T Nation

Best Platform (Gun Talk)


Here’s a beautiful Super VEPR that someone has put a lot of love and money into.

To elaborate for those who haven’t read up on Saigas and VEPRs: The Saiga is a commercial rifle or shotgun made produced in the same factories that make the AK using the same machinery and basic design. The VEPR is made in the same factory that used to make the RPK, which was just an AK-47 made heavier to sustain high volume full-auto fire.

Both the Saiga and VEPR are available in a wide variety of military rifle calibers, and also the famous 12-gauge and .410 gauge shotgun versions. You can get more accesories for the Saiga, but I wanted a .308 rifle and the beefier VEPR seemed like the better choice for the heavier round.

When it comes to VEPRs, you’ve got the regular, and the super. The super comes with a nice full stock, a beefier fluted barrel and built in muzzle brake. The super is pretty enough to hang up on the wall. If you want a tactical rifle you can get the regular VEPR in a variety of barrel lengths and calibers.

The newest ones with the square cut recievers are supposed to accept any standard AK accessory. You can get the .308 model for about $730 bucks before shipping and FFL fees.

If you get into tacti-cooling up any foreign made rifle make sure you read up on 922r compliance.

One thing I forgot to mention in the pros and cons is Ammo. These things will go through the cheap russian steel cased stuff without a hitch. A lot of M1A and AR shooters talk like steel cased is the debul.

How do you guys feel about the DPMS Panther LR’s vs the AR-10’s. I do not understand enough about semi-auto rifles to have a valid opinion but many here seem to. I am looking seriously at an LR-243 new for $1300 for coyotes. I really want the 243 as it give me a little more pop than the 223 but not the overkill of the 308. The .25/06 and .22/250 were another couple options but are a little harder to find ammo.

I’ve always liked the rem 760 pump action in 30-06. now called the 7600 it also comes in 243, 270, and 308. if you’re willing to look for some older ones you can get it in 35 rem, 6mm rem, 222 rem,and other calibers.

it’s short, around 42", so easy to get through brush. plenty of knockdown. easy to fire at a moving target with iron sights. as for recoil I just went with a thicker pad but you could always go with a mercury recoil suppressor. if you’re a decent shooter with a flip over scope you can reach out and touch someone at quite a distance. once you’re used to it a pump is fast and accurate. you keep both hands on it and when you lock forward you’re pretty much on target.

here’s a couple articles that might be of some interest. you don’t have to spend a lot of money to tighten up your groups. the whole chuck hawks site is very good and it might give some of you answers or ideas.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/affordable_accuracy.htm

http://www.chuckhawks.com/ammo_by_anonymous.htm

Okay, I’ve neglected this thread long enough. I’ll get to Quasi-Tech’s questions and then give my two brass pieces on the other three platforms in the Big Three, address a few of the other questions, then give two more recommendations.

I know, it’s not “my” thread but I feel responsible for it since I asked Quasi to start it so i could give him my opinions on various rifles.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
Okay, I’ve neglected this thread long enough. I’ll get to Quasi-Tech’s questions and then give my two brass pieces on the other three platforms in the Big Three, address a few of the other questions, then give two more recommendations.

I know, it’s not “my” thread but I feel responsible for it since I asked Quasi to start it so i could give him my opinions on various rifles. [/quote]

You ARE the man, after all.

[quote]Quasi-Tech wrote:
I must clarify on the “non-military” firearm. I’m happy to have a platform similar, because for obvious reasons they are designed to look the way they do for useability. What I am trying to avoid is purchasing a military grade weapon (see automatic) that has been adjusted to semi-auto. I think even with the adjustment, with the capability to go back to auto (if you know how) that draws attention I don’t want. I also don’t ever see the need for an automatic weapon - to me that’s a waste of ammo - and that’s highly likely because I don’t plan to ever be in a combat setting (though I thought most recommend not going beyond the 3-shot option).[/quote]

I think we need to back up a bit. First off, although the big four platforms on my list have all been used as military rifles in the past and currently, I am not suggesting that you get an actual select-fire weapon, i.e. one capable of fully-automatic fire. First, a 7.62 rifle is hard to control in automatic mode, second, it is extremely wasteful of ammunition and tactically inefficient, and third, unless you pay for a special BATF tax stamp, it’s illegal. The 3-round burst on the new M16s and M4s was a compromise to help avoid the “spray and pray” technique commonly employed by green troops under pressure, while also compensating for the 5.56’s inherent weaknesses. It takes about three rounds of 5.56 to equal one round of 7.62.

