Gun Review: Stealth Precision Firearms Hunter in 28 Nosler

Stealth Precision Firearms Hunter (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms action work (image courtesy Stealth Precision Firearms for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms action (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms barrel (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms bolt (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms cerakoting (image courtesy Stealth Precision Firearms for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms trigger (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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 Firearms machinig (image courtesy Stealth Precision Firearms for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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 Firearms stock (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms muzzle brake (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms stock gap (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms accuracy testing (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms far target (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Stealth Precision Firearms tripod setup (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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
MSRP $3250

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*****

comments

  1. avatar Greg says:

    Another overpriced rifle no one will buy.

    Great review just not for me.

    1. avatar Kyle says:

      I dont know, my current 24″ rifle weighs in at 14 lbs, empty. I’m not in the market for a new rifle, but having lugged that brick around, 7 lbs sounds pretty damn good.

    2. avatar DrewN says:

      $3250 isn’t that bad for what you get. And it would be just a fraction of the cost of a trip to Africa. Idiots spend $1000 on freaking telephones these days, and then turn around and do it again 2 years later. And don’t get me started on 50K pickup trucks.

    3. avatar jwtaylor says:

      “Another overpriced rifle no one will buy.”
      I shot this rifle back in May and early June. I believe there is already a buyer for it or it has already sold.

      1. avatar Greg says:

        There’s always a fool with more money than brains. Kind of like people who do UMP or XM8 conversions ie: Posers.😉

        If it ain’t belted it’s not a real Magnum.🤣

  2. avatar Antique Rifles says:

    “Stealth Precision Firearms” and “Precision Barrel Work”, shown using a 3-jaw scroll chuck for chambering. Right.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Unless that’s an Adjust-Tru (or similar) chuck (which is a scroll chuck on a moving back-plate that allows you do adjust out any runout, so you can dial in a scroll jaw chuck like a four-jaw), then I too am dubious from the get-go.

      One of the issues that most people don’t appreciate is how far out of concentric most rifle barrels are from inside to outside – unless you turn them yourself on a lathe right there in front of you. I’ve had pre-profiled barrels from “big name” barrel makers show up that were almost 0.010 out of round (outside to centerline) because they polished them by giving them to the newest employee to spin on a belt grinder. Woof. I’ve finished barrels both by hand (by striking them with a bastard file) and on a lathe to true them up to the centerline. Either way, I’ve increasingly found that pre-profiled barrels often add up to “more work” for me.

      1. avatar Antique Rifles says:

        I’m right there with you. Give me an independent 4 jaw any day… I tend to favor my Bison.

        As far as off-the-shelf profiled blanks? Hard pass, I’ll take the extra time to do it right. I don’t get paid to turn out mass produced “good enough” junk.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          I’ve worked around lathes with “Adjust-Tru” chucks and they’re splendid – but this feature on a chuck a) lengthens the chuck, and therefore increases the effective length through the spindle of the lathe, and b) good grief, they’re expensive.

          There are reasons why I might want an adjust-tru chuck with six jaws for doing shotgun tube work, but other than that particular use (more jaws means less chance of crushing the tube), such a chuck is going to be far down my list of tools/tooling to acquire.

          I honestly cannot tell you the last time I had the three-jaw chuck on my lathe’s spindle. I have one, it’s in brand-new condition, it came with the machine, etc, etc. I just never use it. If a guy uses a four-jaw enough, he becomes fast at dialing in the workpiece. I can usually dial in a workpiece to about 0.005″ out of true just by eyeballing it – which is only a tad more than the TIR of many scroll chucks.

          Besides, there’s another issue here that the readers cannot see: If you have a three-jaw chuck, does that mean you have a three-screw cathead on the other end of the spindle? How does that work? On my machine, my cathead is timed up with the four jaws of my chuck. I can get a rifle barrel dialed in with a range rod in less than 10 minutes. How’s that going to work with three screws, never mind four?

  3. avatar Bobby says:

    I’m so glad them rich folks got something new here to spend their monies on. No, I’m not being sarcastic. When I be rich I’m sure I’m gonna need lots a new stuff too, everyday. I wish you had some articles on where, when and how I can find some good, inexpensive ammo and such. I would love that rifle with some beautiful wood furniture on it.

  4. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I just looked at the Nosler ballistics page for this round. In 210 gr pills, I find it to have very little advantage over my .338 WinMag. OK, it’s missing a belt; that’s good, the belt on “magnum” cartridges was BS for almost everything after the .375 and .300 H&H. But the powder capacity is increased by only two to four grains over what I’m putting into a .338 WM… so… why should anyone want this over a .338 WM, .340 Weatherby, .330 Dakota, etc? They’re all pretty close to each other…

    Oh, and if you want it to shoot better? You’ll need a better barrel. You’ve read my comments on this previously, so I won’t belabor the point here.

