Choosing the Right Precision Rifle
Dr. John Woods 09.10.18
John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRECISION RIFLE
With so many long gun models on the market now in the category of precision bolt action rifles how do you narrow down the choices to the one that is just right for you? What a tough decision for a real gun enthusiast. But really, comparing so many different models by so many different manufacturers can be perplexing. It’s like picking a new car or truck with all the options available today. Which bells and whistles are best and which produce the best results?
So, first, let’s define as close as we can what is meant by a “precision bolt action rifle.” Some refer to these models as long range shooting and hunting rifles, but then that is not entirely accurate either. They do not have to be considered solely as long range implements either, though I gather by marketing at least they are mostly targeted for that.
This genre of rifle is most usually easily recognized by the platform appearance of the rifle. It is usually a barreled action set into a “chassis” rather than a conventional wood or synthetic stock. The chassis is most often constructed of aluminum or another suitable stable but light(er) weight alloy of some amalgamation. To complete this chassis type set up, it is often fitted with a pistol grip most notably an AR-15 type or similar design.
The stock or buttstock is usually of fiberglass or ABS construction and is highly adjustable for length of pull, comb drop, and heel drop. This is accomplished by unscrewing a tightening knob or screw adjustment to shift the position of a part of the buttstock design. Some have flip lever type locks or other manners of allowing such adjustments. While some are quite simple in design and function, others may be found to be more complicated or flexible depending on your orientation to such adjustments. Stocks may be fixed or folding in some models.
The precision rifle’s barrel is usually quite long in the 24-inch range for most, but some are as short as 20 inches, long as 26 inches, most often all have a threaded muzzle with protective cap for use with a suppressor. They are shrouded by a variety of handguards, some allowing M-LOK or KeyMod accessory slots. The bridge over the ejection port may sport a Picatinny rail or other manner for optics mounting. The bolt is usually of a “tactical” variety, meaning an enlarged bolt handle knob for easy and swift manipulation in chambering or ejecting rounds.
Some type of precision trigger system is usually standard on these rifles. They vary by manufacturer. For example, the Savage rifles use their Savage AccuTriggers which are known for precise adjustments and high quality release.
These chassis built rifles are driven by detachable magazines in most cases. I see a number of the rifle makers choosing to use Magpul magazines as well as other furniture made by this Wyoming company. These features vary by manufacturer, some adding more, some less, some different options. This is what makes picking just the right precision rifle a difficult choice.
Brand/Model Barrel-Inches Overall Length Weight Finish Stock Calibers MSRP
Remington PCR 24 44 10.5 Mat BK Magpul .260 1199
Mossberg MVP 20/24 43.25 10 Mat Blu LUTH-AR 6.5 CM 1400
Ruger RPR 20/24 46.75 10.7 Mat BK Fold/Adj 6.5 CM 1599
Savage 110 BA 20/24/26 n/a n/a BK/BR Magpul .223 1799-
Stealth Evolution PRS .300 WM 2149
Kimber Adv. Tactical 22 adj 11.8 BK/ Side Fold 6.5 CM 2449
Kim Pro Alum
Howa APC 20/24/26 39-49 9.9-11.2 BK LUTH-AR .243 1379-
The listing here are just a few of the currently available factory precision bolt action rifles on the market now. These specifications are gleaned from each manufacturer’s web site, but may be subject to change, adjustment or modification. Other models may be listed, too, or may be available soon.
Again, this list is not 100 percent comprehensive. There may be other makers with similar type rifles also available. It is quite a study to keep up with all the new models of firearms coming out on a pretty regular basis. With the SHOT Show in Las Vegas just having ended for 2018, expect more announcements and details to be forthcoming.
Additionally there are more or less custom shops, too that are making really top end custom crafted precision long range shooting and hunting rifles. Ask your local dealers what they have in stock or may have coming in.
Though not covered here, know that there is another whole market for AR-15 and AR-10 platform based rifles that are also being touted as long range precision rifles. Though some of these may be exceptionally accurate, it would seem more plausible that the bolt action based precision rifles would be the way to go. Again this is a tough choice for the consumer.
In choosing a model for yourself think about what you want to do with such a rifle. Shooting targets off a bench is decidedly different that carrying one of these heavy rifles afield to hunt, but not out of the question. In the field consider using shooting sticks or a Primos Trigger Stick.
As to an exact model, choose your desired cartridge first, then go from there. Consider scope mounting features and other options you want. Visit dealers and gun shows to handle them. Throw one to your shoulder and see how it feels. Do you like the stock adjustments? Finally weigh your budget constraints with the models you consider. There is something out there for just about everyone. The tough part is choosing just the right one.