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Howling Raven is a company that has taken me to both ends of the spectrum when it comes to products. From the giddy elation of a child at Christmas to a doctor telling you that you have terminal cancer. The one thing that has impressed me, beyond all else, is their dedication to customer service.
Lets Go Back….
My story goes back 6 years or so. There was an extremely talented steampunk artist who went by the name, Datamancer. In a calguns.net forum post that spanned 3 years, Datamancer blogged about his development of a magazine extension to the point where he had a working model and was ready to work with a manufacturer and go into production. Sadly, this never came to pass as he died, tragically, in a car accident.
The concept was very much alive, a few people were making one-off’s by themselves and having moderate success. Brass Stacker was slated to be the manufacturer that continued on Datamancer’s design, but to date they have still not brought anything to market. Then, about a year ago, while looking to see if anyone had come up with a functional product, I came across this video from Howling Raven, demonstrating what I had been waiting for for years:
The build up…and let down
I was excited, to say the least. Here they had a working production model for $40 and I could get one in my hot little hands as soon as I forked over the cash. I made the order and they shipped the same day. Once I got the package in, I tore into it and got working on installing it. There were a few things that threw up red flags right away. The first was that the magazine body was made out of a very thin plastic. This wasn’t confidence-inspiring, but considering the wide variance in Mosin Nagant parts dimension, it was understandable that a product would have to be made that could be ‘altered’ to fit those differences. The other part that I thought was going to be an issue (and it did turn out to be) was the spring and follower. Well, the follower IS the spring. The magazine body, I think, would be workable, but the spring/follower design, because there was no anti-tilt mechanism, caused the rounds to bind up after the first 5 were loaded. This made it so that I had to completely uninstall the magazine from the rifle to un-jam the rounds and pull them out.
Making it right
Many tears were shed, but I made sure to write Howling Raven and relate my issues. To my surprise, within 30 minutes of sending the email, I had a phone call response directly from the owner saying that he wanted to make it right and so they would be sending me a replacement magazine body, which he felt was the primary issue. Hopes were raised and then dashed, soon after. The problem repeated itself and I consulted with the owner, saying that, at this point, I would rather return the items for a refund or I would be interested in exchanging them for the twist on muzzle brake that they had advertised. Without hesitation, the owner said that I could keep all the contents they had already sent over AND he would be shipping the muzzle brake, free of charge. I want to point out that the Howling Raven website says the following:
We are 100% committed to providing THE BEST customer service in the industry. If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to contact us 24/7. We will get back to you within 24 hours at the absolute latest. Click here for our team’s contact information
We also stand behind our products 100%. We don’t take anyone’s patronage for granted. Our busines model is built on word of mouth advertising. Satisfied customers are paramount to our continued success. And it also has the added benefit of being the right thing to do. Never hestitate to contact us!
I have found that statement to be absolutely true and they definitely deserve to be commended for it. While it could be that my Mosin is a unique snowflake, and I think we can all agree that it is, I also think there are still some inherent design issues that need to be worked on. Be that as it may, it seems to work in other rifles, so it may work in yours. I really hope that they are able to get it figured out. Now let’s move on to the fun stuff!
Mosins can be a pain in the ass. The barrels are a weird diameter, so if you want to get them threaded, not only is it going to cost you for the threading process but the diameter will require a weird thread spec and you’ll have a hard time finding a muzzle brake to match or you might have to bore out a .223 brake to .308 specs. The only options, previous to Howling Raven, were janky or obscene looking twist on brakes that were upwards of $100 or more. This priced them out of the range of most people, primarily because Mosins went for less or the same amount, at the time. Good luck finding a Mosin for under $150 right now. On their website, you can acquire the Howling Raven version for $42 + S&H, which is more than reasonable.
The fit and finish on the brake looked outstanding. It slid right on and twisted into place with no effort, compared to the Russian Bayonets, which sometimes could be so difficult to put on and take off that you would think they were meant to be permanent attachments. I took the supplied set screws and used blue Locktite to secure them into place with a little torque from my hex wrench. Job done. So, how did they actually work?
TL;DR – The Howling Raven 91/30 Muzzle Brake is the best muzzle brake I’ve ever had on any rifle I own. It knocks down the recoil to almost nothing and, amazingly enough, pushes the barrel down. If you had one accessory to get for the Mosin Nagant 91/30, this would be the one. The best part is that, now, they are advertising thread on versions of the same design for AK-47 variants (14×1 LH), any barrel threaded for 1/2 x 28, and .30 cal barrels threaded for 5/8 x 24. Each of these goes for $30 + S&H. My only suggestion to them would be to make one for 14 x 1 RH for the SKS owners out there. The design is an absolute winner and I have 2 other rifles that will be sporting these brakes as soon as my bank account allows.
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GearDisclosure.com: These products were purchased at full retail price. No financial compensation was provided to WLS for this interview.