A bit ago we reviewed a Tactical Rifles M40T4 which we were impressed with and when the time came to acquire a second rifle chambered in the .260 Remington to conduct ammo comparisons with, as well as do night vision reviews, we decided to go with a Tactical Rifles and see how a .260 rifle would perform.
We wanted to go with a rifle that was a bit different than the one we had already reviewed and since Tactical Rifles is a true custom rifle builder they will build to suit. Of course, when one is having a custom rifle built it is fun to go through the options and build the rifle as you would want. We opted for their M40 rifle using the Tactical Rifles Chimera action with fluted bolt. We chose the Manners T2 stock with multi-cam molded in pattern. We went for the non adjustable version of the stock as this is what we prefer for a duty rifle that is going to see deployment style use. The barrel is one of Tactical Rifles heavy match barrels with #7 contour and 24″ long. We also elected to install a Universal Night Sight (UNS) mount up front for any night vision optics. At this point the specs were set and the rifle was order and we had to wait the obligatory period of time for the rifle to be built.
With these reviews I typically like to start from the back of the rifle and move forward. Manners Rifle Stocks have a very nice reputation for a reason, their stocks are very well designed and the quality of construction is very high. We prefer a tactical stock to be comfortable, functional, and durable and you can hold off all the frills when they are not required. The T2 fits these requirements very nicely. One of the features on the stock that is somewhat of a trademark for Manners is their somewhat flat and angled cheek weld area on the comb of the stock. It provides a flat surface with a ridge at the top where it goes flat and the combination makes a good area for the shooter to get a solid cheek weld. The shape is the same on both the right and left hand side and while the action is a right hand action, the rifle itself can be fired both right and left handed. The comb itself is elevated enough to not require an added cheekpad, at least for the 50mm objective lens scope we currently have mounted on the rifle.
Moving forward you find a very comfortable vertical pistol grip with a palm swell and a deep dip in the stock behind the action for your thumb to rest on. The palm swell is fairly pronounced and the pistol grip itself is fairly wide, but it proved comfortable for my medium sized hands. Those with small hands may find it a bit too thick. The area directly behind the tang of the action is wide and flat and is angled at the same angle as the tang itself. This not only looks good but allows for easy access to the standard Remington safety controls on the M40T2. The stock area around the action is not too wide and has a good shape and contour with plenty of material to properly support and stabilize the action.
The forend area of the stock is what is known as a “beavertail” style forend and if you imagine a wide, flat beavertail, then you have the general idea of the shape of the stock. The beavertail forends have been around for a long while and for good reason, they provide a very stable platform when shooting from a rifle rest such as sandbags. The beavertail on the T2 stock is right about 2.5″ (64mm) wide and 1.25″ (32mm) high at the front end. There is a slight taper from the action toward the front of the stock to allow rising and lowering the point of aim by simply sliding the rifle forward or back on the rest. The sides of the beavertail are rounded with about the middle 1″ (25mm) on the bottom being completely flat. There is one swivel sling stud up front for mounting a bipod and a Harris bipod mounted just fine. There is also flush cups on the left side of the beavertail forend as well as the left side of the rear butt stock. The side of the forend is a sharp radius curve and as such the flush cup on the forend does not fit very flush and the edge of it doesn’t look very good. It is still perfectly functional, but just didn’t have the polished finish look as the rest of the stock.The stock is colored by Tactical Rifles themselves and we requested it to be finished in the popular Multi-cam pattern, which looks great. The pattern is applied onto the stock and appears to provides excellent durability. The pattern flows very well over the length of the stock and while you can notice that the pattern does not match up on the top of the cheek piece, it is really only noticed if you look for it. This happens as a byproduct of the application process and in this case, the multi-cam pattern itself helps it blend very well. The finish on the stock is a very matte non reflective finish and as a whole, the stock is excellent, both in fit and function.