No. The Armalite Rifle, model 10, was originally in 7.62. The Armalite Rifle, model 15 (designated the M16 by the US government) was scaled down and chambered in 5.56. Most ARs today, civilian and military, are in the smaller NATO caliber, but an AR can be in practically any caliber, which is one of the platform’s very biggest advantages. I’ll address that in a later post. All of my recommendations are for 7.62 NATO.

Recoil depends on four factors: the power of the cartridge, the weight of the rifle, the configuration of the rifle, and your perception of the recoil. A 5.56 will have very little perceived recoil. A 7.62 out of a lightweight AR will feel more punishing than out of a heavy-barreled, full-sized FAL or M1A. I have found the H&K 91 to have the least-uncomfortable recoil of the big 4, owing probably to its roller-block system. But then, I am not terribly recoil-sensitive. A 45-70 out of a light Marlin lever-action rifle is loud and sharp, but not at all uncomfortable, even though it’s powerful enough to kill a bison.

I’m trying to be as objective as possible when presenting the four platforms. Each has advantages and disadvantages not shared by the other rifles. I’ll get to each in turn. I like the FAL, but I also like the H&K and M1A, and would not say no to a properly-equipped AR.

The reason I recommended the four platforms I did is precisely because they are military rifles, with the same advantages: ease of maintenance, ease of disassembly, good availability of parts and ammunition, and most importantly, readily available field maintenance and complete shop manuals that eliminate the need in many cases to take it to a gunsmith. And even if you did, military rifles are so commonplace now that you would not get any strange looks.

California is a big state, and the histrionic liberals seem to inhabit only the coastal fringes. Everywhere else is extremely conservative God, Guns and Old Glory country. Illinois, New Jersey and New York are far worse on that front.

[quote]theBeth wrote:

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
Okay, I’ve neglected this thread long enough. I’ll get to Quasi-Tech’s questions and then give my two brass pieces on the other three platforms in the Big Three, address a few of the other questions, then give two more recommendations.

I know, it’s not “my” thread but I feel responsible for it since I asked Quasi to start it so i could give him my opinions on various rifles. [/quote]

You ARE the man, after all.[/quote]

Beth, you say the nicest things.

Maybe you can tell Quasi-Tech that pretty girls like manly men with real battle rifles like the M1A. :wink:

[quote]Varqanir wrote:

[quote]theBeth wrote:

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
Okay, I’ve neglected this thread long enough. I’ll get to Quasi-Tech’s questions and then give my two brass pieces on the other three platforms in the Big Three, address a few of the other questions, then give two more recommendations.

I know, it’s not “my” thread but I feel responsible for it since I asked Quasi to start it so i could give him my opinions on various rifles. [/quote]

You ARE the man, after all.[/quote]

Beth, you say the nicest things.

Maybe you can tell Quasi-Tech that pretty girls like manly men with real battle rifles like the M1A. ;)[/quote]

This is true. It is not a guarantee, however. Some men are not manly but have an M1A because a pretty girl gave it to them.

When it comes to guns, most pretty girls won’t know what they’re looking at though, Varq.


What I like about the H&K model 91:

Like the FAL, the H&K 91 has, in its G3 and CETME incarnations, had a long and successful military career. You can get parts anywhere in the world, and military surplus magazines can be had for as little as five dollars apiece. The rifle is just ad rugged and reliable as an AK, nearly as easy to disassemble and clean, and is an order of magnitude more accurate.

The operating system is unlike any of the other rifle platforms, which are either gas piston or direct impingement. The HK uses a roller-block-delayed blowback system, which is like the rotary engine of firearms: a little weird, but it works. As I said in my preceding post, the recoil seems (to me at least) to be dampened considerably by this system. Ergonomically the rifle is a winner as well, with the most comfortable stock (the full fiberglass one, not the sheet metal collapsible one) and pistol grip of the four.

