In Part 1 of the TacFlow Academy Large Caliber Rifle Instructors Course, I covered training, safety, and the TacFlow Standards. In Part 2, we took a deep dive into equipment, shooting position, and The Three Ugly Sisters. In this 3rd and final edition of this series, we’re going to dive back into the equipment and ammunition used throughout this course.
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The author is a Type 07/02 FFL/SOT RP. This was a closed LE-only course with pre-approved rifles and ammunition, and the author’s attendance was requested for demonstration and instructional purposes. Know and understand all local, state, and federal laws.
TacFlow Academy’s Large Caliber Rifle Instructors Course – Part 3
As there’s no current industry standard for large caliber rifles. Accuracy International was the most prevalent .338 Lapua Magnum with Barrett leading the field in .50BMG. That’s not to say there weren’t some surprises along the way. Most notably, this McMillan TAC-50. A rifle that’s been used for three out of the five longest recorded sniper kills.
Law enforcement agencies have various ways of sourcing rifles. As a result, I spotted some rifles I didn’t even know existed like this once California-compliant Barrett M82A1. With its hinged magazine, it must have been built while detachable magazines were illegal, but .50BMG was still legal in California. Different, but it works.
Nightforce represented the majority of the optics used in the class, but Schmidt & Bender were a close second. Schmidt & Bender optics were usually sitting atop these Accuracy International AXSR pattern rifles chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. An incredibly popular platform among police shooters as it allows for rapid caliber conversions and features an ARCA adapter for tripod use.
I learned throughout the week that no two law enforcement budgets are the same. Sometimes you need to make do with what you have, and it was impressive watching one team run out with this very heavy Armalite AR-50 pictured above.
There are multiple ways to set up a large caliber rifle, but choosing an optic with a useable magnification for your mission is paramount. More magnification is useful for threat identification but can be problematic when targets are close or moving rapidly. These factors dictate how each team chooses to set up their rifle.
The importance of having and using the correct ammunition cannot be overstated. Large caliber rifles need to be able to deliver a precise effective shot in various situations. Ammunition like this match solid 720 grain from Ultimate Ammunition was consistent and accurate in an open-air environment. However, there are often situations where barriers like glass, or armor get in the way. These applications require the use of specialty projectiles.
With changes in ammunition comes changes in data. With projectile weights changing, snipers need to be able to adjust their equipment on the fly for both environmental conditions and ammunition. An open air round may not be the best at engine disablement. So knowing how the round performs in flight and on target is a key component.
At the beginning of the week, I’d spotted maybe one or two rifles with quiver or match saver mounted rounds on the side. By the end of the week, it seemed like just about everyone either had one or had ordered one. See those foam earplugs shoved in the bipod of the Barrett M95 pictured above? For a sniper called out, those two pieces of foam might be the difference between a shooter with or without hearing loss at the end of the day. Just like those earplugs, those extra two specialty rounds might be the deciding factor for a safe effective shot on target.
As mentioned in the first two articles, there was a lot of information (most of this very sensitive) in this class that I couldn’t fit into a single article. So I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the series. I was extremely fortunate to be able to run with the best for a week and learned a massive amount of information in a very short period of time. For those law enforcement and military agencies that have large caliber rifles, I would make this class a priority. The learning curve is steep, but the information learned in the classroom and on the range is invaluable.
Special thank you to Ultimate Ammunition for providing the ammunition for this trip, and to TacFlow Academy for the invitation. More information on this class and other classes offered by TacFlow can be found on their website. Thanks for reading.