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Top 15 Affordable Precision Rifles — Bolt-Action Edition (2023)

Updated 3/14/2023

Precision rifles can cost you an arm and a leg, but there are top-notch and highly accurate options that will still leave you with money for ammunition.

What are some affordable precision rifles that won’t put you in the poorhouse?

Truth be told, with a little time, effort and modest investment, a shooter can transform most appropriately chambered modern rifles into precision rifles. But not everyone has an overabundance of those factors.

Luckily, the surging interest in placing a projectile dead on target a country mile away has washed the market with a host of precision rifles. Of course, a gander at some of these fine-tuned instruments can give some shooters second thoughts about their desires for going long. Given the high tolerances the guns require and special material typically called into action, these precision rifles can cost a small fortune.

But take heart; there are precision rifle options for the shooter willing to search that won’t break the bank. And that’s what we’re looking at with the 16 affordable precision rifles listed below, at least when it comes to bolt-actions.

Read Also: Savage Arms’ Accuracy-Enhancing AccuFit System

Of course, this talk of affordability is relative. These rifles are about $1,650 or less, which is expensive when compared to the average entry-level model. But when measured against the overall precision rifle market, they’re downright steals in some cases. For the marksman dying to really reach out while still putting dinner on the table, these rifles more than fit the bill.
Editor’s Note: Some models on this list appear to have been discontinued by their manufacturers, but at the time of writing are still available from distributors and on the secondhand market.

Affordable Precision Rifle Updates

Savage AXIS II Precision

Savage Axis II Precision rifle

MSRP: $999

Envisioned as a starting-point for burgeoning hunters, the AXIS II now shoots for the same in the long-range game. Savage’s tried-and-true entry-level rifle has finally been decked out in a precision rifle configuration, none too soon for many shooters. For years now, budget marksmen have turned to the barreled action as the foundation of D.I.Y entry-level long-range builds.

Surprising no one, Savage turned to Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) for Axis II Precision’s chassis. The Canadian company’s catalog runs the full gamut, but in recent years has cooked up several budget stocks for partnership with gunmakers. In the case of the AXIS II, MDT customized the chassis specifically for the action, ensuring excellent metal-to-metal bedding for a rock-solid mate-up. Willowy at the fore-end, the chassis proper is beefy thanks to a polymer skin. Additionally, the buttstock is fully adjustable—length of pull (LOP) and cheek rise—the former, however, not on the fly. Spacers are the name of the game for LOP, so you’ll have to tailor that at home.

Customization in-house is also off the table. To keep the AXIS II Precision’s price down Savage kept barrel length a uniform 22-inches no matter the caliber. For the most part, this shouldn’t prove an issue, given available chamberings—.243 Winchester, .223 Remington, .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor—all perform respectfully out of this length bore. Other notables on the rifle include adjustable AccuTrigger, M-Lok compatibility, ACIS magazine compatibility, threaded muzzle and 20 MOA rail. For shooters cutting their teeth on precision shooting, Savage has made a deal difficult to refuse.

Winchester Renegade Long Range

Winchester Renegade

MSRP: $1,239.99

Focused unshakingly set on hunting rifles, you’d be forgiven to believe Winchester was happy to let the precision rifle crazy sweep past. This proved an ill-founded assumption, it seemed the historic gunmaker was only waiting on the right partnership. And this has come with one of the big names in the stock game—Greyboe.

Spawned from the iconic McMillan family of stock, Greyboe is a mid-tier brand with top-shelf performance. The particular model mated with Winchester’s XPR barreled action is the Renegade and closely mirrors one of its parent company’s most legendary models—the A5. In addition to lightweight fiberglass construction, the Renegade also boasts a wide beavertail forearm, a svelte pistol grip and a generous butthook. About the only thing missing is a fully-adjustable buttstock.
Spacers give some play in length of pull, but the comb is set.

As to the barreled action, Winchester has more than done their part. Button rifled barrel attached to the action via a barrel nut, the XPR has built a reputation as an accurate field gun. The only knock on the precision build is the gunmaker has kept a sporter profile, which potentially means more barrel whip, especially in long strings. However, it does make it a bit more wieldy, if you’re in the market for a precision hunting rifle. Additionally, the company has included its MOA adjustable trigger and has threaded the muzzle, a bonus if you shoot suppressed. A nice feature, Winchester is offering eight chamberings in the rifle, including .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, .308 Winchester, .270 WSM, .300 WSM and 6.5 PRC.