What sucks about it:
The rifle has three quirks, which the Bundeswehr considers features, but which seem like bugs unless you understand them. First, the trigger. Granted, a military rifle is not expected to have a glass-smooth, icicle-crisp hair trigger that breaks at 4.5 pounds.

You can get a military rifle with a trigger like that if you throw lots of money at a competent gunsmith, but don’t expect it off the rack. Of the four platforms, the H&K has the typically heaviest, grittiest, crunchiest trigger of them all. Nothing is more detrimental to good marksmanship than a bad trigger, but this is no reason to disregard the platform.

A lot of aftermarket “sniper trigger group drop-ins” are available, and one huge benefit of the H&K design is that you can just pop the trigger group out and drop it off with a gunsmith without having to go through the red tape hassle of mailing an entire firearm and finding an FFL dealer to take delivery once work is done.

The second quirk is the sighting system, which takes a bit of getting used to if you are not used to European military rifle sights. The rear sight is a ring, which can be rotated for varying ranges: an open notch for close range, and three peep holes of progressively decreasing diameter. It’s actually very practical and efficient, but a lot of Americans don’t like the system.

Finally, the rifle does not automatically hold the bolt open after the last round is fired. This can be annoying for Americans who are used to the AR and M1A. In fairness, though, the AK doesn’t have this feature either, and it does not seem to have hurt its efficiency as a fighting tool. Count your shots, check your magazine, and reload often. You’ll probably never notice the difference.

The only other negative comments leveled against the HK is that “it’s heavy” and “it’s ugly”.

Boo hoo. It’s a full-sized 7.62 battle rifle. It’s supposed to be. And in fairness, it’s no heavier than a full-length M1A or Garand with laminated stock. Sure, it’ll never win any beauty contests against those two, but beauty is as beauty does, and the HK does its job exceedingly well.

The other huge advantage that the H&K platform has over the others is an easily-installed .22 LR conversion kit. Pop it in, and plink to your heart’s content without cringing at the thought that you are a dollar poorer every time the rifle goes bang.

Yes, you can do this on a 5.56 AR-15, and for less money, but you can’t do it with a 7.62 AR-10 without swapping barrels and upper receivers. Which is more money.

[quote]theBeth wrote:

When it comes to guns, most pretty girls won’t know what they’re looking at though, Varq. [/quote]

This is true for rifles as well, I’ve found.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:

[quote]theBeth wrote:

When it comes to guns, most pretty girls won’t know what they’re looking at though, Varq. [/quote]

This is true for rifles as well, I’ve found. [/quote]

What I like about the Armalite Rifle
There is no getting away from the Armalite Rifle (AR) platform. It is arguably the most popular military platform in the United States, which stands to reason considering that it is the issue rifle of the military, many police forces, and a plethora of 3-letter bureaucratic agencies. As such, it is ridiculously easy to find aftermarket parts, either military or commercially-manufactured. No other rifle has as many accessories and bolt-on dongles, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether you think a rifle needs a lot of bolt-on dongles to make it an effective fighting tool. My humble opinion is that it does not.

The AR operating system, as I mentioned before, has two flavors: direct impingement and gas piston. The advantages of the former are simplicity and reduction of weight; the advantages of the latter are ruggedness and ease of maintenance. Generally, the AR is lighter than the other platforms, but again, this advantage disappears in direct proportion to the amount of tacti-kewl shit that gets attached to it.

The biggest advantage the AR has is its incredible modularity and versatility. The same rifle can be configured to be a short-barreled machine pistol or a heavy-barreled designated marksman rifle. By swapping barrels and upper receivers, you can have a military-style semi-automatic rifle in practically any caliber, including .270. This may be of interest to you if you plan on keeping your bolt-action rifle. Personally I would sell the .270 and get a rifle that will serve adequately in all roles, but this does not seem to be the American Way (“who can be happy with only one rifle?!?!”)

