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 (22)

  • dan

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    Does the PTR have polygonal rifling?

    Reply

  • Auggie Will

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    I do not know that much about the two rifles here in question but one of them could wind up being the next rifle for the Infantry units in both the Army and the Marines.
    I have seen the proposal from the Dept. of Defence and it calls for a rifle that is 7.62 Nato & off the shelf or if you like an open production line.
    They do not want to pay for a factory to re-tool or start up a new line.
    I’m sure there are a lot of M-14 fans here as I am but the truth be known there are two FN-FAL’s in my gun vault. A 11″ OSW + a 21″ full battle rifle.
    I am not going to get into which is better but I do hope that whatever they pick will work when the troops need it to!

    Reply

  • Dale

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    I have owned a H&K 91 during the late 80″s. I found it to be extremely Rugged, accurate despite a 12 lbs trigger pull. A local gunsmith that had experience with H&K weapons got the trigger down to 6 lbs. That really helped alot. It was one of those guns I never should of gotten rid off. lol

    Reply

  • G.D Vachon

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    I have an original HK-91, and just so you know, it is one heavy rifle, heavier than this clone I’d say by a pound maybe more. I would have to say this clone looks a lot like the original with the exception of not having a carrying handle. Also the trigger pull on the HK is heavy too but I think I’ll leave it that way. PTR appears to be a good one to get. I appreciate your review, good job.

    Reply

  • kerry duckworth

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    you can send your ptr trigger assembly to trigger work .net and they can turn them down to a crisp 4 lbs, makes a big improvement.

    Reply

  • loranimal 41

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    I have at PTR 91F and I love it, it fires every 7.62×51 or .308 round I put through it with no miss fires or hang ups … it is a real pleasure to use and at 100 yards it is extremely accurate. Further, the customer service at PTR Industries is outstanding … they really and truly care about each and every customer … if you need a great and reliable battle rifle then the PTR is want you want … R/ JAF

    Reply

  • EnzoFromNM

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    I own a PTR 91 and they are great rifles. Accurate and reliable, low recoil and easy to disassemble and clean. The drawbacks are the weight and heavy trigger. I took it out hunting elk and I had no problems dealing with the weight issue. They are the best clone on the market. Better than Century Arms because they are built to a better standard, that’s why they cost a little more than Century Arms. They also have the cheapest magazines than most guns too. Great article. The PTR 91 is also my SHTF rifle because it is so rugged, reliable, and accurate.

    Reply

    • WR

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      Thanks for reading. Excellent comments.

      Reply

  • wr

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    Please enumerate these improvements. I am very interested in learning what they might be.

    Reply

  • WR

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    The Century gun is fine for the money but I cannot imagine anyone preferring the Century .308 to the PTR, especially the elevated PTR covered in this feature. A side by side comparison shows the Century has weld lines on the receiver and also on the sight attachment, the PTR 91 does not. Not to down a good rifle- the Century is simply a rougher gun. A few months ago Gun Tests Magazine came to the same conclusion but I do my own research. So– I stand by my work and do not quite get your opinion.

    Reply

  • USPatriotOne

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    Centuries .308 has improvements over the PTR 91. Same Rifle but has improvements over the PTR 91. Not to be rude but do your research before writing articles. I have fired both in various conditions and I purchased the Century .308 version and I am a NRA Certified Expert.

    Reply

    • Anthony Garza

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      Centuries rifle in vastly inferior in every aspect, to the PTR. Maybe YOU should do a little more research.

      Reply

    • Norm Morris

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      “NRA Certified Expert?” You know, I believe I’ve seen you comment on other posts on this blog, and you also sealed the deal on the infallibility of your opinion in those cases by citing that same “expert” “certification.”

      I have an NRA Certification myself, and have never heard of that one. FYI, there is no NRA certification for firearms knowledge.

      If there were, I would be more inclined to take Mr. Roberts qualifications in that regard, than someone who rates the author of this excellent in-depth overview as someone who doesn’t do his research. The Century Arms is a functional Buick; the PTR 91 is say an Infiniti. The fit and finish are comparable to the original HK rifle, which I would love to own, but good luck finding one of those. As others have stated, the only negatives to the PTR are possibly the weight, and the trigger. I would want to get the trigger addressed if at all possible, although some military triggers are hard to tweak.

      Since you state that the poorer fit and finish Century has improvements over the PTR 91, then by all means list them. Price doesn’t count as an “improvement” by the way.

      If you can’t list those “improvements,” then, not to be rude, but I would suggest you do your research before commenting on firearms in articles that you know nothing about.

      Reply

    • WR

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      Thanks for your comments!

      Well said.

      Reply

    • CrackIsBad

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      Hah!!! Tsk tsk tsk, crack is bad for your health, research THAT. Stop smoking it and you might be able to save up enough to buy a quality firearm and maybe even a new bike to ride to your job at the local mcdonalds! How cool would that be!?

      Reply

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