Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MArooned Product Review: MG Arms K-Yote, Part 1

At the NRA convention in April, Ambulance Driver and I stopped by the MG Arms booth to ogle their custom rifles. They have a line of ultra-light bolt action rifles that AD found particularly drool-worthy, whereas I was drawn to the K-Yote line, as I've always taken offense to the notion that the AR-15 platform is not a hunting platform.

After the convention, I heard from Jean at MG Arms. They were interested in sending me a rifle to try out; did I have any hunting planned? As it turns out, I'd started thinking about going to Colorado in the fall to try my hand at varminting, having heard tales of derring-do from last year from my roving reporter SCI-FI. I'd started to make plans to head to CO regardless, and when given the chance to take one of MG Arm's fine hunting rifles with me, well, Mom G. didn't raise any dummies.

A few weeks before leaving for Colorado, a K-Yote arrived at my local fun store:

The Harris bipod is mine, otherwise that's how I took it out of the box. It has a 24" fluted, match-grade free-floating barrel, a JARD target trigger set at 2.5 pounds (yes, 2.5. Do not flip the safety off until you are ready to shoot!), and a Magpul PRS stock. A 6-20X Leupold VX3 scope sits atop the flattop upper, and compliments the rifle perfectly. Even long distance shots were easy with the fine glass and excellent rifle.

MG Arms boasts sub-MOA accuracy, and I'd believe it. Even the most cursory of range outings with me as the loose nut behind the trigger saw 1 MOA or better groups over a wide variety of ammunition ranging from FMJ plinking rounds to high-end handloads (both from MG Arms as well as Wally himself).

But this review is about how the K-Yote did out in the field. I'll write up the bench shooting in a later review when I have more time to review my notes. This time, it's all about reducing the native prairie dog population. Now, I'll pause the review for a second to head off any PETA concerns. Read SCI-FI's report here, particularly this part:
It is only by walking these fields that I got to truly appreciate the conditions of Colorado this year: desiccated, dried, scorched, and eaten down to the roots.  What the droughts didn't kill, the prairie dogs surely did.  This isn't some stereotypical "rednecks hunting harmless critters" event as parodied by Hollywood -- these are pests in extreme overdrive. We get to practice shooting on live targets, but the ones we don't shoot will be eradicated by other means.  It truly is "Us versus Them."  A farmer gets a 6% return on his investment at best; the more of his crop and cattle he can bring to market, the better a percentage he can eke out of the land.  This isn't a Yuppie making a six-figure salary on Wall Street, nor a smelly hippy protesting Wall Street while living off Mommy and Daddy.  This is where the rubber meets the road... and where our food comes from.
He's not kidding, either. As we walked the field, Ambulance Driver pointed out the various prairie dog towns. Some abandoned, with poison having killed off the majority of the p-dogs; some simply deep underground. The holes made render the grazing fields literally uninhabitable for the cows - the deep holes mean a broken leg or worse, so this becomes unusable land right quick. The prairie dogs that we don't shoot will be poisoned, meaning they pose a threat to predators in offering tainted meat.

We started off in a gated pasture, parking the truck and walking in. After only a few minutes I really regretted leaving the sling back at the car - totally my fault, mind you. The K-Yote is meant to be slung; I, like an idiot, figured I could carry it - it's certainly lighter than my Savage, right? Lesson learned. While it is indeed light and handy, it's not that light. Weerdbeard dropped a couple with the bolt-action Tikka .223, shooting over the roof of the Toyota to make the first kill. The hunt was on.

We settled in on a section of fence and glassed a nearby ( < 600 yards) prairie dog town. We could see plenty of motion out by the ridge, but even the .223 Remington wasn't going to make those shots with enough reliability to take the chance on missing and going over the berm. We waited, patiently, and were rewarded by renewed activity in the prairie dog world (they are *dumb* as well as vermin).

Resting the K-Yote on top of a fence post, I found a prairie dog town with a great deal of activity about 300 yards out. Aiming at moving targets has absolutely no similarity to a paper target, and I quickly came to understand the whole "hunting thing" - it is absolutely addicting. Tracking, following, deciding; your decisions must be quick, accurate, and immediate. I missed numerous dogs waiting for the perfect shot; in the field, the perfect truly is the enemy of the good.

