NorCal Precision's NightHawk
A New Approach to Stealth

20 September 1999
By Mike Miller

A few months back the author had an accidental meeting with a Master Gunsmith at a local range. That smith's name is Jerry Rice. Jerry, not the football player, was shooting several heavy barreled varmint rifles while I played with sniper rifles. Jerry's rifles were obviously custom works of art.

After a few trips down range we started talking and I learned he not only built rifles he was the owner of a small precision rifle company. Hearing this my ears perked up. In my part of the country good Riflesmiths are hard to find. We talked for hours and I learned that prior to starting his own business, Jerry worked for a major custom rifle maker. When Jerry found out I was a teacher of police snipers he said he had something for me to take a look at. I gave him my address and he said he would be sending me a package of things to look at.

A few days later an envelope arrived with a catalog. I browsed through it and came to the NightHawk Rifle. I looked at the description: Trued Remington 700 action, Stainless Steel Pillar Bedded A3 or A4 McMillan Stock, KxP Cut Rifling Barrel, 1/2moa guarantee and last but not least a muzzle brake that reduces the flash and dust signature to almost nothing. A side note was reduced felt recoil.

After reading the description, with a doubtful smile, I called Jerry and asked if he was certain of what he claimed. He laughed and said for me to try it for myself. I made plans for a test. Jerry put a NightHawk together in 308 Winchester and with a McMillan A4 stock and met me at the range. I have really grown fond of the McMillan A4.

I did a normal break in and then shot it for groups with the new Federal 175 grain Match Ammunition. I shot groups of both five and ten rounds, at one hundred yards. Groups were from one quarter to one half minute of angle. I found that if I did my part the rifle would shoot into one hole. The ease of cleaning was impressive. It took virtually no time to clean all the fouling out of the barrel. Cleaning time was less than a third the time it takes me to clean my Factory Remington PSS's. Jerry and I shot several hundred rounds through the rifle that day.

Many rifles will shoot one half minute at one hundred yards, with three or four round groups but few will hold that small a grouping with ten shot groups. I did a series of ten shot groups and found all were one half-minute or smaller. When you shoot ten shot groups you need to use an old bench rest technique of adjusting your sight a few minutes to either side of the aiming point. This allows you to keep a precise aiming point that is not obliterated by bullet holes. I used a combination of Winchester, Federal and Remington 168 grain and Federal 175 Match Ammunition for all the tests. All the ammunition shot equally well in this rifle. The rifle had substantially reduced felt recoil. It felt like a .243 Winchester going off to me.

Now that I knew it would shot, it was time for a careful examination of the work. The metal finish is called TenX and is a baked on black epoxy. It was flawless and tough looking. The bedding is Marine Tex, the choice of many top rifle smiths, and perfectly molded to the action. The barrel had large flutes that cut the weight down, added cooling and stiffness. The trigger broke at 2 1/2 lbs. and was crisp and without creep. The A4 stock is currently my favorite stock. (see the review). The thing I am coming to now and the item that was just a plain work of art is the muzzle brake. It is approximately six inches long and one and a half inches in diameter. It is attached by sliding it onto a key pin locator and a matching nut is screwed down by hand. It is held on hand tight and no tools are need for servicing. The brake and end of the barrel have had EDM slots and chambers machined into them to cycle the gasses and muzzle flash into the brake. This cuts down the dust and flash signature to just slightly more than nothing. The Flash/Dust Device adds about one half a pound and five inches to the overall rifle. Jerry will build the rifle in several different configurations of barrel diameter and stock models. My rifle is of the heaviest configuration and about twelve pounds without optics.

I tested the brake during both daylight and darkness. The only dust signature I could see was what the bullet alone disturbs when shooting from a very low prone. In the seated position I noticed no dust signature. In my opinion the flash was reduced to be that equivalent to a 22LR. In other words very little flash was seen. Noise was not noticeably increased or decreased, but it was vented back to the shooter and somewhat diffused.

Jerry has told me that ATF has examined the device and given it a clean bill of health for use on civilian firearms with no restrictions. This is also a plus to law enforcement as the device does much of what a suppressor does without the hassle of Federal Paperwork. For those of you unfamiliar with suppressors, the main reasons for their use are flash suppression, dust signature and noise diffusion. A suppressor can not eliminate the noise from supersonic ammunition and subsonic rifle ammunition is of little use. Jerry's device is the best I have tested for police and civilian applications.

I decided that a long-range test was in order for the rifle. I took it on a trip to James Jarrett's (American Shooting Academy) New Mexico Facility. This is an outstanding place in which you can shoot on known distance from one to one thousand yards. You can also shoot on unknown distance all the way out to sixteen hundred yards. James is a former Special Forces Soldier and LAPD SWAT Officer, with a tremendous talent for instruction. I spent three days shooting with James. I engaged targets from three hundred to nine hundred and fifty yards with this rifle. The rifle performed flawlessly. The facility is located at seven thousand feet elevation and that certainly helped with the ballistic abilities of the 175 grain Federal Match I was shooting as none of the targets were of any difficulty in hitting. I completely enjoyed my stay and all the wonderful people I met while there. If any of you are looking for instruction in Tactical Rifle, Carbine, or Pistol I strongly recommend James Jarrett and The American Shooting Academy.

For a record group I shot five rounds from a prone field position at six hundred yards. The winds were constantly changing and I tried to shoot under the same wind conditions for all five rounds. All of you who have tried this know this is no easy thing to do. The five rounds were in a line from left to right, at the same height and measured three inches from extreme center to extreme center. That folks is a half-minute group at six hundred yards. As impressive as one half-minute groups at six hundred yards are, keep in mind that the rifle had no vertical stringing. The only stringing was from left to right and that in my humble opinion was caused by the wind. That is a very significant test of the quality of the rifle and the ammunition.

To say I was impressed is an understatement. I bought the one I tested. The rifle cost is $1945.00 without the flash device and $2595.00 with the device. The prices are for a fixed length A2/A3/A4 Stock, with a fluted barrel. Additional options are available.

For further information about NorCal Products contact Jerry Rice:
Phone: 707- 552-3810
Fax: 707-558-8977

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