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Product review: DOCTERsport 8-25×50 AO

Writing a gun blog certainly has its advantages. One of those is exposure to brands and products you may not otherwise have come in contact with. A perfect example of this is this quality European scope, which I may not have tried out if I didn’t spend a lot of time researching firearm-related products.

The DOCTERsport series is aimed at target shooters, whereas most of the riflescopes made by Docter are built for the European hunter. With this kind of heritage, you know the scope is going to be made to pretty exacting standards, as hunting in the Northern hemisphere can occur at temperatures and elevations unknown to Kiwi hunters.

Speaking of heritage, other factors contributing to Docter’s all-round excellence are it’s shared heritage with Carl Zeiss and its more recent past with Analytik Jena, a company that specialises largely in precisely manufactured and tightly toleranced lab and medical equipment. Docter was recently bought (along with the bulk of AJ’s business) by capital investment firm NOBLEX GmbH. The new owner has assured customers that they will continue to manufacture existing Docter products and parts, and will even invest more into the optics business. Hopefully this will mean continued advancement from an already great producer of high quality scopes.

The large objective bell requires higher scope rings.
The large objective bell requires higher scope rings.

Being European…

The simple fact that this scope is manufactured in Germany by a known maker of fine glass means a lot. It means great optical clarity, fantastic quality and technical specs like you can’t believe. It also means measurements and manuals are in metric units. For example, the lower magnification scopes in the range have adjustments of 7mm per click at 100m – thankfully for those that are used to imperial or MOA measurements, this is 1/4″ at 100m. For the 8-25×50 model you are looking at 3.5mm at 100m, or 1/4″ at 100m, per click.

Light transmission

The scope has fantastic light-transmitting properties. According to Docter, more than 90% of light is transmitted during the day and more than 86% at dusk – not bad in failing light!

At the highest end of the magnification range, you do lose some clarity, but not as much as you’ll notice in cheaper scopes. I only really noticed it the other week at max magnification, shooting in a thunderstorm, with heavy clouds. Under normal shooting conditions, you won’t notice a lack of light at all.

The DOCTERsport has features that will suit some shooters, but hinder others. The questions is - what purpose are you buying a scope for?
The DOCTERsport has features that will suit some shooters, but hinder others. The questions is – what purpose are you buying a scope for?

The 8-25×50 model

This end of the series has the largest objective bell (57mm tube – 50mm lens) and zoom range, so you know you’re dealing with a long-range scope. However, there are a couple aspects to consider when using this scope for extended ranges. Firstly, the 4.5-15×40 and the 8-25×50 are the only AO models in the range, so you’ll be parallax free if you have your settings right. That’s one for the positive column.

Light transmission is excellent, but I personally find the Cross Hair reticle too fine. Others will find it perfect.
Light transmission is excellent, but I personally find the Cross Hair reticle too fine. Others will find it perfect.

On the negative side of the ledger, the adjustment range is not huge. In fact, in the AO models, it’s significantly less than the fixed parallax versions. I’m no scope manufacturer, so I’m guessing it’s to do with two things – introducing more gearing for the Adjustable Objective, and having a limited amount of space in the housing.

The lower end scopes in the range have an adjustment range of 150cm at 100m. So, theoretically (if you’re zeroed in the exact middle of the adjustment range), you can adjust 75cm up or down at 100m. At extended ranges, this will translate into greater vertical or horizontal distance. However, obviously, if you’re working in MOA or MilRads, it’s one constant number.

With the 8-25×50 model, your adjustment range is just 56cm at 100 metres. However, if your rifle and mount are true, this is okay. If you want to shoot beyond 300m – 400m and you’re shooting a calibre with a significant drop, you’ll run out of adjustment range. Also, with any scope, if you’re at the end of the adjustment range, you’ll have other issues with gearing. So, if you want to get truly long range, you’ll need to get adjustable bases or a 20MOA rail – although, let’s be honest, if you’re serious about long range, you have those anyway.

When I first tried this scope on my 6.5×55 I could barely get on paper at 25m, and at 100m I just didn’t have enough adjustment to get on paper. I was too low and to the left. However, the issue was not with the scope. This limited adjustment range highlighted the fact that whoever mounted the bases on my rifle had done a pretty poor job of it, with the rear base sitting higher than the front and off to the side a fraction as well.

The coin adjsutable turrets are necessary for the optional target turrets, but they are not an ideal mechanism.
The coin adjsutable turrets are necessary for the optional target turrets, but they are not an ideal mechanism.

