The Case for Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifles – Part II

The SIG DMR variant of their 556, introducing itself to the long-range steel.

The SIG DMR variant of their 556, introducing itself to the long-range steel.

SIG Blaser Tactical 2

Now, don’t get me wrong. Bolt-action rifles have strengths that can’t be easily discounted. Let’s take, for example, accuracy. We all know what accuracy is, right? All the shots through one hole at absurd distances. Well, partly right. How would you feel about a rifle that put all its shots not just through a ragged group, but through the same hole, time after time? Great, right? What if, each morning, when you pulled it out of the rack, that point of impact was several inches in some random direction? They’ll all go through the same hole, but you don’t know where the hole will be. That is an accurate rifle, but not a repeatable one.

Bolt-action rifles, especially ones with free-floated barrels, have not just accuracy, but repeatability. Given the same ammo lot, they will have the same point of impact, day or night, hot or cold, wet or dry.

One such rifle that I’ve had a chance to test is the SIG Blaser Tactical 2. It is a bolt-action rifle, plopped into a high-tech polymer stock that free-floats the barrel, and offers cheekpiece, buttplate length of pull and pitch adjustments. If you can’t make this one fit you, you’re harder to fit than an NBA player. And in case you need fast follow-up shots, while it has a bolt handle on the side, you don’t turn and pull, you just pull. It is a straight-pull bolt action, where the bolt head is an expanding collet that locks securely to the barrel extension.

As if that weren’t enough, you can have it in four different calibers; .223, .308, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Lapua. Now, at the extreme, with the .338 Lapua and its 27-inch barrel, you have a rifle that starts out at just over 12-1/2 pounds. But, even with the muzzle brake, when you touch off a Lapua round, you’ll be glad it is that heavy.

I had an afternoon with one at the SIG plant, and with it I was able (in the .308 version) to shoot a bragging-size target.


If you have the opportunity as a team leader (LEO or military) to have a school-trained sniper along with you, you have a very useful asset. However, you won’t. The next-best thing is to get a really accurate rifle into the hands of the best shooter on your squad or platoon and have him do the medium-range sniping for you. In the military, that job description is Squad Designated Marksman.

A scope on an M16 or M4 is good, but the military has been building purpose-made rifles for the job. SIG makes their 556 Classic in a DMR configuration. It uses, instead of the 16-inch barrel, a 21-inch tube, and the stock is a Magpul PRS stock. The trigger is an enhanced single-stage trigger, which means it is built to be cleaner than the already nice SIG 556 trigger, and the forearm is instead of the polymer halves, a railed free-float setup. Well, as much as you can free-float a piston-driven barrel.

With it, I was able to commit wholesale slaughter among one-liter water bottles at 200 yards, and hitting a LaRue steel plate at 600 was so easy it almost became boring. I say “almost” because once I had figured the drop (a 5.56 round, depending on the load, drops 50 to 60 inches out there) I started doing head-shots only.

The rifle was so soft to shoot, and so accurate, that I almost gave in and asked what the special writer’s price would be on one.

This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Book of the Tactical Rifle. Click here to order your copy.

Click here to read Part I

Recommended Tactical Rifle Resources
Gun Digest Book of The Tactical Rifle

Gun Digest Buyer’s Guide to Tactical Rifles

Own the Night: Selection and Use of Tactical Lights and Laser Sights