Vigilance M20 Rifle

Intuitive, Stupid-Proof — And Fun
; .

The Vigilance Rifles M20 is an undeniably different-looking beast. However,
when stoked with conventional ball ammo it runs like an ape after an orange.

The M20 from Vigilance Rifles is what would happen if a Browning M1919 light machinegun had a baby with a pressure washer. Rugged, simple, reliable and unique, the M20 is so ugly it’s awesome. In a world awash in the same old black rifles, the M20 will indeed set you apart.

The M20 is a blowback-operated 9mm that can be had as either a rifle or a pistol. Everything about the gun is modular. Additionally, the receiver lid pivots open like the top cover on a belt-fed machinegun for easy access to its entrails. This makes maintenance a snap, and the mechanical execution is sublime.


The M20 feeds from GLOCK mags, so there are lots of options, and the
buttstock or pistol brace will both collapse and fold. Nifty.

Pertinent Particulars

Little about the M20 seems terribly graceful. Like a pickup truck or track hoe, this gun is 100% utilitarian. This machine is designed for the single purpose of throwing 9mm balls. It’s the jockstrap of firearms. However, like the ubiquitous athletic appliance, when you are specifically crafted for a singular mission you tend to be fairly good at it.

The guys who designed and built the M20 have been crafting guns since the 1990s. Previously their forte was seriously big bore rifles. They have built more than 4,000 of those puppies over the decades. When they struck out to build a pistol caliber carbine they started with a clean piece of paper.

Unlike the injection molded wonderguns populating gun store racks these days, the M20 exudes a bit of Uzi or MAC10 vibe. The central chassis is the common component, while the addition of barrels either short or long define the finished product. It’s like Garanimals only way louder.

The receiver is cut from a massive aluminum billet and seems nigh indestructible. The barrel is retained via a generous 2″ barrel nut. Swapping tubes is as simple as spinning off this nut. All it takes is one standard-issue set of human fingers.

The near end will accept any M4 buttstock or pistol brace, and the mount folds to the left as well. The pistol grip and fire controls are standard M4 and the non-reciprocating left-sided charging handle is easily accessed.

The pivoting top cover is quite curious. There’s a mechanical disconnect disengaging the firing pin when the cover is open. The cover can be outfitted with a length of Picatinny rail for optics. The front and rear iron sights are simple, rugged and fixed.

The M20 feeds from standard GLOCK mags, and it likes Promag magazines the best. There are also several options in both sticks and drums. The magazine release is easily accessible, and mags drop freely when it is engaged. The bolt stays closed when the magazine is empty.


Running the Vigilance Rifles M20 from the hip Tommygun-style
lets you channel your inner Dillinger.

The top cover on the M20 lifts up to access the inner workings
in the manner of a Browning M1919A4 light machinegun.

Trigger Time

The simpler the better when it comes to your defensive firearms. I’ve been shot at before, and I wasn’t pondering the existential esoterica of the universe at the time. I was rather on some primal level just trying desperately not to soil my trousers. If ever you need to use a gun for real that thing needs to be intuitive and stupid-proof. The M20 excels on both counts.

Any three-thumbed ape could get this piece into action. Slam a magazine in place, jack the charging handle, point it at something you dislike, rotate the safety off and squeeze. Anything beyond that is overkill. The trigger is typical AR-15, meaning it’s perfect for its intended application.

As tested the M20 is unbelievably heavy, like 13.2 lbs. with a SIG Romeo8H optic, Streamlight TLR-9 light, and loaded 50-round Promag drum — according to my bathroom scale. To put that in perspective, a Thompson submachinegun weighs 10 lbs., a Colt Monitor BAR weighs 13.2 lbs. Given all that mass recoil is therefore not a real thing.

The “Billy Handle” up front is an available option and mounts both a pair of accessory rails and a foregrip. Thusly configured the gun runs comfortably from the hip in the manner of an M1928 Thompson. All that mass can indeed seem fairly cumbersome from the shoulder. However, should you ever run out of ammo the M20 is plenty rugged to serve as a proper club.

Follow-up shots are fast and intuitive. Out to reasonable handgun ranges I had no trouble keeping my rounds inside a juice can lid. You have to manually rack the bolt with each magazine change, but more than 100 million Kalashnikov users do just fine with the same chore. It takes about two mags to get a feel for the M20. After that it runs like a Leftist fleeing responsibility.

The M20 ran 100% with any and all conventional FMJ ball rounds. It hung up on occasion with really wide-mouthed hollowpoints. The M20 really hates those lightweight injection-molded rounds like the 65-grain Inceptor ARX.


The Vigilance Rifles M20 is absolutely massive. The receiver is cut from a single
piece of billet aluminum. At 13.2 lbs. with a loaded 50-round drum it all enters BAR
territory weight-wise. The end result is all but indestructible.


The Vigilance Rifles M20 isn’t for everybody. It’s heavy and sports a fair number of sharp edges. However, the M20 is perfect for the guy who wants something truly different.

The M20 is simple to run and, with ball ammo, is as reliable as the tides. The M20 isn’t terribly sexy, but it is rugged, effective, and reliable … not unlike me.
MSRP: $1,499

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