Tikka T3x Ultimate Precision Rifle (UPR)

Tikka T3x UPR

MSRP: $1,500

Tikka has the uncanny ability to knock it out of the park each time it steps up to the plate. So again is the case, as the talented Finnish company deals out another home run with the T3x Ultimate Precision Rifle (UPR).

Rethinking the lightweight precision stock, Tikka improved the bedding to create a seamless mate up, thus a platform solid as concrete footings. In particular, there is an extra layer of carbon fiber-fiberglass composite, improving the rigidity of this key interface, thus improving the rifle’s accuracy potential. In short, the action isn’t moving a tittle. The stock is also long several other desirable features, including a rough and grippy finish, fully-adjustable buttstock and an excellently designed pistol grip. It’s the perfect platform for the T3x action and Tikka’s top-notch barrels, which in and of themselves always seem to over-deliver.

Some of the UPR’s finer points include a threaded muzzle (5/8×24 thread), choice between a single-stage and set trigger, removable box magazine-fed, 20 MOA or 0 MOA rail option and QD sling attachment points. Caliber choice includes long-range favorites .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester and you have the alternative between 20- and 24-inch barrels for each chambering. The T3x UPR runs on the spendier side of affordable precision rifles, but there’s no arguing it’s worth every penny.

Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range

Browning XBolt MLR

MSRP: Starting at $1,429.99

Technically, we’re behind the curve on Browning’s tact driver. The X-Bolt Max Long Range (MLR) hit the scene in 2019, the gunmaker’s attempt at a truly dedicated precision rifle. Wildly succeeding, Browning went the whole hog in 2020, pumping up the line with every conceivable caliber you might wish to pitch a country mile.

In all, the MLR comes in 11 calibers, including long-range stalwarts 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester. As well as a host of belted and short magnums. In either case, Browning delivers a proven platform to launch them from.

The solid action with three-lug fat bolt is mated—in all calibers—with a 26-inch fluted heavy sporter barrel topped with proprietary muzzle brake. This is then bedded in Winchester Composite Max stock that, while light, provides the stiffness required for repeatable accuracy. Fully adjustable for length of pull (through spacers) and cheek rise, the rifle is also customizable to individual shooter’s frames.

The chops to go the distance, it feels like Browning’s aim was a precision hunting rifle with the MLR. At a hair over 8 pounds, the rifle is less burdensome in the field and might be perfect for long shots during big-country hunts. At the same tick, lacking a bull barrel and some of the recoil-eating heft of a dedicated long-range rifle, it might not be the first choice when it comes to a match gun.

Performance Center T/C LRR

Precision Rifle Thompson Center LRR
MSRP: $1,211

Tack drivers … Thompson/Center is more than familiar with them. Some of the dandiest and deadliest single-shot rifles proudly boast the T/C roll mark and prove more than a match for weary elk, deer and caribou.

In recent years, the gunmaker has expanded its prowess to bolt actions and with a little help from its parent company — Smith & Wesson — has whipped up a precision rifle paragon — the Performance Center T/C LRR. The renowned Performance Center produces the aluminum chassis, which is — truthfully — a bit spartan, but has it where it counts. It’s stout as oak and has the adjustments you need to tailor it to your frame.

Zero In On Long-Range Rifles And Shooting

To that end, both the cheek rise and length of pull dial in via thumbwheels and each feature dual guide rods for added stability. In addition to this, S&W contributes a tuned up trigger — adjustable from 2.5 to 3.5 pounds — a single-stage outfit that’s clean and consistent. Admittedly, the blade safety seems a bit out of place on a rifle … but not enough to turn your nose up at it.

Action wise, the LRR’s is nearly identical to what you find on the T/C Compass — a three-lug fat bolt. Easy to manufacture, this is where the gunmaker keeps production costs down. But you aren’t settling by any stretch of the imagination. The design is strong and quick, with an extremely terse bolt throw. The Performance Center LRR comes in .243 Win., .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor.

Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target

Precision Rifle Ruger Hawkeye
MSRP: $1,619

Granted, it has Mack Truck looks and heft, the Hawkeye Long-Range Target nevertheless is a hair-splitter. Of course, all that weight – 11-pounds of it line – is there for a reason.

