brown dog Posted November 12, 2011 Report Share Posted November 12, 2011 DTA Introduction I first came across the DTA a year and a half ago. I think I’d have to declare my hand pretty early on as a ‘hostile’ reviewer at that point; I grew up on SA80 - a rifle has tarred many of us with a deeply ingrained suspicion of the bullpup design. I have to say, that in the context of an assault rifle, that suspicion remains….but I sat up and took notice of the DTA after watching its phenomenal performance at 900yards at Bisley some time ago. I also had a chance to use one for the UKV WMS competition last year and grew to enjoy the compact design and unexpectedly good trigger. But I think the ‘smell the coffee’ moment for me was having a chance to leap about on some hilly terrain with a 26” barrelled 338 Lapua that handled more like a conventional mid-size 308. The DTA SRS rifle: From the marketing blurb: “The Desert Tactical Arms Stealth Recon Scout is designed from the outset to be the most compact and versatile sniper system in the World and it meets that aim admirably. It is manufactured as a rugged mil spec tactical rifle that can operate in the harshest conditions a professional operator may encounter. DTA builds the Stealth Recon Scout (SRS) out of state of the art high-impact polymers, aircraft grade aluminium (ANSI 7075-T6) and ultra-high strength steels. The monolithic receiver serves as a full length mounting chassis, eliminating the need for any sort of receiver-to-stock bedding interface. Ergonomic stock panels attach directly to the receiver and are available in black, green and flat dark earth. All DTA rifles come with and an out of the box accuracy guarantee of 0.5MOA.” My extraction from that is: This is a rifle that depends on none of the dark art techniques that gunsmiths have use to make a conventional rifle shoot. Just rock solid engineering….something I would liken to the AIAW school of rifle design. Like irn-bru –this ‘genre’ of rifle is made from girders (well, CNC’d girders!). I shall look at the accuracy claim in a little more detail later. Features & Calibre Conversion: The SRS model has a fixed floating foreend with picatinny rails at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock allowing the fitting of fore-grips, bipods, lasers or any other toys you might need. On the demo rifle an atlas bipod was attached on the 6 o'clock rail not as far forward as I would intuitively choose; this, I was told, was in line with the manufacturer’s advice to place the bipod far enough back to allow it to be folded forward without passing the muzzle. Clearly, it’d be muppetry to get the most compact sniper rifle on the market and then site the bipod such that it increased the rifle’s length – but I also gained the impression that this moved the CofG closer to the shooter – and improved the balance of the rifle. For a bullpup, the SRS has been made surprisingly ambidextrous. The concessions to left shoulder use include ambidextrous mag release buttons and an ambidextrous safety catch. I was sceptical about firing the rifle left handed but actually had no issues at all other than having to move my head slightly to operate the bolt. I have to say though, as a left-hander I wouldn’t advocate the rifle as a ‘left shoulder choice’; it can be fired from either shoulder for laudable tactical reasons; but it's definitely not a left-hander’s first choice rifle. …more about that later. One of claimed design features of the SRS is that you can execute a complete calibre change in the field in under one minute –barrel, bolt, everything. After one ‘walk through’, I achieved this comfortably. The only tool required was a torque driver supplied by DTA. The calibre conversion kits comprise barrel, bolt and magazine for the chosen calibre. The barrels are sold as ‘high grade match’ and are manufactured to DTA's profile and threaded into DTA's barrel extension, which in effect serves as the receiver. Rather ‘Sauer 202’ to those of you who are familiar with that elegant engineering solution. The barrel and extension are then inserted into the chassis and torqued in. The system can accommodates all bolt faces across 308, conventional magnum, WSM and upto 338 Lapua Magnum. Three different bolts to cover dozens of cartridges. Worn out barrels can have the barrel extension removed and reused. Significantly; barrel extensions can be purchased separately so users can fit their own choice of barrel. What could all this convertibility mean? Well, I don’t think any other rifle offers the capability to buy just one chassis and one scope to cover all bases: Fire cheap 308win on the range most of the time; switch to expensive 338 Lapua for really long distance days, then turn it into a 7mm Rem Mag for Hill reds. (Actually I think I’d just leave 338 on – that’s the advantage of having 338 Lapua conditioned for deer and fox!) Handling: The first thing you notice about the SRS is its length, this combined with its construction make you realise you are holding a serious piece of kit. The feel is something you can’t appreciate from photographs. This thing has a confidence inspiring air of mass and solidity. In 308 with a 22" barrel you are looking at 11.5 lbs unloaded. That makes it a couple of pounds lighter than other rifles in this niche. Unsurprisingly, the ‘stand out’ feature of the rifle is its compactness and balance: the balance point is just in front of the trigger and makes the rifle snappy and pointable in a way that no conventional (front-heavy) long barrelled rifle can hope to match. The compactness comes without trade-off. The SRS’s layout simply means you get a weapon that’s about one foot shorter than a conventional rifle with the same barrel length -forget conventional 308s with 18” barrels – put a 26” barrel on an SRS and it’s still 4” shorter. I don’t need to spell out the scenarios where this is an advantage –moving around cover, crossing fences, using cover, vehicle use, quads, slung etc but one big point is ‘travel’. I’m entirely hacked off with flying with full size Peli cases – this rifle even has a reduced size Peli – I think I’d even have got it into my old MG