Fire-Breathing Monster: Tactical Rifles Chimera

“You clean your rifle from the left side?” asked Tactical Rifles (TR) President David Rooney. “Yes. How did you know?” came the startled response from the customer on the phone. “When you pull your cleaning rod back through the barrel, the jag is consistently striking the same point on the crown,” explained Rooney. “Use your fingers to gently guide the jag back into the barrel from now on.”

When the groups of a customer’s rifle started to open after only 300 rounds, TR identified the reason and resolved it. This is Tactical Rifles’ routine level of customer service. This level of commitment to precision is only the starting point of a truly outstanding precision rifle: Tactical Rifles’ Model M40T7 Chimera.

In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a fire-breathing monster with the body of a lioness, the tail of a snake and the head of a goat rising from the middle of its back. Tactical Rifles’ Chimera is also a fire breather, but this Chimera is no myth.

Chimera arrived in Hardigg Storm Case.


CRAFTSMANSHIP

The first thing you notice when you pick up a Chimera is how solid it is. It looks and feels as if it were a single piece of material carved into its current form by a master artisan. There are no imperfections to contrast or belittle.

TR builds an improved Remington 700 pattern action, which is the heart of the M40T7. The screw pattern and bottom contour make the action compatible with most (if not all) popular stocks. The Chimera is not stepped from the front to the rear of the action—it is a single dimension from front to back. TR concentrates on target tolerances in all of the Chimera’s dimensions. The tolerances are anchored on the relationship between the axis of the receiver and the bore of the barrel. The tang is a target style for a large, solid surface where the receiver is mated to the stock.

The bolt is hand-fitted to the action. A magnum extractor replaces the standard Remington steel clip, considered by many to be less than perfect. The exterior of the bolt body has spiral cuts, which help to keep dirt and debris from interfering with the operation of the bolt. An oversized bolt knob is fitted and makes bolt manipulation very easy. A popular feature of the Chimera is the bolt release lever located on the side of the receiver. The side-mounted bolt release is a most convenient feature on a rifle where cleaning is as important as ammunition to the ultimate accuracy.

Tactical Rifle’s new Chimera is designed for rough work in rough environments.


The stock is TR’s proprietary T7. The T7 literally combines all of the important features into one stock. The forearm is a flat, angled surface. The flat surface is a large area which aids in obtaining a solid rest on most surfaces. The angle along the length permits the elevation of the Chimera to be raised or lowered by moving forward or backward on a rest. Along the side of the forearm are deep finger grooves that ensure a firm grip under any condition. The grip has molded stippling, also for a sure grip. The butt has a high comb that works well with higher mounted, large diameter optics. On the underside of the stock is a hook for the supporting the weak hand on the stock when in prone.

The Chimera uses only the best barrel—a Krieger. This Krieger barrel is the #7 (Match grade) heavy contour with a 1:10 twist for optimal stability of the 168-gr. .308 cartridge. This barrel was trimmed to 20 inches and finished with a deeply recessed target crown. According to Rooney, the barrel crown is one of the most critical components in the ultimate accuracy of the rifle.

TR laps the barrel’s bore, the chamber is hand polished and is chambered at minimum SAAMI specifications for the M852 cartridge. The hand treatment of the chamber reduces any chance of a rough surface in the chamber that could possibly collect copper fouling, thus reducing accuracy. Barrel maximum bore variation is 1/10,000th of an inch.

Heart of Chimera is improved action. It is then combined with TR’s T-7 stock, detachable floor plate, scope rings and a Krieger barrel.


TR believes in bedding for the best precision. The bottom metal and the receiver are bedded. The barrel is free floated. The metal surfaces receive TR’s Extreme Environment finish, which is applied in house. The metal is first bead blasted with aluminum oxide. It is then painted and baked at 300 degrees for two hours. Finally, it’s doused in Break-Free to create a very corrosion-resistant finish.

The metal on the bottom of the stock is added when the barreled action is mated to the T7 stock. The floor plate is designed for use with the Accuracy International detachable magazine. A large lever retains the magazine and is very easy to manipulate. The area around the floor plate is thick and more durable. TR designed the bottom metal to be used with the Accuracy International magazine and is the only component that is available separately from TR. Attached to the action is TR’s 20 MOA Picatinny rail.

TR uses a single-stage match-grade trigger. This example broke at three pounds.

