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Preview – Century Arms C93

Photography by Kenda Lenseigne

An HK Clone that A: Works and B: Is Affordable. Wonders Never Cease…

A real-deal 5.56mm HK rifle is regarded as a jewel in any collection, and for that reason you don’t see too many of them actually getting used at the range. For a very long time, Heckler & Koch dominated the semi-auto rifle market and for several decades were widely regarded as the choice of professionals.

During the 10-year-long “assault weapons” ban starting in 1994, our nation had to endure import restrictions that few shooters seem to remember these days. Although domestic manufacturers quickly found ways to work around these draconian laws, HK’s failure to adapt their long-guns meant that they slipped into a perception of being simply pistol makers in the U.S. market. In its absence, the AR-15 enjoyed a rebirth that continues unabated to this day. The C93 is essentially a Heckler & Koch HK94 clone, but is significantly more affordable than one of the pre-ban Kraut rifles.

This writer’s first semi-auto centerfire rifle happened to be a HK91, purchased while still barely a teenager. Coming of age in the 1990s, we grew up believing in the decades old design, saving long and hard to purchase the big 7.62x51mm rifle. Waiting for the shekels to accumulate gave plenty of time to focus on the four decades of history and development of this particular design — and how Obendorff’s engineers shaped the way modern firearms are manufactured.

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Everyone Knows They Make Good Stuff…
The Second World War did much to streamline and advance firearms technology, with its progress evident in most weapons designed today. Both Axis and Allies began to build firearms out of stamped steel, lighter-weight materials, and even composites. Intricately machined, mechanically complex firearms did not fit well with any nation’s war effort — they needed guns immediately, and plenty of them. The Germans, more so than any other army, began to incorporate lightweight stamped-steel components into their designs. Enjoying success with the MG 42 machinegun, composed mostly of stamped and welded parts, they continued to utilize this technology in other small arms.

The first true assault rifle, a lightweight select-fire weapon firing an intermediate cartridge, burst onto the battlefield as the StG 44 — and its design and function would prove to be a pivotal breakthrough in firearms and military tactics. After the war, many countries began to replace their aging bolt-action service rifles with semi-auto and select-fire 7.62x51mm battle rifles, influenced by the StG 44’s success. America chose the M14, while most other NATO nations gravitated to the FN FAL. Interestingly, while the Free World seemed obsessed with the full-power 7.62mm NATO round, communist countries pursued the softer-shooting intermediate M43 7.62x39mm cartridge with the adoption of the SKS and AKM-47, which was closer to the original German design.

With Germany being divided by the Cold War, the West German army sought a battle rifle of its own. A team of German engineers assisted by Heckler & Koch helped utilize their nation’s war-time experience to develop the CETME rifle for the Spanish military. Further development of this rifle led to the West German Army’s purchase of an improved, domestically produced G3 7.62mm battle rifle.

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