Range Report: PTR 91 MSG 91

By Wilburn Roberts published on in Firearms

As a person of Scottish heritage, I am adamant that quite a few people today do not really understand how much we gained, or how much we stood to lose, in the last election. Freedom seeking people came to America. So, it was with my hearty Scots as they fled the detested Crown. By the same token, in the South we are accepting refugees from the People’s Republics North of the Mason Dixon line. There are many freedom loving people in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey that have seen the socialist-Marxist creep into government and make life difficult through onerous taxation, regulation, and laws, making honest business practically impossible.

PTR 91 left profile

The PTR 91 MSG is a desirable, accurate and reliable rifle.

Among the businesses that have resettled and are flourishing in South Carolina is PTR rifles. The business climate in Connecticut was impossible not only for a gun business but business in general. PTR builds an excellent 7.62x51mm rifle based on the Heckler and Koch G3 rifle.

Specifications

Action Roller cam delayed roll back semi automatic rifle
Caliber 7.62 NATO
Capacity 20-round magazine
Barrel length 18 inches
Barrel twist 1:10
Weight 11 pounds 14 ounces

A semi-automatic version of a reliable and accurate battle rifle, the PTR 91 rifle uses an interesting delayed blowback roller locking system that is different from most rifles. Roller locks keep the bolt closed when pressure is highest; then releases the bolt to run back and unlock when the bullet has exited the barrel and pressure abated. While there are other copies of the HK 91/G 3 rifle, the PTR is arguably the only one to boast equal quality.

Although we may feel the goose hangs high with a freedom loving person—and supporter of the NRA—in the White House, it wasn’t always so, and let’s not forget. A federal ban on many classes of collector- and shooter-grade rifles rendered the HK 91 impossible to obtain. American ingenuity, when not stunted by socialists, will find a way to deliver a desirable product. PTR Industries obtained world glass machinery from Portugal, a country that once issued the G3-type rifle.

Tooling, parts, and machinery were obtained to manufacture a semi-auto version of the G3. Thus, the PTR 91 rifle was born. However, one type of rifle was missing from the line up—at first. The H&K MSG90 was a highly developed rifle designed for counter sniper and marksman use. This was a legendary rifle, primarily because very few of us have seen one save in military journals. I have handled a single example, some decades ago, and did not fire the piece.

Magazine release on the PTR 91 rifle

It isn’t difficult to manage the magazine release.

The PTR MSG 91 is ‘inspired’ by the original. This means that the base gun is similar to the original but with improvements. That is correct, improvements. The rifle isn’t designed as an inexpensive alternative to the original, but rather as a modern shooter that offers practical improvement. While the PTR MSG 91 isn’t inexpensive at $1,800 dollars, it is affordable compared to the small truck price of the finite supply of MSG 90 rifles.

The MSG 91 is a production rifle that is available, something the MSG 90 cannot claim. I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed with the original, but by the same token, you will find the MSG 91 a superior shooter. This 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester) rifle features the distinctive HK-type roller block action. The rifle features a flash suppressor, 18-inch match-grade, fluted, heavy-profile barrel, and a modern aluminum handguard that will accept laser sights and combat lights.

Front sight post with shroud

The shrouded front post sight offers an excellent sight picture.

The rifle is supplied with a Harris bipod and adapter, relieving the owner of the chore of finding an appropriate bipod. I have used a number of bipods, and the Harris remains the standard by which all others are judged. The butt stock is the fully adjustable MagPul PRS2. I have used this stock on other similar rifles, and I find it an excellent choice for a precision rifle. Adjustments include not only a cheek riser but also length of pull adjustment. This makes for good comfort and cheek weld. There just isn’t anything left to chance.

The rifle isn’t difficult to operate but offers a unique manual of arms. The non-reciprocating cocking handling is located on the upper left of the barrel shroud. The handle is brought to the rear and locked in place. A loaded magazine is inserted in the magazine well. The cocking handling is released to load a cartridge into the chamber.

Load Velocity Average of three 3 shot groups in inches
Fired from a solid bench rest firing position at 100 yards
Fiocchi 150-gr. FMJ 2560 fps 2.0
Fiocchi 150-gr. SST 2490 fps 1.4
Federal 165-gr. JSP 2480 fps 1.45
Winchester 147-gr. FMJ 2477 fps 1.9
Winchester 168-gr. MATCH 2442 fps 1.3

Be certain to let the bolt slam forward to properly load the rifle. The PTR 91 then fires with every press of the trigger unless the safety is applied. While the rifle may be locked open with the charging handle, this design does not lock open on the last shot.

PTR 91 rifle right profile

The PTR 91 is both a classic design and a modern improvement.

I have examined early model CETME rifles with simple leaf sights. HK-type sights are superior, and the PTR 91 type even better. The HK-type sight features an open leaf for close-range work. You will turn the drum to the apertures for longer-range work. The drum-type rear sight may be rotated for use at 100, 200, 300, and 400 meter settings. PTR has added windage adjustment—a great improvement. This makes for a more precise zero. The front sight is a protected shielded type.

I have tested several PTR rifles including the GI Model, and I find the MSG 91 well fitted and finished with excellent quality. Unlike other copies of the HK91 the fitting and weld lines are seamless—they should be at a MSRP of nearly $1,800 for the MSG 91 marksman’s version. The cocking handle, safety, magazine, and sight adjustments function as designed. The Harris and MagPul components add to the rifle’s efficiency. The only real drawback was the heavy trigger. Breaking at 9 pounds, it is manageable from the bench rest firing position, but I would have preferred a lighter trigger action.