The number of manufacturers of Armalite clones and parts is simply staggering, and I simply don’t know enough about all of the manufacturers to give you a definite “this one is best”. The “big name” American manufacturers (Colt, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Ruger, and of course Armalite) all produce a version of the rifle, and countless “little name” manufacturers are producing very good versions. I like Robinson Arms, because their rifles have been designed for caliber interchangeability. Then again, the new Colt rifle will let you switch from 5.56 to 7.62 in about 30 seconds by swapping upper receiver groups. This would be the best of both worlds.

If you don’t mind buying a foreign rifle, then the SIG 716 Patrol (pictured above) has a lot to recommend it. Rugged, omnivorous, and comes standard with Magpul stock, handguard, pistol grip and magazine. Being a gas piston rifle, it iis a little heavier than other offerings, but hey, “grow stronger.”

What sucks about it:
The early M16s suffered in Vietnam partially because of the caliber, but mostly because of the gas system. An AK will keep on chugging long after you should have cleaned it. So will an HK or a FAL. Not so the early M16s. This have the AR platform a bad reputation, as did the flimsy aluminum frame and plastic hand guards, especially among a generation who had been brought up on the mighty Garand and M-14. Supposedly many of these flaws have even addressed in the new M16 rifle and M4 carbine, but they still feel a bit delicate to me. This is a subjective thing, perhaps, but I like to have confidence in a weapon, and if I don’t trust it, I will not use it as effectively as I might. I also recognize that this is a personal bias and may not apply to many of the current AR models. Again, if a pretty girl were to give me a SIG 716 (or better yet, a SIG 751, which is more closely related to an AK than an AR, and cannot be had in this goddamn country for love or money), I would not say no.

What I like about the M14/M1A:
There are some people who will ALWAYS choose a Harley over a Honda or a BMW, not because of performace, but because of aesthetics and tradition. It’s American, goddammit, and it looks badass. These people will likely choose an M1A over either a foreign rifle or an AR, and more power to 'em. Lucky for them, the M1A is a good rifle in addition to being American.

Well, technically it’s Canadian, but we won’t split hairs. It was selected to replace the M1 Garand as the main battle rifle of the US forces, but also was expected to replace the Thompson submachine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle and the M1 Carbine. The epitome of the do-it-all weapon.

Problem was, it couldn’t do it all. Too long and heavy to do a carbine’s job, too big and powerful to do a submachine gun’s job, and too uncontrollable in automatic fire to do a squad automatic rifle’s job.

It was actually beaten by the FAL in the NATO trials, but the US government fudged the tests so that the M14 was adopted instead of the FAL in the US. Then it was itself replaced by the cursed poodle-shooter, the M16. The M14 has the shortest official military history of any major weapons system of the 20th century.

And yet… it is a great rifle. Everything that is a demerit about the H&K 91 (sights, trigger and bolt hold-open) are positives on the M1A. Excellent trigger that can be tweaked into a thing of breathtaking crispness and precision; the best iron sight system to be found anywhere on a military rifle; and a bolt that stays open after the last round.

Recoil is not bad with ball ammunition, though it can be hard on the cheek to fire a few magazines of 168gr match ammo. Not that you would want to do that. A lot of people love the look of the wood stock, and it must be said that it’s good urban camouflage. Since “everybody knows” that an evil assault weapon has a black plastic folding stock and a pistol grip, the warm, friendly walnut or birch stock makes the rifle look a lot more politically correct.

Put in a 5-round magazine and replace the flash suppressor with a muzzle brake, and not only will the rifle be legal in every state, it will also frequently be mistaken for a Garand, which “everybody knows” is the rifle of the Good Guys, the Greatest Generation, who singlehandedly beat the Japs, the Krauts and the North Korean Commies. It’s bullshit, of course, but if you can use bullshit to your advantage, why the fuck wouldn’t you?

Parts are readily available, and great gunsmiths abound, especially now that the M14 has been rediscovered by the people in the military who actually shoot people, instead of just at them.

