By Brian McCombie
Sabatti S.P.A. was founded 400 years ago in the Northern Italy, and initially made flintlock pistols and rifle barrels. While the company certainly respects and adheres to the traditions of Old World craftsmanship, Sabatti itself isn’t stuck in the 1700’s. Today, Sabatti manufacturers competition shotguns, hunting and target rifles, and lately has entered into the tactical bolt action market.
Case in point on the later: the new Sabatti Urban Sniper rifle.
Imported to the United States exclusively by the Italian Firearms Group, the Urban Sniper sports a relatively short (for a long-range precision platform) 20-inch bull barrel. Even with that shorter barrel, the Urban Sniper isn’t a lightweight at 8.75 pounds, though few of today’s long-range rifles are exactly nimble. It is also very accurate, has a great trigger and fits on the shoulder well.
Factor in a street price of right around $1,100.00? And the Urban Sniper is among the more affordable tactical bolts available.
I received a new Urban Sniper recently, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, and mounted a new Trijicon AccuPower 4.5-30x56mm scope onto it. For test ammunition, I used three brands of 6.5 Creedmoor: American Eagle, with a 140-grain open tip match bullet; Barnes VOR-TX firing a 120-grain TTSX bullet; and, Hornady’s Precision Hunter loaded with the company’s 143-grain ELD-X bullet.
Mine arrived with a muzzle brake attached. I left it on. Sabatti also includes a thread protector for those who don’t want the brake. A suppressor can be easily attached, too, as the barrel features 5/8×24 threads.
Sabatti’s instructions suggested a barrel break-in cleaning and shooting process, so I generally followed the recommendation, scrubbing out the bore after a shot or two. Every tenth shot or so, I let the barrel cool off for 10 minutes before shooting again. Accuracy with the Urban Snipe was very impressive. Eventually. But I ran into a real problem Day One: me.
I’d put together nice and tight three- and four-shot groups, get nervous, and then pull my next one or two shots and trash what was shaping up to be a 1/2 MOA grouping of five shots at 100 yards.
For example, three shots of the Hornady Precision Hunter pegged into a very nice .454-inch group–only to have my next couple shots jump the final measurement to over an inch
Day Two, I was able to print some better 100-yard, five-shot groups. Interestingly, my best group was with the least expensive ammunition, the American Eagle, which pegged five shots right at .495-inches. Next best, the Barnes with a .650-inch group. More time with the rifle should equal more consistent groups; I’m sure the rifle is capable of ½ MOA or better all day.
Sabatti employs what it terms Multi-Radial Rifling (MMR) on the Urban Sniper and other rifles. Instead of traditional lands and grooves, MRR uses two offset radiuses. This means the rifling has no sharp edges. According to Sabatti, MMR seals the bullet more perfectly to the bore, reducing stress on the bullet and producing less copper fouling, better accuracy, and increased muzzle velocity.
Certainly, the rifle is very accurate. But the above claims about MMR are difficult to prove or disprove. I hope to do future work with Sabatti rifles and establish some objective measurements to see if, in fact, the MMR is a superior rifling.
Sabatti rates the Urban Sniper’s trigger as “match grade.” I’d have to agree. The trigger breaks very cleanly, with no creep. My Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge measured the pull at an average of just 3.08 pounds. The trigger isn’t going to go off with slight pressure; yet, any decent squeeze has lead moving downrange.
The bolt features a two-lug locking system, and it operates nicely, securing the cartridge without undue force. The tactical, oversized handle with a removable knob provides good leverage. However, when pulled fully to the rear the bolt has a slight rattle.
Initially, I thought the magazine release was pretty cool, a metal tab positioned at the front of and just below the trigger guard. But that set up, I discovered, was awkward to use. I had to put forward pressure on the magazine release tab with one hand while pulling on the magazine with the other hand. That’s not easy to do. I’m hoping future incarnations of the Urban Sniper will have a more ergonomic button-style release.
The rifle came with a 10-round, polymer magazine. The people at Italian Firearms Group tell me this magazine was recently scrapped in favor of a better magazine made by VICTRIX, also an Italian company. This should be a good change.
Initially, the poly magazine fit into the Urban Sniper’s mag well tightly. But with use, it loosened to the point the magazine would shift ever so slightly from the recoil (about round four or five). At which point, the new round sat just a little too low for the bolt to pick it up.
