Arcus 98DA

Defensive carry handguns.
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Hand and Steel
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Arcus 98DA

Postby Hand and Steel » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:40 pm

The Arcus 98DA 9mm Semi-Automatic Pistol

A while back I posted an in-depth review on the Hi-Power inspired Arcus 98DA 9mm pistol on the Hi-Power Forum. This is more or less an edited version of what I've posted over there. I own a few of these pistols and generally carry one at all times for personal defense, so I am writing with a reasonable basis of firsthand experience with these pistols.

Arcus 98DA Review Photo 1.jpg
Arcus 98DA Review Photo 1.jpg (195.35 KiB) Viewed 2590 times
The resemblance to the Browning Hi-Power is obvious, although the Arcus is slightly larger and has more angular lines. Like the Hi-Power, these pistols are built for hard use and can be trusted on when it counts.


Differences and Similarities between the Arcus 98DA and the Browning Hi-Power

Similarities between these two all steel, full size 9mm semi-automatic pistols include general form, ergonomics and handling characteristics, as well as the barrel to slide locking mechanism, slide stop, manual safety, magazine release, etc. Like the original Hi-Power, the Arcus 98DA is a solid, reliable and accurate sidearm built for serious purposes.

As far as differences go, the Arcus 98DA is slightly larger and has more angular lines than the original FN manufactured Hi-Power, as well as a squared trigger guard. It uses a double-to-single action trigger mechanism and a slightly longer 15 round magazine. The factory standard recoil spring is rated at 15 pounds, as opposed to the standard Browning Hi-Power's 17 pounds. There is no magazine disconnect "safety". The factory finish on Arcus pistols is either matte black or a duo-tone with matte black slide and matte chrome frame in the style of the Browning Hi-Power Practical. The hammer and slide stop are gloss blued. Barrels are entirely chrome plated. While these pistols are heavily built and reliable, they do not have the fine fit and finish of a FN manufactured Hi-Power.


Spare Parts

Factory spare parts from Arcus Co. are for the most part virtually non-existent in the United States. I do not have any information on how easy or difficult they are to acquire in other countries. However, there are certain parts which are compatible with standard BHP components, and Arcus factory springs are being imported into the US.

The Arcus 98DA uses a factory standard 15 pound recoil spring as opposed to a Browning factory standard 17 pound recoil spring. 17 pound recoil springs from Browning can work fine, though I would not advise their use in pistols that have not been "shot-in" if shooting 115 grain ammunition or lighter, as this combination can result in jams by greatly increasing the pistol's susceptibility to limp wristing - if using 124 grain ammunition or heavier, or a pistol that has already been fired enough to smooth out the action, operation should be reliable. Personally I feel that the factory standard 15 pound spring is ideal for this pistol (I believe that the heavier slide has something to do with this), though I would not hesitate to use a factory Browning 17 pound spring as a replacement should that become necessary. I should note that the factory standard springs used in Arcus pistols are of unusually high quality and are remarkably durable. Arcus factory standard 15 pound recoil springs (and a number of other springs for Hi-Power and Hi-Power inspired pistols) are currently available from http://www.bhspringsolutions.com.

Standard Browning firing pins are compatible with the 98DA, although the Browning pin has one fewer lug than the standard Arcus pin, meaning that the firing pin block cannot engage it. While I don't see this as an issue, I would advise against condition 2 carry if using a Browning firing pin in an Arcus 98DA.

While I haven't tried it (yet), I strongly suspect that a factory Browning firing pin retaining plate, slide stop, magazine catch, and external extractor among other small components would work fine in an Arcus. I believe a Browning recoil spring guide rod could also work with some slight modification.

Other small parts and springs may have to be custom fabricated if a replacement is required.

Magazines for the Arcus 98DA are proprietary, so standard length Browning Hi-Power magazines will not fit. However, extended magazines such as Mec-Gar's 20 round Hi-Power magazine can be modified to fit by removing the locating ledge on the back of the magazine. Beretta and Taurus 92 magazines can also be modified to fit by cutting a properly placed magazine catch slot and removing some of the material off of the feed lips.

Matching Pistols.jpg
Matching Pistols.jpg (20.98 KiB) Viewed 2590 times
Nothing says "Don't tread on me" like 40 rounds of 9mm on hand - these pistols display 20 round Mec-Gar magazines that have been modified to fit in a 98DA.

