Over the years we have done a couple of different concept rifles to try and flesh out some conceptual ideas we have had. Some of these consisted of trying to build a custom sniper rifle for under $800, or could we create a hybrid designated marksman/sniper rifle. These rifle concepts usually originate from an idea that one of us comes up with and then in order to try and verify our idea, we build a prototype, or concept rifle to see if what we have dreamed up is even possible. Of course, since the entire Sniper Central page and community is about getting that information out to our readers, we like to then do a writeup on the concept and display our findings. Well, we had another idea, which means we are now outputting our findings here on this page!
So what was our idea this time around? Originally we were curious about building a rifle that we could “affordably” shoot, meaning that we wanted to use good ol’ surplus military ammo. Or at least some factory ball ammo that was much more affordable than the standard match grade ammo we shoot for a living as snipers. But as we started putting thoughts together and thinking about what type of rifle would be good for shooting ball ammo, our concept began to morph into a slightly different rifle that consisted of more than just shooting affordable ammo. We continued to talk about what this rifle could be used for besides just saving the bank account and the rifle’s requirements changed into something different. The final mission statement for this project ended up as “what would make a good bug out long range rifle.” So what does this really mean? Imagine if you were running out the door and you did not know when, or if, you would ever be back due to some catastrophic event, and you wanted to grab one rifle to take. What features would you want that rifle to have? This mission statement essentially turned into a design exercise to come up with an “Apocalypse Rifle”.
Now that we had the concept outlined in our minds, we turned to defining the role of the rifle in more detail.
Defining the Role
To begin, and to have some fun, we had to come up with a good name for the rifle and like all good military names, it had to be an acronym. After a brief brain storming session, we came up with the name Bug Out Precision Rifle, or BOPR for short. This is pronounced “Bopper”. So what exactly is the role of a BOPR? That is a very good question and one that needed to be answered before we could proceed with coming up with some design requirements. The concept of the popular Bug Out Bag is to have a small ruck sack (the Bag) loaded and ready to go at all times so when an emergency of any type comes up that might necessitate bugging out of your home (or office, or armory, etc) for a few days, it would have everything you need in it. Some people might call their 72 hour kits a bug out bag, but we feel there is a distinct difference and that difference is that a 72 hour kit typically has food, clothing, and only necessities for life in it, nothing else. A bug out bag has some basic food and survival tools as well as means for self defense, offensive capability, and tools to help provide for long term survival off the grid. Some people may view this as extremism, radical, or just plain unreasonable preparation for something that would never happen. We counter that with the argument that as the world continues to destabilize due to war, terrorism, drug trafficking and just plain craziness, it looks less and less extreme. Even duty snipers in both the military and law enforcement worlds have patrol packs and other deployment kits that are essentially bug out bags. If a call out or FRAGO happens, you just grab your bag and go. So why are we talking about a BOPR on a web page dedicated to the PROFESSION of sniping? Why would a professional sniper ever need a bug out bag or BOPR? We need not look any further than recent ambushes on law enforcement officers, or mention that bad things happen when men and women are not on duty and they still need to be able to Bug Out and go.
So taking the idea of a bug out bag which may contain a pistol or small carbine, and morph it into our chosen profession as snipers and you begin to see where our defined role of the BOPR lies. When something really bad happens and you have no preparation time, you need to be able to grab your bag and your tool of choice and head out the door. For many of us, we are competent with a pistol, but have dedicated years of training in the art of long range precision marksmanship and would find ourselves much more comfortable, and capable, with an a rifle that fit our skill set. In comes the BOPR. Since this is an emergency situation that is not necessarily focused on offensive operations, we can more clearly define what the role for this rifle would be. Because it is an emergency of unknown nature, we need something that is adaptable and easy to use and is capable of exploiting our unique skill set. We also need it to be a simple system that can easily be taught to others as it is unknown who we may be assisting. So now we have the role defined in more detail, now we need to outline the specific requirements.
