The Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 RC TRR Rifle (henceforth called the TRR-Threat Response Rifle) is a threat engagement tool in .308 WIN that balances portability with a stable platform for precision shooting. The bolt-action repeating rifle with a five-round box magazine is available in .223 and .308. I picked the .308, my favorite caliber for law enforcement precision rifles. A .308 can be used at carbine ranges to moderate distances, which fall within the majority of law enforcement scenarios.
My TRR came with a 22-inch contoured barrel with a 1/12-inch twist and a generous recessed crown. This rifle has the same type of attention to detail that established Weatherby’s reputation as THE hunting rifle many years ago.
Weatherby makes a couple of other tactical bolt guns. Both are higher priced than the one I tested, but they offer more cartridge choices. The Mark V TRR has a 26-inch Krieger Custom Cut, No. 3 contour free-floated barrel and a hand-honed action. For agencies using the .338 Lapua cartridges, this is your Weatherby. There is a similar Mark V TRR using magnum cartridges designed for extended ranges. This model also comes in .338 Lapua and has an aggressive muzzle brake. I don’t know about the cartridge for this gun, however. There is a version that sports a 28-inch barrel that’s chambered for the .338-378 Weatherby magazine.
Rule of thumb: if the gun says Weatherby on it, shoot the Weatherby cartridge. I did a little calculation on the specs of the .338-378 Weatherby magazine, by the way. Using bullets weighing 200 to 250 grains, they are still supersonic at 500 yards.
Shoot the Weatherby cartridge.
The TRR has an adjustable trigger, which comes factory tuned between 2.8 and 3.5 pounds. For a tactical rifle, this range is just right. Weatherby triggers tend to leave the factory with hand-honed quality, and this one was crisp and smooth.
The TRR has a particularly safe bolt and chamber system. Every manufacturer has a different method to prevent overpressure in case of a cartridge failure. First, Weatherby Vanguards have three longitudinal gas ports along the bolt body. The bolt body itself is machined out of a single steel blank, using a two-lug design.
An overpressure is statistically uncommon in cartridge manufacture, but a single failure can be catastrophic. Overpressure can be caused by a variety of reasons, but cartridge inconsistency is usually the culprit. You know, “one of these things is not like the others.”
To be fair to ammunition manufacturers, my experience with overpressure cartridges has been rooted in faulty reloading, not commercial manufacture. If readers find that I usually use ammo with familiar names like Winchester and Black Hills, this isn’t a coincidence.
If the cartridge fails, the gases normally contained by the vessel, made by the primer and brass case, escape somewhere other than the muzzle. The escaped gas is under higher-than-normal pressure. This kind of pressure can rip a gun apart, which is dangerous for the user.
Manufacturers engineer methods to rapidly vent these gases away from the user with chambers that can hold many times the normal chamber pressures. Weatherby uses a design that adds layers of steel in critical areas, plus a generous recess in the bolt face.
The drop at comb is 7/8 of an inch. That’s how much the top of the comb (where your cheek goes) is lower than the sighting plane, an extended line of the top of the barrel; 7/8 of an inch is about the average for most shooter’s comfort. It worked for me. What didn’t work for me was the length of pull, the length of the trigger to the “backstrap” of the rifle. It was so short that holding the pistol grip and cycling the bolt caused a big gash in my thumb.
What? Why would anyone hold the grip and cycle the bolt at the same time? I wouldn’t, but a left-handed shooter might. I recommend the Weatherby Mark V TRR Custom Magnum for left-handed shooters. It has an adjustable target stock, which has a huge dip in the grip.
The Vanguard design allows for plenty of clearance for the chamber and scope, while still providing a significant amount of steel around the cartridge. The Vanguard Lightweight Scope Mounts, made of 7000 series alloy, created a solid foundation for my Leupold VX III 3.5 by 10 by 40 scope.
For me, the Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 RC TRR Monte Carlo stock is perfect. It has enough flat in the front for using a shooting rest. For those who use bipods, there are two swivel studs: one for a bipod, and the other for a sling. At 8.75 pounds, the TRR is maneuverable enough for an air insertion in case the team needs some precision shooting overwatch on a remote grow, or a lab in rough terrain where a sling is appropriate.
Weatherby has been around for decades and one thing they are known for is their accuracy guarantee. The TRR has an accuracy guarantee of 0.99 for a three-shot group with Weatherby or a premium brand of ammunition. I am familiar with this guarantee, and my experience has been that every Weatherby I have fired easily beats this standard, using Weatherby cartridges.
When I ordered this rifle for testing, I asked for Weatherby cartridges for the test. They don’t make .308 cartridges. This kind of startled me. Weatherby usually makes cartridges for the guns they make. Premium cartridges in .308 are easy to come by, and I had plenty.
For this test, it was CORBON 168-grain HPBT. I didn’t get a chance to put CORBON on a 500-yard range this time, but these are the cartridges I use for this kind of test.
When I test a rifle, I often have to mount my scope on the rifle, and then sight it in. I use a laser boresighter from LaserLyte to make this painless.
The LaserLyte Laser Bore Sight is a precision laser that emits a concentric beam from the bore using a unique multi caliber fitting system. This is a pocket-sized device that is always in my range kit. It works for almost every rifle and handgun. I STRONGLY recommend that every law enforcement user have this device in their deployment bag. A few seconds with LaserLyte in an actual deployment, provided the officer has used the device before and knows the relative strike of the bullet, prevents second-guessing.
The LaserLyte Laser Bore Sight can project a beam to 100 yards, depending on the conditions, but I boresight at 25 yards. The setup is designed to minimize the number of rounds fired to sight in the gun. It’s simple: project a laser from the bore axis and the strike of the bullet should be close.
The last three times I have used my LaserLyte Laser Bore Sight, I have put my bullet at ten times within three rounds at 100 yards. For this test, it was three rounds exactly.
The TRR trigger had a flat smooth area from which a shooter can establish an excellent “feel” for the shot. The actual integrated act of firing this Weatherby made it one of the smoothest tactical intervention guns on the market. That, combined with continued legendary Weatherby accuracy and durability, made this one a winner.
The TRR ran smoothly without a hitch (except for my thumb, ouch!). It did well on rifle rests and was comfortable as a shooter in expedient shooting positions.
Readers should know that I had a 50-year-old Weatherby from which to compare this model. Vanguard rifles are Weatherby design, built overseas. They’ve been doing this for years. Their build quality is a matter of maintaining superior standards, not where they are made.
How does the Weatherby of 2013 compare to the Weatherby of 1963? They have the same quality, accuracy and attention to detail. They are, uh...um...boring. Like Ed Weatherby says, “I put my name on it.”
Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. Lindsey has taught shooting techniques for over a decade. He enjoys competing in shooting sports, running and cycling events. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.