Originally chambered in .300 Win. Mag (now also available in 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC), the rifle was designed to soak up the brute cartridge’s ample recoil. That, and it provides a shooting foundation second only to a concrete anchor lock.

The core of the system is a highly functional competition-style stock, which adds weight and control to the rifle. In addition to comb-height and length-of-pull adjustments, the laminate component also provides the rigidity required to produce tight groups consistently. It’s also decked out with a flush-fit M-LOK lower rail and QD points, so adding your choice of bi-pod and sling system is easy as pie.

As to the action, it’s Ruger’s tried-and-true Mauser-style controlled feed, reducing the worry of double feeding when you’re glued to your scope. Ruger then mates this with a 26-inch heavy contour barrel, providing superior harmonics and heat dispersion. Topping it off, the company’s Hybrid Muzzle Brake. A bonus, Ruger outfits the precision rifle with a 20 MOA Picatinny rail, with increased elevation capabilities over the integral mounts machined directly into the receiver.

Savage 110 Precision

Savage 110 Precision
MSRP: $1,649

Built around the legendary Savage 110 action, the 110 Precision features an MDT LSS XL chassis, an AccuTrigger and a threaded heavy barrel. The barrels are either 20 or 24 inches in length depending on caliber, and the rifle is available in .308 Winchester, .300 Win. Mag., 300 PRC, .338 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor.

The aluminum frame helps keep this rifle very rigid, allowing it to fend off creep even when firing the more brutish calibers. It’s also very adjustable right out of the box, allowing a shooter to tailor it to their exact preferences. The comb heigh, length of pull and trigger can all be adjusted, and the 5/8×24 threaded muzzle allows for the attachment of a suppressor or brake as well. It ships with a BA muzzle brake and one AICS-pattern magazine (either 5- or 10-round depending on caliber).

At 10 to 11 pounds, it’s not the lightest rifle out there, even with the skeletonized stock and fluted barrel. Of course, this also means that the 110 Precision should have no problem eating recoil, and for a bench rifle that’s not a bad thing. Once you add a scope to this setup, you should have everything you need to shoot a country mile.

Howa Oryx

MSRP: $1,099

Never one to pass up providing more affordable accuracy, Howa has partnered with MDT for one of the most economical chassis rifle presently available.

The Oryx takes its name from the Canadian chassis maker’s contribution to the rig, a somewhat plain-Jane yet effective affair. The chassis provides the stiffness a long-range system requires and maintains the customizability shooters have come to expect — LOP and comb height adjustment.

Furthermore, it has the extras — wide fore-end and barricade stop — to make it a versatile shooter. It keeps costs down by omitting some of the common features found on many chassis options, such as accessory mounting points (outside flush-fit M-Lok slots under the fore-end) and convenient adjustment controls. But for the money, you get a rifle that performs.

Howa makes sure of this with what has become one of the more renowned barreled actions out there — the 1500. And the gunmaker offers it in several precision shooting favorites, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win., .223 Rem and 6.5 Grendel. Additionally, they offer the rifle in some calibers not generally consider long-range, including .300 Blk and 7.62x39mm.

Savage Model 10 GRS

Savage's new precision rifle the Model 10 GRSMSRP: $1,639

Savage rifles have built a reputation for being tack drivers and affordable at the same time. But the company has gone above and beyond with its newest creation — the 10 GRS. Marrying Savage’s proven Model 10 short action with the Norwegian GRS stock has created a precision rifle ready to tackle the greatest distances.

Read More: The Savage Model 10 GRS Full Review

As solid as the company’s actions and button-rifled barrels are, the stock is the bell of this ball. The fiberglass-reinforced nylon GRS stock provides the rigidity required for precision work and is intuitive to handle. Additionally, the stock’s pillar-bedding blocks, constructed of 65-percent fiberglass, ensures there’s no play in the Model 10’s free-floating barrel. On top of this, the stock features a fully adjustable cheek riser and length of pull, operated by simple push-button controls. 

The rifle is available in calibers perfect for nearly any long-range application, short of hard-target interdiction — .308 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor and 6mm Creedmoor. And the 20-, 24- or 26-inch heavy-fluted barrels on the 10 GRS — depending on caliber — provide superior heat dispersion and plenty of stiffness.

