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SIG Sauer Cross-PRS: Best PRS Production Rifle?



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TAKING THE CROSS-PRS TO MATH CAMP WITH FEDERAL AMMO

If you can believe it, Federal Ammunition has been cranking out boom pills for exactly 100 years, nearly as long as our current president has been alive. The original 19,200-square-foot factory was located in Anoka, Minnesota, and after a shaky start with its previous owners, the company as it’s known today kicked off in 1922. 

Now in 2022, Federal is about to complete construction of a new rifle ammunition loading area that’ll boost the Minnesota plant to an eye-watering 1,000,000 square feet of manufacturing and operational space, cranking out millions of rounds of ammunition every day. 

To help celebrate their 100th anniversary, they invited us out to a long-range precision class in South Dakota to shoot as much of their ammo as we wanted. They didn’t have to ask twice — challenge accepted. 

This was a perfect opportunity to shake out SIG’s new Cross-PRS rifle. First unveiled in 2019, the Cross was a clean-sheet bolt-action rifle design from SIG. Notable features include a very robust, three-lug bolt head and modular bolt carrier, one-piece receiver, and AR-like barrel nut/barrel extension interface. 

Paul Nelson Farm in South Dakota is renowned for pheasant hunting, but it also has a wonderful long-range shooting facility.

Unlike ARs, though, the Cross’ barrel nut doesn’t also secure the handguard, so the barrel is completely free-floated. A long top rail for optics bridges the receiver and handguard, and a skeletonized folding stock is fully adjustable and very convenient for transport. Fire control provides familiar AR-style ergonomics with its pistol grip and safety selector. 

SIG opted for a proprietary two-stage trigger, which can be adjusted between 2.5 and 4 pounds. It feeds from AICS-compatible magazines.

The Cross was very nicely designed, and the first variant SIG launched was a lightweight hunting rifle, with the 16-inch .308 version weighing just 6.5 pounds. With modularity baked into the design and SIG’s usual frenetic pace of product development, more variations were sure to come.

PRS FTW

Indeed, the latest is the Cross-PRS, tailored for long-range precision rifle shooters. In particular, it targets the Production Division rules in the Precision Rifle Series, in which shooters compete with bolt-action production rifles and optics that each may not exceed retail prices of $2,500. Coincidentally, the new Cross-PRS is priced at $2,499. And the SIG Tango6 5-30x optic mounted on it is $2,476.

So, what did SIG do to get the Cross rifle ready to compete in PRS matches? First, they turned a beast of a stainless barrel; it’s 24 inches long with 1:8 5R rifling and a heavy 0.9-inch profile, offered in 6.5CM and .308 Win. The increased length boosts muzzle velocities and the girth maintains precision across longer courses of fire. It’s threaded 5/8-24 with a 90-degree shoulder; the rifle ships with a thread protector, so you can attach the muzzle device or suppressor of your choice.

The M-LOK handguard is stretched out to 18 inches, with a steel, full-length Arca rail on the bottom.

Second, SIG added yet more weight and features — weight to provide more stability and to help with follow-through, and functionality for the specific needs of PRS competitors. The M-LOK handguard is stretched out to 18 inches, with a steel, full-length Arca rail on the bottom. The long handguard provides plenty of real estate for bags, bipods, and other accessories, attaching to tripods, as well as building supported positions. 

And the steel construction adds more weight.

The optic rail is canted 20 MOA rather than flat, allowing for more elevation adjustment in your scope for engaging targets at longer distances. The bolt handle is enlarged for quicker manipulation, and the magazine release is swapped for a paddle extending outward on both sides for easy and ambidextrous mag changes. 

The new selector switch on the right side is cleverly designed to provide a perfect thumb rest for righties when using a PRS-type grip with your thumb on the strong side. It’s only there when in the “fire” position, so it’s also a reminder if you forget to deactivate the safety.

SIG added a clever safety selector on the right side of the Cross-PRS with a ledge that serves as a thumb rest, as well as an enlarged bolt handle and extended mag release.

The new PRS-style pistol grip is meaty, weighted, and angled more vertically as PRS shooters prefer. The folding stock is the same but made of steel instead of aluminum; SIG also added a steel bag rider on the bottom. This extra weight at the rear, combined with the weight distribution from butt to muzzle, provides balanced handling with the center of gravity just in front of the receiver.

Finally, the gun’s coated in a subtle and attractive concrete Cerakote Elite finish.

Our Cross-PRS was fitted with SIG’s Tango6 5-30x56mm first focal plane scope, with a Dev-L MRAD illuminated reticle. It has a 34mm main tube and 23.2 MRADs of travel in both directions. 

A unique feature is its LevelPlex anti-cant system, which displays small arrows inside the scope if you’ve canted your weapon. This allows you to level your gun while on target without leaving the scope to check a bubble level. The glass was good, the reticle was well designed, and the adjustments were accurate and repeatable.

We also attached a Valhalla bipod from Spartan Precision Equipment. It’s beautifully machined and very light — the bipod’s just 0.8 pound. It deploys quickly, adjusts for cant, and has spring-loaded height adjustments. The Cross-PRS has two M-LOK slots on the bottom just at the muzzle end, so we used a quick-detachable Arca mount to position the Valhalla exactly where we wanted it.

Art meets science with the Valhalla bipod from Spartan Precision Equipment — it’s just 0.8 pound, deploys quickly, adjusts for cant, and has spring-loaded height adjustments.