So now that we had the role of the rifle more specifically defined, it was time to outline the specific requirements for our BOPR. One of the first requirements is that the rifle had to use ammo that is readily available and affordable today and in the future. That would immediately rule out exotic cartridges like the 300 Win Mag, 260 Remington, 338 Lapua and other unique cartridges like that. In our minds this limited the choice to probably three different cartridges. The 223/5.56 NATO, 308/7.62NATO, and the .30-06 Springfield. All three of these choices are widely available everywhere, have multiple different loads available, and have a readily supply of surplus ammo available. We immediately ruled out the 223 Rem because honestly, it just didn’t have the long range capability combined with penetration and knockdown power. That left the 308 and the 30-06, both of which are very capable and both are even closely related to each other and shooting the same bullet. The 30-06 has the advantage of shooting the same bullet slightly faster, but the 308 had the advantage of a short action and its still in use in NATO countries today, which meant in a real emergency, scavenging from military units would be doable. The price between the two cartridges was nearly identical. Ultimately, when we had to pick one, the short action combined with it still actively being used by many military powers around the world tilted the advantage toward the 308 and it was chosen as the requirement.
Because this was a BOPR and operational conditions would be unknown, it meant that weapon reliability had to be the best possible and maintenance had to be simple so it could be done in the field. Because of the bug out nature of the defined mission, ultimate offensive firepower was not high on the priority list and all of these considerations immediately ruled out a Semi-Automatic for our BOPR, though in certain circumstances we could understand an argument for one. An added feature of a non-semiauto meant that there was less of a risk of leaving behind brass as target identifiers. With the semi-autos ruled out, we were left with break actions and bolt actions. This was an easy decision for us just based on the internal magazine and repeater capability of a bolt action. The break action would certainly be more affordable, but the penny pinching wasn’t as important in this case. The additional difficultly of reloading a break action from the prone position while remaining concealed was also a detractor. At this point, spec number two was to make the rifle a bolt action.
For long range accuracy, the barrel needed to be a heavy barrel with a recessed crown. We needed to compromise between maximized velocity for extended range shooting and a shorter length for weight savings and easier portability. We settled on a barrel length of 22 – 24″. We did not feel that a muzzlebrake was a high priority due to the manageable recoil of the 308 cartridge. We also preferred a threaded barrel in the extreme case where we had access to a suppressor which could be useful in a bug out scenario, but we did not deem it a required feature, just a desired one.
As we have already mentioned, bug out situations may involve extreme scenarios where maintenance and access to supplies are limited. Because of this we wanted something that involved as few moving parts, which tend to break, as possible. The stock needed to have a fixed length of pull and a fixed cheekpiece. This would also help reduce the weight of the rifle. We wanted everything to be simple and solid to avoid complex repairs or operational complexity. We also desired either a full aluminum bedding block or at least aluminum pillars for increased durability in the field. The stock also needed to be synthetic for stability in all weather conditions. Color and camouflage were not important as a can of spray paint could fix any issues there.
To keep it semi-portable, the overall length of the rifle should not exceed 45″. To further help with portability, the total weight of the BOPR should not exceed 13 lbs including scope and scope mounts.
Since the BOPR is a complete rifle system concept, the scope would have to have specifications and requirements as well. The intended goal of the rifle is routine 800 yard engagements of unknown distance targets, but we do not know if we’ll have access to electricity or batteries, so a backup to a laser range finder would be required, and that would rely on the reticle of the rifle scope. So a reticle with range finding capability was a hard requirement as well. Additionally, to increase simplicity, the scope should incorporate a Ballistic Drop Compensator (BDC) to aid in dialing in the proper and correct elevation adjustments for engagements. The BDC should also be setup for the specific primary cartridge intended for use in the rifle, in this case, the M80 ball ammunition. Magnification needed to be at least 10x to be able to engage out to 1000 yards if needed. An illuminated reticle and a side focus would be desired, but not required. The rings and based needed to be steel or titanium for extreme durability for prolonged field use.