Other top features include 5/8-24 threading for attaching muzzle devices and flush cup sling loops and sling mount for bipod use. While the MSRP is a hair over the $1,600 ceiling, it can be found for a much lower street price.

Tikka T3x Tactical Compact Rifle

Finnish precision rifle, the Takka T3x Tactical CompactMSRP: $1,150

Featuring Tikka’s rock-solid, single-piece T3 action, this little Finnish gem is accurate and adaptable.

Broached, instead of drilled from bar stock, the action is silky smooth, particularly with the aid of its oversized bolt handle. And it’s stiff as overstretched sheets, thanks to the enclosed action design. Conveniently, Tikka has widened the ejection port on the T3 action, now making it possible to feed one round at a time — a difficulty on older models.

See Also: Tikka T3X Tactical A1 Review

A hammer-forged semi-heavy contour 20-inch barrel provides superior harmonics for its three chamberings — .260 Rem., .308 Win., and 6.5 Creedmoor. And it’s hefty enough to shake off the heat from long shot strings.

Tikka’s TCR has a more traditional stock pattern and doesn’t boast the adjustments found on many precision rifles. But it does have some unique features. Chief among them is the fiberglass-reinforced synthetic stock’s interchangeable grips that make it possible to modify the angle. And it comes with a foam insert that lowers stock-generated noise, keeping shooters stealthy as ever.

The precision rifle has a single-stage adjustable trigger, tunable between 2 and 4 pounds. And to top it all off, the T3x Tactical Compact rifle has an improved rail attachment system with extra screw placements on top of the receiver for a Picatinny rail.

Howa Carbon Elevate

Howa Carbon ElevateMSRP: $1,639

If you want your precision bolt-action rifle to be as light as possible, the Howa Carbon Elevate is a top contender. Starting at only 4 pounds, 10 ounces, this model is packed to the brim with carbon fiber components.

It features a Stocky’s super lightweight carbon fiber stock with a Limbsaver buttpad and ACCUBLOCK lug bed, as well as a 24-inch heavy carbon fiber threaded barrel. The ability to mount a brake or compensator is extra appreciated for a rifle that’s this lightweight.

Howa’s tagline for the rifle, “Carbon on Carbon,” couldn’t be more appropriate. The generous use of carbon fiber isn’t cheap, but it still isn’t the most expensive rifle on this list. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of a chassis rifle, if weight savings are what you’re after, the Carbon Elevate has it in spades. Howa offers the Carbon Elevate chambered for .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and 6.5 Grendel.

Mossberg Patriot LR Tactical

MSRP: $1,085

There’s no doubt that the Mossberg Patriot LR Tactical is the company’s most capable chassis rifle to date, offering a suite of features at a price point that enables many new shooters to get their feet wet in the long-range shooting game.

Sporting a 22-inch (.308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor) or 24-inch (6.5 PRC) medium threaded (5/8”-24 TPI) bull barrel with a target crown, it’s ready to accept a suppressor or compensator right out of the box. An adjustable LBA trigger, with no creep and a very crisp break, helps you extract the most accuracy out of the Patriot as you can.

The setup is finished off with an MDT chassis system, featuring aluminum V-block bedding, M-LOK slots, sling swivels and compatibility with AICS-style magazines. The chassis is a bit heavy at 8 pounds, so it may not be the best mountain rifle, but the extra weight will help absorb recoil when shooting at the range.

Bergara B-14 HMR

Spanish precision rifle B-14 HMR - precision rifles

MSRP: $999

Precision rifles can get pretty specialized pretty quickly, pigeonholing their application. For those shooting for a something that can equally knock the stuffing out of the 10-ring and a whitetail, look no further than Bergara. The Spanish company’s B-14 HMR (Hunting & Match Rifle) is about as tightly built a precision rifle as one could expect, without going custom.

See Also: Bergara B-14 BMP Chassis Rifle Review

While Bergara’s actions and barrels are well-respected, it’s the rifle’s stock that steals the show. At first blush, it appears to be just another synthetic job, with a modified benchrest buttstock, vertical grip and the usual length of pull and comb adjustments. But strip away the polymers, and there’s something unique going on underneath this Bergara B-14 HMR. Molded into the stock is an aluminum skeleton running from the grip all the way to the forend. In addition to free-floating the barrel, what Bergara calls its mini-chassis gives the B-14 the stiffness for precision.

