Buying A Precision Rifle Is A Big Decision, Let Us Make It Simpler.
By John Warren
To buy or to build, that is the question. It’s tough to choose between buying or building a rifle. Buying is less complicated, but it is not without its own problems. A new rifle buyer can experience paralysis by analysis because of the vast number of choices you have in the market. This blog aims to give you a clear sight picture (see what I did there) on what you need to know before you buy.
Why Bolt Action
Bolt action rifles have some distinct advantages for the everyday citizen. The obvious being that there is a far less chance of them becoming regulated. The other enormous benefit comes as accuracy. One of the few things you do not see the internet arguing about is if a gas gun is more accurate than a bolt gun. Everyone agrees to the universal truth that bolt guns, on average, are more accurate.
With that being said, you get what you pay for, but even that has a point of diminishing returns. Accurate off-the-shelf bolt action rifles can cost anywhere between $1149.00 and $8,000.00. The Aero Precision Solus product line bridges the gap between high-end custom-made and the reasonably priced ready-to-shoot rifles you find at a Cabelas or Bass Pro.
Before we really dive into this, let’s define the major components and create some shared vocabulary.
Action – The action is the brain of a rifle. It houses the bolt and is responsible for chambering, firing and extracting a cartridge. Its secondary use is to provide a repeatable mounting surface for an optic.
Trigger – The trigger releases the firing pin to strike the primer of a cartridge.
Barrel – The barrel is where the propellent gasses are converted to kinetic energy. These accelerate the projectile down the bore. The barrel also houses the lands and grooves that make up the rifling to spin stabilize the projectile as it leaves its bore.
Stock/Chassis – Both provide a housing solution for the action, trigger and barrel to be shouldered and fired by a shooter.
Choosing Your Platform
So where do you start? Well, that question is best answered with another question; what is the rifle’s intended use? This will be important for specific features that will be discussed later. I break use cases down into three primary categories, all with common needs and distinct differences. For this article, we will skip caliber selection, that will come in a later post.
Use Case Categories
- Competition – Precision rifle competitions such as PRS, NRL, and others. These rifles usually include a chassis and a heavy contoured barrel.
- Hunting – Big game, Predator, small game. Weight management is a key factor and usually includes a stock. Barrel type varies.
- Hybrid – Can be used in both competition and hunting. Weight is still a factor, will it have lightweight chassis or adjustable stocks. Barrel type varies.
Once you have decided what your primary use is and you have narrowed down potential models that fit those use cases (which I know you did based on how cool they look), the first thing you should research as a buyer is accuracy. But how accurate is accurate enough? The first place I go to is to the manufacturer’s website to look for a Sub-MOA guarantee.
If you were to get on the Aero Precision website and navigate to the Solus Complete Rifle page, you would see that we offer a Sub-MOA guarantee. You want to make sure you are going to hit what you shoot at and while this is only one component of accuracy; it is important. Every Solus rifle that leaves our factory is test fired and will only ship if the five-shot group is under 1 MOA.
1 MOA (minute of angle) is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards. This is commonly rounded down to what’s known as shooter’s MOA and represented as 1 inch at 100 yards. This means that if a rifle shoots 1 MOA at 100 yards at 200 yards, it shoots 2″ and so on.
1 MOA is generally thought of as good enough for hunting big game as vital zone radiuses are up to 10 inches and average shots are under 500 yards. Our Solus Bravo and Solus Hunter rifles are well below the 1 moa standard for a hunting rifle.
Competition accuracy is a whole other ball game. Shooting small targets in field conditions requires high amounts of precision, but generally 1/2 MOA is good enough for a new shooter dipping their feet into the space. The Solus Competition rifle is more than capable of getting you there; ammo and shooter dependent.
Next on the list is adjustability. People have been shooting for decades with nonadjustable stocks. Both of the first sniper rifles I was issued in the Army were barely adjustable. We had to tape the stocks to build up the rifle’s height of comb.
Adjustability is key for rifle fit. There is an old saying; consistency equals accuracy and proper rifle fit allows you to mount your rifle consistently every single time. At a minimum, it should have an adjustable height of comb. Every one of our Solus rifles will have some sort of adjustability.
The competition rifle is housed in the Solus Competition Chassis. Length of pull, height of comb and thumb rest adjustment gives you near endless options for rifle fit.
The Solus Bravo Rifle gives you both LOP and HOC adjustment options. Our forthcoming Solus Hunter rifle will allow you to adjust the HOC while keeping the lightweight feel of a carbon fiber stock.
Replacement and Customization
This isn’t usually listed on guides, but I think it’s worth considering, especially if you are going to compete or train a lot. There will come a time when you need to replace a barrel or even may want to change the caliber of the rifle all together, we believe you shouldn’t have to send it off to a gunsmith to make this happen. Aftermarket products like prefit barrels come in handy when you need to replace a barrel quickly. Couple that with the convenience of an interchangeable bolt head…and just like that, your rifle is a new caliber. The Solus line of products is built with that in mind. The barrel and bolt head can be changed at home, giving you the option to be your gunsmith.
Price can be a major bummer when you are first getting started. If you are like me, you already have one or two hobbies that break off your wallet fairly often. The Solus line destroys that barrier of entry. Feature for feature you would be hard pressed to find a better positioned product on the market that is as DIY ready as the Solus.
I hope this has clarified some things for you and will make your decision-making process much shorter. In some future articles, I will go over building a rifle from the ground up, which coincidentally you can do with the Solus. So, stay tuned. This is a deep hole, and we are just getting started.