Shooting – Testing the PTR 91 and 1897 Shotgun

It’s been a busy winter and spring is on us fast. I have a bunch of gun projects that have crept up on me. So I found myself with a few fee hours of off time and decided to shoot / test/ break-in some personal weapons. The first is a PTR 91 GI Model — An exact copy of a HK G3 on 308. The second is a used, tricked out Winchester 1897 Shotgun.


I have a confession to make. I am more of a “Tactical Shooter”. By that I mean I am more into military weapons, self defense, shooting and moving, building searches and the like. So..the PTR was a very specific and deliberate purchase. A truck gun project.


But the 1897 is really out of my element and was an impulse buy. One of my frequent gun-shops had it on the self for months. Used obviously. It seems a gentlemen was getting out of Cowboy Action Shooting and put it up for grabs. It languished for over 6 months with little notice.


Here’s my excuse. Freeze was showing me some of his old family shotguns. Model 12’s. An 1897 among others. I never really paid too much attention to them before but though his 28″ 1897 hunting gun seemed neat. Especially when he explained there was a take-down model. THAT got my attention. I LOVE takedowns. It’s a sickness.



1897 at the ready.

My friend Dr. Skunkworks has 1897 at the ready.


But this thing was amazing! The shortness is what got my attention on the shelf. Then I noticed the take-down button. But when I worked the action I literally let out a, “woah!”. The store owner, who I have known for at least 15 years must have known the hook was in my mouth. He grins and says, “That is a SASS gun. Completely worked over action.  And removable screw-in chokes”.


Further investigation showed the Winchester serial number indicated 1911 production year. Yeah, I was smitten. But we dickered on the price a bit but since it was a consignment piece, the store couldn’t move on it. I asked if they could reach out to the seller and get back to me. 5 days later, I came back in to pick it up.

By far, the neatest shotgun I own. The next time I go through a shotgun training, I’ll bring this along as a backup.


The PTR 91 is an entirely different long-gun with an entirely different purpose. It is a dedicated Truck Gun –Special note: My vehicle has a government grade safe in it.  All weather. All seasons. All temperatures. Which is a main reason why I choose the G3 pattern rifle. They are famous for their ability to work in cold and nasty conditions.

PTR 91 GI - HK 91 -G3 Clone

PTR 91 GI – HK 91 -G3 Clone

As for THIS rifle, I had been scoping out G3’s for a few months when I got an e-mail from Gabe Suarez. It seems he had another run of his PTR 91 GI pattern rifles coming through his shop. Since the GI PTR is literally an exact copy of the HK 91 / G3; it has a much better reputation for reliability than some of PTR’s other precision rifle models.

And he had New and like new G3 mags in bulk! Great!

So off to the range we go. My good friend and competitive shooter, “Dr. Skunkworks” went along. No issues. Ran like a champ. But since the ONLY garbage ammo I had in 308 was Privi Match 168, those cases are probably not-reloadable. Looking forward to testing steel cased and other 10ish grain loads.



We’ll keep you updated.




“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

  • Justin Mullins

    You can send that PTR to Bill Springfield to put a proper magazine release on it and make it a much better rifle. And return reloads and manual of arms to the way it should be on the MP5/G3 pattern guns.


      I’m not a fan of paddle mag releases in general. –Marky

  • Justin Mullins

    Here is the world I had him do on mine.

  • Eric Dave

    I’ve been following the PTR discussions and originally I thought I would be able to find one for around $600. I’ve checked the local (southern ID) gun shops and shows and have yet to see one under $950? Am I missing something here??

    Eric D.


      Eric, I am by no means an expert on the PTR / G3 / Hk 91 pattern rifles. I have noticed over the years that more and more non HK options exist for this wanting a G3 rifle. But I guess it comes down to what you wish to do?

      For me, I picked up the PTR 91 as a truck gun. It needs to run wet, dry, frozen, abused, neglected and even rusty. Seriously. It’s not a “fun gun”. And while it’s not quite a “work gun”, the parameters aren’t far off.

      So that lead me to the choose between a SCAR 17 and a G3 pattern rifle. While I love my SCARS, once I get a 17 squared away, I’m knocking on the door of $4000. For a truck gun. No thanks. While we are on the subject, a real HK was NEVER going to happen unless someone sold one at a stupid price.

      That left me with the PTR line. Frankly, the reports I see on the PTRs are spotty. After some research, I found out that is a result of PTR getting away from the original HK 91 / G3 blueprints and making boutique / specialty guns. i.e. “sniper variants”, etc. But that did leave the PTR GI model.

      The rifle I have is a PTR GI model with an included 1913 rail. It was a limited run by Gabe Suarez from Suarez International. $850 shipped. The rail was important for me since I typically run a modern red dot on my fighting rifles.

      I am not criticizing some of the cheaper G3 copies out there, but for my uses I wasn’t willing to risk the issues. Sure, one day I will pick up a C93 – 5.56 rifle from Century. For fun. I am of an age and time when that type of rifle was THE rifle all the cool kids had. And an affordable alternative from Century to plink and play would be cool. And I’m willing to accept a moderate amount of “function chasing” on a square range for that.

      But not on an honest to goodness emergency rifle. Be it for 2 legged or 4 legged problems.

      If you visit some of the G3 / Hk collector communities, they will be much more educated on what, when, where and why on these rifles. For example, I recently saw a comment referring to “early Century G3” copies that were desirable. Apparently one can tell them by some kind of weld around the mag well?

      Who’s got time for that nonsense? The answer is G3 guys.

      Not sure if I answered your question.


      • Eric Dave

        First off thanks for taking time to answer in a more than sufficient way. I appreciate your input and it helps me adjust my “plan” slightly. With the details you gave, I can fine tune my search. Keep shooting and having fun!!


          No problem, Eric. I’m glad you swung by. I’m sure many people had the same question.


  • B. Young

    I have PTR 91 with the long rail just like the picture can I add a factory HK carry handle? Not sure it will work…


      Never thought about that. I always look at those types of handles for barrel changes on LMGs. I would have to google it to see. My thinking is if you are trying to replicate an issue G3 / HK 91, maybe you do. But for function, you would want the 1913 rail. And…I’m guessing if you ever did put a magnified optic on that rifle, it might render the handle useless.

      I just googled some images to see what you were asking. Looking at this drawing, I am thinking it is possible. But I have never taken my PTR down to complete parts. One would have to see how the forearm structure is actuated connected the receiver. Since it appears the handle connects there, Maybe it is something PTR would do for you? Or maybe since the entire rifle is pressed sheetmetal, it’s not worth the effort / expense?

      Interesting question.