Long Term Review: GA-Precision Gladius

    GA Precision offers some of the most accurate rifles and actions available.  Of course, with the amount of work that goes into each rifle, the end result costs as much or more than very high-end optics.  Their rifles have proven to be accurate, well built, and extremely consistent.  This would all be worth much less if they were not also backed up by excellent customer service and customer relations.  I first heard about GA Precision five years ago from Aaron Hughston of Hughston Shooting School, who had tried out their rifles during a course at Thunder Ranch.   Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to pick up a GA Precision Gladius, and have put it through its paces since then.

    With scope and 10 round AICS magazine

    With scope and 10 round AICS magazine

    First, some background and specs of the Gladius:

    The rifle itself was spec’ed out and named by Marine Scout Sniper Frank Galli of Sniper’s Hide to be a short, maneuverable, yet extremely accurate .308.  The original model did not have the Surefire muzzle brake/adaptor, just a 16″ threaded barrel with cap.  Though GAP does make its own Templar actions, the Gladius is built on a completely trued and blueprinted pillar-bedded Remington 700 action with a GA precision side bolt release and a Badger Ordnance 20MOA top rail.  Blueprinting is important with 700 actions due to the fact that they can experience a small amount of warping during the heat-treating process after they are machined.  It uses a free-floated 16″ Bartlein barrel with a 1/10 twist and 5R rifling, which I have come to prefer.  A tuned 2.5lb trigger and Badger bottom metal round things out, all mated to a Manners T2A stock with an adjustable KNW loggerhead cheekpiece.  Current MSRP sits at $4100.00, though I believe in late 2010 the going price was much lower.  Besides Frank Galli, another notable user of the GAP Gladius was the late Chris Kyle.

    The thread cap fit is so precise that many people don't notice this rifle has a threaded barrel

    The thread cap fit is so precise that many people don’t notice this rifle has a threaded barrel

    Once I had the Gladius in hand, I opted to use a Schmidt and Bender PMII optic with the rifle.  Though 10lbs unloaded without optic, once fully equipped the Gladius was a weighty 13lbs.  Pretty heavy for a 16″ barreled .308, but the package is short and balances well.  I immediately took it to the range, though we had some howling crosswinds that week, and was duly impressed.  Using Black Hills 168gr BTHP ammunition, I was constantly getting groups to touch without much effort, and this was early on in my experience of long-range shooting.  The trigger was crisp and exactly 2.5lbs as advertised.  The stock and cheekpiece gripped well and were rock-solid.  I have fired the rifle with a suppressor on as well, and the MOA shift has always been consistent, roughly 4 MOA low depending on the particular load.  The only problems that I have ever had with the rifle have been due to a very inconsistent lot of Hornady Superformance ammunition from their first production run.  The short, rigid Bartlein barrel has done an excellent and consistent job since then in temperatures ranging from 110 degrees to 20 degrees F and at elevations form sea level to 8000ft.  Here are some range results from the GA Precision Gladius from  my DOPE book:

    • Over 2000 rounds fired with zero malfunctions, accuracy degradation, or noticeable throat erosion
    • 4 MOA low shift when shot with a Gemtech Sandstorm Suppressor
    • Best Performance without wind: Black Hills Gold 175gr BTHP:  3 [email protected],  .0649 MOA @ 200 measured center-center, .1509 MOA edge-edge
    • Worst Performance without wind: Hornady Superformance 178gr BTHP (Early lot#, 1st production run, inconsistent velocities) 3 [email protected], 1.65 MOA

      Testing loads at the range

      Testing loads at the range

    The best performance that I have achieved with this rifle was also the tightest group I have ever fired, period.  I was zeroing the rifle at lower elevations after being up in the mountains for a while, and fired 3 shots at 200 yards.  After firing three rounds, I looked through the optic, and thought by some error that I had completely missed the target with two shots.  It wasn’t until I got downrange and noticed the oblong hole with distinct “grease lines” that I released what a good group it was.  Of course, my witness and the only other shooter there that day was an older F-Class shooter who makes his own barrels and wildcat cartridges.  Upon measuring the group, he simply uttered “Well, it’s pretty good, but it’s no screamer…”  Such accuracy, however, is indicative of just what this rifle can achieve given the right shooter, optic, and ammunition.  I am still amazed at such accuracy with factory ammunition, which speaks volumes in respect to GAP’s excellent build quality, Bartlein’s barrels, and the quality and consistency of Black Hills ammunition.

    3 shots at 200 yds for .0649 MOA (center-center)

    3 shots at 200 yds: .0649 MOA (center-center)

    Besides shooting at known ranges prone and off the bench, I have used the Gladius on impromptu unknown range targets from various field positions.  Its balance makes it easy to shoot from standing, kneeling, or seated positions.  I have also used the rifle to teach new shooters the basics of long-range shooting with good results.  This rifle has even stood in for a relative’s rifle that broke the day before a hunt, and despite being heavy, it got the job done with accurate, perfect shot placement.

    The GA Precision Gladius, though expensive, performs at the apex of modern bolt-action rifles.  If you are looking for a custom, accurized short-barreled .308, give the Gladius a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

    Pros:

    • Excellent build quality
    • Excellent accuracy
    • Great customer service to back it up
    • Very comfortable, rock-solid stock
    • Short and maneuverable in thick trees and undergrowth

    Cons:

    • On the heavy side for hunting
    • 16″ Barrel can cause lower velocities
    • High cost

    PC140895

    Rusty S.

    Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


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