The company has embraced the concept of crossover appeal with the rifle, making it sturdy enough to shoot a match, but practical enough to carry into the woods. It sports a No. 5 contour barrel — 22 inches on 6.5 Creedmoor, 20 inches on .308 Winchester — giving it enough material to avoid walking when it heats up, but making it less of a bear on a trudge to a deer stand.

The B-14 action is quick and smooth to work, especially with its oversized bolt handle, and feeds cleanly off an AICS detachable magazine. Some other nice features include Bergara’s trigger that breaks at 3 pounds, threaded muzzle and integrated QD flush cup mounts.

Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD

Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD precision riflesMSRP: $980

The Model 700 has been a top choice of professional snipers for more than half a century — just ask Army and Marine sharpshooters. So it’s no surprise it ends up on a list of precision rifles. The Tactical AAC-SD, in particular, has all the bells and whistles to make it a dandy tack driver, while leaving plenty of money for ammunition.

Read More: Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD Full Review

The renowned 700 action — what you’ll find on a lot of custom builds — is bedded in Hogue’s Overmolded Ghillie Green stock. The fiberglass-reinforced polymer gives the platform overall rigidity, while a pillar bedding system free-floats the barrel, ensuring it does not interfere with harmonics.

The AAC-SD is outfitted with a 20- or 22-inch heavy barrel (depending on caliber), injecting another element of stiffness into the platform and preventing barrel whip when it heats up. An interesting point is the twist rate of the .308 Win. — it’s 1:10. This is faster than most, in turn more compatible with heavier bullets.

Remington has topped the rifle off with a threaded muzzle able to accept AAC and other 5/8-24 pattern muzzle devices.

The rifle features Remington’s X-Mark Pro trigger, an adjustable outfit tunable between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds. Other notable aspects of the AAC-SD include sling mounts on the forend and buttstock and a very manageable weight at around 7 pounds. The AAC-SD is not long on capacity, however, with a four-round internal magazine.

Savage Model 10 BA Stealth

Savage Model 10 BA Stealth chassis rifle - Precision RiflesMSRP: $1,099

It wasn’t all that long ago that a chassis rifle setup would have run a shooter well over $2,000. And that’s talking entry level. Those days are quickly vanishing as the Savage 10 BA Stealth proves. The on-target rifle comes with all the accoutrements one would expect on similar precision rifles, except the price tag.

Built around Savage’s short Model 10 action, the precision rifle comes chambered for .223 Rem., .308 Win., and 6.5 Creedmoor. If a shooter is willing to get closer to or break the $1,500 mark (and not by much), they can gun up to a long-action Model 110 BA Stealth and pitch .300 Win. Mag., or .338 Lapua Mag.

Drake Associates supplies the chassis for the rifle — its Hunter/Stalker model — which is machined from a single piece of aluminum. The chassis is much slimmer than most and exposes an ample amount of the rifle’s 16-, 20- and 24-inch (depending on caliber) fluted barrel. This is good in terms of heat dispersion, giving air the chance to do its job. But given the barrel’s heavy contour, shots won’t walk much when it gets hot.

FAB Defense supplies the buttstock, its GL-Shock model that comes with a fully adjustable cheek riser and adjusts for length of pull. Like all Savages, the rifle features the company’s outstanding AccuTrigger, adjustable from 1.5 to 6 pounds. A nice touch, the BA Stealth also is outfitted with a muzzle break, which is typically an aftermarket option on most rifles.


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Hardware Talk: Dillon Wrench Rack Set

Hardware Talk: Dillon Wrench Rack Set
The Dillon wrench kit comes complete: All you have to do is assemble it onto your press. They are press-specific, so make sure you get the correct one.

Do you ever say to yourself you’ve had enough? More specifically, have you had enough with the litter of tools on your loading bench?

I have.

I’m regularly swapping toolheads to change calibers on my presses as I test this or that, trying something new or swapping calibers. I tried to keep the Allen wrenches for those adjustments in a plastic box, but they always ended up on the bench.

And then, where on the bench were they? Mumble … mumble … mutter.

I finally had enough, so when I saw the wrench rack from Dillon, I knew my 550 and 750 were each going to get a set. The rack is simple: It’s a heavy-gauge stamping that you bolt to the top back of your strong mount, behind your press. You don’t use a strong mount? We’re going to have to talk about that in the next issue.