Mounting the scope on my 7mm-08, I enjoyed the crystal-clear clarity and the extras Docter had sent along. The first time I used this scope on my Mossberg was at the NZDA Taupo range in the height of summer, with huge amounts of glare and mirage. Thankfully, the long sun shade made for easy shooting and eliminated a lot of mirage from barrel heat as well. You know careful thought and consideration has been put into the machining of these threads, as the logo lines up nicely with the top of the scope, as does the logo on the large eye piece.

I say the eye piece is large, but it’s not overly so. It’s more that it is longer and bulkier, than wider. So it shouldn’t get in the way of bolt handles on modern rifles, but it has a lot of tolerance for eye relief, allowing you to mount the scope in a way that suits your shooting style. It also has a great fast focus ring that extends a fair way.

All of the adjustment gradations are easily seen from the shooter's position.
All of the adjustment gradations are easily seen from the shooter’s position.

Adjustments and reticle

This scope does have a lot of features, and this review article is probably dragging on a bit, so I’ll finish up with a quick overview on the adjustments and reticle.

There are various options for reticles – Plex, Dot and Cross Hair. The scope that I was sent to review is the Cross Hair variety, and it is exceptionally thin. This is great for seeing more of your target at long range, but it’s difficult to use in quick-fire applications, where you would want the Plex reticle. In my personal opinion, it’s a bit too fine, but for those that shoot long distance all the time, it could be just what they want.

There are no reticles with holdover marks (unless you count the post on the Plex), so it’s a scope designed for shooting at known distances. Again, this does mean a cleaner and less obstructed view through the scope.

Most Docter scopes come with finger-adjustable turrets under caps. This particular model comes with tool (or coin) adjustable turrets under low profile caps. The reason for this, is that there are optional target-style turrets that are finger adjustable, and screw into the coin adjustment slot. I like the idea of target turrets, but this method does make them a bit too sloppy in my opinion. The tactile response to adjustments is just not as good as other Docter scopes, but you do gain the benefit of being able to see

The optional target turrets offer easy adjustments from the shooting position.
The optional target turrets offer easy adjustments from the shooting position.

your zero markings from behind the gun.

Not only can you clearly see the markings on the target turrets, but because the magnification and parallax adjustments are on rings that slope towards the shooter, you can clearly see these as well, without moving from your shooting position.

These other rings are also quite coarsely geared for a scope of this price and magnification level. Coarse doesn’t mean bad. Coarse means quicker, but less fine adjustments. Whereas finer gearing means more precise adjustments, but long throws, which slow you down.

The scope does, of course, come with all you would expect in terms of ruggedness. Fantastic rubber armour where it’s needed, as well as all the usual shock, fog and water-proofing you’d expect in a modern scope.

Overall impression

Overall, the scope is worth the money spent if it suits your style of shooting. It is designed for target shooters, shooting at known distances in variable conditions. If you’re after a hunting scope or something to throw on your AR, Docter have some other brilliant scopes for those applications, but this is not the one.

Docter scopes are not easy to find in New Zealand, but Serious Shooters does have a decent stock, Wilhelm Arms may still have some stock if you ask Richard, and there are Australian and European stores that will ship to NZ if you don’t mind a bit of a wait.

The 8-25×50 currently retails around NZ$1700, but if you can find it on special, you can usually shave off a couple hundred bucks. For a German quality scope with this many features, you’re doing well at a price like that.

If you want a chance to win the scope used in this review, head along to our Facebook page, and also check out the terms and conditions here.


Mounting a scope on a .303

The old .303 has been a staple of the Kiwi bush for decades, and will most likely continue to be around for decades to come. Usually the pristine, fully wooded specimens are locked away in gunsafes and taken out for service rifle shoots, and even old sporters get treated with a degree of respect, reflecting their heritage from the culling days.

However, some sporters are the perfect base for a project that’s a little bit fun – a little bit different. So, looking out for the perfect beginning of a bush rifle project, an easy scope mounting scenario was high on the list for me.

Comparing two SMLEs, one with original fixed sights and one with a scope mounted and iron sights removed.
Comparing two SMLEs, one with original fixed sights and one with a scope mounted and iron sights removed.

Most of the older rifles with scope mounts have rails that bridge the gap between the front of the action and the stripper-clip/bolt guide. I think I’ve only seen one with weaver-style rings jimmied into place, and one with a scout-type mount that fit over the rear sight – similar to what you see on some Mosin Nagant scout projects.

