Gun Review: Special Interest Arms Novem 9mm Bolt Action Rifle


A couple years ago during the post-Newtown panic you couldn’t find a single round of 5.56 NATO ammo to save your life. Rimfire was just as scarce. But the one thing that seemed to be in stock no matter what was the plethora of pistol caliber cartridges. It seems like Americans have taken a more practical approach to caliber choice these days, opting for a firearm that will be easy to feed no matter the political climate. That has sparked a bit of a revolution in the firearms market, from the new pistol caliber SMGs like the MPX and Scorpion to a renaissance of the older MP5 design. Special Interest Arms has been in this market for years, and their latest creation is the “Novem” bolt action rifle chambered in 9mm . . .

Special Interest Arms is probably best known on the internet for their DeLisle Carbine reproductions — turning a Lee Enfield rifle into a whisper-quiet suppressed .45ACP-spitting monster from guns that once stalked the battlefields of WWII. The original Honey Badger, if you will. They haven’t made one in a while since they are a massive pain in the ass to produce. Instead, they’re making a 9mm long gun based on the Rock Island Armory .22TCM bolt action rifle.


The majority of this rifle is a stock Rock Island Armory gun, and it isn’t that bad at all. The stock is a beautiful cut of wood with nice checkering. The bolt is well made and throws nicely. The action is a little bit on the gritty side, but nothing a few hundred rounds won’t fix (or a little lithium grease). Like I said, not too shabby.

Along the top of the receiver is a dovetail rail designed for rimfire use. I’m not complaining much since 9mm doesn’t have a ton of recoil, but for extended use I’d really prefer to see something more robust. Mounting a scope can be a little tricky and I’m very concerned about it coming lose when I need it most.


This rifle is designed to work with the same magazines used in the .22TCM handguns produced by RIA, so while it ships with a single 5-round magazine you can easily swap it out for a 17-round mag instead. The magazine works just fine, feeds reliably, and is very easy to insert and remove. The push-button on the bottom of the gun is on the left side of the receiver which is a little odd for a rifle but makes sense given its pistol bloodlines.

The trigger is acceptable. A tiny bit of creep, but overall crisp and clean.


While overall the rifle is nice enough, the real money maker here is the barrel. SIA makes a few different versions of this gun depending on how you want it. The one pictured (16 inches with a threaded barrel) being is the bog standard model. The gun is also available as a factory SBR, or with a short barrel and a cage extending out to make the required 16 inches. For those wanting a more DeLisle look, the option for an integrally suppressed version is available as well.

The threading on the rifle is excellent, and played nicely with my Liberty Mystic-X silencer. I didn’t have any issues or notice any accuracy difference between suppressed and unsuppressed shooting. I did notice that it reduced what little recoil was still present down to basically nothing, making this an excellent low-cost trainer or general plinking rifle.

Something interesting to note is that due to the barrel length, even typically subsonic ammunition will launch at above the speed of sound. That’s what happens when you add about 11 inches of runway. It’s not the end of the world — the rifle is still hilariously quiet, but the supersonic crack of the rounds going downrange aren’t as quiet as I would prefer. Shorter barrel lengths will fix this issue, so if you’re concerned, pick one of the SBR versions.


Out on the range this gun is an absolute blast to shoot. The light recoil makes it just about as pleasant as a rimfire cartridge, but the heavier-hitting 9mm ball of lead means you can play around with the bigger steel plates and make them sound off. I really enjoyed my afternoon with the gun and was sincerely disappointed when I discovered that I had chewed through all of the ammunition I brought with me. It truly is a fun little rifle, made even better by the addition of a muffler on the end.


Accuracy is very acceptable. This 50-yard target shows a group just over 2 MoA, even when counting the flier top right. Without that flier it calms down to about 1 MoA. Keep in mind that I was shooting Federal American Eagle ammunition and that’s pretty damn impressive.


This rifle has an interesting niche in the market. The ammunition it fires is cheap enough to make this a plinking gun, yet still powerful enough to use as a small game rifle. It’s also accurate enough to be a long range trainer for those interested in conserving their stock of 7.62×51 NATO. If it were still chambered in the boutique .22TCM cartridge I would have some real concerns about ammo availability and price, but in 9mm, you should be able feed it no matter what.

