5.56 Timeline

Winchester Model 52 Sporter

Winchester had a real hit on it’s hands when it came out with the Model 52 target rifle. Well known as one of finest , if not THE finest factory production target rimfires ever made. It wasn’t long before they developed the Model 52 sporter. A very fine and now very valuable rare variant. The way the sport came about it’s a pretty interesting story that is going to have to wait for another day. The 52 sporter above has a 10 Unertl mounted to it and the original Lyman peep sights.

I should note, that at one point USRAC ( Winchester) sold a “model 52 sporter” that was made in Japan, the same factory that made the later model 1885s and a few other guns deemed too expensive to make in the US. SO if you see a 52 sporter at a gun show make sure you take a close look at the roll marks. If you are used to seeing pre 64 winchester guns, you will know the look of the stock color and finish from those days. That nice dark reddish brown. The later made copies do not have that look and any experienced Winchester enthusiast can spot it from a mile away.

Kel-Tec SU-16C Rifle

By Luis Valdes

Going back a ways to the early 2000s, back when President Bush 43 was still in office and the media was actively hounding him instead of just parroting Obama blaming him, Kel-Tec was making tiny affordable compact pistols like the P-32 and P3AT. Long before their bullpup designs like the RFB, KSG, and RDB, they released a traditional rifle with a twist. It folds in half just like their SUB2000 pistol caliber carbine.

At first they made the SU-16A, a 5.56x45mm chambered carbine with a folding stock for better storage. But just like the SUB2000, it couldn’t be fired when folded. Then they came out with the SU-16B. Same overall design with a shorter pencil-thin barrel. People still wanted a rifle that could be fired while in the folded position.

So Mr. Goerge Kellgren obliged and came up with the SU-16C. Finally, a folding 5.56x45mm carbine that can be folded and fired while folded (That’s a lot of folds right there).

Anyway … here are the specs:

  • Weight (Unloaded) – 4.7 pounds (2.1 kg)
  • Overall Length w/Stock Open – 35.5 inches (90 cm)
  • Overall Length w/Stock Closed – 25.5 inches (65 cm)
  • Barrel Length – 16 inches (41 cm)

The Barrel itself is a nice medium contour with a 1;9 right-handed twist and a crowned threaded end that is 1/2×28 and accepts all standard AR-15 muzzle devices like flash hiders, muzzle brakes, and suppressors.

Design-wise it is an interesting little mix. Many people believe that the SU-16 uses an AK-style gas system and that’s partially correct. It actually takes the majority of its design from the Beretta AR-70 series of rifle.

Beretta AR-70 upper receiver and bolt carrier group

Kel-Tec SU-16C

The main difference is for ease of manufacturing. The gas piston is permanently attached to the bolt carrier group much like an AK. That’s why a lot of folks think it’s more of an AK in design. The upper and lower receivers are made out of polymer. That helps with the light weight of the rifle. The handguard can actually be opened and used as a bipod. Personally, I use that feature less for shooting and more for cleaning.

Speaking of which, cleaning is a snap since unlike an AR-15 it doesn’t deposit all that carbon gunk right in the chamber area. Instead, most of it is captured by the gas piston head. Everything internally is finely machined. Not tool marks, burrs, or molding seams visible. Everything is smooth and well finished.

The rifle feels lightweight, but not cheap. Even its dust cover is made out of a polymer mix and that in of itself feels well made for just being a little sliding bit of plastic on the side of the bolt carrier. It even comes with a Picatinny rail on top of the receiver to mount optics. All in all, for the price that your average buyer pays for one. It’s a well-made rifle.

I found this rifle used and purchased it for the sole intended purpose of a truck gun. Before I always kept my GLOCK magazine-compatible SUB-2000 in the truck, but the wife claimed it as her own. Being that space in a motor vehicle is always at a premium, I wanted something as compact as I could get. So with that in mind I started looking and lucked out and found mine at a pawn shop in the panhandle of Florida.

My wallet lightened by three bills, I went to the range. The accuracy on this rifle surprised me. At 50 yards from the bench I had no problem with my horrible vision and iron sights doing this.

That little Kel-Tec sure loves Winchester Ranger 55-grain SP 5.56 ammo. I used a whole gaggle of standard AR-15 magazines. C-Product GI Aluminum 30-round magazines, Magpul Pmags, old Colt-marked GI Aluminum 20-round magazines, even a Troy Industries Battle Mag. All worked fine and the best part is that they work with the stock folded.

The stock has a small opening in it to allow a 30-round AR magazine to slip right on through. You can deploy the stock with a magazine in place and have no issue whatsoever. Ammo-wise other than the Winchester Ranger I fed it, steel-cased Wolf and Hornady, brass-cased PMC and Remington UMC. No hiccups at all. It ate what I fed it.

Other than the lightweight handiness and accuracy, the ergonomics of the SU-16C rifle also are nice. A simple crossbolt push-button safety is easily within reach of the shooting hand and the magazine release is also the same. The semi-shaped pistol grip is plenty for the hand to find a good purchase. The buttstock, when locked open, feels stable and secure. Same with it closed. Lastly, the charging handle also works as a shell deflector so you can shoot this rifle as a righty or a lefty. No problem at all.

