Desert Tactical Arms currently makes the only bolt-action bullpup rifle available in the U.S. Given my love of the bullpup style I was excited to find them, until I saw that their prices start at over $4000. I said, “No way; I’ll wait until someone does it cheaper.” A year went by with no signs of anyone moving to compete in this niche. I did some more research, found a dealer selling them at a 20% discount to retail and, as you can see, finally convinced both myself and a friend to pull the trigger. Pictured here is my SRS Covert (the shorter one) in Olive-Drab Green and my friend’s full-length SRS in Flat Dark Earth.
The Covert chassis is the bare minimum 26″ in overall length, and is equipped here with a 16″ barrel chambered in .308 with a 1:8 twist — optimal for running subsonic loads as well as the heaviest .308 bullets. The standard SRS has an extended fore-end that pushes it to 32″ long, and is shown here with a 22″ .308 barrel, 1:11 twist.
These rifles are supposed to compete not only in price but also in performance with the finest precision bolt guns on the market: Accuracy International, G.A. Precision, Sako, Surgeon, and higher-end custom sniper rifles.
The DTA SRS has some remarkable features (in addition to the bullpup configuration I love for its compactness):
- Quick-change caliber conversion: Using a single torque wrench a barrel can be swapped out in under a minute and replaced without losing zero. The chassis accommodates conversion bolts and magazines to cover calibers from .243 Win up to .338 Lapua Magnum.
- The trigger is the finest I have ever pulled. It is a single-stage design and is adjustable for creep and weight. I have mine turned down to 1.5 pounds. (Granted, I don’t have trigger time on the competition, and many shooters who do claim that Sako and AI triggers are better. Many also lament the lack of a second stage and adjustable stop.)
- All DTA barrels are match-grade Lothar-Walthers. The rifles have developed a reputation for world-class long-range precision.
- Quick-Detach sling mounting points are included everywhere you might want them.
There are some fundamental shortcomings:
- The bolt assembly — essentially the only mechanism on the gun that has to move — has a matte finish. It should have a high-lubricity coating. I paid ROBAR $65 to coat mine in NP3.
- The single-stack magazines are made to very loose tolerances and, given their construction, are absurdly expensive. DTA charges over $100 for a part that it appears they haven’t spent more than $15 to make.
- The butt is hard, and there is no means of adjusting the comb.
Another drawback is that the company is still immature. I wouldn’t expect sloppiness like the following given the price they are charging:
- My barrel arrived with copper fouling. (Hopefully only “tested,” not “used.” DTA claimed that after test-firing barrels they don’t clean them in case customers want to run the break-in rituals that high-end barrel makers eschew.) [Update: I actually couldn’t get it to shoot under 1.5MOA, and after several range sessions to eliminate any other sources of error returned it. It took them a month, but they finally sent me a new barrel that shoots .5MOA with factory match ammo.]
- To date they have included a “test target” with every gun that is just a photocopy of one shot earlier in the year on a different gun and in a different caliber.
- They have a few good service agents, but also some very incompetent ones.