With the physical specifications set, we also wanted to outline some accuracy requirements to insure the rifle performed as needed. The intended use of the rifle would require that man size targets be reliably hit with surplus/cheap ammo at 600+ yards, and even further with match grade ammo. The killing zone on a man sized “zombie” target is about 18″ x 18″, which at 600 yards is only a 3 MOA accuracy requirement, which just about any hunting rifle should be able to do. But having conducted a comparison test on current M80 ammo, we discovered that 3 MOA may not be too easy of an expectation. But that would not suffice as we want to enable as much chance of success as possible, so we increased the accuracy requirement to 2.0 MOA, which is about a 12″ group at 600 yards with M80 ball ammunition. With match ammo our expectations were much higher and we wanted to be able to engage out to 1000 yards, so we dictated that a 1 MOA accuracy requirement was the minimum.
For our last requirement, we wanted to put a fairly tight budget on the rifle. The reason was because with the concept being a BOPR rifle, we wanted it affordable for the off duty sniper, which we all know are not very wealthy, to be able to put the package together and then be able to afford shooting it for practice. A tight budget also would align nicely with the idea of affordable M80 style ball ammunition. Because we had some requirements that would require some decent equipment, we couldn’t make the budget too small, so we decided on $2000 for the complete package, to include rifle, scope, mounts, and accessories.
So to summarize, here is a list of our requirements for the BOPR
- 308 Win
- Bolt Action
- 22-24″ Barrel length, heavy barrel
- Threaded barrel for a suppressor is preferred, but not required
- Non-adjustable stock
- Aluminum bedding block or aluminum pillars
- Overall length <45″
- Total weight of rifle, scope, and scope mounting hardware < 13 lbs
- Range finding reticle
- Scope at least 10x
- Adjustable objective and Illuminated reticles are preferred, but not required
- Scope mounting rings and base (rail) made of steel
- Accuracy of 2 MOA or better with M80 Surplus style ammunition, confirmed at 600 yards
- Accuracy of 1 MOA or better with Match grade ammo
- Affordable, Sub $2000 for the complete package
The Rifle Build
Since we would have to work with a tight budget, we knew we were not going to be able to afford a complete custom built rifle which meant we would have to select a solid factory built rifle as our core. The first place most shooters will look is the venerable Remington 700 and that is also where we started. But we did not limit ourselves to just the Remmy. We also considered Savage, Howa, FN, and Tikka and looked at heavy barrel versions of each. We are very familiar with the Remington 700 SPS Varmint, which gets you a 26″ heavy barrel with a cheap Tupperware stock, but good accuracy. The Savage 12FV is about the cheapest heavy barrel version of their rifle and it is a solid offering that would work here, though we are not fans of the accutrigger and the actions are not as smooth. The Howa 1500 heavy barrel is also solid, with a good extractor and quality to match. Though the accessories are not nearly as plentiful as the Remington. The FN’s are very nice, but they do not have an affordable version to use unfortunately. The Tikka T3 is also a really nice choice, but by the time you replace the plastic floorplate and the plastic shroud, the price has climbed pretty steep. Perhaps we should have tried something a little more unique, but it was hard to pass up the tried and true Remington for this rifle, so the SPS Varmint in 308 was selected. Price, $615
The factory Remington 700 SPS Varmint comes with a 26″ barrel, which was a bit longer than our desired length, so we had to pay a visit to our gunsmith to chop and crown the barrel at 24″. We used a standard 11 degree target crown which is the crown style we prefer here at Sniper Central. This is usually a fairly simple process and you can expect to pay $75, sometimes less, to have it done. We could have elected to have the smith thread the barrel and provide a protective cap at this point as well, but we opted to save the money in an effort to stay under budget.
