Thanks to my work at TTAG, I’ve had a number of long range rifles in my possession from time to time. And they all suffer from the same problem, namely that they’re MASSIVE. I mean, just look at the AR-50. I can fit seven bodies in my trunk and that one BARELY let me close the lid! There’s no doubt that the market exists for a compact rifle that will give you both the ability to stash it in a backpack as well as make a 1,000 yard shot, and McMillan hit the nail on the head with their CS5 . . .


McMillan showed off their new CS5, which stands for “Concealable Subsonic/Supersonic Suppressed Sniper System,” at SHOT 2012, and we were on the scene. According to McMillan, the gun was designed to be a compact firearm useful to snipers who need to either be discrete in their bearing of arms or just didn’t have space in their patrol cars for the full size version. But the really cool part was that McMillan designed an accurate subsonic .308 Winchester loading to pair with the short barrel and silencer. And, to make it even more appealing, it all folds together to make an adorable package!


The initial design, however, fell under the NFA. The barrel length was WAY under the minimum 16″ required by Uncle Sam, and so your only option was to fill out a Form 4 and wait months on end for your pretty princess. But McMillan wanted to be able to sell these without forcing customers to jump through the NFA hoops (as even police departments need to fill out a form 3 to get NFA items). So they designed one with an 18.5″ barrel, too. And as soon as they were done taking pictures of the first one off the line, it showed up at my FFL.

But enough jibber-jabber. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this fine-ass rifle.

Some of you may notice that this gun bears a striking resemblance to the Tubb 2000, also of McMillan fame. And that’s because its basically the same rifle. The only real difference is the barrel and the barrel shroud. But, for those who are unfamiliar with the ergonomic orgasm that is the Tubb 2000, I’ll start from the beginning.

And the beginning is where most of the magic happens. The stock is completely, 100% adjustable. Every single thing you could want to adjust — length of pull, height of the butt, even the cant of the butt pad — everything is adjustable. With the turn of a couple screws you can mold it to fit your body in a way that until now only Scarlett Johanson was able to achieve with a red top. It’s a beautiful thing.

Even more beautiful, however, is this single piece of engineering right here:

Oh yeah, baby. An adjustable mother-f***ing cheek piece. As most of you know, the lack of an adjustable cheek piece is my single biggest pet peeve in firearms design. And yet, here it is. It almost brings a tear to my eye. Moving on….

While most of the rifle is identical to the Tubb, the trigger is one of the things that they’ve changed. Specifically the blade itself. Where the Tubb was designed to be a range queen that only saw fair weather usage, the CS5 is intended to be used in all conditions. They don’t assume your trigger finger is going to be dry, and the trigger reflects that all-weather design. It has an aggressive texture on it that toes the line between being grippy and being uncomfortable — and gives you the best compromise possible between the two extremes.

Speaking of the trigger, that’s another one of the infinitely adjustable features. The blade can be moved backwards and forwards to get you exactly right distance between the grip and the blade so the pad of your finger is comfortabe on that sucker. And did I mention that the trigger is made by Anschutz, the same company that made my first love (a .22 bolt action rifle from the 1970s that I used to compete at Penn State)? And that it’s fully adjustable, even allowing the shooter to choose between single stage and 2-stage operation? Oh yeah. Good stuff.

There are other things that can’t be adjusted as easily, but can definitely be swapped. Like the grip. The rifles will all ship with the heavily customizeable Magpul MIAD grip, and while McMillan did send me one to put on this bad boy (the one it came with was DOA thanks to a washer being one size too small for shipping) it unfortunately didn’t get here in time for the pictures. And then my gallbladder started acting up and needed to be removed, so by the time it was ready for round 2 with the camera, I was out of commission and McMillan wanted the gun back. So imagine an awesome Magpul grip on the gun. And if Magpul isn’t your cup of tea, you can swap it for any other AR-15 compatible grip on the market.