What sucks about it:
It is easier to spend a lot of money on this rifle than it is for the other three platforms. A bare-bones M1A will run about 1500 dollars, about the same as the other rifles. If you want the short-barreled Scout or SOCOM 16 model, a bit more. If you want to get a custom trigger job, chrome-lined barrel, National Match sights and has system, bedding-free pistol grip stock… well, that’ll all cost you. The good news is that these modifications will actually improve your shooting, rather than just add weight and “tacti-kewl-ness”.

Obviously, I’m a big fan of this rifle, but I will acknowledge its faults. It is not as easy to completely disassemble as the other platforms. Even removing the operating rod can be a pain in the ass the first couple of times. The operating rod handle is on the right, so to work the action you either have to use your right hand or reach around with the left. The other platforms don’t have this issue.

The bolt is always exposed, and there are some pretty big gaps between the stock and the action where mud and gunk can get in. The M14 is not as demanding of cleanliness as its little brother the M16, but it is nowhere near as impervious to grime and muck and powder fouling as its Belgian, German and Russian cousins.

It’s a bit of a pain in the ass to install optics. A number of mounts are available, some better than others. The forward-mounted “scout scope” is one possible solution, though it does take some getting used to.

Finally, all of the controls (bolt catch release, magazine release, op rod handle, and safety), all have sharp edges which can be a little uncomfortable to operate with bare hands. This seems like a pussy complaint, until you realize that your hands are bleeding from working the controls so many times in dry fire practice. Knives should have sharp edges. Firearms should not.


I wanted to specifically address the issue of the female shooter.

I hate to generalize, because not all women are created equal: if we were talking about a badass chick who lifts weights and climbs rocks, I would have no reservations about recommending any of the big four for her use. But since you did use the term “smaller-framed” and “timid” to described the lady in question, I will qualify my answer just a bit.

A good 7.62 battle rifle is like a champion mixed martial artist: it hits hard, kicks hard, is incredibly strong and usually ugly.

This combination of traits may turn the daintier of the ladies away from picking up a battle rifle. It is not cute. It is not pink. It is not soft. It is the diametrical opposite of these things.

However, it is an implement of great power, and chicks dig power. Both when you wield it and when they do.

And heavy? Compared to a 6-month-old baby, a fully loaded, scoped battle rifle is light.

Recoil is a subjective thing, but if you start her out with lighter loads (you can even get plastic 7.62 practice ammunition that doesn’t recoil at all, and fires blue plastic bullets) and work her up gradually to standard ball ammunition, she should be fine.

Hornady makes a great line of ammunition called TAP, which includes their 110-grain “urban” load. This has about the same recoil in a battle rifle as a 5.56 has in a light carbine. Which is to say, not a whole lot. Definitely manageable by your lady friend.

Finally, remember that in all countries, and in all times, a woman wielded a man’s weapons when she had to, and often wielded them quite well.

In the Second World War, men who were 130 pounds soaking wet wielded the mighty Garand, plus a hundred rounds of ammunition, plus their other gear, up the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima.

In Vietnam, Viet Cong guerrilla fighters who probably didn’t even weigh 120 pounds were nonetheless very fond of the Browning Automatic Rifle, a 4-foot long, 21-pound hunk of death-spitting steel, and stole it every chance they got.

So do I think that your girlfriend can handle any of the weapons I recommend? Absolutely.

[quote]2busy wrote:
After you list your thought s on the rifles you listed, Varqanir, do you have any insight on the Ruger Mini-14’s?

I liked the Rugers I had back in the 70’s.

The Mini-30 is a Mini-14 in 7.62 x 39 mm

For about $1000 list[/quote]

Sure, be happy to.

The Mini-14 and Mini-30, as well as the 10/22 are all fine rifles. For what they are intended to do.

I like the Minis because they have roughly the same manual of arms as the M14 (hence the name). If you wanted a lightweight, light-recoiling version of the M14, and didn’t mind the fact that it would not be as strong, reliable or as consistantly accurate as a military rifle, then I would definitely recommend the Mini-14 or 30. And the 10/22 (a rimfire reimagining of the M1 carbine) is a great little plinking rifle.

For fighting or hunting, if I knew I might live or die by my rifle, I would not choose them. It’s for the same reason I would choose my Danner boots and Blackhawk ruck over a pair of Adidas and a Jansport backpack if I needed to run for my life over the mountains with a week’s worth of food.

