Gun Review: Ohio Ordnance Works HCAR

hcarl2

[ Steve says: This is a guest post written by Jagersmith ]

In May of 2014, I received a long-awaited email: HCAR’s were finally available to order. The first edition package was impressive, with a choice of 4 colors (at no extra cost), hard case, custom or standard serial number, cleaning kit, owner’s manual, Kydex mag holder, 4 30 round BAR magazines, detachable flip-up iron sights, 100 rounds of ammo, free shipping, and access to an owner’s website with direct customer support from OOW. I got in line immediately, though in several years of gunsmithing and working in FFLs, I knew not to get impatient. Firearms, especially new ones, can have absurdly long “out times”. As far as the firearms industry goes, however, I did not have to wait long, as my rifle was packed and ready to go by late November.

hcar in case

HCAR in case, Mag holder at bottom of picture.

 

 

Earlier on, OOW had estimated a ship date of between September and October, and for a mere one-month delay, they threw in an extra magazine and 100 more rounds of free ammo.I regarded that as excellent customer service. The manual is without a doubt one the clearest, most detailed, most well laid out manuals I have yet to read. It even has a section that details, step by step with computer generated cutaway images, the HCAR’s principals of operation and firing cycle. The hardcase also showed attention to detail, with pre-cut sections of foam that could be removed if you added on an optic or bipod. Enough about the extras, though, let’s get to the gun.

I got my HCAR done in coyote tan Cerakote, and it looks fantastic. There was no chipping or overspray of the process anywhere. The gun handles well, and the more than 7-lb trim from the BAR makes it balance well even when shouldered offhand. The rifle itself, sans optic, magazine, or bipod is 11.75 lbs. My fully loaded weight was 16 lbs with the VCOG and grip-pod. My first range outing with the gun was in a pretty heavy snowstorm, so I would not have the opportunity to zero the irons or the optic. Instead, I focused on perceived recoil and handling. This is one soft-shooting .30-06. The hydraulic buffer assembly that fits between the receiver and receiver extension does wonders to dampen recoil to the cheek and shoulder, while the supplied surefire brake keeps the muzzle fairly well on target shot-to-shot, even during rapid strings of fire. The rifle is threaded 5/8-24 if you wish to use a thread-on suppressor or a different brake. The single-stage trigger pull was crisp and clean at an average of 6.6 pounds, with a positive reset. The 2-position safety easily and positively locks into place. “Safe” is in-line with the barrel, “fire” is downward at a 45-degree angle. The magazines drop free when the paddle-style magazine release is operated. The bolt is one of my favorite features, as it locks back on an empty magazine, or when you simply pull back on the charging handle when the gun is unloaded, making chamber inspection or quick cleaning easy. This is a nice feature to have when making the range cold for posting and checking targets. The charging handle is of the folding, non-reciprocating variety. I used the medium gas setting, which is recommended for normal use, though you can easily change to low for suppressed use, or high for an “excessively” dirty rifle by simply rotating the selector at the end of the gas tube.

hcar vs scar

HCAR vs. SCAR size comparison

 

I fired through 100 rounds of Greek surplus ammunition, without a single failure to feed, fire, or extract from the magazine. The only issue I did notice was that when inserting a fully loaded 30 round magazine into the receiver with the bolt closed, the first round chambered was slow to go into battery. Ohio Ordnance notes this, however, recommending downloading magazines by 2 rounds if one wishes to load with the bolt closed. They recommend primarily inserting the magazine with the bolt open, then chambering a round using the bolt release.

During my second outing, I still only had access to surplus Greek ammo, though I performed a rough zero of my iron sights and a Trijicon VCOG. When zeroed, I was able to shoot 2-inch groups at 100 yards with both the irons and the 1-6 power VCOG supported off a bench by a grip-pod. I suspect this was due to the ammo and the fact that the VCOG’s dot is 2 MOA in size, as the gun is capable of better accuracy than that. I fired through an additional 100 rounds with no malfunctions. One potential issue I noticed was that the 30-round magazine, at 8.8 inches long, barely clears the ground when the grip pod supports the gun with the barrel parallel to the ground. This is something to consider when possibly engaging elevated targets or firing from defilade, where 20-rounders would give more clearance.

