Top 5 Underrated Guns

    As a followup to our video on the top 5 overrated guns, we thought we might make a counter-video regarding firearms we believe to be underrated. This list features some great firearms that for whatever reason just have not gotten the credit they deserve. So, what’s on the list?

    The VZ58 Test is here.

    Transcript …

    – [Voiceover] Hey guys, it’s Alex C. with TFB TV.

    I recently did a video on five firearms I believe are overrated that was well-received by all but the fanboys of the weapons in question.

    That said, as a follow up, I thought I might make a video on five firearms that I believe are underrated.

    For the purpose of this video, underrated can mean any firearm that, by a combination of being overlooked, under-marketed or misunderstood, qualifies.

    Number one, the Steyr AUG.

    The Steyr AUG, or A-U-G, depending on which of these two pronunciations makes you feel better, is a spectacular rifle.

    While there were a number of bullpups before it, this was the one that certainly made the nations of the west take a look at the bullpup as a concept.

    Whether you are a bullpup guy or not, they offer some wonderful and distinct advantages over conventionally set up rifles.

    First and foremost, their compact size is a huge plus.

    While there certainly is a large camp that proudly flies the bullpups suck flag, and I certainly understand that there are compromises inherent to the design, the AUG is probably the most refined and tested military bullpup of all time.

    Design started in the 60’s and was completed in the 1970’s, when it was adopted as the STG 77 in the Austrian military.

    Since then, several militaries have taken to the AUG, including Ireland and Australia.

    And I would argue that without the AUG, the bullpup concept would not have evolved to the point where it is at now.

    So, why is it underrated? Well, when it was released on the civilian market, it actually sold well.

    They were priced a little higher than the competition, but that didn’t stop a good amount of A1 rifles from being sold in the US.

    To draw a comparison to today, a Tavor rifle is priced higher than a Colt 6920, but the Tavor is selling quite well in spite of this.

    Sales of the AUG were crippled with the 1989 import ban, a ban that we have discussed in our video on the top five banned guns, and then made almost impossible by the 1994 assault weapons ban.

    However, in 1997, a new model to comply with US law was introduced called the USR, and it was pretty damn ugly.

    What killed the USR was when then president Bill Clinton drafted an executive order that strengthened the 1989 import ban to basically include any firearm that could accept a magazine holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.

    I’m oversimplifying a little, but what can and cannot be imported, and the reasons why, are incredibly confusing parts of US firearms law.

    So, fast forward to 2013, and the AUG was back, and properly branded, “Steyr.” There had been clones, but they were of questionable quality.

    So, why is the AUG a blip on the radar despite being arguably the most refined bullpup? Well, I chalk it up to a severe lack of marketing.

    For every Steyr ad I see, I see ten for the Tavor.

    The AUG is also a much better gun with a quick change barrel, a short stroke piston system, adjustable gas, better balance and ergonomics, and when suppressed, it doesn’t sand blast your face off.

    So, the AUG is almost certainly underrated these days, and that’s a real shame.

    Next up, we have the Czech VZ58 rifles.

    These rifles are tremendously popular in Canada due to their non-restricted status, but are coveted in the US only among gun geeks, like yours truly.

    In fact, nine out of ten people who see me shooting mine generally ask, “What kind of AK is that?” The gun looks similar to a Kalashnikov at a cursory glance, and in a video I made a long time ago, entitled, “The Top Five Best AK Variants”, many commenters even asked, “What about the VZ58?” The VZ58 and the AK have no parts interchangeability that I am aware of, but they do fire 762 by 39.

    The VZ, even though it uses a milled receiver, is almost a pound lighter than a stamped AKM.

    Magazines are lighter, can be reloaded with stripper clips, and the VZ is just a great shooting rifle.

    In fact, for an article I did for TFB proper in 2013, I fired a can of 700 rounds through one without a single stoppage.

    I’ll put a link in the description for those interested.

    So, as to why the VZ58 is underrated, I think it’s because the kits used by lower-end manufacturers to build them have run dry, and the high-end imports from Czechpoint are almost invariably out of stock.

    A small aftermarket is also to blame, along with the proliferation of cheaper, and the more ubiquitous AK rifles chambered in the same 762 by 39 round.

    I certainly wish these guns were more abundant because they are a truly wonderful design.

    Third, we have a gun that is incredibly affordable and very handy, the Kel-Tec PLR-16, or SU series of rifles.

    You can find PLR-16’s for under $500, and if you throw another $200 at it, then you have a rifle that is mind-blowingly light.

    These little guns use a long stroke piston, and a multi lug rotating bolt that looks like one from a Stoner-Johnson design.

    Liberal uses of polymer can be seen, and while simple, the guns are very charming.

