Trends, as they affect our industry, often result from a cause and effect relationship with the political climate, especially relating to the AR platform. Even now, as AR rifles and accessories seem to be slowing, perhaps as a result of a saturated market or a changing of the political guard, another trend was clearly evident at the 2017 SHOT Show. Media members and buyers alike were treated to the glaring, growing trend of tactical-chassis bolt-action rifles. SHOT Show attendees perusing firearms booths from Ashbury to Weatherby were routinely met with new flagship bolt-action rifles on tactical chassis.
Why is this trend such a big deal? A trend in tactical-inspired bolt guns suggests multiple changes in the firearm industry.
First, as mentioned, AR sales may have stabilized and may even be declining. Second, tactical chassis bolt rifles don’t just mean a surge of new rifles hot off production; the trend also expands opportunities to resurrect existing bolt-action rifles. Even rifles rendered useless with the exception of serviceable actions are ripe for resurrection and can certainly be the basis for the best precision rifles your customers have ever owned. Third, the trend opens the door for primary bolt-action parts sales, including chassis/stock systems, receivers, barrels, etc. Fourth, the trend increases gunsmithing, including builds, rebuilds and parts installation. Finally, tactical bolt-action modern sporting rifles often allow for the addition of accessories traditionally designed for AR rifles — compatibility certainly stands to stabilize and even strengthen the market for AR parts that otherwise might not have a home. Even if AR sales flatten or decline, accessory sales are sure to continue drawing customers into your store.
In terms of peripheral products such as ammunition, even the 6.5 Creedmoor has been impacted as precision bolt-action enthusiasts are swooned by the ballistic attributes of the 6mm Creedmoor and 6×47 Lapua; both now receiving quite a bit of attention from serious shooters employing precision-chassis bolt-action rifle systems.
Here are just a few of the bolt-action rifles on tactical chassis from SHOT that are sure to have your customers frothing at the mouth.
Designed to deliver top-shelf performance on a lightweight platform, APO Saber modular chassis are a perfect choice for your most demanding precision shooting customers. My favorite APO modular rifle chassis, the Mod-1 boasts a patented monolithic top rail system, push-button adjustable hybrid stock and Quattro carbon fiber co-bore aligned forend. Equally as important and worthy of the APO brand, is the Saber’s construction. Every chassis is constructed of advanced composites aerospace-grade alloys.
Bergara B14 BMP Rifle
The Bergara Match Precision (BMP) Rifle turned heads and generated healthy buzz on the SHOT Show floor for two reasons. First, Bergara promises the same premium precision and reliable performance synonymous with the company’s reputation. Second, they promise to do it with a precision machined chassis at a price point that won’t break the bank of America’s backbone-workforce. The combination is sure to whet the appetites of your hard-working customers.
The B-14 BMP boasts a tactical stock with robust comb and length-of-pull adjustability, rubberized pistol grip, precision machined chassis and M-LOK handguard system and the renowned 4140CrMo Bergara barrel finished in matte blue. Other B-14 BMP Rifle features include a Bergara Performance Trigger, 90-degree bolt throw angle, cone-shaped bolt nose ejector for smooth feeding and a two-position safety. The Bergara B-14 BMP is available in .308 Winchester with a 20-inch barrel or 6.5 Creedmoor with a 24-inch barrel. Both models guarantee at least 1-MOA precision at 100 yards.
IWI DAN .338 Lapua Tactical Precision Rifle
The company responsible for the immensely popular Tavor just went into sniper mode. Israel Weapon Industries, Ltd., also known as IWI, launched its first bolt-action rifle, the DAN .338 Lapua Tactical Precision Rifle at the 2017 SHOT Show. Like all other IWI firearm designs, before the DAN .338 launched it was tested on the battlefield. This truly extraordinary precision rifle is one I suspect will set the bar for other premium production-run rifle systems to follow.
The IWI-US branded DAN .338 Lapua Bolt-Action Tactical Precision Rifle dons a wealth of features sure to satisfy even the most demanding recreational and competitive shooters. Features include a skeletonized aluminum folding stock with adjustable comb, heel and length-of-pull; quad-rail forend; 20 MOA picatinny rail; two-stage adjustable trigger; and an interchangeable, cold-hammer forged, 28-inch, 1:10-inch-twist heavy, fluted, free-floating barrel.
This rifle system comes standard with an Accu-Shot adjustable folding monopod, Atlas BT46-LW17 PSR Bipod, two 10-round magazines, Dewey cleaning kit and heavy-duty locking rifle case. While the MSRP is a stout $8,999, the DAN .338 is sure to lure buyers into your location and generate big community buzz.
