Recently, many marksmen have been reevaluating the value of a detachable magazine on a bolt-action sniper rifle. For years, here in the U.S. at least, detachable magazines and sniper rifles just did not go together.
Many “experts” opined that detachable magazine systems were unreliable. Even worse, if a sniper was to lose his magazines his rifle would be reduced to a single-shot. Plus, they warned, if a sniper had a weapon that fed from an easily changed magazine he would be more likely to waste ammunition instead of making every shot count.
It has only been actual combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq that has stirred a change in thought here in the U.S. Indeed, a well-designed detachable magazine system does offer a few advantages over a conventional fixed internal system. It’s faster to reload than trying to stuff loose rounds into an action partially covered by a one-piece scope base and low-mounted tactical scope. This is especially true under stress or when moving.
Why would a sniper need to reload quickly? Well, there are times when a military sniper is tasked with firing in support of, or covering, a maneuvering unit. And as a last resort a sniper may be forced to defend himself using his sniper rifle. Plus, during the early years in Iraq, our snipers were presented with a very target-rich environment.
Switching loads (from match to AP for example) is also much easier when all you have to do is swap magazines. With many finally realizing the benefits of such a system, there has been a growing desire for a reliable detachable box magazine to interface with the ever popular Remington 700. One company that recognized this need and worked hard to provide an answer is Badger Ordnance (816-582-7618, badgerordnance.com).
Badger Ordnance developed a beefy aluminum trigger guard assembly that accepts the proven steel Accuracy International AICS magazine. Best of all, no modifications to the receiver are required. The bottom metal comes with two precisely machined pillars, action screws and one five-round magazine.
To install, you simply glue in the pillars, cut the guard inlet to the depth of the pillars and install the trigger guard assembly. Magazines are released by an easy to operate paddle type release and the trigger bow is enlarged for use with gloves.
To see how well Badger’s system works, I had one installed during a custom rifle build by Tactical Rifles (877-811-4867, tac ticalrifles.net). I was interested in checking the design’s ease of use, reliability and if it had any effect on accuracy.
Using a Remington 700 action as the foundation, the folks at Tactical Rifles carefully tuned the action, installed an oversize bolt handle and an aftermarket trigger. A fairly heavy 22 inch match grade stainless steel barrel, with a Vortex flash suppressor fitted, was then mated to the action.
The barreled action was dropped into a McMillan stock for a fairly conventional appearance. Chambered for .308 Winchester, Tactical Rifles turned a pile of parts into a fine-looking rifle. I have to admit though; Badger’s M5 magazine system really gives the piece a distinctive look.
Okay, it looks good, maybe even a bit sexy, but does it work? Yes, and quite well. This is has been a long-term test of this design, and in well over a year of use I have not had one miss-feed, stoppage or malfunction of any kind. Rounds load easily into the magazine, magazines lock securely into place, and feeding is smooth and trouble-free.
Depress the paddle magazine release and the magazine is easily removed. During testing this rifle has seen use in extreme cold, snow, sleet and freezing rain. It has been exposed to mud, dirt and dust. Yet despite challenging environmental conditions, this system has performed flawlessly.
Does it have a negative effect on accuracy compared to a standard or aftermarket floorplate? None that I can tell. After the barrel was properly broken in, I put it to work at 600 yards. Firing off a Harris bipod using 175-grain Federal Gold Medal Match ammunition and a Leupold 3.5-10x40mm LR/T scope this combination put 10 rounds into two inches at this distance. That’s not a fluke. During an any-rifle/any-sight 600-yard prone match I managed a 200-15X, out of a possible 200-20X.
Is Badger’s M5 perfect? No. The magazines are a tight fit, a bit tighter than I like. But that’s my only complaint. It should be noted though that unless you are comfortable with home gunsmithing, you should leave the installation to a gunsmith. It’s not exactly difficult, but it needs to be done right.
Overall quality is excellent. Price is $335 for a short action with the long action running $10 more. No, that’s not exactly cheap, but the system is well thought out, nicely made and works. If you’re looking to update your Remington 700, consider Badger’s M5, and don’t forget to buy a few spare mags while you’re at it.