Worst 3-gun rigs

So for fun, I was trying to think up ideas for the absolute worst rigs for shooting 3-gun competition.  I tried to imagine what the guy that thinks his Hi-Point is awesome would buy, and here’s what we came up with.  I really want to see your comments as well!

Rifle: Kel-Tec SU16.  The only good think about this is that it takes standard AR15 style magazines, but having seen one once turn into a grenade with factory 55 grain FMJ .223 ammo, I certainly wouldn’t want to put one next to my head and shoot 10,000 rounds through it.  That’s assuming it would even survive 10,000 rounds…

Pistol: Gotta go with the Hi-Point 9mm on this one.  Bonus points if you get the ridiculous compensated one and run it in Open division!  I owned a Hi Point once.  I thought that I would try to be the “anti-gun snob” and see how it worked.  It didn’t.  Failures to feed, failures to extract, and the ergonomics of a brick on the end of a pencil.

Shotgun: This one was the hardest, and I had to actually look around for a bit.  Finally, I settled on the Charles Daly semi-auto shotguns imported from who-knows-where.  All the price of a Mossberg with 50% of the quality and 0% of the customer service!  It’s PERFECT.

Bonus points – I also came up with a rig for my favorite division, Heavy Metal.  HM requires a .308 caliber rifle, a .45 ACP pistol, and a 12 gauge pump action shotgun.  Here’s the worst Heavy Metal rig I could think of.

Rifle: Kel-Tec RFB.  This is perfect.  It costs more than an M14 or .308 AR, it is impossible to find parts for it, it’s a bullpup so the ergonomics are all screwed up, and did I mention that you’re trusting a Kel-Tec to contain the explosion of a .308 RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR HEAD?  Thanks but no thanks.

Pistol: I couldn’t keep beating up on Hi-Point, even though their .45 is just as execrable as their 9mm, it’s not fair to keep beating up on them.  So, we’re going with the Bersa Thunder 45.  The nice thing about the Bersa is that when it breaks after 200 rounds, they’re so cheap you can just buy a second or third one to go with them!

Shotgun: Piece of cake on this one.  Pick any cheapo 870 knockoff imported from countries whose names you can’t even pronounce and you’re all set.

Of course, none of this is complete without the right gear, so make sure that all your holsters are gun show nylon specials that flop around and don’t retain the gun well – buy the crappiest mags possible, and then when people tell you that your gear sucks you retort with “it’s been 100% reliable, I’ve shot over 200 rounds through it!”

While all this is fun and games, there is a point to be had – don’t trust your life to untested gear.  In competition, the worst thing that can happen is you get DQ’d and go home, or you lose a match because your gun breaks.  In a real dynamic critical incident, whether it’s leaving your office or a home invasion, your gear needs to be reliable.  The guns listed above make fun toys, but they’re not something I’d want to bet a trophy on, much less my life.


  1. The possibilities are endless!

    Alternate heavy metal: EAA .45, Century Arms G3 with a cast Federal arms receiver, and a High standard 12 gauge with a pistol grip only stock.

    “I’ve Got Too Much Money” 3 gun: Bernadelli 9mm, Franchi SPAS-12, and a H&K 93.

    Commie sympathizer: CZ52, AK74 (sbr’d and folding stock, of course), and Siaga 12 shotgun.

    Wait, that last one might actually be pretty cool…

  2. I actually used my SU-16CA (factory iron sights) in a 3-gun match the weekend before last. It was either use that, my M1 Garand, my M1 Carbine, or one of my surplus bolt gun.

    On the CQB stage the SU-16 rocked, but on the 200 yard stage I probably would have done better with the Garand or a bolt gun.

    I plan to build an AR for 3-gun, just need some cash.

  3. My big issue with the SU16 is that I’m terrified to actually shoot one. Watching it blow up was not a pleasant experience, and you’re generally better off with an AR anyway. More accurate, more parts, better parts, more support, and it’s not a Kel-Tec.

  4. I’ve heard the various lever 12 gauges are made of fail.

    Also it being one of the only mil-spec 1911A1s you can buy in Mass, I hear a LOT of people complaining about their Auto-Ord M1911A1s not running.

    Also dunno if many of them exist in the wild, but the Kanukistanis can buy M14s from Norinco, and they’re inexpensive and have Communist Quality control and only weigh about as much as Caleb unloaded!

