The title says it all. We have compiled a list of the the top five rifles never to buy. It’s a short list to help you, our audience, save money and keep your stress level under control. Anyone who is honest with themselves, and has been a gun enthusiast for any length of time, will tell you they have made mistakes. We aren’t talking about mistakes at the range that resulted in a negligent discharge or some other calamity, we are talking about mistakes of the wallet.
It wasn’t that long ago, in a period I like to refer to as the Golden Age of Surplus before nonsensical guns laws were enacted, that a person could find dozens of rifles that were hardly shot and ridiculously priced. If you are 30 or older you will remember the days of $79 Chinese SKS rifles or $99 Lee Enfield SMLE rifles still packed in cosmolene. During that golden age of surplus, several guns on the top of our list were imported and sold to unsuspecting buyers. Let’s turn our attention to the first of the worst.
#1 MAS 49/56
Country of Origin: France
Caliber: 7.5 x 54mm (imported and rechambered to 7.62x 51mm Nato)
Why?: This gun was originally chambered in 7.5mm x 54mm, then Century Arms rechambered a large batch to accept 7.62mm x 51mm. The idea from Century Arms was to take semi auto military rifles and obviously make them easy to sell in the United States market in a more obtainable caliber. The experiment failed miserably, to put it mildly. MAS 49/56 were prone to jamming, slam fire, and the rifles would occasionally let off 2 or 3 round bursts. Century eventually replaced the steel firing pins with a shorter firing pin made of a softer metal. The MAS49/56 was a great looking rifle that was cheap, and would have done well on the market if it had been designed with more care.
#2 MAS 36
Number two on the list; also from France, it’s the MAS 36, the predecessor to the MAS 49/56. It was a main battle rifle of World War Two era French forces. It also saw service during the Suez Crisis in 1956, as well as service in then French Indochina. It has also been sighted in Syrian Civil War as recently as last year. The problem isn’t the gun chambered in its original 7.5mm, but rather when Century Arms again tried to modify a rifle for cheap profits.
Country of Origin: France
Caliber: 7.5mm x 54mm (imported and rechambered to 7.62 x 51mm Nato)
Why ?: Rechambered by the mad scientists at Century Arms, the 7.62 x 51 version of the MAS 36 was another problematic attempt at bringing an exotic foreign rifle to the consumers in the United States. Common issues that plagued the MAS 36 included the feeding and extraction of rounds, the weight of the gun due to the solid block of steel for a receiver, and last and not least, NO SAFETY. The gun was designed to be carried on an empty chamber. Easier to surrender to advancing German troops I imagine.
Our next rifle wasn’t from the Golden Age, it was a remodel of an old rifle that was actually in the M16 trials of the 1960’s. Around the time of the original trials Armalite launched the original AR-180, a weapon that won critical acclaim in the bush wars of Africa during the turbulent 1960’s, and was a favorite of snipers in the Irish Republican Army during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The AR180B was not that rifle, in laymen terms it fell flat on its face before it even got off the starting block.
#3 Armalite AR-180B
Name: Armalite AR-180B
Country of Origin: United States of America
Caliber: 5.56mm / .223
Why?: There are several reasons this rifle makes our list. The AR-180B was Armalites attempt to regain some market share it had lost to other AR15 manufacturers. The AR-180B featured a polymer lower that had several reports of cracking and warping. It also featured a proprietary bolt system that was not compatible with any other rifle on the market then, or since. Everything about the AR-180B was different than the AR15 it was competing against except the magazines. So when it all boiled down, consumers would rather spend less money on a Mil-Spec AR15 and have an aluminum receiver, over a polymer one with lots of special parts.
#4 RAS 47
I know its a shock to see an AK47 variant on this list especially given my status as an AK47 fanboy. The RAS 47 deserves to be on the list for good reason. The RAS 47 is advertised as a 100% American Built AK47, and its sad the apparent lack of quality control and production standards that has gone into this from Century Arms. AK47’s are famous for their ability to survive abuse and harsh conditions, unless they are made by Century Arms apparently. The boys at AK Operators Union Local 47-74, recently put one threw the 5000 round test and it’s failures and issues began to appear at 500 rounds. I have included a link to their YouTube page so you can better understand why this gun made the list.
Name: RAS 47 from Century Arms
Country of Origin: United States
Caliber: 7.62×39 mm
Why: Within 5000 rounds the RAS47 suffered the following broken components: stock broken, front sling loop broken, front sight broken, rear sight broken, deformation on the locking lugs of the bolt, deformation of the dovetail of bolt, and deformation of the charging handle. Premature wearing and failure of parts as a whole makes this gun earn its spot on the worst five list. If you are in the market for an AK series rifle, there are better alternatives on the market. In 2016 there is no reason for a newly produced rifle to wear out after 5000 rounds.
#5 Beretta CX4 Storm
The Beretta CX4 storm sounds like a great idea on paper, a small lightweight pistol caliber carbine that accepts Beretta 92 magazines. Sounds like a perfect companion gun for anyone who already owns a Beretta 92 or Cougar series pistol. Complete ambidextrous controls also sounds appealing but something happened from design phase to production phase. The hype and excitement of the CX4 went away the second consumers actually spent their money and shot one. Why did Beretta lose out on a possible gold mine of opportunity ?
There might be a highly complex equation for that answer but in the shorter version it can be attributed to several major design flaws. The incorporation of a terrible thumb hole style stock is first and foremost on the list. The rifle itself has an odd feel to it when you handle it, like a very expensive version of a Hi Point carbine. The hammer is made of plastic, and the trigger has more creep in it than a van with free candy painted on the side of it. Beretta missed the mark on this one so completely that its truly hard to comprehend why ? Did they not listen to their focus groups or their evaluators ? or did everyone feel pressure to agree with Berettas design team? I owned one of these rifles and have yet to ever meet anyone in person who kept theirs more than six months.
This is by no means a complete infallible list of bad rifles, I know there are many more than can be added to the list. Is there a rifle you instantly regretted buying ? What was it, and why? Drop us a line in the comments section or use the FRAGO and let us know, we want to hear your worst gun story. And Yes there will be a worst pistol list coming soon.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.