The Sniper on the modern battlefield- the literal terror to an army attempting to occupy an area. And while in this day and age the word might conjure big, expensive rifles and maybe even exotic calibers, the truth is that building a capable marksman’s rifle is still pretty easy for pretty much anybody out there. I’m going to cover a rifle I pieced together from parts I had left over from other projects, keeping the overall costs to a minimum while maximizing what I’ve got. Chances are, you’ll be able to do something similar with a few tweaks.
The rifle featured here is a basic Remington 700- the AAC model, to be exact. Sporting a basic 20in 1/10 twist medium contour barrel, its not going to win any accuracy competitions compared to the more expensive rifles I’ve got in the arsenal. But it was a rifle built on the legendary 700 action and meant to be suppressed out of the box. I picked this rifle up for a song from a local guy on armslist. Rifle was too heavy to lug around deer hunting for him and too expensive to swap the barrel (in his words), so I walked away with it for very little money. Lucky me.
And that brings me to my next point- while its heavier than what most guys are used to humping in the woods during the fall, its also not a boat anchor. Its still lighter than my old M24, even in its final kitted form you see above. Recoil is not a huge issue anyway out of 7.62×51 if you’re a grown man, but a little extra weight on the gun really calms it down. On the other hand, tossing that tupperware Hogue stock it came with for a Bell and Carlson M40 really was a major step up in rigidity- and in turn accuracy- while keeping it looking like a plain old civilian hunting rifle at first glace. That is, compared to a chassis system. After adding detachable bottom metal for Accuracy International mags, which are standard across my bolt guns, it gets brought to the 21st century in terms of practical combat use.
While this wouldn’t be my first choice on a barrel twist for the round I use (175gr SMKs out of a 1/11.25 5R), it performs well enough to keep on the rifle. Again, Remington built these for a particular use, and, there’s also a threshold to be recognized between absolute accuracy on a range and practical accuracy in the field- 1 MOA may not win any F Class shoots and wouldn’t be what I consider a great day at the range for a precision gun, but its a perfectly fine and attainable standard with a wide range of loads and barrel twists. And of course, this also begs the question of the engagement range, exactly. In the hills of NC, much like the rest of the east coast, its rare to have more than a few hundred meters of engagement range. And in a world where 6.5 Creedmore is running the table in the competition world, I’m still running 7.62×51…becasue, I have every data point on the round and this particular load memorized and its standard among my inner circle.
Here’s where it gets serious. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve dumped into a barreled action- if the mount, rings and optic are crap you’re never going to get anywhere. And on that note, the mount and rings are the most important part. Its something that often gets overlooked and the first thing I address when building a rifle. My go-to rings are made by Badger Ordnance and specifically the maximized steel rings and in those is a fixed 10×42 SWFA Super Sniper.
About that glass. This one is a pretty old model, with a plain mil-dot reticle and 1/4 MOA adjustment knobs, which is a mostly obsolete combination today. But that said, it still works quite well functionally, and I don’t feel undergunned running that in lieu of some of the higher-end glass in the arsenal. I picked it up way back in the day (I actually don’t think SWFA makes this version anymore) becasue it was a competitor to the old Leupold Mark 4 fixed 10 power. But why the fixed power scope?
In short, simplicity. There’s a lot of options in zoom scopes today and generally speaking, First Focal plane is the way to go- the reticle changes size with the zoom level keeping your measurements and / or bullet holdovers true- but that said, glass in this category usually has way more magnification than you need on the high end and too little on the low. Even growing up with that old school 3-9×40 on a deer rifle, we’d put it on one magnification and keep it there. The old fixed 10x stuck around for as long as it did becasue the lack of a zoom lens reduces the internals, making a very rugged optic. And this one, the SWFA, has been a trooper over the years.
Last, its mounted on a rather long rail mount. That’s to mount a PVS-30 up front. If my job is to deny an occupation its power, that requires the ability to kill, unseen, at night. And while a lot of people are moving towards chassis systems for this today, there’s still options on the market for mounting forward NODs. Both Precision Reflex and MDT make good ones.
And there you have it- a weapons platform that is just as lethal during the day as it is at night. Its not an overly-complicated system, but its basic capabilities make it perfectly suited to the task at hand. 1000m gun? Eh, maybe. Doesn’t matter. Ain’t got 1000m shots to worry about. All I need it to do is kill precisely at 500 and it does that in spades. -NCS