In 1999, Baer began producing AR-15-style rifles based on his own upper and lower receivers, which were CNC-machined from forgings and featured his own cut-rifled barrels. They quickly garnered a reputation not only for superior fit and finish, but also for unusual accuracy. At a time when a one-minute-of-angle (m.o.a.) factory AR was a rarity, Baer guaranteed 1/2-inch five-shot groups with his highest-grade guns. My own experience with his rifles substantiates that claim, and even his button-rifled Police Special easily delivers nickel-size groups.
In 2010 Baer returned to his bolt-action roots with the introduction of the LBC Tactical Bolt-Action Rifles. Two distinct models are offered: the Tactical Varmint Classic and the Tactical Recon, the latter being the subject of this article. Though differing in stock design and overall weight, both rifles are distinguished by a guarantee of 1/2-inch or better 10-shot groups at 100 yards with match ammunition.
The result of a year of development and testing, the Tactical Recon is designed to offer unparalleled accuracy in an out-of-the-box rifle for serious precision shooters, including those in law enforcement, federal agencies, security teams, military units and the like. The rifle is based on the Stiller’s Precision TAC30 repeater action, and sports a 24-inch barrel, adjustable Bell & Carlson synthetic stock and a five-round single-column magazine. Chamberings include .243 Win., .260 Rem. and .308 Win. Gun length in all calibers is 43 inches, and weight is 11 pounds, 8 ounces (without scope or bipod). In addition to a magazine, operator’s manual and Les Baer Custom catalog, each rifle is supplied with a 20-m.o.a. steel Picatinny rail, a Harris bipod and a padded soft case.
The gun’s TAC30 action from Stiller’s Precision—a name well-respected by benchresters—is identical in diameter, footprint and stock screw spacing to the Remington Model 700, allowing the Baer barreled action to be installed in any stock designed for the Remington. The TAC30 receiver differs from the Model 700 design, however, in its distinctive ejection port and left-side pivoting bolt release.
In addition, the TAC30 action is manufactured to exacting tolerances. The receiver, made of 416R stainless steel hardened to 41 HRc, has its bolt hole and lug raceways formed by wire EDM after heat-treatment to ensure straightness. Bolt clearance inside the receiver runs about 0.004-0.006 inches, and all critical areas—the barrel threads, locking lug seats, receiver face,and bolt face—are machined square to the axis of the bore and bolt to 0.001 inch or less.
Though no sights are provided with the Tactical Recon, the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Each rifle is factory-equipped with a steel 20-m.o.a. Picatinny rail from Stiller’s Precision, mounted by way of stout 8-40 screws.
The TAC30 bolt is similar to that of the Remington 700 Short Action, measuring 0.700-inches in diameter and featuring eight spiral flutes, a Remington-style bolt shroud and two large locking lugs. Extraction is accomplished not by the signature Remington spring-clip unit, however, but by a large pivoting AR-15/M16-style extractor, and ejection is by way of the familiar spring-powered plunger. A 0.14-inch port in the bolt head vents gas escaping from a pierced primer or separated case. At the rear of the bolt is the single helical cocking cam and a threaded bolt handle that allows the installation of various bolt knobs. A knurled teardrop-shaped knob is standard on the Tactical Recon.
The rifle features a Timney Remington 700 trigger, a two-lever design that may be adjusted for pull weight from 1½ to 4 pounds, as well as for overtravel and sear engagement. The trigger is set from about 3 pounds to 3 pounds, 8 ounces at the factory, but a lighter pull may be requested. The Timney trigger features a Remington-style two-position safety lever that blocks the trigger and not the sear, allowing the bolt to be worked with the safety engaged.
Threaded onto the TAC30 receiver is the Tactical Recon’s 24-inch 416R stainless-steel barrel, rifled with a single-point cutter in a five-groove, 1:10-inch right-hand twist. The barrel has a medium-heavy contour, measuring 1.25 inches forward of the receiver ring and 0.79 inches at the muzzle. An oversize 0.30-inch-thick recoil lug is clamped between the receiver and barrel, and the muzzle has a recessed 11-degree crown. Both the barrel and action of the Tactical Recon have a wear- and corrosion-resistant Dupont S coating that confers a non-reflective black finish.
Baer states that the bore dimensions on his cut-rifled tubes are uniform to within 0.0001 inch from end to end. This is on par with the best match barrels available today and goes a long way toward explaining the unusual accuracy of LBC rifles. Like many of today’s top barrelmakers, Baer believes cut rifling puts less stress into the barrel than button rifling or hammer forging.
Both the Tactical Varmint Classic and the Tactical Recon bolt guns are chambered using reamers from Pacific Tool & Gauge. Dave Kiff, PT&G’s owner, is widely recognized as an expert in chamber and reamer design and he specially designed the reamers to meet two design objectives. First, of course, the chambers had to be conducive to maximum accuracy. But just as importantly, each chamber had to accept all military and commercial ammunition—a capability particularly important in the .308 Win./7.62x51 mm NATO model, which may be called upon to fire any of dozens of commercial or military loads.
The Bell & Carlson Varmint/Tactical stock that Baer selected for the Tactical Recon is a remarkably solid unit, with an integral aluminum bedding block, a 7 1/2-inch accessory rail under the fore-end, adjustments for cheekpiece height and length of pull, and a 1/2-inch-thick Pachmayr buttpad that can be adjusted for cant and vertical position. The pistol grip has the vertical configuration preferred by many tactical shooters, and the 23⁄8-inch-wide fore-end is square in cross-section with a flat bottom. The underside of the butt is also flattened for riding a rear bag, and features a removable threaded-in sling swivel stud. A second sling swivel stud, attached to an adapter that rides in the fore-end accessory rail, is used to mount the Harris bipod supplied with each rifle. The stock has a slightly crinkly surface finish that is both non-reflective and easy to grip. Black is currently the only stock color offered, although green with black spider-webbing may soon be an option.