I’m going to start this review with a few disclaimers. First, I’ve only been shooting about a year. My experience with rifles is relatively limited. I have fired AR15s, a Remington 700 built to full military specifications, and my PTR Industries 91F. The AR is truly a platform that can be fit to any individual. We’ll call it the “everyman’s rifle.” However, I did not particularly care for it. I know…blasphemy! I have an annoying habit of having to be different. The one thing that made me decide that it wasn’t what I wanted to own was the charging handle. I don’t particularly care for its location. With that being said . . .
To look into this 91F’s roots, we have to travel all the way back to WWII. The war saw the advent of the first assault rifle, the STG44. It gave rise to rifles like the AK47 and the HK G3. Less known is the STG45 built by Mauser. The 45 used a modified machine gun action known as a roller locking bolt. The war ended before the 45 could be put into production and the scientists responsible fled war-torn Germany and relocated to Spain via a (thankfully) short stay in France. Thus Centro de Estudios Técnicos de Materiales Especiales (Center for Technical Studies of Special Materials- CETME) was born. The first rifle manufactured similar to the G3 was the Modelo A rifle.
The Modelo A, here-on-out called the CETME, was originally designed to fire a low-powered 7.62x51mm cartridge. The Spanish firm sold the plans to Heckler and Koch after modifying the receiver to handle the pressure of firing a full-powered 7.62 NATO cartridge, hence the H&K G3. The G3 rifle is still used by the German military as the standard issue DMR. H&K eventually manufactured the H&K 91 to provide a civilian-legal semi-automatic version of the rifle.Eventually, H&K also sold manufacturing rights to a company named Precision Target Rifles (PTR Industries). Now that I’ve bored you with history, let’s get to the rifle.
I love the lines of the 91F. The line of the barrel continues straight back to the uppermost portion of the stock. PTR’s fit and finish for these rifles is phenomenal. There’s no wiggle in the handgrip, stock, or mag well when a magazine is inserted. There are several variants offered for a number of price ranges. The cheaper models come with composite furniture on the handguard and stock. The composite material detracts from the appearance of the rifle in my opinion. It just looks and feels cheap even if they fit very well.
The 91F variant comes with a machined aluminum handguard instead of the plastic version. The aluminum guard is pre-drilled and ready to accept rails for any number of attachments at the 3, 6, and 9 positions. The PTR 91F comes with a navy type polymer trigger housing. This is another case where the factory specifications could benefit from using the H&K factory steel lowers to maintain the looks of an all metal design. The stock offered on this version is also of a polymer composition. Most of these pictures show the rifle with the wooden stock I added to it after market.
Ease of Use
The rifle is very simple to use. The charging handle is located on the left side over the hand guard and is easily reached while the weapon is shouldered. A solid pull on the lever will release the bolt and allow the handle to slide backwards to the locking position. To lock the handle in place, it is rotated upwards into a slot to hold the bolt in an open position. A solid slap with the heel of the hand will lower the handle and slide the bolt into battery forcefully.
Releasing the bolt slowly will cause a failure to feed and keep the bolt face from locking in properly. The safety lever and magazine release can be a little difficult to reach for somebody with small hands or short fingers. I personally have a little trouble reaching the magazine release, but I am willing to deal with it. There are also aftermarket options to change the mag release to a paddle style that is operated with the thumb of the hand changing to the next magazine.
The rifle is incredibly easy to disassemble for cleaning. There are two pins on the butt plate that hold the rifle together.
They pop out very similarly to the pins on an AR style rifle. The stocks, unless you buy certain variants, have holes in them to hold onto the pins so that they do not get misplaced in the field. After removal of the pins, the butt plate slides off and contains the entire recoil assembly. Not visible is the buffer tube hidden inside the stock.
After the butt plate is removed, the handgrip and trigger housing drop out from the rifle easily.
Once the trigger housing is out, a firm tug on the charging handle will unlock the rollers in the bolt carrier group and allow for the entire group to slide out of the back of the rifle.
Rotating the bolt face counter clockwise will unlock the bolt face from the carrier group and allow it to be removed, exposing the roller locking mechanism which contains the firing pin and spring. Rotation of the locking 180 degrees will cause it to separate from the carrier. There are a total of five pieces to the entire BCG.
Reassembly is simply the reverse. Insert the firing pin and locking mechanism into the carrier group and lock them in place by rotating them the same 180 degrees. The next part is the only time you will need a tool to field strip or reassemble the weapon. There is a lever on the carrier that holds the bolt face to the carrier group during normal operation.
When the bolt face is removed from the carrier, the lever is engaged in a downward position by a very stiff spring. A simple screwdriver inserted behind the bolt and twisted is enough to raise the lever up into a position that allows for reassembly. However, I was not a fan of jamming a screwdriver into anything that I just paid a grand for… There is a special assembly tool that compresses the spring without any possibility for damage to the rifle.
Once the BCG is completely assembled, the end of it is inserted back into the upper receiver and allowed to slide forward into battery. Then the trigger housing and stock can be reattached and locked in place with the breakdown pins.
