Every so often, a weapon catches your attention. The item does not have to be new, just something you were not aware of.
Recently I was at Echo Valley Training Center when its owner, C.R. Newlin, set a laptop bag on the shooting bench in front of me with a wry smile on his face. I sarcastically asked if he was behind on his homework. C.R. answered with equal wit that if his homework involved hiding a sub-MOA suppressed .308 Winchester bolt-action rifle in plain view of a gun writer, then his homework was complete.
He had my full attention.
I put aside what I had originally intended to focus on at EVTC that day and unzipped the small laptop bag, revealing a disassembled rifle. Inside the bag was a tuned Remington 700 mounted in a Choate folding stock with bipod attachment affixed to the forend. A Leupold Vari-X II 3-9X scope with custom Mil-Dot reticle fit on top of the Remington 700 action via Leupold quick-release rings and bases.
The heavy 16-inch barrel was fluted and featured proprietary threading at the chamber area, allowing it to screw in to the action. A suppressor of equal diameter to the barrel seamlessly mounted to the muzzle.
It took C.R. little more than 90 seconds to put the rifle together with no tools or gauges. He assured me it was zeroed in at 100 yards, with groups of one inch or better to be expected.
After all was said and done, I became a believer in the Arms Tech Ltd TTR-700 and would like to share a review of this unique rifle platform.
If you want it done right, do it yourself. This might be the unofficial motto for all Arms Tech Ltd endeavors. The Tactical Takedown Rifle (TTR) model evaluated herein is an embodiment of this statement.
Arms Tech Ltd, based in Phoenix, creates unique products for the law enforcement and military special operations communities. The company was incorporated in 1987 anticipating the emergence of 4th Generation Warfare and the Non Linear Battlefield—e.g., terrorism— and the resultant shift to special operations to combat this type of enemy.
Arms Tech prides itself on providing innovative tools for those who risk their lives to protect our way of life. The company is an ISO 9001-certified developer and manufacturer of armaments and related technologies supporting the special operations community.
The TTR-700 rifle is an example of real life surpassing Hollywood in effectiveness. In short, the TTR is a suppressed “briefcase” precision rifle chambered in .308 Winchester that stays zeroed when re-assembled for use out of its discrete laptop-sized carry case.
Arms Tech’s attention to detail eliminates problems of stacking tolerances impacting repeatable return to zero after numerous assemblies or use in the field.
The proprietary barrel interface system allows for assembly without tools or gauges while maintaining accuracy levels associated with a fixed-stock Remington action and match barrel. The Arms Tech barrel interface has been proofed on .22 LR up to .50 BMG. The barrel is threaded opposite to the rifling twist so as to avoid it coming loose with repeated firing. The TTR’s construction is aimed toward durability and reliability in the tactical arena.
The custom Remington 700 action is glass bedded into the Choate stock. The Choate stock features a pistol grip and left-folding buttstock with one-inch recoil pad. The stock has an off-hand notch in the forend when firing from the supported prone position. The forend and pistol grip are textured for an improved gripping surface.
The rifle is fed from a five-round staggered integral magazine like the typical Remington 700 with no hinged floorplate used.
All metal surfaces of the rifle are covered with matte black teflon for maximum resistance to weather. Another advantage of the matte black is a minimization of glare off the rifle. Bolt manipulation on the Arms Tech TTR is very slick. There is little play as the bolt travels succinctly in and out of battery. The trigger pull, as measured by an RCBS trigger gauge, is a crisp 3.0 pounds.
The fluted Schneider Match barrel’s muzzle is threaded to accommodate the Arms Tech MD30 S suppressor. The fluted barrel reduces weight, increases surface area for cooling, and from a practical standpoint with the TTR, increases texture for better hand purchase when screwing on or removing the barrel.
The TTR weighs almost 11 pounds and measures 36 inches with stock in firing position and 26 inches folded. Mounting the Arms Tech MD30 S suppressor adds nine inches of length and 18 ounces in weight.
The Arms Tech suppressor is not only effective at dampening sound signature with its -30 dB rating, but also at taming recoil and muzzle flash. It is an often overlooked aspect of a suppressor, but a suppressor is a most effective muzzle brake and flash hider beyond its obvious mission of minimizing sound.
The suppressor can be used with standard .308 Winchester loads taming recoil as stated above as well as masking a shooter’s position. The suppressor’s true capabilities are exhibited when combined with subsonic loads, though there is a ballistic penalty incurred. More on this later.
The Arms Tech TTR’s aesthetics give it a certain sense of professionalism and purpose, the purpose being accuracy out of a discrete non-typically configured package. Arms Tech is not looking for crossover sales appeal with the TTR in the hunting arena, though it would surely be a very potent hunting rifle/cartridge combination for someone traveling extended distances on foot or horseback into rugged areas. But first and foremost, the TTR-700 is a tactical weapon.
The first requirement of a tactical rifle is precise accuracy. It does not matter if it is a takedown variant or not. Lack of accuracy would make the Arms Tech TTR merely an interesting side conversation.
