Thursday, May 19, 2016

Guns and Gear Review #23: Classic Firearms Hungarian AMD-63 AK-47 style Rifle

Hello folks, it's 12-Gauge Chimp again. Today I'm reviewing my latest gun purchase.

Last month I purchased a Hungarian AMD-63 AK-47 style rifle from Classic Firearms and it's my second AK style rifle (the first being the M+M M10 I purchased a couple years back).

First I wanted to pick up a DDI (Destructive Devices Industries) AK, but my local FFL couldn't get one at a decent enough price for me. Their rifles are top of the line, but I'm not spending that much money on an AK right now. I think my FFL guy quoted me a price of around 1100 bucks for the base model with the Magpul AKM MOE furniture and 1150 for the upgraded Zhukov-S model. Either way, that's a lot of money for an AK. A couple hundred more and I could get an Arsenal AK, which are like the cream of the crop for AK rifles. Either way, I wasn't able to spend that much on a gun. So, disappointed, I turned back to my quest of finding a new AK and stumbled across Classic Firearm's website. A few minutes of perusing the site, I found my new AK. A phone call and a couple days later, I had my shiny new AK in my hands.

The Hungarian AMD-63, according to a lot of the reviews I've read, is one of the best buys in the AK world. These guns are built from parts kits, but unlike most, still use the original FEG made receiver and that is something that you really want. Some AMD-63 and 65 rifles use American made receivers that can be hit or miss in quality. Rifles that use the original Hungarian FEG receivers are much higher quality. How much of this is true and how much is just gun shop BS, I have no idea. They also use a slightly short gas tube and gas piston compared to standard AK style rifles. So if you get one of these guns, replacing the gas tube with an aftermarket one like the Troy rail or an Ultimak isn't going to work without some modifications to either one.

Either way, I got my rifle and I like it. I haven't had the opportunity to get to the range and test it out yet, but I will soon and give y'all a range report on it when I do.

While the rifle itself is in great condition and with little to no canting of the sights (this is still an issue with some WASR-10s, which is sad), I did run into a few minor fitting issues with parts I purchased for it.

1: When replacing the Phoenix Technologies butt stock off, I noticed one of the screws was broken. After removing the stock, I found out why it was broken. Apparently, whoever put the stock onto the rifle at the factory, torqued the hell out of the screw and caused the head of it to snap off. This wasn't noticed by anyone until I took possession of the rifle and field-stripped it for cleaning. Also, when they put the stock on my rifle, the screw went it at an odd angle and came through one side of the part that goes inside the receiver. It worked, but it just looked so sloppy, like the QC (quality control) person was on break when it went through their station.

2: After pulling the factory stock off, I attempted to install an Vltor AK stock adapter on my rifle and found out that the rear stock tang was just a hair shorter than required. This was remedied by me taking a rubber mallet and smacking the Vltor adapter a couple times to get everything to line up enough to work. I got it to fit and won't be taking it off any time soon since that sucker is on there tight now. Which is a good thing, by the way. Nothing sucks more when shooting a gun than a stock that wobbles after every shot.

3: The original Hungarian hand guard (that a friend referred to as a 'donkey dong' type of hand guard) was nice, but it was made of metal and as most of y'all know, AKs get hot after a couple mags. That and the 'donkey dong' grip made it awkward to do mag changes. So I ordered myself a Magpul AKM hand guard and installed that in place of the original one. Well, I ran into an issue with this as well. Apparently, the Hungarians use a slightly smaller hand guard retainer and I didn't know this until I got my rifle. A couple minutes with a set of files later, my hand guard was fitted to my rifle. I even sent an email to Magpul about it, but it seems they're either too busy to respond or it went into the trash upon receiving. The latter seems to be a more likely occurrence since they're pretty busy with other things and probably can't take time out to respond to each person who emails them. I did have to use my rubber mallet to get everything back into place, but it was all good in the end.When I ordered my rifle, I was told by one of the folks at Classic Firearms that some fitting of parts was going to be possible, so this isn't too big of a deal for me.