Chimera’s bolt has spiral cuts, which help keep dirt and debris from interfering with operation of bolt.


ACCESSORIES

The rifle arrived in an iM3300 Hardigg Storm Case. The Storm Case is pure professional equipment. It is designed and constructed to completely protect a precision piece of equipment like the Chimera. Hardigg has greatly improved the hard case by alleviating the thumb-busting latches. Pushing the tab in the middle of the Storm Case latches easily releases them rather than the snap opening latches and thumb wrenching of other hard cases.

Two scopes were used in evaluating the Chimera: a Pride Fowler Industries (PFI) and a Nightforce Optics.

The PFI was 2.5X10x50mm and features PFI’s Rapid Reticle. The Rapid Reticle is calibrated for the desired cartridge and uses a ten-inch circle as a mathematical standard. Matching a reticle circle to a ten-inch target adjusts the elevation for the appropriate range. The Rapid Reticle was very easy to use. The PFI was mounted in a GG&G FLT one-piece clamp-on scope mount. The GG&G mount was rock solid in every aspect.

Kenton TTC turret permits shooter to dial in range to target.


The Nightforce Optics 5-22X was substituted at the point of testing the rifle for accuracy. The change was made to examine the newest TR product, the Chimera rings. These heavy-duty rings use alloy and titanium in the rings and naval brass where the rings attach to the base. Instead of four screws, the Chimera rings use six 8×32 Torx screws. The Chimera rings are serial numbered in pairs for mil-standard 1913 rails.

The scope was equipped with a Kenton Industries Tuned Trajectory Compensator (TTC) calibrated range knob. The Kenton TTC is specifically machined for a particular ammunition’s ballistic characteristics, including muzzle velocity, bullet weight and the shooter’s elevation. The scope is zeroed using the scope’s factory turret, then the TTC is substituted. The TTC can then be rotated to the desired range for the target.

With quality Black Hills Ammunition, Chimera produced this 0.15″ center-to-center group.


RANGE TESTING

Getting the Chimera out on the range was a trial in itself, not that the Chimera was at fault—it was just pesky weather. After breaking in the new barrel and zeroing the scope, it was time to shoot a nice tight group. Black Hills 168-gr. Match was the ammunition. The time was 0630, temperature 26° F, elevation 8550′, pressure 30.05, sun direction east, zero wind. The three-round group measured 0.15″ center-to-center. Analyzing the bullet holes, I observed that my group was stringing up and to the right. Clearly my trigger manipulation was inconsistent.

Precision tolerances are sometimes overlooked in a “tactical” weapon, but TR approaches their work from the standards of bench rest shooting, thus achieving a high degree of accuracy. Although one MOA may be the military M-40 specification, it does not have to be limited to that, and precision shooters continuously seek to improve their skills. A factory rifle cannot keep up when the shooter’s skill increases.

The Chimera supports the shooter throughout his skills development. The Chimera exudes confidence, and confidence is an important commodity in a precision rifle. As David Rooney puts it, “The Chimera does not mask the shooter’s ability.” It does, however, stand ready to increase the shooter’s ability.

SOURCES:

Tactical Rifles Inc.
Dept. S.W.A.T.
38439 5th Ave. #186
Zephyrhills, FL 33542
(877) 811-4867
www.tacticalrifles.net

Black Hills Ammunition
Dept. S.W.A.T.
P.O. Box 3090
Rapid City, SD 57709
(605) 348-5150
www.black-hills.com

GG&G
Dept. S.W.A.T.
3602 E. 42nd Stravenue
Tucson, AZ 85713
(800) 380-2540
www.gggaz.com

Hardigg Industries, Inc. (StormCase)
Dept. S.W.A.T.
147 North Main Street
South Deerfield, MA 01373-0201
(800) 542-7344
www.hardigg.com

Kenton Industries
Dept. S.W.A.T.
530 New Los Angeles Ave., Suite 115
Moorpark, CA 93021
(805) 531-0476
www.kentonindustries.com

Lightforce USA, Inc.
Dept. S.W.A.T.
336 Hazen Lane
Orofino, ID 83544
(208) 476-9814
www.nightforceoptics.com

Pride-Fowler Industries
Dept. S.W.A.T.
P.O. Box 4301
San Dimas, CA 91773
(909) 599-0928
www.rapidreticle.com

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