About a year ago I met Janet Thompson of H.S. Precision. Taken with her knowledge and good way of dealing with people, we struck a deal for HS to build a .308 Winchester sniper rifle on my Remington 700 action. I allowed Janet full artistic license to build as she saw fit. About two months later a box arrived, which I opened post haste. Inside was a thing of beauty: a rifle with a heavy twenty-four inch 1x12" twist fluted barrel, vertical grip, fully adjustable stock (see review October 1999 Tactical Shooter), and a black Teflon-type finish that was perfect in every way. H.S. calls this a Heavy Tactical Rifle, but the rifle weighs in at a respectable 10.5 pounds without scope, rings, and mounts. The rifle with scope attached is about 13.5 pounds. Wasting no time, I mounted a Leupold Vari-X III M1 Tactical scope with MK4 Rings and an Augua Arms slanted angle one-piece scope base. Then it was quickly off to the range for break in.
After a break-in procedure of cleaning after every round for twenty rounds and then every three rounds for another thirty rounds, gears were switched to serious shooting. Having found that most rifles of today will shoot groups under one minute-of-angle for three to five rounds, I decided to go straight to five- and ten-shot groups. I used six separate lots of 168 grain ammunition: two lots each from Federal, Remington, and Winchester. These ammunition brands have always given good results in the past, with some guns having a slight preference for one of the three.
Several other shooters and I went to the range and put the rifle to the test. We shot five groups of five and two groups of ten rounds for each brand and lot of ammunition. That is a total of two hundred and seventy rounds. Cleaning was done after every ten rounds, so this took a great deal of time. When we did our part, all groups were under one-half minute with a few under one-quarter minute at two hundred yards. Now before you read on, think about what the rifle did: ten-shot groups under one-half minute of angle. That is fabulous in anyone's book.
One group I fired, I took the action completely out of the stock between shots. The way it worked was, I'd take the action out and then torque it back into place, fire a shot, then remove and reinstall the action for the next shot. This went on for a series of ten rounds. The resulting ten shot group measured just under one minute of angle. That is outstanding.
I shot the rifle from prone bipod, prone sling, seated sling, and standing positions. I liked how easy the adjustments were and felt secure in all positions.
I chronographed the ammunition and found that all the brands averaged about 2700 fps out of the rifle at seventy degrees. That is about one hundred feet per second faster than a typical mass production rifle gets. Increased velocity is the sign of a well-made barrel. The increased velocity allows you to shoot longer distances and use less wind adjustment than someone using the same ammunition out of a typical production-line gun.
I found the optional four-shot detachable HS Magazine to be well made. The whole assembly is stainless steel with a black Teflon-type finish. The magazine is a center feed design. This means that all rounds are fed into the chamber from the top-center portion of the magazine. In contrast, a standard Remington BDL has a staggered feed design. The advantage of the Remington design is ease of loading from the top end. The disadvantage of the Remington design is that feeding malfunctions are common. The HS design cannot be easily fed from the top. The magazine must be removed and loaded. The advantage to the HS design is that I have not had one malfunction with it, and that loading is as fast as I can change magazines.
The floor plate, being stainless steel, is also more durable than the standard aluminum one you get with a Remington. This option is a must in my opinion. The package worked well as a position rifle but higher capacity magazines are needed for Match Rifle NRA competition. A ten round model is said to be available soon.
I decided to try some of the Federal 175 grain ammunition in the rifle. I obtained five different lots and shot five five-shot groups of each lot. That is a total of one hundred and twenty five rounds. Cleaning was done after every ten rounds. This ammunition has performed well in several other rifles, but did not perform well in the H.S. Precision Rifle. Groups were from three quarter to one and one half minute of angle. I called H.S. and asked what was wrong. The answer was simple. The rifle I have was not intended for 175 grain ammunition. It has a 1x12" twist with their 10X style rifling. Although this 1x12 twist will not shoot 175's all my other do very well with 175's and they are 1x12 twist. H.S. will be setting up all future rifles to shoot both 168- and 175-grain ammunition, but my rifle was built before the change. The reason for the 175's is to extend the range of the .308 Winchester to about eight hundred yards. But, with the 168's in the HS Rifle, you have enough additional velocity from the excellent barrel to carry the same eight hundred yards without any accuracy problems.
Since initial group testing, the rifle has been shot many times and it continues to perform very well. I wish the rifle handled 175 grain bullets better, but all in all it is a rifle that I would take anywhere in the world and defend my life with without hesitation.