At this point there are no aftermarket grips for the 98DA that I am aware of, although wooden grips are available for the compact model (98DAC) from Gustav and Dennis Marschalko in Hungary. They can be found at http://www.marschalgrips.com. As they come from the factory, Arcus pistols are equipped with Hogue-style rubber grips, although instead instead of the Hogue logo they display the Arcus logo, which appears to be a stylized radiation-hazard symbol. I am not overly fond of these grips, but they serve their purpose adequately and I suppose they might be good for convincing the gullible that you carry the official sidearm of Duke Nukem. Personally I recommend removing the grooves from the grips, as this allows for a much tighter grip and more natural pointability, which translates to much better accuracy when firing one-handed.


Strengths and Weaknesses

Let's start with the weaknesses. To begin with the double action trigger pull is very heavy, so it's not great for mid-to-long range. However, I feel that it makes for very safe condition 2 carry, and is not such an issue as the pistol can also be carried cocked-and-locked, and can still be manually cocked if carried hammer down and the first shot is going to be a long one. The double action mechanism also provides a very fast second strike capability if that is needed.

The only structural weakness I am aware of is the trigger bar mechanism (which seems loosely based on the Sig P220 double/single action trigger bar). The trigger bar is held together by a small pin which I've read is fairly weak. This is a part which could be easily fabricated if it were to break. However, it seems that small parts breakages are very rare with these pistols.

As far as strengths go, I'll continue with durability - these pistols are very overbuilt. I believe it would be very difficult to wear one of these out. Another individual once accidentally threw the slide of one of my 98DAs across the room onto a concrete floor, with the barrel, recoil spring and guide rod in place. There was no real damage, so I reassembled the gun and shot a magazine through it without any issues. That particular pistol has continued to function as it should without any problems, and is on my hip as I write this.

Like the original Hi-Power, these pistols also point very naturally. I can point shoot the Arcus 98DA very quickly and accurately, whether from the hip or from closer to eye level. The sights are easy to pick up and are right on the mark, making for great accuracy with sighted fire. The single action trigger pull also contributes to accuracy and fast follow up shots.

These are very reliable pistols. They seem to do well with a variety of ammunition, although I did have a hang up once with a 124 grain Speer Gold Dot when racking the first round from the magazine into the chamber - this has not happened with any other type of bullet. Personally, I have had the best accuracy with the American Eagle 115 grain standard pressure FMJ and Remington Golden Saber 124 grain standard pressure JHP.

Personally I find the 98DA (and Hi-Power style pistols in general) to be the ideal size for concealed carry with a large handgun - at 34 ounces it is by no means a burden to carry all day, particularly with a good holster, and is easy enough to keep hidden in any climate.


Then and Now

I am not an expert on these pistols, but from what I have been able to glean from the Internet, older models of the Arcus 98DA do not have the reverse beavertail that is found on current models, and have a frame which is closer to the size of a standard Browning Hi-Power, meaning that they accept standard length Browning magazines. They also had a ring hammer and an arrow-shaped safety lever.

Some time later we see the longer frame and the inclusion of the reverse beavertail while still retaining a ring hammer. I have not personally had the opportunity to handle either of these older variaties in person.

On somewhat more recent models, the hammer is a solid "Commander" style. I don't know when that change was put into place, but my earliest Arcus (manufactured in 2011) uses the solid hammer and the arrow-shaped manual safety lever.

My other Arcus pistols were all manufactured around mid 2013 and there are a few minor differences I have observed between them and the 2011 version. While the 2011 version has no MIM components, with all small parts being milled, I noticed that the trigger and rear sight on the newer versions are MIM. This doesn't particularly concern me, as the rest of the components are visibly milled from billet steel. The guns manufactured in 2013 also have slightly crisper triggers with a shorter reset (though the edges of the triggers are slightly sharper near the base), a slightly upswept manual safety that more closely resembles that of a MKIII Hi-Power, and a slightly more even finish. The action is also noticeably smoother.


Holsters

One of the questions about these pistols I have seen asked on the Interent regards what holsters will fit them. While I can't give a definitive guide, I can offer my own solutions.

For inside the waistband carry, I have had good success with a Galco holster designed to fit a Sig P226. For traditional belt carry, I use a Sleeping Dog thumbsnap belt holster for a 1911 with a square trigger guard. I also managed a good fit in a Bianchi "Tuxedo" shoulder holster for a Beretta or Taurus 92 with rail - this a very high quality nylon rig which provides for easy access while sitting in a motor vehicle or while wearing heavy winter clothing.


Variants

In addition to the full size 98DA, Arcus Co. also manufactures a compact version called the 98DAC, which has a 4" barrel and a frame that is closer in size to the original Hi-Power. Arcus also manufactured (I do not know whether they are still in production or not) a much closer single action only copy of the Hi-Power called the Arcus 94. A compact version called the 94C was also available. The 94, 94C and 98DAC all accept standard Browning Hi-Power magazines.