For a little bit more than the price of a Mini-30, one can get a PTR-91 (G3 clone) carbine in 7.62, and for five hundred dollars more get a .22 LR conversion kit. You would then have two rifles in one, which would be capable of killing practically anything on the North American continent, from mouse to moose.

Damn it, Quasi, don’t tell me that you’ve bailed on your own thread.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:

[quote]2busy wrote:
After you list your thought s on the rifles you listed, Varqanir, do you have any insight on the Ruger Mini-14’s?

I liked the Rugers I had back in the 70’s.

The Mini-30 is a Mini-14 in 7.62 x 39 mm

For about $1000 list[/quote]

Sure, be happy to.

The Mini-14 and Mini-30, as well as the 10/22 are all fine rifles. For what they are intended to do.

I like the Minis because they have roughly the same manual of arms as the M14 (hence the name). If you wanted a lightweight, light-recoiling version of the M14, and didn’t mind the fact that it would not be as strong, reliable or as consistantly accurate as a military rifle, then I would definitely recommend the Mini-14 or 30. And the 10/22 (a rimfire reimagining of the M1 carbine) is a great little plinking rifle.

For fighting or hunting, if I knew I might live or die by my rifle, I would not choose them. It’s for the same reason I would choose my Danner boots and Blackhawk ruck over a pair of Adidas and a Jansport backpack if I needed to run for my life over the mountains with a week’s worth of food.

For a little bit more than the price of a Mini-30, one can get a PTR-91 (G3 clone) carbine in 7.62, and for five hundred dollars more get a .22 LR conversion kit. You would then have two rifles in one, which would be capable of killing practically anything on the North American continent, from mouse to moose.
[/quote]

Thank you.

Since my return to Nebraska from the anti gun land of New Jersey, I neglected to re-acquire some firearms.

The field has changed in the last 20 years, This thread has been very helpful to me.

If battle rifles were human, they would be the Expendables.

[quote]2busy wrote:

Thank you.

Since my return to Nebraska from the anti gun land of New Jersey, I neglected to re-acquire some firearms.

The field has changed in the last 20 years, This thread has been very helpful to me.

[/quote]

Glad to hear it. Both that the thread has been helpful and that you escaped from New Jersey (somehow a Snake Pliskin movie by that title just doesn’t sound as impressive).

The irony is, the field has changed, but the firearms haven’t, that much. This thread could have been written twenty years ago and the same four rifle platforms would have had the same advantages and disadvantages, and the argument over “which is best” would have been raging just as hard.

But think about it:
The Kalashnikov has been in service since 1947.

The FAL was adopted by NATO in 1954, but was designed in 1947.

The AR-10 was designed in 1955, and competed in 1956 against the FAL and what was to become the M14 to replace the M1. It lost, but its little brother the AR-15 replaced the M14 just four years later.

The G3 was adopted by the German Army in 1959 to replace the G1 (the FAL), but was based on the old Mauser Sturmgewehr from 1945.

The M14 was the result of a continuous evolution and modification of the M1 Garand, which was designed in 1928.

There is nothing new under the sun. All of our best battle rifle designs are at least fifty years old.

Yeah, we’ve got the exotic assault rifle bullpups like the Steyr AUG and the FN 2000 and the IMI Tavor, but nothing really exciting in 7.62 except the SIG 751, and like I said, that’s essentially a product-improved Kalashnikov, and you can’t get it in the Untited States. Oh, and the FN SCAR-17, which is essentially a FAL that lost some weight but somehow got a fat ass anyway.

So we have the big four, going strong for over half a century, and like the Expendables, blithely unaware that they are really fucking old.

I have been tearing down the AR type weapons since I was 14, but not that happy with 5.56.

The PTR’s look great and the .22 option is perfect for me.

I plan on deer hunting here. Of course, I could use my Suburban to get one, they’re plentiful.

I do currently have a choice of Remington 700 25/06, Savage .270, or a Savage 6mm Magnum from my step father’s estate,

Plus the black powder weapons. No one seems to want them in the family.