On the third range outing, I had not yet performed a detailed cleaning of the gun, as I was curious how many rounds I could fire before it started malfunctioning. Having received a shipment of Federal Premium 168-grain Sierra Matchking BTHP, 180 grain Trophy Copper, and American Eagle 150-grain FMJBT, I had much better ammunition available to me this time. It was finally time to test the accuracy potential. The 1/10 RH twist barrel performed best with the Matchkings, turning in an outstanding 5 shot group of .55 inches without the one flyer, 1.16 inches flyer included. This was using a 2 MOA dot at 6x with a support of the grip-pod off a bench. The Trophy Coppers turned in a 1.5 inch group, and the American Eagles a 1.7 inch. All groups were smaller than the dot, so I was very pleased with the accuracy. During accuracy testing, however, I did start to experience malfunctions. These started to occur after firing all 200 rounds of the Greek HXP ammunition and cleaning nothing but the bore and barrel. The Matchkings started to hang up on the fouled feed ramp, causing the bolt to lock up, on all gas settings and all magazines (I at first thought it might be a magazine or temperature issue). Either charging the bolt handle or holding down the bolt release button easily cleared malfunctions. Due to the fouling, I noticed some scraping on the tip of the rounds. The American Eagle rounds experienced this as well on all gas settings. The Trophy Coppers did not. I should note that OOW recommends using mil-spec rounds (150 grain FMJ) in the HCAR Later on, after a good and thorough cleaning, the action was cycling as usual. Once I established accuracy on paper, I moved to a 1/3-size silhouette at 140 yards, hitting it easily and repeatedly. I then moved to a 220-yard plate, ringing it without issue. Finally, I was able to get both my 1st and subsequent hits on the 500 yard plate repeatedly without effort, as the weight of the gun and the hydraulic buffer allowed me to watch my impacts hit. I came away very impressed at the accuracy of the HCAR, as well as its ergonomics (I am right handed) and ease of use.

Ready for accuracy testing

Ready for accuracy testing

 

group

Best group of the day, .55 inches at 100 yards w/o the flyer, 1.16 width.

 

Disassembly for cleaning

Basic disassembly for maintenance is a bit more involved than your average AR or AK. It is an 11-step process.

  1. Remove the magazine, inspect the chamber, allow the bolt to go forward.
  2. Push trigger group takedown pins out, remove trigger group.
  3. Push gas tube takedown pin out until locked, remove gas tube assembly and handguard.
  4. Remove driving rod and spring from receiver
  5. With slide in forward position, use hook tool to remove bolt guide spring and then bolt guide.
  6. Move slide in, push out pin, remove charging handle assembly,
  7. Remove cocking insert from slide, and slide from receiver.
  8. Lift bolt tail from receiver, move bolt rearward and lift from receiver.
  9. Remove bolt link pin.
  10. Remove gas regulator pin using a punch.
  11. Remove locking key from gas tube, and unscrew gas regulator.

As one can see, it is a very detailed disassembly and requires tools to remove the bolt. I have found that practical cleaning at the range is best performed by simply locking the bolt back and then using a boresnake for the barrel and a brush for the bolt head.

Final impression

The HCAR is a very stable, accurate, ergonomically friendly weapon, with an added bonus of using surplus M1918 BAR magazines and the ability to accept any AR-15 buttstock. The patented multi stage firing pin system is an appreciated safety feature. I would have liked them to keep the adjustable trigger as a feature; the pre-production models had them. It also needs to be cleaned very regularly, and evidenced by the malfunctions experienced after 200 rounds. I suspect polishing the feed ramp will help ameliorate this issue some. It’s disassembly process, though lengthy, was not overly difficult, but was much more involved than an AR or AK. It is a heavy rifle, but much lighter than a standard M1918 BAR. Should it be your all-in-one rifle? No. Does it have a place in a well-rounded collection of firearms, and is it extremely well made? Yes. Overall, I am very happy with my purchase.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Steve Martinovich

    Jealous. Can’t get this in Canada… not that I could afford it!

