AllTerra Arms is a semi-custom rifle manufacturer in my home state of Idaho that used to be known as “Axial Precision.” These guys produce some top-tier hunting rifles with 1/2 and even 1/4 MOA guarantees, and I finally got my hands on one. The Mountain Shadow Steel is one of their steel barreled options, and it happens to be the model that I’m testing. You may look at this gun and think, “Oh, another Remington 700 clone… how unfascinating.” But you would be wrong! AllTerra has applied their own twist to accurize their rifle system in unique and interesting ways. Weight will vary with the options available to you, but this Mountain Shadow Steel rifle comes in at 6.3 lbs without optic. This low weight is made possible with a light profile barrel, fluting on the bolt and barrel, and a carbon fiber stock, mainly.
Trigger warning: The following review is on a premium, and consequently, expensive hunting rifle. Please refrain from commenting about how the average man can’t afford this, Ken/Karen. Also, we don’t need to hear about what your $300 rifle is capable of, even though I’m sure it’s great.
The AllTerra Difference
As mentioned, AllTerra’s Rifles are not as simple as one might think. The Convergence Action that they use features some subtle, but impactful details. To begin, the interface between the action and the bolt is unique in that the lugs themselves are conical. As the bolt is locked, the lugs are pulled forward against the action and into alignment with the bore. The second unique interface between the bolt and action occurs toward the shooter, on the back end of the bolt. Here, there is a raised ring around the bolt which slides freely through the action until the bolt is cammed shut. At this point, the whole bolt is pulled forward a tiny amount, locking this ring against a corresponding surface in the action. This act of locking at the front and back of the bolt ensures proper “bolt-to-bore alignment,” and also decrease any accuracy robbing harmonics that the bolt could impart as the gun is fired.
Next, there are some interesting things going on inside of the bolt itself with the firing pin assembly. This firing pin body is larger in diameter, creating a precise fit between it and the firing pin spring that slides over the top of it. This effectively prevents snaking of the firing pin spring that is caused with sloppy tolerances, reducing friction and decreasing lock time. Another way they further reduce lock time is by making the firing pin itself, longer. Ensuring that it never leaves the firing pin hole. Fluting of the firing pin body decreases weight and inertia: all contributing to the “fastest lock time in the industry.”
Side note: lock time is the amount of time between the trigger being pulled and the firing pin striking the primer of a cartridge. The faster this time, the lower the impact of flinching, or other movement, on accuracy.
The final unique feature that I will mention is the interface between the barrel and action. The barrel has a front and rear seating ring which lock into a corresponding front and rear seating sleeve, again creating that “bolt-to-bore alignment.” Allterra boasts tolerances of 0.0005″ (five ten-thousandths of an inch!) which result in a rifle system that is guaranteed to shoot 0.5 MOA 3-shot groups with premium factory ammunition and 0.25″ 3-shot groups with their hand-loaded custom ammunition. Two additional bragging points is their claim of no significant change in accuracy when shooting different bullet weights and that their rifles will not fail to cycle in any field condition. The latter is made possible by that locking action of the bolt as the lugs are cammed into position. Until then, there is tolerance where needed that will allow debris to be scraped away by the fluted bolt.
There are other unique takes on the construction of AllTerra’s rifles that create a match-grade machine out of a reliable hunting rifle, but I’ll let you read about them on Allterra’s website HERE.
The price of the Mountain Shadow Steel rifle will vary depending on the options that you select for your build. There is an increase in price associated with the different packages that you purchase your rifle in: the first package consists of the rifle with a 1/2 MOA premium factory ammo accuracy guarantee. The second package includes a 1/2 MOA premium factory ammo accuracy guarantee plus the development of a guaranteed 1/4 MOA custom load. The most expensive package includes all of the aforementioned plus the inclusion of a programmed ballistic unit (Kestrel) to complement your rifle. The Mountain Shadow Steel product line has a base price of $5495.00 that changes based on the package you desire and with the options that you select.
From start to finish, I felt like I was coordinating with a custom rifle builder to produce a unique rifle built for myself. AllTerra allowed me to choose my cartridge, of course, from their 13 different options available. If you are dead set on something that they don’t offer, they’ll more than likely accommodate you after a quick phone call. After deciding on 6.5 PRC for my rifle, I asked them to cut the barrel down to a length of 20″, which they did. This rifle will come standard with a 22″ barrel normally. The next step was for me to specify what rifle scope I wanted on the completed rifle. I had a 3.6-18×44 Leupold Mark 5HD with scope rings that I shipped to them for this purpose. Yes, they mount your optic to ensure that it is done correctly (more on this later… I caused myself a headache related to this) so that it meets their 1/2 MOA or 1/4 MOA guarantee. I even picked my length-of-pull on the stock and picked my Cerakote option.
At this point, I hardly felt like I was waiting on a factory rifle to be produced. It felt more like a fully custom rifle from a reputable builder. As luck would have it, the ammo shortage hit right around this time, delaying the development of a load for my rifle. After components came available again, my rifle soon arrived at the FFL I specified. Once there, I found this neat little ready-to-go hunting rifle tucked in a giant hard case with a laser-cut foam insert. It looked so good, I barely got it pried out of my gunsmith’s hands so that I could leave with it.
