Desert Tech DT SRS Covert
- 4 Comments
- Last updated: 15/06/2017
I love an interesting rifle and this Desert Tech rifle is one such beast. A classic bullpup design to minimise length yet maximise usefulness that is further enhanced with the super quick barrel change system. Ewan Campbell of Bench Grade Brands loaned me an SRS Covert version that had a 16 inch .308 Winchester barrel threaded for a moderator and a spare barrel in .338 Lapua Magnum with bolt and magazine all compactly placed in an assault carry bag. To change from .308 to .338 Lapua in a trice is pretty unique and gives you a super compact do anything rifle for standard range work, stalking or extreme range varminting with the .338 barrel… That’s right up my alley.
Calibre choice and accessories are broad and really do give you a ‘do-anything’ one rifle option. The manufacturers guarantee ½ MOA accuracy and what really interested me was that the 16 inch .308 barrel comes with a 1 in 8 rifling twist rate which is perfect for the subsonic work that for twenty years now has been my passion - so game on, this should be fun.
I have always loved the Bullpup design so this SRS (Stealth Recon Scout) in Covert form really appealed. Developed as a compact sniper rifle the Covert version is only 26 inches in overall length yet is capable of 1000 yard performance and so gives ultimate handling characteristics and concealment.
The backbone of the rifle is a single 19.5 inch long piece of 7075 –T6 aluminium, that is lightweight yet incredibly strong, to which all the other parts are attached. Due to its integral rigidity there is no need for bedding as one would with a conventional rifle to maintain extreme accuracy. The high impact polymer stock is in two halves that sandwich this chassis by 10 fixture points. There’s a choice of colours; Olive Drab Green, Black or Flat Dark Earth. The stock offers a really practical finish and the pistol grip arrangement is very comfortable with finger grooves and ribs for extra grip.
Length of pull is variable with a spacer system for the butt section and the only thing I would add would be a small cheekpiece, for comfort and better eye alignment with scope.
Action, Trigger/ Safety and Magazine
All the action parts are rearward of the pistol grip and the bolt rides in a precision bolt channel that can be altered to optimise bolt throw for short or magnum rounds. The .308 has a 7.75 inch opening and 4.25 inches of bolt travel whereas the .338 LAP Mag has an 8.75 inch opening. A small buffer system reduces the .308 bolt throw and the bolt is 4.25 inches long with an outer sliding guide shell and has a six locking lug arrangement with a 2, 6 and 10 o`clock arrangement, with larger lugs at the front and three smaller rear lugs. The single extractor claw type is sited on the 10 o`clock forward lug and a single plunger type ejector in the bolt face for the .308, although the LAP Mag has twin ejector plungers. Both standard and mag bolts have floating firing pins.
I like the bolt handle’s large plastic bolt knob and swept back arrangement. It rides very smoothly in the chassis and locks positively, directly into the back of the barrel itself.
Below the bolt is the magazine housing that sits in the belly of the stock and has ambidextrous release buttons to drop the mag swiftly. Capacity is six shots in .308 and five in .338, the magazine is waisted at the front to stop cartridges riding forward under recoil and damaging the bullet tips. This is nice attention to detail although I did find it a bit rattling when out stalking, a bit of ‘fuzzy felt’ cured it. The trigger is really good. The trigger blade is adjustable to accommodate differing length of pull and can be adjusted for creep and weight with a nice skeletonised blade with a safety catch operated as a sliding catch directly above the trigger.
Barrels and Quick Change System
Here`s the interesting and very clever part, a simple super quick barrel change that gives reproducible accuracy. The barrels are held within the aluminium chassis by clamping using four captive Allen headed bolts. A supplied torque driver is used first to loosen a single locking screw of the left side, ½ a turn and then the four main screws are unscrewed a full turn on the right side. Retract the bolt and the barrel simply pulls out the front of the rifle. It all takes 20 secs or less and makes changing calibres or cleaning a breeze. This .308 barrel is 16 inches long with a fast 1 in 8 rifling twist and threaded for a ¾ x24tpi thread and came with a really good Third Eye Tactical sound moderator. These barrels are specially made by Lothar Walther being stainless steel match grade items and finished in a tough black finish. You therefore have in your hands the ability to change from .308 to .338 Lap mag in 20 secs plus bolt/mag change that is very useable in a tactical situation.
