Guerrilla Sniper Rifle Project
From reader AS:
The Case for the Guerrilla Sniper Rifle
My personal view is that in any coming maelstrom, most individual level “misbehavior” will very likely manifest itself in the form of small encounters, systems disruption, and “Clinton Rules” engagements. While small unit action is possible and may happen in some instances, I think that it will be the aberration and the rule will be the small, individual action. This is the territory of the guerrilla – individual, self supporting, and operating in their home AO.
For much of this type of activity, a reasonably accurate, potent, robust, and above all portable rifle is the most desired and efficient tool possible (especially for many of the “semi hard” targets that systems disruption activity must deal with).
Enter the Guerrilla Sniper Rifle.
While the concept is not new, the modern use of the term has recently been popularized on Gabe Suarez’s “Warrior Talk” forum. More specific references to this site are found in the “Sources For Further Study” section of this document. There is a large amount of good information on Warrior Talk and I strongly suggest any serious student go there and digest it. It should help you sharpen your thoughts on the concept, as should the other resources referenced. Additionally, I end this document with a “Sources For Acquisition” section that may help those interested in a similar project.
Through my own research and much supporting material gleaned from other sources (Warrior Talk being one of the primary ones), I decided on the components necessary to build a couple of rifles as proof of concept vehicles. I focus on one specific example here, but many other variations and implementations could be equal or better solutions. Experiment and find what works for you – just make sure that you test it so that you know it works and can prove it on demand.
There will be no dress rehearsals.
For my Guerrilla Sniper Rifle subject, I utilized a Savage bolt action 308 (short action length), a Choate Folding Sniper Stock, and a Nikon 3-9 x 40 BDC reticle scope. That and a minimal set of supporting accoutrements are really all one needs.
First, why a bolt action?
In the Guerrilla Sniper role, it is unlikely that multiple fast follow up shots will be needed, at least in the context of how I foresee such activity. We are generally talking about one or perhaps at most three well placed shots, and then scoot. A bolt action does this with a lighter, more accurate, less complicated, and usually much cheaper implementation than a semi-auto battle rifle. A solid bolt action is simple and offers several tactical advantages (brass retention, ease of scoping, superior suppressor platform, etc.). Keep it simple when you can and you will usually find that you have the best tool for the job. So I chose a bolt action.
Second, why the Savage 100/10/Stevens 200 action in particular?
From my analysis, I think there are three significant advantages that this action offers:
1) Accuracy/Economy ratio – they are the most affordable option and inherently accurate
2) Barrel changes – to be able to replace or exchange barrels yourself is unique and enabling
3) Accutrigger – to have an excellent trigger out of the box is a significant advantage
That all said, don’t get too hung up on requiring the gun to have an Accutrigger, as most of the standard triggers can easily be made quite serviceable (possible exception being the basic “two screw” variety that comes on the Stevens 200 and some older Savages). The three screw models I’ve played with are just fine. If this is not the case for you, several excellent aftermarket triggers exist.
I cannot overstress that the modularity of the rifle, in particular the ease of barrel replacement, is what really makes this the best choice, in my opinion. Never underestimate the utility of being able to replace or exchange your barrel in the field, with no need for precision, powered machinery or a trained gunsmith. It could be a life saver. Ponder the concept and I think you’ll agree.
As to barrels, while one can make do with the standard 22” factory sporter barrel, the Guerilla Sniper concept really shines when you utilize a shorter barrel, something in the 16” – 20” range. It may not seem like much, but shortening the barrel by just a few inches significantly improves the handiness of the rifle when in use and opens up whole new areas for transport and storage with the stock folded. I have played with barrels from 22” down to 18” so far, with a 16-1/2” barrel next in the queue for testing.
A worthwhile option is to thread the barrel for a flash hider (Smith Enterprise Vortex model 1009V is my recommendation) and potentially a suppressor. This is especially true if you have the barrel cut down to the 16” – 18” range. If going this route, just make sure you plan ahead and have the barrel threaded to a pattern that will support both the flash hider and suppressor – not always a simple task. Minimizing sound and flash can be critical in this role, so consider these options carefully.
The Choate Ultimate Sniper Folding Stock
The availability of this stock is really what made me decide to put together such a rifle. Were I limited to traditional full length stocks, I could easily ‘make do” with my Steyr Scout with FFP reticle Pride Fowler scope and angelic trigger. It’s an awesome package and still is my go-to “walking around” rifle. However, if you add the ability to shorten a rifle by 10 inches, you suddenly open up flexibilities normally associated with “hand rifles” such as the T/C Contender/Encore, Savage Striker, Remington XP-100, etc. With the Choate folder, a short action, and an 18” barrel, you have a potent and accurate rifle that can be reduced to a storable length of less than 30”. For a .308 rifle, that is excellent utility value.
