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questions/ramblings about my new PTR 91

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by coosbaycreep, Feb 14, 2009.

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  1. coosbaycreep

    coosbaycreep Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    near Roseburg, Oregon
    I've had a hankering for a .308 lately, and after changing my mind numerous times about what I wanted, due to both gun/magazine cost, and primarily looks, I bought a PTR 91 at the gun show in Portland today. It cost me $1099, which makes it the most expensive gun I've ever bought. If I didn't find one at the show, I planned on getting one off gunbroker for $200-$300 more, so even though I still cringe at the thought of paying that much money for a gun that doesn't even have a grenade launcher or flame thrower attached to it, it could have been worse....I guess.

    I didn't do a whole lot of research before deciding on this gun, just enough to know that they're suppose to be a quality reproduction of a combat proven design that's been around a long time. I've also read that a lot of people don't like the ergonomics on them. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to find one in person so I could fondle it awhile instead of just buying online without checking one out first. I got to the table it was at, and since I had ammo in my hand, I just flipped the gun over with my free hand, grunted, and told the dude I'll buy it. Yeah, I know, I'm not the sharpest tool in the tool shed sometimes, but it's the gun I drove 460 miles roundtrip for, and the price was a couple hundred less than I was expecting, so I was happy and jumped on it.

    After I got it home just a little while ago, the first thing I did was take it out of the case and point it at various things in my house while making gunshot sound effects. Even though the gun did alright as far as shooting imaginary bullets at things like a box of cereal and an empty Hot Pocket box, I'm now really wishing I would've actually shouldered the gun at the show before forking out a bunch of cash for it. It doesn't balance well at all for me, and even though it has a 16" barrel, it doesn't feel anything like a "carbine". The gun is just really awkward feeling for me.

    I should have read up a little bit on how these work too. I had to actually read the manual just to figure out how the hell to charge it, or where the charging handle even was. The safety feels really stiff and clunky. Mag changes seem kinda clunky. Overall, the gun looks well made, but I think the trigger is made out of plastic or something, which doesn't really impress me.

    Another thing that is eating at me is that it doesn't look as "cool" as the ones I was looking at online the other day. In fact, this gun is just butt ugly...and odd, really, really odd.

    I don't care for the sights on it either.

    I'm going to have to actually read through the manual so I can learn more about how it functions, and how to dissasemble it, etc., but now I'm wishing I would've just spent a little more and got a platform that's more familiar to me. The same table had a DSA FAL for about $100 more (never shot/handled/etc one of those either, so it might be just as quirky for all I know), and they also had a 16" M1A for $1599. An M1A was what I originally wanted, but if you factor in the cost of the gun and 10-12 mags, it ends up costing almost twice as much as an ugly, awkward PTR.

    So, for my questions: What kind of ammo functions best? Can I just shoot whatever cheap winchester/remington they sell at walmart/bimart? Will hollow points and soft points feed in these guns? What's a good website that has a lot of info on the history/operation of these? I'd be particularly interested in a site that has detailed diagrams/videos or idiot proof instructions on how to field strip this ugly bastard.

    Are the steel magazines worth the extra cost over the alloy magazines? Any furniture/slings/etc that fit the G3 will fit this gun as well, right? What about bayonets? I don't see anything that looks like a bayonet lug on my gun. Is this some sort of politically correct, neutered sham of a battle rifle that's not even capable of having a knife attached to it? If so, that's pretty sad, as all proper battle rifles deserve a bayonet.

    How about optics? Looking at some websites I see a "claw mount" scope mount and a Hendsolt scope listed for this rifle platform, but it's about $300, which is pretty expensive to me. Are these good scopes, and are they worth the money? Is this the only option for putting a scope on this gun?

    What's some common problems with these guns? Is there any spare parts I should stock up on?

    Looking through a lot of the older threads on THR about these, most people seem to be getting about 2" groups with them, yet I've read a lot of comments stating that M1As are suppose to be way more accurate than the PTR, even though I've seen a lot of posts were people with non-target model M1As were only getting 2 MOA too. I know AR style rifles are more accurate, but how does the PTR stack up accuracy wise against the M1A, FAL, and saiga?

    I don't currently reload, although I'm thinking a lot more about starting. I know these guns are suppose to mangle the brass really bad and throw them a long ways, but that can supposedly be resolved by some kind of buffer thing. Even if I never do start reloading, I'd still prefer to have salvageable brass I could sell or save for the future, considering the cost of .308, but I was curious if this buffer affects reliability in anyway?


    DRYHUMOR Member

    Jul 6, 2008


    The design is a solid, proven one. That's what counts when the chips are down. The basic rifle is a 100yd gun for the most part, the PSG sniper configuration provides a longer range precision rifle.

