The Akdal MKA-1919 (no, middle name not Hussein) probably has the worst name ever for a gun destined for the American consumer market. But with AR-15 controls and an AR-15 look and detachable magazine, it should be a huge hit regardless. We put over 200 rounds through our test gun but failed to come up with a 100% reliable shotgun for self defense and 3 Gun competition though, and overall the gun is a dissapointment.
If you Google around on the gun, you will see that there have been a lot of complaints that the gun stovepipes, or failes to extract. This was our experiences as well.
The MKA-1919 may look like an AR-15, but the action is nearly identical to this Turkish made Charles Daily copy of what appears to be a Remington 11-43.
If you click to enlarge the picture, you will see that the MKA-1919 does have some modifications, but the guts are nearly identical to the Charles Daly.
At ten yards with 7 1/2 Federal target loads, the MKA-1919 patterns very well with the installed IC’ish choke.
Federal low recoil buckshot patterned very well also, and the recoil wasn’t that much sharper than the target loads.
The removable carry handle has this rear adjustable sight. You can flip it between a peep hole and a notch, to line up with the triangular plastic front sight that is mounted directly to the barrel.
Both the handle and the front sight are easily removable to set the gun up as a flattop for using red dot or other sighting system.
The MKA-1919 uses a proprietary 5 round magazine and the 2 3/4″ and 3″ magazines are marked as such. There are aftermarket 10 round magazines available, but I have not yet seen a 3 round for deer season. One of our commenters here mentioned that a company called Tromix is making a plug for three rounds, so that’s pretty cool.
Back in January the Akdal MKA 1919 shotgun rocked GunsAmerica Magazine & Blog with the most reads of any SHOT Show article the first day. It is an AR-15 style design, with an M-16 ‘esque detachable handle, and 5 round box magazine. With the tactical and 3 Gun shotgun marked filled with tradition semi-autos and the thought to be fickle Saiga, a new, light (6.5 lbs.) and quick shooting tactical shotgun was big news, especially with AR-15 controls. Six months later we finally got a chance to actually shoot the gun, which is imported from Turkey exclusively by RAAC Firearms. The MSRP is $799 and the street price is slightly under that. Out of the box, our experience with the gun wasn’t very positive, but customized for 3 Gun, the MKA-1919 is said to be a good choice, and a good investment. It is hard to recommend a gun that isn’t always reliable out of the box, but the story on this gun isn’t that simple.
The first thing about the MKA-1919 is that it isn’t really an AR-15 design. The only real similarities to an actual AR-15 are the safety, magazine release and slide lever, and no AR-15 parts fit the gun out of the box. The other thing about the gun is that the out of the box performance hasn’t had a great reputation, and our test gun didn’t work that well either. The MKA-1919 needed a couple boxes of shells to run fairly reliably. Out of the box every magazine had at least one stovepipe or failure to extract until about 40 rounds in, which comes out to 8 magazines. This was with Federal target loads. Now she runs pretty well, but still experiences an occasional stovepipe jam. Once the gun looses up a bit more and comes apart and back together for cleaning, it will probably run reliably, but in today’s American firearms market, you really aren’t going to make it unless you can produce out of the box reliable guns. Our original SHOT article has had over 100,000 reads. If this gun had been all that it promised out of the box it would have garnered a huge following by now.
The MKA 1919 is made in Turkey by Ucyildiz Arms. They are predominantly the makers of blank firing and replica guns, as well as air guns. I wasn’t able to find much else on them, but back at SHOT Show, one of the big stories on this gun was that spare parts were readily available through RAAC, because the manufacturer, Ucyildiz, planned to support the guns as a steady product to the US. For 3 Gun and tactical trainers and shooters, who actually shoot their guns a lot, this is great news. Until the MKA 1919, in the US market, the Saiga 12 has been really the only player in the game for a magazine fed 12 gauge shotgun. Saiga guns are one of those love ‘em or hate ‘em things. If you get a good one, they run really well. If you get a bad one, good luck trying to get it to work right. And if are shooting 3 Gun with it, putting hundreds of rounds through your shotgun in a day, parts wear out, and if you can’t get parts that commonly fail, the gun is of no use. The Russians don’t sell parts. They sell guns, and if you want Saiga parts, you have to buy another Saiga gun. The 3 Gun customizers who have been working on Saiga guns for more than a decade seem to prefer the Akdal MKA-1919, so take that for what is worth. Saigas nearly always need serious work for hard shooting.
This is why, rather than return our MKA 1919 for another gun, or have it worked on by RAAC before putting out a review, we elected to let everyone know that we can confirm what many have heard. The gun doesn’t work so good right out of the box. In their defense though, RAAC could have sent us a slicked up gun to start, but they didn’t. They just grabbed one off the top of the pile and sent it. This gun has a one year warranty. If you can’t get your gun to work well, send it back and they’ll fix it. You might want to shoot it some before you do though. A 100 round brick of 12 gauge 7 1/2 shells will cost you less than it costs to ship the gun back for service, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun to run 20 mags through the old 1919. I think the gun will eventually settle in, or need very little modification. The 3″ shells, though we only shot 5 of them, ran perfect. It may just be a spring extractor issue.
