Testing the Barrett Fieldcraft caliber .308 Winchester rifle

We didn’t find the perfect hunting rifle, so we built it. It is a rifle designed to be carried for long periods, over long distances, during long days of hunting, and which should behave like all Barrett weapons at the critical moment. ”

The officials of the American company Barrett, which specializes in precision weapons for competitive and military shooting at long range, do not give into false modesty.

We didn’t find the perfect hunting rifle, so we built it. It is a rifle designed to be carried for long periods, over long distances, during long days of hunting, and which should behave like all Barrett weapons at the critical moment. ”

The officials of the American company Barrett, which specializes in precision weapons for competitive and military shooting at long range, do not give into false modesty.

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With its weight of between 2.2 and 2.7 kg depending on the caliber and the length of the action, the Fieldcraft bluntly inflicts a little air of anvil on many rifles past and present. Gone are the days when a bolt-action rifle with scope and mount weighed nearly 4.5 kg.

Because the scopes have become lighter, that’s true, but above all because the war on superfluous grams has long been declared by rifle makers. We remember the Winchester Featherweight (“featherweight”), launched after 1964 and its 3.3 kg allowed to claim a light weapon.

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The Sako 75 Finnlight with composite stock and flute barrel, born in 2001, was also a lightweight particularly noticed at its launch, with its 2.8 kg.

Others have since followed with most European and American manufacturers, but in the last three seasons, with the arrival of carbon stocks in the catalogs of major brands, then the Sauer 404 carbon and Sako Carbonlight models, a new step has taken place. been crossed.

And this time, it is therefore a small American who sets a new record, with a weight of 2.3 kg in .308 caliber, 2.2 kg in .243 Winchester and between 2.5 and 2.7 kg in the. larger calibers (in terms of cartridge length) such as .270 Winchester and .30-06.

What does that give in “working order weight?” You are already wondering. With a Swarovski Z3 3-10 × 42 bezel, renowned for its lightness, and a Leupold QRW steel mount: 2.860 kg on the scale, yes, less than 2.9 kg! All that is missing is the weight of the five cartridges that you will add, one in the box and four in the magazine.

Story of a gram hunt

How did the engineers and designers at Barrett go about achieving this super featherweight?

“The butt is made from carbon fiber to provide a light but stiff platform,” they explain. The actions are available in several versions and lengths according to their specific caliber and the ultra-precise barrels are also specially profiled. The Fieldcraft is the perfect combination of an ultralight design and great robustness combined with a high level of performance. ”

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Manufacturers have also resorted to the usual techniques of weight reduction by using light alloys wherever possible, this is the case in particular for the trigger guard. They also reduced the profile of the barrel and its length, forgot the open sights and refined the bolt. The absence of a removable charger also saves a few grams.

Let’s see in more detail how this hunt for grams went and what the fruit of this fight looks like. Aesthetically, this rifle is discreet, sober and above all compact. It gives the impression of a pocket rifle. Which it is, since from the buttplate to the muzzle it measures only 103 cm.

The textured and anthracite gray stock brings to the weapon a great sobriety – a certain rusticity one is even tempted to say at first glance. No particular grid or grip area, the brand’s own matte finish, which obviously hardly likes the Cerakote style, and a grippy, raw surface texture.

No shiny black woven look like we find on Christensen, Sako or Sauer stocks to bring out the carbon construction.

It is ultimately very well thus, but, for a little, this extreme stripping would make us doubt the research of which the rifle was the object.

Bling-bling counter-effect, when you hold us!

The shape is classic. We find a right comb, a pistol grip, a round front and, on the left side, a round cheek as well. The butt plate is 22mm thick, black and soft. It has been glued to the butt and cannot be easily removed, which the firm also strictly forbids.

Dom mage, because the total length of the butt is only 35 cm, including buttplate, it is not much, although it will suffice for the vast majority of hunters.

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The stock is light while not sounding the hollow enough and above all it does not resonate. Which means that the intrinsic strength of carbon has made it quite thin while giving it the strength and rigidity that sit in a rifle mount. What Barrett’s techs don’t say is that they arguably also used a carbon-kevlar blend, which resonates much less than at all carbon, which is better in terms of vibration and stiffness.

A Pillar type bedding has been made from the back of the case, at the end of the front. It is an integral bedding which also reinforces the rigidity of the stock in order to guarantee the precision of the weapon. With an unexpected consequence, the barrel is not floating, but covers the bedding, the entire length of the butt. To those who would be surprised or worried about it, let us specify that a floating cannon is not always the panacea, whatever leads us to believe its generalization. It may be good or even necessary at times for the barrel to carry. That Barrett made this choice is, so to speak, proof of this, as his reputation in the field of precision is well established.

The firm is known worldwide for its beam-frame rifles for military and long-range shooters, ultra-precise weapons produced from A to Z at its site in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The Fieldcraft barrels are no exception, they are homemade, bored, chambered and shaped by the same machines that make the tubes of the MRAD, 98B and 107 precision rifles and rifled by olive before the steel is de-stressed. twice.