We knew one of the difficult selections was going to be the stock and the first option that jumped into our mind was a Remington 700P take off stock since it met all the criteria and would be cheap. It had an aluminum bedding block, was synthetic, it had a solid cheekpiece and generally they work well. While this was a solid, and affordable, option, we wanted to do something a little bit different. We already have 700Ps, and rifles built with 700P stocks, so to add some variety, we looked else where. Since this was a Bug Out Precision Rifle, we thought a basic stock style would be a nice fit and we did not think a complete chassis system was required for this type of rifle, nor was a fancy tactical style stock. But we did want a good solid platform. One of our long time favorite McMillan stocks is the Winchester Marksman stock, it has a wide forearm, a low overall profile, a good pistol grip (though not completely vertical) and it has a higher than average comb/cheekrest. Its patterned after the Winchester M70 target stock from back in the 1950s era and we have used a couple of them over the years and we thought the target profile and lighter weight would be a good match for the rifle and its mission. So we ordered one up from McMillan using the “Coffee” camouflage pattern and with a full custom inlet with installed aluminum pillars. We would have preferred a full aluminum block since we had no intentions of bedding the action, but the pillars would work well enough. One of the other nice things about the Winchester Marksman stock from McMillan is that it is classified as a “sporter” stock so the price is cheaper than the A series tactical stocks. Retail price, $573
We left many of the factory Remington parts on the rifle, including the factory bolt knob and BDL floorplate. We happened to be reviewing the new Timney 533-ST two stage trigger and thought it would be a nice match to a field rifle like the BOPR is intended to be, so we used this rifle for that trigger test. The trigger is fairly expensive running $196, but it is nice. Though if the budget is tight, this is a quick way to save some money as the factory XMarkPro trigger is acceptable, though the Timney is superior.
The scope was going to be another large decision that would be difficult to make, but with a budget restriction, it helps narrow the choices down a lot. We also wanted a BDC dial, which also reduced the options further, as well as a MIL or MOA reticle to be used for range finding. Kenton Industries helps make more scope choices available to us as they will make BDC knobs for several other scope makers that do not do it themselves. We were really looking for something with a max power of 12-16x, with 14x being a good compromise. Some of the scopes we were considering included the Leupold Mark AR Mod1 4-12x40mm, the SWFA 10x42mm or 16x42mm, and maybe the Weaver Tactical 3-15x50mm or Burris XTRII 2.5-10x44mm. But we would have to find a screaming deal in order for the Weaver or Burris to fit within the budget. The Leupold Mark AR scope looked very promising as it came with a BDC, unfortunately it was for the 223, so we’d have to order one from the Leupold custom shop anyway. The SWFA scopes are solid for the money, but we were leaning toward a variable power scope on the BOPR so it could suffice as a closer quarter optic or just an optic for scanning as well.
Ultimately we decided on the Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 in order to keep the budget down and yet it still offered everything we needed. The 1″ diameter tube was a small deterrent, but it still had enough elevation to do the job we needed, and the smaller size would save some weight. We elected to go with the 4-12x40mm version as it would provide a great all around compromise between magnification and practical usability and i had an adjustable objective. Unfortunately, when we ordered the scope, things got mixed up and we ended up with the 6-18x40mm version instead. We elected to just keep it and run with it and then performed a full review on the scope. The scope has a mildot reticle and the knobs are set with .1 MIL clicks and as I mentioned, it has the BDC markings for a 223 55gr load. We immediately placed an order with the Leupold custom shop for a new BDC knob setup for the M80 ball ammunition at 3200′ of elevation. The adjustable objective on the Mark AR scope is up on the bell and is not a side focus, but the side focus was not a requirement and the location up on the bell is easy to get used to. The scope has a retail price of $550 and another $60 retail price for the custom knob, so $610 total for the scope. If you are following along and considering the same scope, make sure it is the newer Mod 1 version of the scope as it has several improvements over the original that are very desirable, primarily the knobs. The custom knob took about 4 weeks to show up from the Leupold custom shop.
When it comes to mounting the scope, we wanted to use steel rings and base because of the fact that this rifle would need to hold up in any condition because of the nature of a Bug Out/Apocalypse scenario. Steel is just more durable than aluminum, though heavier. Titanium alloy could be a good compromise, but for the sake of saving on our budget, we went with Leupold Mark 4 1″ medium height rings and their 15 MOA canted Mark 4 one-piece rail. Any of the good brand rings and bases would work from makers such as Nightforce, Badger Ordnance, etc. Not a lot of them do a tactical ring for a 1″ diameter scope though, so that also played into our decision to go with Leupold. The price on the Mk4 rings and base came to $314
Everything always takes time to put together, especially when waiting on parts. The McMillan stock took about 3 months to get to us, which was quicker than they normally take for the A series tactical stocks. We were very pleased with the stock when it showed up. The camouflage pattern was an excellent pattern and it looks the part of a BOPR. The prefitted aluminum pillars were nicely installed and the inletting was spot on, as it normally is from McMillan. While we were waiting on the stock, we had the barrel cut down to 24″ which was quick and easy. The remainder of the parts all arrived as well and once the stock got here, it was just a matter of assembling everything to build the BOPR package. Once it was assembled we took a look and were very happy with the final product as it looked great and handled very nice.
