When a company known for its ARs enters the precision bolt gun realm, it is usually met with some skepticism. While semi-autos can be extremely accurate, the world of bolt guns is much more of an art form. But even with the new challenge, this is exactly what the great minds at Modern Outfitters have done—and done well. The company has hit a major home run in the precision world with its MR1 bolt-action rifle. This Texas-based company has made a move as big as the Lone Star State itself by bringing some innovative design features. This undeniably sexy-looking firearm shoots as well as it looks.
Killer Looks & Feel
At first glance, you know you are onto something special with the MR1’s custom Cerakote finish. While a majority of rifles enter a customer’s life as a black or tan blob of color, Modern Outfitters offers custom work right out of the box, and our test sample came with a special camo exterior.
When you first get your hands on this rifle, you’ll notice the mag-fed chassis is made of high-grade, lightweight aluminum. And like any solid precision rifle, Its folding stock is shooter-adjustable for comb height and length of pull. But that’s just the start.
Nuts, Lugs & Bolts
Without a doubt, the star of the show is the action. Modern Outfitters uses a three-lug bolt, which provides many advantages compared to other styles. The stylish bolt handle has a short 60-degree throw, which offers two major benefits. First, it is simply faster because it has to travel a shorter distance. Second, it provides more space between the bolt handle and mounted optics. The bolt and handle are made of 4140 chrome-moly steel. This is the same durable steel found in crank and cam shafts. The recoil lugs are made from O-1 tool steel, surface ground to be flat within 0.0002 inches and double-pinned for absolute alignment even after a barrel change. Tolerances like these do nothing short of screaming dead-nuts accuracy.
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Another eye-catching point on the bolt is its hexagonal flutes. These both lighten the bolt and help manage dirt and grime to keep it running. Also, unlike a standard Remington 700-pattern action, the MR1 uses a mini M16-style extractor for the most positive grip you can get on the rim of a case. This component is tuned for a 20-degree ejection pattern—low and away from expensive scope knobs. It also prevents brass from hitting parts of the scope and being pushed back into the ejection port.
Using a feature found in many benchrest guns, Modern Outfitters has incorporated a cone-shaped bolt nose and a cone-shaped breech. This allows for a more precise lockup and increases surface area contact with the chamber body.
Shooters can strip the entire bolt and fire controls in the field without any special armorer’s tools. This leads us to the trigger on the MR1. While the gun is compatible with aftermarket Remington 700-style triggers, it comes complete from the factory with a very nice 1.5- to 2.5-pound Jewell trigger.
The barrel is threaded and chambered by hand to ensure the highest-quality chamber money can buy. The barrel is threaded for a muzzle device and comes with a thread protector. The threading is very well executed, and the cap is so expertly machine that it looks like an integral component.
The barrel also has hex-style fluting, which is unique for a few different reasons. It reduces weight by up to 1.3 pounds, changes the cross-sectional density for less “whip” (directly related to vertical stringing on targets at longer ranges) and allows for more surface area than conventional fluting, which results in more rapid cooling. And, all of the math and physics aside, it looks amazing.
Speaking of math and physics, the finish on the MR1 is advanced and durable. The MR1 action and parts are coated in three proprietary finishes only found in high-grade military weapons and aerospace components. The PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish increases the action’s overall strength at a molecular level. PVD also provides a high lubricity factor, which protects against abrasive wear while also providing for quick and easy cleaning. The slick finish prevents excessive carbon buildup, especially while shooting suppressed. Titanium nitride and DCD (dynamic compound deposition) coatings are also used to make the MR1’s action stronger, smoother and easier to maintain.
MR1 Desert Testing
With all of the detailed manufacturing and finish information surrounding the MR1, I felt like it would be best tested in something akin to Tony Stark’s lab. However, the reality of life saw me open the case on this good-looking gun at my old trusty gun range in central Arizona. A clear sky, some berms and wild cactus would provide the setting for the range testing.
After the initial sight-in, I immediately created some five-shot groups. What quickly became evident was that the good folks at Modern Outfitters knew what they were doing. Slow, aimed shooting produced fantastic groups, with the best coming in around 0.75 inches. I honestly believe the gun is capable of even better groups if fed handloads and shot from a bench. The trigger broke cleanly, and the short throw of the bolt put me back into action very quickly. While I did experience a couple of feeding issues, the gun was far from broken in, and I am certain it would be self-correcting after a sufficient number of rounds went through the gun.
After shooting for groups, it was time to test the rifle’s practical capabilities. So, I moved the MR1 into an elevated tripod using a Hog Saddle. Townsend Whelen was once noted for saying, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” Using that measure, he would have found this rifle exceedingly interesting. What started out as simple near-to-far drills on steel quickly turned into a furious speed shooting competition simply because the rifle was as fast as it was accurate. I was limited to 800 yards, but having no wind and good load data, the MR1 easily rang steel consistently at the max for the day. Yes, it was a good day.
The MR1 is a high-performing bolt rifle with incredible potential. While priced well above entry-level rifles, it is important to understand what you are buying. The gun is built and packaged as an out-of-the-box performer. I believe Modern Outfitters has succeeded in that effort. While loaded with unique and strong features, the short-throw bolt action and competition- style chassis stand out immediately with this rifle. The MR1 is the perfect balance of performance, weight and aesthetics.
Caliber: .308 Winchester
Barrel: 20 inches
OA Length: 36 inches
Weight: 10 pounds (empty)
Stock: Folding, adjustable
Capacity: 5+1, 10+1
For more information, visit modern-outfitters.com.
This article was originally published in “Tactical Weapons” August/September 2017. To order and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.