Arcus 98DA 1 Document.jpg
Arcus 98DA 1 Document.jpg (206.85 KiB) Viewed 2590 times
Here's one of my slightly customized Arcus 98DA pistols - this one sports an armor black cerakote finish and modified grips.


I hope this review provides some basic information for anyone interested in Arcus handguns. Please leave any questions below and I'll try to respond to them to the best of my ability.

Peace
"It is demonstrable that power structures tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power and that a significant proportion of such people are imbalanced — in a word, insane.” – Frank Herbert

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Pickwick
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Re: Arcus 98DA

Postby Pickwick » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:13 pm

The pistol gets good reviews on several sites. Sounds like a lot of bang for the buck. Truck gun.

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nemesis76
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Re: Arcus 98DA

Postby nemesis76 » Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:21 pm

My LGS when I was in Montana got a few in at one point. It really seems like a solid piece but I wasn't sure about the Arcus name in regards to quality considering the sticker price was about $350 brand new and cosmoline covered.

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jeffhughes
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Re: Arcus 98DA

Postby jeffhughes » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:18 am

I have a Arcus 94. It's a good shooter with a pretty darn good trigger....

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Hand and Steel
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Re: Arcus 98DA

Postby Hand and Steel » Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:43 am

For almost four years, I've been searching for a set of wood grips for an Arcus 98DA, as that is generally my preferred primary carry gun. The ergonomics of the Browning Hi-Power coupled with double action to single action capability is one of the main aspects of the 98DA that originally attracted me to it, but while the factory standard grips "work", I'm not overly fond of them for a few reasons.

Thanks to Mark and Slav over at BH Spring Solutions (http://www.bhspringsolutions.com), I now have a set of their "Master's Grips" installed on one of my Arcus double action Hi-Powers, and I can accurately report that these grips feel great in the hand - better than any other pistol I can think of. The well thought out angles and thumb rest make this pistol effortlessly, almost automatically, come into exactly the right position in the hand. While there is no checkering, I do not think it is needed given the angles and naturally thin design of the Hi-Power upon which the Arcus is based, and I strongly suspect that the lack of checkering is part of what makes the gun fall so naturally into the right shooting grip so easily.

Not only have these grips enhanced the feel of the pistol, but they have also enhanced the look. While I suggest that aesthetics should certainly not be a priority in a carry gun, the Master's Grips, which are thoroughly deserving of their name, take a rough and rugged service pistol and help elevate it to the level of a unique personal sidearm that is as ergonomic as it is trustworthy.

Arcus with Wood Grips Left Side 1.jpg
Arcus with Wood Grips Left Side 1.jpg (162.68 KiB) Viewed 2005 times

Arcus with Wood Grips Right Side 1.jpg
Arcus with Wood Grips Right Side 1.jpg (171.74 KiB) Viewed 2005 times


While some fitting is required to get the most out of these grips, that is only to be expected in any high end, handmade stocks, and I feel it is especially true in this instance, as the Arcus 98DA is, while a remarkably rugged, reliable and accurate pistol, not the most precisely manufactured. As with the pistol I have installed them on, the Master's Grips are crafted in Bulgaria.

I want to quickly state that this review has not been solicited by Mark or Slav at BH Spring Solutions - I'm mainly writing it for three reasons. First is to share with my fellow firearms enthusiasts on this forum any information which they might find useful. Second, is to give an honest appraisal of a high quality product from a company that is obviously making great efforts to produce only high quality products. And third, is for entirely selfish reasons - I would like to see BH Spring Solutions continue to sell their products successfully into the future, so that I will have continued access to high end grips, springs and tools for use on the Browning Hi-Power and the Hi-Power inspired Arcus pistols. Note that they are not only producing the Master's Grips for the Arcus pistols, but for the Browning Hi-Power and the 1911 as well. For what they are asking for them, the Master's Grips are far more than worth the money.

Best regards.

Arcus with Wood Grips Left Side 2.jpg
Arcus with Wood Grips Left Side 2.jpg (242.46 KiB) Viewed 2005 times
"It is demonstrable that power structures tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power and that a significant proportion of such people are imbalanced — in a word, insane.” – Frank Herbert

"Welcome to Costco. I love you."

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samuelrp
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Re: Arcus 98DA

Postby samuelrp » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:56 pm

Those grips really dressed it up!
Maintain the sport. Take a kid shooting.


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