After attending 22 SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Shows over the past 24 years, I no longer feel that “kid in a candy store” sensation that marked my first few visits. Nevertheless, it is always fun to see old friends and make new acquaintances. One of the most impressive people I met at the last SHOT Show was David Rooney, owner of Tactical Rifles. I had heard good reports about Tactical Rifles’ work from my friend, Staff Sgt. James Gilliland, and got a chance to shoot his Tactical Rifles-made .260 Remington M40 after a deer hunt last fall.
After a couple of days walking the aisles, I stopped by the Tactical Rifles booth to meet Rooney and talk rifles. We found that we share a common affinity for .264 bullets for long-range work. Rooney was excited about a new 6.5mm-06 that he had built. Now, I’m a big fan of the .260 Remington with high ballistic-coefficient bullets, but he assured me that the extra velocity of the same projectiles fired from a longer 30-06 case would increase the reliable range beyond 1,000 yards.
“Many people talk about the 6.5 diameters, as they have realized it is just a great wind-bucking B.C. that allows you to hit little targets way out yonder,” Rooney said. “The 2,600 to 2,700 fps range is great, but for 1,000 yards and beyond, the extra 200 fps is what’s needed if you want not just to compete, but to win. Speeding up the round and increasing the B.C. of the bullet reduces wind drift and makes long range precision more achievable.
“Five inches less wind drift at 1,000 yards may not seem like much, but that’s what separates the winners from the losers in competition,” Rooney continued. “That’s why the 6.5-284 wins so many benchrest competitions; but it doesn’t like magazines, so it is almost always used for single shot rifles. It gives comparable ballistics, and maybe even better at max loads, but with the ability to feed in a standard long-action magazine, and enter the 6.5-06. The .30-06 has worked great for decades, but doesn’t offer significant advantage in ballistic coefficient. The 6.5-06 offers huge advantages at long range without being a magnum, throat-burning, hard-kicking beast! In fact, with a brake installed, the 6.5-06 barely moves when fired.” One thing led to another, and I’d arranged to borrow Rooney’s 6.5-06 for a bit of shooting.
When I received the rifle, it was easy to see that the action has the same footprint as a Remington 700, but in stainless steel and made to benchrest tolerances. When I pulled the bolt from the case, it was also obvious that it has a very reliable M16-style extractor.
After putting some rounds downrange, I got in touch with Rooney and was treated to more of his ideas on building custom precision rifles.
“Relying on the underside of a receiver to hold staggered rounds has never been the most reliable means of feeding,” Rooney said. “As the bolt is a circular piece of steel, the sides of the radius will always have the least amount of contact with the head of the round in the staged magazine well. The lowest point of the radius of the bolt face is the center. It is, therefore, correct to conclude that for optimal feeding reliability, a bolt rifle should have center feeding. This ensures maximum contact with the head of the cartridge. The mil-spec, double-stack, center-feed magazine that we utilize not only achieves this aim, but also controls feeding for the round’s first inch of travel, ensuring correct presentation into the chamber,” Rooney stated.
Early on, while discussing the project with Rooney, I decided that a Nightforce NXS scope would be a perfect fit to get the most from the 6.5-06. I chose a variable 5.5-22X with a 56mm objective. As you might expect, this optic has a 30mm tube. The adjustment range for this scope is commendable, with 100 MOA in elevation available, and 60 MOA of windage. Both adjustments are made in .25-minute clicks. I selected Nightforce’s mil-dot reticle. This is a second focal plane optic, which means that the scope must be set at 11X to align the mil-dots for Mil ranging. The dots themselves are a circle the size of a normal mil-dot, with a very fine dot centered within.
To firmly affix the Nightforce optic to the rifle, I used Tactical Rifle’s Chimera Tactical 30mm Rings. These rings are constructed from an advanced titanium alloy, reducing overall weight, while providing plenty of recoil resistance and strength. To give you an idea of how strong: The rings’ body has 83,000 pounds-per-inch tensile strength, and the cross bolt has 120,000 pounds-per-inch tensile strength. The cap screws on these rings are beefy. Rather than industry standard 8-40s, they’re 8-32s, which give 45 percent more clamping area under each screw head. If that wasn’t enough, there are six, not four, screws on each ring. You get perfect reticle alignment through precision boring that keeps alignment to plus/minus 0.002 inch. Each set is sold as a serial-numbered matched set for Mil-Std-1913 rails only.