Here are five guns we offer that come from overseas. Some of them are copies, clones of famous designs that cost less because they don’t have a well-known name or are built in a poorer part of the world. One of them embodies the proud national tradition of the country where it was made, and one of them breaks from tradition entirely. All of them are available from us here at Cheaper Than Dirt!
A couple of days ago in my “All American Guns” article I shared my high opinion of the Remington 870 Marine Magnum. The only problem with that top tier 870 is its top tier price tag of $600. Escort Shotguns offers their Turkish-made version, the MarineGuard Pump, for $264. Synthetic stocks, nickel-chrome moly steel coating and a chrome-lined barrel give the MarineGuard impressive corrosion resistance. 5+1 capacity, able to accept 3-inch magnum shells, the list of features sure looks impressive. Is it as good as an 870? I have no idea. But for the price of the American made 870, you could buy two of these and have almost $75 left over. Food for thought, isn’t it?
During the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union, around 130,000 Russians were slaughtered by the Finns in just three and a half months—mostly with bolt action rifles and submachine guns, with some help from artillery. To this day, some of the most challenging sniper competitions in the world are held in Finland, where the people have a cultural obsession with marksmanship. There, the SAKO company makes rifles like this Tikka T3 Tactical. The spec sheet looks kinda ordinary, but they way they build these guns proves that great thought went into the design. For example, the detachable magazine is single column instead of staggered, making it easy to load and unload and helping smooth the action. There is no recoil lug on the receiver; instead the recoil lug is embedded in the stock and precisely interfaces with the receiver only when it is torqued into the adjustable stock. The result is a rifle that will shoot sub-MOA groups (less than one inch at 100 yards) right out of the box. No wonder the Russians have stayed out.
Beretta has a factory here in the USA, where they make M9 pistols for the US military and many other high quality products. Many other Berettas, such as the Stampede revolver, are made in Italy and imported to be sold here. The Stampede is a beautiful revolver, with excellent metallurgy, deep polished bluing, a color case hardened frame, and gorgeous glossy wood grips. Why does it cost half as much as the gun it copies, the Colt Single Action Army? Simple—Beretta didn’t help tame the Wild West, so there’s no romantic attachment to the Stampede like there is to the “Peacemaker.” To some people, the Stampede is just a copy, a fake imported from the land of spaghetti. To those who shoot them, it’s a straight shooting, reliable, and finely made wheel gun that makes no excuses and takes no prisoners.
With the wild looks of this rifle, I’m a bit disappointed that its magazine only holds 9 rounds of .22 LR ammo. I was hoping for a rail-gun shooting hypervelocity tungsten darts or something, you know? Baikal makes tough, simple hunting rifles and shotguns in Russia, and they all have nice bluing, hardwood stocks and very traditional designs. Not this one! It is ambidextrous and has an adjustable cheek piece built into the adjustable length of pull stock. Adjustable iron sights are built into it, but a 1913 Picatinny rail is also built right in, and I personally think the MP161k is just begging for an equally wild-looking red dot to be put there. This brand new Baikal breaks from tradition and is one of the most futuristic looking .22 rifles on the market. It could be a real steal for only $250, but not enough people have one yet for us to really know yet…
That’s a pretty cool Sig… hey wait a minute! The Sig-ish EAA Zastava EZ takes the design of the famous P226, makes it fully ambidextrous, and sells it for more than $300 less. When an excellent design is copied by someone else, the obvious question is “how well was this design executed?” If the design is great but the gun is built with plastic where there should be metal, and crappy pot metal where there should be chrome moly steel and aircraft grade aluminum, then the cheap copy isn’t a very good bargain anymore, is it? Zastava has a history of building some really good guns since they first started making cannons in 1853. Those Yugo Mausers and Yugo SKS’s that are 50 years old and still running strong? Made at Zastava. These guys are old school craftsmen, and their pistols have a longstanding and excellent reputation in Europe. So why is the EZ less than $400? Well it has to do with the exchange rate—it seems that Kragujevac, Serbia isn’t exactly a boom town right now, so the profits on a $400 pistol go a long way for those folks. Don’t tell them what Sigs cost here, they may get the idea to raise their prices!