If you don’t already have a pistol caliber rifle of some sort then this one is definitely worth a look. It’s also appealing for those who already bought one of the many pistol caliber SMGs that have come out in the last couple years, but I’d recommend spending the $200 on a tax stamp instead. Then again, if you don’t want to (or can’t) deal with the ATF and want a fun little 9mm rifle then the Novem should be on your wish list.

Specifications – Special Interest Arms Novem 9mm Bolt Action Rifle:

Street Price: $750
Caliber: 9mm parabellum
Magazine Capacity: 5
Stock: wood
Sights: rimfire dovetail
Barrel Length: 16 inches

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit, Finish, Build Quality: * * * *
The barrel is great and the rifle overall is excellent. Aside from a few some minor issues, I would prefer if the gun didn’t come sealed in a vat of oil.

Customization: * *
There’s a threaded barrel for your suppressing enjoyment.

Accuracy: * * * *
At only $750 it dodges my “1 MoA for $1k” benchmark, but even then it doesn’t really need to. Four rounds in about 1 MoA, with a flier to ~2 … not bad.

Overall: * * * *
It’s a fun little gun that really works well.


  1. avatar TruthTellers says:

    It’s a nice idea, but if I want a long gun in a pistol chambering, I’d rather get a semi auto.

  2. avatar kurt says:


    Could be fun.

    Sounds like a nice youth rifle.

    1. avatar paulWTAMU says:

      that was kinda my first thought. No need to keep a .22 handy for the kids (which means keeping more ammo of a different caliber around). But it’s too pricey for that fo rme

      1. avatar int19h says:

        You would still want at least one .22 for plinking, just because the ammo is so much cheaper. 9mm is still around 20c/round, while .22 LR can be had for 10c/round and less.

        1. avatar JLuke says:

          I can reload 9mm for right around $3.15 a box of 50 and they are a lot more reliable than old 22’s.

  3. avatar Pwrserge says:

    Not sure what niche this is supposed to fit. 9mm ammo is still not exactly cheap for plinking. The price tag is a bit much for what is, at best, a novelty rifle. I can get two to three quality .22 rifles for that price or just get one and use the price difference to stock up on more .22 ammo than I would shoot in a given decade. ($500 gets you a nice pile of .22 LR.)

  4. avatar arsh says:

    and here’s your answer to the dying round called the 22.

    1. avatar Dracon1201 says:

      Dying? I have seen nothing of the sort. Maybe you should try selling that to ammo manufacturers and your LGS. We can’t keep them in stock.

  5. avatar JTwig says:

    While I like pistol caliber long-guns, for roughly the price of just the rifle I can get a quality .22LR rifle and a dedicated .22LR suppressor.

  6. avatar Mark N. says:

    Yes, a pistol caliber carbine is on my list, but it is a .357 mag with a 20″ barrel (lever action) for a little more juice. Not only is it a common enough round, there is always .38 if there’s a shortage, and it can be loaded with Black if pistol powders disappear (as they did last go ’round).

    1. avatar Jeff O says:

      They’re super fun!

      I’ve got a Rossi R92 20″ in .44 Magnum, great gun, super fun to shoot, I put a Skinner ghost ring on it and put at least 100 rounds through it every time I go out. My cost to reload it is a few cents higher than I can load .38 Special for. I almost bought another, slightly older model, I like it so much.

      I’m planning on buying one in .357 Magnum too because I like the .44 Magnum so much.

      The older model doesn’t have the weird safety on it, so I’m holding out for a used one at a pawn shop or gun store. The safety us unobtrusive, and needn’t be used, it just looks odd.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        Ah, but it can be replaced with a peep sight!

    2. avatar Paul G says:

      I have the Rossi 20″ model 94 in .357. The safety is hokey but it is a nice lever gun otherwise.
      I do have a Marlin camp 9 and a Hipoint in 9mm. I must say the Hipoint gets shot the most. I wish it would break so I could send it in and get it rebuilt, but it runs and runs with no problems. The price tag was great too, three figures, the,first digit was a one.
      That was new, back a decade ago.

