Letter Re: HK 9X Series Rifles Handling for Left-Handers

Dear Captain Rawles,
I have not trained with a PTR-91 but have only handled them in a Cabela’s store. I really like them and am especially fond of the wood stock versions, my wife even likes how they look in wood furnishings ( a key attribute in making a major purchase) The sights are even nice.
One thing I haven’t figured out is how, as a lefty, to manipulate the far forward mounted charging handle. Even with a 37″ sleeve on a 6′-3″-tall lanky guy I just can’t reach that far to charge the weapon while still mounted to my left shoulder.
Is there is some training protocol, short of completely taking the weapon off shoulder and cheek weld and off target to rack the bolt?
Or is it entirely not necessary in changing mags to even access this lever?
I came away with the feeling it was a dedicated right handed weapon.

JWR Replies: As a left-hander, you will have to break your cheek weld if you completely empty a magazine on a HK 9(X) series rifle.  (HK 91/93/94 and clones thereof.) Mel Tappan and others have advocated loading the last two or three rounds of each magazine with tracers, as a visual mag swap reminder. (One proviso: tracers are not legal to shoot in some localities. Consult your state and local laws.) With enough practice on rifles that are equipped with a “paddle” magazine release, magazines can be changed for either the right or left shoulder shooters without breaking your cheek weld. And if you switch magazines often, then you won’t have to touch the charging handle at all. Granted, remembering to do so is easier said than done, in the heat of combat. (An aside: By God’s grace, I’ve never been in a gunfight, but I’m confident that regular practice and accumulated muscle memory will carry me through.)

As for the second part of your question: What if you are left-handed and do shoot the rifle completely dry? If you practice, then you can learn to pivot an HK rifle about 60 degrees along its axis without removing from your shoulder, then cycle (or slap) the charging handle with you right hand, and then quickly pivot it back. If you practice this “snap pivot” enough times, then it will become ingrained muscle memory.  It seems that the difference between average shooters and the Miculeks of the world for any particular weapon manipulation is about 3,000 consistent repetitions.

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