It was 1973 when Gale McMillan started producing stocks for his own use in benchrest competition. He soon started making them for other shooters as well. Today, the company has evolved to a high quality stock and custom rifle manufacturer that carries a well-known and respected brand name in both the hunting and tactical communities. Their tactical rifles are equipped to meet the specialized needs of the law enforcement and military operator.
A quick look at the TAC series of rifles shows they are well thought out and built with every advantage for a tactical mission. This summer I had the opportunity to check out theTAC-308, a rifle designed for urban tactical scenarios. McMillan’s ads on this rifle say “A designated marksman is a surgeon. This is your scalpel.” Well, this rifle is one of the sharpest scalpels on the table. As I took the rifle out of the padded case I could feel it was properly weighted with good balance. On any precision rifle I always check the chamber and the bolt on this TAC-308 fit nicely into the customG-30 McMillan receiver.
The rifle specifications are much like you would expect of a precision instrument. The rifle is available with either the hinged floor plate or detachable box magazine. There are pros and cons to each and I like that the option is available to whatever your mission dictates. On this rifle the magazines fit perfectly against an extended mag release that sits right in front of the robust trigger guard.
It can be manipulated without moving the grip hand and the magazine falls free. Both five- and 10-round magazines are available. I did not shoot with a 10-rounder so I don’t know if it would be a problem while prone shooting.
The 20-inch barrel is fitted nicely to the receiver and the muzzle is threaded for suppressed fire and fitted with a protective cap. The machining is so precise the line disappears when the cap is screwed in tight. The bore is hand-lapped stainless steel.
This rifle has a powder coat finish that seems tough as nails. It is a compact little gun but don’t let the short barrel deceive you; we were shooting the rifle at 1000 yards and easily hitting the center of the gong. Part of this was made possible by the phenomenal trigger. It tripped at just under3 pounds and was very crisp with no travel. The trigger pull is adjustable, but I could get along with it as it came from the factory.
The barreled action rests in one of McMillan’s A-5 stocks. The cheek piece and length of pull are adjustable to give you a repeatable sight picture every time. This stock has the flatbottom hook for steadying with the off hand and a slightly fattened pistol grip. It, along with the forearm is stippled for good grip in all weather. The stock is of that famous McMillan construction and the action is pillar-bedded for a rock-solid fit. The forearm of the stock has a three-rail system out infront of the scope on top and on each side for necessities such as night vision equipment that your mission requires.
This demo rifle came equipped with a U.S. Optics 3.5- to 17-powerscope. This was my first experience with a U.S. Optics scope but it was a pleasant one. The scope was crystal clear and the reticle was much like others I have used with MOA hold off lines at the center of the crosshairs. I really liked the elevation turret, which could be adjusted for massive elevation quickly. It is a much bigger turret than found on most scopes and one turn at ½ MOA divisions get you there in a hurry. The windage knob has ¼ MOA graduation and is marked right or left. That was different than I was familiar with but I could see it becoming easily adapted to. McMillan also packages their tactical kits with Leupold Mark 4 scopes if you so desire.
I started out shooting the TAC with Black Hills Gold ammo in180-grain Nosler AccuTip bullets. I also had some Federal Premium with 168-grain HPBT bullets and some Lake City 173-grainmatch ammo. One of the problems with a professional’s rifle is that most of the time the operator is limited by the type of factory loads designated by the agency.. Working up the best load is not an option. Luckily there are many good choices out there so finding a good working load is possible.
I started out, where any rifleman does, shooting 100-yard groups. The first groups out of the rifle were shot with the Federal Premium ammo and were sub-minute right off the bat. I did notice some tightening of the groups after the barrel was fouled a bit which is normal. The 173-grain Lake City also shot great groups and I ran the rifle out to 300 yards to get a feel for the trajectory. The groups were in the one half minute range at 300 yards. The Black Hills ammo in the 180-grain configuration shot at the same POA (point of aim) as the Federal and Lake City stuff at 100 yards and dropped negligibly from the other ammo’s zero. With some numbers from the chronograph I had the info I needed to make a trajectory chart. Time to take it out to the longer stuff.
I recently set up a long-range gong on a friend’s property and at the time I didn’t know how challenging it was going to be. It has a barely noticeable incline, about 3 degrees, but the shot crosses two draws right about where they come together into one and sometimes the wind is tricky. The first shot was at 725yards. At first there wasn’t any wind flags up and I wasn’t aware of the varying cross wind as the stiff sagebrush doesn’t move much in light wind. Within a few shots I was hitting the gong at will. My spotter (Matt) could see the hits and they were all on center. The next day the elevation was fine but the wind had picked up and after shooting a different rifle with no success, I walked out and set some wind flags. I was planning on doing this anyway and it really is a waste of ammo if you do not estimate wind properly at long ranges.
What an eye-opener it was to see the wind direction and speed at different distances to the target. I warmed up with my Remington700 in .308 and had the elevation correct immediately. In three shots I was hitting the gong dead center even with the wind. This was with my reload that I worked up for this rifle with 175-grain Sierra HPBT Match King bullet. I used the Lake City stuff for the 725-yard shots and continued using it in theTAC-308 for the 1000-yard test. The fourth shot at 1,000 was on the gong and with slight adjustments in the wind speed the gong had a rough time from then on.
The wind changed speed constantly from shot to shot. It was slight but enough to throw the shot to one side or the other on the gong or sometimes completely off the gong. The graduated center hairs in the US Optics scope really came in handy here. Matt was reading the wind for me and with a quick check of the flags he could give me the correction and I compensated using the reticle. It was fast for the changing conditions and proved quite accurate.
The McMillan TAC 308 definitely passed the test in my mind. It is a compact, high-quality rifle that is easy to handle and puts the pill on the target with a variety of ammo out to 1,000 yards. It would have been welcome on any of the capers that had me sitting on a hot rooftop for hours at a time.