    You may find some parts at the sites above. You mentioned claw mounts. I would recommend the picatinny mount. More versatility. Either scope or EO Tech type holo sight.

    Takedown is simple, push the pins out of the component and remove. If you decide the rifle suits you, pick up some spare parts.

    The plastic trigger you mentioned is a polymer, very robust for what it is.

    Try to find you a sight tool, if your rifle didn't come with one. You'll appreciate it when you need to fine tune the sights.

    A collapsable stock is very handy, goes on and off on about 1 minute. They can be had for cheaper than the 2 sites listed above, be patient, and one will come along at a good price.

    Get a port buffer, it's use prevents the fired cases from getting mangled. It may or may not allow a picatinny rail to mount properly, but a little fitting will make it work.

    Original leather slings are nice also. They cradle the rifle in front at a down angle, ready postion.

    An aluminum handguard that is rail ready, can allow you to mount a bi pod adapter, or a vertical handgrip.

    Set up with a vertical handgrip up front, collapsable stock, and EO tech sight- you kind of get the idea of a great close combat weapon.

    Considering I sold an original, pre Clinton ban HK91 years ago for what you paid for the PTR, you got it at a fair price. The last 91 I saw at a show was priced at 3800.00.
  3. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Member

    Aug 23, 2007

    The disappointment saddens me. But I understand your perspective. I too had that reaction initially when I bought mine. I wish I had known then what I know now, and realize that the price of purchase is just the entry price. After all the work and accessories, it has been even more expensive.

    That said, after the work, mine is my favorite rifle, so don't despair. It has been a labor of love these last 3 years or so.:rolleyes:

    The sights take some getting used to. I can shoot inch or so groups at 100 yards with mine now, and have no problems with the sights. But then I used to shoot match rifle with aperture sights, so the circle within a circle aiming concept was instinctive to me.

    Take down for cleaning was an exercise in frustration and recrimination. Frustration because it was difficult for me, recriminations because I wished I had bought something else initially. I was able to make this chore easy and simple by purchasing the two brush set from E&L. Now cleaning the receiver and trunnion areas is as easy as pie. Perhaps $35 altogether including the rod that came with it.

    Then came the fluting brush and rod. I learned that shooting some surplus ammo was not good as it would clog the chamber flutes with tar sealant, rendering my rifle a single shot for all practical purposes. Voila the chamber brushes. No more issues after that. I think that was $25 altogether.

    Then the trigger was sent off to Bill Springfield, who for about $55 including return shipping, made it a truly outstanding device.

    The stock forend had to go, and I looked for quite awhile to get the wide HK forend with light bipod. Great choice. $150 as I recall.

    Then the muzzle brake. The recoil was quite stout to begin with, but I was intending to shoot the thing in he-man class in 3 gun. The brake kept the muzzle steady, and seemed to moderate the recoil impulse somewhat. Another $65 IIRC.

    Then the scope. The hensholdt is what I chose, and it has proven a super optic. I'd do that again. About $350, but an optic of this quality is easily worth twice as much.

    With the scope perched up in the air, I finally found the Magpul PRS stock, which has adjustments to make the rifle much easier to shoot. Expensive at about $200 IIRC.

    On a lark, I found a HK heavy buffer and bought it for $100. It required professional installation, which was another $50. $150 for a really mild recoil impulse.

    The reach to the selector was easy to put it on "fire," but difficult to "safe." So I got the Williams Ambi safety, and have been quite content. $25 I think.

    The magazine release is awkward on a good day. Off to Bill Springfield for a paddle magazine release. $100 plus parts, or $135.

    After all was said and done, I'd bet I put as much into accessories and modifications as I did the initial purchase. It is a great prone plinking rifle for distances of up to 400 yards or so, and maybe futher, but that's as far as I have gone.

    Of course the de rigeur 22 long rifle conversion kit was a necessity, and has proven to be one of the best accessories I could buy. Really an accurate and pleasant setup, and good for introducing new people to the hobby. $350 IIRC.

    Then it set in the safe for awhile.

    Now it wears the wood stocksets, and is amazingly light and handy and easy to maneuver around. Go figger. $25.

    The most recent acquisition was the blue ammo kit from Dan's Ammo. What a hoot! Not cheap at $300+.

    Now I know I have at least 2 1/2 times the purchase price in modifications and geegaws and gimcracks for the rifle. Glad I did this project over several years. Now that I am resting and not pursuing anymore "improvements," I still get the greatest joy out of this rifle of any I own.

