U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- It was a blistering cold December morning with temperatures in the single digits in the mountains of West Virginia. My two friends and I were not going to let that stop us. I was with fellow firearms writers Mike Cummings and combat vet Roger Frame.
We were two hours outside the nation's capital of Washington, DC, and we were going to one of the premier training facilities in the country to fire the new Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR (modular tactical rifle). We were going to have a blast no matter how cold it was going to be.
Panthera Training Center
Panthera Training Center was gracious enough offer us the use of their 1,500-yard range while it was under construction. PTC is a great facility with some of the best instructors on the planet. In addition to their new 1,500-yard range, they have multiple other shooting ranges that vary in distances out to 1000 yards.
These ranges at Panthera also has a 360° range, a 6000 sq ft shoot house, and a combat village. These are in addition to the driving courses that PTC offers. These courses include a 1.5-mile high-speed driving track, an obstacle course, an unimproved road track, and an off-road course. The facility is amazing. From shooting, driving, to land navigation they can do it all.
We were accompanied out to the 1500 yard range by a couple of PTC's instructor who wanted to take a look at the SX-1 MTR. PTC instructors include people from the Special Operation community. This means instructors with backgrounds anywhere from Navy SEALs to former British SAS members. One of the instructors that came to the range with us was John, a former Marine Corp Scout Sniper. I wanted to get a few different people behind the weapon system to get all their opinions on the Ritter & Stark.
Nightforce Competition 15-55×52 Rifle Scope
With any high precision rifle, the optic is just as important as the rifle itself. When it comes to high-end scopes, Nightforce is the king. When Nightforce found out I got my hands on the Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR, they offered to provide the optic for the rifle.
Since we were going to be shooting long distance, we went with a Nightforce Competition 15-55×52 rifle scope. This optic is outstanding for a bench rest scope, but we were going to be shooting in the prone position. How would it hold up?
It was attached to the Ritter & Stark with a Nightforce Xtreme Duty Ultralite One-piece Magmount. This scope mount is a very lightweight mount. Nightforce made the scope mount of a titanium alloy. The mount is an exceptionally well-built, and it lived up to the Nightforce name. The mount has an MSRP of $295 at the time of this writing.
The Nightforce Competition 15-55×52 scope is a .125 MOA scope. It can adjust it's elevation and windage by .125 MOA per click which makes the scope extremely accurate. The shooter can change the elevation by 55 MOA and the windage by 50 MOA. This range gives the Nightforce a vast array of adjustment and is what we needed for this shooting session.
The glass in the Nightforce is incredibly clear and has a high resolution. Even at over a 1000 yards, the target was easy to find and clear through the Competition scope. The clarity blows every other optic I have ever used away. This scope is a high-end optic designed to perform on high-end rifles.
One neat feature of the Nightforce scope is the ZeroStop feature. It is an elementary system that Nightforce patented. There are four screws under the windage and elevation turrets caps. All the shooter has to do is tighten down these screws at the setting where they have the rifle zero'ed. After any adjustment, the user doesn't have to re-zero the scope. All they have to do is turn the scope back to where the screws will catch the turret. This feature is especially helpful if the user is shooting at multiple targets at different ranges.
The parallax adjustment can be from 25 yards to infinity. For our shots, we just kept the scope at infinity. We didn't have any issues at all. The scope did its job effortlessly as someone expects with a Nightforce scope. Our Marine sniper commented on how clear the Competition scope was and how he liked it.
There is one drawback to this scope, and that is the price. The Nightforce Competition 15-55×52 Scope has an MSRP of $2,400. This optic isn't an inexpensive scope by any means. It is not going to be for everyone because of the high price, but you wouldn't put cheap tires on a Ferarri.
Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR
Ritter & Stark is a fairly new firearms company out of Feistritz, Austria. Their bread and butter are very high-end long-range precision tactical rifles. The SX-1 MTR in their words is their attempt to build “the most advanced and accurate tactical rifle in the world.” I was ecstatic when they offered it to me to test out.
The Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR comes in a heavy-duty case made by HPRC. I was able to fit the rifle with the scope and all the barrel changes within the case without issue. The case is padded on the inside with foam. Overall I am impressed with the case.
The SX-1 MTR is a modular firearms platform. It can be configured on the fly to fire .308, .300 Win Mag, or .338 Lapua. Everything is changed out with a simple tool that is included with the rifle. To test out how easy it would be to change the calibers I had my friend Roger, who is an Army combat veteran, do a caliber swap in 9° temperatures without the use of the instruction manual.
