It may be midsummer, but it’s not too soon to be thinking about predator hunting season. In fact, this is the perfect time to get out and dial in your rifle, practice different shooting positions, and sharpen your skills. If you are looking to update or upgrade your gear there are many excellent choices out there. While many prefer bolt action rifles for predator hunting, I use gas-operated semiautomatic rifles, aka ARs, modern sporting rifles, etc.
SIG Sauer has a new model of their M400 Tread rifle called the Tread Predator. The basic configuration is the same as the M400 Tread, with a few notable exceptions. The first thing people notice is the color. It is a light green shade of Cerakote Elite called Jungle. I hunt out west, so tans and browns are more my style for Cerakote, but this flat Jungle should blend in just about anywhere. It’s green enough for a Midwestern forest and subdued enough to do just fine in the sage flats by me.
SIG also changed the stock on this model to add an adjustable cheekpiece as well as adjustment for length of pull. One lever enables changes to either height or length without tools and the stock seems well-engineered. There are four quick detach sling locations, two at the rear of the stock and two at the rear of the lower receiver. SIG also calls out the polished single-stage trigger as unique to this configuration. The trigger guard is large enough to accommodate gloves, and the grip is SIG’s own deSIGn. The Tread Predator ships with a single five-round Magpul magazine, though any standard AR magazine will fit in this rifle.
As with other M400s the safety is ambidextrous, and there are magazine releases on each side as well. The bolt release is left side only. The upper receiver has a Picatinny rail for mounting optics. SIG shipped this test rifle with the Sierra3BDX rifle scope. This scope has an electronic ballistic program that communicates with certain SIG laser range finders such as the Kilo 1000. The scope has a reticle with a bright dot that moves to the proper point of aim once it is linked with the SIG range finder and all necessary ballistic data have been calibrated. It would have been great to test the scope/rangefinder functionality, but SIG did not send a rangefinder for this test.
The Tread Predator has a 15-inch MLOK handguard covering the 16-inch stainless steel barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO with a 1/8 twist. The free-float handguard is slim and comfortable. There are enough MLOK slots to accommodate any accessory setup that one might prefer. The direct impingement gas block is pinned and uses a mid-length gas system. This should provide a bit less recoil than a carbine gas system, allowing for faster follow-up shots. The barrel is threaded 1/2×28 to accept suppressors or other muzzle devices. The barrel is tapered near the muzzle to mate with SIG’s suppressors that feature the reciprocal tapering for a solid suppressor mount. SIG also includes a tapered adapter to mask the barrel taper so that non-SIG suppressors or other muzzle devices may be mounted.
At the range, the accuracy of the Tread Predator was reasonable with five-shot groups at about 1.5 inches using Hornady Varmint Express ammunition. I’ve had really good results on predators using Hornady bullets and ammunition, so I and two other shooters thought the Tread Predator was very likely capable of better accuracy. All three of us had trouble with the reticle on the Sierra3BDX for precision work. The thick reticle would be well suited for hunting, but for shooting groups at 100 yards it was not optimal. Similarly, all three of us found the trigger to be very heavy. SIG promotes the trigger as polished and hardened, and it may be, but for precision work, the trigger is just too heavy. The trigger wasn’t gritty and it didn’t have too much travel, it just took enough oomph to pull that accuracy suffered. Back in the shop, the trigger was breaking at just over seven pounds. The triggers on my personal predator rifles break at about three pounds.
What I did next might upset the good folks at Sig, but I had to see what this rifle could really do. I pulled the stock trigger and replaced it with a Geissele SSA-E trigger. I also replaced the scope with a Zero Compromise Optics ZC527 scope that I had handy from another test rifle. These two changes shrunk the groups to just under an inch, which made more sense to me given the apparent build quality.
The Tread Predator performed flawlessly with zero malfunctions, and the fit and finish are superb. There is zero wiggle between the upper and lower, likely in part due to the wedge added at the rear of the lower just under the takedown pin. This is one of those rifles you will need to use a tool to push out the takedown pins. A thumb isn’t going to do it. I like my ARs tight and this one is just that. The adjustable cheek rest on the stock is very good, and the SIG grip feels great in the hand (possibly because I usually carry a SIG P365). There are also two battery storage slots inside the grip (one for AA and one for a 123). The accuracy was very good after replacing the trigger as noted above – and to be fair I replace the triggers on all my ARs except those that come with high-end triggers. The balance of the rifle is also good, and it weighs an acceptable 7.5 pounds. The threaded barrel is a good idea as most predator hunters I know shoot suppressed. SIG including the adapter for use with all suppressors is also a hit. The color grows on you with time, so I would count that as a positive as well.
The first thing I would do is pull the Tread-logoed inserts from the handguard. They rattle, and the last thing a predator rifle needs is to make any noise besides bang.* I would also have shortened the handguard to about nine inches instead of 15 because there is no reason a predator rifle needs a long handguard. It’s just extra weight. Finally, as mentioned above, the trigger has got to go.
*Editor’s Note: The Yellow Tread inserts aren’t intended by SIG to stay on the rifle. They’re like a sticker or tag that is meant to be discarded after you purchase the rifle.
Bottom Line – this optics-ready rifle will do just fine for predators, and with a new trigger will do extremely well.
Price – if you can find them, the SIG Tread Predator has an MSRP of $1,099.