Midget. The test rifle was supplied in 308win. It came with a 22" 1 in 11 twist match grade barrel giving it an overall length of only 83cm (roughly the same as an M4 Carbine!). [it was pointed out to me that the SRS Covert model is even shorter, with a 16" 308 barrel you're looking at an overall length the same as an MP5 (66cm)!] The barrel is threaded 3/4 X 24. This is standard throughout all the calibres, allowing one muzzle break to fit all barrels. The demo gun was supplied with an ASE ultra S5 suppressor and a DTA Muzzle break. The rifle was supplied with a 5-25 S&B in DTA’s proprietary mounts (that look rather like what you’d get if you mated Badger rings with an AI one-piece). Getting prone, you’re immediately reminded that this isn’t a conventional rifle. The rifle is very ‘planted’ with the barrel buried in the chassis rather than bolted to the top of the stock. In real terms this means your shooting position can be around two inches lower than ‘normal’ (of obvious benefit for a professional user on a 2-way range, but adding to the ‘compact’ feel for the sporting user). The rifle’s cheek piece is fixed. I thought this would be a problem. All I can say is ‘it’s not’. A horse-head pal also tested it and he was fine with too. I can’t pretend to understand why this is – but it is! (Other mounts are available for full-on mutants). I was already familiar with bolt manipulation: slick and fast. The bolt handle features a large ball knob that allows the bolt to roll nicely in the hand. I could do a slow extract to catch the case or a fast cycle that threw the case well clear. Perhaps counter intuitively for this layout , there is no requirement to break cheekweld. The bolt itself has a unique telescoping design (the handle is attached right at the front of the bolt as opposed to the back of conventional bolts, making the back stroke into the stock only slightly further back than a conventional rifle). The rear mono pod is a nice touch. It retracts flush to the stock if you want to use bags, and has a wide base that does not turn during adjustment (other designs I have used cause the mono pod to turn at the base under adjustment. This causes the pod to dig into surfaces like sand and to walk sideways on harder surfaces). To operate you simply push down on the knurled thumb wheel. The spring loaded spike drops to the ground. You then turn the thumb wheel for a very fine screw adjustment. I also found that you can just pull down on the spike if needed as another way to extend it. I would go as far to say the best thought out rear pod I’ve used. The 6 shot magazines are proprietary and designed to protect the tip of the bullets from impacting with the front of the magazine under recoil or transportation. This is achieved by retaining the rounds on the cartridge shoulder. This is probably more important in the heavy recoiling .338 version. The magazine well allows the mag to drop free with a push of either of the mag release buttons this allows one handed mag changes with a strategically placed spare mag. I tried a ten shot in 20 seconds drill and was able to get all my shots off accurately including a mag change after one practice run. Recoil feels very different; it is a nice straight back push and no rollover (another result of the barrel’s low axis). The butt pad is fixed but uses a series of spacers to set the length of pull for individual shooters. The trigger is adjustable for creep, weight and position within the trigger guard. The test rifle was set at 1.5lb and let-off was crisp and consistent. Accuracy: Not being new to this rifle, I expected groups to be impressive –and they were: Straight off at 100m, using factory 175 federal gold match a 5 shot 0.50 MOA group was achieved. Switching to the importer’s recommended ammunition HPS .308 (off the shelf standard) match ammo with a 175gr SMK loaded, a 0.35MOA for a five shot group was achieved. This was too easy. So how to bugger it up? …….. I decided to do another group –but remove and refit the barrel in between shots (The claim is that the barrel will go back to its zero every time) The first shot was on zero, open bolt undo the four action screws on the right about half a turn. Rotate the cam on the left 180deg from lock to unlock remove barrel. Reverse above procedure done job in about a minute. The next shot fell within 0.5MOA and by the time this had been repeated 10 times the group was 0.8MOA and still on zero. Stretching the rifle’s legs I managed some spectacular results with the HPS 175gr bullets. On two separate field outings I recorded groups of 0.9" and 1.6" three shot groups at 500mtrs. (OK – not every time!) A 2" 10 shot group at 300mtrs A nice 5" group at 770mtrs on steel And consistently hit a figure 11 at 920mtrs Conclusion: This is a lovely really solid, compact and extremely accurate rifle that exudes quality in both design and manufacture. And just received this note from ds1: Spent last week with the DTA rifle (the one in the pic I think as the scope looks familar) as it was being demonstrated to CZ plod. All feedback we gave was very positive, shooting was excellent and as a system it is outstanding. I honestly would bin my AI for one, the DTA is much better for standing and sitting shots being lighter and having the point of balance further back. David. I think there’s little more to say! Its downside for me is that, whilst it can be fired ‘on occasion’ from the left shoulder, it cannot be considered as a suitable choice for lefthanders. Which is a pity (and the reason that the European importers (Bench Grade Brands Ltd 01604 686800) have convinced DTA US to produce a fully left handed version next year(!)). Next up from DTA: I’ll review the rifle in 338….and, when it becomes available, the ‘big sister’ out soon in both the Chey-Tac calibres & .50BMG. (Please note: Review threads will be locked; should you wish to 'chat' about the rifle shown, please start a thread in the appropriate rifle forum. As above; the European importer(Bench Grade Brands Ltd) can be reached on 01604 686800). Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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