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Preview – Modern Outfitters MR1

Photos by Iain Harrison and Straight 8

They’ve Tiptoed Into the Precision Rifle World, But Their Latest Entry Is Worthy of Serious Consideration

Here at RECOIL, we try to bring you content that’s just a little out of the mainstream. For example, for this issue we could have given you a review extolling the virtues of the Ruger Precision Rifle — just like every other gun publication and web outlet in existence. Good as Ruger’s product is though (and it’s currently a victim of its success, reportedly being backordered by 30,000 units as of press time), we figured that you’d rather hear about a scrappy little company that’s doing its own thing — and doing it pretty well.

Modern Outfitters is in a growth phase at the moment, having carved out a name for itself in the Southeast as a manufacturer of quality ARs. Not content with simply building guns, it adopted the Apple model of distribution and decided that a chain of gun stores was the future. They’ve recently opened their first retail space in Dallas, which is spacious, well laid out, welcoming, and not staffed by fat, grumpy old bastards whose mission in life is to foist their opinions onto the customer, while telling war stories of their time in the 2/47 space shuttle door gunner battalion. Sound familiar?

The MR1 is its first venture into the precision rifle realm, so we took one of its preproduction test mules and put it through the wringer.

Overview
A custom Cerakote finish is usually something you’d commission from a third party source, or else roll up your sleeves, strap on a respirator, and kludge through yourself. (See RECOIL Issue 19 for details on how to spray your own Cerakote job.) In this case, it’s standard from the factory and the customer can specify their own pattern. Need a scope to match? No problem, just keep writing the checks. It’s the first thing you notice when encountering the MR1, and it’s part of the Modern Outfitter’s philosophy of giving the client a turnkey package.

modern-outfitters-riflemodern-outfitters-bolt-action

Taking it to a logical conclusion, they have their own range facility near San Antonio with steel targets out to 1,000 yards, so the customer can order a rifle, show up at the range for some one-on-one coaching, and get behind a new boom stick that’s already been sighted in. If, after training or familiarization sessions, the client has an itch to send a porcine invader to its rightful place on the grill, well that can also be arranged, in which case the camo finish is right at home. The pattern on our test gun is subdued, but attractive, in a post-apocalyptic, COD-meets-west-Texas kinda way and works well in the various environments in which we used it. It also shrugged off abrasions, despite being dragged through the brush on several occasions.

The heart of the rifle is its titanium, three-lug bolt action, which, despite fitting a Remington 700 footprint, offers several upgrades over the old Ilion stalwart. On lifting the extended, faceted bolt handle, the user will notice that there’s a lot more room between it and the scope body. Needing only a 60-degree throw, rather than the usual 90, manipulating the bolt is a little quicker and more positive than with a two-lug design.

The steel bolt body has hexagonal flutes to both lighten it and provide negative space for dirt, in order to keep running in adverse conditions, while the extractor deviates from the usual R700 pattern, but will no doubt be familiar to anyone who’s used an AR. Retained by a simple pin, it’s easy to service in the field, should the need arise — in fact, the entire bolt can be stripped without the need for a bench and armorer’s tool kit.

As a bonus, the ejector kicks brass out at 20 degrees below the horizontal, so that nice Cerakote job on your expensive scope will be free of yellow marks, no matter how hard you yank on the bolt handle. In order to increase lubricity and decrease corrosion, the 4140 CrMo bolt body is TiN coated.

The bolt features a slightly coned face, which mates to a similar profile at the barrel’s chamber end. Theoretically, this makes for a more precise lock up than if two flat surfaces were to meet and is favored in single shot benchrest guns, where competition success is measured by groups in the sub, sub-minute range.

In a push-feed, magazine-fed rifle, problems can be encountered in stripping a round from the mag, as the coned surface allows the cartridge rim to duck below it as the bullet tip rides up the feed ramp. Sure enough, we encountered a couple of failures to feed with Hornady 120-grain A-MAX rounds when ripping the bolt quickly. Given the accuracy this rifle exhibits, we’d be willing to trade off a smidge of it for increased reliability, whether by opening up the magazine’s feed lips or going with a conventional bolt face.

MR1-rifle

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 27

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