One of the higher end acquisitions by the Freedom Group in recent years is the rifle maker Nesika. Purchased in 2009, the rifle maker has continued to churn out guns with some pretty great specs and a price to match. New for 2014 Nesika is releasing a “tactical” version of their rifle in both .308 Winchester and .338 Lapua, and when I first read the spec sheet my mouth was watering. It seems to check every box for a truly great bolt action rifle. I had to get my hands on one and see if it lived up to the hype.
Let’s get the low hanging fruit out of the way: the stock is great. But the reason the stock is great is that it’s a standard Bell and Carlson Medalist fiberglass stock. I’m definitely not faulting Nesika for reaching up to the top shelf when choosing a chassis, but since it’s a known component it doesn’t make much sense to dwell on it for the review. Instead, I will stipulate to the fully adjustable awesomeness of the chassis and move on to the parts that they actually make.
What surprised me was that Nesika actually manufacture their own actions in-house. Most custom rifle makers buy their actions from Surgeon or Remington, and then produce their own barrels to finish out the gun. Nesika flips that expectation on its head, producing the actions in-house and using Douglas barrels for their guns.
The receiver is nearly identical to the Remington 700 setup, which was derived from the Springfield 1903, which was a blatant rip-off of the Mauser action. The Remington improvements are all present though, including the safety selector placement being conveniently located near the shooter’s thumb. A nice improvement over the plain Jane Remington 700 is that the bolt handle comes threaded from the factory, meaning that you can remove the existing bolt knob and replace it with whatever strikes your fancy.
The “tactical” version here uses detachable Accuracy International (or less expensive equivalent) magazines to keep the gun fed instead of the standard hinged floorplate. Also changed from the normal line of guns is the addition of a Picatinny rail across the top of the receiver, allowing a wider array of optics to be mounted. Or, you can remove it and get back to the straight bolt-on scope bases and rings.
The barrel on this gun is both long and heavy. At 26 inches it is easily one of the longest guns I’ve tested, beaten only by the Armalite AR-50 which I could not find a cleaning rod long enough to wipe down the barrel. The length does add some velocity to the projectile, which is useful when you’re trying to hit targets at distances measured in hundreds of yards and put them down for good. The muzzle of the gun is threaded, and (here comes the Freedom Group tie-in) comes with an AAC muzzle brake for a TiTan-QD can. Although you can crank that off and use whatever muzzle device or silencer you want — it isn’t permanently attached, unless you call locktite “permanently attached.”
The long rifle means that the gun is a bit front-heavy, and with a silencer it is even more unbalanced. Generally par for the course for long range guns, but just FYI.
Out on the range, the gun is pretty sweet. The action is butter smooth, opening and closing the bolt is easy as pie, and the Timney trigger does the gun well. But the rifle that was sent to me for testing was a .338 Lapua, and that recoil is an absolute beast. The single-chamber muzzle brake simply isn’t good enough — you really need a complete silencer to take the whollop out of the recoil. A mitigating factor was the adjustable stock though, which allowed me to focus that recoil onto the meaty bits of my shoulder instead of wherever the designers had decided my shoulder should be.
There is, however, a problem.
The rail section along the top of the gun raises the level of the scope quite a bit. In order to get the proper eye relief and cheek weld, I needed to raise the cheek piece a corresponding amount. Unfortunately it looks like this was not taken into account when putting the gun together, as with the cheek rest raised the gun doesn’t cycle. The bolt hits the cheek piece before it has come backwards far enough to pick up the next round in the magazine, and the only way to get the gun to feed is doing it by hand. I have notified the guys at Nesika about this issue and they’re working on a fix, so hopefully those who order their guns form now on will have this all ironed out.
Nesika claims that the gun is guaranteed to shoot a 1 MoA group or better with proper ammunition. After testing the rifle at 100 yards with Hornady match grade ammunition (and that ain’t cheap), I can say . . .