For the initial evaluation, I mounted an inexpensive, but credible, riflescope. The TruGlo 1x4x24 mm mounted on the Picatinny rails easily and required minimal effort in sighting in. The rifle was properly lubricated, with the bolt and cams oiled. I expected a modest break-in period—as this is SOP with the PTR 91—a tightly-built rifle. I adjusted the MagPul stock to a good fit, filled a magazine with Winchester USA 147-grain 7.62x51mm, and began working to sight the rifle in at 50 yards.

TruGlo scope mounted on a PTR 91

TruGlo’s scope was a close fit- risers might be needed with some optics.

This was accomplished by sighting the rifle to fire two inches high before proceeding to a 100-yard effort. During the first 40 rounds, I experienced several failures of the bolt to fully close, but those disappeared after this initial break in. I allowed the rifle to cool between magazines. I loaded 10 rounds in the magazine, and sighted the rifle for 100 yards with my customary 2-inch high setting at the 100-yard mark.

This is a heavy rifle at some 12 pounds. The result is lowered felt recoil. The rifle is comfortable to fire and may be fired in long strings with little discomfort. I didn’t feel limited by the optics at 100 yards; they gave a good clear sight picture and firing results were excellent overall. I extended the firing tests to include Federal, Fiocchi, and Winchester loads. The rifle consistently grouped in the 1.5 MOA range, with the occasional brilliantly smaller group. The single best three-shot group at 100 yards was .9 inch with the Fiocchi 150-grain SST loading. The most consistently accurate loading was the Federal .308 165-grain JSP. The Winchester 168-grain MATCH load exhibited excellent results. Past the initial break-in stage, the rifle never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

The PTR MSG 01 is a precision rifle by any standard, and a rifle that would be at home deployed by a tactical team or in competition. Practical hunting use is limited by the rifle’s weight. I am certain that most of us will own this rifle for the joy it provides in pride of ownership and firing for accuracy and simply attempting to be all we can be. The PTR MSG 91 offers a chance to own a close clone of a legendary rifle, but one that, arguably, has superior features and performance compared to the original.

Handloads

Using small base dies, I have handloaded a number of combinations using the Hornady 168-grain A Max and H4895 powder. Experiments continue but seem promising.

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How does the PTR 91 rank in your favorite list of battle rifles? Do you own or plan to buy a PTR 91? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (23)

  • John

    |

    First off I’d like to thank Mr. Roberts for not only showing that he did indeed do his research. But he also showed professional restraint. He could have also mentioned that PTR also purchased ten of thousands of the blue prints and technical manuals. So that PTR would be known as a firearms manufacturing company instead of a cloning company. Needless to say, they accomplished and surpassed that goal.

    I conceder myself lucky because I was able to fire the G3, MSG 90, G36, G36C and K, and the PSG1. While stationed in Germany. All were wonderful experiences. I haven’t fired the PTR MSG 91 yet. But I don’t feel cheated. I own a PTR MSG 91SS.

    Mr. Roberts, if you and a few of your co workers want to try a 91SS that’s been through the breaking in stage, send me a email and we can go from there.

    Reply

  • RDTS

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    This is a very nicely done HK91 clone with an aftermarket stock and a longer barrel. It is however not a HK MSG90 clone. We regularly upgrade HK91’s for customers with features of the HK MSG90, HK MSG90 A1 and HK PSG1’s and I see none of those features here. A little research would go a long way. That said the PTR91 discussed is a great rendition of a customized HK91 clone.

    Reply

  • Darren P.

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    How about the cm308? It seems to be a pretty descent battle rifle so far. Would love to get a forend like this one so I could add a bipod, is there any after market forends?

    Reply

  • JB

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    Was this article a review of a gun, or a review of idiotic, misinformed, and hate-filled conservative talking points? I couldn’t tell.

    Reply

    • WR

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      I am a conservative and I am a very happy person but I do have quite a bit of hate toward what has happened to my country the past decade or so.

      I suppose you are one waiting for the bourgeois to rise.

      Reply

    • RKC

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      I think the summary of recent events was dead on an accurate from my perspective as I have conducted interviews with the owners at PTR and also officials in South Carolina. The Assault Weapons ban was certain a reality so I see nothing misinformed in the WR article. Many of us are angry at those that attempt to take our rights away and form our country in their red titled manner. But then Washington had to deal with Tories, Lincoln with Copperheads, and Roosevelt with the bund and then we had John Kerry and Jane Fonda in Vietnam. I believe you are the misinformed person and quite frankly I think you will find yourself in the minority on this opinion. I doubt you would have taken this argument face to face.

      Reply

    • RKC

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      Forgive the typos. I was typing with one hand and clinging to my guns and religion with the other.

      Reply

  • Vegas Johnny Mac

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    How can you write an article about the H91 or the excellent PTR91- discuss the delayed rolling back action, and not mention that the action is directly descended from the MG42 machine gun. Perhaps the finest MG of WW2.

    I have PTR PDW pistol version of the rifle and spent the time money and paper work to make it an SBR. I installed a GL Shock Absorbing Stock on to in. It is now the shorter than an AR with about the same felt recoil. Great gun.

    Reply

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