Dillon has it all covered. You bolt the plate by means of the rear bolts on your press/strong mount setup. The kit comes with the Allen wrench sizes you need to work on your press, plus a die ring wrench as well. They all slide right into their reserved spots. And, just to make it even easier, Dillon includes a strip of label, with the sizes already printed on it, and they’re spaced to line up with the spot for each of them.

The Dillon wrench kit bolts into your strong mount, on the back of your Dillon press. Once there, it’s in easy reach to put each one back when done.

Hot tip: Install the label before you bolt on the plate to save yourself the stretching and reaching to get the label in place after you’ve bolted things together.

Wait, there’s more. The wrenches come with the angle to the short leg of each one pre-dipped in vinyl, so you have a good grip and can see the wrench clearly when you go to pluck it out of the rack. As an extra bonus, the working end is a ball-end wrench tip, so you can spin the wrench even when you approach the screw you’re tightening from an angle.

Of course, gear doesn’t come cheap. The kit runs $46 from Dillon.

“Ouch,” you say?

You can buy the wrenches for a buck each. Yes, you can. But then you’ll still have them scattered on your loading bench or in a box you have to find. Once you lose one or use it someplace else and leave it there, you’ll buy another. And another. You’ll end up with three, four or five sets of them scattered to the winds.

With the Dillon kit, you have a place for them. And the Dillon blue vinyl coating lets you know “This is a loading room wrench; I have to get it back there.”

I’m not saying you need to go full-on Marie Kondo on your loading room, bench and components storage, but keeping the tools that get things properly adjusted is a smart thing to do. And when you can make a change by simply grabbing the handy wrench and put it back right where it was, your loading process will be less distracted, more focused and more productive.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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Practice Or Panic: Team Tactic Basics For Couples And Families

Practice Or Panic: Team Tactic Basics For Couples And Families

If you and your loved ones expect to keep cool in an emergency, you need to practice team tactics.

When most think of team tactics, they envision highly trained Delta Force operatives—or a SWAT team—breaching a door and conducting a dynamic entry. That’s a good example of team tactics in action … but few of us will ever participate in an activity like that.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t develop your team tactics. Well, unless you’re a hermit who has no friends and has moved to the mountains to live alone and write a manifesto. Most normal humans have other humans they often hang with, whether they’re their good friend, a spouse or children.

I’ve had some team tactics training. As a soldier, and back in my badge-wearing days, it was part of the curriculum. I’ve also attended a team tactics course at Gunsite Academy that focused on civilian teams, like a husband and a wife. Recently, I also did some work helping Benghazi survivor and master firearms instructor David “Boon” Benton, who was portrayed in the movie 13 Hours, train our local SWAT team.

You’ll learn tactical theory at a team tactics class, but most learning occurs during after action reviews following tactical simulations.

Regardless of the group or situation, there are two things that team operations—whether they involve a six- or two-man team—have in common: A tactically proficient and successful team must have a plan, and they must have good communication.

Determine Your Team

If you’re a loner, you’re your own team (and hopefully someday you’ll find another human who finds you moderately tolerable). For the rest of us who are at least semi-normal, we’ll have a good friend and/or a significant other with whom we’re commonly around. This is your team, and it might also include children.

A good civilian team tactics course will address common situations like you might experience around vehicles and in parking lots.

Each team member should also have a job. These jobs could be as simple as following your mother, calling 911 or holding on to the hands of your siblings. A job for a team member could be as simple as being armed and making sure an emergency first aid kit is present and accessible, and all team members should be responsible for not forgetting to have their cell phone with them.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s best when kept simple and generic, and don’t put excessive responsibility on the backs of untrained or juvenile team members. However, every team member should know what the job of the other team members are. At a minimum, this tells them who to look to for guidance, and if capable, others know what each team member is responsible for and then they can assume that role if necessary.

A team tactics course isn’t a shooting course. It’s primarily a course to teach you and your partner how to work—stay alive—together.

In fact, establishing a team chain of command is important. If you’re identified as the team leader, but your wife and kids are out without you, generally your wife would assume that role. This means one of the kids—if capable and of a responsible age—can assume the duties of your wife. This goes a long way toward answering the question, “Dad’s not here. What now?”

Have A Plan

It’s impossible to develop a comprehensive plan for every situation that might develop. However, you can institute operating guidelines for common tasks that might occur. These are established tactical responses, predetermined to deal with things that have a high probability of happening.