    • David Sharpe

      Since when was the BAR (And therefore this HCAR) prohibited in Canada? I can find no reason why it would be prohibited. Do you have a link?

      • Steve Martinovich

        Because our laws make no bloody sense? It would probably have to go to the RCMP FRT anyway to be classified so it might be years before it sees the light of day up here…if at all.

        • Pete Sheppard

          You can get Chinese guns, though. They have some nice, inexpensive stuff, but it’s banned here in the States.

        • David Sharpe

          The BAR isn’t prohibited by name so I see no reason why this wouldn’t be allowed.

    • Canadian

      Take a look on gunnutz, there are companies working on importing them.

  • JQPub

    Holy smokes that thing is just gorgeous. I was eyeing these up from the moment they announced it. Unfortunately, like most, the price point is way out of my range (heck, I couldn’t even afford/justify the VCOG right now), but man… she sure is a beaute. Groups are better than I would have expected. That’s a real fine addition to a true collection. Thanks for the review. I think I have to go wipe the drool off my keyboard now.

    • Jagersmith

      You’re welcome! The VCOG came my way by a special opportunity, otherwise I probably would have not selected it myself.

  • ColaBox

    Iv been waiting on this one for a long time. Did you go bankrupt shooting like Phil promised?

    • Jagersmith

      No, fortunately there are some pretty great .30-06 prices out there! I am usually able to come in under .40 a round. I will shoot it a lot more during the summer, though, so there’s still time!

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    I love everything I’ve read about this rifle, but those failures suck after only two hundred rounds.
    And if only they could of made it sub ten pounds. Though the price would of possibly been even more exuberant than it is now. I’m betting that hydraulic buffer tube is pretty hefty.

    I’d like to see a semiautomatic bullpup in .30-06! Maybe Desert Tech could release another conversion down the road for the upcoming MDR.

    • Jagersmith

      200 rounds of greek HXP ammunition from 1975, then waiting 3 weeks, having only cleaned the barrel is what induced the malfunction. The carbon buildup on the feed ramp from the old milsurp rounds was pretty egregious. If i wanted to, I could have had the issue resolved for free by Ohio Ordnance, but I have the wherewithal to polish the feed ramp myself, and should have no further issues. I will update the status of the gun a few months and many more rounds in for a more complete picture. Regarding the weight, a polymer handguard may cut it down to 10 lbs. or less.

      • Hensley Beuron Garlington

        Ah. Your confidence in that being the only cause has also increased my confidence. And your idea about the handguard seems pretty accurate. That’s a lot of metal. Bet it is tough though. The HCAR just screams macho. I love it! Congratulations by the way!

        • Hensley Beuron Garlington

          Also, please keep us updated!

          • Jagersmith

            Yes, sorry, I did not highlight that enough in the review, but after thorough cleaning of the chamber and feedramp, I had no malfunctions. Cleaning did fix the problem, the polishing should prevent the problem from re-occuring after so few rounds. I like to keep my round counts high!

          • Hensley Beuron Garlington

            It wasn’t you. I think my reading comprehension just hung on that detail. You did make it clear you figured that was the issue. You know two people can read the same thing and get two differing perspectives. LOL. It’s not you, it’s me.

            Amen to the high round count!

    • Anonymoose

      How about 8lbs (unloaded)?

      • Hensley Beuron Garlington

        Is that an AR in .30-06?! I know they make them in everything, but still, I’m liking that!

        • Anonymoose

          Yep. Also comes in .25-06 and .270.

          • Hensley Beuron Garlington

            I’m weeping I like it so much! LOL.

        • Jagersmith

          Noreen BN36

      • JSmath

        Oh, goodness gracious. And only $2000, that’s quite a tough competitor to throw in for comparison.

        Now I’m really wanting to see this (Noreen BN36, ty Jagersmith) cycle on automatic.

  • John Smith

    If you spend $4,700.00 on this you need to have your head examined. Not trying to be rude but that is a ridiculous price.

