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 and specialized 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 Premier Reticle heritage tactical 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.