Whether that problem was caused by the magazine itself or some design feature of the mag well? I can’t say. I requested a VICTRIX magazine and will test it out.
The stock on the Urban Sniper has a comfortable rubberized butt pad. It also had two spacers in place to allow a shooter to adjust for length of pull. The two-spacer set up was too long for me, so I removed a spacer (via Philips head screw holes in the butt pad), which made the length of pull and eye relief for my scope just right.
The carbon-infused polymer stock is very rigid. It also features a thumbhole that provides a very solid anchor, especially with the aggressive checkering around the opening. An easily-adjustable cheek piece rounds out the stock.
I was damned glad to see the Picatinny rail atop the receiver; I’m tired of trying to find rings and bases to fit onto various bolt actions. A good rail saves me all kinds of time—and frustration.
As I outfitted the rifle, my Urban Sniper rig is approximately 12-pounds, with the rather stout Trijicon AccuPower (36 ounces) and mounting hardware. Which isn’t a big deal for competitive long-range shooting, where most participants carry around a good 12- to 15-pounds of rifle (plus who knows how many pounds of accessories in their packs)!
For hunting, potentially of the longer-range variety? If you’re set up in a stable position like an elevated blind or a good seat on a hillside, the Urban Sniper and the experienced shooter can drop deer-sized game out to 400-yards with little difficulty. Potentially further in more-expert hands. But this isn’t the rifle you want to be lugging around in Western mountains.
With in-store and online prices of approximately $1,100.00, and available in both 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win, the Urban Sniper represents a real value for the newcomer to long-range shooting. With ½ MOA accuracy potential, I suspect I will be seeing a good number of Urban Snipers at shooting ranges and in competitions.
SIDEBAR: Trijicon’s Newest AccuPower Scope
At the May 2018 NRA Annual Meetings, Trijicon unveiled its two newest optics, the AccuPower 4.5-30×56 and the AccuPower 5-50×56 riflescopes. I received the 4.5-30×56 model about the same time the Sabatti arrived, and it seemed like a logical fit: long-range rifle and high-magnification scope.
The AccuPower 4.5-30 delivers extremely clear images. I could see the very edges of the paper targets and backboard materials. The scope provides the option of a red- or green-lit reticle, with five power settings for each. For my eyes, the green worked especially well, putting me on target fast. The illumination is powered by a single CR2032 lithium battery.
The 0.25 MOA windage and elevation controls are very precise. I had to re-zero every time I switched ammunition, and the AccuPower 4.5-30 made that very easy. At 100 yards, I could take a shot, and then give the scope two clicks to the right, shoot again and see a new hole—a half-inch to the right. The exposed elevation adjustment knob allows 100 MOA’s of elevation, while the capped windage adjustment knob delivers 50 MOA of right to left adjustment.
The scope features a side-parallax control and two different positions for the (included) magnification lever. The scope is built around a rugged 34-mm tube made of aircraft-quality, hard-anodized aluminum.
I chose the second focal plane model. The first focal plane model comes with an MRAD Dot reticle and a Christmas tree-like grid below the reticle center. I find that a little too cluttered, so I specifically requested the second focal plane with the cleaner MOA crosshair.
It’s one fine scope. But this level of precision and optic clarity doesn’t come cheaply. This second-focal plane model has a suggested retail of $2,600.00, while Trijicon’s asking price for the first focal plane model is $2675.00. Expect street prices at several hundred dollars less, when the scopes become available this summer.
SPECS: As tested, Sabatti Urban Sniper in 6.5 Creedmoor
Action: Two-lug bolt action
Barrel Length: 20-inch, heavy contour, cold hammer forged, blued finish
Rate of Twist: 1:8, with Sabatti’s Multi Radial Rifling
Magazine: Detachable. Accepts AICS patterned magazines.
Trigger: Match quality, 3.0 pounds pull
Stock: Carbon-infused polymer, black matte finish
Length: 35-inches with muzzle brake
Weight: 8.75 pounds
Included: One magazine, swivel studs, Picatinny rail atop receiver, rail section under barrel for bi-pod, muzzle brake and thread protector.
Price: Approx. $1,100, in-store and web prices.
To learn more about the new Sabatti Urban Sniper rifle visit Sabatti by clicking here.