Stealth Precision Firearms got its start fairly recently, in 2015. A group of longtime avid shooters and hunters who were also engineers looked around and figured that they could make precision rifles just as good, or better, for less than the competition.
That story isn’t a new one, but unfortunately, in the firearms industry, it’s rarely a successful one. I got to visit with Mark Erickson and the company in their Cypress, Texas office to see what, if anything, sets them apart from so many people who’ve failed in this business.
I was heartened by what I heard. First off, they didn’t try to reinvent anything. They stuck with components that had a long track record for success. They also were dedicated to quality and to never let anything out the door they wouldn’t be proud to own. But the biggest reason for their early success is that they didn’t try to do what they didn’t know how to do.
That’s most evident with their actions and barrels. They showed some smarts by partnering up with Precision Barrel Work for the barrel fit and chamber. Pete Pieper there has been a benchrest competitor for a couple of decades now and knows what he’s doing.
I aimed to put that partnership to the test with one of Stealth Precision Firearms’ Hunter models, this one chambered in the new powerhouse chambering, the 28 Nosler.
The heart of this rifle is a Stiller’s Precision Long Action Magnum action, mated to a 24” Hart #4 contour, 1:9 twist barrel. There’s nothing shocking there.
That’s a good thing.
There are a few companies that give me the warm fuzzies when their name is on the box. Stiller’s is one of them. Stiller’s actions have proven themselves far beyond just hunts and competitions, but all over the world when they became the action chosen by the US Navy for their Mk13 300WM sniper rifle.
A low-friction polymer coating is applied to the bolt. Considering that, and the action’s manufacturer, I wasn’t surprised at all to find a flawless fit and finish inside and out.
The modified M16 style extractor is appropriate for any precision rifle with a cartridge of this size. The bolt handle is slightly over-sized, but it doesn’t hang off the gun waiting to get caught on any branch or bramble. With either the web of my hand or palm, I can work the bolt quickly, with no stops, wobbles or catches.
Hart Rifle Barrels has been making outstanding barrels for going on 40 years now. Multiple world champion shooters have been holding Hart barrels when the trophies were handed out. Again, there’s no space age wonder material. 416 Stainless is what you get. You also get a guarantee that the groove will not vary more than .0001 from breech to muzzle. I’ll take their word on it.
Stealth Precision Firearms drops the Jewell HVR trigger in each of their rifles. I have Jewell triggers in a couple of my rifles, and they are without a doubt my preferred launch lever. There’s no stack, no creep, no nothing, until a sharp, crisp break.
The trigger is adjustable from the “don’t breath on it” 1.5 ounces up to 3lbs. The Stealth Hunter comes set at 2lbs, and I’d leave it right where it is. I can’t imagine a better trigger on a precision hunting rifle.
For fans of long-range shooting, the stock is going to look pretty familiar. This particular rifle uses a McMillian Game Scout model. They are rock solid stocks that provide a great starting point for housing a custom precision rifle. But it’s only a starting point.
Stealth Precision found that the wait time on the stocks they wanted was getting beyond six months from the manufacturer, and they didn’t fit quite perfectly, especially not with custom barrel profiles. So Stealth purchased another CNC machine and ordered flat-top stocks instead of finished stocks. That dramatically reduced both wait time and cost. Bringing it in-house also allowed them more freedom to cut whatever they needed for truly custom orders.
Stealth Precision has let me know that they are also using Grayboe stocks now in some of their rifles. I’ve shot quite a few rifles stocked by Grayboe, and I am highly impressed by the quality you get for the money.
If the fiberglass stock isn’t what you are looking for, and for me it rarely is, Stealth has partnered with Shurley Brothers, one of the best stock makers in the country. Tommy Shurley makes some drop dead gorgeous sticks.
I generally hate all muzzle brakes. My only exceptions include crew-serviced weapons and any lightweight magnum. This definitely qualifies in the latter category.
At 8.5 pounds, including ammunition and the attached Swarovski 5-25×52 scope, it’s no featherweight, but still very much on the light side for the caliber it’s chambered in.
This brake does its job admirably, not deafening your hunting companions and terrifying everyone on the range, while at the same time significantly diminishing muzzle rise. What is truly impressive is the attention to detail on this detachable muzzle brake. Can you see the seam? It’s even harder to see in real life and I’ve taken it off and put it back on few times. That attention to detail speaks very highly as to the overall quality of the rifle itself.
Stealth Precision Firearms rushed to have this rifle ready for me to review so that I could take it on a West Texas sheep hunt. Unfortunately, an unexpected May heat wave boiled up, raising temperatures well beyond the 100 degree mark. I drove dirt roads and walked rocky trails for four days, but neither myself nor any of my hunting partners saw any rams large enough and old enough to shoot. All of the old dudes were laying down in the shade, except for the old dudes out there trying to find them, who were wishing for shade.
That’s too bad, because the rifle Stealth Precision handed me would have been ideal. The big rams are hearty, but they are also extremely skittish. I’ve been hunting this particular property for about seven years now, and many shots are taken around the 500 yard mark.
It’s long days of spotting and stalking, only to get within position to shoot across a canyon at a mature ram. And if they see you, at any distance, they’re running. It’s worth it, but when it comes to shooting, you better bring your A-game, and rifle capable of delivering the goods when you get a shot.
And deliver the goods this rifle will. This particular rifle is chambered in the fairly new 28 Nosler. The 28 Nosler is one of the newest editions to the 7mm magnum line. I love the 7mm bullet. There’s a very wide selection of bullets for just about every application. With the heavier, 175gr and heavier bullets, you get exceptional ballistic coefficients and sectional densities.
