Rifle Review — Shaw ERS-10: 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win.

Shaw now offers hand-built, feature-rich, semi-custom MSRs chambered in either 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester and starting at less than a grand.
Rifle Review — Shaw ERS-10: 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win.

Shooters familiar with the Shaw company most likely know it for its premium rifle barrels. Its OEM division has designed and manufactured precision gun barrels for virtually every small arms manufacturer in the U.S. and it is the oldest and most experienced independent barrel maker in the country.

With that kind of history and demand, it’s not surprising that Shaw even has its own metallurgical engineers who design proprietary, specified-chemistry formulations for its barrels and has been awarded patents for technological advances in barrel making.

In short — they know barrels — but what do they know about making rifles in general, specifically Modern Sporting Rifles?

What Shaw knows about makings rifles in general was answered to my satisfaction back in 2014 when I reviewed one of its MK VII bolt-actions for Predator Xtreme magazine. The MK VII is a semi-custom bolt-action rifle based on the Savage 110 that Shaw offers in no less than 75,000 configurations. I summed up the sample .22-250 Rem. as “tack-driving,” and a custom rifle that “nearly any predator hunter can afford.”

Now Shaw is in the MSR business with its ERS-15 and ERS-10 rifles that mirror direct-impingement AR-15 and AR-10 platforms, and is following the same philosophy of hand-building semi-custom rifles at head-turning prices. “We have been making AR barrels for many years through Shaw OEM division but they have not been available to the public,” explains Shaw president, Carl Behling, Jr., about the decision to enter that market. “We expanded our retail market as well as opened a storefront and wanted to make all of our products we manufacture available to consumers.”

The Magpul adjustable stock is one of many features providing versatility for users.

The ERS-10 is available chambered in either 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester, and prices start at $995. Behling explains that they can offer these rifles starting at that price because the barrel is generally the most expensive part of the rifle, and that they make the barrels. “One of the questions I’ve heard more than I expected to is, ‘What else do I have to buy to make it a complete gun?’ because they can’t believe they’re getting a custom-built, complete rifle starting at $995,” says Shaw retail sales manager, Chris Murray, of what surprises customers the most.

Not only is the ERS-10 a complete rifle, it’s feature-rich with plenty of options and a few nice extra touches.

Features include a 15-inch free float handguard, Magpul ACS stock and ambi safety. In addition to a hard-anodized finish, the handguard has a full-length top rail along with full-length T-slots for more rails at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and M-LOK slots on either side of the T-slots. You can practically put any accessory anywhere on this handguard.

The Magpul stock is collapsible and lockable, and has a small trapdoor storage compartment. The forward assist is incorporated into the brass deflector, uppers and lowers are machined from 7075-T6 aluminum forgings and the mag well precision cut using wire EDM to avoid stresses and distortion that could be caused from broaching.

Options include barrel length choices of 20, 22 or 24 inches with or without barrel fluting (either straight or helical fluting) and a variety of Cerakote color finishes. Extra touches include a titanium muzzle brake designed at Shaw, double stress relieving of the button-rifled stainless steel barrel and a nickel-boron coated 9310 bolt carrier group that’s slicker than a county road after an ice storm. “It will accept all DPMS-pattern aftermarket accessories,” Behling adds for those wanting to customize an ERS-10 even more, though Murray cautions that Armalite-pattern parts may differ.

ERS-10 at the Range

The sample ERS-10 I received was basic. It was chambered in .308 Winchester, had a 20-inch stainless steel barrel with no fluting and finished with the standard matte stainless and matte black finish. I topped it with a Sig Sauer Whiskey5 3-15x44mm scope. As is my experience with all flattop ARs, I found it challenging to find rings that were high enough to keep the scope’s objective bell off of the gun, but not so high as to have a poor cheekweld on the buttstock.

At the range, the Shaw-ERS 10's best performance came with Federal Premium 165-grain Sierra GameKing ammo.  (Photo by Scott Mayer)

To see how well the gun shot, I selected Federal Premium 165-grain Sierra GameKing, NEXUS 175-grain OTM and Winchester’s 150-grain Deer Season XP loads and fired several three-shot groups for accuracy at 100 yards. Federal’s load shot the best, delivering groups averaging around an inch. Surprisingly, the ERS-10 hated the NEXUS match load. This load normally performs well for me in .308s, but that was simply not the case this time.

Winchester’s load showed a lot of potential as the first two groups were right at an inch, but I started experiencing blown primers and stopped using it. It was a blistering 107 degrees on the range that day and I shot the Winchester ammunition last. I have shot that same lot of ammunition before without incident and kept the ammunition in the shade that day, but I believe the high temperature took its toll on the load. The important thing is that the ERS-10 handled the gas from the ammunition malfunction perfectly — so perfectly in fact that it took me three shots to notice something wasn’t right.

Other than that, there were no gun malfunctions. At seven pounds pull, the trigger was a shade heavy, but it was smooth and consistent and broke cleanly with almost no overtravel. Shaw’s brake does an excellent job at mitigating recoil and muzzle rise.

“Some people don’t think you can get a quality weapon without spending about $2,000,” says Murray. “Our specific competitive advantage is that [the ERS-10] is hand built. It is not a production line or an assembly line gun. We build them one at a time…Granted, we contract the upper and lower, but we’re manufacturing a lot of the other parts in-house and we put them together right in the building where you’re talking to me.”

Behling additionally emphasized that the ERS-10 comes with a limited lifetime warranty. “That is a good selling point,” Murray agreed. “We will stand behind that product for as long as they own it.”

Being semi-custom, you’re probably won’t see an ERS-10 in many gun shops unless you stop by Shaw’s retail store in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. “Essentially, it’s over the phone by calling me here at the store, or one of the other employees here at the store,” explains Murray about how to order an ERS-10. “This way, we can make sure first of all that the gun is legal in the state the person is calling from. Laws vary from state to state…It benefits us to be able to talk to somebody over the phone to make sure that they’re not going to try and order something that, when we send it, can’t be sent.”

“In the past, the reason someone didn’t buy our product was because it took too long for the customer to receive said product,” explains Behling. “Now we have greatly reduced our wait times. Our goal is to produce a custom rifle or barrel faster than anyone in the industry. We have achieved that goal and will continue to keep wait times down.”

Murray tells me that current wait time from first phone call to delivery of finished ERS-10 is about two months. In the future, Behling says they will have the online “gun-builder” for the ERS rifles, much like they do for the MK VII bolt-action rifles so hunters can actually “see” what their gun will look like as they select features and options.

“Our ideal customer is anybody in a state where you can use a semi-automatic for deer hunting,” says Murray. “People are very happy with the performance and that it gives them the option of a 6.5 Creedmoor or a .308 in something that’s not going to break the bank.”

SPECS: Shaw ERS 10

Manufacturer: Shaw

Model: ERS-10

Calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win.

Action: Direct-impingement semi-automatic rifle

Magazine Capacity: 20

Barrel: 20, 22, 24 inches

Trigger: Single-stage, seven pounds pull

Sights: None. Full-length Picatinny rail

Stock: Six-position Magpul ACS

Overall Length: 39 1/2- 43 inches (20-inch barrel)

Weight: 9.66 pounds (.308 Win., 20-inch non-fluted barrel)

Other: Choice of fluted or non-fluted barrel (straight or helical flutes) as well as several Cerakote color finishes.

MSRP: From $995

For more information: www. shawcustombarrels.com


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