So you’ve always wanted a pre-ban, mint condition HK91 but don’t want to drop $2,500 on a collector piece? What if you could buy one for half as much, brand new, and made right here in the U.S.A.? What if the new one was actually better than the HK? You read that right. I said better.
PTR started making G3 “clones” 10 years ago, when they were called JLD Enterprises. JLD got their hands on genuine Heckler & Koch GmbH blueprints and tooling. This tooling and the correct specifications to use it makes all the difference, and it’s very hard to come by. I don’t know how JLD convinced Fabrica Militar to ship it all across the Atlantic Ocean from Portugal, but they pulled it off. Taking advantage of the great supply of surplus G3 parts floating around at the time, JLD began building G3 receivers to HK specifications on HK machinery, and fitting them to factory HK parts they could find. There were a few companies building G3 “clones” with a smattering of HK parts at that time, but only one that had real HK tooling for their U.S. made parts.
Soon, new condition surplus HK parts began to run dry and the other companies making G3 clones went out of business. HK stopped production of G3 rifles in 1997, so there was no chance of getting spare parts straight from the source. JLD endured, making more and more HK-spec parts here in the U.S. using the tooling brought from Portugal. At some point, a lightbulb went off and the Precision Target Rifle-91 was born. Why just make clones of a 1950s-technology rifle, when they had the power to bring the G3 into the 21st century with all the precision of modern CNC machinery? JLD changed their company name to PTR-91, Inc. and started making rifles that not only met original G3 specifications, but actually exceeded them. PTR became “The American Evolution of the Roller Lock Weapons System.”
The company is now capable of producing these rifles with every part, every pin and every spring made entirely here in the U.S. CNC machining makes it possible to build rifles to a higher standard than the original G3 specifications. For example, PTR-91s must meet stricter specifications than the original HK guns in critical areas such as bolt gap. Bolt gap is how headspace is measured on this recoil-operated, roller-delayed blowback design, and is critical for reliability and accuracy. PTR-91s use a match grade bull barrel that measures 0.7 inches under the handguards and features standard type, 1/12 twist micro grooved rifling. PTR profiles and chambers these barrels from blanks made by Green Mountain and Thompson Center. PTR-91s are chambered for .308 but will also shoot 7.62×51 NATO. These rifles have built a reputation for accuracy, especially the top of the line PTR MSG-91 which is loosely based on the old HK MSG 90 configuration. This variant has a low profile Picatinny mount welded to the receiver, an adjustable Magpul PRS stock, and fluted barrel. When fired using match grade ammo, this rifle is capable of sub-MOA accuracy, shot after shot. A new version, the Super Sniper MSG91, is based on the PSG-1. The precision demanded by this gun’s configuration makes it a low production volume gun, so PTR carefully makes a run of only 50 Super Snipers at a time. At nearly $3,000 it’s the most expensive gun PTR makes. It is still a bargain: the PSG-1, no longer imported, sold for $10,000 when first introduced using a now-obselete fixed 6x optic!
Last month, PTR 91, Inc. announced that they have changed their company name to PTR Industries, and have moved to a larger facility with room for more of those huge CNC machines. The name change reflects that the company is expanding beyond the -91 series of .308 rifles. Several variants of PTR-32 rifles are already available. These rifles are chambered in 7.62×39 and accept AK-47 magazines. Like the .308 guns, the owner may attach sections of Picatinny rail to their machined aluminum forends, and PTR offers a variety of fixed and collapsible stocks. Consider a compact G3 style rifle using AK magazines, with an AR-15 six-position stock, red dot optic atop the receiver, and foregrip and flashlight mounted on its railed forend. What an unusual, yet effective, fighting carbine! PTR is also making pistol versions of the PTR-91 and PTR-32, which are simply short-barreled versions with no stock, and have recently introduced a factory SBR program for those able to do the paperwork to own a registered short-barreled variant. Guns that divert propellant gas though a gas block in the barrel can have difficulty functioning properly when the barrel is chopped too short. For example, AR-15s with barrels less than 10.5 inches long are notorious for reliability problems. Short-barreled PTR-91s and -32s have no such difficulty because there is no gas system at all. The recoil operated, roller lock operating system works exactly the same way every time regardless of barrel length.
New for 2012, PTR is releasing a “Modern Sporting Rifle” intended for hunters looking for a reliable, accurate .308 semi-auto. The MSR features a welded Picatinny rail on the reciever, no iron sights, and a raised cheekpiece on the stock to help shooters look through a magnified optic. A five-round magazine is provided, and the free-float barrel ends in a target crown with no muzzle attachment. Removing some of the military features of the rifle slims it down for hunting purposes, with the side benefit of being legal in some states with assault weapon bans in effect.
If you were in charge of PTR Industries and had a growing company moving into a bigger building, what new products would you design? How would you turn your expertise with HK’s roller locked rifles into exciting new products? I would personally love to see PTR build a high quality HK94/MP5 type rifle in 9mm. Pre-1989 HK94s have become unobtainable to the average shooter, selling for $4000 and up. A few low-volume gunsmithing shops produce MP5 clones that have earned a mixed, mostly poor reputation. The .22 LR clones imported by GSG are wildly popular. PTR Industries has proven they can build a quality product at an affordable price, and they know the critical details of HK’s roller locked system like few others do. Should they build an MP5 clone, or can you think of an even better idea?
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