As the M40 proves, Tactical Rifles’ attention to detail results in superb accuracy and reliability. Shown with a Nightforce 5.5-22×50 NXS scope.
Precision rifle competitions really drive the market these days. Dedicated sniper matches occur all over the country. The need to win has completely altered rifles and their accessories. Tactical precision rifles can be built in any caliber, color, size, shape and configuration. Stocks fold, come apart and can adjust to meet a shooter’s needs. Barrel lengths run as short as 12.5 inches, with suppressors becoming the norm. In many instances, this has been a real plus for those who use these rifles in harm’s way, as the equipment is more rugged and proven. Unfortunately, similar to the pistol competition world, it’s also made things very expensive. The same rifle that cost me $2,000 in the 1980s is close to three times that price today. Very few officers or agencies have that kind of money, and when they do, it is critical they get a solid product.
Tactical Rifles equips the M40 with an enlarged bolt handle so operators can easily manipulate the action with gloved hands. Tactical Rifles flutes the bolt of the M40 for weight reduction. The action was smooth and allowed for fast follow-up shots.
Many of these competitions are adventure races, with rifles ready for long stalks and deployable from concealment. As professional competitors become better, the courses go farther downrange. Needless to say, precision rifles these days are not simple. But few real deployments for officers today require long hikes, 10-hour stalks or shooting from a helicopter.
An officer’s rifle needs to be accurate—not benchrest accurate. Groups are great for testing your consistency as a shooter, but most officers get one shot, not five. LEOs need precision—the ability to place one shot exactly where it needs to go every time the rifle comes out of the bag. Its ability to “group” after that shot is secondary. The more consistent the rifle, the more precise the officer can be.
The stock needs to be strong, impervious to weather and comfortable for the shooter. Adjustments are great, but they aren’t necessary. By the same token, scopes need to be simple. Forget the complex and convoluted reticles. Given that actual deployment distances are closer to 50 yards than 500, you will probably never touch the adjustment knobs except to maintain your cold bore. The scope needs to be simple, rugged, repeatable and mounted in solid rings.
Triggers need to be crisp and completely dependable. Super-light triggers are great when the only target is paper and the only thing lost is a trophy. When someone’s life is on the line, it is a completely different story. Leave the 1.5-pound triggers on your benchrest rifle. Lastly, the rifle needs a bipod or bag for stability, and for those agencies that can afford it, some form of night vision.
There are still a few companies that cater to the law enforcement market. Tactical Rifles recently provided an excellent example that meets all of the aforementioned criteria—the Tactical M40.
Tactical Rifles specializes in building rifles to suit the needs of their customers. The base for a typical M40 from Tactical Rifles is the McMillan M40 stock. It is simple and dependable, making it a great addition for most police deployments. You can also order this rifle with an excellent Manners T4 stock, or the T4A version as tested, which features an adjustable cheekpiece.
It also has a very solid section of Picatinny rail forward of the 20-MOA scope mount, a great place for mounting night-vision gear. Two forward-mounted sling studs are present for a bipod and sling. Flush cups for quick-detach (QD) sling mounts are placed at the front and rear on the left side. This particular M40 also features a box magazine floorplate from Tactical Rifles. This has to be one of the most solid floorplates on the market. The added strength and rigidity allows for better feeding and reliability. A 10-round, AICS-pattern magazine was provided.
The M40 series utilizes a Remington 700-style action that has been completely accurized, blueprinted, ground and lapped. Several chamberings are available, but I elected to go with 7.62mm NATO for the test rifle. This M40’s action is completely smooth and utilizes a fluted bolt with a large tactical knob and oversized extractor. The bolt release is fitted nicely to the side of the action so it can be removed easily for cleaning. The trigger is crisp and predictable—it feels very solid.
A 20-MOA scope base is mounted above the action with pins. If the base comes loose, this ensures it will remain on the rifle and have the least affect on accuracy. While 26 inches is the standard length of Tactical Rifles’ M40s, they will cut the barrel to your specifications. My test rifle has a 19.5-inch-long, hand-lapped barrel that measures 0.99 inches in diameter at the muzzle. A tactical muzzle brake was also attached to the end of the barrel.
