Repost: The Guerrilla Sniper Rifle Project

Test vehicle for Guerrilla Sniper Rifle project

From reader AS:

The Case for the Guerrilla Sniper Rifle

My personal view is that in any coming maelstrom, most individual level “misbehavior” will very likely manifest itself in the form of small encounters, systems disruption, and “Clinton Rules” engagements. While small unit action is possible and may happen in some instances, I think that it will be the aberration and the rule will be the small, individual action. This is the territory of the guerrilla – individual, self supporting, and operating in their home AO.

For much of this type of activity, a reasonably accurate, potent, robust, and above all portable rifle is the most desired and efficient tool possible (especially for many of the “semi hard” targets that systems disruption activity must deal with).

Enter the Guerrilla Sniper Rifle.

While the concept is not new, the modern use of the term has recently been popularized on Gabe Suarez’s “Warrior Talk” forum. More specific references to this site are found in the “Sources For Further Study” section of this document. There is a large amount of good information on Warrior Talk and I strongly suggest any serious student go there and digest it. It should help you sharpen your thoughts on the concept, as should the other resources referenced. Additionally, I end this document with a “Sources For Acquisition” section that may help those interested in a similar project.

Through my own research and much supporting material gleaned from other sources (Warrior Talk being one of the primary ones), I decided on the components necessary to build a couple of rifles as proof of concept vehicles. I focus on one specific example here, but many other variations and implementations could be equal or better solutions. Experiment and find what works for you – just make sure that you test it so that you know it works and can prove it on demand.

There will be no dress rehearsals.

For my Guerrilla Sniper Rifle subject, I utilized a Savage bolt action 308 (short action length), a Choate Folding Sniper Stock, and a Nikon 3-9 x 40 BDC reticle scope. That and a minimal set of supporting accoutrements are really all one needs.

First, why a bolt action?

In the Guerrilla Sniper role, it is unlikely that multiple fast follow up shots will be needed, at least in the context of how I foresee such activity. We are generally talking about one or perhaps at most three well placed shots, and then scoot. A bolt action does this with a lighter, more accurate, less complicated, and usually much cheaper implementation than a semi-auto battle rifle. A solid bolt action is simple and offers several tactical advantages (brass retention, ease of scoping, superior suppressor platform, etc.). Keep it simple when you can and you will usually find that you have the best tool for the job. So I chose a bolt action.

Second, why the Savage 100/10/Stevens 200 action in particular?

From my analysis, I think there are three significant advantages that this action offers:

1) Accuracy/Economy ratio – they are the most affordable option and inherently accurate
2) Barrel changes – to be able to replace or exchange barrels yourself is unique and enabling
3) Accutrigger – to have an excellent trigger out of the box is a significant advantage

That all said, don’t get too hung up on requiring the gun to have an Accutrigger, as most of the standard triggers can easily be made quite serviceable (possible exception being the basic “two screw” variety that comes on the Stevens 200 and some older Savages). The three screw models I’ve played with are just fine. If this is not the case for you, several excellent aftermarket triggers exist.

I cannot overstress that the modularity of the rifle, in particular the ease of barrel replacement, is what really makes this the best choice, in my opinion. Never underestimate the utility of being able to replace or exchange your barrel in the field, with no need for precision, powered machinery or a trained gunsmith. It could be a life saver. Ponder the concept and I think you’ll agree.

As to barrels, while one can make do with the standard 22” factory sporter barrel, the Guerilla Sniper concept really shines when you utilize a shorter barrel, something in the 16” – 20” range. It may not seem like much, but shortening the barrel by just a few inches significantly improves the handiness of the rifle when in use and opens up whole new areas for transport and storage with the stock folded. I have played with barrels from 22” down to 18” so far, with a 16-1/2” barrel next in the queue for testing.

A worthwhile option is to thread the barrel for a flash hider (Smith Enterprise Vortex model 1009V is my recommendation) and potentially a suppressor. This is especially true if you have the barrel cut down to the 16” – 18” range. If going this route, just make sure you plan ahead and have the barrel threaded to a pattern that will support both the flash hider and suppressor – not always a simple task. Minimizing sound and flash can be critical in this role, so consider these options carefully.

