After all of my posturing about only reviewing firearms “for hunters,” this gun review is generally not for those interested in shooting game. Instead, the rifle under discussion – the MG Arms Banshee in .300 Winchester Magnum – was designed by Kerry and Carol O’Day to be (in their own words) “the ultimate long-range tactical rifle.”
Maybe the Banshee could be used for a prairie dog (or other varmint) shoot, but given that I hold a soft spot for those little rodents, I find it hard to envision using it for that application. However, if you love shooting ‘P-dogs’, this rifle should work very, very well.
But given the weight of this precision firearm, this isn’t a rifle you’ll be wanting to trudge with on your shoulder through the woods.
The circumstances that led to this inveterate hunter being sent MG Arms’ ultimate long-range tactical rifle will be explained in an upcoming article on a Government Training Institute Tactical course in which I will be participating.
Thanks also to J.J. Reich (Vista Outdoor) for providing the Federal Premium Sierra MatchKing ammunition and Armageddon Gear for their Ultralight Shooting Mat, Competition Armband and Waxed Canvas Optimized Game Changer Support Bag.
Before heading to the range to collect the velocity, accuracy, and trajectory data, I installed the Harris bipod using the adjustable sling mount provided in the extended channel in the forend of the fully bedded stock.
I also took a familiarization journey around the remainder of the parts of the rifle and riflescope.
Starting with the rifle, I examined the: Pac-Nor National Match SS fluted-barrel;
MGA Super Eliminator muzzle brake;
Bell & Carlson, fully-adjustable varmint weight, fiberglass stock;
Four-shot, removable magazine and the Timney Calvin Elite trigger. The Timney trigger is adjustable and comes from the factory pre-set at 2.5 lbs. I left it there for my testing.
The Banshee is built around a fully blueprinted Remington 700 action. MG offers models chambered in everything from .223 Remington to .338 Lapua. Its large tactical bolt handle ensures quick cycling of the rifle with no jams.
The Banshee also came pre-mounted from MG Arms with a Swarovski X5i 5-25 x 56 rifle scope.
Finally, we get to the range
The range work with the Banshee reflected my need to prepare for the GTI Tactical course. Thus, almost all of my time was spent shooting prone.
This not only allowed me to practice a position which I rarely use, but also allowed me to become familiar with the rifle, ammunition, shooting mat, support bag and bi-pod.
I have to be honest that I was worried that the Armageddon Gear Ultralight Shooting Mat would prove rough on a 61-year-old body laying a concrete shooting pad. But, my concerns were unfounded. I don’t know what they do to make this mat…uhm…padded…but it is very comfortable.
Likewise, though people rave about their Game Changer Support Bag, this was my first experience with the product. After my range session, a good friend of mine called to ask what I thought of it. He was considering purchasing the same model. I told him that it was incredibly easy to use, allowing rapid adjustments to elevation and windage.
The Banshee itself, of course, contributed to the stability and thus accuracy. Its weight of nearly 16 pounds fully kitted out and the blocky contours of the Bell & Carlson Varmint Stock provided an extremely solid base from which to fire.
The Federal Premium ammunition sent for this review and the Tactical Course, was their Gold Medal Match topped with 190 grain Sierra MatchKing BTHP bullets. Of the 240 cartridges sent, I used my LabRadar to chronograph seven. The Mean Muzzle velocity was 2948 fps (Mean Muzzle Energy = 3665 ft-lbs).
The Ballistic Coefficient of the 190 grain Sierra® Matchking® BTHP bullets and the muzzle velocity resulted in the following trajectory values: 100-yards = +2.5 inches; 200-yards = -1.5 inches; 300-yards = -9.5 inches.
As expected from a long-range precision rifle like the Banshee, the mean group sizes at each distance were certainly sub-MOA.
100 yards = .79 MOA
200 yards = .30 MOA
300 yards = .67 MOA
I want to reduce those group sizes before the tactical course, but even with the unusual firing position (for me), factory loads and first experience with the Banshee, the accuracy the rifle produces was was excellent.
One last point. I will be required to fire 200+ cartridges over the two-day GTI course. I was concerned that firing that number of rounds through a .300 WinMag rifle in just two days might turn my shoulder and cheek into the consistency of veal. The range session dispelled my concern.
The heavy weight of the Banshee precision rifle, the stock’s ability to adjust comb height and length of pull, along with the MG Arms muzzle brake resulted in a very mild recoiling rifle.
So, bring on the tactical training.
Specifications: MG Arms Banshee Tactical Rifle
Caliber: .300 Winchester Magnum
Action Type: Remington 700
Capacity: 4 +1
Overall Length: 46”
Barrel: Pac-Nor National Match SS
Barrel Length: 26”
Muzzle Brake: MGA Super Eliminator™
Weight: 15 lbs 13 oz (with Swarovski X5i 5-25 x 56 scope)
Stock: Bell & Carlson
Pad: Pachmayr Decelerator
Trigger: Timney Calvin Elite adjustable
MSRP: $3395 (without scope)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * *
The style components of the Banshee are pretty much what you’d expect from a long-range tactical rifle. It makes no bones about trying to be a ‘beautiful’ firearm; this rifle is imposing. The Cerakoted camo pattern in well done and attractive enough.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The Cerakoting on the stock and all finishing of all metal parts was great. This being the third rifle I’ve seen from MG Arms, I am coming to expect this from the O’Days and their staff.
Accuracy * * * * *
In a word, excellent. As you’d expect in a rifle of this type and price point, it produces sub-MOA results at every distance tested. And that’s with factory ammo. The results would no doubt be significantly improved with home-brewed and tested loads.
Ergonomics * * * * *
OK, so, I am not going to carry this 16-pound thing very far without needing a rest break. But, that’s not the purpose for which it was designed. The fully adjustable stock ensures a perfect fit for just about any shooter.
Reliability * * * * *
It’s a bolt gun with a blueprinted 700 action. I experienced no failures of any kind with the Banshee, either while single-loading it or cycling from the magazine. Everything worked as designed.
Overall * * * * *
I don’t know how to state this a better way: the MG Arms Banshee is a very cool rifle. It doesn’t really go with my general obsessed hunter gestalt, but it made me feel very good as I sent rounds down range, putting them exactly where I wanted them. The stock fit, mechanics and inherent accuracy of this rifle make it a fulfilling and very entertaining firearm to get in behind. To put it in the parlance from my Texas upbringing – it is a hoot-and-a-half to shoot.
Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.
All images are courtesy Mike Arnold.