The Cross-PRS weighed 16.9 pounds with the optic and 18 pounds with the bipod too.

THIS ONE TIME IN MATH CAMP

Federal Ammunition had us out to Paul Nelson Farm, renowned for its pheasant hunts and luxurious accommodations. At their 2,000-yard shooting facility, stocked with cases and cases of Federal Premium 6.5CM ammo, instructor Josh Cluff spun us up on long-range shooting. 

Shooting five-shot groups on paper with a Silencer Central Banish 30 attached, we discovered our Cross-PRS was partial to 140-grain pills and didn’t like 130-grain as much. Federal Gold Medal 130-grain Berger OTM posted 0.9 to 1.25 MOA groups, with average velocity of 2,958 fps, SD of 13.8, and ES of 52. Federal’s 129-grain Core-Lokt hunting load gave us groups from 0.9 to 1.3 MOA, with average velocity of 2,975 fps, SD of 12.1, and ES of 43. Not too shabby for hunting ammo, though.

Switching to 140-grainers, Atlanta Arms 140-grain BTHP turned in 0.7 MOA groups, at 2,646 fps with SD of 10.9 and ES of 32. Finally, Federal’s two 140-grain Gold Medal loads brought it home. The 140-grain Sierra Match King posted 0.4 to 0.7 MOA groups, at 2,724 fps with SD of 13.3 and ES of 40. Meanwhile, the Federal 140-grain Berger Hybrid delivered 0.3 to 0.6 MOA groups, with an average of 2,779 fps, SD of 11, and ES of 39.

After collecting muzzle velocity data with our MagnetoSpeed chronograph and environmental factors with our Kestrel weather meter, we used apps such as Ballistic AE on our smartphone to calculate ballistic solutions.

Good information is critical, as Cluff explained how to determine a ballistic solution for a particular target. Math is important, mkay? Fortunately, smartphones are a godsend, with apps such as Ballistic AE providing easy access to ballistic calculators (see RECOIL Issue 27 for a guide to apps and devices with ballistic solvers). 

Using inputs such as distance to target, environmental conditions, muzzle velocity, ballistic coefficient of your projectile, and your wind call, the apps will spit out elevation and wind holds. Bullets with high ballistic coefficients, such as those in the Federal Gold Medal loads, help tilt the playing field in your favor, as they’ll experience less drop and wind deflection than those with lower BCs. 

You can dial in your adjustments or hold off using your scope’s reticle. The SIG Tango6 scope’s DEV-L reticle has a “Christmas tree” design, making it easy to hold over for elevation and to the left or right for wind.

Cluff also emphasized the importance of shooting technique. It starts with fitting the rifle to your body, to optimize your length of pull, cheek weld, eye relief, and positioning behind the gun. The Cross’ stock made this simple, as all of these adjustments can be made without tools. Not only does this help stabilize your gun, but it also helps you manage recoil so that you can follow through on your shots through your scope.

FOUR THUMBS UP

We practiced on targets of varying size from 500 to 1,050 yards, collecting dope, reading wind, making adjustments using our reticles, and truing up our apps. Multiple target strings, competitions, and time limits ramped up the stakes. We capped off the day engaging steel a mile away. Every student was able to make the shot, even with some strong winds.

To apply our newly honed skills, we headed out to the fields to hunt prairie dogs. Those skinny little critters really tested our ability to read wind and think on our feet. It was a challenge and such a blast. Best math camp ever.

SIG fitted the Cross-PRS with a proprietary two-stage trigger, which can be adjusted between 2.5 and 4 pounds.

The Cross-PRS performed admirably, putting bullets exactly where you’d expect them to go, especially with the Federal 140-grain — so misses were usually due to poor wind calls. It rung steel at a mile and helped manage the prairie dog population in the area. 

Ergonomics are excellent, and we loved the thumb shelf on the safety selector. We furiously worked the oversized bolt handle like Private Jackson in the bell tower, quickly snapping from target to target. 

The trigger is two-stage, which some may prefer and others not, but we liked it, except for excessive overtravel. The long handguard was very versatile, and the Valhalla bipod worked great. The titanium Banish 30 suppressor always kept things civilized. And as we flew in and out of South Dakota with the rifle, the folding stock conveniently allowed us to use a smaller hard case.

We wish we had more than two thumbs to raise after this trip. Paul Nelson Farm was a wonderful venue, Cluff was a superb instructor, and our fellow students were great fun. The SIG Cross-PRS is a great demonstration of the value of the underlying Cross platform, with its modularity, strength, and well-thought-out design enabling such extremes from a 6.5-pound hunting rifle to a 15-pound PRS rig. 

We hope to see to more barrel choices in the market as well, to take advantage of the convenient barrel nut/barrel extension system. We look forward to shooting some PRS matches with the Cross-PRS, though we’ll damn sure miss the bottomless supply of Federal Gold Medal ammo. 

SPECS: SIG Sauer Cross-PRS

  • Caliber: 6.5CM (tested), .308 Win
  • Capacity: 10
  • Barrel length: 24 inches
  • Overall length: 33.5 inches (folded), 44.5 inches (fully extended)
  • Weight: 14.2 pounds
  • MSRP: $2,499
  • URL: sigsauer.com

Accessories

  • SIG Sauer Tango6 5-30x56mm DEV-L MRAD scope: $2,476
  • Silencer Central Banish 30 suppressor: $999
  • Spartan Precision Equipment Valhalla bipod: $420
  • Total as tested: $6,394

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