BOLD NEW HEIGHTS

Tactical World - - Contents -

Desert Tech’s SRS-A1 Covert makes a believer out of a po­lice sniper. By Mike Nu­mainville

Dur­ing my years on my de­part­ment’s pre­ci­sion team, I wit­nessed the evo­lu­tion of the Amer­i­can sniper ri­fle. One of the most pre­vail­ing trends has been the short­en­ing of the bar­rels, as snipers sought af­ter a more ma­neu­ver­able ri­fle sys­tem. Now hav­ing shot the Desert Tech SRS-A1 Covert, the ad­vance­ment of the mod­ern sniper ri­fle has in­deed risen to a new height.

From the on­set of my time on SWAT, we com­monly used 24-inch bar­rels. Those Rem­ing­ton 700s were very pre­cise but were very un­wieldy at the range, let alone in the field on a stalk. When I left the sniper team (due to my fool­ish­ness in tak­ing a pro­mo­tional test), we were us­ing 18-inch bar­rels on short-ac­tion Rem­ing­ton 700s with an over­all length of 36 inches—still a chal­lenge to de­ploy quickly.

Un­for­tu­nately, Desert Tech was not up and run­ning when I left, but the Desert Tech SRS-A1 Covert of­fers many of the things our team was look­ing for. Desert Tech of­fers their stan­dard bullpup de­sign Scout Re­con Sys­tem in a 16-inch bar­reled Covert model. The over­all length of this ri­fle is 26.5 inches com­pared to the 36-inch short­ac­tion ri­fle sys­tem com­monly used.

The many at­tempts to solve the over­all “length prob­lem” with pre­ci­sion ri­fles have been largely fo­cused on mod­u­lar sys­tems that al­low the shooter to re­move bar­rels or the sim­pler method of adding a fold­ing stock, which will get you close to the Desert Tech Covert. How­ever, the Desert Tech lets you keep ev­ery part of your ri­fle in­tact and ready as soon as you re­move it from your pack, case, or ve­hi­cle. This makes

the DT SRS-A1 Covert truly portable, con­ceal­able, and ma­neu­ver­able for ur­ban de­ploy­ments.

Key Fea­tures

Ini­tial im­pres­sions make this look like a “fu­tur­is­tic” com­pact car­bine ri­fle, un­til you see the large mag­a­zine un­der the stock and then you re­al­ize this is not a 5.56 ri­fle. Then, look­ing at the large, over­sized, tac­ti­cal bolthandle, you know you are shoot­ing a bolt-ac­tion ri­fle.

The lay­out of most of this ri­fle is dif­fer­ent from the tra­di­tional short- ac­tion ri­fles I have shot over the years. For in­stance, the bolt han­dle is un­der the shooter’s cheek rest. At first, this is a lit­tle a slower and more awk­ward from the norm. How­ever, I was sur­prised at how quickly it started to feel com­fort­able. I have spo­ken to new shoot­ers who started out on this de­sign and did not know any other way; these shoot­ers had some of the fastest times dur­ing bolt ma­nip­u­la­tion drills on the range. Se­condly, the box mag­a­zine is be­hind the trig­ger assem­bly, as is the am­bidex­trous mag­a­zine re­lease. The mag­a­zines are unique to the Desert Tech ri­fle and of­fer the abil­ity to change cal­ibers with­out chang­ing to a dif­fer­ent mag­a­zine each time.

Fi­nally, the safety is above the trig­ger guard and is ac­ces­si­ble on both sides of the ri­fle. I found this safety easier to ma­nip­u­late than the tra­di­tional style at the rear of the bolt.

Chang­ing the bar­rel was sim­ple af­ter loos­en­ing the bar­rel nut on the left

“I WAS IM­PRESSED THAT RIGHT OUT OF THE CASE IT WAS SHIPPED IN, I WAS ABLE TO GET SUB-MOA GROUPS AT 100 YARDS.”

side of the stock just above the trig­ger area.

I did no­tice that the QD sling mounts on the rear of the stock stuck out away from the stock ap­prox­i­mately a half-inch on both sides. I could see why this de­sign was nec­es­sary, due to the bolt slid­ing all the way to the rear of the stock, but it does add the pos­si­bil­ity of catch­ing on cloth­ing or other tac­ti­cal gear in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.

Ac­ces­sories

The new­est T&E (test­ing and eval­u­a­tion) ri­fle from Desert Tech ar­rived nicely equipped with sev­eral top-qual­ity ac­ces­sories.

To start, it came with a Kahles Helia C 3-12x56 Ri­fle scope. This was a base unit as it did not have an Il­lu­mi­nated ret­i­cle, but I was im­pressed with the ul­tra-bright im­age and clar­ity. The 56mm ob­ject pro­vided a great field of view down range.

The scope was equipped with a Horus Vi­sion Ret­i­cle that I have not used pre­vi­ously. Hav­ing used Du­plex

“I was sur­prised at how quickly it started to feel com­fort­able.”

and TMR ret­i­cles through most of my pro­fes­sional ca­reer, I am very in­trigued by this ret­i­cle’s po­ten­tial. The shot cor­rec­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties are out­stand­ing due to the finely dis­played “Christ­mas tree” style grid.

