You gotta love the AR-15 as a platform. Even if it can be a bit of a bore in terms of everyone making one, it’s such an adaptable, flexible, and ever-evolving platform.
It’s one of the few designs I can actually call a platform without feeling a little cringey. That’s mainly because it can be a rifle, a pistol, and even a shotgun. Yep, a shotgun. And today as the title implies, we are reviewing the Charles Daly AR .410 upper receiver.
My local gun store knows that I love weird stuff, especially weird shotguns. When he received a batch of these uppers, I just about ran to the shop to grab one.
I’ve seen .410 uppers before, but I never saw them at a price I was willing to take a risk on. The Charles Daly uppers are made in Turkey and Turkish shotguns can be hit or miss. Then there’s the possible performance risk of a semi-auto .410 upper receiver. Yet my gun store got a good deal and passed it on to their customers, so . . .
I happily took one home and set up an old Poverty Pony lower to rock and roll with an AR .410 upper receiver.
Why An AR In .410?
Why not? For me, the fun factor alone is reason enough. I like the little .410 as a cartridge and use it for small game hunting. Why hump a 12 gauge with birdshot to gather rabbit stew fixings? My first gun was an 870 in .410, which will be passed down to my son on Christmas day this year.
I thought the Charles Daly could be a fun range toy, but I could also see the appeal for hunters, especially at the price point I purchased mine. I paid $229 plus tax and all that fun stuff. I doubt you could find a semi-auto .410 shotgun for that price point. Heck, it might be tough to even find a pump-action .410 at that price.
Details and Specs
The barrel is 19 inches long and the choke is a cylinder bore. Obviously, even an .410 shotgun doesn’t get to have a nice carbine-length barrel due to the abomination that is the National Firearms Act. However, on an AR platform, it feels shorter than it is. A half-length quad rail surrounds the thing, and this big beefy barrel shroud (!) makes it look a lot less dinky.
If you remove the shroud, the uber-thin and barrel looks easy to bend and just plain silly.
The Charles Daly .410 upper is a gas-operated design that comes with a set of flip-up AR-style sights that do their best impression of Magpul’s MBUS sights. With the gun, you get a special buffer that, according to the manual, must be used, or you risk damaging the upper.
A beefy charging handle matches a beefy bolt that provides plenty of grip for you to charge the weapon. Included with the AR .410 upper is a single five-round magazine. Extended mags can be tricky, but Centerfire Systems has some 15-rounders for ten bucks. I ordered two and can’t wait to triple my capacity.
Shooting This Thing
Reliability is the big thing, right? How does a Turkish-made, gas-operated, AR .410 upper run? Well, believe it or not, pretty dang good.
It’s not perfect, though. I noticed the first round fired would fail to eject every so often. If I loaded the magazine to four rounds, this wasn’t an issue. That’s gotta be a magazine issue, right?
I fiddled with the gun and realized I had over-inserted the magazine. Well, most of the time.
Like most people, when I pop an AR mag in, I give it that little tap of encouragement. Sadly, the magazine would then over-insert slightly. What I started doing is after the tap, I’d pull it downwards a little bit. This seemed to solve that occasional first-round ejection issue.
I used everything from Aguila to Federal, and the gun doesn’t seem to be ammo picky. I shot Fiocchi Exacta Target Loads the most and they ran without issue. Plus, they tended to be the cheapest, most available ammo I had.
One thing you realize is that a mag-fed .410 is inherently ammo picky. That’s mainly because .410 shells come in a variety of sizes. Shotgun shells are measured prior to being crimped and some crimps are shorter than others.
If the shell exceeds 2.29 inches, it won’t fit in the magazine. Lots of shells marked 2.5 inches are too long for the magazine, although they can safely be loaded directly into the chamber.
Buckshot patterns pretty predictably. It’s not super tight, but functional enough to take a coyote or similar predator.
Recoil is, as you’d expect, very mild. While it’s more than a 5.56 round, it’s less than a 7.62×39. That happy medium makes it plenty easy for anyone to shoot.
I honestly had a ton of fun with the Charles Daly AR .410 upper, and I was surprised it worked so well. After Christmas, I’m taking the kiddo hunting for small game. We’ll take the old 870 .410 I cut my teeth on. I might just bring the Charles Daly upper along as well.
Specifications: Charles Daly AR 410 Upper Receiver
Barrel Length: 19 inches
Overall Length: 26.75 inches
Weight: 4.9 pounds
MSRP: $432 (I paid $229 plus tax at my LGS, seen online for about $320)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability: * * * ½
The magazine over-insertion issue cleared up, but shouldn’t be there in the first place. Thus I dropped a point and a half. I found the Charles Daly AR 410 upper to run quite well with a variety of ammunition.
Accuracy: * * * *
It’s a shotgun. At shotgun ranges, it’s perfectly accurate. It patterns well enough to kill medium-sized predators.
Ergonomics: * * * *
Do I wish the barrel was shorter? Of course, but the NFA prevents that. My main complaint is with weight. Do I really need a quad rail on this? I feel like I could drop almost a pound with a standard handguard.
Overall * * * *
The Charles Daly AR 410 upper might not be the most practical upper, but it’s a ton of fun. It works surprisingly well and looks like it will become my main small game getter since the kiddo is getting my legacy .410. I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised.