In recent years a movement has been afoot within the police sniper community to shorten their sniper rifle to better fit the environment in which they serve. Clearly there is little need for a full length field rifle nor must an officer put up with the extra weight and cumbersome handling of the typical 26 barreled sniper rig. Statistics have proven time and again that most police snipers will face an adversary at an average distance of 75 yards. This of course is the median. He may have to engage targets from as little as 50 feet to as far as 200 yards away. Beyond these distances it becomes not only a matter of not being able to assure an instant incapacitation, but it also can turn into a legal battle. Without going into all the details, let it suffice to say that few police snipers will willingly take a shot beyond these distances and in many cases it would prove irresponsible to do so.
The question begs then, why carry a full length field rifle if you never will need or be allowed to engage a target at 800 yards? The answer is obvious. Dont! For many years the Remington 700 PSS was the rifle of choice for law enforcement. Localities with a budget to burn may have opted for higher dollar systems, but the PSS was the rifle by which all others were judged. It has served well and still carries on to this day. However, in 1994 Remington updated the rifle with a 26 barrel. Prior to this time, the 700 Police rifle was issued with a 24 hammer forged tube. Even at that length it was really more than was necessary. The new 26 barrel made the rifle less than ideal when used in urban environments and the weight, while not excessive, was more than necessary. To counter this problem, Remington released the excellent LTR, or Light Tactical Rifle in 1997-98. With a short 20 fluted barrel and an HS Precision stock of much reduced weight and redesigned contour, Remington seems to have found the perfect compromise for the police snipers needs.
Todays review examines the stock Remington chose to use on the LTR. The HS Precision Urban Police, model PST59. The stock is a departure from the heavy PSS stock (HS model PST12). Weighing in at only 40 ounces, this stock is equivalent in weight to a loaded handgun. HS precision did away with the palm swell in the pistol grip area, opting for a thinner and more sporting style grip. This grip fills the hand nicely without being overly thin. Sharpshooters will appreciate the shape of the grip. It has a good universal feel to it that will prove comfortable both in prone and in off hand shooting. Unlike the vertical grip stocks currently flooding the market, a standard style grip has ergonomics more suited for overall general use. As any sniper will tell you, prone shooting is not always an option and a grip in a sporting contour is often more usable in most situations.
Length of pull is standard at about 13.5 and the stocks overall length is a short 28.25 long, a full 4.5 shorter than the PSS stock. It is perfectly suited to short barreled tactical rifles and is quite handy, balancing out nicely. At 2.25 wide, the bottom of the forearm is as wide as the PSS but HS chose to create a reverse concave midway up the side wall. This effectively saves weight and allows the hand to more naturally fall on the fore grip. The fingers naturally tend to fall into place in this concavity and the feel is quite comfortable. The bottom of the forearm is slightly rounded and proved quite stable over several forms of support. The butt stock is capped off with a thick pliable recoil pad to absorb the extra recoil you can expect to find in a carbine length rifle. The overall package is very pointable and light, the perfect thing for an urban rig.
In typical HS fashion, the CAD/CAM designed and CNC machined aircraft aluminum bedding block is full length, spanning from just aft of the tip all the way back to the pistol grip and slightly beyond. The stock is a true drop-in design and will readily take any Remington 700 BDL short action. Construction of the stock surrounding the bedding block is composite mix of woven Kevlar, fiberglass cloth, unidirectional carbon fiber and an epoxy based gel coat and laminating resin. The core of the stock is injection molded with a fiberglass reinforced polyurethane structural foam. This is the same system of construction as used on the Armys M24 SWS and judging from its record, can be considered proven and quite successful.
The overall construction of the test stock can be considered quite excellent. However, I did find one nit to pick. HS provides two sling swivel studs on the forearm. While this is greatly appreciated on a tactical stock for some reason HS chose to place them too close together in my opinion. Center to center, the studs are 1.75 apart. This makes it quite hard to fit a Harris or other brand bipod to the rifle. The standard Harris goes on fine, but the Swivel model is just about out of room. To use it comfortably I had to remove the second stud. Not a great issue, and one can make the argument that only one stud is needed anyway so HS did you a favor in giving you a choice of where to mount it. Still, I would personally like to see more space between the two studs.
With each stock HS provides new action screws in the form of heavy duty Allen head bolts. These screws may prove slightly long and in need of trimming. HS does this to allow for variations in action thickness. The screws provided with the PST59 were just about right. The rear screw could have used a hit with a grinder to knock off a 1000th, but it did not obstruct the manipulation of the bolt so I left it as is. HS Precision recommends installing the action screws with a torque wrench, set for 65 inch pounds. You may wish to experiment with lower settings but for a quick installation 65 inch pounds works and will retain zero if and when you need to remove the action from the stock. For the test I installed the PST59 on my 700 PSS action, which is a little long in the barrel for this stock. I have however, handled the PST59 when mounted on shorter barreled actions and found it to balance naturally with just a bit of welcomed nose heaviness with a medium 20 tube. The barrel channel is contoured for the Remington standard varmint weight barrel contour as found on the LTR, PSS, and P-DM. By the way, the Urban Police stock is also offered for the P-DM in the form of the PST-51. The barrel channel leaves approximately 5/32s of side material in the stock if you wish to open the channel up for a straighter taper barrel. By way of the TLAR method (That Looks About Right), I would guess you could go with a barrel contour 1/8 wider before worrying about the strength of the side wall.
Range time proved the HS method of bedding. My PSS, in its current form, will shoot 175 grain Federal Gold Medal into an average of .6 moa. Groups usually consist of three or four shots cutting one almost single caliber hole with the remaining rounds going wider and opening up the average. These groups are generally concentric and typically shows lobes falling out of the shot center in a nice clover leaf. Installing the PST59 on the PSS barreled action and torqueing to the recommend 65 inch pounds proved that HS is pretty consistent in their CNC machining method. The rifle showed no unusual traits and grouped pretty much as expected. Zero shift between one stock and the other was minimal, although I could have fine tuned it a very small bit if I had a mind to. Testing was shot from a Hart rest and I had to remove the sling swivel studs to facilitate smooth recoil. Average group size remained in the .6 moa region with no stringing or flyers. In all an excellent showing! I found myself looking at that long 26 barrel and contemplating taking a cutter to it, but thankfully common sense won the day. After all, if I really want a handy short barrel tactical rifle, I have an old 700 hunting rifle I could rebarrel hmmm it would make an excellent deer rifle with a short tube and this stock Honey, wheres the Check book?
So what does it all mean? If you have the need for a short barreled tactical rig and have been looking for a way to stock it, look no further than the Urban Police. Its simple design, excellent ergonomics and moderate price points to one undeniable fact: reality and function often override perception. The perception for years was that a police sniper was limited to gear better suited to a long range field sniper. With the new trend toward 20 barrels, one now finds that you are no longer limited to heavy, ungainly tactical rifles. Best of all, accuracy testing of these shorter rifles has shown that out to 500 yards and beyond you do not even suffer a performance penalty. The day of the handy sniper rifle has arrived.