But, looks don’t matter if it doesn’t perform! I got it home and immediately removed the 3.6-18×44 Leupold Mark 5HD that this rifle had on it because I needed it for a different rifle review. This turned out to be a big mistake. I promptly mounted a larger, heavier, 5-25×56 Leupold Mark 5HD that I had available and went to the range.
My Experience at The Range
For my first trip at the range, I saw groups that averaged just outside of 1.25 MOA, both with AllTerra’s provided custom-loaded ammunition as well as with 143 grain Hornady ELD-X and 147 grain Hornady ELD-M ammunition . Wait… this is not ok.
I chose to go home and come back to the range on a different day. It was windy and I could have been having an off-day. I came back 2 weeks later and saw the same results. At this point, I knew talking to the rifle builder would probably result in them telling me that I suck at shooting since my rifle came with a proof target that they shot personally, measuring under 1/4 MOA. To prevent this, I linked up with a buddy and had him also shoot the rifle. Identical results. I called AllTerra, half upset, and they sent me a shipping label. I got the rifle back to them and after a short wait, they got in touch and said that the rifle was not shooting well when they received it and they found some issue with the alignment of the rings (which I had swapped out with the new scope). After lapping the rings and re-mounting the scope it returned to its former glory and they got it back to me.
Now that I was reunited with my Mountain Shadow Steel rifle, I headed back to the range and proceeded to shoot the three-shot groups below. I chose to stick with three-shot groups because AllTerra’s Accuracy Guarantee specifies such. I was not able to get the exact results that AllTerra’s rifle tester produced, but they were close enough for me to think that the rifle is capable of it and I may indeed be the limiting factor. These lightweight hunting rifles are extremely finicky, and if your technique is not perfectly consistent between shots you will see this translated down-range on the target. Again, I had another shooter put some rounds down range and they also saw excellent results.
After putting some time in on paper at the 100-yard range with AllTerra’s custom loads, we stretched the rifle’s legs on targets at 500, 1000, and even 1791 yards with factory Hornady 143 Grain ELD-X ammunition. That’s over a mile! The 500-yard target was all too easy to connect on, so we pushed out further. At 1,000 yards in 25 mph winds, I was able to keep center-punching the steel plate. On the mile shot, we were fighting 30 mph winds as well as the supersonic to subsonic transition of the bullet during the last bit of its flight. Even so, we got some hits on the 1 MOA target out there.
- MSRP: $5,495.00 and up
- CNC machined pre-harden 416 stainless steel
- Wire EDM cut raceways
- Integral recoil lug
- Extended length magazine for VLD bullets
- Lengthened ejection port
- Match-grade, hand-lapped stainless steel, spiral fluted
- 22” lightweight contour
- 5/8”-24 threaded for suppressors
- Includes end cap and ultralight muzzle brake
- CNC machined from one piece hardened 4140 chromoly
- Skeletonized bolt handle and deep fluted bolt body for reduced weight
- Ergonomic bolt handle and knob
- Engineered firing pin designed for fast, consistent lock time
- Dual ejectors for improved ejection angle
- Mini M16 extractor
- Nickel Boron coated
- proprietary Carbon Hunter ultralight stock
- Optional color patterns
- Pillar bedded and free-floated barrel channel
- CNC machined floorplate bottom metal
- Extended length internal box magazine for long cartridges
- Optional detachable box magazine available
- weight starts at 6 pounds, varies depending on options
- TriggerTech Primary trigger set at 2 pounds with other options available
- Cerakote finish, many colors available.
- Available Calibers
- 6mm creedmoor
- 6.5 creedmoor
- 6.5 PRC
- 6.5 SS
- 6.5 SST
- 7mm Rem Mag
- 7 SS
- 7mm SAUM
- 28 Nosler
- 308 Winchester
- 300 SS
- 300 PRC
- 338 SS
- other calibers upon request
My experience with AllTerra Arms and the Mountain Shadow Steel rifle in 6.5 PRC was phenomenal. Especially since I caused my own issues with the rifle and then AllTerra was able to fix my screw up and get the rifle back to me in such a timely manner. Being able to order a rifle and receive it with a mounted optic, zero’d at 100 yards with load development done, and information for the load provided was incredible. This was the most hassle-free long-range rifle that I’ve ever been a part of building. Yes, I felt like I was a part of the process of producing the rifle because of all of the opportunities I had to tweak the build in ways that I personally desired, such as customizing my barrel length to 20 inches. The ease that I experienced in the process led me to consider the old adage of “What’s your time worth?” An incredible amount of effort, research, and stress goes into building a custom rifle if you’re like me. In the end, I had none of this and I feel like I received a custom rifle at the end of the process. Perhaps it is worth it.
AllTerra’s rifles are not for everybody and I think that their customer is very niche. That said, customers are out there, and their rifles are in demand. The proof is in the pudding. The factory is currently turning out around 20 rifles a month, each spoken for and rapid growth is expected/observed on the manufacturing side. When you buy any AllTerra rifle, you aren’t buying just the rifle; you are buying their phenomenal customer service and their outrageous guarantees that they somehow always manage to meet. Since their rifles are long-range hunting oriented, I tend to relate to the long-range hunter in that I want to know a miss in the field is on myself, not the rifle. With the 1/4 MOA guarantee, you can rest assured that the rifle is up to any task that you’ve practiced for.
Learn more about AllTerra Arms’ custom rifles HERE!