The gun handles beautifully. Right out of the box, after my initial cleaning and lubricating, there hasn’t been a single failure to fire or failure to feed. The rifle is a heavy one. My model, after attaching the wooden stock, comes in at just over ten pounds. The rifle design also causes it to be a little front heavy. With a plastic hand guard, I’m sure it would be a little more balanced. I know that my rifle balanced out a little after the addition of the solid walnut stock. My favorite feature of the rifle is the charging handle. You kind of feel like a badass when you slap the handle down to put a round into battery.
A number of other reviews for the PTR rifles complain of the triggers being squishy with unpredictable breaking points. They also normally include instructions on how to disassemble the trigger pack and file down the contact points to make it operate better. These are also normally reviews for the GI model. I don’t know if that made a difference or not, but the trigger in my 91F is anything but squishy. There is a very minimal take up before a clean, crisp break. I’ve asked numerous people who have handled it for their opinions just to make sure I wasn’t affecting my experience with hopes and dreams for a high quality product. So far, everybody has agreed with me, even the local FFLs.
The rifle is chambered in .308 which can be expensive to shoot and packs a lot more punch than a 5.56 cartridge. However, the felt recoil is not uncomfortable. During the rifle’s initial break-in period, I fired only 40 rounds through it and had some minor surface tissue damage. There was a little bruising that dissipated in a few days without any soreness. The second time I took the rifle out. I made sure that I was choking up on it properly and obtaining a strong shoulder weld with the stock. I put near 100 rounds through it on day two without any bruising or soreness to show for it.
The rifle would benefit from a foregrip or bipod to increase the ease of use. I plan on adding and AFG near the proximal end of the hand guard. I also plan on buying a heavy buffer for it to decrease the felt recoil even more. The reduced recoil is not to make it more comfortable, but to allow for faster follow-up shots.
My least favorite feature is the fact that the bolt doesn’t lock open after expending the magazine. The design of the roller lock system coupled with the 91F’s charging handle doesn’t allow for a bolt catch. The charging handle would have to reciprocate and be forced into the upwards rotation that keeps the bolt open.
Reasons for Use
As I mentioned earlier, the G3 is still the DMR for the German military. It will always be more accurate than the operator. These style rifles are often used for competition purposes. I’m not much into competition shooting yet, so I doubt I’ll use mine in that regard. I do plan on trying to get it out for some hunting this coming season. I have asked around and found a few people that have used or seen the HK91 rifle used for hunting successfully. The cartridge surely has the required power. (Target photo is from standing position 50 yards out.)
This rifle and I have seen about 300 rounds of use together. It has never failed to eject or feed. I have fed it the cheapest ammo that I can get my hands on. Our local Academy sells 20-round boxes of steel cased ammo for 13 bucks a pop. The manual that comes with the rifle suggests using steel-cased ammo as well as brass. It also suggests that you don’t reload brass that has been run through the 91F. The casings are often bent. Some of them are often bent to extremes with the neck of the casing almost pinched completely shut. It’s the nature of the ejection system. The casing is launched against the front of the ejection port, and the force slings it forward to throw the shells in the 1-2 o’clock position. This unique ejection style makes the rifle ideal for righties and lefties though. The shell is never tossed backwards and will always be clear of the operator. My friend even mentioned that I will have to stand on the left when SHTF.
Caliber: .308 or 7.62 NATO
Action: Delayed blowback roller lock system
Overall Length: 40.5″
Weight: 9.5 lbs.
Barrel: Match grade bull barrel
Magazine: 20 round
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * *
I can’t justify more than 4 stars right now since I haven’t been able to bench the rifle for extreme accuracy testing. I have taken it out to 100 yards with a man-sized steel silhouette and not missed a shot.
Reliability: * * * * *
The rifle gathers all 5 stars here. This firearm was designed to be run in the most extreme conditions on the planet and still sees heavy military use throughout the world. The delayed roller lock system is known for its ability to ignore dirt and sand without any problems. It chews through steel and brass alike without concern.
Ergonomics/Handling: * * * 1/2
The fact that it’s front heavy makes it slightly harder to hold on target for extended periods of time without assuming a one knee shooter’s stance to prop an elbow on. The rifle is not intended for small people either.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The rifle is assembled with absolutely zero wobble in it anywhere. Even the cheap feeling plastic stock didn’t rattle in the back plate. The black finish from PTR is impeccable too.
Aesthetics: * * * * *
Purely subjective of course, but I love the lines of the rifle. To me, it is such an iconic piece of history. The STG44 is number one on my wish list and the 91F evokes its image. The number of compliments I have received on it are one of the reasons I chose this rifle as my first. It’s an eye-catcher at the range for the simple fact that it’s not an AR or AK.
Customization: * * * * 1/2
I’m not just exaggerating this rating. The H&K parts store has a little something for everybody. The available rail systems allow for the attachment of almost anything that an AR can accept with the exception of mag well and receiver accessories. The half a star lost is due to the sights not being changeable. The front post can be changed out for something with night sights, but the rear sight is welded on with only adjustments for elevation and windage. You can even buy a butt plate with an AR style buffer on it to attach AR stocks.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
Even with the slightly lower ergonomic rating that I gave it, I couldn’t be a whole lot happier with this rifle. Like most firearms, this may not be made for everybody, but it is exactly what I thought it would be.