The choice of the first precision rifle and accompanying optics is usually the resultant of previous experience, the type of shooting discipline your want to practice, and… the thickness of the wallet. Thanks to the courtesy of Malik & Malik, Sabatti, Delta Optical, and MILDAT, we managed to assemble an unobvious but quite interesting starter kit.
While the following text contains product placement, it is primarily a reflection of the author’s subjective feelings.
Long distance shooting — my (difficult) beginnings
Preparing to choose the equipment, I had to take into account a few factors. First of all, although I had the opportunity to shoot at longer distances a few times, I never owned a repeating precision rifle. Secondly, I wanted to complete a set that was a solid and trustworthy starter pack so that I wouldn’t have to change it to something better as soon as I mastered the basics. The rifle itself was supposed to be compact and handy, and additionally it was supposed to look combative, which was mainly a whim of the author.
When choosing a precision rifle, I was looking for something with a degree of military flair
Knowing my limitations, I wanted to start my adventure at medium distances, with a gun in a caliber used by both uniformed and sports shooters–I assumed it would be easier to buy ammo and (in the future) accessories at an affordable price. That made my choice fall on a weapon adapted to fire the popular .308 Win ammunition, very closely related to military 7.62 mm × 51 NATO cartridges. However, this decision had a number of consequences. The most important of them was choosing the right sight. As you know, the scope is as important as the rifle. As it was supposed to be a “start plus” set, I wanted to start with good optics that would allow me to shoot at distances from 100 to 600 m, potentially in difficult lighting conditions.
My Starter Kit — The Rifle
When choosing a rifle, I focused on models produced by the Italian company Sabatti. Their weapons managed to gain a good reputation in Poland among distinguished long-distance shooters. Italian rifles in the competent hands allowed their users to win places on the podium in quite prestigious competitions. In addition, their affordable price was part of my criterions for a solid starter kit.
I picked Sabatti Urban Sniper in .308 caliber
All that remained was choosing a model. Knowing that I would be shooting .308 Win ammunition over medium distances and aiming for more of a military style than competitive, I decided to choose the Sabatti Urban Sniper rifle. There were several arguments for this. First of all, it is a mature design, which, according to the manufacturer, is suitable for both very precise sport shooting and as a rifle for “tactical applications in urban areas”. In addition, many solutions used in this rifle are similar to those used in the top-of-the-line Sabatti STR Sport, a high-performance model.
At first glance, Italian weapons are characterized by their simplicity, which, however, is not caused by cost cuts, but by the desire to create a handy and reliable tool that will work well outside of the laboratory conditions of sports shooting ranges.
The Sabatti Urban Sniper is distinguished by a heavy, matte black barrel with a powerful muzzle brake. A polymer handguard ends with a thumbhole stock with an adjustable cheek pad. Two universal rails are mounted on the weapon. The first one, above the receiver, is used to install optics, while the second one, under the front part of the handguard, is used to attach a bipod.
Optics Suitable For Every Circumstances
Looking for an optical sight, I wanted to choose one that would make a harmonious couple with the weapon. I assumed that it should be characterized by very good optical parameters, a compact design, and a magnification range that allows you to shoot up to 600 meters. In addition, taking into account the characteristics of my rifle, I wanted it to be a scope that would work well in field conditions. It should have an illuminated reticle in the optical foreground, tall turrets, and be calibrated in milliradians. What’s more, as befitting a starter kit, its price should not be three times the value of the rifle itself…
Paradoxically, finding the right model turned out to be quite simple. My choice fell on the Delta Optical Stryker HD 4.5-30×56 FFP sight with the illuminated LRD-1P reticle. Like the rifle itself, this optic is designed for both precision shooting over long distances and target acquisition in the field. In addition, despite the use of very decent glasses with high image resolution (ED) and good coatings, it was within the assumed budget.
Delta Optical Stryker HD 4,5-30×56 FFP with Deftar assembly fits Sabatti Urban Sniper well
The last, key component of my set was proper assembly. Here I took the advice of more experienced colleagues and used a one-piece assembly from the Polish manufacturer Deftar. Made of anodized 7075-T6 aluminum, the rings securely attached the scope to the rifle. The assembly itself was made with a factory 20 MOA microscope, which facilitates subsequent zeroing of the sight at long distances. In the set, the manufacturer also provided leveling tools for perfect positioning of the scope in relation to the rifle.
Sabatti Urban Sniper From Close
The weapon makes a very good impression in close contact. Its compact structure gives the impression of a lurking predator, ready to jump. The first thing I tested was a lineup with the sight mounted in various shooting positions. The balancing of the weapons was a very nice experience. The center of gravity lies right in front of an empty magazine. What’s interesting, attaching the bipod doesn’t change the balance.
