Monday, October 12, 2009
Tactical Operations Bravo 51
Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win.)
Action: Remington M700, Accurized and blue-printed
Weight: ~11 lbs (5 kg)
Length: 44.3" (112.5cm) (depending upon barrel length)
Barrel: Tac-Ops Match Grade, 18"-24" (457 - 609mm)
Threading for suppressor optional.
Chamber: Match spec with .001 head space.
Stock: McMillan Fiberglass (McHale), Aluminum pillar bedded.
Trigger Pull: 2.5 lb or to Spec.
Metal Finish: Bridsong Green-T® and Black-T®
Accuracy: .25 MOA
My bravo-51 (with the given name 'KATE II') finally arrived from tactical operations, but let me tell you, the wait was worth it. This will not be a normal rifle review, as the Bravo has become my primary duty rifle, so it'll be an ongoing long term review, and will be updated as significant events happen. So lets get started!
The rifle was ordered as a package and included the following, all purchased from tactical operations:
# Bravo-51 22" Heavy Tac-Ops barrel, threaded
# Leupold Mk4 rings and bases Green-T® to match rifle
# Leupold Mk4 M3 10X
# Eagle Cheek Piece
# Pelican Case
This represented a significant purchase for myself, and some may not think it is wise to use such an expensive rifle as a primary sniper system, but in my opinion, that argument doesn't hold water, as these rifles are designed to shoot, and thats what I plan to do with it!
Tac-ops is very big on 20" barrels, and with their accuracy guarantee on the tango-51 of .25 MOA with a 20" barrel allows them to be! Personally I like 24", and so we compromised and went with a 22" heavy barrel (vs. the varmint weight) of their own manufacture. I also went with an adjustable spacer system, and the verdict it still out on that decision. The fit is not perfect, but is not the fault of tac-ops, it is a McMillan problem, and tac-ops even made provisions to have McMillan attempt to swap out my specific spacer system if I wasn't happy with the fit. As of right now, I'll probably leave it as is, as its a fairly minor cosmetic blemish where the spacers line up a bit weird.
I went for the Leupold Mk4 M3 because my background is mostly military, and that is what I know. The M3 knobs are not great for real "precision" work when you need .25 or smaller adjustments. But they are great for unknown distance shooting (sniping) in the field. I went through the FBI SWAT sniper course using a M24 with a M3A on top, and I did just fine, though it was a disadvantage not being able to dial in a perfect zero at 100 meters. (I was about .5 inch high). But hey, I still shot 4th best in the class, so it wasn't a huge disadvantage. I put the BDC cam for the M118 ammo on the scope. This cam matches M118 perfectly, and M118LR and Fed 175gr Match perfectly out to 700 meters, where it then is 1 click off out to 1000 meters. This BDC cam also is set in meters, and not yards like the rest of their cams. I do everything in meters, so this works great.
The only ammo I will shoot regularly through the rifle is M118 and Federal Gold Medal Match 175gr. Which is very close to M118LR (20fps faster at muzzle), and easy to get ahold of. The M118 is not nearly the quality of the federal, but is still good enough to be deadly to 1000 meters, especially coming from this rifle.
Okay, on to the rifle. First thing first, the McMillan McHale stock is amazing. I do not know why more people are not sold on this stock, for military sniping, its really almost perfect. Of course this is my own opinion, but here is why I like the stock so much. 90% of our shooting is done from the prone or supported positions, the very wide forend of the McHale stock is great for supported shooting, and puts a lot of weight up front, for a solid placement, and firm feel. Combine this with the HEAVY barrel, and the rifle is extremely stable in recoil. Making follow up shots fast. The M24 is also great in this department, but I'd give the edge to the Bravo, because of the large bolt handle and short action, making rapid follow ups easier then the M24.
Speaking of the large bolt handles, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't know why more rifle manufacturers don't use them. Combined with the rough epoxy texturing tac-ops does on their stocks, and the green-T finish makes these rifles true all weather weapons. Very nice to operate in all weather conditions and with gloves on.
The rifle has been zeroed with M118, and has been confirmed to 200 meters. The initial zero included barrel brake in, so I've not put that many rounds through the rifle. Everything is working flawlessly, and the trigger is amazing. No creep, no overtravel, and a crisp 2.5 lb letoff. I've been satisfied with groups with the M118. I'm down around .6 MOA, but the rifle hasn't even settled in, and with M118, that is pretty amazing accuracy. I'll be using federal gold medal match to get its true accuracy, which I suspect will reach sub .25 MOA. I'll also be chronographing the rounds to see how velocities are looking through the 22" barrel.
UPDATE (05/08/02) Well, just to continue with the review of my current rifle. I went shooting to perform an ammo brand comparison in the Bravo. I had federal gold medal match 168gr, Hunting Shack Montana 175gr Match, and military (Lake City) M118. I wanted to see how the rifle digested each of the brands, and to perform an evaluation on alternatives to Federal Match ammo. This was a field condition evaluation, shot from the lower support of my ruck sack, from the prone position for all rounds. Conditions were less then ideal, and the shooting was at a measured 100 yards on private property that I have permission to use. The results were mixed with the M118 averaging .72 MOA. The hunting shack match ammo averaged .67 MOA and was more consistent. The Federal again set the standard with an average group of .33 MOA, and I easily acheived the .25 MOA Guarantee by Tac-Ops. Given better shooting conditions, I'm sure all groups would be below .25 if I do my part. The largest group I fired with federal match ammo was .40. Its extremely consistent, and the rifle is extremely accurate.