I went through sniper school with a 20-inch barrel rifle. I heard back then that some folks were building them with 18-inch barrels, but I'd never seen one. This weapon from SPU was my first. It looks kind of stubby, but it performed like a full size gun. From the 100-yard mark, three-shot one-hole groups were common. Rifle ranges are at a premium in my area, so I was lucky to find a private range I could take it to that had a 300-yard distance available. The scope had already been zeroed and although I wasn't familiar with the come-ups for the weapon, I could guesstimate it fairly well based on past experience. I guess in proper parlance I "swagged" it. (SWAG = surgical wild ass guess).
Once I was settled and comfortable at the hundred yard line, I fired the first shot fully expecting that, from the cold bore, it would be slightly off to either side and maybe a bit high or low. Further, although I knew it had been previously zeroed, I didn't expect it to still be tight. I figured I'd have to make a minor adjustment. Not so. The cold bore shot was dead on--or at least within one-quarter inch at 100 yards. The next two shots were both touching the first one. A three-shot one-hole group was how I started. That was using the Black Hills ammo provided by SPU.
With a warm rifle and using the Federal Match 168 g, I fired several three-round groups but didn't achieve the one-hole group again. Two shots touching with one just a shade away was what I got. With the American Eagle 150 g (also a Federal company), it actually got worse. I realized that the lighter the round was I fired, the larger the groups got. Still, the worst group I had was 1/2-MOA or smaller.
Switching back to the Black Hills ammo, I moved out to 300 yards and got settled. My time from last group at the 100-yard mark to being settled and firing from the 300-yard mark was less than 30 minutes. I still considered the weapon warm and didn't worry about marking a cold bore shot. Obviously, I expected the groups to open up some and wasn't surprised that they did. Still, if one MOA is one inch at 100 yards, one MOA is three inches at 300 yards. That sub-1/4-MOA means all three shots stay within a .75-inch group. An American mint quarter--twenty-five cent piece--is just under 1 inch in diameter. The three groups I fired from the 300 yard line could all be covered with that quarter. If that's not 1/4-MOA accuracy, it's damn close and sub-1/2-MOA for sure. Remember that I admitted up front, I'm not an active sniper. I have the knowledge but not the experience, and I'm sure I don't have as much control as some of those gentlemen who do the work day in and day out.
Now, let's go back to the hard case...
The rifle was delivered in a specially marked Pelican 1720 case. Included in the case with the rifle was the following:
- Fat Torque Wrench
- Bolt tool
- Leupold tool
- Star Wrench tool set
- Bore Guide
- Cleaning kit
- Cleaning rod
- Militec lubricant
- Militec grease
- The 30 rounds of ammo listed above
To be honest I hadn't expected this 18-inch gun to perform so well. I knew that a 20-inch gun had done very well when I took it to school, but an 18-inch sniper rifle? I had neither the range available nor the expertise to test this weapon past the 300-yard mark. Given how well it did for my inexperienced shooting self out to 300, I have to believe that it will perform with great excellence well past that. The highlights, for me, were the portability--that 18-inch barrel makes for a much shorter overall length--and the fully adjustable stock. Taking the time to adjust the stock to fit me really made the shooting more pleasant and comfortable.