The barrel of the short actions is offered in two lengths: 45.7 and 53.3 cm. The first barrel is threaded for the installation of a muzzle brake or a silencer, not the second, like that of our .308 Winchester. The long action barrel systematically measures 61 cm.

It is therefore essentially at this level that the difference in weight from one model to another is played out. The barrel, like the case, is taken from a piece of 416 stainless steel. In addition to the caliber and the proof markings, this tube receives a rare hallmark which indicates the number of scratches, a good thing.

On our .308 it is one turn in 10 inches. The Fieldcraft scratching pattern, whatever the caliber chosen, is suitable for fairly heavy bullets, therefore long, and for elusive rears, the famous boat tail. The brand indicates that it is with this type of bullets, and on condition of opting for Premium cartridges, that maximum precision will be achieved. To know ?

Barrett guarantees an accuracy of less than the minute of angle, the famous MOA, that is to say a grouping of less than 3 cm at 100 m, 1.5 cm at 50 m and 6 cm at 200 m, which we will take care to verify. At the muzzle, the diameter of the barrel shows 14 mm, that is to say the usual profile of a gun of light weapon but without exaggeration. It is possible to adapt the silencer of the mar that on this thread, the DC30 Suppressor. On long actions with a 61 cm barrel, the muzzle has a diameter of 15.5 mm.

An old-fashioned steel case

The barrel is screwed onto the case which is very classic and leaves nothing to show the quest for light: in steel, it has two bridges like a derivative of Mauser 98. It is made from the same stainless steel as the barrel. and, like him, seems to have

been microblasted to deliver a very discreet matte appearance in the field.

First surprise, the top of the case is fitted with optical pre-equipment, with two threaded holes on the rear axle and three on the front axle. This allows you to position the base before your assembly more or less forward depending on the mounted telescope and to adjust the eye distance as well as possible. But you can also choose the Talley mount designed for this rifle, with a front base with three wells, one per screw.

This steel case was imperative because the two front tenons cut in the mass of the breech do not lock in the barrel. It is the case which ensures the closing of the weapon by a 90 degree rotation of the movable breech. The latter is fine and provided with helical striations.

The process has two advantages. It allows you to close the cylinder head when plant debris, leaves or twigs, or even sand, have lightly covered it.

Above all, these ridges lighten the part by a few grams without losing rigidity or resistance. The first production rifle to have possessed such a ridged breech was the Remington Titanium which, despite “critical success”, had a relatively short existence, no doubt due to its high price, far from the Remington mind.

Nevertheless, many customs directors and then rifle manufacturers were inspired by it later, like Barrett today.

The straight tenon has a groove. When the breech is mounted on the weapon, this machining grips a steel rim of the housing, placed just under the ejection window. Maintained in line, the movable breech is guided in its movements, it moves back and forward without play, with smoothness and fluidity.

The cylinder head is cup-shaped, there is a spring-tensioned piston ejector and a claw extractor located just above the right tenon. No controlled power on this weapon, it is only at the end of locking that the extractor is closed on the throat of the cartridge case. The diameter of the movable breech is thin (15 mm), this can be seen in particular when you look at the breech head: the walls of the bowl are very thin, another proof of the race for grams less.

On our model, the part of the movable breech between the root of the lever and the end of the breech head measures 11.5 cm. As we said, our action is a short one, designed for reduced size cartridges like the .308 and .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6 Creedmoor, 7-08 and .22-250, the calibers offered by Barrett.

The longer version is built for standard calibers, the .270 Winchester, the .30-06, the .25-06 and the 6.5 × 55. The cocking lever is finished with a small hollow ball, that goes without saying. The lever is not welded to the body of the movable breech, but screwed onto a protuberance which surrounds the rear of the breech, playing the role of a nut bearing and rear reinforcement.

A T-cut gives this binding the necessary strength and resistance. The steel parts were probably obtained by microfusion or MIM (Metal Injection Molding), we can still see the trace of the mold seam inside the ball of the cocking lever or on other hidden or visible parts. When opening, the lever pivots and, at the end of rotation, comes up against a slight inclined side of the case, proof that the primary pre-extraction has not been forgotten despite the small size of the lever. Inflated cases can still be removed.

The cylinder head nut is black and semi-hexagonal in shape. When the rifle is cocked, the rear of the firing pin protrudes by 5 mm, it is unmistakable. If this visibility still seems insufficient to you, nothing will prevent you from painting the edge in red.

The root of the cocking lever rests on a cutout at right angles to the case, again proof that, light weight or not, safety requirements have not been forgotten since this part plays the role of a tenon. of security.

The safety is placed on the right side of the weapon, behind the cocking lever. It is in two positions. Pushed forward, it allows firing and releases the movable breech, towards the rear is prevents the trigger tail from releasing the trigger, but without blocking the breech, which therefore remains easy to handle.

