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Recently, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) awarded a contract for a new .338 Lapua-chambered, bolt-action sniper weapon system (SWS) to H-S Precision (HS) of Rapid City, South Dakota, with an option of buying more. These rifles are intended for issue to the Israeli infantry and airborne forces. HS will deliver the complete SWS including the rifle, Leupold Mark IV rings, a McCann rail mount system, a Hardigg hard case, an infrared target illuminator, five seven round mags, a Harris bipod, a detachable muzzle brake, a cleaning/maintenance kit, and a Tripod Data Systems PDA running the Horus Vision ballistic software. The kit will also include a noise suppressor and a night- vision system, both of which have not been identified yet. As tested this SWS uses a superb NightForce scope sight but both Leupold and S&B mil-dot reticle scopes are still in the running for adoption in this SWS.

Tactical Weapons was fortunate to get the loan of an early example of this SWS for test and evaluation. While I have considerable experience with a wide variety of military and police sniper rifles, including in combat, this is the first .338 Lapua-chambered sniper rifle I have had an opportunity to evaluate. I was impressed!

It is important to realize that.338 Lapua-chambered SWSs are designed and intended to give military commanders a point-target anti-personnel sniping capability at ranges well beyond the effectiveness of conventional anti-personnel sniper systems (about 800 yards).

To test this rifle, .338 Lapua ammo was procured from Black Hills. Past experience with Black Hill’s ammo has proven their products to be among the most accurate available, bar none, and this proved to be the same. Black Hills offers two loads in .338 Lapua. The one I used is loaded with a 250-grain Sierra Match King bullet at a velocity 2,950 fps and energy of 4,831 fpe. The other load offered is loaded with a 300-grain Sierra Match King at a velocity of 2,800 fps and energy of 5,223 fpe.

Starting with the Right Rifle
The new H-S Precision Pro-series 2000 line of semi-custom bolt-action rifles, which the IDF SWS is based on, are easily some of the best firearms values of their type on the market today. Many of the standard features in the Pro-Series 2000 firearms are only found as optional features on much higher-priced, but not higher-quality. An important fact to remember is that HS manufactures every component of the Pro-Series 2000 rifles including their actions, bedding blocks, triggers, match grade barrels and composite synthetic stocks.

Every Pro-Series 2000 firearm is thoroughly tested for accuracy in a state-of-the-art underground 100-yard range. All Pro-Series 2000 firearms, .30-caliber and smaller, are guaranteed to shoot 1/2 minute of angle at 100 yards and a target (with load data) is provided with each firearm. They guarantee at least one MOA for their larger caliber rifles like the .338 Lapua.

The action of this rifle is marked Pro-Series 2000 LA. This rifle is the first of HS’s long action rifles to sport their new 2nd generation trigger guard and magazine system available previously only on short action models. The Pro-Series 2000 LA is quite reminiscent of an enlarged and lengthened Remington 700 action with some substantial improvements. Like that action it is a push feed with a plunger ejector. Personally, I would prefer a controlled-round feed on a combat rifle like this so as to remove the chance of a double-round feed jam when shooting under the pressure and confusion of combat. However, as long as the operator cycles the action smartly and deliberately, the chances of a double-round feed jam occurring with this rifle is minimal.

The bolt sleeve on this rifle has a three-position safety working in the horizontal plane like that of the venerable Winchester Model 70. Fully to the rear, the safety locks the firing pin, the bolt and the trigger. In the middle position, the firing pin is locked but the bolt can be cycled for safe unloading. The forward position is the fire position. The trigger of this rifle is quite superb with a crisp single-stage release of about two pounds. The IDF requested that an “S” and a “F” be placed on the safety to mark the safe and fire safety positions.

The twin-lugged bolt has a hook-type extractor placed inside the right locking lug. It is small but seems to work well. The action cycles smoothly and has a very fast lock time.

Assessing the Rifle’s Features
The rifle came equipped with five seven-round-capacity detachable magazines designed by H-S Precision. Made out of a glass-filled polymer, they’re very ruggedly built. They feed from a single central position and, like most magazines of this type, are a bit tedious to load and cannot be topped up with the magazine in the rifle. The magazine catch is in the front of the trigger guard of the rifle. Changing mags can be accomplished easily and quickly.

The IDF SWS has a heavy fluted barrel. That feature lowers the weight by about 12 ounces. I would prefer the small amount of extra weight to the potential movement problems fluting can create when the barrel heats up unevenly because of the flutes. Contrary to popular belief, fluting does not stiffen a rifle barrel. The barrel on this rifle is threaded to accept a noise suppressor or a muzzle brake.

A tightly machined thread protector is screwed over the threads when the suppressor or muzzle break is not in use. No noise suppressor was available for my testing so I do not know what effect it has on accuracy or the rifle’s zero. As you would imagine with a cartridge this powerful the muzzle blast and flash is considerable. This alone can give the sniper’s position away so having a suppressor capability is an excellent method to minimize that problem. Such a device will minimize muzzle blast and entirely eliminate muzzle flash. Naturally, since the bullet is traveling at about Mach 3, the sonic crack of the bullet will still be audible, but this crack is heard at the target without revealing the direction from which the shot was fired. HS will provide an Armorer’s Course to the IDF on delivery of their first order, that includes field expedient repairs as well as re-barreling.