The TTR-700 was tested over an extended period and constantly produced sub-MOA groups with several different ammunition brands—an important logistic consideration. Various .308 Win loadings from Black Hills Ammunition, Federal, Winchester and Hornady provided the basis of my accuracy tests. It was not deemed necessary to cast the net wider, since Black Hills, Federal, Winchester, and Hornady are industry leaders, and their products are what this type of rifle needs to wring out its full potential.
The Black Hills loads tested consisted of 168- and 175-grain Match bullets along with BHA Gold 180-grain AccuBond. Thanks to its tough bonded construction, the AccuBond round is becoming a law enforcement favorite for engaging through glass. The Federal chambering was the venerable 168-grain Match load. Hornady’s offering was their 168-grain TAP, and rounding out the ammunition used was Winchester’s 168-grain Match.
The Arms Tech TTR’s 16-inch Schneider 1:12 twist barrel produced velocity in the low to 2,500 feet-per-second (fps) range with 168-grain loads, and 2,400 fps with the 180-grain AccuBond. As to be expected with quality ammunition, velocity figures within the different loads deviated very little from round to round. This is critical for predictable long-range accuracy.
The TTR shot all premium loads tested into one MOA or better at 100 yards. Testing was done off a bench supported by a bipod or bull bag and rear sand bag. The accuracy figures are based on firing five three-round groups and averaging group sizes. While not statistically foolproof, the method certainly represents the TTR’s capabilities.
The Federal 168-grain Match and Black Hills 175-grain Match produced the best 100-yard averages at only slightly above half an inch.
Two other signs of an accurate, dependable rifle are how cold-bore zeroes compare over time, and if the point of aim shifts after a few rounds heat up the barrel. The Arms Tech TTR-700 showed no shifts in point of impact. Remember, these cold-bore zeroes came from a rifle that was disassembled when stored between range visits.
Not a lot of time was spent at the 100-yard range with the standard .308 Win loads. Three hundred yards and out are more indicative tests of a weapon system like the Arms Tech TTR. More importantly, they generate useful ballistic information for the shooter, especially when it comes to elevation and windage data for log books and ballistic calculations.
Groups were fired at 300 yards, with the Federal 168-grain Match and Black Hills 175-grain Match loads again taking top honors. Significantly, all loads held onto the one MOA (approximately three inches at 300 yards) or better criteria. Most shooters cannot take advantage of this kind of performance.
Some time ago, I was fortunate to discover Engel Ballistic Research (EBR) as a primary source of quality subsonic ammunition due to the variety of calibers and loadings offered. None of the EBR loads use fillers and all are loaded with accuracy in mind. The 180-grain Thumper 7.62mm NATO/.308 loads are created from match-grade components for ultimate accuracy.
Subsonic rifle ammunition is ballistically a different creature compared to standard loads, confined to not much more than 150 yards for accurate shooting due to external and terminal ballistics.
The subsonic loads dropped approximately 16 to 20 inches when fired at 100-yard targets compared to the 100-yard zeroes with standard-velocity loads. Windage adjustments are also necessary when switching between ammunition types. Users definitely have to familiarize themselves with these range behaviors if contemplating switching back and forth between standard and subsonic loads.
Mission specifics will determine if subsonic loads are warranted as opposed to more powerful, albeit loud, standard loads.
OTHER TESTING OBSERVATIONS
After testing innate accuracy from the bench, field tests were performed at Echo Valley Training Center (EVTC). This consisted of shooting prone off a bipod or pack at TacStrike steel poppers spread at random locations from 100 to 300 yards. The TTR’s bolt was worked as quickly as possible, with the next target acquired rapidly for engagement.
The Arms Tech TTR-700’s suppressor combined with the surprisingly ergonomic Choate stock and slick bolt proved potent.
Another note of interest is how easy the Leupold Mil-Dot reticle made hitting targets at the 300-yard pit. A 100- yard zero translated into holding the first Mil-hash below the main horizontal wire directly on target, resulting in hits at 300 yards. The benefit of holding directly on target versus an estimated hold over is obvious. The Mil-Dot reticle is also a great tool for estimating range once one is familiar with the method.
Other range work consisted of shooting B-27 man-targets out to 500 yards. The Arms Tech TTR’s accuracy, combined with clear Leupold optics, enabled center-mass shots as a matter of routine.
Scenario-based drills were utilized with the Arms Tech TTR-700. This consisted of us driving into EVTC’s 300-yard shooting position, assembling the TTR as quickly as possible, and engaging various designated targets that were briefed on the way to the firing point. The targets were dispersed among multiple locations placed from 100 to 300 yards.
The 100-yard targets were to be engaged with subsonic EBR loads—again briefed on the way to the engagement point. Longer-range targets were reserved for standard-velocity rounds. The Arms Tech MD30 S suppressor was utilized no matter which type of round was fired.
It was feasible with the TTR-700 to uncase, assemble, engage multiple targets, disassemble, and leave the area in under seven minutes.
The capability of the Arms Tech TTR- 700 does not come on the cheap, with the cost being in excess of $4,000 not counting the suppressor. However, if one has a need for the TTR-700’s discreteness and accuracy, no other piece of equipment will do. This juxtaposition of need and cost is common with all high-end gear.
Is it worth it? Only the operator or his agency can answer that question. One thing is for sure—the Arms Tech TTR- 700 will perform as advertised.