Anyway, these older rails – they all tend to lack any Weaver or Picatinny type cross sections – the slots where the recoil stop sits. If you try and fit modern rings to one of these older rifles, you’ll find that after a few shots, the rings will start to slide back or loosen.

So, this means if you buy a rifle with one of these old rails you have a couple choices.

Find some old rings

You could try and find some old style rings that lack a cross-bar. These are similar to the dovetail rings you get for rimfire rifles and for modern Tika rifles. The difference is the width of the ring bases, so you may not be able to find a modern type that will fit your older rifle – especially if the angle of the lips doesn’t mate up with the angle of the rail.

With the ATI scope mount, a longer allen key will be very helpful for the rear grub screws.
With the ATI scope mount, a longer allen key will be very helpful for the rear grub screws.

So, you may have to try and find some old school rings. However there are two downfalls to this approach. Firstly, older rings were phased out for a reason. The cross bar on picatinny and Weaver style scope rings means the rings cannot slide back on the rail under recoil.

The second downfall is that you will be getting an unknown quantity. They will probably be for 1″ tubes only, and you won’t know whether they’re good quality, well-aligned, etc.

Remove the rail and replace

There are a few modern rail types that you can fit to your .303. There are ones that you drill and tap into the side of the action – I’m not a big fan, but others like them. They’re quite similar to the kind of aftermarket rails you’d use on an AK, Mosin or SKS – basically actions that aren’t designed for scope rails.

The grub screws in the rear of the ATI scope mount use tension to keep the rail in place.
The grub screws in the rear of the ATI scope mount use tension to keep the rail in place.

Because the rear ring of the action is quite different to modern actions, your standard MOA rails probably won’t be much help. However, ATI produces a mount that uses one screw into the front ring of the action and a couple grub screws against the rear ring of the action. While these two rear screws are not drilled and tapped into the action, the force they apply seems to be strong enough to keep the rail in place under recoil.

I’ve been using one on a project .303 for a while now, and have had no complaints.

With any aftermarket scope mounts on an SMLE, you’re going to have a pretty high scope. So, you’ll probably need to look at an aftermarket stock or some sort of cheek riser to allow easy and repeatable eye relief. More on that in another article soon, as this project continues to evolve.

Product review: Boyds Prairie Hunter gun stock for Swedish Mauser

Sometimes you find a winning combination. Something that just works for you. This has been my experience with the Prairie Hunter rifle stock from Boyds, combined with my 1943 Husqvarna Mauser – a dream come true. What makes this such an epic combination? There are several factors that combine to make this gun incredibly shootable, but for now, let’s look at the fancy piece of wood it’s sitting in.

The looks

The old Mauser looks perfectly at home on the range in its Prairie Hunter stock.
The old Mauser looks perfectly at home on the range in its Prairie Hunter stock.

The Prairie Hunter is a good looking stock, no doubt about it. The first time this rifle was on the range in its new configuration, an old time shooter said “such a pretty stock for such an old rifle!” And he wasn’t the only one. Laminates are known for being hardy, heavy and beautiful in an age of synthetic rifle stocks.

In the looks department, this stock was certainly helped along. Boyds provided this specimen with a nice, thick Limbsaver recoil pad and synthetic caps for the nose and grip. What adds to both the functionality and visual appeal of the rifle, is an adjustable cheek piece. The adjustments are made from the top, with an allen wrench, which means no adjustment knobs on the side of the rifle.

Full profile picture of the Boyds Prairie Hunter stock with adjustable cheek rest. This picture is here especially for Zach.
Full profile picture of the Boyds Prairie Hunter stock with adjustable cheek rest. This picture is here especially for Zach.

Final fitting needed

Boyds does advise that their stocks are made to their house actions (imagine how many actions they have!), so final fitting may be needed for your rifle. For this particular project, I received my stock in ‘unfinished’ condition. This means a final sanding and some polyurethane are needed. The reason for this, is that old Mausers come with several different bolt configurations, depending on the life they’ve had. This means that the channel that the bolt handle fits into should be determined by the end user, depending on their particular model. With a bit of work to do, Boyds doesn’t send you a finished stock, that you will then have to cut into and sand down anyway. Makes sense.

Some relieving of matriral was needed at the front of the mag well.
Some relieving of material was needed at the front of the mag well.

