The Armament Technology AT1-M24

18 October 1997
By Scott Powers

Recently members of the Sniper Country staff had the opportunity to work with, and virtually live with, the excellent AT1-M24 offered by Armament Technology. This is an updated version the Army's M-24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS). And if our experience with it is consistent, it may even be a better firearm then our military is currently using. After the break-in period was complete we were off to a Counter Sniper school located in the hills of West Virginia ( See the review on the Storm Mountain Training Center). And what better place to test out a true sniper weapons system than sniper school?

The AT1-M24 proved to be everything the manufacturer claimed it to be. Built on the standard Remington 700 action, it incorporates the same M-24 barrel and H.S. Precision stock with aluminum bedding block as the original Army version. The action can be had in short or long and the purchaser, Mr. Bain, wisely went with the short action. I feel it is a little stiffer than the long action and as this rifle will not be rebarreled in .300 win mag, there is no reason to suffer the long bolt throw. The bolt handle has been redesigned by Armament Technology and is much larger then the original Remington lever. It has been widened and shaped in a tapering cylinder, hollowed out at the end. The refined design allowed smooth operation and felt much better then the original. I could flick the bolt open with the thumb, throw it rearward slowly, pick the case from the action, and thumb the bolt into battery in one smooth motion. This made chambering a round in a sniper hide very easy and kept your exposure due to movement at a minimum. During an impromptu rapid fire sequence I was reminded of the Match rifle operators I see at High Power matches. Most duct tape their bolt handles so that the end of the bolt is about the size of a ping pong ball. Watching them operate a bolt is like watching ballet. Fast and graceful. While the AT1-M24 bolt handle is nowhere near as large as a ping pong ball, the principle is the same and smooth operation is the end result. The action was so smooth in fact that, while I could not keep pace with the M21 operator to my right, I was able to place several rounds on the moving targets with each pass, something I had not thought possible with a bolt gun. I will not repeat what the instructor had to say about our shiny flying target indicators (Brass). Lets just say we sort of gave our position away.

The only downside I experience where the action is concerned was when trying to top off the magazine in a hurry. Often if done with out care, the last round would jam into the preceding round and the only way to rectify the problem was to dump the rounds out the bottom. The trick was to apply rearward pressure to the cartridges as you loaded them into the magazine. I trained myself to do this with increasing speed as the week wore on but it was quite frustrating at first. I am told by my local High Power gunsmith that this is typical of Remington actions and is one reason why a lot of competitors rely on the less stiff M-70 action for their High Power rigs. Once you got used to the proper feel during loading, the problem went away. In the end, it really is a user error.

Armament Technology pays a lot of attention to detail. Not happy to rely on the H.S. Precision bedding block, Armament Technology glass beds the action, assuring a perfect mating between action and stock. While we are talking about the stock, let me advise anyone interested in an M-24 SWS to reconsider the standard military adjustable stock. As you will likely be the sole operator of the weapon, you have little reason to waste money on the specialized adjustable stock the Army uses. It has some very real disadvantages. First off, the adjustment locking ring - Doesn't! The thin locking ring constantly backed out from the main adjuster. No amount of coercion on my part could stop this from happening and talking with other snipers, this seems to be par for course. While this was highly annoying it had little affect on length of pull. As long as nothing disturbed the adjuster everything was fine, but I am a firm believer in Mr. Murphy and his infamous laws. Do yourself a favor; get the H.S. Precision M-24 non-adjustable stock. It is identical to the adjustable one minus the large cut-out in the buttstock. Andy Webber, the proprietor of Armament Technology recommended against the adjustable stock but Mr. Bain wanted an exact duplicate of the military version for aesthetic and personal reasons. I'll let Mr. Bain explain his reasoning in his own words:

I knew exactly what would happen with the adjustable stock. I wanted the adjustable feature so that I could take into account summer or winter wear, friends of different proportions shooting the rifle, etc. in addition to having the same rifle as the Army's.

Mr. Bain also pointed out that the Army had to take into account shooters operating in an NBC environment. While wearing Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) garments, the stock can be adjusted to compensate for the extra clothing, thereby maintaining the shooters proper length of pull. While this was not an issue for Mr. Bain, he did want as militarily accurate a system as he could find. In the AT1-M24, he got it!

Another negative of the adjustable stock made itself very plain the first time I tried to use a bean bag sock under the buttstock. As you slide the bag rearward for a sight picture adjustment, the sock would invariably "fall" into the cutout of the adjuster and the rifle would point skyward. You either had to fatten up the bag or move it all the way to the rear of the stock. Things would have gone so much easier with a normal non-adjustable stock design. Stay away from the adjustable stock unless MOPP level four is in your future! The fixed stock is more then acceptable.

The AT1-M24 came with the excellent Leupold Mk4 rings and mounts. These are very strong and line up very well. Webber laps them true and in fact will not sell a weapon with out this being done in house. This relieves any possible strain on the scope tube and is worth the effort. The rifle also came with the mounts for the match type iron sights used on the original M-24 SWS. I personally thought this an excellent addition. The rifle can be had with a variety of scopes including the Leupold Mk4 M1, M3 or the Bausch & Lomb Tactical. This particular rifle had the B&L Tactical mounted. We will review the B&L Tactical and other scopes in the coming months.

One of the first things that impressed the Sniper Country Staff was the incredible accuracy of the AT1-M24. The rifle was shipped with a five shot test group that measured .345" and from our experiences during the two week course, we can say this was an honest expectation. At times it seemed an underestimation of how well this rifle can shoot. During one test of shooter skill, it became ordinary to see two shot test groups go into one elongated hole. On average the rifle shot into the low .4s and that was most likely because I did not do my part. On one good day, I placed three shots into 3.5 inches at 825 yards. Not too bad for a sniper rifle! This weapon could hold it's own at benchrest.