The Choate Ultimate Sniper Folding Stock

The availability of this stock is really what made me decide to put together such a rifle. Were I limited to traditional full length stocks, I could easily ‘make do” with my Steyr Scout with FFP reticle Pride Fowler scope and angelic trigger. It’s an awesome package and still is my go-to “walking around” rifle. However, if you add the ability to shorten a rifle by 10 inches, you suddenly open up flexibilities normally associated with “hand rifles” such as the T/C Contender/Encore, Savage Striker, Remington XP-100, etc. With the Choate folder, a short action, and an 18” barrel, you have a potent and accurate rifle that can be reduced to a storable length of less than 30”. For a .308 rifle, that is excellent utility value.

Clearly this reduced form enables storing in some large packs and cases, but an aspect overlooked by most is the ability to sling the rifle over your back and yet be able to move much more freely than with a full length slung rifle. The barrel does not poke down so low as to make kneeling or sitting down as problematic as is often the case with African Carry. Similarly, nothing extends above the shoulder, as muzzle down is the obvious way to sling this setup. Not only can you thus move much more easily, but when moving you will not stand out nearly so much as “a man with a rifle slung over his back.” This lower profile is another huge advantage offered by a folding stock.

Originally, I was concerned about whether or not this stock would be rigid enough to provide a solid shooting platform for a .308 rifle. After a number of shooting sessions, I am convinced it is more than up to the task. Shooting it is comparatively comfortable and does not introduce any impediments to accurate field shooting. It plain works.

There are downsides, however. The stock is just a bit heavy for its size (but it’s cut down and thus manageable). It also has no sling swivels, although that is easily fixed. Given the abbreviated forearm, a traditional bipod location is not possible. You can mount one, though (and I did). That said, the Guerrilla Sniper role likely is best served by a rucksack or pack rest, keeping with clean lines and minimalist equipment. If you really want to put a bipod on it though, you have that option. A decent sling, however, is not negotiable.

A good sling is required for carry and should be of a type offering proper sling supported position use, preferably via some type of loop for the support arm. That is out of the scope of this paper, but is something that must be stressed – a Rifleman needs to be competent with the use of sling supported firing position in the field. I care not what you can do off the bench in the shade, but what you can do in the field from sitting or rice paddy prone might just save your life – or mine. Learn it, well. (If you have no idea of what I speak, seek out an Appleseed and then follow it up with more training, since you won’t learn things like rice paddy prone at an Appleseed, which is only a starting point.)

One further carry idea that makes a lot of sense is something I picked up from the Warrior Talk forum. Using one of the “sniper rifle” scope cover/muzzle cover combinations makes the folded rifle into a durable package, whether slung on your back or laying on the back seat floorboard. It protects the scope and muzzle as you would expect, but also retains the folded stock and covers the bolt handle. It’s not quite as protective as a traditional soft case, but leaps ahead of just the bare rifle. Such considerations are moot for the bench rest potato taking his rifle to the range, but of huge value to the lone rifleman in the field.

There is one significant caveat when buying this stock if you are working with a Savage Short action rifle. Currently, this stock is only available in the 4.3” action screw spacing length. Since some point in time around 2006, Savage switched over to the newer “center feed” action, which uses a 4.41” action screw separation. The older “staggered feed” actions are what fit the Choate Folder, while rifles manufactured recently do not fit.

If you have a 4.41” action, it is possible to buy the Choate Varmint Folder (as used in the factory Savage “Model 10 FP Folding Choate” package). However, as far as I can tell the stock is currently only available directly from Choate at full retail ($285 IIRC). Worse than that, it is HEAVY.

For Long Action Savage rifles, there is only one screw spacing length and you are OK. Similarly, those utilizing Winchester or Remington actions should also have no issues.

Thus if going this route, be careful with the parts you try to combine.

