Tuesday, January 04, 2011

M-S-A-R = F-U-N

Yesterday I had a day off so I decided to go shooting. It was cold out but sunny, not a great day but good enough, so I headed off to some farmland I occasionally use to try out some guns. I have four that I need to check out, today I took two. I went with my MSAR rifle and my Colt Commander that I received as a Christmas gift.

I started out with the MSAR because I've been wanting to shoot this since the day I got it back in November. Today I was more concerned with checking out the rifle's reliability than anything else. This design is completely new to me and I was hoping it would prove as dependable as the AR-15, which is what I have most of my 5.56 trigger time on. I am happy to say that by the end of the shooting session I was quite happy with the little bullpup's performance, the day didn't start out that way though. For about the first 30-35 rounds the gun experienced numerous malfunctions, mostly failures to extract. I've got to admit that I was getting a bit anxious there for a while. I was starting to think my new rifle might be a lemon and was more akin to an expensive paperweight than a working gun. I took the MSAR apart beforehand and lubed it as per the manual, I was hoping that I put it back together correctly but wasn't sure. Fortunately after a couple of magazines through the rifle it loosened up and started acting right, it didn't give me another problem the rest of the day. All told I fired 320 rounds through it yesterday, the last (approximately) 285 rounds without a malfunction of any kind. I used three different brands of ammo in it, 260 rounds of Winchester and PMP (55 grain FMJ) and 60 rounds of Sellier & Bellot (55 grain SP). All of the malfunctions were with full metal jacket ammunition. I didn't get around to firing the S&B soft point hunting loads until the end of the day but didn't have a single problem with them. Another issue that I was checking was the magazines. One of the reasons that I bought this rifle was because it uses standard AR-15/M16 mags that I already have plenty of. I took four different magazines with me and they all functioned fine. I took 30 round Pmags (with and without windows), aluminum G.l. 30 round mags and Colt 20 round mags. As I said all worked fine although the Pmags are certainly easier to use. The Pmags can be inserted and removed from the MSAR with much less effort than the aluminum mags. With the Pmags I could hold the rifle with my strong hand and could then with the thumb of my weak hand engage the magazine catch and easily remove the mag, never having to change my shooting grip. Both types of aluminum magazines required me to change positions and use both hands to remove the mags. While it will function with any magazines the little MSAR definitely has a preference for Pmags! As for the sights, right now the rifle has an old Tasco red dot on it. I didn't bother to sight it in because I knew before the gun was even running right that I was going to replace it with something else. Which brings up the only real issue I had with the rifle, the charging handle. The handle is on the left side (for right handed shooters) just under and to the left of the top optic rail. Every time I had to use the handle to extract a round I would drag my knuckles across that big Tasco scope. It didn't take too long before I had the knuckle on my left index finger sore and finally bleeding trying to deal with the gun's malfunctions early on. That problem is unacceptable and leaves me with two options to correct it, buy a newer and smaller red dot sight (my preference) or buy an aftermarket charging handle that is supposed to fix the problem. I think the smaller sight will correct that particular issue but if it doesn't I have seen an aftermarket charging handle that is supposed to, and is inexpensive and easy to replace yourself. Once I got the malfunction problems resolved I started checking on the accuracy. First there is the trigger, it is mushy and a little heavy but didn't seem to effect accuracy much that I could tell. There are aftermarket trigger fixes that I am looking into and should only increase accuracy. As I said earlier I didn't even bother to zero the sight because I know that it's coming off soon. Even though the sight wasn't zeroed it was close enough that once I figured out where it was hitting I could use some "Kentucky windage" to start putting rounds right on target. After I figured it out I was easily able to keep my shots in the black (5-Inch EZ See targets) at 100 yards even when firing as fast as I could pull the trigger. By this time the MSAR was running fine and was by now effortlessly chucking out empties while punching hole after hole in the black. Using the roof of my car as a rest and with slow deliberate fire the gun was shooting 1-2 inch groups with numerous holes actually touching. Can't wait to see what it will do using a real rifle rest and a sight that has actually been zeroed in! Despite the initial problems the MSAR turned out to be a fun gun to shoot and is most definitely a "keeper."

Next up was the Colt Commander that I received for Christmas (sorry no pictures - oops). I had owned this pistol before but never got around to shooting it the first time I owned it. Fixed that real fast this time. I fired 100 rounds through it today, all shooting was using a Weaver stance and at 10 yards (30ft). Was easily able to maintain 2-3 inch groups with all type of ammo, which included Winchester and Remington 230gr hardball and also included 20 rounds of Federal 230gr hollowpoints. Experienced two malfunctions with the Colt, both were failures to go completely into battery and both were with FMJ round nose ammo. Both incidents occurred with the same magazine and I believe it to be the culprit. I will keep an eye on it and check it again next time I take a 1911 shooting, see if it acts the same with other pistols. This Commander is a great gun but I'll have to put some more rounds downrange with this one to make sure that it is totally trustworthy for carrying.

All in all, in spite of some minor problems, I had a great morning shooting yesterday and hope to do it again real soon. If old man winter will cooperate!

1 comment:

James Nonte said...

MSARs seem to be hit or miss. I have a friend his took 2 trips back to factory to get it right. I am glad yours is good to go.