So with the entire rifle assembled and ready to go, we needed to put the rifle through some tests to see if we met our objectives for the BOPR. But before we could test the overall effectiveness of the BOPR, we had to perform a few individual tests on some of the components first. These included a full evaluation of the scope as well as the Timney Trigger. Importantly, because this rifle build was part of developing a rifle “system” that included the rifle package and ammo in order to achieve and overall objective, we had to decide on the ammo to use as well. There are a lot of different makers of M80 ball ammunition out there and we wanted to determine which of them was the best performing and the best bang for the buck. To determine that, we performed an extensive comparison test of M80 ball ammunition to try and locate a clear winner. When you look at the results, there was not a clear winner, and in fact, we were not particular impressed with the performance and had our doubts about being able to achieve the objectives of the BOPR. We finally decided to not just look at the raw accuracy, but to look at the other factors in the loads that typically help in guessing how good a load is and the Sellier & Bellot was the clear favorite here with absolutely stellar extreme spreads and standard deviation. So the Sellier & Bellot is our standard M80 load we’ll be using for the BOPR and other tests where it is practical to use.
So for the performance testing part of this project, we determined that we would primarily shoot the S&B M80 ammo for all the testing, but we would run the Federal Gold Medal Match ammo through it at 100 yards just to see how accurate the rifle can be with match grade ammo. This was also one of the predefined requirements on the BOPR spec sheet.
With the rifle fully assembled and the scope zeroed, we pulled out the GMM ammo and fired a few three round groups to see how she did at 100 yards. Since this rifle is very similar to the Remington rifle packages we put together, we were comfortable that the rifle would shoot well with match grade ammo and we were not disappointed with an average group that was sub .5 MOA accuracy, which is actually a bit better than we normally see with the Remington heavy barrel rifles. The accuracy requirements for the project were not as stringent with the M80 ball ammunition as it was with the Federal Match, and we had not seen very good results from the M80 comparison tests we did, so our hopes were not high for the ball ammo. Fortunately, we were surprised. The M80 did not shoot as good as the Federal Match, but it still shot very well with accuracy well under 1 MOA which handily beat our 2 MOA requirement for M80 ball ammunition. The initial results from the 100 yard accuracy tests fired from the bench are listed below:
|Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr||0.469″ (0.448 MOA)||0.319″ (0.305 MOA)|
|Sellier & Bellot M80 147gr||0.764″ (0.730 MOA)||0.298″ (0.285 MOA)|
For the rest of the shooting portion of the testing, we put the Federal Gold Medal Match ammo away and fired only the Sellier & Bellot M80 ammunition. The idea was that with a BOPR the surplus ammunition is all that will be available. But beyond just testing the “use in an emergency” nature of the M80 ammunition, we were still on a quest to determine if a simple rifle envisioned to only shoot the M80 ball ammo could actually be used as an effective sniper rifle.
When the newly ordered BDC knob arrived from the Leupold Custom Shop we liked how it looked, though we were hoping it would have had two rows of elevation markings to take us beyond 1000 yards, but alas it did not. We were further disappointed to discover the simple Leupold zero stop on the knob prevented the operator from rotating the elevation knob more than one rotation. We know the intended ranges on the BOPR with M80 ball ammo is about 700 yards or less, but why limit the rifle system to just that range? We jumped on the Kenton Industries web page and ordered up a new BDC knob from Kenton to see if it might work better. The Kenton knobs are more expensive than Leupold and took a bit longer to get, but they have a bit more aggressive knurling on the knob and some better markings and different knob design…. and there is no zero stop so we can rotate the knobs more than a full revolution. Though there are no additional markings above 700 yards to help with range adjustments beyond the first full revolution. Comparing the two knobs side by side we also noticed that while we provided the same data to both makers, Leupold and Kenton, they must be using different ballistics software to do their calculations since there markings were different. The Leupold knob went to just below 700 yards in one rotation and the Kenton knob was just over 700 yards in one rotation.
