Calico Field Strip (100 Round 9mm Magazine!)

Ahhh the Calico. A relic of the 1980s that probably should have… died in the 80s. These strange roller delayed blowback 9mm carbines, pistols, and rifles make use of a very strange helical magazine that holds up to 100 rounds (or 50 if your a low capacity kind of guy) and are a bit notorious for not running to well. However underneath the magazine is a pretty interesting gun.

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Transcript …

– [Alex] Hey guys, it’s Alex C with TFBTV, and for today’s field strip, we’re gonna be taking down a Calico carbine.

These are of course 9mm carbines that have a very strange, very unique helical magazine design.

And they’re also roller-delayed blowback like an MP5.

They are possibly one of the most ’80s firearms I know of.

But they certainly look interesting, they just really are notorious for being unreliable.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an entire magazine without some sort of malfunction, and I’ve tried all sorts of different things.

They do come with a 100-round magazine or, if you’re into low-capacity firearms, a pathetic 50-round magazine.

You have to wind the big one 23 times and you have to wind the small one 10 times.

Which is a real pain.

To release the magazine, press these tabs located on both sides of the gun and it will come off there.

And, like I said, it is a 100-round magazine.

It’s also quite heavy and very cumbersome.

I imagine it would be very uncomfortable to carry it full-loaded.

Go ahead and check the chamber, make sure there’s nothing in there.

And it looks like we’re good to go.

Now everything starts with this pin located towards the front of the lower receiver.

Go ahead and push that out, and it is not captive, so make sure you don’t lose it.

It’s a pushpin that’s a lot like an HK pushpin.

That’ll allow you to slide the fore-end right off there, exposing the barrel, the charging handle, and the spring that makes the charging handle go back forward.

You can also then pull off the lower grip frame.

These are striker-fired, unlike an MP5, so you can see that mechanism there that would normally release the striker.

So, pulling out the bolt and carrier, just pull it back a little bit by grabbing the front, and then pull up and out once it gets to that recessed section of that receiver.

There you can see the bolt-head along with the rollers and everything.

Very MP5-like in that it’s a 9mm roller-delayed blowback carbine, but unlike an MP5, it doesn’t work.

So there you go, a field-stripped Calico carbine.

The pistol’s field-stripped the same way.

These are really interesting firearms.

I would like nothing more, though, than for them to be extremely reliable, because running through 100 rounds of 9mm in one go would be pretty cool, especially if you had a select-fire version 9.

I know the company’s still technically in business but I don’t think they manufacture the subguns anymore.

I find it unlikely that anyone would adopt these for that, given that they are kinda goofy, but.

Thanks to Venture Munitions for helping us out with our shooting videos, guys.

And we hope to see you next time.

(gunshots booming)



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Swarf

    Haven’t we already seen a version this? And what happened to your chubby friend?

    • I have put it in a video before. As per my chubby friend you would have to be more specific.

      • Anonymoose

        I think he’s referring to Patrick, who hasn’t been seen in a TFBTV video in a long time…

        • He publishes something here almost daily.

          • Anonymoose

            Yeah, but he hasn’t shown up in a video recently.

        • Kjk

          Word is they h8 each other. Or I could have just made that up

      • Swarf

        Never mind who I meant. That was an unkind way to refer to a guy who is probably great. Whoever he may be.

        The internet made me mean.

      • schizuki

        I like when you’re in videos together. It’s like Legolas and Gimli.

        (I keed! I keed! I’m practically a hobbit compared to my friends.)

  • Hoplopfheil

    MoonbaseAlpha on YouTube called it the worst gun ever made, BUT he just recently got his to work.

    The trick was apparently to use +P Ammo, like Winchester NATO spec 124gr 9mm.

    • I have tried the olin nato stamped stuff and it still has trouble. I may tinker with it one day to try and get it running tip top but, eh, its not like I would use it for anything serious.

      • Hoplopfheil

        I think the other ammo that worked was Federal HST 147 +P.

        But what good is that if it costs $100 to fill the magazine… 🙂

  • Schnee

    I’m sure I’ll be flamed for saying this, but I expect we’ll look back on the KRISS in 30 years much the same way. Cool idea. Maybe too cool to be necessary.

    • oldman

      It is not even a new idea forgotten weapons did a self loading pistol that could have ben the distant forerunner to the kiss vector not that long ago.

    • Anonymoose

      If we could get C-Mags for the Glock 20 and 21 that would fit in the Kriss, we wouldn’t need Calicos anymore.

  • Major Tom

    *dons flak jacket and steel helmet*

    At least the Calico looked and worked a lot better than other 80s abominations such as G-11 or L-85 or that lousy flechette thing they did for Advanced Combat Rifle or the program they had after that, something like that.

    *retreats to foxhole*

    • Anonymoose

      Now you’ve really done it!
      *brings you popcorn and sets up a couple chairs*

  • WT

    Contact Mike at Tornado Technologies in Portland Oregon USA.
    He will get your Calico going as he is very familiar with the trigger mech that causes the problem.

  • derpmaster

    Alex: it isn’t working because you are lacking the correct operating attire. Coogi sweaters = happy calicos. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3b7be8affe6c5b5734fcc7ccb2e07bbbefa2ac580adfcdae11720eaf7420c845.jpg

  • Joe

    I didn’t, thanks for the head’s up.

  • LazyReader

    Calico a product of the 80’s that maybe was worth the look compared to most products.

  • Tyler Norona

    I love the Calico. Mine works great. It’s a factory 8″ SBR.

  • Hellbilly

    My old Calico runs like a champ, even with 100 round mags. I must have a good one.