    1. avatar DrewN says:

      I agree. My 9.3 x 62 has been killing stuff dead since Gramps had it built right after WWII. If it ain’t broke…

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        As far as I’m concerned, you could have a rifle in 9.3×62 or .35 Whelen (the first based on the Mauser action and 8×57 round, the second on the 1903(a3) and the .30-06) and hunt any large game, including dangerous game, in North America, with no other rifle ever needed. They’re just fine out to 300 yards on literally anything.

        The only reason why I have a .338WM is that I didn’t know about the 9.3×62 when I bought it. That, and it’s pretty difficult to find a factory rifle in the US chambered in 9.3×62 – or even .35 Whelen.

        1. avatar DrewN says:

          Yeah, I think CZ quit importing the 550. You can find the Tikka T3X Battue (?) sometimes, which looks a screaming deal if you needed a working rifle. I wouldn’t mind grabbing one so mine can go to my kid before he’s 40.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          DrewN, CZ didn’t just quit importing them, they quit making them in 9.3×62 all together. This spring I called and begged for one to no avail. Then I even got Jeremy to call and do the same thing, since he knows those folks. Bupkis.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        The 9.3X62 is an exceptional cartridge. I recently purchased a (now discontinued) Steyr in that caliber. Seems to like any load I put through it.

        The problem with the 9.3X62 is that it’s too hard to find anyone that still makes them.

        1. avatar DrewN says:

          Go to the EuroOptic 9.3 page if you want to feel sad about the availability of the old girl here in the states.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          DrewN,
          This is what I read, through teary eyes:
          out of stock, out of stock, out of stock, out of stock, out of stock, plastic stock (helz naw!), out of stock, out of stock, $24,000 Mauser.
          And then I peed a little bit looking at a $7,000. Merkel in 7mm08.

        3. avatar DrewN says:

          Yeah, those Merkels are awfully sweet. I also lust after onje of these. Standard is fine,thanks. https://www.krieghoff.com/hunting-guns/krieghoff-semprio-in-line-repeater/

        4. avatar TCC says:

          Jwt I must’ve really hit the jackpot then, the Europtic near me not only had a 9.3 SAKO but also in the mannlicher-style stock I wanted.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I put the wrong caliber and accuracy information in. I switched the names on the top of my review sheet with another gun I’m reviewing in 33 Nosler. This one was in 28 Nosler. I’ve noted my error at the bottom of the review and changed the caliber and accuracy notes to the correct information.

  5. avatar jwm says:

    A 24 inch tube. .33 caliber and it only weighs 7 pounds? Does that strike anyone else as being a tad light? It doesn’t sound very ‘robust’ to me.

  6. avatar billy-bob says:

    33 Nosler! It’s the… uh… um… it’s the Creedmoor of July!

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I put the wrong caliber and accuracy information in. I switched the names on the top of my review sheet with another gun I’m reviewing in 33 Nosler. This one was in 28 Nosler. I’ve noted my error at the bottom of the review and changed the caliber and accuracy notes to the correct information.
      But if you liked, or didn’t like that information on the 33 Nosler, don’t worry, you’ll see it again on another rifle very soon.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        The weight of the rifle makes more sense now. The first writing had a .33 caliber in a weight that’s equal to my .243.

        Couldn’t get my head around that.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Oh, there are 6.5lb 338 Win Mag’s out there. Zero interest in those.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Makes 2 of us. Some things need a little heft to make them more user friendly.

        3. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          My .338 WM is 8 lbs without the scope.

          When shooting 210gr pills, it’s a sharp recoil.

          When I step up to 250’s, it’s intolerable.

        4. avatar jwm says:

          DG, I recall that you had a very good comment on weight and caliber in rifles in days past. I agreed then and now with every word.

  7. avatar Anymouse says:

    Nice writeup, except for “inside the breadbasket of game.” “Breadbasket” is slang for stomach, so you’re saying it’s good at making gut shots.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I never understood why it was called that. Thanks, corrected.

  8. avatar Wayne Sanford says:

    Why do writer and gun makers continue to praise Nosler 28. I went for it and bought a new hot custom 28 nosler in jan at SCI. It still has not been shot. NO AMMO!! I dont mean out of 168 and Ill have to go with 175 no I meen NO AMMO. Not 150 etip, NOT any 160, NOT any 168, NOT any 175. NONE. And when I say none I mean Nosler, Midway, Cabelas, Natchess none at any major suppilers Ok Ill try ammoseek.com NO AMMO anywhere. Ok so last chance Ill dust off my reloading bench, but NO brass anywhere. I called Nosler and a cheery little girl says, Oh yes sir will have that back in Sept. And nobody is angry sept me.

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