Now that I’m middle-aged, my tolerance for troublesome rifles has decreased substantially and I look at all of them with an increasingly critical eye. If it doesn’t do something practical for me — and do it well — my interest quickly wanes. However, one rifle that’s held my interest is Christensen Arms Modern Precision Rifle (MPR). The MPR’s non-traditional appearance certainly makes it stand out, but a detailed examination of the rifle reveals a ton of useful features relevant to almost every rifleshooter. The latest addition is a steel barrel that helps to bring down the cost to own one.
The MPR gives the rifleman maximum flexibility in how they shoot and transport the rifle. It’s a two-lug bolt-action receiver with a Remington Model 700 footprint. The extractor is the type you’d find on an M16 that rides just above the outboard recoil lug. In my opinion, it’s more durable than the spring-steel clip that sits inside the bolt nose of its predecessor.
Anyone that’s studied a bolt-action rifle in the last 60 years won’t see any surprises in the action itself. Other than being made to close tolerances that would have fallen in the “blueprinted” category of custom rifles a few years ago, the action is high quality, but standard fare.
The rifle’s most striking and recognizable feature is the chassis that houses the barreled action. Chassis systems have a couple advantages over traditional stocks. The first is the chassis doesn’t need a bedding job for the rifle to shoot well. Whether the stock is made from aluminum, wood, fiberglass, or carbon fiber, there needs to be bedding compound that forms around the action and marries it to the stock. If there is no bedding compound, there is a higher likelihood that the rifle will throw an occasional round.
There are some aftermarket stocks that come with a machined aluminum block that sits inside the stock and houses the action. Frequently referred to as “bedding blocks,” these systems have to fit several action types. It is not uncommon for an action to fit the bedding block poorly. If the back of the action (i.e., the tang) isn’t shaped the way the bedding block or aftermarket chassis prefers, accuracy can get worse when you drop a barreled action into one.
The MPR obviously has an excellent action-to-chassis fit, so there are no worries about the action fighting the chassis. This allows the user to not only get top performance out of the MPR, but to also completely disassemble the rifle for maintenance. This arrangement is a fantastic way to ensure the owner can completely maintain the rifle because it can be disassembled with no adverse effects.
For example, anyone who gets caught out in wet weather while shooting will likely want to take the barreled action out of the chassis to remove all moisture from the rifle. The MPR can do this without issue.
Another example is a shooter caught outdoors when the wind and dust are blowing around. The only way to get all the debris off the rifle and out of the trigger is to separate the barreled action from the chassis. The MPR can offer such access repeatedly with no adverse effects.
The fact that the chassis folds is another detail that I appreciate. Rifles that don’t fold often ding the walls in the stairwell of my house. This upsets the missus, and that’s no good for me. Anytime rifles get carried up or down stairs, or put into or taken out of vehicles means that they stand a chance of getting dinged. As soon as the stock folds, the MPR gets about 25 percent shorter and infinitely easier to transport.
Looking at the MPR, I see a rifle that is easy to live with. Any riflestock with a short forend that isn’t adjustable for length of pull and comb height is not a good friend. Sadly, this is the case for many traditional rifles. Let’s break down each one of those features so I can offer up when and how each could be a liability.
Short forends are a great way to knock some weight off of a rifle and a lot of companies do it. There is probably one, maybe two sling swivel studs on most forends these days to allow for the attachment of a sling, bipod, or both simultaneously. The presence of the sling swivel stud is fixed and means the shooter can’t comfortably put his hand there, nor is it steady enough to rest a rifle directly on the stud. I prefer two studs on a forend if the only choices I have is between one or two. This further restricts where I can place my support hand.
The MPR has a long and sleek carbon-fiber forend that adds almost no weight to the rifle. The bottom is flat and 1 ½ inches wide, so it has a lot of stability and doesn’t rock side-to-side when laid across a backpack. The bottom also has a number of M-Lok slots that allow the shooter to put a sling swivel stud or section of rail exactly where it is wanted. This ensures they stay out of the way of the support hand.
The MPR forend length is also advantageous to anyone that shoots from field positions. Prone and bench shooting require little from the stock forend, but as soon as the rifle has to lay across a tree limb or rock pile, short forends struggle. They mandate that the shooter get very close to whatever he wants to use as a rest, and this is not always possible. The MPR forend is available in either 14- or 17-inch lengths. This gives the shooter plenty of options and allows the forend some reach when the shooter can’t stand right next to the tree or rock pile needed to support the rifle.
A rifle stock that has an adjustable comb and an adjustable length of pull is also advantageous to rifleshooters. Rifles that don’t fit shooters well are hard to control during recoil. A rifle that is hard to control during recoil will never let the shooter see where a round lands, making second-shot adjustments guesswork. The lighter the rifle, the more important proper fit becomes.
Everyone that carries a rifle afield wants a light one. Christensen Arms has a carbon fiber-wrapped barrel version of the MPR that weighs between 6.9 and 8.4 pounds. A 416R stainless steel-barreled MRP will tip the scales between 8.4 and 9.6 pounds. Whichever version interests you the most, both can be tailored to fit you well.
The folding aluminum stock has an adjustable length of pull and an adjustable comb. Loosening a couple of Allen screws will allow adjustment to its length of pull. The same goes for the comb height. Spending a few minutes getting length of pull and comb height set correctly will pay huge dividends. It allows the shooter the opportunity to completely relax behind the rifle without having to lift his head to see through the scope. As soon as their head comes off of the comb, it’ll rattle around under recoil and the shooter will never see the round’s impact. This is not a problem with the MPR because it can be made to fit almost anyone.
The MPR is a fairly light rifle, even with the stainless steel barrel, and it’s easy one to shoot for extended periods of time. The light bolt lift that comes with a two-lug action and a 90-degree bolt throw allows a shooter to cycle the action without much effort, even from improvised field shooting positions.
One feature of the MPR that should not be overlooked is the trigger. Each of these rifles comes with a TriggerTech trigger, arguably makers of the best triggers currently available. The more time I spend with these triggers, the more I like them. They are easy to adjust and they have zero creep. No creep in a trigger reduces the shooter’s tendency to flinch or anticipate recoil. The trigger in the MPR adjusted from 1½ to 4 pounds.
Anyone looking for a rifle that has every advantage available on the market should look at Christensen Arms’ MPR. It is easier to shoot from many different shooting positions and allows for more direct follow-up shots than many other rifles in this class. While the MPR’s appearance is unusual, its performance is truely exceptional.
Christensen Arms Modern Precision Rifle
- Type: Bolt action; short (tested) or long
- Caliber: 6mm Creedmoor (tested)
- Capacity: 5, 10 rds.
- Barrel: 24 in., 1:8-in. twist; stainless steel
- Overall Length: 42.75 in.
- Weight: 8 lbs., 15 oz.
- Stock: Carbon fiber, aluminum
- Grips: Magpul MOE-K
- Length of Pull: 12.5 in. to 14.5 in.
- Finish: Nitride (stainless steel); anodized (aluminum)
- Trigger: TriggerTech; adj. 1 lb., 8 oz. to 4 lbs.
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $1,795
- Manufacturer: Christensen Arms, 888-517-8855, christensenarms.com