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What does today’s best PRS rifle look like? Back when the sport started in 2012 a lot of people would have put their money on a gas gun—something like a Seekins SP10—because of the speed of the stages. But though there is still a gas-gun division, bolt guns dominate. Even there, however, they have been evolving at a break-neck pace. If you had to quantify what constitutes the state-of-the-art PRS rifle, it looks something like this.
Best PRS Rifle Stock: Manners TCS
An ongoing debate in PRS circles has been which is better—composite stocks or chassis systems? Manners said, porque no los dos?, and created the Tunable Competition Stock that combines great features of both. The narrow fore-end has an Area 419 Arca rail that can accept a series of weights to add heft and change the balance of your gun. The buttstock has an easy-to-tune system of adjustments for all critical stock dimensions—length of pull, cheek height, recoil pad cant and height—and can accept weights as well.
Three-lug Tempest Action
The Tempest is an action that was designed by George Gardner of GA Precision fame and is built by Horizon Machine, which is based in Sturgis, S.D. It is a three-lug system that has a slick, short bolt throw and is the foundation of this rifle’s excellent accuracy. The action is machined from billet and features an integral recoil lug. The one-piece bolt has a plunger ejector, an M16 style extractor, and can be taken apart without tools in the field for maintenance.
When I originally built this rifle, I had it made for AIAW magazines, which are compact, double-stack mags that can hold 10 rounds. But because I ended up shooting in some competitions with higher round counts where doing mag changes would cost me precious seconds I couldn’t afford to lose, I switched it out to AICS magazines, which are able to be converted to hold more rounds, though at the cost of additional bulk.
There are plenty of companies that make good magazines, but the best PRS rifle mags are from Accuracy International. Their quality is second-to-none and they won’t let you down when it matters. To increase the capacity of mine, I added extended magazine base pads from Altus Shooting Solutions. I’ve been running these mags hard for more than a year and haven’t had any issues with them at all.
Best PRS Rifle Cartridge: 6mm GT
I know plenty of shooters will howl about this pick—in particular those who don’t run a 6mm GT—but I stand by this choice. This is a 6mm cartridge that is purpose built for PRS-style shooting and hits a sweet spot between the larger 6mm Creedmoor and the slightly-smaller (and often less reliable) 6mm benchrest variants. As of this writing I have more than 2,300 rounds through this rifle and its consistency and accuracy are a joy to behold. (While doing load development in preparation for a recent shooting match, it shot a 10-shot group that measured .399-inches.)
If you’re interested in the load that did that, I’m running 34.8 grains of Hodgdon H4350 behind Hornady 110-grain A-Tip bullets and Federal 205M primers. I’ve been using Alpha Munitions outstanding OCD brass, and load the cartridge to 2.66 inches COAL. To keep the brass consistent from one reload to the next (and to extend the number of reloads I can get from them), I anneal after every firing with the AMP Mark II.
Bipod and Trigger
The most versatile bipod on the market for precision rifle shooting is the MDT Ckye-Pod. The Gen 2 model is a big improvement over the previous version, with better controls and tighter tolerances. The radical adjustability of the bipod lets you quickly get the rifle into a stable position under nearly any circumstance. The legs can spread very wide to get the gun low when needed or extended nearly straight up and down to elevate the barrel. With the ARCA attachment clamp the bipod can slide along the length of the stock’s ARCA rail to support the rifle on cramped surfaces like the top of a 55-gallon drum.
Triggertech’s Diamond trigger has become the go-to trigger for a huge percentage of PRS shooters. Little surprise there as the Diamond is reliable, adjustable, and is as crisp as an apple picked off the tree.
Best PRS Rifle Scope: Nightforce 7-35×56 ATACR
If you can’t see the target you can’t hit it, which is why rolling with premium glass is a no-brainer for a serious PRS shooter. More than that, however, you need a reticle that gives the best visual feedback to quickly get on target and, when needed, make an accurate adjustment for follow-up shots.
Nightforce’s 7-35×56 ATACR with the mil-XT reticle earns high marks on both counts. The quality of the glass is top-notch, the reticle has the smartest design of any precision rifle reticle on the market, and the scope’s rugged construction and shooter-friendly ergonomics elevate it above the competition.
When mated to the rifle with one of Spuhr’s rock-solid scope mounts you have the makings of a tack-driver. The Sphur mount has a mechanism to level the scope, which is very useful, but the fasteners (there are six on each scope ring) need to be checked frequently to make sure they remain tight.