This article is about a very special version of the UPG-1 from Unique Alpine, which might also interest one or the other hunter. There are less than 100 of this version of the UPG-1 for all of Europe. What makes it special is the extremely short barrel of only 12 ½ inches, or about 32 centimeters. The bolt-action rifle is the result of a suggestion from Canada. There, the UPG was wanted as an alternative to the AR, because in Canada semi-automatics can only be purchased under very strict conditions, are practically unavailable to hunters and are generally prohibited for civilians above a certain (compact) overall length.
This UPG-1 variant was developed by Unique Alpine at the suggestion of an overseas distributor – We tested the rifle with Norma Ecostrike ammunition
This resulted in the request of a Canadian distributor for a UPG-1 with a barrel only 12.5 inches long. This rifle was manufactured exclusively in .308 Winchester caliber and was fitted with a 5/8 x 24 UNEF muzzle thread as an interface for a muzzle brake or silencer. In the European version of this bolt-action rifle, a fixed stock was added instead of a folding stock, so that the minimum length of 60 centimeters required in this country for long guns is not exceeded. Overall, the UPG-1 with fixed stock has a length of just 81 centimeters.
The matching suppressor for the short UPG-1 is also optionally available from Unique Alpine as the "Hunting Silencer 1", or JSD-1 for short. With this, the UPG-1 with its short 308 barrel and 1:10" twist should, according to the manufacturer, be able to achieve particular accuracy with powerful factory cartridge types featuring bullet weights between 180 and 220 grains.
Of course, the rifle has all the technical features of a full-fledged UPG-1. This also includes the three-lug bolt, which open with a 60-degree throw. In addition to a secure lock, this ensures that there are no space problems when cycling – even with bulky optics on the Picatinny rail of the UPG-1 – and the hand can cleanly avoid the eyepiece. Among the other features of the UPG-1 bolt is the Primary Extraction function. With this primary extraction function, when the bolt is unlocked, i.e. at the moment when the bolt head rotates due to the lifting of the bolt handle in the locking recesses, the bolt head and thus also the spent case are moved a small distance to the rear. The bolt handle acts as a lever, so to speak, to increase the torque acting on the bolt head. This means that the shooter requires less force to extract a case that may be stuck in the chamber.
Another feature of the bolt is the so-called controlled feeding. During feeding, the cartridge is pushed under the extractor claw and held in the recessed bolt face in such a way that it is brought into the chamber as centrally as possible, which of course also has a positive effect on accuracy. With such a feeding system, there is of course no ejector pin in the bolt head due to the design. However, since the case is also held in this way during extraction, the ejector is integrated here as a rigid element inside the receiver. There, it ensures that the case is released from the extractor's grip when it collides with the case base, when the bolt is moved backwards. The faster the bolt is moved to the rear during cycling, the faster the empty case flies out of the ejection port. Conversely, this also means that the brass, which is valuable for the reloader, or an unfired cartridge can also be gently removed by hand through the ejection port.
As already mentioned, the compact UPG-1 does not come with a folding stock, but the buttstock fitted by Unique Alpine offers the possibility of individual adjustment. After loosening a clamping lever, the stock length (by turning a knurled screw) or the stock comb, which is mounted on two columns, can be adjusted by simply pulling it out or pushing it in.
The UPG-1 comes standard with an AICS-compatible steel magazine that holds 10 rounds in .308 Winchester. The magazine release is located directly in front of the trigger guard and can be operated from both sides.
Last, but not least, the UPG-1 has a three-position safety operated by a lever on the right side at the rear end of the receiver, which can be activated when the bolt is cocked. In the "F" position the gun is ready to fire, in the middle position the trigger is blocked and the bolt can be opened, and in the "S" position both the bolt and the trigger are blocked.
The price for the short-barreled UPG-1 is expected to start at around 2,200 euros, but of course it also depends on the applicable VAT rates in the individual EU countries.
As ammunition, we had Norma Ecostrike with us for this practical test with the short UPG-1. This lead-free bullet was designed by the manufacturer to allow a very high penetration depth with almost 100% residual weight. The polymer tip ensures mushrooming and, in conjunction with the design of the nickel-plated copper bullet, provides better instantaneous and deep penetration, both at short and longer ranges. In addition, the Ecostrike bullet also brings an amazing inherent accuracy. From our point of view, this makes it a good choice for hunting medium to strong game and that too for driven hunts.
Unique Alpine UPG-1 with 12.5" barrel specs and price
|Model:||Unique Alpine UPG-1|
|Price:||from 2,199 euro approx.|
|Magazine Capacity:||10+1 rounds|
|Barrel Length:||12.5"/32 cm|
|Twist Length:||10"/254 mm, 6 grooves RH|
|Trigger Pull Weight:||900-2,500 g|
|Overall Length:||32”/81 cm|
|Weight:||4,680 g approx.|
|Features: 5/8 x 24 UNEF muzzle thread, Unique Alpine AICS magazine, adjustable match trigger, Picatinny top rail on receiver and M-Lok handguard, AR compatible pistol grip.|
Wrapping up: first look at the Unique Alpine UPG-1 with 12.5" barrel
This variant of the UPG-1 can score especially with its very short overall length of only 81 centimeters with the stock fully retracted. Even if you screw Unique Alpine's own JSD-1 silencer onto the muzzle, the bolt-action rifle grows to a length that is only 4 millimeters beyond the 1-meter mark. The UPG-1 can exploit this advantage as a hide hunting rifle in cramped quarters. As a companion on long trails across the hunting grounds, however, it is too heavy with its weight of over four and a half kilos (without other attachments or optics).