He was able to figure out how to change the barrel and the mag well easily on the SX-1 MTR. Replacing the bolt head took him a little longer, but he was able to figure it out after a couple of minutes of messing around with the bolt. It was that simple to do even in the
single digit temperatures of West Virginia mountains in December.
The buttstock on the Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR is adjustable for everything including the cheek riser. The user also has the option of switching out the standard Ritter & Stark buttstock with any AR15 buttstock. If the operator prefers the Magpul PRS, it would be easy to change over to that stock.
Another feature of the stock is that it can fold into the side of the SX-1 MTR. Depending on the shooter it can be set up to fold to the left or right of the rifle. This design gives the user two advantages. The first obvious benefit is that it can be more easily be transported by the user since it has a smaller size when the stock is folded into the rifle.
The second advantage is one I didn't think of because I have never been in combat. Our Marine sniper, John, pointed out the guys with the big guns get shot at first. This person could be someone carrying a sniper rifle, or a SAW. By the weapon breaking down into a smaller size, it makes the sniper a less visible target. That is one aspect I never thought of when messing with the rifle.
One thing I didn't like is that the pistol grip on the Ritter & Stark was a UTG grip. When you buy a very high-end rifle, you should get a high-end pistol grip instead of an off the shelf $30 grip, but the SX-1 MTR can use any standard AR15 grip. The UTG grip did perform well though.
There are two safety switches on this gun. The first is on the back of the bolt. It is a standard safety I have seen sometimes. The second safety is inside the trigger guard. Pull down on it with your index finger to engage the safety. Push up on the bar up with your finger and disengage the safety switch.
I love this design because it enables the shooter to quickly disengage the safety without changing the grip on the rifle or taking their eyes off the target. The safety selector on the SX-1 MTR is also a three position safety.
The first position on the Ritter & Stark safety selector is the fire position where the rifle is ready to fire. The second is the safe position. The firing pin is cocked in this position, and the sear is disengaged. This position allows the shooter to open the bolt. The final position is the locked position. The firing pin is cocked, and the sear is disengaged, but the operator can not open the bolt.
The trigger is on the SX-1 MTR is very exact. It is a Remington 700 two stage trigger. It broke on average at 1.81-pound pull weight. The first stage was about eight ounces. Overall the trigger was very smooth. The break was hardly even noticeable. Like with many other things on this rifle the trigger can be swapped out with any trigger for the Remington 700 rifle giving the shooter a lot of options to make this gun unique to them.
The scope mounts directly to the barrel using a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail mount. This feature allows the shooter to keep scopes mounted on each barrel which allows the operator to keep the scope attached to each barrel eliminating the need to re-zero the scope after a caliber swap. I like this feature of the scope.
One thing that Ritter & Stark did to improve the accuracy of the SX-1 MTR is how they designed the bolt to interact with the barrel. The bolt locks inside the barrel which gives the shooter increased accuracy. Almost everything Ritter & Stark did on this rifle was to improve accuracy.
The barrels on the SX-1 MTR are free floating match grade barrels. The end user can order each barrel as fluted or bull barrel depending on what the operator wants. This option is just another example of how Ritter & Stark designed this rifle to be fully customizable.
Ritter & Stark used a unique CNC-controlled electrochemical machine to make the barrels. This process enables them to eliminate almost all thermal effects and mechanical stresses. This method gives the barrel a uniformity that cannot be achieved by machining the barrel in traditional ways.
The handguard is on the SX-1 MTR is functional and looks good. It has a full-length Picatinny rail on top of the handguard. There is also a small Picatinny rail on the front of the bottom of the handguard. The side of the handguard has an M-LOK system to allow the operator to attach other accessories. The handguard is solid and well constructed.
Ritter & Stark engineered the muzzle brake on the SX-1 MTR for reduction of recoil. It is also an excellent looking brake that is functional at its task. Ritter & Stark uses an M18x1 thread pattern for the brake, but they will also use any other thread patterns upon request. Ritter & Stark will work with the shooter to build them a rifle for their requirements.
One thing about the Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR is that it is a heavy rifle weighing 13.9 lb, but this also isn't a lightweight AR15. This weapon system is a heavy duty sniper rifle. When compared to other guns such as the McMillan TAC-50 that weighs in at 26 lb then the user sees that the weight isn't that bad.
