Tactical Long Guns Today

By Scott Wagner

There has never been a phenomenon in the firearms industry likethe stampede to the tactical-style gun. The only thing that comeseven remotely close was the cowboy and fast draw crazes of the1950s and 60s, followed by the Cowboy Action Shooting craze thatbecame popular starting in the 1990s.

The way it stands now it is getting hard to find a shooter orgun owner who doesn’t have some type of a tactical gun. In lastyear’s review, I referred to these weapons generically as “blackguns”, however black is not the only available in the tactical gunmarket, and may be in fact losing a little steam as the color ofchoice. Desert tan, OD green or various forms of camouflage areamong some of the most popular finishes available these days.

For the purpose of this article, I will discuss only long guns(rifles, shotguns, carbines) that are set up, designed or modifiedto enhance their utility for combat and Three- Gun or tacticalcompetitions. There are some nice advances out there, particularlyin the shotgun market. I thought the tactical shotgun market hadbeen totally eclipsed by the AR15 market. But I was wrong. So let’slook at some of the best of the best tactical long guns outthere.


I have been working for quite awhile with the5.56mm Armalite SPR Model 1, and have been very impressed. A basicblack M-4 platform, the SPR features the Armalite Continuous OpticsPlatform (COP) for un-interrupted mounting of larger optics, a 1 in7-inch barrel twist rate M-4 stepped barrel is used to optimallystabilize heavy, long range bullets up to 77 grains, and removablepicatinny rails so you can customize your setup.

The upper rail on the COP system is forged integral with theupper receiver, and is truly one-piece. The trigger is decent. Itcan be used in my opinion, as a mid-range precision marksman gun,or as an entry carbine. Accuracy with 77-grain loads is very goodand one-inch groups at 100 yards is the norm.

For this particular review, I set it up as a basic entry gun soyou could clearly see the Continuous Optics Platform. I mounted aset of Midwest Industries excellent adjustable backup iron sights(really not backup sights, they work fine as rail mounted standalones).

The rear sight has a large aperture (it appears as almost aGhost Ring affair due to the thinness of the rear aperture itsoutline overlays the curves of the protective ears of the frontsight).

The front is a standard military elevation adjustable post. Itworks very well for close quarter battle, especially with an XStritium stripe front sight installed. For Designated Marksman use,my ammo choice would be the 77-grain Wilson Combat BTHP. The SPRMod 1 is great weapon from the original AR company, and reasonablypriced with at $1529. www.armalite.com


Recommended Tactical Rifle Resources

Gun Digest Book of The Tactical Rifle

Gun Digest Buyer's Guide to TacticalRifles

Own the Night: Selection and Use of Tactical Lightsand Laser Sights