Confirmed. The gun shoots almost exactly 1 MoA when measuring the shots from one center to the furthest center. However, the spread isn’t all that much better than the guaranteed 1 MoA. There is some wiggle room in the .338 caliber, with some guns liking one bullet weight much more than another, so the straight off the shelf Hornady rounds might not be giving the very best group possible. As always your mileage may vary, but I can at least confirm Nesika’s marketing claims.
Overall, the rifle is great. The action is very nice, the stock choice is good, and the features are what one would expect from a “tactical” rifle. But there are some minor issues, like the cheek piece getting in the way on the stock, that keep me from professing my undying love for it. I always appreciate seeing people actually manufacturing things instead of buying something off the shelf, so I do give Nesika some love for their well made action. But the rest of the gun is, in fact, off the shelf parts. Parts that generally work together pretty well and make a nice looking gun, that is.
Nesika Tactical Rifle
Caliber: .308 Win / .338 Lapua
Weight: 13.75 lbs.
Operation: Bolt action
Finish: CeraKote matte black
(Rifle DOES NOT come with bipod or scope)
MSRP: $4,499 (Website)
Special thanks to Alamo Tactical in San Antonio, Texas for being an awesome FFL.
Ratings (Out of Five Stars)
Accuracy: * * *
The 1 MoA target meets the spec for what the manufacturer claims, but 1 MoA from a $4,500 gun doesn’t seem like that much of an achievement.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
I have no complaints whatsoever. The stock puts your eye at the perfect position to look down a scope, and everything about this rifle feels solid and smooth.
Ergonomics Firing: * * * *
Gotta take a star off for the recoil. The muzzle brake isn’t really all that effective.
Reliability: * * *
The cheek piece gets in the way of the bolt, and leads to failures to feed. However, when I told the guys at Nesika they said they would fix it. So 3 stars as-is, five with the fix.
Customization: * * * *
The rail on the receiver opens up all kinds of mounting options.
Overall Rating: * * * 1/2
Take into account the cheek rest issue and the 1 MoA groups and I’m not entirely impressed. The rubric says three stars is average for the category, and that’s what we have here — perhaps a hair better. It’s a rifle twice the price of a Weatherby, but without any major improvements in either accuracy or features. I can upgrade a Weatherby with all the same parts as this rifle and still have a grand left over. Then again, that takes work, and this action is really nice…
That gun looks remarkably like a sig SSG 3000. Then again, I guess ‘bolt action precision rifle’ is a pretty exact science nowadays.
At first glimpse I thought was the Mossberg MVP. Though the Mossberg is not in the same category at $732 suggested retail. I thought it was cool that it could use aftermarket ar-15 mags in the .223 and I think the .308 can use M-14 mags and DPMS AR-10 magazines.
Looking at the Nesika web page it only mentions .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua as available calibers. No Aftermarket magazines there.
Scrolled down to the price – $4,500
The streak of unobtanium reviews is unbroken! I think Nick should contact Guinness and see if he can get an official world record for “Most consecutive gun reviews that are out of the price range of the majority of readers”.
Agreed. The cynic in me wonders if Nick’s decision making process for which weapon to review is at all based on which weapons he might be able to score free from a manufacturer.
Remember: Nick’s a tacticool guy with expensive taste.
Don’t get mad that your broke asses can’t afford it! I might buy one next week.
Also… I have a gun room. A dedicated gun room. I am not posting how much my firearms are worth online but it is substantial. So…. not sure where you are getting this from.
Here’s how much the Bear’s gun collection is worth
Ooooh… I just realized this is the racist poster from the other thread who got called out. I was honestly trying to figure out this grade school attack stuff prior to realizing who I was dealing with here.
At that price I’d buy a Tac Ops that does better than 0.25 MOA.
$4500 and they didn’t test it nine ways to Sunday to ensure its ergonomically correct? One wonders how a Howa action and barrel in the same chassis would compare, accuracy-wise (for a couple thousand less).
very favorably. the howa actions are highly regarded by precision shooters as being more accurate off the shelf than a 700. the only potential problem is the limited number of smiths who rebarrel the action. I’d stick it in anything but a B&C, though.