The action used on this rifle is one of the Tactical Rifles Chimera actions which is their own custom action patterned on the Remington 700. The trigger and safety are the same as Remington with the two position safety being up on the right hand side of the tang. The rest of the controls are different vs. the Remington. The bolt release is on the left hand side of the action instead of in the trigger guard like the Remington 700 and that release has a pronounced protrusion that makes it very easy to operate and it has a good positive spring back after its pressed. The top of the action is a bit more enclosed than the Remington 700 which aides with rigidity, but the ejection port area is large enough to allow finger manipulation when discretely removing an expended piece of brass with only fingers, or when having to try and clear the action when required. The action also came with one of Tactical Rifles 20 MOA rails already installed and the contoured shape on the bottom of the rail matched the ejection port nicely.As you would expect, the bolt is also similar to a Remington bolt but also has some differences worth mentioning, such as the heavy flutes that not only save some weight and look good, but can also help prevent bolt binding when foreign debris might get into the action. The handle appears to be a machined bolt handle, not cast, that does angle back toward the shooter and there is a large tactical style knob attached to that handle. All of these features aide with rapid and positive bolt manipulation. The extractor is an M-16 style extractor that should eliminate any of the standard Remington 700 extractor complaints and failures. Overall the action and bolt are both well designed and appear to be well built.
Tactical Rifles has their own floorplate design that uses the popular Accuracy International magazines and this is the floor plate they used on this rifle. It is a very robust design built with durability in mind. The trigger guard itself is very wide and over built and the thickness of the flat area that is inletted into the stock is such that it does hang down a few millimeters below the stock, but this is all by design. Again, durability was the goal. The magazine release is located just in front of the trigger guard and protrudes down enough to allow easy manipulation. It also has a round “paddle” shape as well to further help with utilizing it as needed. As mentioned, the magazines are Accuracy International mags, five rounds in this case, that traditionally have been very reliable and while a bit expensive, are readily available. When the release mechanism is pushed forward the magazine drops freely, whether empty or loaded. When inserting the magazines, they insert easily but the operator does need to make sure he or she applies a good amount of pressure to the rear of the magazine to insure the magazine positively seats. It becomes apparent when this happens with an audible snap. It did take a little bit of fiddling to figure out the best way to do this, but once learned it is not a problem.The heart of all good rifles is the barrel and the barrel on the M40T2 is match grade barrel of number seven contour. The barrel is 24″ long with a straight taper and the diameter of the barrel at the muzzle is a measured .933″ (23.7 mm). The barrel has a stepped recessed crown and the depth of the recess is fairly large helping to prevent any crown damage during rugged operations. We have always had good luck with the quicker 1:8″ twist on .264 rifles so that is the twist rate we requested and the barrel also has five lands and grooves. Between the barrel and the action is an oversized precision ground recoil lug that completes the barreled action.Because this rifle will utilize night vision we had Tactical Rifles install an UNS mount which was nicely inletted and bedded to the Manners stock. The UNS has a top and bottom half that when attached fits over the barrel without touching it to allow the barrel to remain free floated. There are six torque screws that attach the two halves and when you need to remove the barreled action from the stock you would separate the UNS halves to allow you to do so.
The action is glass and pillar bedded in the stock as well as about the first 1.5″ of the barrel and as mentioned earlier, the barrel is free floated back to this point. Many custom rifle builders will bed the first little bit of the barrel to help prevent any additional bending stresses on the action where it is supporting that heavy barrel. The trigger is a single stage trigger set to 2.5 lbs and it breaks extremely clean. For tactical use I think it is a bit light, I prefer 3 – 3.5 lbs, but it is a very nice trigger that helps with accurate shooting. The trigger shoe is a thinner style shoe.All of the metal is coated in Tactical Rifles ‘Extreme Environment’ OD green finish. The only exception is the AI magazine and the bolt body which itself is black, while the knob and bolt shroud are the same green as the rest. The UNS is also finished in the same green. The finish is a durable finish designed to withstand any and all elements that the operator may find themselves in. It appears to hold up well and no scratching has been noticed as of yet. It does have a nice matte, non reflective finish that is fairly smooth. The entire rifle when looked at as a whole is very nice looking but yet is completely functional. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some of us think functionally tactical long range rifles are beautiful.The intent for this rifle is to have it ready to go with permanently mounted optics for use in long range shooting evaluation tests, ammo tests and night vision tests. We had a Weaver Tactical 3-15x50mm scope here for review that we were impressed enough with to utilize it as the permanent optics on this rifle, so we mounted it up. Of course, since it was being mounted on a Tactical Rifles rifle with Tactical Rifles base, we figured we might as well use some of the excellent Tactical Rifle Chimera rings. 30mm Medium height worked very well.