Clearly this reduced form enables storing in some large packs and cases, but an aspect overlooked by most is the ability to sling the rifle over your back and yet be able to move much more freely than with a full length slung rifle. The barrel does not poke down so low as to make kneeling or sitting down as problematic as is often the case with African Carry. Similarly, nothing extends above the shoulder, as muzzle down is the obvious way to sling this setup. Not only can you thus move much more easily, but when moving you will not stand out nearly so much as “a man with a rifle slung over his back.” This lower profile is another huge advantage offered by a folding stock.
Originally, I was concerned about whether or not this stock would be rigid enough to provide a solid shooting platform for a .308 rifle. After a number of shooting sessions, I am convinced it is more than up to the task. Shooting it is comparatively comfortable and does not introduce any impediments to accurate field shooting. It plain works.
There are downsides, however. The stock is just a bit heavy for its size (but it’s cut down and thus manageable). It also has no sling swivels, although that is easily fixed. Given the abbreviated forearm, a traditional bipod location is not possible. You can mount one, though (and I did). That said, the Guerrilla Sniper role likely is best served by a rucksack or pack rest, keeping with clean lines and minimalist equipment. If you really want to put a bipod on it though, you have that option. A decent sling, however, is not negotiable.
A good sling is required for carry and should be of a type offering proper sling supported position use, preferably via some type of loop for the support arm. That is out of the scope of this paper, but is something that must be stressed – a Rifleman needs to be competent with the use of sling supported firing position in the field. I care not what you can do off the bench in the shade, but what you can do in the field from sitting or rice paddy prone might just save your life – or mine. Learn it, well. (If you have no idea of what I speak, seek out an Appleseed and then follow it up with more training, since you won’t learn things like rice paddy prone at an Appleseed, which is only a starting point.)
One further carry idea that makes a lot of sense is something I picked up from the Warrior Talk forum. Using one of the “sniper rifle” scope cover/muzzle cover combinations makes the folded rifle into a durable package, whether slung on your back or laying on the back seat floorboard. It protects the scope and muzzle as you would expect, but also retains the folded stock and covers the bolt handle. It’s not quite as protective as a traditional soft case, but leaps ahead of just the bare rifle. Such considerations are moot for the bench rest potato taking his rifle to the range, but of huge value to the lone rifleman in the field.
There is one significant caveat when buying this stock if you are working with a Savage Short action rifle. Currently, this stock is only available in the 4.3” action screw spacing length. Since some point in time around 2006, Savage switched over to the newer “center feed” action, which uses a 4.41” action screw separation. The older “staggered feed” actions are what fit the Choate Folder, while rifles manufactured recently do not fit.
If you have a 4.41” action, it is possible to buy the Choate Varmint Folder (as used in the factory Savage "Model 10 FP Folding Choate" package). However, as far as I can tell the stock is currently only available directly from Choate at full retail ($285 IIRC). Worse than that, it is HEAVY.
For Long Action Savage rifles, there is only one screw spacing length and you are OK. Similarly, those utilizing Winchester or Remington actions should also have no issues.
Thus if going this route, be careful with the parts you try to combine.
In summary: The Choate Sniper Folder stock weighs about 3.5lbs and is what I describe here. The Savage Choate FP folder stock weights about 5.25 lbs and:
- does not have its forearm abbreviated
- has a different butt section (like from the original Ultimate Sniper/Varmint Stocks)
- is thought to only be available from Savage with a complete rifle, but one may be able to purchase it directly from Choate, albeit at full retail
- has a heavier duty folding mechanism that is slightly more difficult to disengage
Nikon Team Primos 3-9 x 42 w/BDC
IMHO this is the way to go for scoping a Guerrilla Sniper role. Reticle wise, its BDC is a straightforward yet significant improvement over the Burris Ballistic Plex that I previously favored. Optically, this specific “Team Primos” labeled scope is a notch (or more) up from the Burris Fullfield or the other Nikon options (Prostaff and Buckmark lines), as it is essentially an old model Monarch UCC (Ultra Clear Coat) with its coatings and 95% light transmission specification. It also has nicer adjustments with decent miniature target style turrets and positive ¼” (IPHY) click adjustments. It’s a tremendous scope at a very attractive price, and comes with an outstanding reticle for our purposes.
On the reticle, where the Burris has small tick marks, the Nikon has little circles. It also has more of them (Burris has crosshairs, then three ticks, then the thick portion of the crosshair – Nikon has four little circles).
- More aiming points (top, center, bottom of circle, plus sides for some windage)
- Easier to see in low light or against dark backgrounds
- Ability to see a small aiming point, as with the circles you surround rather than cover it
- Much better potential for ranging (1.5MOA inside, 2.0 MOA outside at 9X)
In this Warrior Talk thread (also listed at the end of this summary), one can get several excellent graphic aids that illustrate a simple yet effective ranging method. The photo above is but one example. Do check it out closely.
