Caracal 814 Pistol – Review

in AR-15, Authors, Clay Martin, Gun Reviews
Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
Ready to make the donuts

Currently from Boise, ID, Caracal has been chalking up wins for the last few years. And the 814 is no different. Most known to the US customer for the Enhanced F series pistols, Caracal has been quietly creeping up in rifles. And now, “pistols” as well.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
A workhorse if not a beauty queen

Caracal is kind of a strange company to understand. Caracal USA is a subsidiary of Caracal International, who are well known in the military arms world. Caracal USA not only covers the civilian sector with things like the 814 pistol but the Western Hemisphere in military terms. While they did introduce the Enhanced F pistols to us a few years back at SHOT Show, they have mostly been quiet in the civilian market on rifles. A lot of that had to do with bandwidth. Supplying a great host of allied nations with new assault rifles and sub guns takes a lot of machine time. But finally, they have turned their attention to us.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
A2 style flash hider, the only plain thing about this gun

The 814 is part of a family of AR guns, which includes pistols and rifles. Available in 5.56 and 300 AAC, the lineup covers full-size, SBR’s, 14.5 inch pistols, and 11.5 inch pistols. We opted for the 11.5-inch pistol to look at this week, as 11.5 is one of the sweet spots for this type of gun. And while the 814 won’t win any magazine covers for innovative looks, it has some serious engineering under the hood.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
Excellent handguard construction

About the only thing, not special on this gun is the A2 style flash hider. And while it might not be sexy, it does work. Hence, we have been using the same one in the military since 1982. It does a decent job of flash signature reduction and an okay job of reducing muzzle climb. Given the stunning array of muzzle devices on the market, as well as the growth of suppressor ownership, perhaps Caracal just opted to let the customer make the final call for something more to their own taste.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
Caracal custom lower

The barrel is, as stated, 11.5 inches. Which is a nice balance of velocity and size in this type of gun. 11.5 is seen less these days, but was the original for the SBR AR/M16 family. This barrel, however, is more than meets the eye. Caracal is borderline obsessed with obstruction testing because that plays a huge role in many military testing protocols. Caracal has a video floating around of slamming a full power round into an obstruction, hammering them both out with a rod, and the gun goes back to shooting. That is…insane. But it is nice to know you have a gun that won’t break if you drop it on a pile of pillows.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
The handguard is key locked to the upper receiver.

The handguard also should not be dismissed. Pictures do not do it justice, and it’s easy to get lost in the black on black on black with some more black. Designed and built in-house, the MLOK compatible rail is light but robust. I mean that it feels solid in a way many handguards do not these days, and that is a big plus in my book. The flat sides are awesome for shooting from cover. At 9.1 inches, it is also long enough to use. Many guns in this price range have a very short rail, as a cost savings. 9.1 is long enough for modern grip shooting, while leaving plenty of space for a can. The top of the rail is “key locked” to the upper receiver, ie a tab machined in to ensure the rail can never cant. This is a well-thought-out feature, and I bet we see others copy it in the future.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
Trijicon MRO used for testing

The trigger I wanted to be mad about, but I can’t. Caracal calls it the “enhanced duty trigger”, which is usually marketing code for “mil-spec trash, but we made it shiny.” In this case, however, Caracal actually did a very good job of cleaning up a duty trigger. No, it isn’t a Geissele or a Trigger Tech. Not only would that be unexpected at this price, but it is often not allowed for LE duty weapons. There is a minimum weight before the lawyers start clutching pearls, usually about 5 pounds. Caracal comes in at 5.25, but it is very crisp. There is a very tiny bit of creep at the front of the trigger, but you have to be looking for it to notice. As far as non-Gucci triggers go, this one is very very good.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
Latchless charging handle

The lower receiver isn’t all Plain Jane, which was unexpected. It has some unique cuts, including a bit of machine work at the front of the mag well. I would actually think these are strengthening ribs as opposed to lightening cuts, as they are thicker than a mil-spec receiver in these areas. Point Caracal. The magazine well also features a slight flare, making those reloads just a little bit faster.

Caracal 814 Pistol - Review
Ambi safety

An H2 buffer rides inside an SBA 3 brace, which is easily in my top choices. This brace does a great job of attaching to your forearm, but if the Velcro did slip off and it hit you in the shoulder, it would feel just like a minimalist AR stock. In Minecraft. I also really like that the SBA 3 has QD attachment points at the rear, for a sling. But if you are running a single point, Caracal has another great option. Below the stakeless castle nut is another centered QD point, which provides perfect balance on a single point. While eliminating the need for those annoying endplates with the loops. Those always cut my hands to ribbons when I’m shooting, I’m not a fan. Caracal, it is obvious, did some shooting with the gun before they put it into mass production.

Caliber: 5.56 x 45mm NATO
Operating principle: Gas Operated, Piston
Modes of fire: Safe and Semi, or optional Select Fire
Overall Length (stock extended): 27.3″ (693mm)
Overall Length (stock collapsed): 24″ (609mm)
Barrel Length: 11.5″ (406mm)
Barrel Contour: Modified M4
Barrel Material: 4150 CMV, QPQ Black Nitride
Rifling Twist: 1:7” (1:178mm)
Flash Hider: A2 Style – ½”-28 Threads
Weight w/o Magazine: 6.5 lbs. (2.9kg)
Trigger type: EDT® Sharp Shooter
Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs.  (2.5kg)
Magazine type: Polymer with Steel Feed Lips
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds / 10 rounds
Hand Guard: Caracal® 9.1″ with M-LOK®, integrated QD
Butt stock: SBA3 Pistol Brace
Grip: Caracal®
Price: $1389

All in all, the Caracal 814 is workhorse, and a bargain for what you get. No, it doesn’t have this year’s hottest lines. It isn’t going to get its own Instagram channel and Victoria’s Secret sponsorship. But it is a solid, well-built, do it all gun, that will survive things the supermodel lightweights get the vapors just thinking about. As AR pistols go, this is one of the best for the money you are going to find.

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