  5. If you want a cheap 1911, get a Rock Island. It will probably work, and for three hundred bucks you don’t have to feel bad when you chuck it in the river.

  6. Dude, this should be good for a few laughs.

    Rifle – Bushmaster M17s. That rifle was truly the trifecta of suck. Innaccurate, unreliable, and horribly awkward to shoot. Runner-up would be the Muzzlite MZ-14 or any other bullpup conversion.

    Shotgun – the Norinco knockoff of the Ithica 37. All the downsides of a pump gun, with the added bonus of lots of sharp edges.

    Pistol – any large-frame Taurus revolver, preferably one in .357 or .44 Magnum. Slow to shoot, slow to load, but fast to break parts!

    I tried to stay away from obviously ridiculous stuff like bolt guns for the rifle, single-action revolvers, etc. Those three are the worst I could do.


  7. Duuuuuuuude, I had totally forgotten about the Bushmaster M-17. That thing was a stupefying bundle of fail and tears.

    Sadly departed ur-gunblogger Mark Penman posted a fucking epic saga of the customization and reworking of the basic action his needed to even fucking work.

    And on top of all that, a plastic scope mount / carry handle that you could flex with finger pressure! I think he ended up screwing a length of rail to the top of the receiver.

  8. What’s with the Kel Tec hate? I’ve never owned one but I’m considering a PF9 because it’s just so damn thin so now I’m curious.

  9. Kel-Tec has the worst initial QC in the industry apart from the pot metal group (Jennings, Bryco, Jiminez, Phoenix, etc). You’ll hear a lot on forums about Kel-Tec’s great customer service… because a lot of their guns need it!

    Ask someone who runs pistol classes or works behind a gun counter about what guns come back the most… and don’t buy them.

  10. I was kinda surprised at the firearms selection at the last Superstition Mountain 3 Gun. Heavy Metal was all M1a’s and AR-10’s with one or two G3’s (or clones), not an FAL to be found.

    And there were a couple of guys running stock Mini-14’s in Tac Iron. I admired their courage, but not their marksmanship, as they had a few issues with the 175 yard targets on my stage. I love the Mini-14, but I know it’s limitations.

    As for the Kel-Tecs PF-9, it is was is is: An inexpensive pocket pistol that works great if you carry it often but shoot it infrequently. 500 rounds a year thru it? Great. 500 rounds a month? Not so great.

  11. Well, it makes sense that you’d see M1a and AR10s – those are the easiest guns to get spare parts for when they go down, and 3-gun shooters are nothing if not high volume.

  12. What made it interesting, though, was 2 years ago, it was a 50/50 mix of FAL’s and AR’s, with maybe 1 or 2 M1A’s, no G3’s. Either people’s taste in Heavy Metal rifles are changing, or the shooters were different this year than last.

  13. I would imagine that the parts supply for FALs might be running low? I don’t know, I like the Ar10 so I never messed around with that nonsense.

  14. This topic rules. Give me a bit and I’ll have an entry.

    As for the FAL, I think Kelly Neal runs one when he shoots He Man class, but then again, he’s sponsored by DSA.

    You probably don’t see as many FALs on the line at 3gun matches because from what I understand, they’re harder to build into an accurate gun.

  15. Ok, here’s my entry:

    Tactical Rig:

    Norinco MAK90. All of the accuracy of an AK assembled by drunken idiots with none of the supposed reliability.

    Any semi-auto shotgun with the magazine cutoff still installed for hunting. Also, extra shells carried in a dump pouch or pockets.

    Since Hi-Point is taken, the CZ-52. It’s the only model of gun who’s recoil is severe enough to shake the shoddily-made magazine floor plates loose.

    Open Rig:

    Optics consist of a Tasco-made scope and red dot, sporting one of those no-name brand bipods that clamps to the barrel.

    Maverick 88 in the pistol-grip only configuration with that godawful and thoroughly useless “road blocker” muzzle brake.

    Tec DC-9 with a tasco dot. Horrible ergonomics, tremendously inaccurate pieces of crap. The ones I’ve handled were all so out of spec that they either would not retain magazines properly, or you had to truly crank on them to pull them out of the magazine well.

  16. Oh.


    Your pistol holster must be nylon and be mounted to a chest rig on a ballistic vest.

    There’s a guy who’s shown up to shoot some local matches with that setup, and on two separate occasions, his pistol fell out of the holster when he bent over to pick something up.