    Hope yours brings a smile to your face as well.:cool:

    Edit: After reading all of the above, I can see where to the uninitiated, it may appear that I need therapy. But it's only insanity if you don't know you are insane.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  4. coosbaycreep

    coosbaycreep Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    near Roseburg, Oregon
    I took it and a few other guns out shooting today.

    The first time I went to shoot it, I inserted the mag, charged handle, etc., and when I pulled the trigger....nothing. I waited a second before I ejected the round, and there was a mark on the primer. My dad said it looked kind of weak, but it looked like most primers I've seen on ammo that actually fired.

    I chambered another round, pulled the trigger....nothing, just a click, and no mark on the primer. I did this two more times with similar results.

    I pulled the mag out, reread the manual, looked everything over again, tried it again, and it started shooting like it's suppose to. I know I had the mag inserted correctly and a round in the chamber each time, so I'm thinking maybe I didn't charge it hard enough or might have rode the charging handle forward possibly, and maybe the bolt thing wasn't closed far enough? Any ideas?

    I'm sure the first round was a dud though.

    This was with federal soft points (power shock?). They were the only thing in stock at the time, and cost almost $16 a box, which was quite painful.

    Between me and my dad, we put 60 rounds through it today. The gun functioned perfectly after that first scare, and felt a lot more comfortable to shoot than it felt last night when I was just fondling it and pretend shooting it.

    We did a mixture of offhand/rest shooting, but we were taking a rest off the hood of my jeep, and neither of us hit very good with it. We shot at a few paper targets, and didn't get anything that even remotely resembled a decent group, but I'm 100% sure it's because of lousy shooting on our part.

    I hit a few 2 liter soda bottles at 100-110 yards offhand, which is actually pretty good for me, and I think it will only improve when I practice more.

    I don't care for the #1 setting on the sight at all. I ended up putting on the #2 setting, and just holding a little over on stuff around 50-60 yards.

    The recoil from offhand wasn't bad at all. From a rest, it bounces around quite a bit, but it's not painful like a shotgun or something. I've read lots of comments about how they're suppose to have heavy recoil for a .308, but I though it was quite managable.

    I don't care for the safety at all. My thumb is too short to flip it, and I have to use both hands to turn the safety. Not a big deal for something that will never shoot anything other than pop cans or old car bodies, but not a desirable trait in a combat rifle.

    Mag changes suck too.

    The comments I've read on how far these things throw the brass weren't exaggerated. I still managed to find most of mine, but it was like an easter egg hunt.

    My brass isn't "mangled" up like most people say either. A few of them have some small nicks and stuff in the case, but it's all unmangled/bent looking. However, all of it has this funky black crap all over it:

    What's up with this? Is this brass still reloadable or worth saving?

    All in all, I'm no longer experiencing buyer's remorse with this gun. There's a lot of things I still don't like about it, but when you compare the price of it and mags to other .308s, and considering how little shooting I actually do, and the kinds of shooting I do (I'm basically a garbage sniper), this is still probably the best platform for me.

    I don't plan on stripping/cleaning it till I get some more rounds in it, but I think once I get more use to it this gun will most likely be a keeper.

    The price of .308 ammo sure sucks though.
  5. Kiwi Mac

    Kiwi Mac Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I got my PTR-91 the other day and the next day I got a mint unfired HK-91 Made in 1979. I sold the HK-91 to a collector as it would have been sacrilage to put a bullet thru it!

    I wish my PTR-91 had cost me $1100 USD, it took me 14 months from organising the permit to import into New Zealand!

    It cost me approximately $4250 USD to get!:what:

    And that's what it takes to get them into this country. However I am very pleased with it, took it to the range the other day and put about 50 rounds thru it. Got a similar grouping at 25m prone with a bi-pod and standing. I have put a pistol grip on the front to help with the weight.

    Having shot the L1A1 SLR, the FN FAL and the PTR-91, I am more than impressed with this rifle, I am gonna set it up as a sniper rifle and I already have the PRS2 stock and today ordered another Henstoldt scope, I have one on my SIG550.

    Coosbaycreep, you have a fine weapon, it just takes a bit of getting used to!:D
  6. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Member

    Aug 23, 2007
    The safety is surely easy to put into the "FIRE" position, but not so easy to put on "safe."

    I have thought to try this but haven't got the gumption. So I bought an ambi safety from here. Works great. Push down with thumb to "fire," lift up with trigger finger to "safe." I think it cost $25.

    Glad you got your rifle sorted out, and it is starting to appeal to you. The reports of excessive recoil are greatly exaggerated, IMO. The accuracy is top notch, and eventually the sights will grow on you.
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