This year's SHOT Show made it blatantly obvious that long-range precision shooters are receiving plenty of attention from the industry. Here's a roundup of some of the love precision shooters can expect to see in 2017.
Tikka T3x TAC A1 — I couldn't help but squeal when I came across this little number. Many don't realize that Tikka rifles have the same barrels as their more expensive SAKO cousins. One member of the manufacturing team once told me that "the barrel doesn't know what rifle it's on!" SAKO barrels are some of the most prized in the rifle-shooter world, which means that Tikka barrels are, too.
The TAC A1 comes chambered in .308 Win, .260 Rem. and 6.5 Creedmoor with a 20- or 24-inch barrel. The .308 has a 1:11-inch twist, while the .260 and Creedmoor have a 1:8-inch twist. The stock folds for easy portability and has an adjustable length of pull and comb. It even comes with three, 10-round detachable magazines to keep the most vociferous shooter in hot brass, $1,900.
REMINGTON MODEL 700 MAGPUL — New from Big Green is the 700 Magpul rifle that teams the classic Model 700 barreled action with Magpul's synthetic stock and detachable box magazine bottom metal. The barrel is 22 inches long and threaded for any type of muzzlebrake or flash hider. With the relatively low MSRP, this is the fastest way to get into the precision rifle game.
The rifle comes chambered in .308 Win. and .260 Rem. with 1:10-inch and 1:8-inch twist rates, respectively. The Magpul stock places the Remington barreled action is an aluminum bedding block surrounded by Magpul's legendary polymer. The stock comes with bottom metal that accepts AICS-pattern magazines, the most common and time-tested magazines for any bolt-action rifle. It's a lot of performance for a very reasonable price, $1,175.
SAVAGE MODEL 10 ASHBURY — Savage fans will be thrilled to know that they have dropped their blueprinted Model 10 barreled action into an Ashbury Ordinance Sabre modular rifle chassis. The combination brings Savage's legendary accuracy to the contemporary chassis scene.
The side-folding chassis has a forend the uses the M-LOK attachment method and is compatible with AICS-pattern detachable box magazines, solving the long-standing proprietary magazine dilemma for Savage shooters. While the chassis comes with a Magpul CTR stock and MOE grip, both can be swapped for any AR-15 compatible variant.
The action comes blueprinted from the factory, so no aftermarket work is necessary for even the most accuracy-aggressive shooter. The rifle will initially be available in two chamberings: .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, $1,800.
HOWA 1500 HCR — Howa is one of those rifle companies that only the most devoted shooters know and appreciate. Their 1500 action should be on your "best-buy" list if you love performance and bargains. The action is silky-smooth, and the barrels are notoriously accurate. While Howa might not have the market share that some of the more popular companies have, they certainly have an excellent performance history, and I highly recommend them.
Howa refers to their new rifle as the HCR for Howa Chassis Rifle. The chassis is made by Accurate Mag and features a Magpul grip and Luth-AR stock. Both follow the AR-15 pattern and can be interchanged with whatever stock or pistol grip the owner desires. The forend uses the M-LOK attachment system, and barrels can be had in 20, 24 or 26 inches for either the .308 Win. or 6.5 Creedmoor, $1,240.
Q's THE FIX — Easily the most unique rifle at the SHOT Show was Q's new The Fix. This five-lug (all in a single row) action has a 45-degree bolt throw, 16-inch barrel and tips the scales at 5 pounds, 9 ounces, unloaded with no scope.
The light weight comes from the unique construction that pairs a steel barrel extension with the bolt to contain all pressure from firing. The sides of the receiver, magazine well and forend are made from aluminum. The bolt shroud rides rails at the rear of the aluminum receiver, and the bolt body has the same diameter as the lugs to keep everything straight inside the receiver. Once locked into the barrel extension, the rifle is as safe to fire and just as rugged as any large-frame AR-pattern rifle.
The barrels are all from Bartlein, one of the most popular custom barrel-makers in the country. The rifle will initially be available in .308 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .338 Federal and 300 WSM, but additional chamberings are in the works. This promises to be a rifle light enough to take hunting but comfortable and modular enough for precision rifle and competitive shooting tasks. It's spendy, but oh so nice, $2,800.
RUGER PRECISION RIFLE — Ruger's Precision Rifle has been dominating the fast-growing precision-rifle scene for about a year and a half. New for this year is the chambering in 6mm Creedmoor. Hornady loads their exceptional 108-grain ELD-M for this cartridge.
The 6mm Creedmoor should be at least as popular as its bigger brother, the 6.5mm Creedmoor. Both were designed around VLD bullets and feed beautifully from detachable box magazines. The 6mm will have less recoil and more muzzle velocity than the 6.5mm but also shorter barrel life. Personal use indicates a good stainless steel barrel lasts for approximately 3,000 rounds in the 6.5mm Creedmoor, so I'd guess the 6mm Creedmoor will last around 1,800 rounds. These figures are from competition use where barrels get shot even when they're hot. Gentle and loving use will coax more rounds out of both.
The 6mm promises to be a soft-shooting pussycat from the Ruger Precision Rifle and will help even more shooters experiment with long-range shooting. With a booming aftermarket, excellent quality and low retail pricing, the Ruger Precision Rifle will continue to sell well in 2017, $1,600.
FEDERAL GOLD MEDAL BERGER — Federal surprised a lot of folks by teaming up with Berger Bullets to bring an exciting new load to 6.5 Creedmoor lovers everywhere. Federal took their Gold Medal Match line and stuffed Berger's 130-grain Hybrid bullet in it. This load will be a terrific choice for accuracy-minded shooters wielding bolt-action and gas guns alike.
Federal's Gold Medal Match line of ammunition set the standard for consistent performance across a wide variety of rifle chambers a long time ago. It continues to be one of the loads that should always be tested for optimal accuracy from any rifle.
Berger's Hybrid bullet combines the best characteristics of their high ballistic coefficient (BC) VLD bullets with the forgiveness of a tangent ogive in the Hybrid line. These bullets have excellent BCs yet don't suffer from seating depth sensitivity like most VLDs do. All that fanciness means this load will shoot very accurately from a wide variety of rifle chambers (like the Gold Medal Match line) but have the superior BCs of Berger's excellent VLD. It's like winning twice every time you pull the trigger, $33/box (20 rds.)
HORNADY 108-GRAIN ELD MATCH 6MM CREEDMOOR — Hornady continues to bring the heat in the precision rifle and long-range shooting demographic. They even SAAMI-ed a new cartridge this year, the 6mm Creedmoor. It wouldn't make much sense to create a new cartridge without having loaded ammunition available, so Hornady chose their 108-grain ELD Match for the 6mm Creed's maiden voyage.
I must confess, I absolutely love the ELD Match bullet line and have had great success finding accurate loads for my pet rifles. They are my preferred bullet for Precision Rifle Series (PRS) matches. Having the 108-grain available from the factory in 6mm Creedmoor will certainly create many new fans of this bullet.
The 6mms became more popular in 2016 and, thanks to this factory offering from Hornady, more shooters will be able to share the experience with inexpensive match ammunition featuring my favorite bullet. Ruger was the first to get an extremely popular rifle chambered for this cartridge, but they certainly won't be the last.