Firing 25 three shot groups, the AT1-M24 averaged .443" in group size. This would have been much smaller had I been able to stay consistent. I had some groups go as small as .190" and had the aiming point, a two inch square, been smaller, I may have been able to concentrate harder to tighten up the group size. One group, fired on a small dot measuring about .30 in diameter, came in with a .182" group! Obviously this rifle is better then this shooters abilities. When I relaxed my attention, the groups would open up just a bit and when I really screwed the pooch, the largest went into .968" -- very embarrassing! When I did everything the way it was supposed to be done, the AT1-M24 proved to be equal to several specially built Bench Rest rifles I've seen. This was quite impressive as we were firing from the prone, with a bipod in front and a military sock filled with lentils as a rear bag. Half the time it was raining and I was almost always soaked and even at times cold. In these conditions this rifle inspires confidence. In droves.

The AT1-M24 comes with a Shilen trigger. It was set at about three pounds and got progressively heavier as the week wore on. After a small adjustment and thorough cleaning, the trigger stayed at two pounds for the remainder of the course. Armament Technology installs a trigger shoe that is over a quarter of an inch wide and makes a good interface between the shooter and the rifle. I have felt better triggers, even stoned and worked factory standard Remington triggers. The initial adjustment setting was excellent when compared to ordinary factory fare (a pox on lawyers!) but it was not up to the standards of a good worked trigger in my opinion. It could be that Armament Technology has the same concerns every gun maker suffers: Lawsuits. After one of the instructors at the sniper school diddled with the Shilen it was quite acceptable. Expect to have a good smith go over the trigger to see its full potential.

One of the delightful design features of the AT1-M24 turned out be the Obermeyer 5R rifling profile. Each member of the Sniper Country staff fired 480 rounds the first week of the sniper course and only cleaned the barrel once. Accuracy never fell off. Any shift in point of impact was a direct result of weather variations. During cleaning we were continually amazed by how little copper fouling was observed. Almost none. The barrel was not cleaned again until 750 rounds. Again there was little to no copper fouling. This bordered on a miracle considering the ammo was plain Federal Gold Medal. No moly-coated projectiles were used in the testing. The barrels are said to be treated with molybdenum disulfide at the factory to assist the break in period when fouling is at its worst. Armament Technology claims the rifling profile exhibits very little fouling once broken in and from our observations, we'd have to agree.

Overall, the AT1-M24 is quite a package and worth the price. It's accuracy is quite outstanding. It shot and felt like a benchrest rifle even when firing in mud from the prone position during a rainstorm. The weight provides a firm steady feel while not being over burdensome and the finish is very well done. Plan on painting the weapon though if you actually have to go tactical with it. Black stands out well in a tan field! I had to opt for removable camouflage tape as Mr. Bain was not too keen on me painting his newly acquired rifle. Can't say I really blame him either. Listen to Andy Webber when he says to forgo the adjustable stock. Far better to work the solid stock to your dimensions. Webber does the shooter a great service by tightening up the Harris bipod almost to the limit. A full swivel bipod can throw your aim off if not tight. Our instructors even went so far as to say we should lose the swivel type bipods and go to the fixed units. Personal preference I suppose. I had no problem with mine.

If you must have a copy of the Army's M-24 SWS, we Highly recommend Andy Webber's exemplary AT1-M24 Tactical Rifle. This rifle is OUTSTANDING!

If you happen to contact Armament Technology, please tell them you first heard of them here at Sniper Country.



Specifications as provided on the Armament Technology website
Action

Competition-tuned Remington 700 with specially-designed tactical bolt handle.

Barrel

Free floating M-24 cut rifled, 416R Stainless Steel with Obermeyer 5R rifling profile. Five groove, right hand twist; 1 turn in 11.2 inches. Each AT1-M24 barrel is hand selected by the original contractor to the U.S. Army SWS Program. Barrels are chambered specially designed reamers and are installed to minimum allowable headspace for client's choice of ammunition.

Stock

Kevlar-reinforced fiberglass with full length 7075-T6 aluminum bedding block. Full contour ambidextrous grip and highly rigid fore-end. Individually bedded with steel bedding compound. Choice of non-reflective colors available.

Trigger

Match-grade, fully adjustable for pull, creep, and backlash. Set at 3.3 pounds upon delivery.

Mounts

Mounts are Leupold Mark 4 Series. All rings are hand-lapped.

Bipod

Harris S-Series, with +/- 15 degree cant adjustment.

Finish

Matte black finish on all metal components.

Accuracy

Average accuracy 1/4 to M.O.A. with commercial match-grade ammunition. All rifles are shipped with a certificate of accuracy and are guaranteed against defective workmanship and materials for 5 years.

Delivery

All rifles are delivered sighted-in at 100 meters, zeroed for windage, and with extrapolated elevation tables to 900 meters. Barrels have undergone molybdenum disulfide treatment and initial break-in procedure.

Weight

Complete with standard options 12.2 pounds.
Rifle without scope 11 pounds

Dimensions

Length, standard 43.5 inches
Barrel length, standard 24 inches
Length of Pull, standard 13.5 inches

Barrel Specifications
Material :
416R stainless steel
Length (standard) :
finish to 26in.
Length (special order) :
finish to 32in. max.
Diameter at breech :
1.20in.
Diameter at 26in :
0.900in.
Number of grooves :
5
Rifling twist :
right-hand, 1 turn in 11.2in.
Rifling profile :
Obermeyer 5-R
Rifling process :
cut-rifling
Bore diameter :
0.2998in. (+0.0002/-0.0001)
Groove diameter :
0.3074in. (+0.0002/-0.0000)


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