And then the first hit! 

Until this trip, I had only taken potshots at squirrels at SCI-FI and B's cabin in Maine, hardly anything that could be considered hunting. The culmination of a fine rifle, an exquisite trigger pull just right for the best shot, a lazy, fat prairie dog, and a light touch leads to my first downed dog. The hawk that settled in a few minutes later to enjoy the spoils of my shooting confirmed the kill - we had no desire to walk a good quarter mile to the end of the fence and then back.

We piled into the truck and moved to a different section of pasture. This one had a handy berm where we could set up and wait, and I grabbed Ambulance Driver's emergency medical kit as an improvised rest. We started out with a clear section of grass where the prairie dogs were scurrying around, and Ambulance Driver nailed one clean in the noggin at about 150 yards - that boy is a deadeye.

The K-Yote simply excels at prone, rested shooting. I didn't realize it, but I was wandering further and further out at an area that no one else was targeting. I scored several direct hits, but realized something as we walked the area after the shooting was done: a wounded prairie dog goes to ground when hit. They dive right back into their holes. I did manage to come across some proof of hits:

Insides on the outside and blood in the hole. That is a soon-to-be ex-prairie dog. I turned from this hole and ranged the distance to the berm where we were shooting (using the most excellent Leupold RX-800i laser rangefinder, natch!) - 381 yards. I made a killing shot on a creature the size of a football from nearly four football fields away. Two months later that still floors me... It is absolutely to the credit of the K-Yote that I was able to confidently take - and make - a nearly 400 yard shot.

What would I have done differently if I could do it again? There are several things. First off, I would have remembered the damn sling. That alone would have made a big difference. Again, this is in no way, shape, or form a knock at the K-Yote. For it's size it's remarkably light and easy to maneuver; however it's still a full-sized rifle with a 24" heavy barrel. It's heavy, and it gets noticeably more heavy the longer you carry it.

Secondly, the bipod. Shooting in the fenced in area the bipod wouldn't have made much of a difference, but on the plains it would have really be nice to have the sturdy rest. More ammo. Holy smokes, I never realized how much ammo I'd burn through while varmint hunting. I went through close to 50 rounds, and figured I wouldn't need even a fifth of that initially. Next time there will be four loaded 20 round magazines.

And lastly, I have to remember that, even behind the trigger of a finely crafted instrument like the K-Yote, shots will be missed if you hurry them or don't anticipate movement. Waiting an extra second to make certain you are steady to make the shot is fine; waiting ten seconds for the perfect shot, however, is not. I did find that once I got on target, the smooth, light trigger of the K-Yote meant that a prairie dog's lifespan was measured in milliseconds.

My experience with the K-Yote in the field, as limited as it was, was excellent. The rifle is a good weight for carrying - provided you have a sling; the recoil is minimal; the ergonomics excellent. The rifle is just amazingly accurate - despite being shipped out to me from TX, then down to CO, the zero at 200 yards was dead-on. The day before we went out hunting, we stopped at a section of farm to check zero, and it was spot-on at 200 yards. The trigger is crisp, clean, and very light - at 2.5 pounds, it doesn't take much at all. The K-Yote was a simply marvelous choice for varminting:

Look for Part II, which will cover the bench rested shooting, reliability, and ammo selectivity type issues, coming shortly!

That is all.


wolfwalker said...

That rifle design very strongly resembles the Barrett M82 fifty-cal sniper rifle. Coincidence?

.45ACP+P said...

A good sling, well used, can substitue for a bipod remarkably well. Get Thee to an Appleseed and learn how. LOL

RipRip said...

P-dogs are like little Marines no one gets left behind. They will drag dead ones down the hole to be eaten, saw it a few times in South Dakota.

Ambulance Driver said...

If we'd have made use of that Leopold laser rangefinder and the ballistics calculator on my iPhone a little earlier, we'd have scored on a lot more.

That K-Yote is one freaky accurate AR.