New Rifle Review: Nesika Sporter

Nesika is one of the quirkier companies in the gun world. It was founded in the early 1990s by Glenn Harrison in Poulsbo, Washington, nestled among the evergreens and mists of the Pacific Northwest. His actions quickly made a mark in precision rifle competitions for their accuracy and quality.

The company was purchased by Dakota Arms in 2003 and moved to Sturgis, South Dakota, where it remains to this day. Nesika has always been a boutique operation, though the company is now poised for bigger things. The Freedom Group--which owns, among others, Remington, Bushmaster, DPMS, and Marlin--purchased Dakota and Nesika in 2009, and is looking to give the company a higher profile.

To that end, Nesika has rolled out a series of rifles based on the company's well-regarded actions. The Sporter model, which I tested, and Long Range model are both built on the Hunter action. The Tactical model, built on the Tactical action, is larger and beefier, as one would expect. Both of these actions feature round bottom contours, though the Tactical action has an enclosed feeding port and a rail on top.

Though they are round actions, they are not Remington 700 clones. One distinguishing feature of the Nesika actions is the extra length in the barrel tenon, which is the part of the receiver that the barrel screws into. This extra length (.965 inch vs. roughly .700 inch for the M700) increases rigidity and support for the barrel, both desirable qualities for making an accurate rifle.

Another distinctive touch is the "Borden bumps" on the bolt body. By increasing the diameter of the bolt just in front of the bolt handle and just behind the two locking lugs at the front of the bolt--the "bumps"--the bolt snugs tightly into place when it is in battery. With less wiggle room, it is difficult for the bolt to be pushed off-center by the pressure exerted by the trigger sear on the cocking piece. Keeping the bolt true to the centerline of the bore is another boon to accuracy. (The reason the entire bolt isn't turned to this larger diameter is that there needs to be a little slop and clearance between the bolt and the raceway to deal with the inevitable bits of dirt and debris that enter the action.)

Okay, enough of the technical stuff. Yes, Nesika makes top-flight actions. And, yes, these guys know how to build a good rifle. For example, the stock on my sample--a carbon-fiber Bell & Carlson with an aluminum bedding block for extra strength and rigidity--was expertly fitted to the action, with the exception of a slight gap around the magazine floor plate.
**
Field Performance**
But does it shoot? Yes, the Nesika shoots. At the range I put six different types of .300 Win. Mag. loads through the rifle, using match-grade ammo and hunting loads in various bullet styles and weights.

Allowing adequate time for the barrel to cool between groups was key to getting good accuracy. The average five-shot group at 100 yards was 1.128 inches. The best groups came from Black Hills 190-grain BTHP, the smallest being .558 inch.

The Sporter, at 8 pounds 13 ounces scoped, kicks hard when shot off the bench. But from field positions that one would employ while hunting, it is quite manageable, at least with short strings of fire. The rifle carries, balances, and cycles well. The generously sized loading port is easy to access with individual rounds should you run the magazine dry. The bolt runs effortlessly when the rifle is shouldered, making for fast follow-up shots. And the Sporter loads, fires, extracts, and ejects as smoothly as you would expect for the price ($3,499).

But don't just take my word for it. My observations squared with those of gear editor John Taranto, who used this rifle on a rigorous hunt for aoudad and was, in fact, the first person to kill an animal with the Sporter.

Can you find comparable performance for less money? Yes. But what the Nesika Sporter delivers is a rifle that is well crafted from front to back with best-in-class components. The Timney trigger (mine broke at 3 pounds 12 ounces), the Douglas barrel, the Hunter action (which goes for $1,250 by itself), the Bell & Carlson stock--they all add up. And when you take time to examine the quality of the machining, witness the flutes on the bolt and the recessed crown on the barrel, not to mention the expertise that goes into cutting good chambers or fitting the recoil pad on the stock flawlessly, you can see why the rifle costs what it does.

Also in the rifle's favor is that it looks great. It is distinctive without being weird, and the overall impression of the rifle is of a tool that one could depend on no matter what you were hunting or where.
**
Stats**
Caliber: .300 Win. Mag.
Capacity: 3+1
Weight: 8lb.
Trigger Pull: 3 lb. 12 oz.
Barrel Length: 24 in.
Overall Length: 46 ½ in.
Suggested Retail: $3,499
Contact: nesikafirearms.com

Report Card
Overall: *** ½
Performance: A-
Design: A
Price/Value: B-

Accuracy: Avg. 5-shot group @ 100 yd.: 1.128 in. Smallest group: .558 in. with Black Hills 190-gr. BTHP Match

Verdict: An expensive rifle that delivers the goods. Built to high standards with great components. A dependable and accurate hunting tool.