The bolt handle notching was easily done, and is covered in my series of articles on bedding and finishing stocks. With this particular stock, I found that the floor metal was a couple millimetres further back than I needed it to be. All I needed to do was to relieve some material from the front end of the mag well to get the metal sitting where it should, and mating up to the action.

I chose to bed my action, which was a bit more work still, and instead of polyurethane, I opted for a hand-rubbed finish, using Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and Stock Sheen and Conditioner. The oil even gave a nice gloss to the plastic bits on the stock as well. Learn my lesson without doing the hard yards though, tape off the recoil pad if it’s rubbery. The oil will make this super sticky, and you will get all sorts of fluff on your butt pad for a while. You will eventually be able to rub it all off.

The Tru-Oil immediately brings out the character in the laminate.
The Tru-Oil immediately brings out the character in the laminate.


Oh what a joy. I couldn’t be happier.

And that’s not sarcasm!

The 6.5×55 is not known to have heavy recoil, but if you have a shortened barrel and sporterised stock, you feel every bit of it. Having purchased this rifle second-hand with the intention of restoring it, I was happy enough with the home-made sporter stock, but it was certainly made for a shorter person, and the lightweight nature of it didn’t do much to tame the kick of the old service round.

The extra weight associated with the laminate stock meant all sorts of recoil-reduction. I would definitely recommend going for this or a walnut stock over most of the synthetic options out there. The normal-person-sized length of pull also helped, along with the 1″ recoil pad. Don’t get me wrong, the stock isn’t overly heavy either. With a hollowed out barrel channel for free-floating and weight reduction, the balance and weight is nice. Most of the heft is around and behind the action – where you need it most.

Tall scope mounts are no problem with the adjustable cheek rest.
Tall scope mounts are no problem with the adjustable cheek rest.

Combining this with my MAE 6-30 ST suppressor, recoil concerns are now a thing of the past. So much so, that I can shoot off the bipod with my off-hand under the grip as a stabiliser, instead of holding down the fore end to stop myself getting a scope in the face, as I had to do with the synthetic-stocked Mossberg ATR a month or so ago.

Shooting with this configuration and my wife’s Vortex 4-12X Diamondback with BDC reticle, my wife and I were hitting 9’s and 10’s at the 300 metre Swiss Club shoot a couple weeks ago – even a 10.1! And this is with factory loads (Norma-Sierra 144gr).

Adjustable cheek rest

One of the major selling points of the configuration I now have is the adjustable cheek piece on the Boyds stock, and I would highly recommend this option on the next stock you buy. Below are a few of the reasons I love this feature:

  • easily adjust for different users and eye-relief
  • raise your line-of-sight for scopes that are mounted high due to large optic bells, iron sights or bolt handle clearance
  • quickly lower the cheek piece when needed for cleaning rod access
  • ensure proper cheek-weld to maintain repeatable, accurate shot placement

Overall impressions

There is a lot to be said for keeping old military rifles in their original condition. However, if you’ve bought yourself a bit of a project, or inherited a less-than-perfect specimen, a great place to start with your customisation efforts is a replacement stock from Boyds.

You can get a stock that is more suited to varminting, target-shooting or tactical-style precision matches than the military wood. These old stocks were made to be shot with full winter clothing, and to be light as well. As such, they transfer a lot of recoil to a normal-size shooter. You can also help your sweet Swede look as good as it shoots. With a nice-looking stock, like the one I have in a Nutmeg finish, you won’t feel out of place next to the Howas and Tikkas on the range.

The Boyds stock completes the set up, along with an MAE suppressor and BOLD Trigger unit.
The Boyds stock completes the set up, along with an MAE suppressor and BOLD Trigger unit.

Bear in mind, when you order a stock from Boyds and you are not in the States, you have to keep your order under $100 to avoid costly permits which make the process impossible. If you or someone you know is making a trip to the USA, take advantage. Or get friends and family over there to help you out. Worst case scenario, you can still get an amazing stock, but you may have to forego some of the bells and whistles.

Mossberg 100 ATR 7mm-08 Review

The Mossberg 100 ATR gets its initials from the phrase ‘All Terrain Rifle’. To be honest, if that’s what you’re after, this fits the bill. An inexpensive rifle that is rough and ready, but with a couple features that do stand out, the ATR is not a glamorous 1000-yard shooter, but a simple hunting tool.

Affordability is…

I do a fair bit of reading and research when it comes to shooting, and I remember one thought that really stood out when reading on barrel metallurgy. While steel prices have increased noticeably over the last decade, rifle prices have remained relatively static. So, if the cost of raw material is increasing, how are prices not rising accordingly?