The rifle operated just like a normal Remington 700 so it is hard to write anything new that we haven’t already written about them. They are smooth and they feed well. The Timney two-stage trigger was a very nice addition and we think it is a perfect fit for this rifle. The long first stage is good for those critical decision making moments and it insures you are ready to take the shot when you get to the second stage. The straight trigger shoe was also nice as it allowed for a very comfortable reach with the trigger finger with the Winchester Marksman stock. The stock is really nice and handles well in the field and provides a very stable platform with the wide forearm.
We felt that an appropriate test for this rifle would be the multiple head shot engagement test we now do on all of our rifle reviews. You can read about the test on the how we test page. As we mentioned, we elected to run the remainder of the shooting tests using the S&B M80 ammunition and that is what we fired this test with. We set the elevation to 300 yards on the BDC dial and then fired the three rounds for the test in 20 seconds. That time would have been even faster but the second round fed so smoothly that the shooter wasn’t sure if it fed the round and he had to double check, and then fire the 2nd and then 3rd round. As you can see in the picture below, the group was very nice and measured 2.316″ which is only 0.737 MOA. This would be considered a very good test result if we were using match grade ammo, not to mention the ball ammo we did use. It seemed like the rifle, scope and ammo combo were really starting to come into their own as a complete system with the sub 1 MOA accuracy holding even in a rapid fire head shot scenario.
|300y Head Target Test|
|Time Score (20 secs)||36|
|Accuracy Score (.737 moa)||61.1|
|Energy Score (1530 ft-lbs)||23.4|
The final testing we wanted to do with the rifle system to determine if it, and the ammo, could really handle the challenge of a BOPR, was to engage some mid-range targets at 600 yards. We setup one of our 35″ tall silhouettes at 600 yards on a morning with a cold front blowing through. Luckily the 10-15 mph winds were mostly blowing in our face until the last 200 yards or so in front of the target where it was then blowing right to left at about half value. With a few clicks of right wind dialed in and the BDC dial set exactly at 600 yards, we sent a sighter round down range to check our settings on a 24″ round gong. It struck at about 6 inches left of center mass. We made a minor wind correction and then engaged our silhouette for record.
The wind was changing throughout our time on the 600 yard line and we were making constant small adjustments trying to be as accurate as we could when firing. We fired a three round group on the center of the target with satisfying results in blustery conditions and then decided to fire one more group, this time using the head as the aiming point. The three rounds all struck the target right around our aiming point. The first group measured 6.31″ (1.004 MOA) and the second group, located on the head, measured 7.69″ (1.224 MOA). Once again, we were very pleased with the results of this rifle/scope/ammo combination as they stayed right around 1 MOA in gusty wind conditions at 600 yards. These groups were fired from the prone position with a Harris 6-9″ swivel bipod up front and sand sock at the rear. The bipod was placed in the dirt just in front of the concrete shooting platform while the shooter laid prone without a mat on the concrete firing platform itself.
Overall the rifle is very comfortable to use and we continued to enjoy the Winchester Marksman stock. The scope performs well for a budget scope and it does everything we ask of it. The Kenton BDC knob appears to be right on for our most common shooting conditions in these parts, but care has to be shown to adjust the elevation slightly for different shooting conditions and not to just rely solely on the BDC markings. The scope does have a long eye relief because it was designed for AR platforms, and this is most apparent when firing from the prone position which usually places your eye closer to the scope. We will likely move it forward another notch on the picatinny rail, but did not want to make the change during the tests. We’ll do it now that the tests are done. Also, while the comb on the stock is fairly high and we have the scope mounted as low as we could, we still can use some extra height. We’ll be putting a TacOps cheekpad on the rifle soon to raise the cheekweld slightly to better align the eye with the scope.
With this ammo the recoil is very manageable with the rifle and it is very comfortable to shoot even without a muzzlebrake, which the multiple headshot test testified to. The rifle comes back out of recoil very quickly for rapid followup shots. One could shoot the rifle for long periods of time without experience fatigue. So in regards to what this rifle was designed for and with the primary ammo it currently utilizes, the performance is very good.