McRees Precision Chassis Systems
Sure, complete rifles are great but tactical bolt-gun builds can be downright rewarding for retailers and consumers alike. With world-class shooters such as Scott McRee and others bolstering this trend by producing DYI chassis and world-class match-grade builds with your customers’ existing actions, the sky is the limit with truly customized precision rifles.
The option to take re-use customers’ existing bolt-action receivers puts them in control of a project that includes everything they have ever wanted in a rifle … and you in the position of the parts supplier. As previously mentioned, it also opens the door to increased gunsmithing revenue.
Whether your customer has an inoperable rifle, is tired of their current system and ready for a change or wants a family heirloom to rise from the ashes, a chassis can be a perfect answer.
Mossberg MVP Rifle
Mossberg’s MVP LC (Mossberg Varmint and Predator Light Chassis) rifle is not new. Launched in 2015, the MVP stirred up SHOT Show that year with a lightweight tactical-chassis bolt-action rifle in .223/5.56 or .308/7.62 capable of accepting standard AR-15 and AR-10 magazines. New for 2017 is the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering. With the standard tan aluminum MDT LSS light chassis, all three MVP LC models weigh between 8 and 8.5 lbs.
The least expensive tactical-chassis bolt-action feels and shoots like a premium system. Shooting .223/5.56 and .308 Win. MVP LC rifles early in 2016 resulted in .7- and .56-MOA groups respectively at 100 yards; I was truly impressed with the sub-MOA grouping out of a production rifle. With results like that and an MSRP of $1,407, the MVP is a great way to get cost-conscious customers in the door and out on the range enjoying precision shooting.
Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR)
One of the highlights of SHOT’s Industry Day at the Range was visiting Ruger’s shooting line. While the Ruger Precision Rifle isn’t new, the 6mm Creedmoor chambering sure is! The Ruger Precision Rifle was unveiled in mid-2016. At the time, the RPR was offered in .308 Winchester or a 6.5 Creedmoor. The new 6mm Creedmoor version features a 1:7-twist 24-inch barrel, and all RPR barrels are machined from pre-hardened 4140 chrome-moly steel.
For a production rifle, the RPR 6mm Creedmoor shot like a dream! The range was short, if I recall correctly, 200 yards. The RPR’s precision performance had me bored shooting steel silhouettes pretty quickly. I began shooting rocks and pieces of clay resting on the berm behind the line of targets and never missed even the smallest “target” I picked out. The trigger was light and exceptionally crisp, perhaps 2.5-pounds; however, the trigger features external adjustability from 2.25 to 5 pounds. The folding stock was also incredibly comfortable and included robust comb and length-of-pull adjustability.
Weatherby Vanguard Modular Chassis Rifle
While Weatherby’s Vanguard Modular Chassis Rifle is not new (launched in late 2015), it certainly earns a highlight in the world of tactical-chassis bolt guns. Certainly, the MCR bucks traditional Weatherby styling but it’s a solid offering that adds to Weatherby’s reputation for quality and sub-MOA performance. My personal experience with the MCR resulted in a .75 MOA on a squeeze bag and standard Tac-Shield bipod. With a MSRP of just $1,519, it’s hard to beat.
The Weatherby Vanguard MCR is available in .223 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester. All models feature a heavy #3 contour 20-inch barrel with 1:9-, 1:8- and 1:10-inch twists, respectively. Other features include a CNC-machined, 6061 aluminum MDT LSS-XL chassis, Hogue pistol grip and the ultra-popular LUTH-AR MBA-1 stock, complete with adjustable comb height and length-of-pull.
Winchester XPC Precision Rifle
If your customers are fans of Winchester’s historic reputation and have an itch for going long, the XPC, chambered in .308 Winchester, just might be the precision bang for the buck they are looking for. Set on an aggressively machined alloy chassis with cerakote finish, Permacote receiver and a Magpul PRS Gen III stock, complete with adjustable length-of-pull and comb height, the 2017 Winchester XPC might be new to tactical precision but patrons just might find it long in the tooth on the quality and performance that built Winchester’s legacy.
While I have not had the opportunity to spend some quality trigger time with the XPC I most certainly had the privilege of getting up close and personal with the rifle on the SHOT Show floor. The XPC appears to be a premium quality factory build with a Permacote matte black 20-in. 1:10-twist threaded steel barrel, forearm with M-LOK attachment system, two-safety MOA trigger, oversized two-piece bolt handle, 20 MOA rail, Magpul MOE-K pistol grip. The Winchester XPC .308 Rifle includes a P-Mag AICS 10-round magazine and 5-round MDT metal magazine. With an MSRP of $1,599, it’s sure to be on the radar of your hardworking customers.