This can be partly answered with advances in manufacturing techniques and the use of polymers and synthetics in place of wood and other expensive materials. However, it can’t be ignored that even some of the most expensive rifles show a bit more roughness around the edges compared to their 80’s or 90’s ancestors.

Opening up the Mossberg box for the first time was a mixture of anticipation and nerves - how good would this rifle be?
Opening up the Mossberg box for the first time was a mixture of anticipation and nerves – how good would this rifle be?

Mass production has resulted in cheaper rifles, while some advances in tooling, assembly and technique have resulted in relatively consistent levels of accuracy.

The Mossberg ATR is the ultimate expression of these cost-saving measures. It has the features you want, and some extras that you’ll enjoy – but it does feel cheap.

On the plus side

Undeniably, the most positive thing about this rifle is its price point. It’s affordable enough for the beginner hunter to make their way into the sport, and even cheap enough for the seasoned shooter to justify buying one just to try a different calibre out.

The ATR has been around for a fair few years, and has been supplanted in the States by the Patriot series of rifles – which seems to be a step up from the old ATR. However, with quite a bit of stock floating around New Zealand, there are still plenty of brand new rifles and packages floating around. You can expect to get a rifle for around $600 – $700, and packages including mounting system, rings, a scope and possibly a couple extras for between $700 and $900. A few good examples are here, here and here.

Features abound

The half cock and side safety are features which will excite some.
The half cock and side safety are features which will excite some.

Working in its favour, the Mossberg has a few features that you would expect to see on a more expensive firearm. Some that immediately spring to mind are the easily adjustable trigger, half cock on the bolt, side safety, a slick feeding action and fluting on the barrel.

  • LBA – Lightning Bolt Action – trigger system. The trigger on the ATR is fully adjustable, down to a mere 2 pounds. I found the 3 pound trigger pull from the factory to be light enough, especially for a hunting rifle, and even let one round off a bit too soon, as I expected more resistance from such a stock-standard rifle. Similar in appearance to the Savage Accutrigger, the LBA has a a thin piece of steel that nestles into the centre of the trigger. It’s pretty light and wiggly, but behind that is a rock solid single-stage trigger. The effect is similar to a two-stage trigger as the blade locks up the sear until fully depressed.
  • The half cock feature is something that a lot of hunters like. it allows you to be chambered and ready to go, with a simple push down on the bolt when you sight your prey. I personally prefer a bolt closed on an empty chamber, but the half cock is undeniably popular. The side-safety is easily reachable and operable, without shifting from your shooting position. You can easily manipulate it with the thumb of your shooting hand, but again, this isn’t something that is make-or-break for me.
  • The action is smooth as butter. In fact, probably one of the smoothest bolt actions in my safe. With two locking lugs and only a negligible bit of wobble when it travels, the bolt is well balanced. It’s a push-feed (as are most modern rifles), and picks up its rounds easily enough. I would buy this rifle all over again simply because it is so easy to work and feed.
  • The fluting on the barrel is a nice touch, and makes the rifle appear a bit more classy than its price tag would indicate. Aside from that, I can’t see much use for it. The weight saving couldn’t be too much, given it’s only have the barrel. And to be honest, this rifle could use a tiny bit more weight to absorb some recoil. However, it does make you feel less cheap when you’re at the range sighting in next to a Howa or a Remmy 700.
  • Already equipped with Weaver-style bases, the rifle is ready to mount your favourite scope too. It seems the bases are loctited too, as after over 50 rounds, these didn’t work loose. It’s also worth pointing out that the drop on the stock is pretty near perfect, lining you up nicely with a low-mounted scope.

It’s not all candy floss and daisies

It would be great to say we’ve found the cheapest, bestest rifle in the world. But you know how it goes. Cheap, accurate, reliable – choose two.

There are some aspects to the rifle that don’t float my boat, but at the incredibly low price, these are things I can generally handle. This rifle will end up being a good short-range (100 – 300 yards) shooter, for taking out goats, pigs or deer that present themselves nicely. It won’t be my go-to rifle, nor will it be my trusty long-range shooter.

Here are some of the detractors, which limit the rifle’s appeal in my opinion. Some of these are down to cheaper manufacturing, and can be expected.

