Tactical Rifles' Chimera Hunter

posted on August 27, 2010

In literature, the Chimera is a mythical, hybrid beast encompassing the greatest characteristics of two or more creatures. Though hardly mythical, Tactical Rifles’ new Chimera Hunter takes on the greatest characteristics of target, tactical and hunting rifles in a single bolt-action format. The rifle maintains the overall look and feel of its tactical roots, but its reduced weight and relatively clean lines make it equally at home in the field.

The heart of the Chimera Hunter is Tactical Rifles’ new precision-built, proprietary action. After many years of accurizing factory actions, owner David Rooney and his engineers decided that in order to improve consistency and maximize accuracy they needed to build their own components. The result is a tubular push-feed design that shares many qualities of the Remington Model 700 but is built to more exacting tolerances and features some notable improvements.

The Chimera employs the same round action and dual-opposing locking lugs as the Model 700, as well as the two-position safety, but it has a beefed-up, hinged steel extractor that provides enhanced purchase on the cartridge rim. The bolt has attractive, functional spiral flutes and an oversized tactical-style knob, which allows the shooter to quickly load a round without losing proper cheek weld. Absent is the staggered magazine design that has given the Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) cartridges a somewhat poor reputation for feeding reliably. The Chimera employs a single-column, three-round detachable magazine that holds the cartridge in direct alignment with the chamber. This system works very well; in fact, during hundreds of rounds of testing we experienced zero malfunctions.

The rifle’s No. 6 contour premium Krieger stainless steel barrel provides excellent stability without the excess weight of a true target profile. The 24-inch tube has a tight match-grade chamber and is finished with a nine-port muzzle brake, which cuts the .300 WSM’s recoil and muzzle rise to a minimum without the excessive blast that many associate with brakes. The rifle’s designer attributes this reduced blast with the large diameter of the ports. All of the metalwork is covered with a baked-on “extreme environment” corrosion-resistant epoxy-finish. Dipped camouflage finishes are also available.

Tactical Rifles’ own T7 stock is made of fiberglass and carbon-fiber, and its angled fore-end makes elevation changes on a rest as simple as pushing the rifle forward or backward. A textured palmswell grip allows for ample purchase for controlling the rifle. At 9 pounds, 4 ounces the Chimera Hunter is no sheep rifle; however, the stock is available in a lightweight version that cuts 12 ounces from the overall weight. A single stud on the unit’s fore-end allows for easy mounting of a bipod, and the left side of the stock accommodates push-button-type QD sling swivels. While carrying the Chimera Hunter in the field, the evaluator found this system to be quite comfortable as the smooth side of the stock rested against the back rather than the protruding edges of the magazine, trigger guard or bolt knob.

Tactical Rifles designed the Chimera with one thing in mind: accuracy. Like all of its bolt guns, the Chimera Hunter comes with a three-shot, 1/2-inch accuracy guarantee with factory loads, and this rifle easily exceeded that standard. Beyond benchrest accuracy, the well-designed stock and clean 2.75-pound trigger pull makes the Chimera Hunter “shootable” in field positions as well.

The test rifle was built as an optional hunter-ready package and arrived topped with a pre-zeroed Nightforce 2.5-10X 32 mm scope with the new Velocity illuminated reticle. At 10X the reticle provides aiming points in 100-yard increments out to 600 yards as well as 5- and 10-m.p.h. wind holds for each distance. The concept of a matched rifle, load, and reticle offers a convenient turn-key setup for hunters looking to obtain a long-range rig without the often-overwhelming process of choosing individual components. The Nightforce Velocity system was simple to use and worked as-advertised without fiddling with knobs or consulting a range chart. Using the appropriate points of the reticle, we were able to make first-round hits on 10-inch steel discs out to the range’s maximum of 500 yards. With the combination of the very accurate Chimera Hunter and the excellent Nightforce optic, a well-practiced rifleman could be confident of clean hits at any reasonable hunting distance.

The Chimera Hunter is not an inexpensive firearm, but with the price of many trophy whitetail hunts these days, the confidence of knowing that your rifle will do its part makes it seem more like a bargain.

Manufacturer: Tactical Rifles Inc.; (877)-811-4867; www.tacticalrifles.net
Caliber: .300 WSM
Action type: bolt-action, repeating center-fire rifle
Receiver: 4140 stainless steel
Barrel: 24" stainless steel Krieger with optional muzzle brake
Rifling: four-groove; 1:10" RH twist
Magazine: three-round detachable box (tested); seven-round available
Sights: none; drilled and tapped for scope mounts, 20-m.o.a.Picatinny base included
Trigger pull: single-stage;2 lbs., 12 ozs.
Stock: T7 synthetic; length of pull, 13¾"; drop at heel, 1¼"; drop at comb, 3/8"
Overall Length: 45"
Weight: 9 lbs., 8 ozs.
Suggested Retail Price: $4,190

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