  7. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Yeah +1 on lever carbines! What’s with the post that pistol calibers were always around post Newtown? 40 yes-9mm was scarce and quite expensive. Infact 40 was always around… I even bought a gun in 40 for just that reason-and found I could shoot it very well.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      It was the same here in NorCal. Plenty of .40 and nothing else.

  8. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    Well, one’d not be likely to have a catastrophic failure in that action in 9mm. You could hand load drunk if you wanted to.

    1. avatar DJ says:

      And thus was born the drunken handloading challenge…


      1. avatar Dracon1201 says:

        Screw the disclaimer! This needs to be a forum competition!

        1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

          It’ll be like Monty Python’s upper class twit contest. Finally, something I can be competitive in!

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      Disclaimer: I am not a reloader (yet), so keep that in mind. Question: according to Ballistics by the Inch, pistol powders are bmaiximally efficient out of a 16″ barrel, and actually slow down after that. Would it be possible to use a different (slower)(rifle) powder to allow for more power out of a longer barrel?

  9. avatar Bill says:

    I quite like this, actually. The problem with semi-autos is that you tend to just keep pulling the trigger, and you’re reloading every few seconds. I find bolt actions to be very cathartic while shooting, and they can stretch ammo longer.

    I can see this also being a great trainer: little recoil, but still has the thwap downrange on soda cans etc.

    The only problem I see (which is no fault of the rifle) is the fact that it isn’t acceptable for Appleseeds. If only there was a .30 cal pistol cartridge as cheap and readily available as 9mm (tokarev is 1.5 – 3x as expensive, and is less available in stores)

    1. avatar Xanderbach says:

      I would love a rifle in 7.62×25… It would be quite the varmint rifle. Those bottle-neck cartridges hit hard downrange, without that much recoil. Hella muzzle blast, but probably not as much in a rifle.

      1. avatar Mike says:

        7.62×25, in a bolt gun hell yes. How about a modern hi cap pistol in this caliber

  10. avatar Anon in CT says:

    Pretty cool, especially if you can use +P+ 9mm loadings.

    Also, with the new post-Sandy Hook AWB in CT, putting a threaded barrel or suppressor on a semi-auto is essentially verbotten, so I like the bolt action.

  11. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

    The CCI factory in my hometown is producing 4,000,000 rounds of 22’s every 24 hours and they still measure their backlog in years.

  12. avatar Nonsense. says:

    “In stock no matter what”

    where? Seriously?

    The only thing that was in stock no matter what was like, 7mm Rem Mag and .17HMR.

    1. avatar Not Jimbo says:

      I went over a year without seeing 9mm on the shelf, and I live in the same town as Leghorn.

      1. avatar JLuke says:

        I go to the Sportsman’s club and pick up all the brass I want and reload a box of 9mm’s for $3.15

  13. avatar Mark says:

    Unless you load your own ammo a CZ 527 in 7.62×39 is a far better cheap plinker at $0.20-$0.25 a round. When you consider range and stopping power it’s well worth the $0.05 more a round it commands.

  14. avatar miforest says:

    It is a shame they don’t make the marlin camp 9 and camp 45 any more. but this sure looks like fun too.

    1. avatar NineShooter says:


      If they were ever to reintroduce the Camp Carbines, I’d hope they’d add interchangeable magazine housings, so a person could use whatever magazines they had piled in the corner of the gun safe. I’d love a sub-$500 Camp Carbine that accepted Glock mags, and I know other folks that would embrace models that took S&W M&P mags, SIG mags, Beretta mags, and the various .45 and 10mm options, too.

    2. avatar bLoving says:

      ^THIS!!! Damn, I miss the Camp Carbine. Still want one in .45 to accompany my 1911 so bad I could taste it. If anyone at Big R is reading and wants to stop Marlin from circling the drain: bring back the Camp Carbine!!!

  15. avatar Mike says:

    Would like a cheaper version. How about companies make their budge guns in budget calibers, like 7.62×39.

  16. avatar jwm says:

    My thoughts on a pistol caliber carbine is close range defense for a person that isn’t capable of handling a shotgun or full powered rifle. For that you need a semi.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Semi-autos are great, but a lever-action can get the job done, too.

  17. avatar Barry says:

    I can see this rifle being an legal alternative for those living in states that bans semi-autos.

