by David Crane
There’s a new sniper/long-range-interdiction rifle builder in town, and his name is Jered Joplin. Jered took over Patriot Arms Inc. in 2000, and is, according to gunwriter Al Paulson, currently one of the youngest builders of high-end custom sniper rifles in the United States. He’s particularly unique in that he guarantee’s, in writing, 1/2 MOA five-shot groups (with factory ammo) for every rifle he builds. That’s pretty good.
Al Paulson wrote a truly excellent and highly informative piece on Jered Joplin and Patriot Arms Inc. for the #26 (2004) issue of "Special Weapons for Military & Police" Magazine. In fact, it’s one of the best and most instructive sniper rifle T&E articles I’ve read in awhile. We’ll start with a passage from the beginning of that piece:…
"I began hearing feedback such as ‘this is the most accurate gun I’ve ever owned.’ And, ‘this is the most meticulous machining I’ve ever seen.’ And ‘Joplin is such a pleasure to deal with that he’s got me as a customer for life.’ Paulson goes on to write ‘I filed those testimonials away for future reference, until I started getting exuberant feedback from folks who’d participated in a demo of a Patriot Arms silenced (7.62x51mm) sniper rifle at the U.S. Army sniper school at Fort Benning, Georgia. Within 48 hours, the buzz from Benning told me that my simmering interst in Patriot Arms could no longer be left on the back burner."
Wow. Paulson ended up running that same 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester) silenced/suppressed sniper rifle (based on a Remington Model 700 action) at distances out to 1000 yards with day an night optics and a variety of amm (long-range, LE duty, subsonic, etc.). We’ll get to those results later.
Joplin can furnish the rifle as part of a complete system that includes a Nightforce Precision Optics 5.5-22x56mm NXS scope for target shooting and normal LE duty, a U.S. Optics SN-3 3.5-17x58mm Special Weapons and Tactics OMNI-Mission Telescopic Sight scope with Horus reticle for mid-to-long-range shooting, and an Excalibur Electro Optics 6x Raptor night-vision scope for optimal facial identification at night. Paulson claims that the U.S. Optics scope with Horus reticle "makes it easy to deploy and get first-round hits with multiple kinds of general and special-purpose ammunition, such as long-range match, limited-penetration, AP, and subsonic." DefRev will take Paulson’s word on that. Obviously, Patriot Arms sniper/long-range-interdiction rifle systems are designed to operate within the military Special Operations sniping/long-range-interdiction envelope, which is well beyond the normal LE SWAT operational envelope.
Every Patriot Arms Rifle is built precisely to the end-user’s specific mission requirements. Since Joplin understands the mission-critical nature of every rifle he makes for these elite end-users, he tries to make them as close to perfect as possible, and really goes the extra mile. As an example, in additon to installing oversized stainless steel pillars for the action screws, he also installs large stainles pillars for the sling and bipod studs. The bedding of the rifle is, again according to Paulson, "crisp and flawless beyond the need of function".
Joplin used a Hart rifle barrel with 1:10 twist rate on the silenced sniper rifle discussed in the "Special Weapons for Military & Police" article. Apparently, Joplin uses a reamer he designed himself to chamber his rifles with a proprietary (and unique) throat geometry, the purpose of which is to maximize accuracy. This accuracy maximization is the result of the bullet being gently centered in the bore, upon ignition. Joplin’s chambered the test rifle to minimum SAMMI spec. When Joplin gets done chambering the rifle, the chamber walls are hyper-smooth. Paulson describes how to test the quality of chamber work on a rifle: "The only tool you’ll need is a wide soda straw. Slowly slide the straw down the side of the chamber and throat to feel for surface roughness. Repeat over each quadrant of the chamber. You will detect a big difference among factory as well as among custom chamberings." Paulson goes on to write, "If you ever have a chance to apply this chamber test to a Patriot Arms rifle, just for grins, repeat the same test on a mirror. You’ll find that the true reality of "mirror smooth is disappointing by comparison."
