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groovy mike's picture
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Range report Mas 49-56

I took my "new" 49-56 rifles out yesterday and put 20 rounds through them. I got these rifles pretty cheap because the former owners had problems with jamming due to ridges in the chambers from the conversion process keeping the spent cases in the chambers. I am glad to say that 10 rds of steel cased 308 went through each rifle flawlessly

 

jaybe's picture
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I don't follow a lot of gun

I don't follow a lot of gun news and wasn't familiar with this rifle at all. I looked it up and did a little reading about it and learned that it it a military semi-automatic rifle that was used to replace the outdated French bolt actions. Other countries have used them also, including Syria, with various modifications.

Apparenlty they are very prone to jamming, and also to "slamfires" - multiple shots upon one pull  of the trigger due to the floating firing pin. When a new round is "slammed" into the chamber, the firing pin jumps ahead and detonates that round, which "slams" another one in, and so on. The article I read said that 3 or 4 shots were not uncommon unless the firing pin was shortened slightly.

I am intrigued about the "steel cased .308" cartridges, Mike. Is there a particular reason why you used steel cases instead of brass? And where did you get them?

Sounds like you had some fun with those rifles. I hope they are useful for some hunting or target shooting purposes for you.

 

hunter25's picture
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Congratulations on a

Congratulations on a successful trial run with your new rifles. I love it when you get something cheap and it actually works too. Rarely works out that way for me.

Jaybe, Steel cased ammo is generally far cheaper than brass cased and readily available online and most shops also. Most of it is also Russian made. I will use it in my sks and ak variants as they were designed for this type of ammunition but I won't let it get near my Ar or handguns. Some guys do with good results but others have had severe problems.

Mike might have different reasons but that's why I use it.

groovy mike's picture
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steel cased and more

Jaybe – Your information source for your reading is spot on.  The rifles are very simple internally (that’s part of the appeal for me) since they are right on the technological edge of semi auto development following WW2.  They were not bad rifles in their day and when chambered in the original 7.5mm French cartridge.  Maybe ten or fifteen years ago France dumped a warehouse or two full of them on the surplus market and Century Arms in St. Albans Vermont bought thousands of them and re-cut the chambers to 308 Winchester.  The conversion process is what lead to the problems that you read about.  I had one back in the day that slam fired.  That scared the heck out of me and I sold it.  The other problem is that the reamers left machining marks in the chambers.  If these ridges are too deep or numerous, when the brass cases expand at firing the soft brass flows into the rough spots and the fired case fails to eject.  These are the symptoms that the prior owners of my rifles had.  Polishing the chamber to remove the reamer marks on the chamber walls will easily solve this problem in most of the converted rifles, but it will result in s just barely oversized chamber which would make the brass expand a little more than normal and likely lead to shortened case life when reloading that brass.  I’m guessing that you might get 5 or 6 reloads instead of 10 or 12 from each piece of brass (just a guess).  Like I said I picked up a pair of these rifles for $500 which I considered a steal because they were jamming with brass cased ammunition.  Before I had the chambers polished, I thought I would try steel cased ammunition on the theory that the steel cases would resist flowing into the machine marks a little more than the softer brass.  This was the theory that I was testing and I am delighted that the initial tests proved just that.  I had flawless feeding, firing and ejecting with the steel cased ammunition.  Steel cased ammunition is common in military surplus from communist and former communist countries.  I know it defies logic, but I am told that it is far cheaper to make steel cases than brass cases.  So that’s what they do.  In general steel cases are not reloaded.  Besides genuine military surplus ammunition, a couple of European based commercial ammunition manufacturers make steel cased ammunition and import it into the United States.  Herters, and Wolf brands are probably the most common.  If you look in the Cabela’s catalog and find ammunition sold in bulk case lots, the cheapest ones will be steel cased ammunition.  Lie Hunter25 said they make it for the  Russian made weapon types.  I have used steel cased 308, 7.62x39, 7.62x54R, 9mm, and 45 ACP.  I don’t use a lot of it because I usually want ammunition with reloadable cases, but I might just have to stock up on some for these rifles.  Here’s are some photos of my rifles:

 

 

hunter25's picture
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Those are great looking

Those are great looking rifles and that was a brilliant idea to clear up the jamming problem. Economics is usually the only reason people use steel and it never crossed my mind you might have a mechanical reason.

Century Arms has a terrible reputation for their quality control causing problems like this and it's too bad as they move a ton of interesting and unique rifles. I have an R1A1 that has required a lot of work to get running reliably. It would have to be a super deal like you got before I would buy another one of their products.

groovy mike's picture
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Don't be afraid

 

It seems that we have similar tastes Hunter25.  Many moons ago I had an FAL from a Century parts kit.  I long since sold it and put the funds into a Jacuzzi tub (best trade I ever made).  But Century is definitely hit or miss, but even the things that they screw up are USUALLY relatively easy to fix.  I have a pair of Century assembled CETME rifles in 308 as well (Spanish made in that same post World War two decade when semi autos were something new for standard military issue).  One was good to go right out of the box.  One had failure to feed problems way too often for my liking.  I tinkered with the magazines until it suddenly occurred to me that in this case it wasn’t a magazine issue.  The rifle itself was out of spec. and keeping most of the (but not all) magazines from seating properly.  I adjusted the receiver just a millimeter or two (actually using just a cat’s paw pry bar believe it or not) and now she feeds and fires everything I put through her with any magazine and any ammo.  I would not steer clear of Century products just because they have come through Century, but be prepared to figure out what they did wrong and fix it if you have the inclination to get a good rifle at bargain prices PLUS a little mental effort and a few minutes with simple hand tools.

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