It so happened that when we were reviewing the TacOps X-Ray 51
our own Alpha-66
that we have had on order for a while showed up. It is not usual for us to get two rifles from the same maker
for review so close together. I would rather separate the time a bit, but I wanted to get this reviewed wrapped
up and move onto the next.
So why another TacOps rifle? With the push of combat snipers to higher powered cartridges and the announcement by the
US Army to migrate their M24 SWS to the 300 Win Mag, I felt it was time to bring in a very high end 300 Win Mag
for use here for evaluations with the 300 and to make sure we stayed on top of the game. After researching some options,
I discovered that the TacOps Alpha-66 platform has been used by a number of the Alphabet agencies of the US Government
military units. Since I have had such good luck with their products before, I decided to order one, specifying
that it needed to be the same Alpha rifle employed by the operators in the field. They were happy to oblige and
the project got under way. After a fairly long building period the rifle arrived with a test target and the standard
guarantee of .25 MOA or better.
If you have read our other reviews on the TacOps rifles you will know that all of their rifles are built using the
Remington 700 action. TacOps sees nothing wrong with some of the new high quality tactical actions from the likes of
Surgeon and others, but they continue to have such good success with the old tried and true Remington action and they
have perfected their procedures, they do not see a need to use anything else and incur additional costs combined
with having to revisit their procedures. While I like some of this new crop of custom actions, I value results
and all of the TacOps rifles we have fired have produced results.
Like all the other TacOps rifles, this Remington 700 long action has been completely worked over as normal and is
extremely smooth operating. All of the finish work is exceptional and the Green-T finish is perfectly even like
usual. Of course, as we specified in the Green-T
review we did awhile back, the
birdsong finish is specified as a standard in most of the government agency contracts, and for good reason. It is the
standard finish that TacOps uses on all their rifles, and short of the follower, all of the metal parts on the rifle
receive the Birdsong finish. This includes all of the spacer system on the stock.
The barrel is a Kreiger
Chrome Moly made to TacOps specifications in TacOps "Heavy" contour. The rate of twist
is the standard 1:10" for the .300 Win Mag cartridge. In their 308 rifles, TacOps prefers the shorter 18-20"
barrel length, but they use a 24" length for the 300 Win Mag to utilize the higher velocities of the cartridge.
The barrel is threaded for a suppressor and is provided with a perfectly fitting thread protector to use when no
suppressor is attached. The barrel is mated to the worked over Remington action with a precision ground recoil lug
in between using a new proprietary system to reduce, or eliminate, any point of impact change from cold bore to warm
bore shots. One thing that TacOps does differently with the 300 Win Mag is use a custom designed reamer when
chambering the barrel. This reamer allows for a much tighter head space than you can normally do with the 300 Win Mag
because of the magnum case head belt. This allows them to be able to squeak out some extra accuracy; the down side
is that they recommend only shooting ammo with the 190gr Sierra Match King bullet. TacOps does have a custom reamer for
the 220gr bullets as well, but ours came setup for the more common 190gr ammo.
The barreled action is then pillar bedded into McMillan's "Baker Special" stock. With the heavy
contour and longer barrel length, the stock is bedded up to a few inches in front of the recoil lug to help support the
weight of the barrel. After that the barrel is free floated with a good amount of gap to help maintain free floating
when in field and combat conditions.
The McMillan "Backer Special" stock is not one of the normal A-series of tactical stocks from McMillan
and is actually from their Target series. I wasn't quite sure what to
expect with this stock as you do not hear much about it, but it must have something going for it, since it
is in use in the field by some of the
most elite units out there. As soon as I got behind the rifle it was
apparent that the target shooters know what they are doing. The stock is excellent for prone shooting and
provides a very stable shooting platform. The adjustable spacer system and cheekpiece allow you to get the stock
perfectly fitted to you. The area around the magazine is a bit deeper than a normal rifle and this allowed for
a full 4 rounds of 300 Win Mag to be loaded into the magazine. The stock then steps down to a wide and flat
beavertail forend that is great for sandbags or other shooting rests, including a bipod. The stock is large,
and as such, brings with it extra weight which you have to tote around the field. But that extra
weight also helps
stabilize the rifle and absorb recoil allowing for pleasant shooting and rapid follow up shots. Combined with
the standard rough TacOps texturing, the stock gets high grades in my book.
The overall weight of the rifle is heavy: a solid 14 lbs without optics. With our final duty scope we
mounted - a Leupold 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M1 - the system is nearly 16 pounds, add a suppressor and it is even more.
Yes, the rifle is large and heavy but for long range shooting the rifle is a great platform. As with many good
rifles, getting it to and from your hide in stealth-like manner does require strength and endurance.
The trigger is the standard old style Remington 700 trigger that has been reworked by TacOps. They do not use
the new XMarkPro triggers as they do not like them nearly as much. The trigger was set to 2.5 lbs and breaks very
cleanly with no take-up or over travel. Custom tuned triggers like these have a great feel to them and this one
is setup just right.
For the range work, we initially mounted one of our test mule scopes, a Leupold 6.5-20x50mm LR/T with target
knobs. We also used this rifle as our platform to evaluate the
rifle scope. We then finally acquired the scope we plan to keep on the rifle permanently, a Leupold Mk4
8.5-25x50mm LR/T M1 with TMR that is common for these rifles in the field. The scope is mounted to the rifle
with some 23 MOA bases to provide all the elevation adjustments we'll need to get out to about 1500 meters.
During the shooting evaluation, we used a few flavors of ammo including the industry standard A-191 Federal Gold Medal Match
190gr at 2900 fps as well as the same load from HSM. We also tried the HSM D46 load that pushes the Lapua 185gr D46 FMJBT to
3100 fps which makes an extremely good long range load. Due to the restriction of 190gr ammo we did not try any
heavy weight loads. For the accuracy test, all of the measured groups were fired at 100 yards. As you can see from
the picture below, the rifle shipped with a test target from Tactical Operations that measured 0.099" center to
center. While we did not equal that, we were able to go sub .25 MOA several times with a group of .19" and a
few in the low .20's.
Overall the rifle did like the Federal Gold Medal Match loads best of all with an average group size of .44" with
all groups fired. The HSM 190's were not far behind. While the rifle did not like the D46 185's as much, they still
hovered around the .7" mark. I know that all of those groups can be improved upon with some familiarity with the
rifle and a better shooter than I.
One thing I will note is that attaching a suppressor transformed the rifle for the better. Without it, the rifle
is easily manageable
and a good rifle to shoot, but with the 30 cal suppressor attached it is a joy to shoot and makes a fantastic long
range sniper rifle. As mentioned above, the rifle is a very stable platform exhibiting exceptional accuracy with or
without a suppressor attached. The reduced recoil and noise signature afforded by the suppressor only makes the rifle
that much more effective in it's role.
If your team or department is looking for a serious long range 300 Win Mag rifle, I recommend a serious look at the
Alpha. The cost is a bit steep, and the rifle is no light-weight, but when setup with an effective suppressor, the
Tactical Operations Alpha is an excellent platform that is a pleasure to shoot.
Click here if you are interested in purchasing a Alpha-66 or other Tac Ops rifle.