +P rated. I toss this in because (1) ammo common to gun(s) I already own and (2) lower cost than calibers such as .40 S&W, .45ACP, etc.
Last night, the Village of Deerfield – Board of Trustees (an unholy pox upon them) approved what they call an “assault weapon” ban. The ban was a response to the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High. It applies to just about every conceivable semi auto rifle with a detachable mag which also has any one (1) of five cosmetic features. There is also an extensive laundry list of specifically named rifles. The ban also forbids possession of detachable magazines with capacity of more than ten (10) rounds and applies equally to rifle & pistol magazines, without a “grandfather” clause. There are a couple of exemptions to the ban, but I don’t qualify for them. If any of your readers are familiar with the ban in neighboring Highland Park, the Deerfield ban is pretty much a carbon copy.
To illustrate the depth of stupidity of the ban, a Ruger 10/22 in a conventional stock would be fine, but the same 10/22 in a “tactical” stock would be verboten.
The ban in question does not forbid ownership, it only bans possession, manufacture, sale, transfer of the forbidden fruit within the boundaries of The Village. I don’t have to worry about possession. A personal situation allows me to reside outside of the village, but for complicated reasons I need to keep Deerfield as my legal address.
Moving north to Wisconsin or to another part of Fee America is not an option at this time. So there you have it. What Would Kim Do??

I am somewhat confused by the “possession vs. ownership” distinction (the same thing, surely?) but I’ll leave that aside for now.

Here’s the nitty gritty of the question: unless you go with a cheap ‘n nasty carbine (e.g. Hi-Point) that you want to get for symbolic reasons only, you’ll have to forget the sub-$400 price point. And given that the Colt AR-style 9mm carbine requires your bank manager in attendance at the time of sale, there are only a couple I’d look at, and your choices are kinda dependent on which 9mm pistol you want to pair with the carbine.

If your handgun is in the Beretta 92 series, then there’s  the Beretta CX4 Storm, the most innocuous of the pistol-caliber carbines.

I’ve shot this little cutie before, and I loved it: accurate, reliable and lightweight. And yes, it handles +P ammo easily.

Another option would be the Tresna Defense JAG9G, which takes Glock magazines.

I will confess that I haven’t fired this carbine yet, but a few people whose opinions I trust have done so, and they like both its reliability and the AR-style action. It also looks scawwwy (always a Good Thing when it comes to matters like this).

But speaking of scawwwy-looking guns, I’m going to throw a wild card into the mix here, and suggest that you don’t bother pairing your carbine with a handgun. Why not stick it to these gun-fearing wussies, and go all-out?

What I mean is this:

Yes, it’s a Kalashnikov, to be specific the KR-9 SBR carbine, in 9mmP (with the added bonus of an eeeeevil folding stock), and Kalashnikov USA is shipping them out as we speak. Now demand is high so you may have to jump on it, and the price is over a grand — but I cannot think of a finer way to rub the gun-controllers’ noses in it than by getting one of these bad boys. This pic was taken at SHOT this past January, and the reps were beating people back with sticks.

There are some other choices for carbines (see here), but I don’t know anything about them, and the low price points on some of them make me a little nervous.

For all those folks in a similar situation to Reader Brad, feel free to start shopping around.

And as always, additional suggestions and personal experiences / recommendations are welcome in Comments.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: The .22 Addiction

From Reader Mike S. cometh this silliness:

“It’s not a problem. Not at all. I can stop any time. Any time at all.”

Followed by this rather pathetic picture:

High Standards, both in name and quality, n’est-ce pas? (Not that there’s much wrong with the two Rugers at the bottom, of course.) The poor, poor man… enslaved by such a bevy of rimfire beauties.

That said:  I think we’ve all been there — in my case, it’s early-twentieth century military rifles — but we all have our weaknesses. Feel free to share details of yours in Comments (or by email, should you want to include pics).

In any event, should Reader Mike ever want to divest himself of his addiction, I’m pretty sure there would be many selfless volunteers among my other Readers who would be only too willing to help him with his “problem”.

What a nice-looking collection.

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Gratuitous Gun Pic – Marlin 60 (.22LR)

There’s only one word to describe the Marlin 60 — more of which have been sold worldwide than any other .22 rifle, ever — and that word is FUN. Fifteen rounds of .22 in the tube, a backyard full of old tin cans… I know, that’s so old-school these days, but remember whose website this is. But don’t take my word for it.

