2018's Best Bolt Action Rifles
2018's Best Bang for Your Buck—Precision Bolt-Action Rifle Round-Up
by Kevin Reese - Monday, February 5, 2018
Top image: McRees Precision G10 Chassis
As big shots go, NSSF’s SHOT Show has ruled our industry roost for 40 years, and the 2018 event did not disappoint. SHOT Show spans more than 650,000 square feet of floor space; 12 grueling miles of aisles; 1,600 vendors; 2,500 of us media types and, while the data isn’t out yet, I suspect attendance was well over 65,000. While no better place on Earth exists from which to read the industry’s pulse, gathering intel to share with inquiring minds can be downright brutal—not because it’s hard to find, rather, there’s simply too much to cover.
So we pick and choose, walk and talk, seemingly until we are effectively hobbled by a mercilessly busy and unending show floor and shoes that clearly do not fit as well as we originally believed, bent solely on unveiling jaw-dropping products sure to get your trigger finger twitching. One trend continuing to rise and worthy of note is the tactical-inspired precision bolt-gun world. Well before the AR slump in the first half of 2017, these aggressively styled modern sporting rifles picked up major steam, and SHOT Show 2018 only underscored the trend. With respect to industry trends, check out this handful of ultra-cool tactical bolt-guns well-worth the buzz and your hard-earned bucks.
Bergara Premier HMR Pro
Never one to slow their roll, Bergara had a banner year, winning a couple of awards, including the NASGW-POMA Caliber Award for Best New Rifle in 2017 with the B-14 HMR (hunting and match rifle). While Bergara could have stopped advancing award-winning HMR efforts then, they forged on to bring consumers an even better iteration in the Premier HMR Pro.
It should come as no surprise that the core of Bergara’s Premier HMR Pro precision performance is the world-class 416 stainless steel, No. 5 tapered, threaded barrel. HMR barrels are produced in Bergara, Spain, utilizing a proprietary honing process, then sent to the U.S. for a top-shelf Cerakote finish. Second to world-renowned barrels, Premier HMR Pro rifles also boast a proprietary, Nitride-coated Bergara Premier two-lug action, incorporating a sliding plate extractor and coned bolt nose for seriously reliable cycling.
Of course, the efforts invested in precision barrel and action machining would all be for not had the HMR not come standard with a top-shelf trigger or practical yet comfortable stock system. Bergara’s Premier HMR Pro rifles feature a TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology Trigger while the composite stock encapsulates a full-length aluminum mini-chassis designed to house a free-floating barrel with repeatable bedding, as well as flush cups for a sling system. The stock also includes robust comb and length-of-pull adjustability.
The Bergara Premier HMR Pro uses detachable AICS-style magazines and is available with 20”, 24” and 26” barrels. Calibers include .22-250 Rem. (24” barrel with 1:9” twist), .223 Rem. (20” with 1:8” twist), 6 mm CM (26” with 1:8” twist), 6.5 CM (24” with 1:8” twist) and .308 Win. (20” with 1:10” twist). MSRP: $1,715.
Remington Model 700 PCR
Reeling from a major slump in the first three quarters of 2017, Remington’s future after 200 years has been questioned by many; however, if the company’s new Model 700 PCR offers any insight as to what lies ahead, I think a bright future is certainly attainable.
The Remington Model 700 PCR plays a smart hand when it comes to next level shooting. Where precision shooting has long been regarded as a rich man’s sport heavily laden in ridiculously expensive systems, some easily topping $10,000, the industry has seen much more appetizing price points over the past few years with match-grade production rifles under $2,000—Ruger’s RPR and Bergarga’s B-14 BMP have been perfect examples of this trend and now the Remington 700 PRC fits in this affordable precision product category perfectly with an MSRP of $1,199.
At first blush, the Model 700 PRC appears to be a heck of a winner for Remington. This aggressively styled buzzworthy rifle guarantees sub-MOA accuracy right out of the box from a 24” stainless steel barrel with 5R rifling (based on Remington’s Computer Aided Targeting System) and delivers these goods in three calibers: .260 Rem., 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win.
The chassis is lightweight, constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and coated with Teflon, a rugged protective finish Remington touts as “impervious to weather and atmospheric conditions.” A free-floating handguard, compatible with both SquareDrop and KeyMod accessories, offers a wealth of real estate to handle all your extra must-haves and is removed easily for detailed rifle cleaning. Built from the ground up specifically for precision shooting, Remington’s Model 700 PCR also includes the popular Magpul Gen 3 PRS stock, complete with micro-adjustable cant, length-of-pull, buttpad height and comb height.
Savage 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution
Hot on the heels of Savage’s insanely accurate MSR-10 Long Range launch, a rifle I recently completed work with and consistently hammered sub ½-MOA groups, Savage unleashed its jaw-dropping 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle. Set in a precision-machined monolithic aluminum chassis finished in bronze Cerakote, the 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution promises “pinpoint” accuracy from a heavy, fluted, matte black, carbon steel, match-grade barrel with 5R rifling and Savage’s popular AccuTrigger.
If you’re not up to speed on the AccuTrigger, the system allows fine weight adjustments from 1.5 to 6 lbs. without requiring the services of a gunsmith. The trigger also features an additional safety mechanism to effectively eliminate the potential for a jarring accidental discharge.
The chassis includes a full top rail with additional rail sections at 3 and 9 o’clock to attach your favorite accessories. The Magpul Gen 3 PRS stock affords cant, buttpad, length-of-pull and comb height adjustments for a perfect fit and is a popular choice among precision long-range shooters. A Magpul grip rounds out the Evolution chassis’ aesthetic and comfort features.
Savage’s 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution is available in six calibers in 20”, 24” and 26” barrel lengths and an MSRP range of $1,799 - $2,149. Calibers include: .223 Rem., 6 mm CM, 6.5 mm CM, .300 Win. Mag., .308 Win. and .338 Lapua. If the Evolution performs as well as it looks on the range, it’ll be hard to wipe the smile off my face; after all, I’m still seriously impressed with the MSR-10 Long Range’s performance. Savage is definitely on its A-game.
McRees Precision Chassis
While heads turned, voices buzzed and ears perked around scores of amazing, some even affordable, precision bolt guns, others clamored to the handful of booths showcasing precision bolt-gun chassis. Whether their interests were in catering to DIY customers or jumping into projects themselves, they poured into booths like McRees Precision, focused sharply on resurrecting tired, old bolt-action rifles or erecting new ones. They know the building and restoring segment of our industry is growing, as is precision long-range shooting and today’s chassis, like McRees Precision’s BR-15, have quite a bit to offer both attendees and end consumers.
New for 2018, the McRees Precision BR-15 chassis, designed to fit many short and long Remington and Kimber actions, epitomizes what happens when a world class marksman tires of shortcomings of other competition systems and sets out to design his own … then shares it with fellow enthusiasts and even makes it affordable. One of the greatest attributes of the BR-15 is its simple drop-in design; a builder simply drops in the barreled action and uses the included tools to finish out the rifle without the need of a gunsmith. Scott McRee developed the BR-15 as a multi-use chassis system for competition, hunting, tactical applications or just plain banging steel. The BR-15 is available with a fixed or side-folding stock. Serious shooters also should appreciate the patented M-LEV bubble-style cant indicator embedded in the stock.
Indeed, in the next-level shooting landscape, chassis may cost thousands while complete rifle systems can and sometimes do top $10,000 before you ever add an optic, but the BR-15 currently sells for between $650 and $800. So, what’s the takeaway? Those willing to take on the challenge of building a world-class match-grade rifle, can get it done without breaking the bank or compromising on quality.
McRees G10 chassis rifles