  • It’s noisy. The ATR has a flimsy plastic stock that is hollow. If you knock the butt of the rifle, it lets out a hollow clunk. When you close the bolt you can hear it riding over the plastic follower and the bolt handle lets out another hollow-sounding tone when closed against the side of the stock.
  • The floor metal is… plastic. If you go for the walnut stock, you’ll get proper floor metal. However, the synthetic version comes with plastic moulded sling mounts, trigger guard and blind-magazine floor plate, I say floor plate, but it is completely sealed and inaccessible from the bottom of the rifle. This will all limit your ability to swap out the stock at a later date (without buying floor metal), and may interfere with some mounted accessories, such as bipods.
  • The recoil is dramatic. The 7mm-08 is not known to be a heavy recoiling round, however, with no mass to absorb the backward motion of the action, most of that recoil is going straight into your shoulder. Even with the inch-thick recoil pad equipped, there was noticeable kick. I did have a light grip on the fore of the rifle on the first shot I took, and after copping a scope to the face, I quickly tightened up my grip to arrest the rearward motion of the firearm. The walnut stocked version will probably deal with this recoil more appropriately.
  • The look of it. To be honest, it’s not that bad, and as mentioned above, the fluted barrel helps in the looks department. However, the obnoxious Mossberg branding on the bolt looks like lipstick on a pig. Without it, it would look like a good, basic rifle. Rather than a tarted-up cheapy.
The Mossberg's floor metal - or lack thereof.
The Mossberg’s floor metal – or lack thereof.

Accuracy and the deal-breaker

I decided to test this basic hunting rifle with basic hunting loads. A week ago I took a drive down to Waiuku Pistol Club and spent some time on the 100 yard range testing out the following cartridges:

  • Winchester 140 gr Super-X Power Point
  • Remington 140 gr Express Core-Lokt
  • Highland AX 140 gr SPBT
  • Hornady 139 gr American Whitetail

I have read a few other reviews on this rifle, and note that one reviewer achieved sub-minute groups with some expensive ammo, while another was happy enough with his 2+ MOA groups.

A good sampling of 7mm-08 hunting ammo was used for breaking in and sighting in.
A good sampling of 7mm-08 hunting ammo was used for breaking in and sighting in.

This is the realm my rifle was printing in. The average group size across all four brands (3-shot groups) was 2.53 MOA. Surprisingly, the budget brand Highland AX achieved the best groups, just over 2 MOA, while Winchester (favoured by many 7mm-08 shooters) achieved just under 3 MOA.

At the end of the day, a 2 or 3 MOA rifle at this price is about what you would expect, and is still delivering consistent kill shots out to 300 yards (if you’re using a load closer to the 2 MOA range).

And I could forgive many aspects of this rifle’s construction if it ended there. The very tilty magazine follower, the hollow stock, the spartan looks and short length-of-pull.

All of this could be forgiven, if the barrel fouled a little during break in.

Barrel with no fouling

I know breaking in a rifle barrel is an oft-debated topic, but here it is, I do practice barrel break-in, especially for cheaper rifles, which stand to gain the most from a bit of polishing in the bore to relieve some rough machining. The process I use has nothing to do with achieving X amount of shots, cleaning in between each Y amount of shots. Rather, I take a similar approach to what Nathan Foster describes here. Visually inspecting for copper fouling, and masking sure you are getting a nice, slow build up, which will help maintain accuracy over a decent amount of shots, before fouling becomes excessive.

Two things that can indicate poor barrel manufacturing are excessive fouling after each shot, or no fouling at all. The latter is what I experienced with the ATR. After putting through 51 rounds, not a single trace of copper was seen. Plenty of powder residue, but no hint of the lands hugging the bullet enough to produce some slight copper swaging.

What does this mean? The bore is slightly over-sized. So slight, almost imperceptible. But it makes a massive difference. This barrel will never achieve a sweet spot after a few fouling rounds. The first clean shot will always be the best, and it will only go downhill from there until it is cleaned. Not only this, but the wear on the lands will mean that it has a greatly reduced barrel life, maybe 5 – 20% of what you would expect from your average barrel.

I’m certainly not saying that every ATR is like this. I am saying that this one is. While yours may be great, mine is a shocker. It will be good enough for casual goat hunts, where you might be using between 2 and 10 rounds in a trip. It will probably be good enough for at least a dozen or so trips like this. However, after this, the gun will rapidly start to lose accuracy and usefulness. Not having an action worth re-barrelling, in a few years, this particular rifle will not be worth much at all. However, given the price I paid for it, I feel like I will have achieved sufficient use out of this firearm in that time to justify the expense (and then some).