In summary: 

The Choate Sniper Folder stock weighs about 3.5lbs and is what I describe here. 
The Savage Choate FP folder stock weights about 5.25 lbs and:

– does not have its forearm abbreviated

– has a different butt section (like from the original Ultimate Sniper/Varmint Stocks)

– is thought to only be available from Savage with a complete rifle, but one may be able to purchase it directly from Choate, albeit at full retail
– has a heavier duty folding mechanism that is slightly more difficult to disengage

Nikon Team Primos 3-9 x 42 w/BDC

IMHO this is the way to go for scoping a Guerrilla Sniper role. Reticle wise, its BDC is a straightforward yet significant improvement over the Burris Ballistic Plex that I previously favored. Optically, this specific “Team Primos” labeled scope is a notch (or more) up from the Burris Fullfield or the other Nikon options (Prostaff and Buckmark lines), as it is essentially an old model Monarch UCC (Ultra Clear Coat) with its coatings and 95% light transmission specification. It also has nicer adjustments with decent miniature target style turrets and positive ¼” (IPHY) click adjustments. It’s a tremendous scope at a very attractive price, and comes with an outstanding reticle for our purposes.

On the reticle, where the Burris has small tick marks, the Nikon has little circles. It also has more of them (Burris has crosshairs, then three ticks, then the thick portion of the crosshair – Nikon has four little circles).

The Nikon’s circles offer several advantages over the Burris scope’s ticks:

– More aiming points (top, center, bottom of circle, plus sides for some windage)
– Easier to see in low light or against dark backgrounds
– Ability to see a small aiming point, as with the circles you surround rather than cover it
– Much better potential for ranging (1.5MOA inside, 2.0 MOA outside at 9X)

Nikon BDC reticle – graphic for 100m ranging example

In this Warrior Talk thread (also listed at the end of this summary), one can get several excellent graphic aids that illustrate a simple yet effective ranging method. The photo above is but one example. Do check it out closely.

This all said, were I armed with a rifle topped by a Burris with Ballistic Plex reticle, I would not feel unprepared at all – just not as prepared as I could be with the Nikon BDC. I still have a couple of Burris scopes, but they are now relegated to second line roles.

For now, the Team Primos scope is available from a variety of vendors from ~$200 up to ~$250. This is a Killer Deal – a No Brainer. Just buy it. Or buy two or three and get your buddies set up too (you do train with trusted friends with similar gear, don’t you?).

For me, I use Leupold QRW rings since they are robust, easily removable, pretty good at holding close to zero when remounted, and fairly affordable ($50 or so a pair for 1” rings). I have the EGW bases installed for ease of scope swapping, but the standard Weaver mounts that come with the rifles will work fine as well. Remember, keep it simple.

In summary, with a reasonable amount of effort and not much monetary outlay, nearly anyone can set up a compact, portable, powerful, and accurate rifle to fulfill a wide variety of roles. You can call it a Guerrilla Sniper rifle or whatever other pithy term you care to dream up, but the true measure of the rifle will be what you can do with it. So if you are so inclined, put one together and put it to the test. You may find that you have something that gives life to the old cliché “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts” – as I did.

Exercising at the gym…..or Exercising your Liberty?

Now you see it….

Now you don’t!

Sources For Further Study:

The Guerrilla Sniper – Anthony James and Gabe Suarez
A bit thin, but an important book nonetheless. A good starting place, especially if you are starting from square one. Likely only available from the Warrior Talk store, One Source Tactical. My take on it can be found in this thread.

Fry The Brain – John West
This book is essentially a historical catalog of all significant guerrilla sniper activity through history, up to and including present day struggles. West includes a lot of details and thus it’s a tremendous collection of examples of what works and what does not, with generally good explanation of the reasons for success or failure. Some cast it aside for the JFK assassination chapter and its heavily conspiracy dependent scenario, but even if pure fiction, the tactical considerations are worthwhile. Don’t let that chapter dissuade you. It’s an important resource.

The Art of The Rifle – Jeff Cooper
This concise book is the best summary of the handling, usage, and importance of competence with a rifle, period. There is little to quibble with when the good Colonel speaks about rifles. Every library needs one. (Two versions exist and either will do for these purposes.)

The Ultimate Sniper – John Plaster
The updated edition is also something that must be in your library. It’s not perfect and sometimes covers from too much of a LEO/military perspective, but it is invaluable nonetheless.