Now on to storage. That was the whole reason I bought this rifle and why, if you’re looking for a compact storeable rifle, this is one you should look for, too. I think this picture speaks louder than words.

In that tiny space I’m able to fit a full-functioning 5.56x45mm self-defense carbine and still have room under the seat for a bug-out bag and all the other goodies.

Instead, I can keep a plate carrier, get-home bag, ear protection, and active-shooter kit with medical gear. This rifle fits just about anywhere.

The only negative I found with the rifle is the sights, while they’re well made and superb. Both the front and rear sight are metal and the front sight post uses an AR-15 front sight post. The layout of the rifle makes it hard to co-witness most optics due to how low the sights are positioned in relation to the sight plane. So if you want to co-witness, you need to get one of the tiny micro red dots. I have a bunch of old ancient turn-of-the-century AimPoints. Sorry Charlie, they ain’t gonna co-witness on the 16c.

The other issue is the rifle doesn’t come with any way to mount a sling. You can buy a sling kit form Kel-Tec or you can get an aftermarket one, but there’s no out-of-the-box mount.

Accessories wise, there are a ton of options. Kel-Tec and a growing aftermarket industry make railed forends, different stock options, and other gizmos for the SU-16C. They even make an assembly that allows you to use an AR-15 buffer tube and stock.

In the end, the Kel-Tec SU-16C isn’t the latest “tacticool” whiz-bang AR-15. But it’s a handy, capable rifle for its intended purpose. Something to throw into the trunk/truck when things look sketchy or when someone wants a lightweight storable self-defense carbine.

Price-wise, you can find them new for about $500-$550 and used between $300-$400. They come with a lifetime warranty and Kel-Tec products come with amazing customer service. But you won’t be needing that since they make a great product that isn’t going to be needing a trip back to the factory. The gun handles great and works well.

So would I recommend this rifle to another person? You betcha!

Specifications: Kel-Tec SU-16C

  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Caliber: 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
  • Capacity: 5/10/20/30/∞
  • Magazine Design: Any AR-15/NATO STANAG Magazine
  • Weight (Unloaded): 4.7 lb (2.1 kg)
  • Length w/ Stock Open: 35.5 in (90 cm)
  • Length w/ Stock Closed: 25.5 in (65 cm)
  • Trigger Pull: 6 pounds (reported from Kel-Tec website)
  • Barrel Length: 16 inch-barrel (41 cm)
  • Barrel Twist: 1/9 RH
  • Barrel Tread Pitch: 1/2×28 RH
  • Models available: SU-16A, SU-16B, SU-16C, SU-16CA, SU-16D9
  • MSRP: $535, purchased for $300 plus tax and background.

Ratings: (Out of Five Starts)

Ergonomics * * * * * It’s a handy, lightweight, compact rifle that’s user friendly. Even the lightest AR-15 wishes to be as skinny as the SU-16C. Accuracy * * * * *

No problem hitting the target at ‘bad guy’ distances.

Customization * * * ½

A smaller market and fewer choices for co-witnessing optic. But the options are there.

Reliability * * * * ½

Feeds well and ate everything I gave it without a complaint. Only thing is the receiver is polymer. So long-term wise, you probably can’t abuse it like an AK by using it as a shovel or pry bar.

Storability * * * * *

That’s where it’s the king. Try to find an AR-15 that can do the same.

Fun Factor * * * * *

It’s handy, lightweight and simple to operate. No recoil and everyone, even novice shooters, can master it.

Self Defense * * * * *

It’s a small compact 5.56x45mm carbine that’s reliable and handy. It isn’t a battle rifle, but or a truck/trunk or home defense carbine (or even varmint hunting), I wouldn’t at all feel under armed with it.

Overall * * * * *

I can recommend one without a problem.

The Winchester Model 1300: The Forgotten Shotgun

By Luis Valdes

The Model 1300 Shotgun, the final Winchester shotgun from the fabled gun valley of Connecticut.

In the the 1950s, Winchester was doing fairly well with the post war economic boom. American Suburbia was growing and men and boys now had leisure time. Hunting went from a necessity to sport and the company’s flagship, the Model 12 was selling like hotcakes.

Except Remington entered the field with the incredible Model 870 Shotgun and undercutted the Winchester in production costs while still maintaining quality.

By the 1960s, with the rising cost of skilled labor was making it increasingly unprofitable to produce Winchester’s classic designs, as they required considerable hand-work to finish involving machined forgings. Winchester could no longer compete in price with Remington’s cast-and-stamped Model 870 . So in the early 1960s; S. K. Janson had a new Winchester design group be formed to to advance the use of “modern” engineering design methods and manufacturing principles in gun design.

The result was a new line of guns which replaced most of the older products in 1964. The immediate reaction of the shooting press and public was overwhelmingly negative: the popular verdict was that Winchester had sacrificed quality to the “cheapness experts,” and Winchester was no longer considered to be a prestige brand, causing a marked loss of market share.