  17. We’ll, I’ve shot about a 1000 rounds through my SU-16 and it’s never blown up. About half of it is crappy steel cased stuff as well. Gun works great, it’s easy to clean. It’s not a battle rifle. Shit, it’s all plastic, only the barrel, bolt, and gas system are steel. As for blowing one up, well, I’ve seen at least one AR go boom and the receiver didn’t survive that any better than one made out of plastic. I’m curious on how a stock 55gr could possibly have gotten enough powder in it to blow up like that. Was there a barrel obstruction?

    If I was going to pick a poor rifle, I’d pick that Chinese HK knockoff, I’ve never heard anything good about it.

    Listening to gun counter guys is a great way to buy the most expensive pistol in the case. The guy behind the counter has a vested interest in selling guns, not in telling you which of his products suck.

  18. Great listing. However, I’d disagree with the Bersa Thunder hate. I have a 9mm UC and have put over 5,000 rounds through it, and it works like a charm.

    Of course YMMV.

  19. jbomultigun, glad to hear I’m not the only one who constantly has his CZ-52 mags disassemble on him.

    I actually rather like the roller-lock action with the barrel serving as the recoil guide.

    Why the fuck the Czechs who made that decided to put all sorts of obstructions on the frame so you couldn’t get a high grip on it to mitigate the recoil is beyond me.

    Also 7.62×25 is such a foolish round. Sure its pretty damn good at defeating body armor….but what’s the point when what you’re stuck with is a heavy-recoil, loud report, boat-anchor gun that essentially shoots at armored targets as if they were unarmored targets taking fire from a .32 ACP…

  20. The one good thing I’ll say about the 7.62×25 is that out of a carbine it’s pretty bitchin’, actually. I would climb over a mountain of 5.7×28 carbines to get to a 7.62×25 rifle.

  21. Caleb, do you have links to pics or posts about the SU-16 you saw blow up? I tried googling SU-16 kaboom and could only find one instance of a PLR-16 blowing up.

  22. Dan, sadly I do not. I didn’t have my camera with me at the time and didn’t have the presence of mind to snap a few quick pics with my cellphone.

    Brice, that’s actually kind of my point. How did you get those thousand rounds through your SU16? 100 at a time over a year and a half? I just don’t think that an SU16 has the stones to stand up to rugged use like a 3-gun rifle gets.

  23. FALs are currently being produced so I am not sure why parts would not be available.
    I don’t know much about Charles Daly semi autos but their over and under shotguns are excellent.

  24. Weer’d Beard, I like the CZ-52 for what it is. A historical footnote in military pistol design, chambered for an interesting round, that makes a ridiculous amount of noise and muzzle flash when fired.

    Compared to modern pistols, it’s a dog. But for what it is, it’s a lot of fun.

    Caleb, I know at least a few people have made AR15s that run 7.62x25mm. It’s a cool idea, and if I had the money, I’d consider building one.

    Question, though:
    If you had an AR carbine chambered in 7.62×25, would you get double irony points for shooting .223 Timbs through it?

  25. No, I’ve only had the gun since May. Those rounds are all in the last three months. An Appleseed shoot, a long weekend with friends, and probably three all day range sessions testing handloads.

  26. Re: Hi Point 9mm.

    Ergonomics of a brick? Check.

    Ugly as a cross-eyed kid with buck teeth? Check.

    Carrying one akin to wearing a scarlet letter of shame? Check.

    Failures to feed, failures to extract, or inaccurate? Not so far.

    Although I despise the term “acceptable combat accuracy,” my Hi Point puts the bullet where I point it, and it has never had a hiccup in over 500 rounds.

    Of course, I probably just haven’t given it enough chance to fail, but I have more satisfying guns to shoot than spend time running my toolbox gun.

  27. AD, the problem with that is that I have seen far too many FTEs, FTFs, and general issues with the Hi Point series to feel comfortable with the design. Add to that my sincere doubt that they posses the necessary durability to stand up to rigorous 3-gun duty, and that’s why they made my list.

  28. Pistol — Tokegypt 9mm. It’s a Tokarev, made in 9x19mm, assembled with all the love and care Egyptians who have never worked in an industrial society in teh early days of Arab Socialism can muster. Bonus points if you have one with the “ATF insists on it” safety still installed, and you carry it locked and cocked.