Warrior Talk forum:

There is a gentlemen going by the screen name of SUA SPONTE that has authored a number of excellent posts pushing this concept forward (not just on the rifle and gear, but more importantly the tactics and thought processes). I’m pretty sure that he’s using many of his posts on Warrior Talk to flesh out material for an upcoming book. He explains things well and comes up with good graphics to illustrate key concepts. I strongly encourage those interesting in this type of study to search out his writings and the constructive contributions others have added to his threads. Several of these threads are listed here.

This Warrior Talk thread has extensive discussions of Guerrilla Sniper Rifles as well as SUA SPONTE’s excellent BDC graphics (anyone can read the text, but you have to register to see most photos and graphic attachments).

Various Guerrilla Sniper “issues” and training ideas are in this thread.

This thread has some valuable training ideas plus discussion of the good old “Over the Head and Under the Balls” method of practical field holdover for two-legged varmints:

Here is a new and handy tool for calculating ballistic data for your Nikon BDC equipped scope. Until a few weeks ago it could be used by anyone, but now requires a simple one time registration for some reason. It’s worth it if you have a BDC, at least in my opinion.

Sources For Acquisition:

1. Team Primos Nikon 3-9×40 BDC: Likely the best cost/performance deal going in a ballistic reticle.

2. Choate Folder (Savage Short Action): So far, the best price I’ve found is here. In case you want to use another action, here are all of the similar Choate stocks.

3. Savage Factory Site: Here’s the word on all models from the Savage factory. Don’t forget, however, that you can very likely find an appropriate Savage or Stevens short-action rifle with a decent bore on the orphan rack at your local pawn shop or gun dealer; don’t forget Gunbroker or AuctionArms as well. The Stevens 200 is an especially good value (factory new rifles at ~ $290!), if you can live without the Accutrigger; see this article for background on the Stevens and this article for a recap of aftermarket triggers for the Stevens.

4. Article On Rebarreling Your Savage: You might want to know how, especially if you want to reduce the barrel length to the legal minimum.

5. Leupold QRW Rings and EGW 20 MOA Base: As referenced above; talk to the vendor to make sure the base you are ordering will fit on your particular flavor of Savage rifle action.

At the author’s request, please spread this article far and wide; use the hyperlink below so that all links and illustrations function properly:


11 responses to “Repost: The Guerrilla Sniper Rifle Project

  1. May I suggest that readers of this blog go to The info there will accent your essay.


  2. How big is the area inside those little circles? The reason I ask is at long distance a small target may swim around on the inside of the open circle leading to less precision than a crosshair type reticle. BTW, I have a Burris Ballistic Plex on a G3 type rifle which hits very well on the bottom line at 500 yards with NATO fmj.

    Also, how solid is the lock-up with the choate folding stock? Any wiggle?

  3. As to Dude’s questions:

    1. Inside the circles at Max power is 1.5 MOA. The outside of the circle subtends 2.0 MOA. Remember, only at max power. IMHO if you can’t hold a circle over your target adequately, you’ll be as bad or worse with cross hairs. Yes, I’ve tested both, extensively. I do have a target shooting background so that helps. I have no issues centering objects in a circle, but for some reason it seems counter intuitive to some. Just clear your bias and try it, for most it’s a better system.

    2. The Choate lockup us generally excellent. In the case or two where it loosens up a bit, a few small peen marks with a punch tightens it up. Most samples don’t need it, but it’s an easy fix for the ones that do.

    More updates later, as I’ve done some refinements. In particular, I’ve gone to a slightly higher power range on the BDC equipped scope.

    Keep your powder dry,

    Atlas Shrug

  4. Great post! Especially since I am attending SI’s guerrilla sniper class next weekend.

  5. Sorry if I am pointing out something in the links akready i hav enot followed them all yet.
    If you hit Warrior talk and check out all the GS threads pay close attention to anything SUA SPONTE says. He has BTDT and in fact is back there doing it again as we read this. I missed the opportunity to take a class with him back this fall because I was taking Force on Force at the same time. I will remedy that when I get the chance. He currently is a SF medic and the latest work he put out was an excellent book with Dr. John Mede called “Beating the reaper”. Its a run down of their Tactical trauma medicine
    class. I have not received it yet but its by all accounts fantastic material. The class gets very high marks and I intend to get to it.