We set targets out at 200 yards, 500 yards, 800 yards, and 1240 yards. These targets were constructed out of steel. We were also shooting at cars that were on the range. The PTC facility is an incredible place. My friend Mike Cummings who has written some stuff for Ammoland in the past refers to PTC as a Disneyland for gun guys.
The first round we were shooting out of the SX-1 MTR was .338 Lapua. We were using PPU ammunition which was a 250-grain bullet. It was easy to get the rifle zeroed. We shot at a car at 500 yards, and the impact was devastating.
The recoil management of the SX-1 MTR was also excellent. The Ritter & Stark muzzle brake did its job better than any muzzle break I have ever used. John, our Marine sniper, also commented on the effectiveness of the recoil management of the rifle.
We did run into an issue while shooting the .338 Lapua round. About 20% of the shots did not successfully fire. We thought they might be soft strikes, but I tried the ammo in a Savage 110 BA when I got back home, and I had the same issue with the PPU ammunition. It looks like the PPU ammunition was faulty.
At this point, Roger did the caliber swap to .300 Win Mag. He was able to figure it out within 5 minutes. With more practice, the caliber swap can be done by the operator in less than two minutes. The ease of the caliber swaps is one of the key selling points of the SX-1 MTR.
The 300 Win Mag with the Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR was working great at first, but then we started having issues feeding rounds. It turned out that the follower on the supplied Accuracy International magazine failed which was preventing the rounds from feeding.
AI magazines are not exactly cheap, so this failure was a disappointment. There is no telling how many rounds were put through the mag, but it should not have failed. I do like the fact that the Ritter & Stark uses off the shelf magazines. It opens up the shooter to a lot of different options, but I am disappointed that the magazine that was included with the rifle failed.
We started just to load the rounds into the SX-1 MTR by hand. The rifle was extremely accurate using Hornady .300 Win Mag, Remington .300 Win Mag. I started on the 200-yard target and was dead on target. I then moved to the 500-yard mark and was able to put rounds on a silhouette target 5 out of 5 times.
I swung the Ritter & Stark and targeted the 800-yard target. My first hit was about 2 inches to the right. My next four were right on target. The Ritter & Stark and the Nightforce scope made the 800-yard mark seem like it was only a 100-yard target.
I aimed the SX-1 MTR at the 1240 yard target. I adjusted the scope per the advice of John. I lined up my target in the scope and gently squeezed the target. The triggers break was hardly noticeable. The recoil was also almost non-existent.
The rifle spit out the round and found its mark at 1240 yards. The Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR was dead on at this distance. A lot had to do with the scope, but the accuracy of the rifle was nothing short of amazing.
Later that day I moved onto the .308 round. I was using Gorilla ammunition which I can not recommend enough. Gorilla ammo is a high-end match grade ammunition manufacture. The SX-1 MTR was just as accurate with the 308. I was shooting sub-MOA groupings.
Overall the Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR performed as advertised. The rifle hit a 4,000 yard 1 MOA shot by Brad Stair out in Utah that was reported by Ammoland first, so I knew we wouldn't have an issue at a distance we were shooting, but the accuracy of the rifle was still fantastic.
The design and performance of the rifle lived up to all the hype. I do like the fact that the SX-1 MTR rifle can use a lot of off the shelf parts. These parts include the pistol grip, buttstock, magazines, and triggers. This modular design means that there are tons of aftermarket parts that can be swapped to make this rifle unique to the operator.
I was disappointed in the failure of the AI magazine. This failure wasn't the fault of a Ritter & Stark part, but it was the magazine that was included with the rifle. Accuracy International is known for high-end components, but this piece failed.
I would also like to see a higher end pistol grip on the SX-1 MTR. There is nothing wrong with the UTG grip that it comes with, but with a rifle that costs thousands of dollars, I would expect a higher quality pistol grip to be used by Ritter & Stark.
The Nightforce scope was incredible as well. I do not have a bad thing to say about the Nightforce Competition 15-55×52 rifle scope. It did its job flawlessly. It was super clear and complimented the SX-1 MTR's accuracy.
Panthera Training Center is indeed a Disney World for gun guys. They can do any scenario that their clients want. These situations included the time that a client wanted to see if a Black Hawk could deliver troops onto a pitched roof. If you are wondering if it is possible to pull that off, then let me inform you that it isn't a good idea.
The Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR isn't for everyone with a starting MSRP of around $7000 (tested at $10,500), but if you need a precision long range rifle that can reach out and touch someone maybe this is the weapon platform for you.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.