Dealing with doors is a perfect example.

During one team tactics course, my partner and I were presented with various reality-based scenarios we had to react to. This was during force-on-force exercises where all the participants were armed with handguns that fired Simunitions. During the prior day while under the guidance of an instructor, my partner and I were given an opportunity to establish some operating guidelines: make a plan.

Don’t go to team tactics course planning to learn how to shoot or to run your gun. You need to know that before you get there.

One of our plans was how we’d deal with opening closed doors that led into the unknown. Just before the Simunition training began, I told my partner we should deal with every door just as we had decided during the previous day. This worked well and eliminated unnecessary communication and possible confusion. When we approached a closed door that we had to go through, each of us knew—without a word—what we were supposed to do.

This same concept can apply to a lot of situations.

Let’s say you want to establish a plan to tactically exit a location by vehicle. In this instance, you could identify the person who will drive, where each team member shall sit and how to access the vehicle depending on the direction of approach and even the direction of the potential threat. Sure, when the time comes to implement the plan there may be extenuating circumstances—the pre-identified driver might be injured—but you can plan for that as well: If team member A is injured, then team member C will drive.

What do you do if your partner gets hurt? You should have a plan for that.

If you have children, it’s very important to include them in these plans. It’s also important to dry run the plan to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you have an infant, who is going to carry him or her? It could be your wife or an older sibling. If you’re planning a response to a home invasion or burglar, the kids need to know what to do when the alarm sounds.

You should also always have at least one contingency; if you cannot do plan A, execute plan B. Similarly, you should also have a rendezvous point established outside the home, and you should also do the same for commonly trafficked locations such as malls or shopping centers.

Instructors at a team tactics course not only evaluate your tactics, but they also critique and help you learn to communicate with your partner.


More than anything else, communication is the most important aspect of team tactics.

Let’s say, for example, you and your wife are engaged in a gunfight and you either need to reload, have a stoppage or maybe you dropped your gun. Your wife needs to know about this while it’s happening; she needs to know why you aren’t shooting or why you’re hiding behind the car. And she needs to be made aware of this without having to watch you or look to see what you’re doing.

How will you and your partner handle a corner like this? You need to know beforehand, and that’s part of planning.

Screaming, “I’m reloading!” or “I’ve lost my gun!” takes too many words and might not be a good idea. Establish simple and direct communications for potential issues ahead of time. You could simply yell out, “Working!” and your wife would know you’re temporarily unavailable. To let her know the problem has been solved, your communication could be as simple as “Up!”

You and your partner should know how to solve simple tactical problems with minimal communication.

Talking while shooting or while responding to a lethal encounter doesn’t come naturally. It’s something that needs to be practiced. Also, if you’re in a face-to-face encounter with a potential threat, having an action word that’ll key your partner in on an action you’re about to take is a good idea—kind of the opposite of a “safe” word, if you know what I mean. But in some situations, your communication can and should be non-verbal.

You should have hand signals that help convey actions or actives like to cover or watch, to move or maybe even run. Similarly, you should be able to convey the direction you want to move or the location of a potential threat. Think these communications through, keep them as simple as possible and limit them to the obvious. This isn’t a time to establish a new and comprehensive sign language; you simply want to be able to convey highly probable observations or instructions without words, as clearly and quickly as possible.

Team tactics should be developed with your partner and include the weapon systems you’ll be using.

Go To School

The best way (of course) to learn team tactics is to take a class from a reputable school. But keep in mind that most team tactics courses aren’t shooting courses: Don’t expect to attend a team tactics class to learn how to shoot. In fact, many schools offering team tactics training have a training prerequisite so that they know you can shoot and handle a firearm safely before they’ll let you in the class. Yeah, you’ll do some shooting in a team tactics class, but you won’t learn to shoot in a team tactics class.

Gun-handling skills should be learned before attending a team tactics course.

This might seem overly stringent, but it makes perfect sense. It takes about five, 8-hour days of training to go from a non-shooter to someone who is safe and reasonably competent with a defensive handgun. A basic team tactics course should be, at a minimum, 2 to 3 days long … and ideally 5 days. To learn to shoot and to learn team tactics could consume 2 weeks, and most of us can’t take 2 weeks off from life to do that. It’s just like with any other firearms discipline—you learn to shoot and then you learn the tactics.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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New Guns And Gear March 2024

New Guns And Gear March 2024

Looking for a new iron or piece of kit to enhance the one you already own? Check out these 7 new bits of guns and gear to grow your firearms wish list.