Speaking of parts compatibility, McMillan claims that the gun will take any standard SR-25 (AR-10) magazine. So I called up Magpul, asked real nice, and a 20-round AR-10 PMAG showed up at my doorstep. So, does it fit?

Yes, yes it does. And, may I say, it looks friggin’ cool as hell. AND it feeds perfectly, despite McMillan’s advice that it might need some modification to run right. But it ran just fine, right out of the box for me, perfect feed every time.

While we’re down here by the bottom of the receiver, I wanted to mention the bolt. The handle may seem a little small and strangely shaped at first glance, but when you’re cycling the bolt it feels just about right. The dual cams in the bolt itself also help to make it glide butter-smooth to the unlocked position and cycle as smooth as silk.

Something that you notice pretty quickly on this gun is that there are rails EVERYWHERE. Not only is there a good length of rail on top, but there are three rails on the forward section of the handguard for things like lights, lasers and NODs. There’s also a small rail on the side of the receiver that hooks into a rail mount on the butt of the gun so you can keep everything attached and in one package when the gun is in a bag or somewhere similar. For a picture of how that looks, see photo #2 up top.

The barrel on the 18.5″ model is a fluted, heavy-as-hell design that not only provides kick-ass accuracy but ends in a nice threaded tip that, once again, lets you customize what you want on the end of your barrel. One e-mail to Advanced Armament later and Mike Mers shipped me out a part that was about to put the crowning piece on my absolute dream rifle build.

Almost there…

YEAH BABY! Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you my idea of the perfect rifle.

OPh, RF? If you ever wanted to get me a present…

Just saying…

Well, almost perfect. Before we get too much further, I wanted to talk about the safety on this gun. It’s there, and it’s functional, but it sucks. Engaging it is tough, and flipping it off takes some effort and really isn’t convenient. In other words, it’s not very practical. Which you can see from this image ripped from McMillan’s website. This is the one thing that can be improved on this rifle.

So, what we have here is a rifle that meets every single one of my “dreamboat” criteria. It’s fully adjustable, takes my silencer and claims some amazing accuracy. But how well does it shoot?

That’s some video of me nailing a steel plate at 1,000 yards with this gun. And the ONLY reason that I didn’t hit it 10/10 times is that I absolutely suck at reading the wind. If you notice, all of the rounds impacted on the same horizontal plane as each other — the only difference was how far left or right the wind blew that round. Which, when the bullet is subsonic for the last 200 yards and on the highly variable and gusty plains of Texas, can be an issue for those less experienced at long range shooting. Like yours truly. Nevertheless, it still hit the plate. And in the hands of a professional (and not just one that plays a professional on the Internet) I’m certain it would be of unquestionable accuracy.

I called this my dream rifle, and it really is. Even with the 18.5 inch barrel, this thing still fits with room to spare in a smaller Pelican case than anything else I own, and outshoots everything else as well. It has some fantastic ergonomics, and enough interoperability with other equipment (like silencers and spare magazines) to where I don’t need specialized parts if I want to change something on the gun. It’s insanely accurate, easy to transport and adaptable. And at a rumored $5,900 it’s worth every penny.

McMillan Concealable Subsonic/Supersonic Suppressed Sniper System (Standard)

Specifications:

Caliber:                308 Winchester
Barrel:                  Stainless, Match Grade, 1-11″ Twist 18.5 inches
Weight:                11.6 lbs.
Operation:          Bolt action
Finish:                  Black
Capacity:             10 rounds (Takes standard SR-25 magazines)
MSRP:                  Call for Quote (Rumored at $5,900)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
1/2 MoA groups are nice, but seeing every single round at 1,000 yards hit the same line of dirt, plus or minus an inch or so, was absolutely amazing.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Um, yeah. I’m going to forget you even asked. The only issue is the safety, which is a little tough. And not quite…ergonomic.

Ergonomics Firing: * * * * *
Perfect.

Reliability: * * * * *
There aren’t many things to go wrong with a bolt action. Even feeding from magazines that McMillan said would have some issues, it was perfect.

