I shoot frequently – almost religiously, for more than 30 years – and have the lead levels, hearing loss and empty bank account to prove it.
By comparison, my good friend Mike Lang, the H-T’s photo director, has been shooting for less than a year, and has had little formal firearms training other than a basic pistol course.
Now, thanks to Tracking Point‘s Precision Guided Firearm, Mike can shoot just as well as me, at distances out to 1,200 yards.
It’s almost not fair – just the edge you want in a gunfight or a trophy hunt.
Wednesday, at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s massive range complex, we were each snapping off head-shots at 300 yards – the far limits of the LEO sniper range – with Tracking Point’s XS1 – their flagship weapon system chambered for .338 Lapua Mag.
It is an impressive weapon system – a true game changer. Simply put, it will not let you miss.
I wrote a story for the newspaper about the range report.
Here are some takeaways that were a bit too esoteric for the paper:
First off, the Tracking Point demo team could not have been more hospitable – gentlemen all. They’re traveling this week, showing off their rifles to law enforcement and dealers at rifle ranges throughout southwest Florida. They’re on a tight schedule. Mike and I really appreciate the time they were able to spend with a couple journalists who were high on interest but lacked the $27,500 needed to buy one of their rifles.
Tracking Point, the guys were quick to point out, is not a firearms company. It is an applied technology firm. Most of their employees are engineers – the PhD type – which shows in their product. However, they’ve got enough shooters and snake-eaters on staff to make sure their designs actually work, and boy do they work.
The XS1 package features a Surgeon rifle, Krieger barrel, Harris bi-pod and an adjustable folding stock. It’s also got a decent brake that, along with the rifle’s 20.35-pound loaded weight, do a pretty good job at taming the .338’s recoil.
It’s a soft shooter.
Before we hit the range, I was a bit leery about pulling the trigger on a .338 Lapua Magnum and not knowing exactly when it would go off.
These concerns were unwarranted.
The operating system is so simple and so intuitive, one or two dry-firings and I was ready to go hot.
The heart of the system is the “network tracking scope,” which can zoom from 6X-35X and calculates 20 ballistic variables 54 times per second. I struggle to name more than a dozen ballistic variables.
The only variable the shooter needs to input manually is wind speed, at distance. Given that we were shooting a .338 Lapua Magnum at only 300 yards, nearly a point-black shot for the round, we didn’t bother inputting wind speed. Hurricane-force winds would not have been a concern.
All the shooter does is align the reticle onto the target and press the “tag” button located on the trigger guard. This marks the target with a “tag” – a dot visible only to the shooter.
Then, the shooter pulls the trigger and holds it to the rear, while aligning the reticle to the tag dot. Once the proper alignment is achieved, a process that comes naturally to any long-distance shooter, the rifle fires. After a couple rounds, you will know when the rifle will fire.
This system works on stationary and moving targets. If the shooter tags a mover, the computer calculates the offset needed to hit the target – at distance.
Right now, Tracking Point offers three models: the XS1 in .338 Lapua and the XS2 and XS3, which are both chambered for .300 Winchester Mag.
The firm has several other weapon systems and calibers in development, but I was asked to keep them confidential. They will be unveiled at the next SHOT Show.
For now, the scope is daylight only, although there are IR and thermal imaging plans in the works. It’s not submersible, which would be a concern for certain military operators. As time goes on I’m sure the device will get smaller and more rugged.
The ammunition itself bears mention. End users need to buy their ammunition from Tracking Point – $7.50 per round for .338 Lapua – in order to maximize the system. The rounds, which are made for Tracking Point by Barnes Bullets, are guaranteed to be within +/- 10 fps standard deviation at the muzzle. That’s better than any standard military match round.
I purposefully avoided coffee before we hit the range, another mistake. The scope is stabilized with internal gyroscopes, which is the only way a shooter can stay on target if they are dialed in at 36X. Thirty cups of espresso would not have screwed up my aim.
Tracking Point’s Scott Calvin said he’s known of several senior shooters, including one with Parkinson’s Disease, who have returned to the sport because of this feature.
“It’s brought them back,” he said. “They’re shooting again.”
Tim Davis, a former Texas State Trooper and federal agent now in charge of the firm’s LEO and military sales, has taken the rifle to several SWAT competitions.
It’s given him an unfair advantage – cold-bore hits at distance.
“There’s talk of banning it from some competitions,” he said with a wide grin.
There is no higher praise.