  6. Highly recommend Sua’s book GS2. Has typos like crazy but that dog can hunt.

  7. Daniel
    Yes, there is good info in GS2. And Oh Yes, are they typos. I have never seen a book so in need of basic editing. It’s so bad that I’m sure it’s worse than whatever Sua Sponte turned in to be published. That bad. There is little in the book that one cannot find on the WT threads. Mainly the reloading part, not much else. Hard to recommend the book, easy to recommend the WT threads – at least that’s how I come down on the matter. YMMV

    FWIW I contributed a mini review of both GS books here at WRSA a while back. Might have been at the old site, I’ve not looked.



  8. Flash Suppressor linky no workee — correct link here: –>


    Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to – for the first time – fire a Thompson Center (“Contender”, IIRC).


    My only “beef” is that it was single-shot, but… Holy CRAP! Maybe this was an exceptional example, but… the trigger was like a dream, and the rifle hit to EXACT POA at 200 yards, one-hole groups off a harris bipod, from a ~3,5# rifle!

    • If the TC Contender caught your attention, the AAC suppressed carbine may also interest you.

      Lightweight, Compact Single-Shot 300 Blackout Rifle from Advanced Armament Corporation

      A take-down rifle is taken through its paces by Jeff Quinn. Also reviewed is Leupold’s Mark 4 MR/T 1.5-5x scope with stadia marks that are calibrated for subsonic and supersonic .300 Blackout/.300 Whisper cartridges.

      Money quote: “Another advantage of the single shot is that it does not leave a cartridge case behind on the ground, and in some situations, leaving a case behind is not a good idea.”

  9. Joeblowdumbnuts

    Great article! We all like to read about guns and gear and all the possible scenarios we may use them but no one likes discussing true guerilla warfare. In true guerilla warfare, weaponry will be used in selected scenarios. Sniping may be one of them but sniping at what and whom? Enemy soldiers or leaders? Maybe. But they are only the enforcers of the po;iticians who give the orders. If you kill the head of the snake, the body cannot survive, and the same goes for a political entity/empire. While we may not be able to kill the head of the giant snake because of the extensive security that surrounds it. There’ll be many little snakes in everyone’s locales who’ll be carrying out the big snakes orders who won’t be as fortunate nor will they have the budget or the personnel that the big snake has. Speaker Tip O’neil said “all politics are local” and in this he was right. Now that nice idea of a sniper rifle would be a good thing, so would a bat, a sock and a rock, a knife, or a pistol with a home made suppressor. But these would take courage and planning and the balls to go up to the little snakes and look them in the eye and do it. It’s much cheaper too. Now this won’t sit well with us “gear n gun nuts” who like talking shop and coming up with new ideas and reasons to go spend more of our hard earned and almost worthless FRN’s on new goodies, but it is the real way of a true guerilla war. Do it by any means possible. If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail and all your adversaries will simply just defend themselves accordingly. If you simply walk up to them in the dark after their hard day of making decisions that ruin our lives and do it with a homemade shiv or club, the end result is the same thing. You could also run them over with a car to but you hopefully get my point that in a guerilla warfare situation, the answer doesn’t always have to be a gun. Starting to aquire numerous handguns via private sales or making shivs from scrap metal (no sense in using your $400 Cold Steel bowie!) , or clubs from wood or metal. This way you won’t be so stupid to keep the item later as evidence because it cost you a ton of your hard earned money and there you won’t want to part with it. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble hear or to disrespect the writer of the article but I’ve seen and heard these conversations for many years now and when I bring up the obvious like I am now, I’ve gotten answers like , “you can’t do that, it’s illegal” or “are you crazy?, they’ll see you coming”. Not if you plan it right they won’t! And who cares if they see me, I’ll be their last vision before they go on to be judged by their maker for being tyrants! Isn’t that what this really all about? Sorry to all you “gun n gear nuts” out there for stating the obvious although I’m sure you’ll still go out and buy new goodies and discuss what if scenarios…….it’s in our blood! LOL!

  10. My FAL that I just finished building is near and dear to my heart, and meets all of your specifications adequately, but your rifle beats mine in one respect; barrel changeover. I don’t need powered machinery, but I do need a vise and a couple tools.

    What does this Savage require to do a barrel changeover?