Tactical Rifles is another one of the high quality custom tactical rifle manufacturers here in the USA. They have been around for a while now and have been producing some very high quality rifles, originally based on the tried and true Remington 700 action, but now they have developed their own “Chimera” action and are building most of their rifles on this new “similar to the 700” action. Tactical Rifles recently provided us the opportunity to fully test and evaluate one of their M40T4 rifles chambered in 308 Win., which we were happy to accommodate.
While the rifle is called the M40, do not confuse it with the USMC M40 rifle as it is not related to that rifle except in name only. This rifle is a truly custom rifle that is built to the customer’s specifications and as such each one is unique in its own way. The rifle that was provided here for evaluation was a Tactical Rifles evaluation rig that has seen its fair share of rounds sent down range, and we are happy to report that we contributed a decent amount to this round count as well.
The action is one of Tactical Rifles own “Chimera” actions, which is somewhat based on the Remnigton 700 profile but with Tactical Rifles own changes that they incorporated into the design including such features as: Side bolt release, spiral fluted bolt, large bolt knob, custom ejection port, detachable box magazine, and of course it is precision machined. The bolt also has a nice magnum, or Sako style, extractor. The action itself is extremely smooth which leads me to conclude the rails are either polished or extremely finely machined. The ejection port is a bit smaller than the Remington 700, but larger than some other custom tactical actions and it does still allow fairly easy access to the chamber area of the rifle.
The trigger is a match single stage trigger and is set at 2.5 lbs from the factory and brakes very clean with no over-travel or creep. The recoil lug is extra thick as well and the barrel is a stainless steel barrel with match chamber and hand lapped. The barrel length is 24″, and of course this is per customer specifications like most custom ordered rifles. The contour is a #7 with a 1:10″ twist to stabilize the heavier bullets.
All of the metal finish is very matte black and is finished in what Tactical Rifles calls their “Extreme Environment” finish. I did not get the specs of this finish to know if it is a particular make or what type of finish it consisted of. It held up well during our time with the rifle which did consist of some extended daily use outdoors and not so gentle handling. There is little to no reflection and while an extremely matte black finish may not be the most attractive, it is excellent for tactical use.
The stock is one of the excellent Manners composite stocks, this particular model being the T4. The forearm area of the T4 has a nice flat beavertail and is very stable from both the bipod and a sandbag. The pistol grip area is nearly vertical and fills the palm nicely and allows the hand to be very comfortable and helps place the finger in the natural place to promote good trigger control. The pistol grip, as well as the forearm area, has a medium weight texturing to aide with use in inclement weather and shooting conditions. This stock had the adjustable cheek piece for up and down adjustment for aiding with getting the proper scope alignment and the adjustable cheek area also had a notch to allow easy removal of the bolt. The stock does not have an adjustable length of pull but does have a thick recoil pad to aide in reducing felt recoil. There is also a butthook at the rear of the stock to help make effective use of a sand-sock when shooting. This particular stock was finished in the Manners OD green paint that is fairly thick and durable.
The floorplate is a Tactical Rifles Heavy Duty (HD) floorplate of their own design, constructed using a very durable alloy. The floorplate uses the Accuracy International (AI) magazines that are readily available and have somewhat turned into the standard for the tactical Detachable Box Magazine (DBM) market. The Tactical Rifles floorplate is similar to the other designs out there, like the Badger Ordnance, and has a similar magazine release lever in front of the trigger guard that is pressed forward to release the magazine. The bottom of the floorplate itself is fairly thick and does not fit flush with the bottom of the stock like most floorplates, but it is purely and aesthetics issue and it does have rounded, non sharp corners so there are no issues when handling the rifle.
The steel AI magazine provided with the rifle was a five round magazine and it does protrude down below the rifle to about the same level as the trigger guard, it does hang down, but it generally does not get in the way. The magazines are durable and the rifle fed from the magazines very well with just one exception. If pressure is applied to the bottom of the magazine, it misaligns the magazine and causes the tips of the rounds to jam, preventing feeding. Pressure on the magazine is typically avoided and not a problem, but if you have the rifle down low in your final firing position, do make sure that the rifle is not resting on the magazine causing pressure to be applied on the magazine.
Like most custom built tactical rifles on the market today, the M40T4 comes with a .5 MOA accuracy guarantee while using match ammo. The rifle came from Tactical Rifles with a Nightforce 5.5-22x56mm scope mounted and zeroed and we left that scope on the rifle for our testing and evaluation process. The scope was mounted using Tactical Rifles own Chimera 30mm scope rings onto a standard 20 MOA rail. The Chimera action does not have an integral scope base like some of the other custom actions, but a high quality steel rail was mounted on this rifle.
When performing our accuracy tests at the 100 yard line we fired the rifle from the bench with a sand bag up front and a sand sock at the rear. The rifle showed a natural stability when firing from sand bags with the wide beavertail forearm and the rifle was easy to get good groups with as a couple of our test targets below indicate. We used Federal 168gr Gold Medal Match (GMM) and HSM 168gr AMAX match ammo for our tests. This particular rifle tended to favor the Sierra Match King bullet loaded in the federal ammo and demonstrated better overall accuracy with that ammo. There were several sub .5 MOA groups fired with each type of load, but the GMM showed better consistent accuracy.
It just so happened that we had this rifle here for evaluation when we were putting on our August Long Range Precision Marksman School,so we figured this was a good opportunity to bring along this rifle and run it through the entire course. The class consists of engaging targets from 100-1000 yards at both known and unknown distances. The rifle performed very well at all ranges and conditions including some gusting winds (it seems we always have those at our classes!), low light conditions and even a little bit of rain. Torso shots at 1000 and head shots at 600 were achieved using Federal GMM 168gr HPBT without much trouble provided the shooter did his or her part. Overall the rifle proved quite capable and there were no issues with the rifle during the entire course, including no feed issues. Overall the rifle performed very well with even some less experienced shooters behind it.
One thing we did notice was that with the flat angled cheek piece on the Manners stock combined with the painted finish, a sweaty or oily face did tend to slip around a bit. Some mole skin or an Eagle/Tac Ops strap on cheek pad should help with this.
The Tactical Rifles M40T4 is another very good example of the very well designed custom sniper rifles that are being produced these days. While some people complain that there are no true craftsmen left in the world today for projects like wood working, I would contend that perhaps the real craftsmen have gone to building tactical rifles and/or tactical rifle components. It seems the number of good custom rifle builders continues to grown every year and many of them are now either building their own custom actions or having actions built for them. Others, including Tactical Rifles, can also take a standard Remington action and work their craft on those as well. The M40T4 reviewed here offers some very nice features and makes for a very nicely sorted package, as was demonstrated at all distances and shooting conditions, and it demonstrated solid sub .5 MOA accuracy. These things combine to make a nice long range tactical rifle.
Sniper Central – 2010