I fired one shot, removed barrel and then replaced it, fired another shot and so on for ten rounds, and the group at 100 yards was 0.85 inch instead of 0.55, really impressive stuff.
You also have a superb accessory rail, well four of them around the forend grip. The top is an extended scope Picatinny rail with 38 slots with three further rails with eleven Picatinny slots on them, so lots of fixing points for bipods, lamps, lasers etc
Accuracy and Targets
There is no doubt just looking at the results and targets how accurate this rifle is. Most of the factory ammunition shot well under the 1.0 mark at 100 yards. Three loads shot 0.50 -0.55 inches with the Winchester 150 gr Ballistic Silver Tip shooting 2757 fps, the Federal 165gr Game Kings at 2477 fps and Norma 150 gr Ballistic Tips at 2764 fps. But the surprise was the S&B 180gr SPCE load that shot amazing 0.45 inch groups, that 1 in 8 twist obviously favouring the heavier SPCE bullets, but the low 2334 fps would not make it legal for deer in Scotland as it does not reach the 2450 fps velocity minimum.
Best reload supersonic went to the 168gr Nosler Ballistic tips at 2546 fps and 2419 ft/lbs with 44 gr of RL 15 powder and 0.40 inch groups. Equally good were the old Sierra Game Kings with 42.5 grains of RL15 powder that gave 2452 fps and 0.45 inch groups. In fact all the reloads shot very well and a few tweaks with load, primer and overall length will refine these groups further.
Now my favourite, the subsonic loads. I use these a lot for vermin/fox use and just shooting steel targets at long (but undetermined ranges) for fun in Scotland.
My usual formula, that has stood me in good sted for twenty years, is 9.0 grains of Vit N320 powder and a 200 grain Lapua B416 subsonic bullet or equivalent. This gives near 1000 fps velocity and MOA accuracy and wallops a great 500 ft/lbs of energy totally silently, brilliant. Of late new powders have come to the fore such as Vit Tin Star and Hodgdon Trail Boss to bulk out the case more as light loads can cause all sorts of random results. (This will be covered in a future article)
Using 11grains of Vit Tin Star and a Lapua 200 gr B416 bullet consistently gave 0.65 inch groups at 100 yards which is superb, whilst the same load of Hodgdon Trial Boss was not far behind at 0.85 inch groups.
I have been experimenting with lighter .30 cal bullets for foxes as the larger bullets ricochet, and the Hornady 90 XTP bullet is the only .30 cal bullet that expands at subsonic velocities.
Best load subsonically was the IMR SR4759 powder with 11 grains that gave 1067 fps and 228 ft/lbs and 1.0 groups at 50 yards the 6.0gr Tin Star was good at 1105 fps and 244 ft/lbs but some of the cases were sticky to extract. In ballistic wax in penetrates 2-3 inches only and dumps all its energy within, whereas the other bullets all past straight through with no expansion.
This is a really impressive piece of kit. I love the short highly practical and manoeuvrable nature of the SRS Covert and yes it looks military but deer and foxes will not tell the difference, and it makes a practical hunting arm. Such versatility with precision is rare and hard to reproduce but the DTA SRS Covert does it with ease. Other calibres such as 300 Win Mag, .243, 6.5X 47 Lapua .260 Rem or 7mm WSM show DTA have their finger on the pulse of what shooters actually want. The 7mm WSM would be a storming long range varmint round and the 6.5x47 LAP has already established itself as a world accuracy bench mark.
The price of £4750 for the chassis and one barrel option is actually good value for money when you consider what you are actually buying. I would just change the rattly mag and put on a higher softer cheek piece and then you would have a truly ‘one rifle - do anything’ rifle for range, field - or even desert…
PRICE: £4750; £1750 Spare .338 Lap mag barrel, bolt, mag; £250 Soft case; £250 Monopod
CONTACT: Ewan Campbell, Bench Grade Brands tel.01604 686801