In this age of the ubiquitous AR-15s where big manufacturing companies dominate the firearms market, you’d think that the one-man rifle shops would have all closed down long ago. But deep in the heart of Texas, Charlie Sisk continues the tradition of precision gunsmithing and making some really cool stuff. Case in point: his latest creation, the Sisk Tactical Adaptive Rifle . . .
The problem with most rifles these days — a problem I’ve touched on more than once — is that they’re generally a “one size fits all” kind of deal. You get the “standard” stock profile, the one that was designed when iron sights were still the prevalent sighting system, and it sucks for just about everything you want to do. To combat this problem some stocks come with adjustable cheek rests or length of pull adjustments, but none of them really allow you to change every axis of movement on every part. That’s where Charlie’s rifle comes in.
The STAR was designed to be a fully adjustable rifle. Everything from the cheek rest to the length of pull, even the angle of the buttstock (cast-on and cast-off) and the angle of the grip can be changed. And that right there is the main selling point of the rifle: the fact that you can change the angle of the grip.
Not everyone is made the same, and that affects the way you grip a rifle. A straight stock might not provide the best positioning of your finger on the trigger and give the most comfortable grip, let alone lining up your eye in the right place. So a stock and grip that are able to rotate allow the shooter to make a shot from a more comfortable shooting position, producing a more accurate shot.
There’s another nifty trick to the STAR stock: namely that it can do the fancy “rollover prone” position while still allowing the bolt action to work.
The idea behind “rollover prone” is to allow the shooter to shoot through a smaller opening than normal. Usually the opening needs to be at least as tall as the rifle and the scope, but “rollover prone” translates that vertical height into horizontal. The adjustable grip angle on the STAR means that the shooter can vary the angle of the grip and use it like a rear monopod, giving the rifle much more stability.
Speaking of stability, the rifle stock is made out of a single piece of machined aluminum. That rigid aluminum construction means that the barrel is free floating and isolated, and the action is strengthened, which all leads to a much more accurate rifle. The rifles Charlie is building use Surgeon Remington 700 actions and Kreiger barrels — top of the line products that are only made better with the strength of the stock.
That strong stock does come at the expense of weight, though. The thing is MASSIVE, and just carrying it up the steps of Charlie’s personal shooting tower is a workout, let alone lugging the thing around Africa. Charlie has already sliced out a ton of material to keep the weight down as much as possible. And he’s considering some more rather drastic slicing and dicing for the final finished version. Examples include cuts in the forend, a bunch in the butt, and the cutout you see behind the grip. It looks like it’s designed for your thumb, but it isn’t.
As for how it shoots, I honestly couldn’t find a position that wasn’t comfortable. When I had it resting on something, that is. Shooting it off a table, or off the floor, or off a rooftop is no problem whatsoever. The rifle moves around to fit your position and makes shooting a breeze. And thanks to the excellent components and stiff stock, the gun is a freaking tackdriver.
As you’d expect, that accuracy comes at a price. The rifle clocks in at just a hair under $6,500, so it’s not something most people would be able to afford. But for those who absolutely positively need to hit the target, this might be just what you’re looking for.
Since the last time we saw Charlie’s STAR, there have been a couple changes to the rifle. Most of the new features are weight related, with a removable forward section of the stock and a hollowed out interior for both the forward and rear sections chopping the weight down dramatically. The gun remains just as rigid and accurate as always, but much more portable. Still not exactly a lightweight, but getting there.
Caliber: Whatever you want
Sights: Drilled for scope
Barrel Length: End user’s choice
Weight: Heavy (exact weight depends on options)
Capacity: Takes standard Accuracy International magazines
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Style * * * * *
If you’re into that whole “milled aluminum” look, this is your ticket. I think it looks great.
Ergonomics (firing) * * * * *
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. And if it isn’t you can change it to make it perfect.
Ergonomics (handling) *
Its heavy as all get-out and could use a carry handle. Or some shoulder straps.
Reliability * * * * *
Bolt action rifles generally don’t have issues with reliability.
Customize This * * * * *
Like I said, everything can be changed. This is a truly custom rifle, so if you want a different caliber, you’re good to go.
Overall * * * *
The weight and the price make something like this a little south of fully desirable, but for F class and long range shooting, there really isn’t anything better.