The company that brought us the first AR proves it still has tricks up its sleeve with the AR-30A1 — a refined bolt-action sniper rifle.
After a dozen years in production, ArmaLite engineers decided it was time to improve upon their already popular lineup of AR-30 sniper rifles. The culmination of their work is the company’s new AR-30A1. The AR-30A1 is offered in two calibers, .338 Lapua Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum. The previous AR-30 model lineup included a .308 Winchester variant as an option.
Features of the AR-30A1
Side by side, the differences in the guns are numerous. The new model tested is a “target” model in .338 Lapua, which includes improved accessory rails and a buttstock with an adjustable cheek height and length of pull. The AR-30B rifle came with a rather plain skeleton stock with no adjustment.
Two knobs on the A1’s stock easily adjust and lock with a pronounced click throughout their range of travel. The cheek piece moves approximately 1 inch, and the length of pull adjusts approximately 2 inches.
The rifle can also be purchased from ArmaLite with a folding buttstock allowing for easier transport and storage. I like the new stock configuration, and think the folding option is the way to go for shooters seeking the widest range of versatility.
The new accessory and scope rails are no less impressive. The top scope rail is 18 inches long and supports a wide array of accessories. It has ample room for even larger night vision optics forward of the scope.
There are four additional Picatinny rails on the rifle—three of them located on each side and bottom of the forend with one on the buttstock to accommodate a sling swivel or other accessories. Several vacant holes on the forend will allow for easy sling or accessory changes.
The newly designed safety is another noticeably different change. It’s similar in design and function to the 98 Mauser but with only a “safe” and “fire” position. This was changed to lock the firing pin directly, not just the trigger mechanism. The ArmaLite Model B safety only locks the trigger, and the safety lever is similar to Remington’s 700-style rifles. This change in design offers a higher degree of safety.
The bolt handle is sleeker and more uniquely designed than its predecessor. It turns downward sharply, making the gun narrower overall and easier to store in a hard case. These changes do not affect the range of motion when charging the weapon.
The magazine release has also been changed to allow ambidextrous use, as well as one-hand removal of the magazine. The release is now located on the front lower corner of the trigger guard, which is aesthetically pleasing and easy to manipulate with the trigger finger. The previous design was modeled after the AR-15-style magazine release and sometimes proved awkward,. It sometimes felt like I needed three hands to drop the magazine.
The A1’s weight is distributed more centrally than the previous model making operation and reloading easier, too. This also makes a difference when carrying the rifle one handed. Differences between the old and new model are seen muzzle to buttpad.
At the muzzle, the most critical component, the muzzle brake even got a face lift. The overall design and shape remains the same, but the construction couldn’t be more different. Previously, the muzzle break was made up of six individual parts held together by eight Allen head screws. The break on the new A1 is cast as one piece of steel, making it much stronger. Fewer parts allow for fewer malfunctions.