Paulson’s praise continues as he describes Joplin’s barrel threading for the sound suppressor. Paulson writes that "his (Joplin’s) threading for a sound suppressor, and cutting a shoulder behind the threads to properly align the silencer, are the truest and smoothest I’ve seen to date. That really says something. He even went so far as to re-true and thread the rear of the Sound Technology "M-Can" sound suppressor used on this rifle." Paulson finishes with, "His (Joplin’s) attention to minutiae is impressive." The Remington Model 700 actions that the Patriot Arms rifles are based on are completely remachined and single-point rethreaded to true the receiver and bolt to within 1/10,000 of an inch of true center.
U.S. Army sniper instructor Jason Gallahair, out of Fort Benning, assisted Paulson in conducting the range session/torture test with the Patriot Arms 7.62x51mm silenced sniper/long-range-interdiction rifle. All accuracy testing was performed with the 8×1.5" Sound Tech "M-Can" silencer/sound suppressor attached.
Black Hills 168gr and 175gr HPBT (hollow point boat tail) delivered 0.17" groups at 100 yards. Black Hills 168gr LE duty ammo delivered .33" at 100 yards (10-shot group, "fairly rapid fire").
At 500 yards, a three-round group with HJ Ballistics 168gr measured 1.96", centered in the head of a military paper target. By comparison, a McMillan M89 Silenced Sniper Rifle delivered a 2.41" group at 500 yds with the Black Hills 168gr HPBT.
Gallahair tested the Patriot Arms silenced sniper rifle at 1,000 meters (1,094), but it seems he didn’t shoot for groups. Instead, he went for 1 minute of head/1minute of torso accuracy, which Paulson’s article implies was successfully achieved. Keep in mind this is with an 18" barrel and 168gr HPBT ammo.
The consensus among many experts is that longer barrels yield better bullet stabilization and terminal ballistics at long range. However, these longer barrels don’t typically have 8-inch cans (silencers) strapped on the end of them. A short barrel helps to make the silencer/suppressor-equiped rifle as concealable and, simultaneously, as accurate as possible.
In fact, the whole point of testing a short-barreled gun at long range is to show the skeptics that it is indeed possible to reliably hit targets at extended ranges with the shorter barrel. While short barrels don’t yield the same ballistics as longer ones, they do shoot very accurately. So, to restate it, a shorter barrel is much easier to hide, and it shoots well at (military) operational engagement distances. Therefore, it’s usually the best way to go when the gun is designed to be fitted with a silencer/suppressor.
The 168gr ammo Gallahair was using performed as well or better than military M118 LR and the Black Hills long-range equivalent, both of which use 175gr Sierra MatchKing HPBT bullets.
Black Hills subsonic ammo delivered 0.10" groups at 100 yards. According to Paulson, this was the best performance he’d ever experienced ever experienced with Black Hills subsonic ammo. HJ Ballistics ammo also did "extraordinarily well", achieving a .38" group at 100 yards.
Paulson writes that "eight different shooters at the 2003 U.S. Army International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning routinely hit a 2.5-inch post at 236 yards with an experimental subsonic handload of Joplin’s featuring a hand-swaged 190gr RN rebated boattail bullet." Since Joplin didn’t know that the silenced sniper rifle would be shot at the demo, he didn’t bring any factory ammo. He also had to borrow a Leupold MK4 10x scope with a Premier (generation-2 mildot) reticle for the demo. The eight shooters engagged a 2.5" steel post through a crosswind at 9 o’clock, gusting to 15 mph. They all averaged 95% hits (averaging 10 rounds each), despite the wind effects on the subsonic projectiles. Paulson was extremely impressed with the intrinsic and practical accuracy ramifications of these results. Paulson had this to say about it, "This system delivers the goods with supersonic or subsonic ammunition, and day or night optics, out to ranges well beyond the needs of the suburban law enforcement client for whom the system was designed. The system proved to be particularly user-friendly as well."
