Posted by Steve Ourada, Director of Training - Mile High Training Detachment on Oct 3rd 2018
Hands down one of my favorite rifles is my Accuracy International AT Sniper rifle. Why? Because it delivers everything I want in a rifle, match accuracy in a ruggedized action and chassis. This rifle will take a beating and continue to perform. The AT offers custom performance at a price point below most custom precision rifles with the added advantage of being a switch barrel system.
I don’t want to bore you with technical specs on the rifle but I do want to highlight some of the components that make this a great rifle. The chassis has the lines of its predecessor, the Arctic Warfare. I have always loved the look of the AW. The AT has a few upgrades that enhance its performance over the old chassis. The pistol grip puts the shooters hand at a more comfortable shooting angle and unlike the old thumbhole chassis, is more left hand friendly. The cheek piece is easily adjusted for comb height and the length of pull is adjusted through the use of spacers. There are brackets on the forend for mounting rails at the 3,6, and 9 o’clock positions and a forward mount if the shooter wants to utilize a spigot bipod system. The chassis has 6 QD attachment points for slings, 2 on the forend, 2 over the pistol grip, and 2 at the end of the stock. If you add rails with the QD option, now you have 8 points to attach your sling to. I really like the placement of the QD attachment points on the rear of the stock, they allow the shooter to attach the sling in a position where it stays out of the way and doesn’t interfere when getting into a shooting position. The AT is available with a fixed stock or a folder.
The heart of the rifle is the action and the main reason the rifle is accurate and robust. It is bonded and bolted to the chassis so there is no point of failure unlike actions that are attached to the stock with screws. No more having to torque to 65” pounds every time you use your rifle. The bolt has a 3 position safety, firing pin indicator, 6 locking lugs and a 60 degree bolt throw. The firing pin indicator is located on the back of the bolt housing and can be checked visually or by feel in low light conditions. The 60degree bolt throw is faster and allows for the use of shorter scope rings than a 90 degree throw found with 700 pattern rifles. Six locking lugs means the rifle locks up tight when the round is chambered improving overall accuracy. Furthermore, if you have a hot reload or an obstruction in the barrel those 6 lugs are going to stop the bolt from coming back and hitting you in your Mark 1 eyeball.
The AT has a 2 stage trigger that is user adjustable for pull weight and the trigger shoe is adjustable for reach. The trigger is a modular design which can be easily removed for cleaning and oiling without needing to separate the action/barrel from the chassis and losing zero. The AT comes standard with barrels from Lother/Walther, these barrels are very accurate. The 308 barrels are a 1/12 twist and come in lengths of 20 and 24 inches. The 6.5 Creedmoor barrels are a 1/8 twist and are 24 inches in length. My AT shoots everything well but does exceptional with Hornady TAP turning in groups of .302” with 155gr and .392” with the 168gr. The most versatile feature of the AT is the QuickLoc barrel removal system. On the side of the AT is a 4mm barrel screw. Loosen this screw 2 to 3 rotations then grab the barrel and unscrew it from the action. To refit a barrel simply screw it in until it stops and then tighten the barrel securing screw to 49 inch lbs. Sounds easy and it is, removing and replacing the barrel takes less than 2 minutes. This system gives the shooter many options when it comes to barrel choices and calibers. Mile High can cut your barrel to your specifications. Many LE marksman that work in urban environments like the 16 inch barrel length because they operate in confined areas. Rural and urban/rural mix departments choose between 20 inch and 24 for their rifles. Because the bolt head will work for both 308 Win and 6.5 creedmoor, AT shooters can switch calibers simply by changing the barrel. When the barrel is close to being shot out there is no need to send it to a gunsmith for re-barreling, which can take weeks to months. Just contact Mile High and order a replacement.
The AT uses a double stack magazine. These mags provide 10 rounds and are slightly longer than the 5 round single stack AICS magazines. There are a lot of accessories available for the AT. Some of my favorites are the night vision bridge mount, thumb screws for adjusting the cheek piece, additional rails, spigot mount for the bipod and different colored skins for the chassis. I like to switch between my OD green and Pale Brown depending on the time of year to better match the vegetation. Simplicity is another adjective I would use when describing the AT. All the adjusting, removing or upgrading can be done with 3 metric hex wrenches. A 4mm for the barrel screw, adjusting the cheek piece, adding or removing rails the NV mount, and removing the trigger. The skins can be removed with a 2.5mm hex and 2mm will adjust your trigger pull weight. Not a very complex tool kit. I would suggest having a 49 inch lbs torque wrench for the barrel screw. The Fix it Sticks and the Borka are two of my favorites and they fit in your range or go bag.
The AI AT has a long service life, there are AI actions that have over 100,000 rounds on them and are still running strong. The ruggedness of the AT also means less maintenance cost for a department because the parts don’t wear as fast. The ability to change the barrel at the user level saves money and down time as opposed to sending it to a qualified gunsmith for a rebarrel. Currently the 308 Win is king in the LE sniper world and it’s a great round, but 10 years from now there may be a better option. If an agency had ATs, they would only have to order new barrels chambered for that caliber instead of having to replace the entire system. Law Enforcement agencies have limited funds and each dollar spent needs to be spent wisely. Departments must also look into their crystal ball and try to predict emerging threats and advancements in technology because when an agency purchases a sniper system it is going to be used by several generations of officers before it is replaced. The rifle needs to keep up with these advancements. The AT is adaptable, rugged, and highly accurate. That is why I feel the Accuracy International AT is the best choice for Law Enforcement snipers.
Steve Ourada, Director of Training - Mile High Training Detachment.
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