Hmm. 4500. My 600 dollar Tikka with a few hundred dollars in aftermarket parts kicks this on its real. Pathetic.
IMO these high end tactical rifles seem very gimmicky a supped up Remington can shoot 1 MOA easy for WAY less than 4500
-Three stars for a $4500 gun that shoots MOA??? .. You can buy a factory 700 for a few hundred dollars that shoots MOA. I understand that you will get better ammo if you hand load but not everyone handloads. Maybe Federal Gold Metal Match Ammo would have given better results.
– Reliability three stars??? I would think not being able to cycle another round without lowering the cheek weld would fall under ergonomics.. And then I wold take more than one star off for that.
-Ergonomics Firing…. It’s a 338 Lapua. It’s going to kick!
3 stars is average, right? Barely 1 MOA from a 4500 USD rifle is not average in that price category and type.
CP, about the ‘check piece blocks the bolt’ bit: Apparently “one shot, one kill” is mandatory. And one perp or T….
As for “they produce their own action,” why? I’d rather have a Win Model 70 action. I may not be the target, cough, market for the so-called tactical bolt-action rifle.
It’s a dangerous game, this testing of high-priced tactical rifles. Nick runs the risk of understating the truth about the gun.
@ropingdown, agreed. I too would prefer a Win Model 70 action.
It can achieve 1 MOA at 100 yards. So can a used, $300 Savage 110-series rifle if you tweak it enough.
It’s not an extremely precise rifle, it’s not a technical masterpiece (based on the 700 action, not a new design), and it’s $4500. I don’t see why this is a great rifle.
On top of that, Nick got 1 MOA with factory “match” ammo. Let’s see how good it shoots with $10 PPU or Wolf in .308 or .338 reloads from “a guy.”
4500? a Weatherby Vanguard 2 will do 1MOA a hell of a lot cheaper than that.
Precisely my thought as well. My Vanguard shoots far better than I do and it was 1/10th the price of this. It looks great but at the end of the day the ergonomics issue, extreme price, and merely “adequate” make me actively NOT desire this rifle.
This doesn’t solve all the issues, but the high cheek rest could have been resolved with lower rings. You’ve got a lot of clearance left under the objective bell.
Glad someone else noticed this. Those rings seem excessively high for almost any reasonable use, except perhaps a flattop AR. Get that scope as low as possible, and the cheekpiece problem goes away, I’m betting.
If you are spending 4500 dollars on a rifle, that should not be an issue ether way
I can’t imagine why anyone would spend that kind of money, and only get 1 MOA. Many guns for a lot less will do the same, or better!
Why are you surprised that Nesika (originally Nesika Bay) makes their own actions? They started out before Surgeon as an action manufacturer, and just like Surgeon did later, started to make entire rifles. A Nesika rifle without a Nesika action would have been a far bigger surprise.
That kind of money buys an AI. I don’t understand why someone would take this over a new AT or AX.
When you can get 1 MOA pretty easily from a plebeian Savage or Mossberg and I can buy four of them for the price of one of these plus decent factory ammo, I don’t really see the point. I’m sure the Nesika action is nicer, but it’s still a push feed.
Not impressed Rifles at that price range should shoot 1/2 to 1/4 MOA. However, the heavy recoil could be inducing some shooting errors.
Yes, the rings are too high. I sit my scope bell 1/4 inch off the barrel/rail.
The cheek rest is a design issue with the stock. I had that issue 5 years ago with that stock. Shame on Bell and Carlson for not fixing it and shame on Nesika as well.
Man, I can get better groups from my 100 atr using factory ammo, sad.
Looks like the Savage 110 BA .338 continues to be the value leader. I’ll take a guess that Federal Gold Metal Match or Lapua ammo would reduce group size. Then again, .338 ammo isn’t cheap, and firing 200 rounds of various brands and bullet weights could easily run more than $1,000 just for the ammo.