If you look at the pictures here, you will see that the MKA 1919 is not at all an AR-15. Coincidentally, I had an old Charles Daly in the safe that is also made in Turkey that is the exact same action as this gun. I have two of these guns, and they resembles a Remington 11-43, but the release button is on the other side. I have no idea if these were made by the same factory, but though you can see where the MKA-1919 has been re-worked from what is apparently a Remington design, but the similarity is undeniable. I don’t think this is a “gotcha” or a negative at all really. It is somewhat comforting to know that the MKA-1919 isn’t a new design. They seem to have improved an old design that required rubber O rings, and mounted it in an ergonomically friendly package that is pretty versatile as shotguns go, and that can throw an enormous amount of firepower downrange.
We tested the MKA1919 for both real world tactical and 3 Gun environments. The recoil on the gun is manageable with both target loads and low recoil buckshot, but as 12 gauge shotguns go it isn’t the lightest. The kick on the MKA-1919 isn’t soft like a Berreta Extrema. I think it is more like my Benelli, which clangs you around some. The way the recoil pushes back reminded me most of a CETME, or HK91. The gun wants to come up much more than you would expect from an AR-10 type of design, which this gun resembles. You’d have to try it to see if the MKA-1919 fits your shooting style, but at a street price around $750 in black, it isn’t a huge risk to go buy one and see if you like it.
This is an interchangeable choke shotgun and it comes with two other chokes. I think they are Rem-Choke threads but had none on hand to interchange it with. The choke that comes in the gun is probably something like an Improved Cylinder, and we patterned that one and one other choke that looked like a Full at a 10 yard spread. You can see the patterning pictures here. Ten yards is the most you’ll see for a shotgun target in 3 Gun, so we tested it with 7 1/2 sized shot using standard Federal target loads.
The rear sight on the MKA-1919 is adjustable on the removable carry handle, and it shot to point of aim out of the box. That AR-15 style front sight is plastic and held on by a couple screws. It comes off easily, yet seems secure enough to rely on. We removed it and the handle after our first round of tests and mounted a Leapers red dot sight on the flat top rail. The rail is aluminum and integral with the upper. As a sighting platform, we tested it for holding point of aim and it is stable. This is probably not thought of to be a skeet or sporting clays guns, but with practice it might be effective. At present RAAC doesn’t have any 3 round magazines available for deer hunting in states with magazine restrictions, but one of our commenters here have mentioned that a company called Tromix has a plug that works. That would be a big plus for the gun, because you can use a rifled choke and shoot slugs, unlike most “tactical” shotguns. For the budget shooter who wants to compete and hunt with the same gun, a three round mag would make the MKA-1919 an option.
Federal low-recoil buckshot performed exactly the same as the target loads in the MKA1919 when it comes to reliability. The buckshot stovepiped at the same rate as the target loads in early shooting, then when the gun was running smoother, the buckshot also ran smoother. Recoil wasn’t noticeably sharper with the Federal buckshot than with the low brass target loads. It shot to the same point of aim, and ten rounds into one target produced a group less than 8 inches wide with the pre-mounted fairly open choke.
The most disappointing thing about the MKA1919 is that none of the furniture is true AR-15 style. Somehow RAAC was able to get these guns into the US with a pistol grip, probably because it is one piece with the rear stock. It may look like an AR-15 stock and forend, but it isn’t. However, as we explained in the first article on this gun back at SHOT Show, there are already several companies, like Firebird Precision, that specialize in tricking out the MKA-1919, to make it take AR-15 hardware, and even a real trigger group. The word on the street is that the MKA-1919 is the gun that is worth tricking out for 3 Gun, because it needs very little work, and again, spare parts are available. Eventually we hope to get one of the customized guns in for a test. If you look on Youtube, it appears that Krebs Custom is also going to do a version of this gun.
If you are plan to buy this gun for self defense, a question that comes up a lot is “does it take three inch” shells?” The painful answer to this question is yes, and they appear to work fabulously in the gun. The problem is, we found it above and beyond the call of duty to shoot more than one magazine worth. Three inch shells in the MKA-1919 are painful, and shot recovery is nearly impossible because the gun jumps considerably. There is a separate three inch magazine for three inch shells, and it most likely comes with one. Our test gun came from RAAC with three 2 3/4″ mags and one 3″ mag, but it most likely comes with one of each when you buy it through normal channels.
After my initial excitement about this gun at SHOT Show, it is something of a disappointment. I expected that I would be thrilled with the MKA-1919 and that we would buy the test gun from RAAC, but this gun will be going back. The MKA-1919 should be a new dominant gun in the 3 Gun world, but these reliability complaints have clearly plagued it. If you are a 3 Gun shooter on a budget, it could be that a customized version of the MKA-1919 will be worth sending out to a custom shop for modifications to make it reliable and more compatible with your AR-15 rifle. As a self defense weapon, you may want to likewise send the gun out for work. If it worked well, the MKA-1919 would be a great, light, ergonomically friendly semi-auto shotgun, and an awesome weapon. Out of the box, it isn’t an expensive gun, and the warranty should cover the reliability issues, but our first experience wasn’t very positive. Hopefully we’ll see this gun again, either with a tightened up Quality Control department in Turkey, or from the custom shops that make this gun really rock.