Over the years we have reviewed and used a good number of the Tactical Operations rifles and have been very impressed with their extreme accuracy and attention to detail. It has been a while since we completed a full evaluation of one of their main stream rifle models and there have actually been a few introductions of new rifles to their lineup since our last review. While there is not a lot of differences between the various TacOps models we still wanted to get our hands on a new production rifle to see if it still holds the same standards as before. One of our loyal readers again stepped up to the plate to help out and contacted us about reviewing his soon to be finished X-Ray 51 rifle. Since these rifles typically take 12-16 months to build, it was very much appreciated that he was willing to wait a bit longer to receive his rifle and let us review it. As was such, arrangements were made to have TacOps ship the completed rifle direct to us for a review after which we shipped it to the actual owner’s dealer after we completed the review.
As we have mentioned in the other TacOps reviews we did of their Tango, Bravo and other rifles, the core of the TacOps rifles is the Remington 700 action. Yes, the same tried and trued Remington that has been used as the base of so many tactical rifles out there. Why not a Surgeon or other modern interpretation of a Remington action? According to TacOps they prefer the simplicity of the original and they have become experts at working the standard Remington action and know exactly what they are getting. I do like the new custom tactical actions that have come to market over the past several years especially for their improvements to such things as the extractors, bolt releases, recoil lugs, integrated rails, etc. but it is hard to argue against results and the TacOps rifles have always delivered results.
As you would imagine, the actions are extremely smooth to operate, they do this by taking the already smooth factory Remington action and machining and polishing all the running surfaces. The lubricating ability and micro thin properties of the Green-T finish also helps in these regards. This smooth cycling helps with rapid bolt manipulation for quick follow up shots and also provides a quality feel as well.
Of course, for accuracy improvements every aspect of the action is trued to as precise as the TacOps machinists can make them. TacOps has a proprietary procedure that they go through when they “blueprint” the actions that they keep close to themselves. It is considerably more than the typical squaring of all the surfaces but they are not willing to divulge more information about their procedures than that.
For the triggers TacOps actually prefers to use the old style factory Remington triggers instead of one of the available after market triggers. They take the Remington triggers and completely rework them by hand to get a very crisp and clean break. This one was set to break right at 2.5 lbs. Just be sure not to mention the Remington XMark Pro triggers around them, they are not a fan of these newer Remington triggers.
The barrel comes from Krieger but they are made to a specific proprietary spec provided by TacOps. The chambers are cut at TacOps to a match headspace of .001″ or better. They also use their own precision ground recoil lugs and their own crown design with a thread protector when the barrels are threaded for a suppressor, which is most of the time. Of course, all of the metal work is finished in either Green-T or Black-T applied by Birdsong. TacOps does not trust any other finish on their rifles.
The stock on the X-Ray series of rifles is the McMillan A5 stock which has been a best seller at McMillan since its introduction. Again, paying extreme attention to fit and finish, TacOps takes the standard McMillan stock and refinishes it with their own application of a rough texture for all weather gripping and then a durable epoxy paint. Color options are limited to solid colors and typically are finished in green with the texturing done in black. They also do solid black and they even have done a few Tan stocks before. It would be nice at some point to have some other options such as camouflage patterns, but for now, solid colors are it. This particular X-Ray has the traditional TacOps green with black pattern and it looks good.
The A5 stock is very comfortable with the vertical pistol grip and then the wider and not as tall forend than what is found on the A4 stock. The stock is not too bulky or heavy and provides a very nice balance of usability in the field. The heavy texture applied by TacOps does provide a very nice gripping surface for use in all weather conditions and combined with the extreme corrosion protection provided by the Birdsong finishes as well as mud grooves machined into the action, TacOps is making an effort for an all weather tactical platform. Their chambers are match chambers for better accuracy, which does make for tight tolerances and can be troublesome in “gritty” or dirty conditions, but the mud grooves help there.
The barreled action is bedded into the stock using a traditional aluminum pillar glass bedding procedure with a free floated barrel channel. The barrel channel is fairly wide with plenty of gap to allow for more easily keeping the barrel channel clear and the barrel free floated while in the field. Part of the TacOps quality assurance procedure is to check for movement in the bedding with a micrometer after the bedding process is completed. If it does not meet their very high standards, the bedding is redone.
One other, non operational thing I wanted to mention, and as you will see in the photo above, TacOps provides an optional engraving service on the floorplates. This, obviously, has no bearing on the capability of the rifle but does demonstrate the attention to detail standards they adhere to and does allow for a certain level of personalization. They can engrave their floorplates to just about any picture the owner imagines, and no, this is not done on a CNC or laser etcher. The engraving is done the old fashioned way, with hammer and chisel! I was amazed when I learned that. Look at the image engraved on this rifle and then think of the time and effort it took to perform by a guy using hand tools to accomplish it. TacOps says there are only a handful of people in the country still doing engraving like this. I believe it!
So what do all of these details mean? It typically equates to a very beautiful rifle with very high levels of detail. Some people would like more custom options to be available but TacOps prefers to master a set of options and then provide as close to a perfect rifle as they can make. By diversifying and offering tons of other options they feel they loose their expertise in what they know. So there is only a limited number of calibers, stocks, barrel lengths, contours, colors, etc. But they try to provide you with the best possible rifle they can.
Of course, the proof is in the pudding, or, in other words, show me the results. All TacOps rifles come with a .25 MOA or better guarantee and they like to see well under .25 MOA with their rifles before they leave the factory, the .25 is just the starting point. Every rifle is provided with a certification target to show the capability of the rifle when it left the factory and the certification target provided with this rifle measured 0.09″ at 110 yards. Well, apparently the rifle can shoot, I only wondered if I could match the capability of the rifle!
With the factory mounted Nightforce 5.5-22x56mm scope we headed to the range to see what kind of performance we could get out the rifle as compared to TacOps. We brought along some Federal Gold Medal Match and HSM 168gr Match ammo. We fired the rifle on two occasions both with and without a titanium suppressor attached. The average group was .358″ with a best of .213″. I had a few called flyer groups that I discarded and the rifle hovered right around .25 MOA (.26175″) and when I focused on shooting the .25 MOA barrier was not a problem. I did not fire a lot groups as the rifle was a customer rifle but it certainly is capable of much better as is indicated by the certification target. Every TacOps rifle we have fired has not had a problem breaking .25 as they guarantee.
To summarize this review, I have always been a believer in picking one thing and becoming an expert at it. That is the philosophy that TacOps has done with their rifles. They have become an expert at putting together their very high end rifle. No, they do not offer all of the various options and features that are out there, but there are other very good rifle builders that specialize in that, but if you want an extremely accurate rifle with a very high level of attention to the details, then a TacOps X-Ray 51 should be considered.