BR 99 Issues

Posted: July 13, 2015 in Product Reviews
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I’ve conducted a test of the BR 99 shotgun over the last several months to decide whether or not I wanted to use it for regular security work.  The original appeal of the platform was low entry-level cost and AR-style controls.  I also liked the idea of being able to switch quickly between different types of ammo, especially since it is possible to carry 5-round mags on the belt.

There are plenty of good reviews of this shotgun online, so instead of an in-depth review with a lot of repetitive information, I will simply mention the issues I experienced with the platform.

While the 5-round mag functioned flawlessly out of the box, I had issues with the MKA-1919 10-round magazine.  I shot a variety of slug and buck during a 55-round test session and the 10-round mag experienced feed issues with everything except Hornady Zombie Max.  The BR 99 really likes Zombie Max :)

To make sure it was not the ammo or operator error, I ran five rounds through the 5-round magazine and five of the same load through the 10-round magazine.  With the exception of Zombie Max, rounds through the 5-round mag. ran like a dream, no matter how fast I pulled the trigger.  I always had a feed issue with the 10-rounder that was loaded with five or more rounds.  These issues persisted in a subsequent 60-round practice session.

I originally wrote it off to magazine break-in, then I discovered another issue during cleaning.  The BR-99 does break down and clean very easily – even a caveman like me can do it :)  The next issue I noticed was excessive fouling collecting along the guide rod by the piston.  This accumulation made it quite difficult to remove the barrel.

br99-wear

i had a gunsmith look at it and he immediately recommended an aftermarket guide rod and piston.  3 Gun USA sells quite a few aftermarket parts and after a discussion with their staff, we discovered that this is a known issue with the BR-99.

Now, I have no problem upgrading the internals of the shotgun.  It’s kind of like buying a Saiga.  You are going to have to invest a bit of money in tuning the internals to get it to work the way you expect.

Except that brings us to the next issue.  Magazine reliability.

Consider the situation where you load the shotgun at the beginning of a shift and it is unloaded at the end of a shift.  I’m not talking about jamming the magazine in hard, or giving it a hard slap after seating, or trying to insert a magazine with a closed bolt.  I noticed after a couple weeks of loading and unloading at the beginning and end of the day that eventually the thin metal feed lips became just barely bent.  It wasn’t much, but enough to cause the shell to jam when closing the bolt.

This occurred initially with the five-round magazine, so the gunsmith I worked with bent the metal back in place.  That worked for a few days and then the problem occurred again.  I switched to a 10-rounder that had been used in a couple long practice sessions, so it had already been inserted and extracted several times.  It took about another six days before it jammed on attempting to feed the first round (with nine total loaded in the mag.)

Again, I’m willing to put a certain amount of time and money into a platform to get it to work, but this was a bit too much.  When the BR 99 shoots, it shoots very well.  It’s light and has a great overall feel, but there are too many issues to overcome to make it a reliable platform for day-to-day security work.

So, it has been sold to a gunsmith who wants to tinker with these issues both to learn more about the platform and to see if he can get it to work reliably in a demanding environment.  I will post more observations and results as they are conveyed to me.