Accuracy International’s AT308 Rifle by Phillip Hayes

  • Wednesday, 06 September 2017 10:50
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Accuracy International’s AT308 Rifle by Phillip Hayes: A true battle-proven sniper rifle

Accuracy International’s Accuracy Tactical (AT) standard model is a sniper rifle designed for law enforcement and military purposes with the emphasis on reliability and accuracy. The good news is that these superb bolt actions are available to the public and in the right calibre can be a serious target shooting and hunting tool.

Accuracy International (AI) has an enviable reputation when it comes to building sniper rifles. Their first, the Precision Marksman (PM), was based upon their successful target shooting rifles. By soliciting input from snipers, AI was able to incorporate into the design the required ruggedness, reliability and ease of maintenance needed for this application. The first customer for the PM was the UK Special Boat Service, which, after evaluating it in 1984, acquired 8 rifles in 1985. They were closely followed by the UK Special Air Service, which purchased 32 rifles later that same year. Feedback from these two important customers was instrumental in AI’s further refining the design for the military sniper. As a result of the green colour of the rifle and its ability to deliver first round hits, the British users of the PM nicknamed it “The Green Meanie”.

AI was awarded another contract for the L96A1 and production of this system as part of a defence contract continued until 1992. In response to a request from the Swedish armed forces, the L96 was modified to operate reliably in cold environments and was given the designation AW (Arctic Warfare). A key to the success of the AW series is the fact  that all major parts are engineered to be interchangeable among rifles of the same calibre.

The design modifications of the AW308 resulted in an order for 1 100 rifles from Sweden in 1991. Under the designation L118A1, the AW model was subsequently ordered and is still in use by 60 military and law enforcement agencies around the world. By the late 1990s, the L96A1 had been completely superseded by the AW series.

In 2007, the UK MOD awarded AI a contract for 582 systems in .338 calibre to replace the L96A1. The new rifle, designated L115A3 entered service with the British Army in April 2008. One of the exhibits proudly displayed on the wall at AI’s headquarters is a certificate from Guinness World Records recording one of the longest confirmed sniper kills in combat at that time. This was achieved at a range of 2 707yds with an L115A3 rifle by CoH Craig Harrison.

This is an impressive pedigree and the rifles are battle proven workhorses. The AT308 we tested is the base model in the current AI range, where the AX and AXMC, as well as the larger AX50, dominate in terms of adjustability and long range calibre performance.

Read the full article in the October 2017 issue of Magnum.

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