That, my friends, is how we fight our true enemy, wind.
How much leeway? From the rounds I would end up making for this very gun, if you did not calculate for wind at all, and in fact there was a 5mph full value crosswind, you would only land 9.6” off target, 600 yards away. On an elk-sized target, that’s considerably smaller that the area of the animal’s vitals.
Any time a bolt action rifle goes over $2000 in price, I’m demanding better than MOA accuracy. That can be hard with a lightweight hunting magnum, but it if wasn’t so challenging it wouldn’t be so expensive.
When I was handed the rifle, Mr. Erickson handed me a three-shot group card right at .9MOA. Right then and there, I made the mistake of prejudging the rifle. In my head, this was a 2 to 3 star gun that had a lot of proving to do in order to score better.
Interestingly enough, the group they showed me had very little vertical shift at all, making the entire margin of error on the horizontal plane. I asked, and Mr. Erickson told me that it was a windy day when they shot that particular group, and that the rifle could shoot much better. That last part I would have to verify on my own.
At my own range, off a Caldwell Stinger Shooting rest, a five-round group of Nosler’s 175gr Accubond Long Range ammunition averaged at .60″ for four strings. This was the only store-bought ammunition purchased for this review. According to Stealth’s numbers, that puts this at one of the worst shooting guns they’ve ever put out.
I bought the dies for the 28 Nosler not long after they came out, even though I’ve never had a rifle chambered in this caliber. I do that a lot. I used the Nosler brass from that first box to load and fire the other 80 rounds. Loading my own 175gr Sierra Game King bullets, I was able to achieve consistent half minute five round groups. I’d like to see what it could do with the Berger 190gr Hunting bullets, which have done well in my 7mm magnums.
But what about practical hunting accuracy? At 600 yards, the 28 Nosler is still generating over 2,000ft-lbs of energy. That’s enough power to ethically kill any animal in the western hemisphere. But only if you hit it where it counts.
Using the Hog Saddle Pig Saddle and 0311 Tripod, as well as both bags from myself and my hunting partner, I shot a seated five-round group across a valley at a cardboard target, at 600 yards. That five-shot group, taken with the 175gr Sierra Game King scored 8.25″. I’ve shot a little bit, but I’m far from a contender, so there’s a lot of human error in that group. That gets you inside the vitals of game even as small as a white tailed deer.
If you are confident in your own abilities, this rifle will help you ensure that you have an extremely long day, or three, hiking that elk out. Because you might end up hitting it a long, long way away from the trails.
I put 100 rounds through this rifle over the course of about three weeks. The rifle came cleaned, with approximately 40 rounds having already been fired through it, according to Stealth. Other than an initial lubing, I never cleaned the rifle or performed any maintenance on it, or disassembled it, until after the review was complete.
At no point did I have any issues with the function of the rifle in any way. No matter the load or where I was in the shot string, the bolt never got sticky. It never failed to quickly and surely chamber a round. The internal magazine never bound and never failed to release. It never failed to fire or eject. It ran perfectly in every way.
Stealth Precision Firearms is newcomer to the precision rifle market, focusing mostly on the precision hunter section. They’re a small shop, with no desire to get too big. What I saw out of this rifle was surprising for such a young company. Proven products with the most precision work done by proven professionals.
The Stealth Precision Firearms Hunter in 28 Nosler is a lightweight powerhouse that delivers a devastating amount of energy at an impressive distance. The entire package works great together. If this is what Stealth Precision Firearms is going to keep building, they’re going to do great.
Specifications: Stealth Precision Firearms Hunter
Action: Stillers Precision RHLAMAG
Barrel: 24” Hart #4 contour 1:9” twist barrel (others available)
Muzzle Brake: Custom
Stock: McMillan Game Scout with ultra light carbon fill (others available)
Stock finish: Kryptek Highlander (others available)
Weight: 7lbs (empty)
Finish: Cerakote Patriot Brown finish (others available)
Trigger: Jewell HVR trigger set at 2 lb
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
There are a few nice touches on this rifle. The Cerakoting is even and well done. The dipped stock looks good. If you don’t like the color of either, you an pick something else just as easily. The fluted bolt is high class, and the attention to the machining on the muzzle brake is truly impressive. The barrel channel looks a little too wide and a little deep. Yes, that is a ridiculous nitpick. This is the price range where it’s OK to nitpick.
Customization * * * * *
This is a custom precision rifle. Whatever caliber you want, stock style, trigger, whatever. Want gorgeous wood? They can do gorgeous wood.
Accuracy * * * *
Consistent 1/2MOA with my own home load, but it didn’t quite get there with the Nosler commercial load.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect in every way, even when it’s 104 degrees outside.
Overall * * * * ½
With these components in this price range, Stealth Precision Rifles is producing a hell of rifle. The inability to shoot below the 1/2MOA range at this price point keeps this rifle out of the true 5-star range. But man, I had to really try to keep it below a perfect score. For what it is — a lightweight magnum — this rifle truly excels. This is a proven set-up that will deliver accurate, devastating power, under any circumstances, anywhere in the world. It was hard to give this one back.
*****This article originally published at 11AM 16 July 2018 with the wrong caliber and accuracy information. I switched the notes from my review sheets up and published the 33 Nosler information from another rifle. The correct caliber is 28 Nosler, and the accuracy data has been updated to the correct information as well at 4PM, 16 July 2018*****