Sunday, October 11, 2009
KMW Long Range Solutions Custom Tactical Rifle
Caliber: .308 Win (7.62x51mm NATO)
Barrel: Broughton 7.75 Heavy Varmint Contour (Other options available)
Barrel Length: 26" (660mm) any reasonable length available
Twist: RH 1:8", 5 Grooves Again, its custom, many options depending on caliber
Empty Weight (no optics): 14 lbs (6.36 kg)
Overall Length: 45" (1143mm) In current configuration
Magazine: 5 or 10 round Accuracy International Magazines (Badger Ordnance Floorplate)
Trigger: Ordered with Shilen Deluxe adjustable
Stock: McMillan A5 others available
Finish: CeraKote Matte Finish (OD Green)
Price: $2500+ depending on configuration
Terry Cross is renowned as both a competitive shooter and as a custom rifle builder. His rifle building company is known as KMW Long Range Solutions which has a very nice reputation for their rifles and also some other innovations like the "Pod-Loc" for the Harris Bipods. A friend of Sniper Central, John, provided us with his new and unfired KMW custom .260 Tactical Rifle for evaluation to check our Terry's handy-work. As with most custom built tactical rifles this rifle was built to order and represents what the customer wants more so than what the builder might think is best. So, what you see here is a rifle that John wanted built, but it is also a good representation of what a typical KMW build would consist of.
This rifle was built by KMW on the Surgeon Tactical action with the KMW bolt knob. The Surgeon actions are a custom action based off of the Remington 700 design. They have an integral recoil lug with an integral 20 MOA scope mounting rail as well as many other improvements on the standard Remington 700 action. Some of those notable features are a much more precise manufacturing tolerances that consists of having everything squared from the factory. They also have a bolt release on the left side of the action, fluted bolt, and other excellent features. These actions are very nice but yet they are easily fit to stocks that are inletted for the Remington 700 with only some minor fitting normally required. McMillan does inlet specifically for the Surgeon if requested. The action is a very solid and excellent design.
This KMW build also incorporated the Badger Ordnance detachable magazine floorplate that uses the Accuracy International magazines. Because of the cartridge (.260 Rem) combined with the Surgeon Action, single feeding the rifle while at the bench is not easily done, but the feed from the magazine is very nice and works great. For a tactical rifle, I would take that trade off any day. Single feeding can still be done but it is a matter of sliding the round up in the chamber to get it started. While I would prefer the ability to single feed, let us be honest, this is a tactical rifle, and while you do run into times when it might be advantageous to single feed in certain situations, it does not happen too often. Single feeding into the surgeon action with the .308 works with no problems, it is just something with the shape and location of the .260 shoulder that causes the problem with the Surgeon. I do have to report that I did have a single failure to feed from the magazine; the bolt stripped the cartridge but it nose dived into the feed ramp area obviously preventing the round from being fed into the chamber. I am not sure if this was an error on my part when I loaded the magazine where I may not have had it seated correctly in the magazine or if it was another more serious issue. The magazines are a little tricky to load with the .260 ammo and it takes a little getting used to, but once you figure it out it is not bad and I did not have any other feeding problems.
The magazine release protrudes down below the trigger guard by a fair amount which allows it to be easily manipulated to drop the magazine, even while wearing gloves. This is a handy and useful in tactical conditions. Though that magazine release can also be in the way on occasion and may get snagged while in use. But it does work well and the magazine helps protect it, though the magazines can also get in the way which is why I preferred to shoot it with the smaller 5 round magazines (shown in the pictures on this page).
The stock used for this build was a McMillan A5 with saddle type adjustable cheekpiece and the McMillan adjustable buttplate. There is not much left to be said about the A5 that has already not been said. It is a great design and extremely comfortable to shoot. KMW glass bedded the action in the stock as well as about the first 2" of the barrel. The stock has a single swivel stud up front for the bidpod with a flush cup behind that and one in the rear for the sling. This stock was finished in a molded in dark camouflage from McMillan. The adjustable buttplate was left in the silver per the request of the customer (John), normally it would be finished in the same metal finish as the rest of the rifle.
The barrel on this particular rifle is a Broughton 7.75 Heavy Varmint Contour which was specified by the customer. The barrel has a 1:8" twist which will stabilize the heavier 140+ grain high BC bullets available in 6.5mm (.264). The barrel has a nice recessed crown on it to protect it. All of the metal work is finished in Cerekote, and I actually did not like this particular finish. The ceramic coating is very durable and is a very nice finish, but this particular application job was done to be very rough and matte per the customers request and it had a rough feeling that goes beyond "matte". While it is completely functional and provides all the protection needed, it just didn't have that high quality smooth finish I would have preferred. KMW does do the cerekote application and it was again requested by the customer to make it as matte as possible, and it does look very functional and "duty" like, I just did not like it as much, but hey, its only the asthetics.
The integral picatinny rail makes it very easy to mount scopes and for this evaluation the rifle had an US Optics 3.2-17x scope mounted, which makes for an effective tactical combination. The Shilen trigger was adjusted from KMW to 2 lbs, which is great for target shooting, but I think it is a bit light for tactical work, but of course, that can be adjusted to what the customer specifies. For accuracy evaluations we tested both the HSM 123gr Lapua Scenar match load and the hot Black Hills 139gr Lapua Scenar match load.
The heavy weight of the rifle combined with the natural light recoil of the .260 Rem cartridge makes for a very solid and pleasant rifle to shoot. Rapid follow-up shots are easily achieved as the scope remains very close to the original point of aim. This new Surgeon action, with its tight tolerances, is not quite as smooth or easy to cycle as the Remington 700, though I suspect that this action will loosen up some with time and break-in. This rifle was brand new and had never been fired (outside of test firing by KMW). The rifle is very accurate, though it seems like there is even more accuracy to be had yet that I was not able to achieve. Again, with break-in over time it will probably settle down and do even better, and the reticule on the US Optics scope was a bit too thick for really precise work, though good for tactical work, so that probably effected group size as well. With all that being said, with the HSM 123gr Match ammo it averaged .516" over 10 groups which is very impressive. The four groups on the target pictured below averaged .421" with all of them being under .5". This is a solid sub .5 MOA rifle. The smallest group fired with the HSM ammo was .368" center to center followed by a .370". The Blackhills ammo didn't quite shoot as well with an average of .812" and a best group of .402", but that was only a couple of groups fired and I am sure those group sizes will come down as well.
I have since been back to the range with some of the new Cor-Bon 123 and 139gr match ammo and the rifle really liked the 139gr load. I had a small group of .22" with the 139gr and another at .30", with the average being well under .5" for the groups fired.
This KMW rifle is a real gem, it is nice looking, provided you like the look of camouflage tactical rifles, and is very comfortable to shoot with excellent performance. The Cerekote is a bit rough but there is not much else to complain about. Recoil is minimal and accuracy excellent. With the long range capability of the .260 Remington cartridge, this rifle is a very capable long range rifle. The Surgeon action is very nice with some very good features and Terry Cross has done a great job putting this rifle together. If you are in the market for a good custom tactical rifle, KMW is worth contacting and looking at.