June 19, 2008, 08:05 PM
A client of one of my websties has a question. Since Ya'll are the source of all knowledge on these types of weapons, here it is:
I do have a question for
you. I was trying to look for a DS Arms FAL SA-58 that was reasonably
priced, but you had to order it factory direct and they take a long time
from what I hear and the dealer I was gonna buy one from didn't take
credit cards, so that was a deal breaker. I was also interested in a
PTR-91. These are .308 semi-auto rifles that I was looking into for
target shooting. I go to the range with my brother whenever I go to
Mississippi, he has a Saiga .308 which is a very nice accurate rifle for
an AK variant. I wanted to know if you had any suggestions on rifles in
the same category as these .308's that I might be interested in, keep in
mind that I am also left-handed. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
June 19, 2008, 09:53 PM
Buy the one you like and can afford. Left or right doesn't matter. I've been shooting semi's left for eons(including while in The Queen's Service) with no fuss. FAL's are left hand operated anyway. Both the safety and op handle are on the proper side.
Mind you, unless the rifle has been accurized, target rifles they ain't. Great fun though. Have a look at the M1A too.
June 20, 2008, 04:41 AM
The safety and charging handle on the FAL are on the left side of the rifle, which happens to be wrong, rather than right, if you'll pardon the pun, side for a left handed shooter. The location of the charging handle means the operator must move his firing hand to charge the rifle. The location of the safety means a left handed operator must either maneuver his firing hand thumb around the pistol grip or figure out how to use his firing hand index finger. The issue with the charging handle isn't a major one since the rifle only really has to be charged once. The last shot bolt hold open feature means that the bolt can be closed with the support hand thereafter. The mag release and bolt release are centrally located. DS Arms now offers ambi safety levers as an option, though this would probably necessitate not only the added expense, but added time it takes to order directly from DSA. And the rifle points and handles well enough regardless of which hand the user is firing with. So while my experience with the FAL is anything but extensive, handling the rifle is one reason that, as a left handed shooter, I opted for the M1A over the FAL.
This is not to say the FAL is not a fine rifle. It is. Despite how much I love my M1A, I am still trying to afford a DS Arms FAL. But with the options I want, this rifle is going to cost over $2000, which brings it very close to the cost of a good M1A/M14 in one of the new chassis systems from Sage or Troy. These aren't cheap rifles. And to suggest that the FAL is as friendly towards left handed shooters as other rifles is, in my experience, false. It may be better than some, but IMO is not as lefty friendly as the AK, M1A, or the AR.
Control placement on the M1A is excellent, regardless of whether you are a right or left handed shooter. But like the AK, it arguably favors left handed shooters. The safety is located in the forward part of the trigger guard, making it just as convenient for right as for left handed shooters. The magazine release is of the conventional paddle style, and again, being centrally located is just as easy for right and left handed shooters. Like the AK, the M1A has a reciprocating bolt with the charging handle located on the right side of the weapon. This means a right handed shooter must either take his firing hand off the grip the operate the charging handle, or must bring his support hand over the top or under the bottom of the rifle--neither of which is particularly easy, esp with optics and a 20 round magazine, and esp with a battle rifle weighing, more than likely, over ten pounds loaded. A left handed shooter can keep his firing hand in place and the rifle pointed downrange while operating the charging handle with his support hand. The motion is simply straight back, and is much faster and more natural than going over or under the rifle.
The AK shares these advantages with added advantages towards left handed shooters in the placement of its safety, which again, is nightmarish for right handed shooters, but surprisingly convenient for left handed shooters.
The M1A has a bolt hold open feature, which I feel gives it a slight advantage over the AK. While the bolt hold open latch on the M1A does typically require a left handed shooter to move his firing hand to manipulate it, this has to be done very rarely, and under pressure almost never. The vast majority of the time, the user will be merely racking the charging handle to release the bolt. The bolt automatically locks back after the last round has been fired, so the only time the user has to lock it back manually is to show clear, or to clear one of the more seriously malfunctions, which are, in my experience, extremely rare.
Additionally, left handed shooters enjoy the advantage with most semi-autos of being able to see the ejection port easier without tilting the rifle. This makes it easier to quickly examine and clear a malfunction.
If cost is the primary concern, I would go for the Saiga. Even having it converted will still keep it under the cost of the M1A and most ARs. The Saiga will probably be more than accurate enough for most needs, but if accuracy is more important than cost, then I would opt for the M1A. It is, in my experience, maybe not quite as accurate out of the box as an AR, but it is more robust, requires less maintenance, slightly more ergonomic for me, and boast slightly better control placement for left handed shooters. And it should still be very accurate. Mine shoots cheap 147 gr FMJs into 2 MOA or less from the bench with iron sights.
The FAL may be a fine battle rifle, but making it as well suited for lefties as the others will be more expensive, and the rifle is still less likely to be as accurate.
I have very little experience with the HK roller locks, but what experience I do have makes me believe that it is an ergonomic disaster for right and left handed shooters alike, though very accurate.
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