4: This wasn't necessarily a requirement for me, but it helps me feel better at ease about my rifle. I bought one of those Tapco trigger retaining plates for my rifle so I could get rid of the paperclip holding the trigger group in my rifle. The shepard's hook (the proper name for the paperclip) is basically a heavy piece of wire that hooks over the trigger group and keeps everything in place. Many people, myself included, opt to replace it with something a bit more substantial and less cheap looking. Seriously, we're in a day and age where aftermarket AK parts are plentiful and many companies still choose to put what looks like something you buy in bulk at an office supply store in their rifles. It's probably a cost saving measure, but it still doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, I once again had to fit the Tapco retaining plate to my particular gun since the hole on the plate didn't quite line up with the hole on my rifle. About ten minutes of filing later and I was able to get it installed. It wobbles a bit, but if it keeps my trigger group from flying out of my rifle or otherwise coming undone, I'm fine with a little wobble.

All in all, I knew before I purchased this rifle that I'd probably have to hand fit some stuff to it so that's on me and not Classic Firearms or the folks who built my rifle.

Still, the rifle is great, looks nice and is a pretty good value in today's market. I highly recommend Classic Firearms and will probably be doing a lot more business with them in the future.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Guns and Gear Review #22: Ruger GP100

Hey folks, 12-Gauge Chimp here.

Today I'm reviewing the Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum revolver

I got this gun in February of 2015 and have had some trigger time behind it. Enough to give y'all my honest opinion of it.

The GP100 has been around for thirty years now (production began back in 1985), so the gun's been around about as long as I have. Which I find pretty neat. Mine, however, has only been around since 2014 (or so the sticker on the box says). Either way, I like the gun. It's got some hefty recoil, but not enough to make shooting it a pain. I mean, we're not talking about .500 S&W Magnum here, folks. Anyway, I had ordered a stainless steel model, but ended up with a plain blued model instead. Mostly because the shop I ordered it from was having a hard time finding a stainless steel model for me. This was right around the time SHOT Show 2015 ended and Ruger was trying as hard as they could to fill orders. So, I took the blued model, filled out the paperwork, talked to my friends at the shop while waiting for the background check to finish and left about ten minutes later with my shiny new gun.

My particular gun sports a 6 inch barrel with the aforementioned blued finish, which is kind of mottled in some spots, but it's fine. So long as the gun works, I could care less about the cosmetic flaws. I mean, I won't purposely let the finish get beat all to hell, but I'm not going to give it the white glove treatment like some folks might. It's a gun, not a priceless work of art. Unless Bill Ruger himself touched this gun (which is highly doubtful since he's been gone for a long time. And well before my gun was built.), it's getting used and the finish won't stay pretty forever. It had a Hogue monogrip on it, but I swapped it out with another rubber grip awhile after the first range trip.

I got the chance to take my GP100 out to the range soon after purchasing it and I have to say if you've never fired a .357 magnum before, it is an eye opener. The first shot (which was a 158 grain Hornady XTP hollow point, by the way) took me by surprise and I was shocked. Well, I was for a brief few seconds and then I emptied the cylinder into my target and reloaded. After I shot the speedloaders of .357 mag ammo I had, I moved onto .38 Special (also made by Hornady). The .38 Special ammo was a lot easier to shoot than the full power .357 magnum stuff, which is not surprising since it was made to be. I have plans to buy some of those "Ruger Only" Buffalo Bore .357 mag loads and see if they recoil as badly as some have told me. I suspect they probably will and will probably gather dust in my ammo cans after one cylinder full.

I swapped some parts out for ones that I felt worked better for me after awhile. The factory Hogue monogrip was tossed aside in favor of a Pachmayr Diamond Pro grip (which feels so much better than the Hogue grip) and the hard to see factory front sight was switched with a Hi-Viz fiber optic set up. I did have a red ramp sight on it prior to the Hi-Viz sight, but I forget the brand name of that one. It may have been from Ruger, come to think of it.

Both the Hi-Viz sight and Pachmayr Diamond Pro grip were Christmas gifts, so I'm not entirely sure how much they cost. A quick check to some online retailers has the Hi-Viz sight at around 26 dollars US and the Pachmayr Diamond Pro grip at around 22 dollars US. So they're not too expensive and worthwhile upgrades to the factory grip and sight if you like to switch out parts on your guns like I do.

After the upgrades, I need to get out to the range to see if my work was worth it or if I'll be going back to the factory parts. I'll be sure and let y'all know what happens.

I personally like the Ruger GP100 and may add another to my collection. I wish they made a .22LR version like they do with the SP101, but maybe someone at Ruger will read this and decide to make my dream gun a reality. Fat chance of that since I'm sure no one at any of the gun manufacturers read my stuff. Ah well, I can dream, can't I ? 

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.