Alltogether, Paulson, (Jason) Gallahair, and the eight U.S. army snipers at Fort Benning put more than 2,100 rounds through the Patriot Arms silenced sniper rifle. Paulson writes that "it’s proportions and handling verged on perfection." That’s pretty high praise. He goes on to write that "Sound Technology’s Model M silencer delivered enough sound suppression to hide the location of the shooter under the most adverse conditions in which I’ve yet evaluated a sniper rifle. With Black Hills and HJ Ballistics subsonic ammunition, the suppressed sound singatures came within one decibel of reaching air gun quiet, even with heat-soaked ammunition. That’s not too shabby."
Paulson noted that Jered Joplin’s extreme attention to detail in the shop translated into superlative field performance during the short-range/long-range, day/night standard ammo/subsonic ammo torture test. Sub 1/4 MOA groups were achieved with varmint, LE duty, and long-range military and civilian ammo. The Patriot arms silenced sniper rifle (7.62x51mm) "is capable of delivering reliable headshots at 500 meters with standard M118 LR military ammunition, and the Black Hills and HJ Ballistics equivalents (as well as 168-grain match), and reliable headshots at 330 meters with Black Hills and HJ Ballistics subsonic (ammo)."
So, Paulson basically gave the Patriot Arms silenced sniper rifle system rave reviews, and DefRev can’t say that it blames him. The performance that Paulson describes is highly impressive. The accuracy performance Paulson describes is truly exquisite, especially since it was achieved under such a high round count in hot conditions, day/night, with both standard velocity and subsonic ammo.
By the way, the particular rifle Paulson and Gallahair tested was outfitted with a Badger Ordnance steel triggerguard, Badger Orndnance scope rings (The bases are hand fitted to get 90% or better contact to the reciever.), and a Badger Ordnance Tactical Bolt Knob (which facilitated speed drills). Paulson noted that the Badger Tactical knob "is clearly inspired by the SSG bolt knob." The Patriot Arms silenced sniper rifle thus handled speed drills with aplomb. Paulson emphasized how easily the bolt operated, specifically how easily it slid up and down the boltway. The rifle’s "ultra-crisp" 2.5 lb trigger Remington trigger, with no creep or overtravel, obviously didn’t hurt either, in that regard.
Weight of the rifle, sans (without) optics, sound suppressor, or bipod, but including trued Badger Picatinny scope base is 13 lbs. Sound Tech "M-Can" suppressor is 1.5 lbs.
Again, this is one of the most informative/instructive (and, while we’re on the subject, glaringly positive) sniper/long-range-interdiction rifle reviews I’ve read in quite some time. I learned a lot just from reading Paulson’s lengthy and detailed account of his T&E/torture test of the Patriot Arms Inc. silenced sniper rifle. Great article on what appears to be a truly great 7.62x51mm (.308) sniper/long-range-interdiction rifle system.
DefRev is curious as to what Jered Joplin/Patriot Arms Inc. can do with a .338 Lapua version of their silenced sniper rifle, which would be capable of reaching out and touching someone significantly farther (and harder) than the 7.62x51mm (.308).
From what DefRev undertands, when it comes to sniping, hiding the firing report almost completely (by using subsonic ammo along with the supressor) is not as important as hiding the shot’s point of origin, i.e. the sniper’s firing position, which is accomplished by simply using a suppressor with standard-velocity ammo. In other words, a .338 Lapua bullet’s hypersonic "crack" is not necessarily a problem, operationally. DefRev, of course, could be wrong about this. We’re certainly not military-application sniping/long-range-interdiction specialists. Perhaps one of our better-educated members or readers could clarify/shed light on this issue for us.
Jered Joplin/Patriot Arms Inc. (Custom Rifles and Shotguns) can be contacted at 706-367-8881, or by email at [email protected].
Click here to view the Patriot Arms Inc. Brochure/Price Sheet. Keep in mind that Jered Joplin’s/Patriot Arms Inc.’s prices may have changed/increased, since DefRev received this brochure a number of months ago.
Mark White/Sound Technology (silencers/sound suppressors) can be contacted at 205-664-5860 or by email at [email protected].