The SABER starts life as a Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC SD before APO makes numerous changes.
A sub-1/2 MOA gun, the 6.5 Creedmoor SABER printed best 5-shot groups. They measured 0.489 and 0.353 with Federal’s Fusion 140-grain and American Eagle 140s at 100 yards.
The rifle proved its effectiveness on the local coyote population. It took this well-furred 34-pound male 301 yards from the author’s office window.
Before reading our review of the Ashbury Precision Ordnance SABER M700 rifle, we wanted to let you know that you can win it! That’s right, we’re giving one away. Just enter here on RealWorldSurvivor.com!
We moved from the city to a farm a couple of years ago, and of course our cats made the transition with us. And wouldn’t you know, my favorite feline turned up missing. Upset? Me? Ever seen any of the Liam Neeson Taken movies? The line “…But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare…” comes to mind, and does a good job of describing what I’ve unleashed on the area’s coyote, fox and bobcat population in retribution for dragging off my domestic feline friends. The whitetail fawns I save by hammering the coyotes on several neighboring farms with the SABER M700, too, leaves me more meat to put in the freezer when deer season arrives.
I test a lot of weapons through the course of my business, and along the way I find various ones that suit very specific purposes. I’ve stumbled upon my recent favorite “office rifle.” You see, my office is located on the second story of my house, which overlooks a sizable chunk of my farm. I constantly scan for targets of opportunity across hay fields up to 440 yards from my second floor office window. My office benchrest is disguised as a run-of-the-mill credenza.
Dubbed the “Working Man’s Sport Utility Rifle” by my editor, I set out to prove the worthiness of Ashbury Precision Ordnance’s SABER M700 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor “against predators of the four- and two-legged variety.” The likelihood of the zombie apocalypse kicking off this week is rather low, so I’ll primarily stick with the much more likely scenario of giving a coyote a dirt nap.
Before we get too far afield, I do feel obliged to share a bit of what I’ve learned about the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge as it relates to its effectiveness as a man-stopper. After World War II, both the U.S. and British military establishments sought to improve on their respective small arms from what they learned on the battlefield. That experience coupled with exhaustive testing over several decades brought us to where we are today as an understanding of the terminal effects of bullets of various diameters, weights and construction on real and simulated human flesh.
Boiling it all down, the .264 diameter rifle bullet received the highest marks in regards to accuracy at longer ranges, penetration and destructiveness than any other caliber. Throw in a big dose of politics, big military egos, and who knows what else and our military guys wound up fielding the 7.62x51mm NATO in the M14. Throw in some more Kennedy-era politics and the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridges and weapons hit the scene. Fast forward to military gun battles over the last two decades and our soldiers were finding that the 5.56 NATO round was leaving too many perforated enemy combatants in the fight and returning fire.
Today’s primary infantry weapon, the M4 has a shorter barrel than its predecessor, the M16. Couple that with heavier, slower ball ammunition and the terminal ballistics don’t always produce decisive conclusions to gun battles. When enough enemy combatants didn’t immediately collect their 70 virgins when perforated with a 5.56 NATO round, some better solutions were requested… loudly. That led to some of the old military terminal ballistics being dusted off and applied to new cartridge development. That led to the creation of the 6.8 SPC. Not quite a .264 caliber yet, but it was a compromise that headed in the right direction.
For more than a dozen years I’ve been a fan of the .260 Remington for long-range work, but until very recently it took a custom eight-twist barrel and handloads to get the cartridge to perform up to its potential. Since gun and ammo companies thrive on selling “new stuff,” the techno gurus at Hornady came up the 6.5 Creedmoor in 2007. It made more business sense to promote the new 6.5 Creedmoor over the almost-failed .260 Remington. Quite frankly, the broad variety of highly consistent factory-loaded ammo for the 6.5 Creedmoor is leaving the .260 in its dust. If you don’t handload, 6.5 Creedmoor is definitely the way to go if you want to consistently hit targets at a thousand yards and a bit further.
Circling back to the APO SABER, as it comes from Ashbury’s factory in Virginia, starts life as a factory-spec Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC SD barreled action that comes in either .308 Win or 6.5 Creedmoor. The muzzle is threaded 5/8-24 making it ready to accept a muzzle brake or suppressor. A Picatinny rail comes included for optics mounting.
A Remington factory X-Mark Pro externally adjustable trigger is the fire control group for this weapon. APO claims that it is factory set to approximately 3½-plus pounds, but I found it to be closer to the “plus” side. Mine broke at 5 pounds even.
The handguard is the AR-08 octagonal aluminum outfit that free floats the barrel. It includes a bipod stud and came with a Harris bipod for testing. The handguard’s M-LOK accessory attachment system includes mounting slots at the 3-6-9-12 o’clock positions. Included in with the test rifle was APO’s Sporter handguard, which is a sleek polymer unit fitted with two sling swivel studs. The forward stud is intended for bipod mounting. If you are toting this rifle in cold weather, the polymer handguard is definitely the way to go. Outfitted otherwise and the aluminum handguard acts like a heatsink sucking the warmth out of any body part that touches it. The polymer handguard is a little quieter, too, when walking through thick brush.