It’s also been a treat to be able to buy a cheap rifle simply to try out the 7mm-08 calibre. A more thorough review of the ammo used will be coming up soon.

Final thoughts?

If you want a cheap shooter in a new calibre, something to throw on the quad to take around the farm, or an inexpensive bush gun that can take some knocks, the All Terrain Rifle lives up to its name. If you’re under any allusions as to buying cheap and shooting 1/3 MOA groups all day, think again. You may luck out and get a great barrel, you may not.

At the end of the day, the rifle is worth every cent you pay for it, and a little bit more.


Three shot group on smallbore target

Rifle resources

There are so many places around the web that you can visit to become more informed about your chosen shooting sport or firearm. However, some resources stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. Here’s a quick break-down of great places to to do a bit of digging.

Cartridge research and long-range accuracy

Terminal Ballistics is not only the home of Matchgrade Bedding Compound, but is also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to… well… terminal ballistics. The study of terminal ballistics is the study of what a bullet does once it impacts the target.

Nathan Foster does a lot of wound research and load development to help shooters figure out which cartridges will suit their desired application. If you’re thinking of trying out a new calibre, this is a great place to start.

Terminal Ballistics also provides long-range shooting advice, both on the web, and in books and other media. If you’re interested in hunting or target-shooting at extended ranges, make sure to give these a go.

Community opinion

Sometimes what you really want to know, is what other users think of a product. Sites like The Gun Rack provide product reviews and other useful information, but if you’d like to get a variety of opinions or start a poll on a certain subject, a forum may be the best place to do that.

In New Zealand we have and many, many more. Often you’ll find that forum members are across multiple sites, and you’ll soon figure out who really knows their stuff.

Advice on reloading and other topics is plentiful on online forums.
Advice on reloading and other topics is plentiful on online forums.

Technical reviews

While I try and provide thorough reviews from a user’s point of view, sometimes what you want is a very technical investigation into a certain issue.

A website you can’t look past is Full of comprehensive tests and healthily objective comparisons, this is a site that I could get lost on for hours (and sometimes have).


Some of the services that rifle shooters need are just not advertised in the way makeup or used cars are. To find out where to get your stock repaired or get a barrel threaded, you probably shouldn’t rely on Google.

Theirs no better resource for this than your fellow shooters. Aside from checking out forums, or the other resources listed above, joining a hunting or shooting club is an invaluable way to make contacts in the community/industry, and find out where your local gunsmith or hunting spots might be hidden.

Product review: MAE 6-30 ST Suppressor

Before the NZDA Prize Shoot earlier this month, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a brand new suppressor from MAE. I didn’t get a chance to shoot with it before the day, so I must admit I was a bit nervous – but it was well worth it in the end.


MAE are a New Zealand suppressor manufacturer, based out of East Tamaki in Auckland. These guys are not only part of what keeps New Zealand’s shooting community ticking, but they are able to actively engage with their customers to discover new needs and develop better products. Some of the models and cutaways that I saw at the shop were incredibly impressive – include a suppressor that tightens itself on the thread as you fire.

Suppressors in New Zealand

Unlike the USA, suppressors can be had without any legal hoopla or extra taxes. They are seen as practical accessories that improve the shooting experience, control noise on the range or farm, and make it easier to destroy pests or hunt game.

Suppressors help to reduce felt recoil, as well as decibel levels.
Suppressors help to reduce felt recoil, as well as decibel levels.

There are many – many – types of suppressors on the market, include muzzle forward (muzzle cans), over-barrel (reflex) or full-barrel (integrated). There are many produced here, and as much come in from overseas. Price-wise, you can expect to pay anything between $300 and well over $1000 for a centrefire suppressor. A decent rimfire silencer can go for as little as $55 on Trademe, and up to a couple hundred bucks if you want better performance. Again, the more you spend, the more you get. I have seen some impressive .22LR setups with full-barrel or over-barrel suppressors.

6-30 ST Muzzle Can

The 6-30 ST suppressor is the cheapest (brand new) centrefire suppressor I have seen in New Zealand recently. Don’t let this fool you though – it’s damn good.