The IDF wanted an accurate barrel life of 6,000 rounds. Once they realized that is not a realistic for this cartridge, arrangements were made for HS to provide replacement barrels. The IDF projects that each rifle will see about 1,300 rounds fired in practice and operation per year. HS projects that this will give the rifle’s barrel an accurate life of about two years.

Superb Night Vision: Yes / Backup Iron Sights: Rejected

NightForce’s 5.5x-22x tactical scope is superb. The scope mount included with package, is made by my old friend, Rich McCann. It features an integral mounting rail in front of the scope’s bell to allow the fitting of a passive night vision device in front of the scope. By using this mounting system the sniper can go to a night-vision mode and back to a daylight mode without removing his scope and losing his zero. McCann’s scope mount also features an integral side rail on each side that allows the sniper to mount a laser designator or other supplementary systems.

When the Israelis specified the features they wanted on this rifle, they did not ask for backup iron sights. Personally, I feel that every military weapon system that uses optical sights should also have integral iron sights for backup use. Otherwise the sniper system becomes a 20-pound club if the scope is out of service.

Best Sniper Rifle Stock Tested!
The stock on this rifle is one of the best I have ever worked with for a sniper rifle. It is made from tough synthetic materials with a solid bedding block for the action. The length-of-pull can be adjusted with a knurled wheel. Not only can the rifle be adjusted to fit the shooter perfectly, should the shooter change his clothes or put on a protective vest, the length-of-pull can be easily readjusted to still fit perfectly. I especially like the fact that the stock is set up to telescope the butt movements so that there is no gap between the butt plate and the main stock, as is found on the U. S. M24 sniper rifle. The IDF has also requested a folding stock version but no details on this have been released. The cheek piece on the stock can also be easily adjusted in height using a knurled wheel to fit the shooter’s face and neck length. This rifle weighs about 20 pounds with a fully loaded magazine, bipod and sling. That is heavy by conventional sniper rifle standards. However it is only a couple of pounds heavier than the U. S. Marine Corps M40A3 7.62mm NATO sniper rifle.

Even when fired without the muzzle brake, the stock of this rifle absorbs the considerable recoil of the .338 Lapua cartridge to an amazing degree. I did not find the recoil to be uncomfortable or punishing in any way and neither did two of my friends who were enlisted to shoot this rifle. I did however find that the recoil created enough movement that the shooter cannot usually see the strike of his bullet if the scope is on one of its highest magnifications.

Putting the Rifle to the Test
Shooting a series of five cold-barrel shots, the HS rifle would typically group under one MOA with three of the five typically under 1/2 MOA. Firing with a hot barrel, groups were somewhat larger or hit to a slightly different zero.

Fortunately as the rifle underwent breaking in, this phenomenon began to disappear. One must also realize that this type of rifle will normally only be fired once or twice before the operator changes his position. That being said, in combat almost nothing happens “normally” and it is entirely possible the sniper may have to fire five or more shots in a rapid fashion, so it is important that the cold-barrel zero and the hot-barrel zero be as close to the same as possible.
On the day I did most of my shooting there was little wind but a significant boiling mirage that required “shooting through the soup.” In some cases it may have affected aiming a bit but certainly not by more than a 1/2 MOA. All shooting was done from the Harris bipod, with tilt adjustments that was supplied with the rifle and without the muzzle break attached. It was quite exhilarating to shoot such a powerful rifle with such a high degree of accuracy. I would love to shoot it at prairie dogs at long, unknown ranges in some of those huge, South Dakota dog towns that I have hunted in.

Hardigg’s IM300 Case: Made To Take A Beating

This rifle arrived in a kit that is in an extremely heavy-duty, foam-lined polymer trunk called the Hardigg Storm Case IM3300. This case is airtight, watertight and about the toughest case I have ever examined. It has wheels on one end and a handle on the opposite end for rolling on hard surfaces, as well as a conventional carrying handle. I cannot imagine a better carrying case for routine transportation and storage of this sniper system. The complete kit without ammunition, noise suppressor, night vision scope, rangefinder, or other accessories weighs about forty pounds.

1st Military Adopted, USA Made & Designed, .338 Lapua Rifle
The H-S Precision .338 Lapua sniper rifle was selected by the Israelis after competing with rifles from a variety of other manufacturers not officially revealed. I can assure you that it had some extremely tough competition from rifles already adopted by the militaries of several different governments. To the best of my knowledge, this is the very first American-designed and manufactured .338 Lapua sniper rifle adopted by any military in the world. Since this rifle is effectively a “stock” rifle, HS will make this same basic package available to the consumer public in the future, sans only the specific military/law enforcement controlled items. The rifles in this contract may have a special serial number.

The U.S. firm of H S Precision developed its own bolt-action rifle in the .338 Lapua chambering from the ground up and the fact that its performance is so good as to warrant adoption by the IDF, speaks well of the HS rifle line and the company itself.

protecting2.jpgTactical Weapons was fortunate to get the loan of an early example of this SWS for test and evaluation. While I have considerable experience with a wide variety of military and police sniper rifles, including in combat, this is the first .338 Lapua-chambered sniper rifle I have had an opportunity to evaluate. I was impressed!

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