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Report - 1st time at the range with a new MKA-1919


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Took my new MKA-1919 out to the range today for it's inaugural run. The weather at the range with 25F and sunny, or what we call in Montana a "beautiful February day".

My primary goal for purchasing the MKA was to build an Open shotgun for 3 gun competitions, so keep that in mind while reading my comments below. Also keep in mind that felt recoil is subjective, and thus so are the comments relative to the same.

I've read the advice from other MKA-1919 owners that when breaking in a new MKA-1919 you should 1) disassemble, thoroughly clean, and re-lubricate, and 2) shoot a couple of boxes of high-brass stuff to "loosen" the gun up, especially before one tries low power loads.

But why should I listen!!?? No, I decided that adventure was on tap and did neither (although I did install the Tromix gas piston before heading out).

First, I tried Estate low base 7 1/2, 1 1/8 oz loads. I pretty much got a stove pipe on every round. Estate high base 6's worked great.

I installed the Tromix bushing and tried the low base rounds again, with much better success (although I did experience a few FTEs). Recoil with the 7 1/2's was slightly more than my FN SLP.

I then ran about 30 rounds of Estate high base 6's. Those ran really well, except for one...which was a FTF. Upon pulling the round out, we observed that the brass base had been damaged. It is unclear if it was damaged prior to loading, or was damaged by the gun during loading. This did not occur again, regardless of load. Recoil was a bit stiff with the high base 6s, noticeably more than my FN SLP.

Next, we ran about 25 rounds of low recoil slugs. First, I tried these with a Modified choke. The MKA shot approximately 2" groups at 50 yards out of a lead sled. Next I tried a rifled choke. The groups at 50 yards opened up to 4". Hmm...That choke had been effective on my FN SLP, cutting the size of slug groups in half. I shot some slugs in various shooting positions, and was surprised (given the weight of the gun) that the recoil was manageable. However, these are really low recoil handloads. There was a fairly significant muzzle rise, so fast follow up shots would be difficult, but the recoil was only slightly greater than my SLP.

Next, I tried some Estate 8 shot, 1 oz loads. These loads will not run in my FN SLP, even with the light weight piston. The would not run in the MKA either, even with the Tromix bushing. Stove pipe on every round. Really not worried about this, just wanted to push the MKA's limits.

Next up, Estate Fast steel loads. Ran about 15 of those with no malfunctions... but the recoil was quite stiff.

We then took the MKA down to the bianchi plate rack to see how fast we could clear the plate rack. We used Estate 7 1/2s. I'm no Pat Kelly, but I could not out-run the MKA-1919 trigger either. It is fast. It was hard to run the plate rack really fast due to the muzzle rise. We experienced one FTE in 50 rounds at the plate rack.

Observations -

Saying this gun is light is a wild understatement. In terms of weight, it feels like an airsoft gun. It is however, well made. For 3 gun purposes, it would benefit from some extra weight and an effective break or comp. I've got a Firebird hand guard on order (which would add some weight to the front of the gun) and may consider adding some weight in the stock. It does appear to have a rather sharp forcing cone, which has lead several people to suggest reaming the forcing cone. Mine is headed to the gunsmith tomorrow for said treatment.

When the bolt is locked back on an empty mag, the mag release is rather difficult to push in with one finger. Might need a button with more leverage or maybe a little work on the button, lower, or the mags.

With the bolt locked back, if I inserted a loaded mag and tried to use the bolt release to close the bolt - it wouldn't go. In fact, it jammed the gun up pretty good. If I inserted the mag on a closed bolt, no problem. This seemed to lessen as the day wore on, and when I got home and tested it, it seemed to work fine. This bears watching as quick mag changes and a functional bolt hold open is a major factor in deciding to buy this gun. Will report back on this issue after more range sessions.

The stock trigger is not great. There's some pretty good trigger slap. I'm hoping the trigger parts on order from Firebird will improve the trigger. Will report back when that upgrade is done.

Fortunately, companies are already making a competition bolt handle. Although the stock bolt handle is fine for casual use, I wouldn't want it on an open competition gun. After a day at the range, I can also see the utility of the side-charging handle for competition.

We mounted a Doctor red dot optic, but we were not able to zero it. With the adjustments bottomed out, the gun shot considerably low. This affected our speed plate rack test greatly. As has been stated elsewhere, a red dot optic will probably require a riser (and plenty of side to side adjustment).

All in all, the consensus amongst my range compadres was that there is a lot of potential with this gun but there is also some work to do to make it competition ready. 10-12 round mags are a must to compete with the S12. If you invest in this gun right now, understand that you are going to be forging some new ground and are going to have to solve some problems on your own.

However, companies like Tromix and Firebird have made pretty big commitments to improving this platform. If they (and others) can develop affordable, reliable solutions, your investment might just payoff. For Open Class shooters, there is a scenario where this gun pays off big time - at least until everyone else in the Open class buys one...and then the advantage is lost. I am hoping to be on the front edge of this technology, and thus to gain an advantage. However, the shooting season is fast approaching and if 10 round mags and some of the smaller issues are not resolved in the immediate future, I won't be taking this gun to matches like the Iron Man.

I hope this review has been helpful. I will report more as I get more range time, and am able to make improvements.

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