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Preview – Desert Tech HTI

Photos by Iain Harrison and Straight 8

Desert Tech’s Own “Big Gun” Blurs the Line Between Precision Rifle and Portable Artillery

For some shooters, long range just doesn’t cut it. There are simply never enough foot-pounds or feet-per-second to satisfy these people. It’s a uniquely American dilemma and we, for one, admire those esoteric shooters and savvy engineers, pushing the very ragged edge of handheld ballistics. But where do you turn when you want something that flies like a fighter jet and hits like a freight train? Two words: Desert Tech.

The folks at DT are artisans of the bullpup rifle, particularly those who are intended to shoot far…very far. They’re a relatively young company, less than a decade old, but have excelled in their very narrow niche of extended-range bullpup bolt guns. Its product line is essentially three separate chassis systems available in a total of 13 calibers. That’s not a whole lot and, from a business viewpoint, there’s little margin for error. But Desert Tech is equal parts manufacturer and ballistic think tank. Its products offer innovative features and an über-long-range capability that few other gun makers can claim to match. To be perfectly blunt, DT’s weapons impress the hell out of us.

Living Out a Fantasy
The crown jewel in Desert Tech’s current lineup is its HTI — the Hard Target Interdiction rifle. It is a scaled-up version of its original rifle (the SRS) intended to push massive bullets to mile-plus ranges. It’s the biggest firearm that I’ve ever tested and, even though I’ve eschewed bullpup guns for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the HTI’s suite of features.

The HTI is available in four calibers: .375 CheyTac, .408 CheyTac, .416 Barrett, and .50 BMG. In the latter, the HTI is entirely capable of being employed as an anti-materiel rifle without missing a beat, and we wouldn’t be surprised if someone somewhere has purchased a squad’s worth of them for that purpose. Unfortunately due to time and ammo constraints, and a lack of enemy light armor in our A.O., we weren’t able to evaluate this particular capability. What we offer you instead is a brief but poignant long-distance accuracy evaluation.

Desert-Tech_rifle Desert-Tech_bullpup

We had a total of 40 rounds to put through this rifle — generously provided by Desert Tech. (Yes, the folks there make their own long-range ammo, as well. We’ll get back to that in a moment.) As most of our T&E’s go, 40 rounds is barely a break-in period. But, in the end, this turned out to be more than enough to give us a deep appreciation of this rifle’s potential. Once you purchase the HTI, chassis conversion kits are available through DT (and authorized dealers) and all that’s required is a bolt, barrel, and magazine change to go from one caliber to another. It’s not specifically billed by Desert Tech as a “quick change” system, but our experience was that it was pretty damn quick. We were able to do it in just a couple minutes — and that was while being hot, tired, and not exactly in a rush under the midday sun. Our test gun showed up in .375 CheyTac with a conversion set for .50 BMG. We had 20 rounds in each caliber to make our case.

Sticking ’Em Up, Knocking ’Em Down
We took the HTI to Cowtown Range in Arizona. It was one of the few ranges we could find within driving distance that has steel set up all the way out to 1,600 meters — the perfect place to let Desert Tech’s big boy stretch his legs out. We started with the .375 CheyTac. The DT ammo that came with our test gun consisted of a 352-grain open-tip boat tail slug that screams past the muzzle at 3,080 fps. A convenient DOPE (data on previous engagement) chart is included on the side of the box and this loading is listed as zero-drop out to 500 yards. Also, for those who are concerned, the 352-grain OTM projectile has a G1 coefficient of 0.89 and a G7 coefficient of 0.408.

In 20 rounds we were able to achieve hits at 573, 707, and 1,100 meters. Unfortunately we were DOPE’ing our gun on the fly against aggressive terrain with fish-tailing winds. As such, we were unable to reach out any further before running out of ammo. At the risk of sounding like a kiss-ass, I’m going to take a moment to say that our editor from the land of the Union Jack is an absolutely gifted spotter, and I would have been hard-pressed to get any of those hits without his wind calls. Furthermore, said editor says he had previously made an 1,800-meter shot with an HTI in this caliber at a media demo day. After running the HTI myself, and shooting alongside Iain, I will vouch that both shooter and rifle are well capable of such a feat.

Having exhausted our supply of .375 CheyTac ammo, and gotten a satisfying hit past the one-click line, we swapped calibers and snuggled in behind the .50 ….

desert-tech-prs-rifle

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