  18. avatar J. Tiesto says:

    I was actually looking for something like this while my silencer was in jail. I considered getting a converted Destroyer carbine, but ended up with a Micro 7 in 300 Blackout which, when loaded to subsonic speeds with a 150gr bullet is pretty much the same thing with better accuracy.

  19. avatar pres stone says:

    i don’t get it.

  20. avatar Broken 3ight says:

    AWWWWWWWW look at the little magazine! Its so cute!

  21. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    Can it shoot +P ammo? If so, I might dare to say that with something like a +P 147gr hornady XTP this thing would be a nifty little walkabout rifle for the odd Texas Whitetail and smaller.

  22. avatar Chas says:

    For less than half that price I put together an AR-9, for a little more than half that price I put together a Sten (with most of that cost the semi conversion kit). If it were a lot cheaper then it would get a lot more interest.

  23. avatar Bob says:

    Will pistol caliber rounds mushroom correctly when used in rifles with longer barrels and thus higher velocities? Can anyone answer this question? Has anyone ever fired a pistol caliber JHP round into ballistic gel to determine how it performed at the higher velocities? I think you will find that it will severely over-penetrate.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      It would of course depend on range. From what I’ve seen though, at close range and high velocities, HPs tend to have their jackets stripped off and the lead will fragment. The problem is solved by using copper solids if you are hunting, e.g., the Lehigh xtreme penetrator. As to overpenetration, pretty much any rifle except a .22LR is going to do that until it runs out of velocity. [As an aside, from what I’ve seen on Ballistics by the Inch, pistol cartridges reach max velocity out of a 16″ barrel, slowing slightly out of an 18″ barrel. Still, a 9mm +P round could reach around 1700 fps MV, not much slower than an M1Carbine.]

  24. Looks to me like they borrowed the concept for their mag well from Troup Systems and built a better rifle around it and a better suited magazine than a mauser wrapped around a 1911 mag. I have a few Mausers converted to .45acp with the Troup Systems mag well. They’re a lot of fun and quiet with .45acp loads.

  25. avatar =BCE56= says:

    Hmmm. How about an M 1892 in 9mm?
    I know, I know- .357.

    But still…

  26. avatar Yadama says:

    The price kills any chance for me. You can get a Weatherby Vanguard S2 for around a little over $500. So explain to me, besides being chambered for .223, what warrants the price of this bolt-action to be over $200 more?

  27. avatar int19h says:

    I don’t see the point. Why would you take a bolt-action rather than a semi-auto, especially with so many choices available for the latter these days? Bolts are, to some extent, superior for two things: target shooting and hunting. But you surely don’t want to hunt with something as anemic as 9mm, and you’d want a flatter, faster, better-BC caliber for target shooting.

  28. avatar Bob Bailey says:

    The point is that it is very quiet when shot with a suppressor. Bolt actions are quieter than semi’s due to the bolt clatter. With the bolt there is no escaping gas.

    The loudest sound on a suppressed round is the bullet hitting the berm. For hunting deer, there is no issue when used with a Hornady XTP which is designed to expand at the lower velocity’s. It’ kills them quick and its quiet enough that I could shoot one in your front yard and if you were sitting in your kitchen you wouldn’t hear it.

    That’s the point.

    1. avatar Dave says:

      Finally. Someone who gets the point of this gun. Silence. The bolt is the loudest thing in a semi auto when it is suppressed. This solves that.

  29. avatar Ian Kocher says:

    Interested in this rifle.

  30. avatar StickShift says:

    I think a 9mm bolt action is a great concept, but not something I’d shell out $750 for. $500 maybe, but $750 is a lot for a plinker.

    CZ needs to include an easily swapped barrel when they eventually replace the 527, much like they did when they replaced the 452 with the 455. The ability to easily swap a 9mm or similar barrel onto a .223 bolt action would be far more appealing than a dedicated 9mm bolt action like this.

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  33. avatar Tony Stakes says:

    Need a CZ 452 IN 9MM Luger and .30 Luger with soft points for small game.

  34. avatar Hahn says:

    Ok so ……. Do i send in my rifle and you guys modify it or am i buying a new rifle from you guys. Or did i miss that in the half ass reading ive done. I mean i cant see paying $300 for a gun and then sending it out for another $750 lol that would just be stupid. Can someone please clarify this

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