There is no removable magazine on this weapon, nor a fixed magazine hatch. The magazine, which accepts four cartridges, is of the blind type, as was the case on the Mauser 66 for example. This choice, you can imagine, was dictated by the same rule of always lighter. This magazine measures 7.65mm long on short stocks and 8.57mm on long ones.

The round trigger guard, like a mauser 98, is very accessible, even for gloved fingers. It is made of light alloy but has the same matt gray color as the barrel and the case and the same microblasted finish. It houses a ridged, wide and direct trigger. This is a Timney block, a guarantee of quality. Not only is the relaxation clear and straightforward, but above all it is particularly pleasant and without running. The weight is set at the factory, it can be adjusted by the user or a gunsmith afterwards.

A pit trip with 3 balls

The presentations are made, it is time to go and discover our rifle on the ground, at the Gonesse shooting range (95). We are going to use three types of bullets, Winchester .308 cartridges of course, weighing between 10.7 and 11.7 g (165 and 180 grains) and, for two of them, fitted with a receding tail, in order to check if the heavier balls and boat tail offer us greater precision, as the manufacturer announces.

We start by firing a few bullets with direct arms at the earthen butt. The trigger is really remarkable, the weapon incredible lightness and its very good balance. The handling of the small cocking lever is easy, I was afraid that its small size would be inconvenient for a quick rearming, it is not. The ejection is good and the rearming is done naturally, even with a full magazine.

The optical adjustment is rough, we start the precision shots at 50 m, for lack of camera on the long distance stand.

The first of three bullets fired is an 11.7g (180 grain) Sako Hammerhead with no leaky rear. The grouping of the first two balls is good, they touch each other. The third is shifted 2 cm to the left, ouch! I decide to shoot a fourth bullet, which is closer to the third. The result is on the same line, but disappointing.

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The points reached (3, 3 and 2) correspond to the points targeted.

 

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The points reached (3, 3 and 2) correspond to the points targeted.

 

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The points reached (3, 3 and 2) correspond to the points targeted.


The groupings obtained with the Sako Hammerhead (4 balls), the Winchester Match (3 balls) and the RWS Speed ​​Tip (3 balls).
The last two have a slippery rear, which Barrett recommends, the difference is clear.
PS: The points reached (3, 3 and 2) correspond to the points targeted.

The second of the three bullets selected for these shots was a heavy armor with a leaking rear, the Winchester Match 10.9 g (168 grain). Logically, according to Barrett’s specifications, the grouping should be much better. Indeed, my three balls form an almost perfect clover. No complaints. The third and

last bullet is a 10.7g (165 grain) RWS Speed ​​Tip with receding tail, a hunting bullet this rifle wants to claim. For reasons of target readability, I shift my shot to the right by aiming for the number 2. My first bullet approaches it, the next one completes the first. The third should be good… It will be exceptional, it will take the photo-finish, magnified, for me to discover its impact in the first. The grouping measures less than 1.2 cm.

The new all-rounder?

Is this rifle accurate? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. With all kinds of bullets? Yes, with the difference that it was designed to perform at its best with heavy ball and receding tail, as announced by Barrett, who once again sets the standard in the field of precision weapons. Above all, with its small dimensions, its incredible weight, it forms with our assembly and our scope an essential panoply for those who are looking for a light weapon for the

mountain and approach.

On the side of hindsight? Nothing to report, at least in .308 Winchester. It should be the same for the other calibers, Barrett having had the intelligence not to add too muscular calibers, since the “strongest” of those proposed is the .30-06.

Those of us who can’t stand heavy weapons any longer have every reason to buy this rifle.

If they have the possibility, because at the beginning at least, it will only be imported in small numbers. Let’s not forget that it was proclaimed rifle of the year by Guns & Ammo, which will make the American market very greedy.

Those who ultimately buy it may be tempted to make it their all-round rifle. Because if a light weapon is a plus when approaching, what can be said when driven, where, with a red dot like Aimpoint H2, it would drop below the 2.5 kg mark? We imagine

what fieldcraft it would result.

Fieldcraft? “Agility”, “field experience” in English!

TECHNICAL SHEET

Brand: Barrett.
Weapon type: bolt action rifle.
Name: Fieldcraft.
Import: Armory of the Stock Exchange in Paris .
Stock: straight comb, round cheek and front in textured carbon.
Store: fixed and blind.

Case: stainless steel with two bridges.
Cylinder head: helically ribbed with two lugs at the head.
Extraction: extractor-claw and ejector under spring tension.
Barrel: 47, 53.3 or 61 cm stainless steel depending on the version.
Short case ratings : .243 Win., 7-08, .308 Win., 6 Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .22-250.
Long case ratings  .270 Win., .25-06, .30-06 and 6.5 × 55.

 

Price: from 2600 €.

Weight: 2,150 to 2,720 kg.

ADVANTAGES 
• Record featherweight
• Handling
• High precision
• Choice of caliber
• Sobriety
• Carbon stock and its bedding

THE LESS
• The price
• Short stock
• No removable magazine
• The absence of thread on the 53 and 61 cm barrels