The New Guns And Gear:

WOOX Titano

Heirloom looks with state-of-the-art performance, the WOOX Titano stands out in competition stocks. Tailored for Benchrest and F-Class shooters, the stock boasts a stunning American walnut stock and an aircraft-grade aluminum chassis. With a 3-inch fore and wide barrel channel supporting up to 1.20-inch diameter barrels, it accommodates large fire tubes common to comp rifles. Furthermore, WOOX’s Suspense weight system allows you to precisely balance the system with six 2.5-ounce weights. The buttstock is fully adjustable for both the length of pull and cheek rise. Other notables include a smooth-bottom bag rider butt and Integrated thumb rests to enhance grip comfort.
MSRP: $999

Taylor’s & Company 1875 Outlaw Revolver

Taylors 1875
A collaboration with Uberti, Taylor’s & Company offers up a faithful reproduction of a classic Remington single-action, but with a modern twist—it’s chambered for 9mm. While no Old West outlaws pitch Parabellum, the modernization effort makes it easier on contemporary cowboys’ pocketbooks. Available in 7.5- and 5.5-inch barrel lengths, the 1875 Outlaw features smooth walnut grips, a forged blued steel frame, a rear frame notch and a fixed front blade sight. Also, the webbed ejector rod helps the wheelgun cut an unmistakable profile. It’s enough to make Frank James envious.
MSRP: $698

StopBox Chamber Lock

chamber lock
New or old, it’s wise to stop the unauthorized use of a firearm. That’s where the Chamber Lock comes into play. At once, it keeps a firearm safe, yet at hand. Construct-ed from Type II hard-anodized 6061-T6 aluminum, it features a patented mechanical hand gesture code lock, ensuring intuitive use even in low-light or high-stress situations. The lock offers six configurable combinations, expandable to 16 with the Actuator Accessory Pack, although preset combinations are recommended for optimal security. Compatible with most AR-15s and shotguns.
MSRP: $150

MTM Case-Gard Bull Rifle Rest

MTM rifle rest
Dialing in a rifle is the key to a solid shooting platform. MTM Case-Gard provides just this with its affordable Bull Rifle Rest. With an adjustable length between 18.3 and 26 inches, it accommodates nearly any long-gun you shoulder. Additionally, the lightweight rest features slip-free rubber feet and a wide stance, for a wobble-free shooting base. And front elevation adjustments are easily made on the rest, thanks to a screw system allowing you to get a rifle or shotgun situated just right.
MSRP: $43

Mission First Tactical Leather Hybrid Holsters

MFT holster
What a looker! Too bad it’s meant to be kept under wraps. This Kydex and leather gem offers exact tolerances, secure retention and easy re-holstering. Plus, the hanger requires no break-in time compared to its traditional leather cousins. Versatile for AIWB, IWB or OWB use, it accommodates right- and left-hand positioning. Additionally, the American-made hybrids are red-dot compatible and have an audible “CLICK” when you re-holster.
MSRP: $70

Ruger Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition SR1911 Pistol

Ruger Diamond 1911
In celebration of its 75th year, Sturm, Ruger & Company presents its limited-edition 75th Anniversary Ruger SR1911. This iconic pistol features a finely detailed, laser-engraved slide and custom grip panels with intricate scrollwork. Ruger’s CNC-controlled machining ensures precision, while the classic 1911 fire control and positive barrel lockup enhance accuracy. You’ll have to act fast on these beauties, only 750 units are being produced in 2024, and each pistol bears the special R75 serial number prefix and ships in a marked case with two stainless-steel magazines.
MSRP: $1,800

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep .32 Auto

Federal 32 Auto
In the day and age of deep carry, good ol’ .32 ACP is making a bit of a comeback. Federal Premium is supporting its renaissance with the introduction of Hydra-Shok Deep in the pocket caliber. Rigorous testing and stringent manufacturing processes ensure superb accuracy and consistent ballistic performance of this ammo. Furthermore, the notched copper jacket of the Hydra-Shok bullet ensures consistent controlled expansion and adequate stopping power trigger pull in and out.
MSRP: $35, box of 20

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Get More Guns And Gear:


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