SSG-97 in 7.62x51 Review
the SSG-97C in 7.62x51 from InterOrdnance two weeks after making the order.
Inside of the cardboard box the rifle was still in the factory plastic
bag covered in medium-weight protective oil. Accessories included were
one 10 round thermo-plastic magazine, one 8x42 Belarus PSOP scope, cleaning
kit with oil bottle and cleaning rod, one green web sling, one test target
and a color manual (English) for the SSG-97 series of rifles. The
The metal to metal fit was better than expected and all rivets were securely in place and well executed. Numerous deep machining marks were noted on non-critical surfaces of the bolt carrier and bolt, but attention was paid to the areas that required it. The scope rail was securely attached, though numerous rough milling marks were still present. The unusual muzzle brake is welded to the barrel under the front sight and the bayonet lug has been removed. The chrome-lined barrel has 4 groove right hand rifling with a 1:10 twist. The sights are typical Simonov / Kalashnikov with the rear sight having “P” battle setting and graduated from 100 to 300 meters. The bolt carrier has the gas piston attached a la AK with the familiar rotating bolt.
The attractive laminate butt stock is well constructed and covered with an even coat of lacquer. It has a poorly fitted and roughly cut grip cap. The butt plate is ribbed metal. Wood to metal fit is poor with numerous large gaps and overly long relief cuts. The butt stock is held securely in place with two screws on top and one nut the under the tang. The upper hand guard was well executed but had numerous runs in the lacquer. As typical with ROMAK’s, the lower hand guard was cut by a blind man. The front end of the lower hand guard was uneven and was covered in four layers of lacquer with numerous runs. This was easily fixed with a file and sandpaper, but seems to be a fairly common defect found on the ROMAK/SSG series.
The SSG-97 was supplied test fired and the iron sights zeroed. The rifle was provided with a test target shot with open sights at 100 meters. The four shot group measured 2.5 inches. I fired five rounds of LC 66 ball with the iron sights at 100 yards and was rewarded with a very nice 3 inch cluster. I switched over to reloaded ball ammo and found they would not fully chamber. These reloads were full-length sized on RCBS equipment after being fired in my M1A Super Match! The SSG has a surprisingly tight chamber on the very lower end of minimum tolerances. One may encounter problems with some surplus and reloaded ammunition.
I switched back to
LC ball, and then the magazine græmlin raised
its ugly head. The second to the last round in the magazine would
jam every time. Upon inspection of the magazine, I found that the bolt
would hit the magazine follower when stripping the second to last round.
When this happened, the front of the follower would take a nose dive and
the last round in the magazine literally imbedded itself into the front
of the plastic magazine body. I later determined that the follower is
a tad short. Affixing a creditcard-thick shim to the front of the magazine
follower eliminated all feeding problems.
With the 8x42 scope installed, I was able to post some very nice 2.5 inch groups with Indep FNM 86 ball. Handloaded 165 grain Sierra BTHP’s came in at 1.25 MOA and 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips delivered 0.8 MOA. Fired cases were briskly ejected 15 feet to my right. The thin barrel heated up quickly, and with 94° weather with matching humidity, it wasn’t cooling down. I cut the range session short before trying any factory Match Grade ammo, but I had enough evidence of the rifle’s potential. The two stage trigger was gritty at first but smoothed out after just a few magazines. Trigger pull measured at 6 lbs, but felt more like 4.