A neat feature for transport is the SABER M700’s double-locking hinge that locks in both the open and closed position. That affixes a buffer tube, and a Magpul CTR Carbine Shoulder Stock comes supplied. This telescopes allowing adjustable length of pull. A Magpul ¾-inch cheek piece riser puts your eye in line with mounted optics. Other AR carbine shoulder stocks can be swapped out on the Mil-Spec buffer tube.
Magpul’s MOE hand grip with 17.5° grip angle adapter comes standard. One Magpul polymer 5-round AICS-type magazine is provided. A magazine release lever protrudes below the bottom of the trigger guard for quick magazine change. I noticed that the Magpul magazine was a bit tight and had to be extracted by hand, but actual 10-round AICS mags dropped free… like I prefer.
Travel schedules, weather, and actually getting the gun in hand presented challenges for range testing by deadline. Since access roads to my ranges were under water when it arrived, I improvised. The rifle came from APO equipped with a Leupold Vari-X V 5-20x optic, which saved me some precious time. I grabbed a half dozen boxes of Federal factory ammo and a handful of handloads and headed to the front porch. I staked a target stand in the pasture 100 yards from my house, threw down a MidwayUSA shooting mat on my front porch and went to work.
The first load fired was Federal’s American Eagle 140-grain Open Tip Match. A few shots to adjust zero and I began firing 5-shot groups. As I became more accustomed to the relatively heavy trigger, my groups progressively shrank. The final group measured 0.789, with multiple groups averaging 0.974. I set up an Oehler 35P chronograph to check velocities. This load has a published factory velocity of 2,700 fps fps, and chronographed 2,651.
My next move was to attach an AAC Cyclone .30 caliber suppressor, and all of the subsequent groups were fired with the can in place. I got a slight shift in impact, so I made corrections and proceeded to fire three more groups with the previous load. The average group size shrank to 0.863, and the last one fired measured 0.353.
The next load tested was Federal’s 140-grain Fusion. This one’s factory published muzzle velocity is 2,750 fps, and again actual chronograph data showed a lower 2,676 fps average for 10 shots. The first group clustered four shots into a respectable 0.990, but a flier opened it up to 1.764. The next group stayed together and printed center-to-center 0.864. The last group clustered into 0.589.
I fired five rounds into a target at 300 yards with the Fusion load to create a little data. The group stayed just under a MOA and centered 14 inches below point of aim. I saved the last five rounds of the Fusion load for what I hoped I would need later. But, I had a half dozen rounds of a handload of 42.8 grains of Winchester 760 powder driving a 140-grain Hornady Amax. Holding on a clean target, the rounds impacted at 2 o’clock touching the corner of a 1-inch aiming square. Five shots measured 0.489. One round left, I picked out a limestone slab 400 yards from the house, held about 30 inches of “Kentucky windage” and drilled it.
That night as I let the dogs out to take care of business, I was greeted with the yipps, growls, and howls of at least three coyotes about 80 yards behind the house. I grabbed my two surviving cats and shut them in the garage. Grabbing a boned-out deer hindquarter from the freezer and a 10-foot length of rope, I tied it to my truck bumper and drove through the pasture. I made a circle around the nine-acre field and drove through the next field of the same approximate size. I stopped at the 300-yard target and left the denuded deer quarter sitting next to the target.
Cup of coffee and rifle in hand, I climbed the stairs to my office the next morning well before sunrise. The first rays of light illuminated the target, but nothing showed. Cup drained, I went for a refill. As I walked through the front hall, I spied movement near my front gate. I didn’t spill much of the cup as I took the stairs two at a time. By the time I grabbed the rifle and raised the window, the big male coyote had already found the drag line and was nosing his way toward the next pasture. When he got to the deer leg he spooked a crow off its breakfast.
Line Up the Shot
I didn’t even bother dialing the scope’s adjustments. Held a little less than a foot over his back, I waited for him to stop his cautious circle around the spot. I broke the shot as he leaned in to sniff the deer leg and heard the bullet’s distinct “whop.”
I didn’t allow for the crosswind in my haste, and the bullet caught him through the last rib. DRT (Dead Right There)!
This rifle is a hammer with the precision of a scalpel. Although I said that it would make a good “office” rifle in jest, this is definitely one I would keep close at hand if I could afford its $1,799 price tag. Actually, this rifle fits into the “budget” category of long-range rifles, which often cost three times as much. If you’re in the market for a durable long-range rig, this one would be tough to beat.
For more information, please visit AshburyPrecisionOdnance.net.
This article is from the summer 2018 issue of Survivor’s Edge Magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
One lucky person will win a Ashbury Precision Ordnance SABER-M700 Sporter Combo!
by Real World Survivor Editor / Apr 2, 2018