    The SU series uses the same action, but is more conventionally set up and is a semiautomatic rifle as opposed to the PLR, which is a pistol, and some models have an integral 4N that functions as a bipod, and a hinge stock that allows them to fold up.

    Kel-Tec sure has some interesting tricks up their sleeves when they toss conventional layouts to the wayside, and these rifles and pistols are also reliable and accurate to boot.

    As for the PLR-16, with the price point of $500, you’re getting a lot for the money.

    With standard AR-15 mags, you get 30 rounds of 5.56 on tap, and ready to ring steel or nail a coyote.

    So, why is it underrated? Well, for a couple of reasons.

    While affordable, they fill a weird niche.

    Kel-Tec is also one of those brands that, due to the inexpensive price of their smaller pistols, people tend to write off as a low-end manufacturer.

    I personally have had good experiences with their products, and the PLR is certainly no exception.

    In fact, I may buy a SU-16 rifle in the near future.

    Fourth, we have the Beretta CX4.

    The CX4 is a truly wonderful little pistol caliber carbine that is offered in nine millimeter, nine by 21, 40 Smith & Wesson and 45 ACP.

    These simple blowback carbines take Beretta pistol magazines and are noteworthy for their stone cold reliability, user friendliness and handiness.

    They are lightweight as well, which is a huge plus to me.

    The model you see here is a nine millimeter version that accepts Beretta 92 magazines.

    Also, you can utilize 30 rounds magazines that are available for about $35.

    The CX4 is not a feature-ridden gun, and what you see is pretty much what you get.

    That is, a reliable, accurate, comfortable, and very shootable carbine that you can plink with all day for a reasonable amount of money.

    A day of shooting nine millimeter pistol ammunition is much easier on the pocketbook than most rifles calibers, and of course, the low recoil allows your shoulder to get home unharmed.

    Yet again, a place where the CX4 is appreciated greatly is in Canada.

    The carbines are non-restricted, and the common loophole that our neighbors to the north often exploit is to grab ten round magazines used for 92 series pistols, and use them in the carbines, which would otherwise be capped at five rounds.

    So, why is the CX4 overlooked in the US? Well, I found that the price for the one like I have here is about $700 these days, which is actually somewhat cheaper than guns like the SIG MPX or MP5 variance.

    The gun seems to have gotten a fair amount of marketing too, but I have not seen much lately.

    In this case, I think it’s that most people are hesitant to shell out seven or $800 on a blowback nine millimeter carbine, and, well, let’s be honest, it’s pretty aesthetically unappealing.

    For the same money, you can now get a Scorpion EVO, but I personally would take the Storm every time.

    Regardless, the CX4 is a great well-made and quality product from Beretta.

    Lastly, we have a pistol, and a very good pistol, at that.

    In many ways, it’s like a Glock, but it’s actually good.

    Yes, that was a joke to rile up the Glock fanboys, so settle down before that vein on your forehead swells up and prevents you from snugging up that team Glock hat.

    Anyways, the Steyr 9 pistols are one of the best-kept secrets in the world of self-loading polymer handguns.

    These are in production, priced under $500, and were even designed by a former Glock employee.

    With a very comfortable grip and a capacity of 17 rounds, you could shoot a Steyr M9 all day, and very comfortably.

    However, my favorite part is the sights.

    The rear sight has the unique trapezoidal basket arrangement that you rest the front sight, which is a triangle, inside, rather than the ubiquitous three dot or notch and post system.

    These pistols are striker-fired, short recoil tilting barrel guns, and the bore axis is wonderfully low.

    The Steyr’s come in nine by 21, 357 SIG, and 40 as well, but when it comes to plastic pistols, I have a tendency to stick to plain old nine by 19.

    So, why is it underrated? Well, you would think that the favorable price point, sights, and ergonomics would make it a well-known and popular offering, but it seems like its best selling point is that it isn’t a Glock, kind of the same reason people buy GMC Sierra’s over Chevy Silverado’s, I guess.

    Also, I never see any marketing material for these pistols, like, seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one piece.

    It seems like word of mouth is the only way people discover these, and I know that there was a period of time when importation actually stopped completely.

    So, like the AUG, Steyr doesn’t seem to have any clue as to how modern marketing works.

    Hell, at this point, I’m convinced that they may not even have a marketing department at all, but rather one guy somewhere going door to door who also sells Kirby vacuums.

    Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this episode of TFB TV.

    We would like to thank our sponsor, Ventura Munitions, the best place to buy ammunition in America, for helping us out with our videos.

    Also, thank you to our Patreon supporters.

    For what it’s worth, that fund isn’t handled by James or myself, but goes to TFB proper, where it is used for things like renting a camera to provide the best free coverage for shot that we can.

    Also, thank everyone for watching.

    We sincerely hope to see you next time.


    Alex C.

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