About 16 years ago, I was charged with equipping my police department’s new 24-man SWAT team, including a four-man precision rifle unit.
Having purchased all of my own equipment and attended several training courses, I was familiar with the process. But my chief’s budget for each marksman was $2,500—less than the cost of my personal scope. This is a reality facing many officers today. Custom rifles, high-dollar optics and the like are pure fantasy for most agencies. I recently spoke with a sergeant looking at the same process, which led me to revisit the topic with today’s rifles and budgets.
To determine a realistic budget, I reached out to officers, team leaders and administrators. While some agencies used grants or other means to secure higher-dollar equipment, the average budget allowance for one officer’s rifle and accessories was $5,000. Of course, providing the best possible gear is the first task, and I decided to test the assembled equipment the same way I had done it previously. Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things over the years and tactical gear has really evolved.
Early in my police marksman career, I was forced to use glorified hunting rifles with no adjustability, marginal accuracy and rack-grade chambers and triggers. They got the job done but were maintenance intensive and had to be rebuilt every few years, requiring a qualified builder and sometimes $1,000 per rifle. This time I wanted something that would last for years, fit different shooters and could be maintained in-house.
So, I started with a Ruger Precision Rifle in .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO. This rifle features an “upper receiver” housing the Ruger American Rifle’s proven 70-degree, three-lug bolt. With its enlarged bolt knob, the bolt is very smooth and fast to manipulate. The bolt and upper assembly are CNC-machined from pre-hardened 4140 chrome-moly steel. The receiver comes with a 20-MOA Picatinny top rail for mounting optics and sights.
The 20-inch barrel, cold-hammer forged from 4140 chrome-moly steel, sports a medium taper and 5R, 1-in-10-inch-twist rifling. It also features a match-grade chamber with minimum headspacing. The barrel has 5/8×24 threading and comes with a thread protector. Users can also install AR-style handguards. Surrounding the standard rifle’s barrel is a long, KeyMod-compatible Samson Evolution handguard.
The Ruger Precision upper is mated to a 7075-T6 aluminum lower that accepts SR-25 and AICS-pattern magazines. Ruger’s universal magazine catch and extended paddle ejects both magazine types without requiring any modifications. The front of the magazine well features a hook for using the rifle on barricades or around other obstacles.
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At the rear of the receiver is a folding mechanism with a standard carbine buffer tube. The Precision MSR stock, made in-house, is easy to adjust for both length of pull and cheek height without tools. Users can replace the stock with an aftermarket AR model if so desired. You can also install your favorite AR pistol grip if needed. The extended, 45-degree safety is placed in a position similar to an AR’s, and it can be reversed for left-handed shooters. The Marksman adjustable trigger offers a crisp release and can be adjusted from 2.25 to 5 pounds using a wrench stored in the rifle’s bolt shroud.
Best of all, the Ruger Precision Rifle is 100-percent serviceable with simple tools. Even a barrel change can be accomplished with a standard AR barrel wrench. There’s no need for a lathe or machinist—just simple tools and a set of headspacing gauges. The rifle can be taken down to its component parts with just a couple Allen wrenches. To top it all off, the rifle has an MSRP of $1,399, and it’s even less expensive for law enforcement.
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