For the shooting portion of the evaluation we took the rifle out twice for 100 yard testing (ultimate accuracy) and then another time for long range evaluation once we figured out the ammo we would be using. For the 100 yard accuracy tests, both days were cold and overcast (normal Montana winter) with the first day having a breeze but nothing too strong, about 3-6 mph. We fired three different loads in an effort to see what bullet weights the rifle likes. With the quicker 1:8″ twist instead of 1:9″ we thought the heavier bullets might do better, though that did not end up being the case. The results are listed below:
|HSM 123gr Scenar Match||.277″||.205″|
|HSM 130gr Berger Hunting VLD||.924″||.630″|
|Cor-Bon 139gr Scenar||1.10″||1.054″|
If you have not read our .260 match ammo comparison take a chance to do it now. The 123gr and 139gr scenar bullets tend to shoot exceptional and the HSM load has been one of our favorites for this cartridge and the M40T2 loves the stuff as well. Tactical Rifles guarantees .5 MOA with their rifles but with this ammo it averaged right about .25 MOA which is excellent, and that is with a 15x scope firing from a sandbag and sand sock, no vise and with gloved hands in cold weather (high 20s). The rifle did not care for the other two loads but I would still like to also try the HSM 142gr Sierra Matchking load… which I honestly just failed to bring along on both days, my bad. I’ll have to try it out at some point, but for the time being the HSM 123gr load is a sweetheart in this rifle and we can honestly say that with this factory ammo, shot from two different lots on two different days, it is definitely a .25 MOA rifle. Tactical Rifles indicated that they like to test their 260 rifles with handloads using the 139 Scenar and 142 Sierra Match King and have great results, so it could very well be just these tow other factory loads the rifle does not like.For our long range work we decided to just stick with the best performing load, in this case the HSM 123gr scenar match load, and then go from there. We pulled out one of our ballistic cards for this load and dialed in the dope for 300 yards to confirm the data as well as get a group for accuracy tests. With only a 15x scope and shooting at a 1″ dot with a FFP reticle at 300 yards it is not the easiest way to shoot accurately as the crosshairs were as wide as the dot and obscured it. But the rifle still shot very well, printing a 1.12″ group (0.38 MOA) with the group about .5 MOA high compared to the computed data on the card. It seemed to be doing just fine, so it was time to change shooting ranges and test the rifle at long ranges.For the long range tests we wanted to see how it would do at 600, 800 and 1000 yards. We have our own little shooting area with a fixed 15″ x 20″ steel target on the side of a mountain that we can quickly get to from our facility (Montana is nice that way). At 600 yards with the dope dialed in and with just a slight right to left wind, the shooting was easy as we printed 3 shots in about a 5″ group. Again the group was about .5 MOA high compared to the ballistics card. At 800 yards we had .5 MOA of right wind dialed in and came down 1 MOA from the printed data on the card and were dead on, again easily able to keep the group sub 1 MOA. At 1000 yards we had 1 MOA of right wind and 1.5 MOA down from the published data and were on target with consistent hits. The rifle performed exceptional with this commercial ammo at all ranges. With time and the right range, the rifle could easily reach further, though the lighter 123gr bullets will start to struggle in high wind conditions, but it is still a excellent long range performer.
The magazines functioned flawlessly and the scope and rifle combo make a deadly pair. We look forward to continued use with the rifle, but nothing is perfect and we do have just a few minor quibbles. The bolt currently is a bit stiff but that should wear in over time and become butter smooth like most push feed style actions. It would be nice to have a three position safety, but we have lived without them with Remington style triggers for decades and the DBM setup helps improve safety to where that third position isn’t completely necessary. I would like to have the magazines seat a bit easier as we did struggle a few times to get it to snap in positively, but with continued use we should get better at it. Finally, I would like to see a tweak to the ejection of the empty brass. The extraction worked great but occasionally the ejection of that brass was not as authoritative as I would like with a shell or two bouncing and remaining in the action. We’ll see if this clears up.
To conclude, Tactical Rifles has built a very nice rifle and we are very pleased with the way it turned out, especially with the accuracy. Recoil is very mild due to the low recoiling .260 cartridge and the heavy weight of the rifle. In the field it can be a bit of beast as many tactical rifles are, but it is solid and more than capable. We will need to thread the barrel for a suppressor, especially for night vision use, but we will probably hold off for a bit. If you are in the market for a serious long range tactical rifle, the M40T2 certainly should be on your list to check out.
UPDATE: We are aware that there has been multiple reports of poor quality rifle builds coming from Tactical Rifles recently (2017). We can only report and review on rifles we have had in our hands personally, but there have been enough reports with documenting evidence of questionable quality that we felt we needed to mention it here.