So were we able to accomplish the mission objectives for this rifle? Lets go through each of the requirements individually to see how we did.
- 308 Win [PASS] – Perhaps the easiest requirement to fullfill, it is a 308 rifle
- Bolt Action [PASS] – Same as above
- 22-24″ Barrel length, heavy barrel [PASS] – We elected to go for a 24″ barrel to try and get a little extra velocity. The rifle is very pleasant to shoot and performance seems to be on par with what we expected. We are happy with the barrel length.
- Threaded barrel for a suppressor is preferred, but not required [N/A] – Since this was not a required feature, we will not count it. But it would have been nice to have the barrel threaded for a suppressor, this can be added later.
- Non-adjustable stock [PASS] – McMillan Winchester Marksman, Non-Adjustable
- Aluminum bedding block or aluminum pillars [PASS] – McMillan installed aluminum pillars. We would still prefer an aluminum bedding block
- Overall length <45″ [PASS] – The overall length of the rifle came in at 43.56″, we would not want to go any longer, it seems just about right.
- Total weight of rifle, scope, and scope mounting hardware < 13 lbs [PASS] – The weight is always tough, but the Remington heavy barrel profile actually helped us here as it is one of the lighter weight heavy barrels do to its stepped profile. The smaller scope also helped on this one.
- Range finding reticle [PASS] – Mil-Dot, though it is 2nd focal plane, we would prefer 1st for the simplicity desired on a BOPR
- Scope at least 10x [PASS] – We have a 6-18x, we still think a 4-12x might be a better fit, but this one is working well and we do not plan to replace it.
- Adjustable objective and Illuminated reticles are preferred, but not required [PASS/NA] – We do have an adjustable objective up on the bell of the scope, but no illuminated reticle. A side focus would be preferred as well, but like we said, the scope is working pretty well as is.
- Scope mounting rings and base (rail) made of steel [PASS] – Leupold Mk4 steel rings and base
- Accuracy of 2 MOA or better with M80 Surplus style ammunition, confirmed at 600 yards [PASS] – This one actually passed with flying colors at 100, 300, and 600 yards with Sellier & Bellot ammunition. It also was tested with other ball ammo at 100 yards with sub 2 MOA accuracy.
- Accuracy of 1 MOA or better with Match grade ammo [PASS] – Again, it passed with great results with Federal Gold Medal Match at 100 yards.
- Affordable, Sub $2000 for the complete package [FAIL] – Dang, it can be hard to meet financial requirements and the total came to $2383. Even if we didn’t go with the upgrade trigger ($196), we still were over by about $200. Now, we could cheat and use “street” prices, but we used retail pricing just to be honest. Chances are that by shopping sales you could do this project for under the $2000, but we set the target and the rules before we began, and we fell short. We did also add the bipod and a 4″ sunshade to the scope which would drive the price up a few extra bucks as well. Not to mention we’ll be adding a TacOps cheekpad. Some money could be saved by electing a different scope, such as the Leupold Mark AR 4-12x40mm.
So beyond missing on the price, we did quiet well and I would say for the most part, mission accomplished.
So if we go all the way back to the question that spurred this project, “Could a Sniper System be developed that could effectively use M80 ball ammo for sniping?”, the answer would be a yes. With the results we saw with this rifle at 600 yards holding 1 MOA, and we can expect similar performance from 800-1000, it can indeed make an effective sniper rifle. It is simple and effective.
But the project morphed into more than that, it ended up being a Bug Out Precision Rifle (BOPR), so it involved a bit more than just being able to shoot surplus ball ammo effectively from medium to long ranges, the rifle system had to do more. It had to be simple, accurate, portable, and easy to maintain in the field. I think we were able to to accomplish those goals very effectively and in the mean time managed to also put together a solid overall rifle package that is very effective in the modern sniping world, but using old style components.
It was a good exercise in defining the role of the rifle and having to come up with some very specific requirements, and then designing a rifle package to meet those requirements, while on a budget. It was a lot of fun to do and we plan to do similar projects in the future. Do not be surprised if you see this rifle popup in other articles here on the page as we continue to use and enjoy it.
Sniper Central – 2016