Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Range report on the Sabre Defense 6.5mm Grendel rifle

This is what I posted to fellow Gunsite alumni about the rifle my friend just bought.
(photo copyright Sabre Defense)
Since this was written, Sabre Defense overnighted to us the remaining parts and box for the scope, along with a free digital camo boonie hat. Based on the quality of their product, the speed with which they fixed things and their willingness to fix their errors, I'll do business with them again. Next up, an M5 upper in 6.5mm Grendel for my AR?

Quoted text below -

A friend of mine decided last year that he wanted to get some kind of rifle for long-range shooting that would allow him to engage multiple targets fairly quickly and when he saw the designated marksman's rifles that the Army and Marines were building in .308 he liked them, but decided that he'd rather have it in 6.5mm Grendel for the reduction in recoil and the ballistic advantages.
I took him to see the Precision Marksman's Rifle (PMR) at the Sabre Defense booth at the NRA show this spring and he decided to buy one of those.
Late this summer he ordered one, and it arrived FINALLY last week. Yesterday we took it out to the range to get a rough zero on it and to see how it functioned.
It's on this web page, fifth item down.
The Leupold scope is very nice - crisp, clear, easy to adjust and focus. It was easy to pick out gray rocks from brown leaves on an overcast day with these optics. It's an M4 6.5-20X with the mil-dot reticle. We haven't checked out the illumination of the reticle yet because Sabre Defense didn't include the battery with the scope when they shipped. They also didn't send the box for the scope or the manual or the front Butler Creek lens cover - more on that later.
The rifle comes in a padded bag with an Otis field cleaning kit, a pad to lie on and a single shoot'n'see-type target to use with it, as well as two C-Products 25-round steel magazines of excellent quality.
The rifle is very well made. Everything felt crisp and secure. The fit between the upper and lower receivers is tight. The Magpul buttstock is well made and nothing on the gun in the way of parts or assembly quality was lacking. I disassembled the bolt, scrubbed the dried carbon off of it, lubed it and we started shooting.
We were using the Wolf Gold line of ammunition, with the 120gr open tip ball bullet loaded. The ammo is clean and the brass bright, with the annealing lines apparent on the brass. The ammunition would be a match for any US commercial production that I've seen lately and I understand that it's made by Prvi Partizan.
We fired three rounds at 25 yards and found that it was pretty close to zero already - three inches low and an inch left. After shooting and adjusting, we ended up using about 15 clicks right windage and four clicks up to bring it in roughly where I thought it should be. Checking it at 50 yards seemed to confirm that. The match trigger in the gun is EXCELLENT, the best that I've ever used in any AR. There was a failure to feed in the first magazine and I don't know why, but it didn't happen again.
Since we were short on time and the weather was chilly, we then shot it for fun at a very large rock at 150 yards. We weren't just hitting it, we were putting all the rounds into a fairly small area on the rock. So I started shooting at 8-12 inch rocks, then at 3-6 inch rocks and we were hitting them all. Basically, the rifle was dead to point of aim at 150 yards with what little adjusting we had done to the scope. Hitting small rocks was so easy it was like shooting beer cans at 25 yards with a .22 than shooting targets 1/3 that size with a full power rifle at 150 yards. Once we get it on sandbags on a good day we'll tune the zero to the cartridge's ballistics.
The muzzle brake is what SD calls a 'gill' brake because of its appearance, I suppose. It may have contributed slightly to the muzzle blast, but what it did to lessen recoil and keep the gun down was worth it. It was easy to watch the strike of the bullet through the scope and stay in the scope for succeeding rounds. Shooter fatigue with this rifle should be more or less inconsequential.
So for a very brief (60 rounds) range session it was very satisfying. The rifle and scope performed superbly. I couldn't believe how easy it was to shoot this rifle. I could shoot one rock, see it hit, pivot on the bipod to another, hit it and keep doing it until I decided to quit. I've shot .223s that had more apparent recoil than this gun. The trigger was another key contributor to this ease of shooting.
The only downside has been Sabre Defense's customer service. My brother ordered the gun, then checked on the order and they'd lost it. He placed the order again, then called some time later to find out where it was. He was promised a delivery date. That date passed and he called again, and got another date, which also passed. We waited nine weeks for this gun, and one of his conversations with a woman there was less than satisfactory, which led him to ask to speak to someone else to whom he very frankly described his dissatisfaction.
When I saw how they'd shipped this rifle, missing the scope accessories, I called them and spoke with a young man named Aloysius who explained that the delay had been caused by delays in receiving the scopes from Leupold. I told him that I was personally embarrassed because I had recommended this gun and his company to my friend, and had been let down by their performance and by their broken promises.
It appeared to me that when they became anxious to ship this rifle they just put the first scope that they had on hand onto it, then sent it out without the box, battery, etc. since they weren't lying around nearby. They're supposed to call me back today to tell me when they're going to send the box and the other accessories that SHOULD have been with it out to us.
Final impressions - the customer service was lacking. Delivery was delayed and I'm not sure that I accept their reasons for that. But the final product is superb! The rifle is easy to shoot and I'm looking forward to when we can run some of the Alexander Arms 123gr Lapua Scenar ammunition through it at longer ranges so we can see how it performs in its proper role. This was also my first exposure to the 6.5mm Grendel round and I really like it! This round is everything that I'd been led by my reading on it to believe. Even this basic Wolf ammunition is capable of excellent practical accuracy. The Leupold scope is excellent and I look forward to trying it with the illuminated reticle.
If SD can do better on delivery there would be nothing to complain about with this system. For long range shooting it would appear to be the thing. Respectfully submitted this 24th day of November in the year of our Lord 2008, I remain, yr obdnt srvnt - Charles

"A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level."
- Unknown

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