Reader Brad_In_IL (who suggested this GGP) writes of his Model 60:

Before moving from the frying pan to the fire (MA –> IL) I bought my ’60 from my fave LGS.  I paid something like $70 for it from the used rack.  I can’t speak to the history of my particular rifle, other than it was built in 1990. When I bought it, the condition was “barely out of the box” almost new.
Like so many other firearms, my ’60 is much more accurate than me.  Still, the gun is hoot to shoot, more fun than a barrel of monkeys, etc. Spinners are among my favorite targets because immediate feedback.  My ’60 tends to like higher velocity .22lr fodder, though CCI Standard also functions well.  One ammo in particular which the rifle does not like is Federal Auto Match target grade. My Browning Buckmark also does not like the Federal, so I’ve quit buying it. Different owners may have different experiences. 
Cleaning is straight forward, with one small but important caveat.  Upon reassembly after cleaning, it is VERY easy to bend the recoil spring.  Ask me how I know.  That said, I ordered a couple extra and ALWAYS keep one in the range bag. 
There’s a whole crowd of people who talk smack about tube-fed rifles. Personally, I don’t mind ’em.  One accessory item I do recommend for anyone with a tube fed 22 rifle is the Spee-D-Loader.  I bought the Spee-D-15 which holds 15 rounds of .22lr in each of its eight tubes for a total of 120 rounds. Best accessory I’ve ever bought for this rifle, hands down. Here’s the link to Spee-D-Loader products.
So there you have it.  This is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is MINE.
One point to make, for those who might not already know it: .22 rifles are funny beasts in that they will “prefer” some ammo over others; even if two otherwise-identical rifles have consecutive serial numbers, Rifle #1 may shoot Brand X better than Brand Y while Rifle #2 will shoot all X-rings all day with Brand Y. I don’t know why this is, but it’s happened to me and to others more times than I can count, so there it is.
So while Reader Brad’s Model 60 hates Federal Automag, your Model 60 might love it to death. Experimentation, my friends, is the key… lots and lots of lovely experimentation. Now stop reading this stuff and take your .22 rifle and a few hundred rounds for an outing. It’s a moral imperative.

Gratuitous Gun Pic – Westley-Richards (.318 Nitro)

From Mr. Free Market comes this gem from the past, a Westley Richards takedown rifle, based on a Mauser 98 action:

Westley Richards & Co. has been around since the early nineteenth century, making them one of the oldest gunmakers extant. They have made both rifles and shotguns, the latter including models designed by the brilliant gunsmith John Deeley (which I’ll talk about some other time).

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Rather, I’d like to talk about their proprietary cartridge, the .318 Westley Richards (or as it’s more commonly known, the .318 Nitro), which came onto the market around 1907/08. Here’s a pic (from Wikipedia) which compares the .318 to other, more famous medium-game cartridges:

Note the long, thin(-nish) 250-grain bullet*, akin to the 7x57mm Mauser (a.k.a. .276 Rigby) and the 6.5x55mm Swedish bullets. This gives the .318 exceptional penetration, and given the times it was popular, it should come as no surprise that the .318 Nitro has felled more elephant —  in their thousands — than just about any other cartridge. Walter “Karamojo” Bell used it to great effect along with his other elephant-killer, the .276 Rigby, as did many other Great White Hunters.

The.318 Nitro was superseded by later medium game cartridges (like the superb .375 H&H Magnum) which had “belted” cases to handle the extra pressure. It will come as no surprise to Longtime Readers that this is of no concern to me, because I happen to think that many of the “older” cartridges are perfectly fine, thank you. (I have an old essay on this very topic, and as soon as I find it, I’ll re-publish it.)

I’ve never fired the .318 Nitro, nor have I ever fired a Westley Richards rifle, but I have to tell you all that after looking at Mr. FM’s picture… I have no idea what the rifle costs (several arms and legs, no doubt), but it’s irrelevant: it’s just drop-dead gorgeous. Sadly, though, Mr. FM’s following comment is quite true:

“Another one of those calibers that looks great on paper but trying to get ammo would be a nightmare.”

Sigh.


*In modern nomenclature, the .318 would be termed a .330 because nowadays we measure bullets from the inside-groove depth rather than from the “lands”, which was the British custom when this rifle was made.