The positives

  • It does what it says. This suppressor greatly reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb. It was infinitely easier to shoot with this suppressor fitted, especially with a light (and short) stock. For modern hunting rigs in large calibres and light stocks, one of these should be on your radar.
  • It’s a solid unit. Literally. It doesn’t come apart for cleaning and is joined at the muzzle end with some very neat TIG welding. This means there are no bits to lose or break.
  • Long life expectancy. With a 5000 round minimum service life according to MAE, you can expect this suppressor to last as long as the barrel on your rifle. For the price, it’s definitely worth it.
  • Solid stainless. The 304 stainless means it’s heavy as hell, and you certainly notice the balance shift. However, the heavy material absorbs more sound and makes for a more solid unit. The 304 will also be less prone to corrosion than other materials. For a range rig, this is ideal. For a hunting rig, you may want something that reflexes over the barrel to spread the weight a bit better. MAE offers a 5 year warranty, so you know they’re built like a brick sh…
  • The price. At $250 for the stainless finish or $290 for the matte black, it’s the cheapest you’ll find on the market (at least as far as I can see).
  • The versatility. If you have multiple rifles with the same thread but in different calibres, this silencer is for you. Good for anything between 6mm and right up to the 300 magnums, you can have one suppressor for your rifle, your partners, and the three she doesn’t know about.
The suppressor is built for anything between 6mm and .300 RUM. The 6.5x55 above shows how much room there is left over.
The suppressor is built for anything between 6mm and .300 RUM. The 6.5×55 above shows how much room there is left over.

The negatives

  • Weight. Although I like the weight of this unit, at almost half a kilo, it could be off-putting for those after a bush-ready rig. If you want a long-range shooter or a tactical sniper set-up, then this won’t deter you at all.
  • The price. Some people just don’t feel like they’re getting a good product unless they have to have their wallet surgically removed through their nose. In my opinion, this suppressor does what much more expensive ones do (without skipping a beat), at a much lower price. If this bothers you, I imagine your gun safe is full of some pretty expensive stuff. If you do want to spend more money, I’m sure MAE will have something to fit the bill.
  • Um…… I can’t think of anything else to be honest.

Range shooting

I must admit, I had a pretty poor shoot at the NZDA, but that was me, not the rifle. However, the one thing I did get out of the day was an immense satisfaction with my new suppressor, as well as the BOLD Trigger from Boyds Gunstocks.

The brushed stainless finish stands out and looks great. Although, for hunters a matte black would be better.
The brushed stainless finish stands out and looks great. Although, for hunters a matte black would be better.

I chose to leave my suppressor as brushed stainless. Not only did it keep the cost down, but it looks cool with my rifle and the other polished metal bits on it (the Mauser-style extractor and the cocking piece). Having had a look at the paint MAE use (Gun Kote 2410F), I knew I had a pretty good match at home if I wanted to paint it myself later. In fact, it would then perfectly match my barrel which I did with the same paint.

The 6.5×55 is a pretty mild-recoiling round, however, in the short, light-weight stock mine is in, it has quite a kick. Not enough to make it uncomfortable to shoot, but after 50 rounds, you’d definitely feel it. The first thing I noticed was an immense reduction in recoil. Not only does this get rid of the instinctual flinch you might develop over time, but it means you are right on target for your next shot. Previously I would find myself pointing two targets over to the left after each shot.

Shooting amongst a bunch of bare-barrel .308s and .223s all day, I could certainly notice (and appreciate) the significant reduction in noise from my old Swede. Ross, whom I shoot with regularly at the Howick Smallbore club, remarked several times throughout the day that he was incredibly impressed with how quite my gun was – he was sitting next to me and expecting a pretty big blast. Another shooter from our club noted that the rifle sounded “pretty cool” – which I must admit, it did. If you play Battlefield 4, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I was even approached by a complete stranger who said he would love to get one himself.

With the grand sacrifice of $250, and a little weight on the end of my rifle, I improved my shooting experience greatly. And the rifle did do really well on the day in the end, as my wife placed top of Division B with it.

Some caveats

When I got my suppressor I was given two bits of advice. Firstly, use a lubricant on the threads to ensure you can get it off after you shoot (nickel-based is good, copper-based is bad). Secondly, take the suppressor off after you shoot, or the stainless will attack the barrel.

Anyone who is familiar with the concept of sacrificial metals will quickly grasp that last one. I would just add one last piece of advice. The burnt powder and gunk that is on the crown of the barrel when you remove the suppressor – wipe this off immediately. I waited until I got home and cleaned my rifle, and it had hardened and become very difficult to remove.

My overall opinion is that this is a product which will help you enjoy shooting more – especially larger calibres, and will improve your accuracy. If those are two things you would like to do, and at a reasonable price too, then this is the suppressor for you.

Check out for more of their range.