Tooth and Nail Armory
I was initially enamored with the RAAC MKA-1919, otherwise known as the AR-15 looking shotgun. It was the star of our 2012 SHOT Show coverage, registering over 80,000 readers within the first few days after release. Then I got a review gun, and in August of that year everyone got to read that the gun had some quirks. My review was one of the few that put the gun through its paces, and demonstrated that it failed more than it fired. But at the time, I was excited about a modification company that had exhibited with RAAC at SHOT. Guns can get expensive and the base price of the 1919 wasn’t that high. A couple hundred in mods I felt was reasonable for a niche specialty gun like this, assuming that it works well. That company never got back to me.
Fast forward to September of last year when I did our first review of the UTAS 15 round bullpup pump gun. Again, the gun had issues but also a lot of potential, and in my travels (through the comments actually), I found Tooth and Nail Armory. They make a forward rail for the UTAS, and they also completely re-outfit the RAAC gun to more resemble an AR-15, and they make it actually work. Since they actually answered my email, I became very excited, and gave them cart blanche and the gun, just to see what would come of it. Over $700 later, I still had a gun that didn’t work as I had hoped, but now it does. Let me explain.
To start, I don’t consider the MKA-1919 to be a life and death tactical weapon. Initially I bought the line from RAAC that these guns had a great track record, and that they were much better than the Saiga line because Turkey was more accessible for parts blah blah blah. As you will read the comments on any semi-auto shotgun that we cover here and elsewhere, the Saigas have come a long way and people really swear by them. Moreover, the magazines are very available, and they encompass a large choice of capacities for hunting, self defense, and bunker defense. Nobody could convince me at this point that the 1919 is a better design or choice for any of those things.
It is however a nifty gun, and though out of the box it is a big disappointment as to how much like an actual AR-15 it is, after Tooth and Nail gets done with it the controls are very much just like an AR-15. For casual competition, 3-Gun or otherwise, I think the 1919 is a good choice, especially if you compete to enjoy a day with friends out at the range and not just to win. People do win with tricked out 1919s, but to get the gun to that good really takes a lot of effort, and money.
The key to semi-auto shotgun reliability is the ability to fire both heavy and light loads equally as well. This presents a challenge, because if you set the gas system too heavy, the light loads won’t cycle, and if you set it to light, the heavy loads will beat the tarnation out of both you and your gun. When I initially sent the gun into Tooth and Nail, I expected to get it back able to do shoot full snot buckshot and #8 low brass birdshot equally as well. The former is a great choice for bunker defense, and the latter is what most competitions will require. After the Tooth and Nail upgrades, the gun shot the buckshot perfect, no hang ups, but the birdshot didn’t work hardly at all. So I emailed them, and they said that I should mail them my magazines, because they had to be tuned. So I did.
When I got the magazines back, lo and behold they worked, and I have had only a few hangups in the several hundred rounds since. The gun now shoots everything fine, with the five round magazines. After failure after failure after failure with this gun, I never did bother to try one of the 10 rounders.
So what did Tooth and Nail do? Their process can be done in pieces or as a package, like I did. The invoice is here in the pictures so you can see how the charges broke out. They basically cut off the stock and grip with a band saw and attach standard AR hardware. Plus they completely revamp the front grip, including a forward charging handle, and they can even install a new trigger group and gas system. Call them if you are on a budget and you need to figure out just how much you want to do to your own gun.
In the pictures you can see part of the process. The guys at Tooth and Nail don’t require that you send the gun to them. Most of the work can be done at home with rudimentary shop tools, and your own gunsmith certainly can do the work if need be as well. Is this gun worth all that? For gun nerds (and we can be a funny lot), sure it is. It’d be tough to the the money back out, but if you plan to use the gun you’ll get your money’s worth out of it. The guys at Tooth and Nail are very pleasant to deal with and they will make sure that your gun works as you expect.
To me, the RAAC gun will always be a big disappointment. Supposedly there is a Gen II that is better, but they have not returned my contacts to get one, probably because mine was one of the few back in the day that reflected what the buyers were out there saying. There was no RAAC booth where it used to be at SHOT this year, so I was not able to speak to them directly either. Ultimately this gun will be relegated as an also ran, but perhaps that is where Turkish shotguns in general belong? In a gunfight I’d take a Mossberg 500 or a KSG any day over this piece of …ahum. But mine’s nice now anyway.