Initial Review on a Calico Libery I 9mm Carbine


March 4, 2009, 09:17 PM
:rolleyes:I recently forked over $800 for a NIB Calico Liberty I carbine with a colapsable stock. I was pleased with my purchase for the most part but for what I paid for it, the quality was lacking. Reciever material seemed to be some sort of cast zinc potmetal that was painted. Hoppes no9 actually removed the paint revealing a uneven cast shoddy grey metalic material. 150 rnds of Winchester white box and blazer brass 115gr FMJ later with acceptable accuracy with the provided iron sights with only one failure to feed. 2" shot groups at 25yds. I'm sure the gun can shoot better than me but I will benchrest test it in another post once I get a proper scope mount and optics. Field stripping was user/field friendly with a single pushpin take down. This breaks the gun into the three basic parts: the trigger pistol grip assembly, bolt roller-bolt assembly, and barrel/reciever. When breaking down the bolt past the basic fieldstrip was *ahem* a complete nightmare. Fighting with the bolt retaining pin for a hour and a half. I'll think twice before I break down the bolt again. I'm going to see how much I can put through it without breaking down the bolt. The fit of the internal parts very much reminded me of a AK. Loose low tolerance parts, (I hope), for reliability purposes. This is a recently produced model...Post Clinton Assult weapon ban. (The ban itself almost put this company under, this model was debuted just before the ban was implemented) I purchased an additional 100rnd drum in addition to the 50rnd drum the gun came with. Both fed reliably and had the wonderful option to be stored full without the spring under tension. They can be picked up and in a moments notice wound up and slapped on. Magazines can be changed easily and quickly with the shooters off hand. Most of the weapons weight was ballanced over the shooter's trigger hand, giving this suprisingly excelent ballance. The trigger pull itself I found the be terrible. It was very heavy and long and spongey. My wife refused to fire it more than five times because of the trigger pull, barely tollerable IMHO. I originally wrote this post to ask if anybody knew a gunsmith who have had experience with this weapon's trigger group and could help me out. If you do please let me know. If you have any other questions concerning this, or if you are curious and I missed something please let me know...

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March 4, 2009, 09:26 PM
Thanks for the post, you have effectively purged my urge to try one, and it didn't cost me a dime! Sincerely, Kman

March 4, 2009, 11:52 PM
Huh, I've always wanted to try one of those out, it's too bad the trigger is so awful, good luck finding out how to improve it. You should see if you can find a Calico forum online, sort of like the kel-tec forums with all their information on improving KT pistols.

March 5, 2009, 12:12 AM
thanks for the review

I've wanted one of those since I was a kid, and have been looking real hard at them lately.

There's a calico forum run by the manufacturer I believe. They're made in Oregon now too, but I haven't seen any recent updates on their website or forum, and was wondering if they were having more problems or something.

Do you know if the newer ones are better made than the old ones? It seems like I read something about the earlier 9mm calicos having problems with slamfires or something.

From what I've read, the 9mm version is suppose to be a lot better made and more reliable than the .22 version for some reason too, but it seems like both calibers of calicos have enough problems to make them hard to justify the cost.

March 5, 2009, 08:36 PM
Don't get me wrong it has a certain fun factor to it. Mine fed and fired reliably it just wasn't well made. I may Duracoat the thing later on...My wife woln't even shoot the thing with the trigger pull the way it is. I'm having a heck of a time finding anyone who will improve the trigger let alone try. Any ideas would be helpful...I wish I would have bought a Ruger Mini 14/30 or a CMP Garand.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
March 5, 2009, 09:08 PM
Well the front and rear sight are about 3" apart, so 2" groups at 25 is not too bad. Sorry to hear it's pot metal. I still kinda want one, but at a much better price.

March 5, 2009, 10:17 PM
I have an early one from 93 or 94. It has a decent trigger, good finish and has several thousand rounds of nasty surplus 9mm thru it with almost 100% function and hold 6" groups for me off han at 50 yards. I like it better than the UZI B model I have (out of Ca.) and the HK 94 I sold for big bucks before the Cal. ban in 2000.

March 6, 2009, 06:18 AM
"I've got the Calico with the black talons loaded in the clip..."

I've always wondered about these since hearing that lyric in the mid-'90's. It's finally good to read a review. Wild looking, huh.

Were these ever used by any military organizations? Were they designed with such use/abuse in mind?

March 6, 2009, 09:44 PM
I heard rumors that they were almost adopted by the Russians. Then the bottom dropped out on them and they weren't intrested in spending money on anything. I'm not sure how true that is but these were built as an answer to the MP5. The roller-bolt is reminiscent of the CETME. Higher Cycle rate with a magazine that seems to feed all day. Bottom ejection for safer tactical movements and concealment. The the sights are close enough together to effectively engage a target within 75yrds. You have a option to filp up the rear sight mounted on the magazine to a peep rear sight. They should have designed this as a bullpup. They could have added barrel length which could have further incresed velocity and handling in confined spaces such as doorways and in vehicles. I'd rather have 100rds in the mag rather than 32 anyday. I found out the reciever is cast aluminum, the metal just was never finished. (sanded or polished) It seems to be painted over then the paint finished to a smooth surface. Like I said before, this didn't affect the function. I had one misfeed, and with a new gun with new springs it sometimes happens. The real test will be the continued posts I make as I shoot and modify it more and more. Any guesses on muzzle velocity with Ranier 125gr JHP +P's ?

March 7, 2009, 12:59 AM
"Ranier 125gr JHP +P's"
My 16" does 1460FPS with +p 125grain Federal when I checked 7 years ago. Umm Winchester Black Talon 127 grain(I think it was) was doing 1420 fps BTW!

March 24, 2009, 10:10 PM
I currently have the M900 from Calico. Traded a mini14 on a whim for it. This gun is in very good condition for its age. I does need a few small parts of which I ordered directly from Calico this past week. very nice people to deal with. And very helpfull. The lady I spoke with returned my call today. I had asked her (last week) if she could give me a build date based on the serial #. She said shed have to pull some records and would get back to me this week. Which of course she did. I really enjoy shooting this rifle and it gets the WOW factor every time I get it out. Form what I understand, the barrels are very accurate on these rifles. The sights are the limitation. I read that a good optic or laser sight will show its true potential. I have a week striker spring on my rifle and it is giving the two for one special every other shot or so. When it does this the holes in the target are almost dead on. The 2nd round just sightly opens the first hole up on the top side. This is at about 5o yards. I guess that attest to the accuracy of the barrel somewhat.

I personally have no regrets on the trade. I have an AR15 already and didnt really see the need for two rifles of the same caliber. I do and always have liked the Mini's though. The Calico is cheaper to shoot. If you can call shotting cheap now days. :)

March 24, 2009, 10:19 PM
I originally wrote this post to ask if anybody knew a gunsmith who have had experience with this weapon's trigger group and could help me out. If you do please let me know.

While I am not a gunsmith. I am very mechanicly minded. I have worked on a few different triggers for handguns. I am working on the trigger group for my M900. From what I have gathered, it is different for the older designs such as mine. I have done some things to my trigger already and improved it. somewhat. Not so much the pull yet as much as the gritty feeling. Very simple design on this model. I wish I had a later style trigger to look at and evaluate. Calico offers updated parts for my rifle, I just haven't wanted to do that quite yet.

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