In yesterdays question of the day “long or short range” we discovered many people have never shot over 200 yards. Most probably have not shot over 500 yards. This $4,500 gun seems like for most TTAG readers it would be used at distances where the $370 Ruger American Rifle would be very effective. I will have to pass on this one.
338LM is a 2000+ yard gun. 308 will easily get you to 1000 (I shot mine to 1700). 300wm will get you to 2000. No point waisting the money on ammo is you’re not shooting extremely long range.
308 at 1700 yards?!
Pics please because I am really curious.
1700 from a 308? No you didn’t. Unless the “target” you hit was literally the broad side of a barn. Even then I’m extremely skeptical.
4500 for that?! The stock is nice, the rest, not so much.
Usually I am not a hater but this thing is silly. Much better options for less than half. I can think of one example that is one third of the price and shoots sub moa (half MOA from personal experience).
What a joke. Ummm…price considered, this rifle should score 1 star.
The stock can be had for less than $450. Douglas bbl furnished and installed for $800 in my neck of the woods. No way that action and bottom metal is worth $3000.
That rifle should get no stars at that price. An action that doesn’t mate with the stock is inexcusable at any price point, but $4,500? WTF? Is this Guns & Ammo or something?
for 4,500 I expect a hell of a lot better. I’ve shot MOA with my axis in .308 and that was like a 275 dollar rifle….I’m sure this would handle extended sessions more (the axis accuracy degrades quickly as the barrel heats up), but jeez, for that price, I want a hell o fa lot better than MOA at 100 yards.
Back in 2009-10 I put a factory Remington 700 in that stock and it shot 1/2 MOA just as it sat. Total cost: about $1000. $4000 for a precision rifle should get you a better stock than a Bell and Carlson Medalist as well. Not saying that that’s a bad stock, but I just don’t see where the $4000 is going on that rifle otherwise.
It strikes me that a tactical rifle ought to be a good match to some class of tactical situations. That clearly isn’t the case with this rifle as set up.
But for taxpayer funding and an “it’s only money, their money” attitude, why does such a rifle at the stated price even enter one’s thoughts? Get a good Model 70. Add a $2,000 scope. Slap on enough pad to get the check weld you like. Go take out General al Wahabi. Simple.
What’s with the little bayonet on the back of the bolt shroud? It’s a good thing the stock riser does block it, otherwise you might stab yourself in the cheek every time pull back the bolt. Poor design and quality assurance.
LOL Anyone that would pay over 4k for a pre-built long range bolt rifle especially in .308 win should be put on an allowance by their wife. Everything on this rifle is obtainable for half the price, and this includes gunsmith work. The industry treats us like young teen girls in a mall, they throw us a $800 outfit that can be had for half the price. Nothing new they’ve done this with the AR market for years.
“The receiver is nearly identical to the Remington 700 setup, which was derived from the Springfield 1903…”
Actually, the 700 was the final extrapolation of the M1917 rifle.
It should have its binding intact.
I am surprised (not really) that people are judging the rifle by one group shot with one type of factory ammo by one person and comparing it to the best “three shot groups” that they ever got out of their 308 rifle after trying many times.
Basically none of us know the true capability of this rifle from this report.
Nesika actions are awesome. I have two of them.
Glad to see a review of this new gun. It really needs a bigger ammunition variation test to see how accurate it is.
The scope rings are way too high on this set up. That is why you had the cheek piece so high. No reason to use extra high rings when you have that much clearance. I have one of those and the Long Range model on the way. Your right about the .338 LM being a beast. So we may be able to attribute your group to you not being comfy with that hard kicking magnum. I order a 7mm Rem Mag in the long range and a .300 win mag in the Tactical. It will be easier to shoot. Also, the brake is more of a quick attache for the suppressor than it is a break. A true kick reduction break will help a lot. Or attach a suppressor as you stated.
Thanks for looking at this rifle. As you were able to get MOA with off the shelf ammo from a hard kicking weapon, I am sure it will do much better after some load work up, or ammo testing.
Maybe we should blame cellphones for the throwaway economy? They certainly foster the mentality.
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