    • Vitsaus

      Those things are relative. I think a Porsche is a waste of money unless the only reason for buying it is picking up women. But if you have that kind of money to burn then its not really a waste. For me, I’d be nuts to spend 4,700.00 on this gun, but if I was making that in one month, not so bad. Its all to scale. People roll their eyes when I say that my main handgun brands are HK and SIG Sauer, but those are usually guys trying to tell me that their Ruger P95 shoots at least as good as a P226.

      • JSmath

        Most people I’ve ever met who’ve owned Porsches would tell you they are very ineffective for picking up women. Thankfully, they’re incidentally not as effective at picking up guys and bros as things like the GT-R are.

  • Anonymoose

    It’s starting to grow on me a little, I guess. I’d still rather have the 24″ barrel in it, and replace the grippod with a legit bipod.

  • tony

    Nice rifle!
    A flyer is not really a flyer, it is part of the dispersion pattern.
    Showing more shot groups would be helpful too.

    • Jagersmith

      Sorry, I should have noted it was a “called” flyer, as I jerked the trigger. Mea culpa.

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    Does the buffer system go back into the tube that the stock is mounted on or could you put a folding stock on it?

    • Jagersmith

      The buffer is indeed in the tube. I think a folding stock would be a no-go.

      • Michael R. Zupcak

        Thanks. After inspecting the original BAR I now understand.

  • noob

    so it’s 1lb heavier than an m1a?

    would economies of scale make it possible to make it cheaply enough via mass production to serve in a LMG/DMR role for mountain warfare? say in the $600 to $1200 range?

    • Porty1119

      Get this to $600 and I’ll have four of them in my safe by next Wednesday.

  • Giolli Joker

    I’ve been able to briefly handle one at IDEX (I was quite surprised it was there in the first place): it felt very solid and it gave this “real gun” feel that some new offers are now lacking.
    It’s quite hefty but less than I thought, the only detail that I didn’t like was the texture of the handguard, very grippy but definitely sharp, just by the weight of the gun it digs in the the skin… nothing that a pair of gloves ore a foregrip can’t solve, of course.
    Nice well detailed review, thanks!
    (some more gun-porn style photos? 😉 )

  • schizuki

    “I’m a semi-auto WWII-style BAR, and I have Direct TV.”

    “And I’m a semi-auto tacticool BAR, and I have cable.”

  • Edward Franklin

    I admire the work that went into the HCAR but honestly I think they would have been better served producing a replica of the Colt R80 Monitor. It’s only a couple pounds heavier than this goober and isn’t so repellent in appearance. It also doesn’t hurt that there probably isn’t a single transferable Monitor in the world so if you want one they would’ve had a captive market.

    But still the work put into this gun is impressive even if the end result seems rather strange.

  • Pete Sheppard

    It seems like a very nice job of work, but being a dinosaur, I’d rather have a straight BAR clone. 🙂

    • Jagersmith

      Those are available as well in the 1918A3 variant.

  • Cal.Bar

    I have the original OOW BAR and love it. However, for many reasons, I simply don’t shoot it very often. The .30-06 rounds are very expensive (.60 per on up), the rifle is VERY heavy – 23lbs) and it is a PAIN to field strip requiring tools and no less than 30 minutes to clean. While I got the BAR for the historical collector’s sake, I CANNOT figure out why anyone would get THIS thing. The caliber is expensive to buy, the rifle is too heavy, and is too hard to clean. There is no historical attachment or purpose, I don’t get it. For $4,700.00 you could get a much better modern rifle to fit any category you want to put this rifle in.

  • Rob

    Picture Homer Simpson drooling over donuts…that’s me and that rifle.

  • UCSPanther

    The only pistol grip 1918 BAR I would go for would be the FN made versions with the pistol grip.

  • Dave

    Nice review. I ordered one myself a couple weeks ago. I have a stupid question. When the shells eject are they banging against the reciever? I only ask because some videos show the reciever getting pretty nicked up by the shells. Not the biggest deal but it’s somthing I just noticed.