My fears that the stock would be too short turned out to be baseless. After actually shooting the Urban Sniper, I have not yet decided to add a spacer under the buttplate. However, after a few more training sessions, I will most likely install it. The stock itself is adapted to the needs of right-handed shooters. On the left side, the manufacturer placed two massive screws to adjust the height of the cheek pad. After a moment of adjustment, I could freely position my eye in the optical axis of the sights.
Stock With Regulated Cheek Rest
When you hold the Sabatti Urban Sniper, you can feel its sniper pedigree. The handguard made of fiberglass-reinforced nylon lies securely in the hands thanks to the knurling of the pistol grip and the front part. This allows for precise aiming even when holding the rifle in gloves when it is cold or raining. The stock extends in the rear part providing additional support in the lying position. With the bipod in front and the stock resting on the fist of the left hand, you can aim steadily at objects below the shooter.
However, the heart of the weapon is the barrel with the receiver, trigger, and bolt. The thick-walled barrel, 510 mm (20 inches) long, was made by cold hammer forging, Sabatti’s specialty. In the middle part of the barrel, the manufacturer added spiral furrows that help dissipate heat. The weapon is sold with a replaceable, three-compartment muzzle brake, identical to the brake installed in the STR Sport model.
Sabatti’s patented Multi-Radial Rifling (MMR) threading system is responsible for focusing on the target. According to the Italian manufacturer, this type of solution reduces barrel wear while increasing the muzzle velocity of the projectiles. The method used is also supposed to guarantee very good groupings on the target, with the accuracy at the level of less than one minute of arc per 100 meters when using factory ammunition.
Thick-Walled Barrel Ends With Muzzle Brake
The weapon is offered in calibers 6.5×47 Lapua (8” MRR twist). 6.5 Creedmoor (8″ MRR twist) and .308 Winchester (11.5″ MRR twist). From mid-2023, the Urban Sniper will also be available in .223 Remington caliber.
The Sabatti Urban Sniper’s bolt action operates on the rotating bolt principle. The bolt and three lugs are made of chrome-plated steel with milled relief grooves. Together with the opening angle of 60 degrees, this makes the reloading process faster and smoother. The knob itself at the end of the handle is screwed on and can be easily replaced with another.
I had some objections over the length of the rail for mounting the optical sight. It was placed above the receiver, which determines the length available. When I created my setup to fight zombies or other mushroom people, I picked a powerful sniper mount. Admittedly, it fit within the contact area, but I would be calmer if the MIL-STD 1913 rail used was at least one groove longer.
At The Shooting Range And In The Field
The most pleasant stage of my adventure with Urban Sniper was testing the whole set up in practice. Of course, initially it was a tedious process of fine tuning the barrel. A shot and then tedious cleaning… However, this did not prevent me from trying to see if the Sabatti Urban Sniper would meet my expectations.
The first, very pleasant surprise was the accuracy of the weapon. Regardless of whether I was sitting at the shooting position with the weapon placed on a bipod, or whether I was shooting more dynamically, standing, lying, kneeling or sitting, my eye easily aligned with the optical axis of the sight, observing the target at maximum magnification of the scope.
The balance of the weapon allows for trouble-free replacement of the 7-round magazine without losing the field of view in a standing position without support. Such an operation is made possible by the release lever being located on the trigger guard.
Precise shooting is facilitated by a match trigger with the pull weight of 1.1 kg. The curved trigger allowed me to pull it precisely in every shooting position I tested. The manual safety located on the right side is operated with the thumb. This solution suggests the correct placement of the thumb during the shot – it should rest along the axis of the weapon, and not around the pistol grip.
Despite the rifle caliber, the muzzle device works well to reduce the recoil. It felt like I was shooting a vicious, short-barreled .223 Remington rifle. However, in actual tactical applications, that type of muzzle brake can give away the shooter’s position by kicking up a dust cloud with a sideways blast from the muzzle. The Urban Sniper also seems quite loud.
Sabatti Urban Sniper really shows its teeth when we leave the comfortable quarters of the covered shooting table. A solid and slightly flexible handguard ensures a secure grip during falling rain or several degrees of frost alike. The design of the stock allows for a reliable aim even in difficult terrain. Highly durable coating protects the metal parts of the weapon from scratches and corrosion. However, the matte black finish means that the treacherous sun can’t betray the shooter’s position by reflecting in the polished metal. An additional advantage is the use of the AICS magazines. When covering a colleague armed with an Accuracy International rifle, you can exchange ammo.
The weapon with a muzzle brake is just over 1 m long and weighs 4.6 kg without the sight. This makes it a very handy precision rifle that is easy to assemble and fire effectively in tight, urban spaces. Its dimensions also help with the transport. Although the weapon is equipped with belt loops, I would personally recommend carrying it in a special container protecting the rifle and sight.
To sum up, Sabatti Urban Sniper has the potential to prove itself both at the shooting range and while defending your hometown against a zombie attack!
Author would like to thank the Museum Of Polish Aviation in Kraków for providing the location for the photos.