A Har­ris swivel bi­pod that I was very fa­mil­iar with, hav­ing used one for many years, was in­cluded. How­ever, I will have to ad­mit af­ter a few shoots went down­range, I qui­etly changed the Har­ris out for the At­las Bi­pod I had on my own pre­ci­sion ri­fle. I feel the At­las’ sta­bil­ity and ad­justa­bil­ity are un­matched when shoot­ing from a bi­pod.

The DT Covert SRS A-1 showed up with two bar­rels—a 6.5 Creed­moor and a .308—both bar­rels were 16 inches in length in the Covert model. Chang­ing out the bar­rels takes about 2-3 min­utes the first time you do it and about half that ev­ery time af­ter that. Although, I have not worked with too many mod­u­lar bar­rel sys­tems, this one was very sim­ple and straight­for­ward. All it re­quires is loos­en­ing and retight­en­ing re­ten­tion screws on the right side and one lock­ing screw on the left side of the ri­fle.

I was im­pressed that right out of the case it was shipped in, I was able to get sub-moa groups at 100 yards. Af­ter a few mi­nor scope ad­just­ments, I was group­ing half-inch groups with Desert Tech’s own 140-grain 6.5 Creed­moor Premium Match Grade Am­mu­ni­tion. As I fired more rounds, I be­came more and more com­fort­able with the rear­ward bolt ma­nip­u­la­tion.

At the Range

The DT Covert is not “lightweight,” but I found it very well-bal­anced. I have had ex­pe­ri­ence shoot­ing from un­sup­ported shoot­ing po­si­tions over the years and with tra­di­tional ri­fle sys­tems. With these ri­fles, you are try­ing to find the best way to sup­port the ri­fle with­out overly coun­ter­bal­anc­ing your po­si­tion. I shot the DT Covert in stand­ing, kneel­ing, and prone po­si­tions, and this is where the DT Covert’s com­pact­ness re­ally shined.

Look­ing at the bolt de­sign would make you think shoot­ing this ri­fle

“I shot the DT Covert in stand­ing, kneel­ing, and prone po­si­tions, and this is where the DT Covert’s com­pact­ness re­ally shined.”

from a sup­port side would be slow or awk­ward, but that was not the case. I had to lift my cheek off the stock com­pletely to run the bolt, af­ter a few shots I was able to get back on tar­get. Although I can­not re­mem­ber ever hav­ing to use the ri­fle on my sup­port side while de­ployed, any­thing is pos­si­ble.

I have not shot many ri­fles with an ad­justable mono­pod built into the stock. I have long been a fan of us­ing small sup­port rear bags for mi­nor el­e­va­tion changes. How­ever, I liked the mi­cro-ad­just­ments of us­ing the mono­pod; the fact that it’s built into the stock is an­other big win.

Other shoot­ers have men­tioned con­cerns about ex­ces­sive creep in the trig­ger, but I did not no­tice any ex­cess play or creep. The trig­ger is ad­justable, and I felt it broke cleanly and crisply once you took the ini­tial slack out of the trig­ger.

The Desert Tech Covert de­liv­ers re­li­able ac­cu­racy in a solid com­pact de­sign. This ri­fle is pur­posely built with the ur­ban sniper in mind. It will take some tra­di­tional bolt-ac­tion ri­fle shoot­ers a lit­tle time to ad­just to the rear bolt ac­tion, but they will be re­warded with a dis­crete, ma­neu­ver­able, and ac­cu­rate ri­fle for their tac­ti­cal mis­sions.

“Chang­ing the bar­rel was sim­ple af­ter loos­en­ing the bar­rel nut on the left side of the stock just above the trig­ger area.”

Not only is it short from front to rear, but this ri­fle main­tains a very nar­row pro­file— fit­ting for its "Covert" name and greatly aid­ing in its abil­ity to be stored in a ve­hi­cle, ready to de­ploy into ac­tion.

Desert Tech uses a unique muz­zle brake on the Covert that serves as a sup­pres­sor mount and acts as a sac­ri­fi­cial baf­fle as far as reg­u­lat­ing the ini­tial blast when run­ning the ri­fle sup­pressed.

C: Desert Tech's sound sup­pres­sors are said to im­prove ri­fle ac­cu­racy by 1/4MOA or bet­ter. The weld­less mono- core de­sign uni­formly strips away gas from the pro­jec­tile as it ex­its the muz­zle. This avoids gas dis­tur­bance and max­i­mizes pro­jec­tile sta­bil­ity.

B: De­spite be­ing a bullpup ri­fle, the ad­justable trig­ger on the Desert Tech ranks up there with some of the best pre­ci­sion ri­fle trig­gers.

A: A bolt- han­dle lo­cated un­der the shooter's cheek may seem odd or even awk­ward when com­pared to a tra­di­tional bolt- ac­tion ri­fle, but af­ter a few rounds it be­comes down­right com­fort­able and easy to ma­nip­u­late.

Cal­iber changes can hap­pen in a mat­ter of sec­onds with the Desert Tech Covert, mak­ing for a highly ef­fi­cient tac­ti­cal ri­fle.

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