The Caracal Pistol: A New Animal for the Firearms Professional

The Caracal F with its unique foregrip, which also doubles as a spiked blade useful for breaking glass or as a defensive weapon.

We earlier briefly touched on the odd sights of the Caracal C and we were all a little amazed at the level of accuracy they allowed the shooters to attain.  With the short radius of 1.7 inches between the sights all test shooters had an assumption that it would be a hindrance to accuracy.  The part of the equation that appears to make them so effective is the increase in distance between the shooters eye and the rear sight.  While the distance from the eye of this writer to the rear sight of the Caracal F and most guns with “traditional” rear sights is approximately 14 inches, with the Caracal C the distance is close to 17.5 inches with the same hold.  We are sure this will be the topic of plenty of spirited debate in the future, but the performance we achieved when comparing the two guns was very close to identical, and that is even when using the shorter barrel of the Caracal C, which can frequently degrade accuracy.  One comment that rang out numerous times is that the close proximity of the rear and front target made it easier on the eye to get a good focus on the front sight without losing focus of the rear sight.  The sight on the Caracal C, named the “Quick Sight” will also be available as an option on the full-size Caracal F.

Testing the real effective range of the stocked version we moved further back after the initial round of shooting to ranges more suited for a “carbine” than a pistol.  All shooters found the maximum “sweet spot” with the stocked pistol to be in the range of 15-yards.  Groups were fired at 10 yards, 15 yards and 25 yards.  At 10 yards, the groups were extremely tight when compared to shooting unassisted.

When testing commenced at 25 yards the groups opened considerably, many even wider than when using no stock.  After completing this exercise numerous times it was our conclusion that the stock brought the sights so close to the eye of the shooter it actually made it difficult to focus on the front blade and still maintain a good line of sight with the target area.  It was universally believed that a different sight would be very helpful for the firearm to attain its true potential at the further “carbine distances” and the pistol had much more accuracy potential than we could achieve with the addition of just the stock.  It would have been interesting to try the sighting system of the shorter Caracal C in conjunction with the stock but we were not able to do so.

The left side of the grip of the Caracal F. It is checkered on the front and the back. The magazine release can be seen to the rear of the trigger.

The next phase of testing with the stock moved in to 15 yards and a significant improvement was seen at this distance.  At 15 yards the groups again tightened up as would be expected for a stocked pistol.  The sights, along with the target were in sync with all shooters, much better than at the 25-yard distance.

It was our conclusion that the hardest issue to overcome for accurate shooting at long distances is the sights, which are designed for much shorter distances.  To remedy this issue Caracal will have a sight mount available for use with many of the small “dot-type” sights, which will improve the accuracy greatly.

Here are a few comments from the test shooters on the stocked pistol in general:

Stock Length.  One thing this writer found refreshing about the stock was the length.  It feels longer than many other pistol stocks.  It is comfortable to shoot and at close distances the improvement in accuracy was greatly increased.

Stock Function.  The stock allowed function of all controls while in place, which is a plus.  It did, however, take a little manipulation or a conscious effort to perform the normal tasks.  One shooter could engage the magazine release in a normal manor while another with shorter fingers could not.  Possibly enlarging the space in the stock where it is attached to the pistol could make the controls easier to utilize by allowing more of the shooter’s hand to fit into the space.

Stock Fit.   The stock locked up tight and retained its position well due to the manual release pin at the bottom of the grip and the engagement slot at the top, under the slide.  It is very solid.  One thing that may be helpful to some would be a riser or comb built into the stock allowing the shooter to achieve a cheek weld.  In its current configuration, even though it steadies the platform greatly, it is not possible to attain a cheek weld and still have the ability to utilize the sights.

The rear sight of the Caracal F is in the traditional location. Heavy serrations are present on both slides for a positive grip when pulling the action to the rear for loading or unloading.