    Shotgun — Chinese bolt action 12 gauge.

    Rifle — WASR-10, with the original single stack magazine and a thumbhole stock.

  29. “Several times, although mine was just a .380.”

    Did it break after 200 rounds, or are you just FOS? Have a “thing” against inexpensive guns?

  30. Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think I shot 200 rounds through it before I sold it, but I have it on good authority that Bersa pistols struggle with reliability issues.

  31. “Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think I shot 200 rounds through it before I sold it, but I have it on good authority that Bersa pistols struggle with reliability issues.”

    Interesting. Every single Bersa owner I’ve ever encountered did nothing but sing their praises. Only “issues” I’ve ever heard of were 1) the result of not properly cleaning the gun when they first received it. 2) FTF issues with some brands of ammo during the 200 to300 round break-in period. After that they feed anything given without issue.

    There seems to be a nice variety of folks over at Bersachat.com. Everything from folks thinking of buying one to diehard fans… and all points in between. Perhaps someone lives near you and would allow you to put their Bersa 45 through the paces to give you some first hand knowledge. Personally, when I write an article for one of my blogs, or do an op-ed, I like to have first-hand knowledge of what I’m writing about. Otherwise I’m just spreading hearsay and making assumptions. (We all know what they say about assumptions).

  32. Regarding Bersa, not only do you criticize something you haven’t owned/used, you rely on “hearsay” for a backup reason. I can see that you plainly have not Googled “Bersa” on the many chat forums on the internet including those of other brands. If you did and spent some actual effort reading the records or tests at various sites, you would find that Bersas are fairly highly regarded across the boards as being reliable, accurate, and sturdy as well as inexpensive. Your lack of minimal investigation puts your entire writing into question.

  33. It’s not hearsay when it’s coming from a trusted friend that used to work in gun shops and has seen lots of broken bersas come back across the counter to her.

  34. As Bersas have a lifetime guarantee and are serviced by factory approved centers, I am somewhat in doubt of ytour “expert” testimony.

  35. “It’s not hearsay when it’s coming from a trusted friend that used to work in gun shops and has seen lots of broken bersas come back across the counter to her..”

    Having spent a bunch of time researching handguns… Bersa in particular… and with over three decades of gun ownership behind me, I’m not buying your friend’s report. I’ve encountered hundreds if not thousands of satisfied Bersa owner, which is what led me to question your commentary in the first place.

    If it’s not firsthand experience it is “hearsay.” By defintion, second hand information = hearsay.

    Sorry but your readers deserve to hear the opposing viewpoint. My advice to all of them is to spend sometime talking to Bersa owners all around the net and draw their own conclusions. I’m confident it will be much different than the picture you’ve painted.

  36. First, I am sorry for your Top Shot elimation. I was actually pulling for you.

    That said, any information coming from a secondary source rather than personal experience is “hearsay.” No way around that fact. Bersa is highly regarded and that fact is easily proved with minimal research on the internet. I’d urge each of your readers to take the time to research for themselves. If they do they’ll likely find that you’re inclusion of that brand in your article was in error.

    Again, I’d urge you to visit bersachat.com, learn a bit more about them and perhaps find someone close to your location so you can put one through the paces to see how it performs. Then you’ll have some first person experience to base future comments upon.

    Best of luck and thanks for your replies to my comments.

  37. Pretty obvious that you don’t know squat about Bersa 45’s, and raises the question of your gun expertise in general. Relying on the “hearsay” of one person really doesn’t quite meet the need to research a subject thoroughly. On the other hand, if sportsmen shy away from purchasing Bersas as a result of your misinformed analysis, perhaps the price for them won’t escalate to the ridiculous.

  38. Lets try this using a different “handle” and email address. I seem to of 1) hit a limit on the number of allowed comments or 2) been blacklisted. Either way, my recent attempts have not posted.

    First, I was rooting for you on Top Shot the other night. Sorry you were elimnated. You’re youth played into some of the issues you experienced.

    “It’s not hearsay when it’s coming from a trusted friend that used to work in gun shops and has seen lots of broken bersas come back across the counter to her.”

    Hundreds… heck thousands of reports by Bersa owners indicate otherwise. Anytime you use any information other than your own experience it is and always shall be “hearsay.” Regardless of friendship or how “expert” you consider the source, it isn’t “first person.”

