For many who grew up in the 1980s and had an itch for semi-automatic versions of revered military rifles, the Heckler & Koch HK91 7.62 NATO rifle is an undeniable classic. Based upon the German G3 military rifle, it employed a rugged and reliable delayed-blowback, roller-lock system that was radically different than any of its compatriots. Besides, it just plain looked cool.
Alas, a federal ban on the importation of these and other firearms unfairly categorized as “assault weapons” in the late 1980s shut the door on this rifle for American shooters. However, through a fortunate set of circumstances, a U.S.-based company is producing new civilian-legal, semi-automatic versions of these stylish rifles in a range of configurations. That company is PTR Industries, and it is building these guns on tooling purchased from a G3 manufacturing plant in Portugal.
Back in 2003, an earlier iteration of the company learned the plant was to be placed for sale and took advantage of the opportunity to purchase thousands of parts and accessories as well as the tooling, machinery, measuring gauges, original engineering drawings and diagrams required to manufacture the rifle and set it all up here in the United States (originally in Connecticut, but now in South Carolina).
While the G3 was primarily designed as a standard-issue military rifle, there were also variants designed for the precision-rifle role. One of these, the MSG90, was a militarized version of the much sought-after 7.62 NATO PSG1 sniper rifle set up to provide semi-automatic, precision-rifle performance. Since the MSG90 was never available to civilians, PTR has a solution for those us who would like a rifle inspired by this classic.
The MSG 91 from PTR Industries captures the spirit of the MSG90 in a reasonably priced (and actually available) configuration. The .308 Win. rifle features a polymer trigger-group housing, a machined-aluminum handguard drilled and tapped at the three-, six- and nine-o’clock positions to accept strips of Picatinny rail (and includes a 6.5-inch strip at the six-o’clock position), a muzzle having 5⁄8x24 tpi threading and topped with a flash suppressor and a paddle-style magazine release (in addition to a push-button release).
The barrel of the rifle (described as “match grade”) measures 18 inches, is fluted and has a bull-barrel profile. The muzzle is topped off with an H&K-style flash suppressor, but with 5⁄8x24 tpi threading. A bipod adapter is fitted on the lower rail, and the rifle has a Harris bipod included. A welded-on strip of Picatinny rail atop the stamped-steel receiver allows for the easy attachment of optics. The buttstock is a Magpul PRS2 stock with an adjustable cheek riser as well as length-of-pull adjustment. An evenly applied black powder-coated finish over Parkerizing on the steel rounds out the package.
For those unfamiliar with the operation of these types of rifles, it is pretty simple and straightforward. A cocking tube with a folding, non-reciprocating charging handle is located above the barrel. To charge the rifle, rock in a loaded magazine, fold out the charging handle, then retract and release. The rifle is ready to go once the safety above the pistol grip is disengaged. It does not lock open on an empty magazine, but you can turn the charging handle up into a notch at the rear of the track to lock the action open. The sights are made up of a ringed-post front sight and a rotating-drum rear unit with 100-, 200-, 300- and 400-meter settings. The major change by PTR to the rear sight assembly is the addition of a knurled, windage-adjustable target knob for easier sight corrections.
I have tested PTR firearms before and have always been impressed by their fit and finish and quality control, and the MSG 91 is no exception. The quality of the finish is excellent, and the receiver has clean weld seams. All controls of the rifle work smoothly (the safety was a bit stiff at first but seemed to work in some with use) and the action cycled cleanly. As an indicator that the dimensions of the receiver were in spec, the buttstock assembly slid smoothly off the rear of the receiver during disassembly.
For testing, I took the rifle out with a selection of Black Hills, Federal and Winchester .308 Win. ammunition. I equipped the rifle with a Vortex Optics Diamondback 3-9x40 mm scope in a Vortex cantilever-ring mount I had on hand and set up on the bench with my Caldwell Lead Sled to put the rifle through its paces. It proved to be quite accurate, with the tightest groups close to 1 MOA. And this was fighting the 9-pound, 14-ounce trigger pull. (Yes, you read that weight correctly.) I suspect with handloads and a lighter trigger, this rifle has the potential to be a sub-MOA shooter. The MSG 91 ran without a hitch during the entire testing.
If you are like me and really appreciate these roller-locked rifle designs and have always wanted an MSG90, then the MSG 91 from PTR Industries definitely warrants a close look.