Phase II – Muzzle Velocity
Each pistol, along with a factory stock Glock 17 was tested with three types of ammunition.  Ammunition tested included Winchester “white box” bulk pack 115gr FMJ, Wolf 115gr FMY and Federal American Eagle 147gr FPFMJ.  Muzzle velocity testing was performed at 290 feet above sea level with an outside temperature of 62ºF.  Measurements were taken using a PACT MKIV XP chronograph and timer with Infrared screens, measured 8 feet from the muzzle.  The Glock was added to the testing for comparison purposes since it is a well-known and heavily tested platform familiar to most pistol shooters. A summary of the details are as follows:

Caracal F:
Win 115gr FMJ – Average MV 1,137 fps.
Wolf 115gr FMJ – Average MV 1,145 fps.
Federal 147gr FMJFP – Average MV 964 fps.

Caracal C:
Win 115gr FMJ – Average MV 1,072 fps.
Wolf 115gr FMJ – Average MV 1,104 fps.
Federal 147gr FMJFP – Average MV 920 fps.

Glock 17:
Win 115gr FMJ – Average MV 1,179 fps.
Wolf 115gr FMJ – Average MV 1,176 fps.
Federal 147gr FMJFP – Average MV 976 fps.

The Wolf ammo was, by far, the most consistent in all platforms with an average total extreme spread (ES) of only 25 fps.  The Federal was 2nd with an average of 77 fps and the Winchester came in at 127 fps.  There were a few erratic rounds in both the Winchester and the Federal strings that brought the average ES up in both, but none occurred with the Wolf.

Phase III – Basic Function Testing
This portion of the testing actually happens in the background throughout the entire time we are performing live fire exercises.  In this particular series of tests we fired approximately 500 rounds of ammo, with the majority of it being the Winchester 115gr FMJ.  We were pleasantly surprised that from the first break-in shot to the very last fired (so far) not a single malfunction of any type was recorded.

Just like it was explained to us before these were shipped, the pistols unique “low axis” design made a noticeable difference in the felt recoil and muzzle rise.  Controlled pairs were very easy.  When the Caracal F was fired with the shoulder stock there was a lack of muzzle rise and the recoil could even be felt as much more of a rearward force than a rising muzzle.

Observations
The Caracal is certainly a unique pistol with plenty of its own characteristics.  As we understand the original mission statement this is exactly the goal they wished to achieve during its conception.  There are a few specific features we thought warranted commenting on and will leave it up to the end user whether these are positive or not.  The first is the trigger.  With many semiautomatic designs the reset after firing is so defined it can sometimes be heard as a small “SNAP”, even by other shooters.  The reset position on the trigger of the Caracal pistols is more of a soft push with no audible indication.  After a very small amount of trigger time the exact point can be felt for tighter groups and follow shots when desired.  The back strap area has an aggressive look but our test shooters actually found it to be comfortable and smooth.  Some shooters prefer a heavily stippled and rough gripping surface while others do not so this is a matter of personal preference.  The sights are a “dot over dot” style.  Many of our test shooters tended to prefer, or have at least spent much more time with the standard 3-dot systems where all are lined up horizontally instead of vertically.  Although it was not a traditional feel it certainly did not hinder the performance.

Conclusions
Small Arms Defense Journal is very pleased to have been asked to bring the Caracal pistols to light in our pages.  While there are a few other publications that have requested them, and maybe even received them at this point, SADJ has received the only Caracal F registered as a Short barreled Rifle and shipped with the optional stock for additional testing.

The workmanship of all pistols and related accessories has been of very high quality.  There were absolutely zero malfunctions of any kind in any configuration and they performed exactly as they were advertised.  The recoil and muzzle rise for follow-up shots is extremely low as their design required.  The accessory rail was in spec to utilize any of the popular lights, lasers or grips on the market.  All who tested these pistols were anxious about their experience with a pistol arriving from UAE, as it was a first for all involved and no one had any reservations about the quality, function and reliability of them after some hands-on testing.  Every shooter who had the opportunity for live-fire testing impressed themselves in their shot placement abilities with all the Caracal models and configurations.  For such a foreign feeling gun at first impression they performed like something quite familiar within no time.

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