Was jamming around the Sportsmans Warehouse in CO Springs a couple weeks ago and stumbled upon an AR-15 platform rifle I’d neither seen or heard of before. The gentleman behind the counter was gracious enough to hand it to me, though he didn’t seem overly fit to handle many of the questions I had about THAT specific rifle. I wanted to know about Hogans in Arizona, their Made in the U.S.A. guns and what the intended purpose would be.
The basics were simple enough. At first glance, the Hogan H223 16 looks like a race gun. By race gun I mean it’s built to function reliably, it’s extremely lightweight, well balanced and even a little racy to look at if you get excited over how a gun looks like I do. The Hogan H223 16 came stock with an ergo grip (my personal favorite, see the Remington R-15 Review) and the buttstock was the 6 position Vltor EModstock (we cover it briefly in the Choosing a Stock portion of the Building an AK-47 series) which is super functional and balances the overall weight of the gun very well.
The operating system is a short stroke gas piston system which means rather than using direct gas impingement like the typical and classic AR-15 design, the gas block on the front end of the barrel charges a rod which strikes the bolt throwing it rearward to cycle a round instead of using gas blowing directly onto the bolt to cycle a round. In all honesty, it’s cleaner, cooler (well the bolt is, the barrel gets HOT) and more reliable than traditional AR-15 style rifles.
The lower receiver is billet machined (not forged) from a solid block of aluminum and features an integrated open trigger guard and a flared magazine well for fast reloading (remember I said “think race gun?”). Probably my favorite built-in feature this gun has even aside from the lightweight vented free float forend, the Ergo grip and the Vltor stock is the integrated bolt catch release on the RIGHT side of the receiver approximately where a right handed shooter’s trigger finger would rest. The gun feels great, has a mean muzzle brake, fluted HBAR style barrel and thought it doesn’t come with any open sights, there’s plenty of rail space for a low powered optic, open sights and a reflex style red dot so everyone is happy. I mentioned the weight and balance once and here’s why: Typically with piston guns (both ARs and AKs), they tend to be a little front heavy because of the extra hardware located past the main receiver. While it’s not a lightweight for a rifle by any means, the Hogan H223 16 feels much lighter than AR platform rifles with a similar configuration and features.
Now for the bad news. Sorry, but even in this day in age where it’s tough to find a “bad” firearm, there’s occasionally bad news. The mating between the upper and lower receivers is a little loose. The shooter would do well to ad an Accu-Wedge to help tighten things up. But because of the other bad news (the price), at $1800 in Sportsmans, it seems like the overall fit and finish should be just a little better. Call me cheap, frugal, tightwad, whatever, but in the end the gun that boasts the best value AND product wins in my mind.
The full rundown with tremendously in depth specs and Made in U.S.A. pride can be found at Hogan’s Website along with descriptions for their other rifles as well (they also build .308 Winchester platform AR-10 rifles).