    Again, I’d encourage you to try out a forum such as Bersachat.com to see what owners think. As suggested, maybe you could “hook-up” with one that lives near you and put one of their Bersa 45s through the paces to see if it really is as bad as you portrayed it. Personal experience couldn’t hurt. 😉

    I’ll shut up and leave you alone now. Best of luck.

  39. @ pdb

    Not as of yet, but the Bersa is the full size Thunder combat pistol & standard sidearm of the Argentina Armed Forces (Thunder 9), Argentina Federal Police (Thunder 9), Buenos Aires Provincial Police (Thunder 9) and several other Law Enforcement agencies (Thunder 9 & 40).

    My Pro 45 UC was over 350 rounds and I’ve never have a FTE or FTF with any type of FMJ and JHP ammo. Neither has my Pro 9 HC, Pro 9 UC or Thunder 380 Nickle.

    I’d trust my life if any one of the above…

  40. Well since I seem to have been banned or blacklisted for posting civil, reasonable but oppositon view, lets try a different name and email address.

    First, I was routing for you in the elimination challenge, FWIW. I didn’t feel the best man won.

    From Wikipedia:

    Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience. When submitted as evidence, such statements are called hearsay evidence.

    From the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:

    : evidence based not on a witness’s personal knowledge but on another’s statement not made under oath

    and –

    1 : talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source
    2 : a statement or report current without known authority for its truth
    3 archaic : talk or report of a notable person or event

    Again, I’d invite you to visit Bersachat.com, Bersatalk.com or any of the other gun forums where these guns have lots of supporters. As suggested earlier, perhaps someone lives near you and would allow you to “run one through the paces” so you could develop a first-hand opinion on the gun.

    Best of luck to you and your future endeavors.

  41. Bob, no one has been banned or blacklisted. For whatever reason, your comments went in to my spam filter, which I don’t honestly check that often! Now that I know that happened, I’ve approved them and added you to the “safe” list. I do apologize for that, sometimes weird stuff happens!

    To address your points about hearsay, I have had two people with direct experience with broken Bersas. One person is a friend whose Thunder .380 broke, and another person is a friend who used to work in gun shops and personally saw lots of broken Bersas.

    The piece above was written with humorous intent, not to insult anyone’s choice of firearm. The thing is that I do believe that the Bersa is a decent gun for defense, but not necessarily one that holds up to the high round counts encountered in competition. That being said, if Bersa were to swing a UC 45 Pro my way to shoot IDPA, I’d certainly not pass it up. In fact, I’d welcome the opportunity to subject a Bersa to the rigors of weekly competition shooting, I think that would be pretty fun!

    Thanks for watching Top Shot, and I’m sorry that your comments got caught in the spam filter!


    IPSC – Daniel Zoppi

    10,000 rounds, lol I intend too, but I just bought it two months ago…

  43. See, that’s what I’m talking about! I want to see those kinds of performance numbers in firearms. I’m better those were in the Thunder Pro 9mm and Thunder .40, right? If so, I’m impressed.

  44. “Bob, no one has been banned or blacklisted.”

    I’m glad to hear that, Caleb. You seem like a up standing young man with a sense of honesty and fairness. I was a bit surprised when I had a post disappear. Sorry for the accusation. Too many years around the interent can have a less than positive effect on ones opinion about people in general 😉

    I don’t have a “dog in this hunt,” but was surprised to read something so contradictory to anything I’d came across before.

    Never shot in competition at your level though years ago I did participate in local “Combat Leagues” for a a year or two. Probably not too surprisingly I used a Colt Govt. Model for that. 😉

  45. @Tam

    +1 with Kathy Jackson and her awesome web site “Cornered Cat”!

  46. I have a Firestorm Mini 45 (same as a Bersa 45UCP) and it has functioned perfectly, from round 1. Never a FTF, FTE or other hiccup. It is accurate, easy to carry, and a pleasure to shoot, even after hundreds of rounds. That being said, I don’t shoot in competitions and don’t have 10,000 rounds thru it yet, but I expect to get there one day! If I were to try competition shooting, I would put my gun up against anybody’s and expect to do as well or better than other shooter’s at the same level of expertise.

  47. Hi Caleb,

    Google “Bersa Handgun Stress Test” 🙂

    Over 1445 rounds/86 magazines being rapid fired in one sitting.

Comments are closed.