Tactical Rifles provided a Nightforce 5.5-22X NXS scope with a 50mm objective. This scope utilizes their MOAR reticle, which provides an MOA scale graduated in 1-MOA increments, with 20 MOA to each side and below the crosshair. A nice cross is centered in the reticle for precise aiming, and 10 MOA are marked above the midline. For those who don’t want to make the switch to mils, this is an excellent choice. It provides a usable tactical reticle that matches the 0.25-MOA adjustments on the turrets. It is also lighted for failing light conditions. Mounted in a set of Tactical Rifles Chimera rings, the 5.5-22×50 NXS proved to be a great partner with the M40 for long-range accuracy.
The Chimera rings are comprised of aluminum, titanium and naval brass. The naval brass lessens the likelihood of rusting over time. The titanium makes the rings incredibly strong while staying light. These rings are built to tolerances within 0.002 inches. This unbelievable precision means your scope is centered, providing for superior reticle alignment.
The rifle was shipped in a hard case that contained a cleaning kit. Along with a high-quality rod and jag, there were patches and various cleaning materials. The instructions clearly stated that it was important to never use the brushes during the break-in period.
The only thing I added for testing was a Harris bipod, but I used it sparingly, as most of my performance evaluation was done using an Eberlestock X3 LoDrag backpack. This pack carries a heavy sniper rifle easily and has just enough storage for a deployment.
The first thing you notice about this rifle is how solid it is. There is little doubt it meets all of my precision rifle criteria. Everything about this rifle is geared towards dependable repeatability. You just get the feeling that nothing is going to come loose, no matter what. It is no lightweight, but it balances well. The M40 sat nicely on the X3 backpack and rested solidly on the Harris bipod. Pulled into my shoulder, it easily became a part of me. In short, this rifle simply had an excellent feel.
In order to keep it more in line with what an officer will do, I used the bipod for group shooting. As one might expect, this rifle is plenty accurate. The best group was produced with Desert Tactical Ammunition’s 175-grain load, measuring 0.43 inches. This was my first real test with their ammunition, and the results were impressive. Not only did this ammunition provide the best groups, but it was also very consistent. The other loads produced groups right around half an inch wide, with the Hornady 155-grain A-MAX load coming in at a very close second place. My guess is that this rifle will easily shoot better from a bench—it certainly matches their 0.5-MOA guarantee.
Over a couple of training sessions, I recorded four clean cold bores using the Desert Tactical 175-grain ammunition. Each of these was pretty much dead-center in the half-inch dot, making it repeatable and precise. I shot two of these cold bores from the X3 backpack and two with the bipod, yet the results were still consistent. Just like its build, the rifle’s accuracy was unshakable.
During my performance evaluation, I deployed the M40 from prone positions, over the hood of my truck, and even out of a window. It was very easy to get a stable platform with the X3 backpack, and it also carried all of my deployment essentials. The Manners T4A stock was easy to interface with. The cutout on the bottom of the stock provided a great position for resting the rifle from the rear, and the adjustable cheekpiece only makes it more versatile and user-friendly for police departments.
Everything on the Tactical Rifles M40 is perfectly suited to police use. You might not need the muzzle brake—it works great and minimizes any dust getting kicked up from the ground—but, as expected, it can be loud. This 7.62mm rifle is built so well you don’t need it. The recoil is minimal and muzzle rise can be easily controlled with a good position.
Everything else worked well. The magazine provided fed reliably. I also tested the M40 with my AICS magazines: both five- and 10-round models worked perfectly. Nightforce’s NXS scope proved to be an excellent addition, and the reticle made first-round hits exceptionally easy. As a fully converted “mil guy,” the reticle took some getting used to, but it should be perfect for those who still prefer MOA adjustments. The MOAR reticle is uncluttered, clear and provides solid lines for holds and bracketing. Coupled with the MOA knobs, you won’t need to make any conversions, so it’s a very simple setup.
All in all, this is a great package. Tactical Rifles offers reduced prices for agency purchases and will do their best to accommodate delivery times, depending on the build. If you or your agency is looking for a rugged and reliable rifle built for deployment, Tactical Rifles is a great choice. For more information, visit tacticalrifles.net or call 877-811-4867. For more on Nightforce Optics, visit nightforce.com or call 208-476-9814.
As the M40 proves, Tactical Rifles’ attention to detail results in superb accuracy and…
by Todd Burgreen / Jan 1, 2013