This all said, were I armed with a rifle topped by a Burris with Ballistic Plex reticle, I would not feel unprepared at all – just not as prepared as I could be with the Nikon BDC. I still have a couple of Burris scopes, but they are now relegated to second line roles.
For now, the Team Primos scope is available from a variety of vendors from ~$200 up to ~$250. This is a Killer Deal – a No Brainer. Just buy it. Or buy two or three and get your buddies set up too (you do train with trusted friends with similar gear, don’t you?).
For me, I use Leupold QRW rings since they are robust, easily removable, pretty good at holding close to zero when remounted, and fairly affordable ($50 or so a pair for 1” rings). I have the EGW bases installed for ease of scope swapping, but the standard Weaver mounts that come with the rifles will work fine as well. Remember, keep it simple.
In summary, with a reasonable amount of effort and not much monetary outlay, nearly anyone can set up a compact, portable, powerful, and accurate rifle to fulfill a wide variety of roles. You can call it a Guerrilla Sniper rifle or whatever other pithy term you care to dream up, but the true measure of the rifle will be what you can do with it. So if you are so inclined, put one together and put it to the test. You may find that you have something that gives life to the old cliché “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts” – as I did.
Sources For Further Study:
The Guerrilla Sniper – Anthony James and Gabe Suarez
A bit thin, but an important book nonetheless. A good starting place, especially if you are starting from square one. Likely only available from the Warrior Talk store, One Source Tactical. My take on it can be found in this thread.
Fry The Brain – John West
This book is essentially a historical catalog of all significant guerrilla sniper activity through history, up to and including present day struggles. West includes a lot of details and thus it’s a tremendous collection of examples of what works and what does not, with generally good explanation of the reasons for success or failure. Some cast it aside for the JFK assassination chapter and its heavily conspiracy dependent scenario, but even if pure fiction, the tactical considerations are worthwhile. Don’t let that chapter dissuade you. It’s an important resource.
The Art of The Rifle – Jeff Cooper
This concise book is the best summary of the handling, usage, and importance of competence with a rifle, period. There is little to quibble with when the good Colonel speaks about rifles. Every library needs one. (Two versions exist and either will do for these purposes.)
The Ultimate Sniper – John Plaster
The updated edition is also something that must be in your library. It’s not perfect and sometimes covers from too much of a LEO/military perspective, but it is invaluable nonetheless.
Warrior Talk forum:
There is a gentlemen going by the screen name of SUA SPONTE that has authored a number of excellent posts pushing this concept forward (not just on the rifle and gear, but more importantly the tactics and thought processes). I’m pretty sure that he’s using many of his posts on Warrior Talk to flesh out material for an upcoming book. He explains things well and comes up with good graphics to illustrate key concepts. I strongly encourage those interesting in this type of study to search out his writings and the constructive contributions others have added to his threads. Several of these threads are listed here.
This Warrior Talk thread has extensive discussions of Guerrilla Sniper Rifles as well as SUA SPONTE’s excellent BDC graphics (anyone can read the text, but you have to register to see most photos and graphic attachments).
Various Guerrilla Sniper “issues” and training ideas are in this thread.
This thread has some valuable training ideas plus discussion of the good old “Over the Head and Under the Balls” method of practical field holdover for two-legged varmints:
Here is a new and handy tool for calculating ballistic data for your Nikon BDC equipped scope. Until a few weeks ago it could be used by anyone, but now requires a simple one time registration for some reason. It’s worth it if you have a BDC, at least in my opinion.
Sources For Acquisition:
1. Team Primos Nikon 3-9x40 BDC: Likely the best cost/performance deal going in a ballistic reticle.
2. Choate Folder (Savage Short Action): So far, the best price I’ve found is here. In case you want to use another action, here are all of the similar Choate stocks.
3. Savage Factory Site: Here's the word on all models from the Savage factory. Don't forget, however, that you can very likely find an appropriate Savage or Stevens short-action rifle with a decent bore on the orphan rack at your local pawn shop or gun dealer; don't forget Gunbroker or AuctionArms as well. The Stevens 200 is an especially good value (factory new rifles at ~ $290!), if you can live without the Accutrigger; see this article for background on the Stevens and this article for a recap of aftermarket triggers for the Stevens.
4. Brownells.com Article On Rebarreling Your Savage: You might want to know how, especially if you want to reduce the barrel length to the legal minimum.
5. Leupold QRW Rings and EGW 20 MOA Base: As referenced above; talk to the vendor to make sure the base you are ordering will fit on your particular flavor of Savage rifle action.
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