At SHOT Show this year (2006) I had the surprise of finding Massad Ayoob standing in the Sabre Defence Industries booth. I've had the pleasure of Mas' company a few times, and knew that he had something working with Sabre Defence, but this was the first time I'd had the opportunity to actually see and handle "his" rifles. During SHOT I made sure to get all of the necessary information to receive some test & evaluation samples of the rifles, and my two rifles showed up a couple months ago. Since then I've been enjoying them at the range and putting them through their paces. The two test rifles I recieved are both Massad Ayoob Signature rifles: the Professional (which we'll review here) and the Elite, which will be fully reviewed at a later date. Let's get into the Professional...
First I should mention what this rifle comes with...
Accessories that come with the Massad Ayoob Signature series of rifles all come in the Signature Tactical Case. The Signature Tactical case is stocked with:
- Removable pistol accessory pouch
- Removable rifle & pistol magazine pouches
- Protective bench/ground mat
- Sabre Premium Otis cleaning kit
A couple of notes here:
All of the removable pouches are fastened in by hook & loop (Velcro). They are held securely in place and the zippered compartment provides additional security should any of the items stored in the pouches come out. I never experienced this through the number of times these rifles went in and out of the back of my Jeep.
The Protective Bench/Ground Mat is a nylon covered closed-cell foam mat that provides a little padding and protection for both the rifle and for your elbows if you're shooting from a bench or on the ground. I would not consider it "field expedient." I wouldn't use this bag to transport the rifle into a true field/operations setting. The mat, along with the pouches, etc. would remain behind at a base camp while I carried the rifle to the field on its sling or in my hands. For back-and-forth to the range, this case is exceptional. For storage in your trunk it will do well and keep everything you need to care for the rifle close at hand.
The rifle itself comes equipped with a Wilderness Tactical Giles sling. While I certainly mean no disrespect to Mas, and he has YEARS more experience than I do, I prefer the BlackHawk Close Quarters Bi-Lateral sling. The BlackHawk sling allows the shooter to quickly go to either shoulder and also has a "quick ditch" release buckle. Inside the rifle case are two 20-round magazines and two 30-round magazines. I'd like four 30-round magazines, but that's 'cause I'm greedy and I hate to reload magazines.
Some of the things that I absolutely love about this rifle:
- The Sabre Ultra Efficient Gill-Brake
- The 6-position collapsible stock (but this is argued by others as desirable)
- Ambidextrous safety
- "Ergo" grip
- Detachable carry handle with rear sight
About the 6-position stock: I've had conversation with experienced SWAT officers who don't care for an adjustable stock. In their experience, the stock had loosened over time with multiple uses and had become sloppy. They didn't feel that the secure lock of the stock into a given position was maintained. For that reason they preferred a shorter stock than standard, but a fixed stock nonetheless. What I heard was that they like stocks about one to 1.5 inches shorter than normal to account for the additional thickness of their vest between shoulder and stock.
I am all in favor of the ambidextrous safety on a rifle. While I'm not particularly fond of an ambi-safety on a 1911 (because I'm a traditionalist and narrow minded), I think it's absolutely necessary on a rifle. This goes hand in hand with the bi-lateral sling. When clearing any structure, you never know which shoulder the weapon will have to go to, or which hand will be the trigger hand. The ambi-safety is convenient and quicker than having to think about what you're doing.