Check out the Blaze-47 at Mossberg: http://www.mossberg.com/product/blaze-47-autoloading-rifle-37255/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: /Search.aspx?T=mossberg%20blaze
Mossberg has been pushing the limits of brand identity. For as long as most of us can remember, the brand has been associated with the Mossberg 500. And rightly so; when a gun like the 500 works unfailingly, costs next to nothing, and exists in every permutation imaginable, it tends to build a certain following.
Yet Mossberg makes rifles. The MVP–my favorite–is a rock star. And now they’ve broadened their proverbial horizons by building a value-minded line of rimfire rifles. The Blaze. In this case, its the Blaze-47. This raucous rimfire proves Mossberg doesn’t take itself too seriously.
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When I first heard that Mossberg was releasing a rimfire AK copy, I’d hoped for a true copy. I wanted an affordable, reliable training tool that would run like my Arsenal. After-all, I’m slowly building up a stockpile of .22 LR, and I think it is high-time I start running through my stash. I’m a die-hard rimfire shooter, and would rather walk around in the woods with a good .22 LR than go to the range with a high-powered rifle.
It isn’t an AK-47. No one who has ever looked closely at the Blaze-47, or held one, would mistake the two. And the operation of the Blaze-47 isn’t synonymous with the Kalashnikov. It looks like an AK-47, and that’s about where the similarity ends. I first saw the gun almost a year ago, and I was struck by the weight and the reliance on plastic. The Blaze is a gun designed to meet a certain (and very low) price point. As such, it feels more like a toy than a rifle.
Is that last statement in any way damning of Mossberg’s creation? I don’t think so. Saying that the rifle feels like a toy is honest. If you pick up many of the Airsoft guns available these days, they feel like guns. That’s not the case with the Blaze-47. It is lighter than most rimfire rifles of similar size. And it relies heavily on plastic. The whole body of the gun is made from a shell that meets along the center-line.
The wood, though, is wood. This helps with the feel. And the trigger guard is a bent piece of steel. There are certainly places where Mossberg has tried to stay true-to-form, and other obvious places where they’ve taken their Blaze rifle guts and wrapped up in faux AK trimmings. But the end result is still a fun gun, and a great rifle for running through a brick of .22 LR.
Shooting the Blaze-47
This is the section where we’d typically break out the old chronograph and trigger scale and see what this beast of a gun looks like by the numbers. But to hell with such formalities. This is a fun gun, and no one–not a single living soul–is ever going to make a buying decision concerning the Mossberg Blaze-47 because of its trigger pull, or because the gun puts up astonishing speeds.
I will say this. The trigger is clean. There’s a lot of slop in it early–it wiggles around a bit, but when the slack is taken up, it hits a wall–somewhere around 4 pounds–and breaks with a nice crisp snap. It is heavy enough that you won’t accidentally pull through just taking up the slack, and not so heavy that you’ll muscle shots off-line trying too hard. For this price-range, the trigger is solid and better-than-average.
The weight of the Blaze-47 makes it easy to hold, espescially for kids. And yet there’s enough mass that there’s no recoil or muzzle-flip. That makes it even more kid-friendly. The sights, which are bright and easy to pick up, make target aquisition fast.
In short–the Blaze-47 is a dynamic rifle that’s fun to shoot. It epitomizes plinking. As for other applications, the gun may be a bit limited. The rifle’s controls aren’t designed for speed, which will limit its appeal for those looking for an entry-level competition gun. There’s no easy way to attach a scope, which would limit its appeal for those looking for a small-game gun. But plinking is enough, and for that the Blaze is ideal.
There’s a lot to say here. We’ve already addressed the trigger. The safety would be next, and is decidedly un-AK. It has more in common with the feel of an AR safety. It works well, too.
The mag release is typical of rimfires, and not as easy to index as an AK mag lever. You thumb it free. Id hardly count this as a drawback, as it isn’t highly likely that you’ll be needing to do fast magazine changes. The mags rock in and lock securely, feed reliably, and are easy enough to fill up and empty–but they’re not designed for fast-action-reloads.
The charging handle is easy to access, and (if you pull it out, away from the gun) can be used to lock the bolt back. This is especially helpful for clearing jams (should one occur). It is also helpful for loading, as the mag seats in cleanly.
Operational costs and benefits
So… a show of hands. How many of you out there have noticed that .22 LR is back in stock? My local shops have ample supplies of CCI, Eley, Aguilla, and I’m even seeing more bricks of Remington. The best prices for a brick seem to be in the $30 range. While that isn’t as cheap as I’d like, it is better than the $80 bricks I’d seen a year ago.
7.62×39, though, isn’t that much more expensive. When I think of plinking, I’m very likely to pick up a real AK. I see a tactical benefit to the development of pin-point accuracy derived from experiential target acquisition at unknown distances. That’s plinking. You shoot, judge that shot, and shoot again. You shoot random sized objects at random distances. And when you miss, you correct and shoot again. When the ammo costs aren’t prohibitive, shooting like that is fun. And 7.62×39 and .22 LR are still my favorite choices (followed closely by .223 and 9mm).
But not all shooters are ready for the bigger soviet round. That little rimfire is much less daunting for a kid. Now, lest you think I’m suggesting that the Blaze-47 is a toy, this isn’t a toy. But it is a great way to teach skills, inspire a love of shooting, and maybe even foster an appreciation for the Kalashnikov platform. Take a kid that’s plugged into Call-of-Duty and spend some time at the range teaching the fundamentals on a Blaze-47 before moving them up to a more powerful caliber. I guarantee it will be time well spent.
At the end of my time with the Blaze-47, I keep coming back to the plinking idea. The best part of the package is its price. I’ve seen them listed for $225. That’s a steal. You could leave your gun store with a rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo for under $300. Not bad.