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Caracal Firearms

by Home Defense Gun Staffer Bob

Caracal Firearmscaracal firearms

Normally, I would have a hard time brewing up too much sympathy when a bunch of oil sheiks lose some money on an investment. It’s kind of like Hugh Hefner complaining that he couldn’t get a date for Saturday night. Gee Hef, you sure got it rough. That having been said, I guess I do harbor a little pity for the folks who run Caracal. Yeah, they’re oil sheiks and they probably don’t especially miss any of the coin they’ve spent on their gun company, but I still feel kind of bad for them. Caracal just can’t seem to catch a break.

The 2013 SHOT Show was basically Caracal’s coming out party. They covered just about every flat surface in Las Vegas with orange Caracal signs and had a booth at the Sands that was so big it probably would have made a decent homestead, acreage-wise. Beyond the flood of promotional imagery, Caracal actually had some darn interesting products, though. Caracal’s bolt-action rifles, designed for military/law enforcement or competition use, put me in mind of the old Tubb 2000 rifles, and they are just as accurate from what I can see. Caracal had pistol caliber carbines (in a world with darn few good ones) that were designed from the ground up for serious work. Even though Caracal had a fascinating collection of shoulder arms what really stood out were their pistols. These polymer-framed sleek little heaters looked like the offspring of a Glock and a CZ 75, with the tough build of the former and the ergonomics of the latter. To say the least, they were impressive to handle; the display models were probably all but ruined from the gun writers dry-firing them.

Sadly, right after the SHOT Show ended Caracal had to murmur one of the dirtiest words in the gun industry: recall. Gun companies hate to say the R-word. It’s an expensive word and a little more than just embarrassing. See, guns are supposed to fire bullets. The rub is that they are only supposed to fire when the operator wants them to. Normally, some owner discovers a problem and begins to raise Cain. In the case of Caracal, the problem was discovered by one of their own testing people. Apparently, one of their test guns would drop the firing pin when it was accidentally tossed on a concrete floor. This problem was brought to light after the pistol had already been vetted by several European product safety agencies and a couple of militaries, so nobody saw it coming. I hate to say it, but there are a lot of companies out there who would sit on the fence when they discovered something like this. It’s a one in a million chance you’ll get sued, so why go through the expense and bad press of a recall? Faced with this decision, Caracal didn’t bat an eye — they issued a recall. They did the right thing, erring on the side of their customers’ safety, something that seems to be becoming a trend with modern corporations.

Caracal isn’t the first gun company to ever do a recall on a pistol and they won’t be the last. Heck, some guns turn out to be less than they should be, get fixed, and go on to enjoy great popularity. Our current military-issue sidearm, the Beretta 92, has experienced a lot of growing pains that had to be addressed after it was vetted and adopted as our official pistol. You may also have noticed that many lever guns now wear manual safeties, since somebody finally came to the conclusion that a wet, slippery thumb on a wet, slippery hammer isn’t the safest combination out in the hunting woods.

Caracal reworked their pistols, making them some of the most tested and retested guns in history, and was back this year at the SHOT Show. They spent a little less on advertising, but they still had a giant booth and everyone was looking forward to trying out their pistols at the range. Caracal’s CP661 and CP662 models are the reworked versions of their original guns. In addition to their previous offerings they’d also drummed up the CP663, which is Caracal’s take on the CZ 75, and the CP664, which is a striker-fired pistol with CZ 75-type controls. I was chomping at the bit to try them out when we got to the range in Boulder. Once there I was told that all the Caracal pistols with firing pins, but not the display models, had been hung up in customs. Like I said, Caracal just can’t catch a break.

Caracal pistols still don’t hold much of a share in the American market, which is kind of a pity. Caracal has enough capital behind it to try new things, which is something the pistol market could use: somebody to shake things up a bit. Their quick acquisition sights will change the way you think about pistol sights and I’ve never handled one of their handguns that didn’t have a trigger to die for. If you’re lucky enough to see a Caracal in your local gun store, check it out, appreciate how good it really is, and don’t let a little bad press sour you on a very well-made product.

 

Photo Credit – Francis Finch

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