But all was not lost in 1964. One of the new designs to replace the classic Model 12 was the Model 1200 introduced in 1965.

The Model 1200 was doing well and became popular as a field and police shotgun. While not achieving the sales figures of the Remington Model 870. The Model 1200 was popular as a “2nd Place” shotgun and was known for it’s quality and lightweight handling due to its aluminium receiver.

But by 1979-1980, labor costs continued to rise and there was a prolonged strike that ultimately convinced Olin that firearms could no longer be produced profitably in New Haven, Connecticut. On December 1980, the New Haven plant was sold to its employees, incorporated as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, and granted a license to make Winchester arms. The Winchester ammunition side of the business was retained by Olin. In 1989, U.S. Repeating Arms itself went bankrupt and it was acquired by a French holding company who then sold to Belgian gun company; Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (parent company of FN and Browning Arms Company).

With the new ownership and reorganization; FN allowed U.S. Repeating Arms Company to continue to produce firearms under license at the New Haven Plant and during this time. The Model 1300 was born. An updated design of the Model 1200. One of the biggest differences you might ask? The chamber was lengthened to accommodate 3″ shells.

Winchester always claimed that the 1300, which they nicknamed the “Speed Pump” was a faster design than what Remington and Mossberg offered in their designs, and I can actually agree. According to the manual; after the shotgun is fired, the locking lugs of the rotary bolt begin disengaging from the barrel extension and the recoil forces assist the slide in moving rearward. You can actually see this when you hold up a empty unloaded Model 1300 muzzle up. The shotgun unlock itself.

A Mossberg needs 6lbs and a Remington requires 2lbsof force to begin moving the slide rearward. While cycling forward a Model 1300 needs 7lbs of force, while a Mossberg needs 9lbs and a Remington needs 6lbs.

Winchester made a ton of different variants of the Model 1300 from fancy Marine Coated guns for boats to basic hunting guns and capable defensive police shotguns. I personally have an 8 Shot Speed Pump Defender variant (SKU number 512104308).

Yup, that’s an actual screen capture from Winchester website back in 2005.

In my opinion, my Model 1300 handles well. The length of pull if fantastic with the factory stock, the gun is light in weight, and the gun lives up to the “Speed Pump” name. It

While I carried a Remington Model 870 as my “police shotgun” for the vast majority of my career. That was mostly due to two reasons. One, my former agencies only allowed personally owned shotguns to be Remingtons. And two, I didn’t own a Winchester yet.

I purchased my Model 1300 used from a pawn shop in Arizona selling it on Gunbroker for $289 back in 2014. It came with a Tac-Star brand side saddle and was in great condition.

It has served as a home defense gun and spent many a day in the truck and tent when camping in Tate’s Hell State Forest and it is a hoot to shoot with mini-shells.

Mine fits 11+1 and needs no modifications to work, unlike the adapter needed for the Mossberg 500/590.

Alas, while mine has had a well loved life while under my roof. For Winchester itself, as the years wore on. Winchester lost market share while Mossberg continued to gain. By January 16, 2006, the U.S. Repeating Arms announced it was closing its New Haven plant where Winchester rifles and shotguns had been produced for 140 years. Along with the closing of the plant, production of the Model 94 rifle, Model 70 rifle and of course the Model 1300 shotgun were discontinued.

The official press release sent out by U.S. Repeating Arms concerning the closure was released January 17, 2006.

U.S. Repeating Arms Company To Close New Haven, CT Facility U.S. Repeating Arms Company, maker of Winchester brand rifles and shotguns will close its New Haven, Connecticut manufacturing facility. Many efforts were made to improve profitability at the manufacturing facility in New Haven, and the decision was made after exhausting all available options.

Effective March 31, 2006, the New Haven manufacturing facility will stop manufacturing the Winchester Model 70, Model 94 and Model 1300.

Winchester Firearms will continue to sell and grow its current line of Select Over and Under shotguns, the new Super X3 autoloading shotgun, the new Super X autoloading rifle and Limited Edition rifles. The company also plans to introduce new models in the future. There will be no change in Customer Service.

This action is a realignment of resources to make Winchester Firearms a stronger, more viable organization. Winchester Firearms plans to continue the great Winchester legacy and is very excited about the future.

While FN kept the Winchester name in and guns like the Model 70 and Model 94 production. The New Haven Plant did shutdown and the Model 1300 did see an end of production. A bastard variant has been released, the Model SXP. Which is made in Turkey and a number of parts from the Model 1300 don’t interchange.

In the end, I’m glad I have a legit US made Model 1300 in my stable of shotguns and that it is as reliable as my Remington 870, Browning BPS, and Mossberg 590 along with the others in the collection.

The Winchester Model 1300 was and is in my opinion a capable shotgun and while they aren’t made anymore and they don’t and didn’t have as big of a market share. They’re damn good shotguns and if you run across one in good condition for a good price. Don’t let it go.