Customize This: * * * * *
Bipods, NODs, silencers…the list of things you can do to this gun is endless.

Overall: * * * * *
This gun is so awesome that I’m seriously considering taking the money I have tucked away for a new car and spending it on one of these instead. If I thought seeing the AR-50 being carted away by the UPS truck was bad, this is going to be even worse. Like my girlfriend breaking up with me worse. Until my own CS5 comes, that is.

21 Responses to Gun Review: McMillan CS5

  1. Awesome review, Nick. Loved the video where you can hear the distant “ding” of you nailing that plate at 1k. Must have been a great feeling.

  2. Looks like an excellent gun. Was that a NightForce scope?

    I wonder how this would compare to an LWRCi or POF Armory .308 in a 16, 18, or 20″ barrel with a Leoupold Mark IV optic or similar.
    Some of the semi autos out there can break the 3/4 MOA barrier with premium ammo.

  3. What’s the point of the 12,9, and 6 o’clock rails? Lasers and lights seem counterintuitive for a sniper rifle. What’s an NOD for that matter?

    Class rifle!

    • NODs are night-vision devices, and the 12:00 rail can hold a removable NOD in front of the scope for night-time sniping or predator hunting. The 6:00 rail will probably be used for a rail-mount bipod, and one of the side rails would be used for a rail-mount sling swivel. Lights, lasers or gimballed beverage holders aren’t much use on precision rifles like this.

      And that’s some good shooting, Nick. 1 klick is a bloody long shot with a .308.

  4. That grin at the end tells the whole story.

    “in a way that until now only Scarlett Johanson was able to achieve with a red top.” methinks you’ve been hangin’ out with RF for too long.

    Is this available for south paws? (or in my case, left eye dominant shooter)

  5. I currently own a CS5 and absolutely love it. This is my first McMillan and I adore the compact rugged design. I own the 12″ barrel model and have had multuple offers to purchase it for twice the price (with Pres. Obama’s gun control policy about to go in effect). I sure am glad I got one when I could!

  6. Wow, no one even mentions that David Tubbs who is my personal hero got BF by McMillan. McMillan used to make the Tubbs 2000 Rifle in cooperation with Dave. As always people are greedy and the McMillans are no different. From what I understand this rifle was Dave’s idea. I myself won’t buy McMillans stocks any more, I really got tired of waiting 7 or 8 month for their stocks. I don’t know if all my info is accurate but I have seen company’s like McMillan do this before. Bottom line is if they burnt their bridge with Mr Tubbs, IT’S THIER LOSS!!!! David Tubbs is a genius.

  7. If only I had the money to drop and the availability to adjust for Left-eye-dominance. It’s terrible being right-handed and left-eye-dominant. Pain in the neck quite literally.

    • Start practicing left handed and become ambidextrous. Since your right hand dominate you should be able to find a way to cycle the bolt with your now off hand.

      In a unrelated note I wonder if you can change the fore end with AR accessories a troy alpha rail would look mighty fine on that beautiful rifle.

  8. I purchased a Tubb2000 in 2012 and waited 6 months to get it.
    Well worth every bit of the $6000. + I paid for it. Had them mount a Nightforce 5-25×56 NXS scope on it prior to shipping.
    It does best with 168gr BTHP Federal Gold Match.
    Mine has a 26″ bbl with muzzle break and with the glass ran about $9000. all in .
    The only other rifle I own that compares is a Les Baer Custom
    .308 bolt action which LBC no longer makes. It cost about $2000. less and shoots equally well at 300 yards,1 1/2 ” groups.

  9. Barry
    Iv’e owned one for about 10 years now and have shot it in sniper matches for about 8. Mine likes 155 Sierra’s, so in the accuracy dept I can’t complain . I did have 2 issues with it , The bolt handle broke off during a match due to a hard extraction , and one of the helicoils on the butt assembly stripped. McMillian replaced these parts
    in short order .

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