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THOR XM408 in Tactical Weapons

THOR XM408 in Tactical Weapons

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Published by: opksrj on Dec 13, 2010
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Jan. 2011
The .408 Cheyenne Tactical (.408 CheyTac) cartridge is a military and LE long-range precision tactical cartridgewhose time may well have come. The origi-nal round was developed by Dr. John Taylorand William Wordman in the United States in2001 to provide a precision tactical cartridgewith precision accuracy out to 2,000 meters.The .408 Chey Tac essentially uses a modi-fied and necked down .505 Gibbs case andlaunches either a 305-grain bullet at 3,500FPS (feet per second) or a 419-grain bulletat 3,000 FPS with a muzzle energy of morethan 8,000 ft-lbs (foot pounds). By compar-ison, a 168 grain .308 match cartridge hasa muzzle velocity of only approximately2,600 fps and 2,180 ft-lbs energy. The .308 istotally overshadowed by the .408 Chey Tac,although our Thor XM408 test rifle was onlymarginally heavier than precision tacticalrifles chambered for the .308.
 The modular tactical rifle ready for militaryand LE hard-target, 1,500-plus yard duty!
By Charlie Cutshaw
Jan. 2011
The Thor XM408, chambered in the extremely powerful.408 Chey Tac cartridge, offers shooters a long-rangeprecision rifle with 2,000-meter capability in a packagethat weighs less than comparable .50 BMG rifles. It alsobreaks down easily for transportation.
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Doug Richardson Photo
Jan. 2011
Anti Materiel Role
The .408 Chey Tac isintended not only forantipersonnel purposes,but for antisniper andantimateriel use, as well.Naturally, a large cartridge like the .408 CheyTac will deliver more felt recoil than lessercartridges, but this can be offset by the useof muzzle brakes. The Thor XM408 brakereduces felt recoil to approximately thatof a .308, although muzzle blast alongsidethe rifle is pronounced and distracting. Thespotter on a precision tactical team using anXM408 should position himself slightly tothe rear of the shooter’s shoulder to avoidhaving gases blown into his face.
Built For Duty
For military and law enforcement use,where does the .408 fit? For the military, the.408 gives the precision tactical marksmana range advantage over any .308 or .338caliber rifle, while adding little more to theweight burden that every Infantryman mustcontend with. Our test XM408 for example,tips the scales at 26 pounds. When com-pared to .50 BMG caliber rifles, our XM408weighs less than the lightest weight .50BMG rifle we have ever tested. The XM408that is the subject of this evaluation can beused at distances of more than 1,500 yardswith superb accuracy. At closer ranges,especially those associated with MOUT (mil-itary operations in urban terrain) that char-acterize much of the operations in Iraq andfor law enforcement, where engagementdistances are almost never farther than 100yards/meters, the .408 offers the precisionmarksman the capability to defeat targetsthat would resist any .308 bullet and many.338 Lapua Magnum rounds.For law enforcement, the .408 bearsexamination as an alternative to .50-cali-ber rifles simply because most organiza-tions do not require the terminal ballisticsof the .50 BMG cartridge, but wish to have arifle available whose ballistics exceed thoseof the traditional .308 for positive vehiclestops, defeating hard targets such as brick walls and other situations where the .308 or.223 isn’t sufficient, but where use of a .50BMG rifle might be “overkill”and negativelyviewed by civilians or the news media. Also,the .408 is one of the few cartridges whosebullet will reliably penetrate aircraft wind-shields and retain sufficient terminal ballis-tics to eliminate targets in aircraft cockpits.The Thor XM408 is derived from the EDMArms Windrunner and in fact is manufac-tured under license from EDM. The XM408is a bolt-action rifle fed from a detachablebox magazine, but differs in its constructionfrom any conventional bolt-action rifle. The
Jan. 2011
The Thor XM408 employs a robust action made from steel and feeds from a detachablebox magazine. Note the spiral grooves on the body of the rifle’s bolt.The XM408’s stockis fully adjustable forboth length of pull andcheekrest height, mak-ing it infinitely adapt-able to a wide range of tactical operators.
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Jan. 2011
Jan. 2011
XM408 is manufactured almost entirely of steel and aluminum alloy. The steel receiverand bolt are CNC and EDM machined andhardened to 42 Rockwell.
Mission Adaptable
The XM408’s stock assembly is fullyadjustable for length of pull and cheek-rest height. The XM408’s only non-metalliccomponents are the pistol grip, borrowedfrom AR-15 type rifles, and the buttstock pad. The XM408 comes complete with anM60-machine-gun style bipod and a fold-ing adjustable monopod in the buttstock assembly. Like the EDM Windrunner, fromwhich it is derived, the XM408 can be bro-ken down into a compact package fortransportation or airborne operations inless than a minute. The stock is fully col-lapsible and the barrel is removed by sim-ply twisting off the large retaining nut thatautomatically sets proper headspace whentightened into place. No tools are necessaryto disassemble or reassemble the XM408.The barrel slides into place and is automati-cally indexed via a notch in the receiver.There is no torque requirement for the bar-rel nut; all that is required is to firmly hand-tighten it into place. The fluted XM408 bar-rel is, of course, free floated along its entirelength as a part of the overall design.The XM408 is a conventional bolt actionrifle in the sense that it has a manually oper-ated bolt with two forward locking lugs anda safety lug that is integrated into the oper-ating handle, but the design is otherwiseunconventional. The XM408 has a “float-ing”bolt head that flexes slightly to ensureproper lockup and headspace. The extrac-tor is integral to the right locking lug andthe ejector is of the plunger type, positivelyejecting spent casings. During testing, ourXM408 placed every spent casing in a smallpile about 6 inches from the right front of the ejection port. Unlike most bolt-actionrifles, the XM408 receiver body surroundsthe bolt, adding strength and rigidity andalso protecting the rifle’s action from dustand foreign matter.The receiver’s top surface is fitted witha MIL-STD-1913 rail for mounting optics.There are no open sights. The safety is asmall lever at the right rear of the receiverthat is applied when moved to the rearand released when pressed forward, likethat of a Remington 700. The safety physi-cally blocks the trigger, although the boltcan still be manipulated. The “single stack”
detachable box magazine holds fivecartridges. The magazine is retainedat the rear by a latch that engages anotched plate spot-welded to the rearface of the magazine. The attachmentis positive, although there is someintentional play at the forward end of the magazine. Feeding was absolutelyreliable and was butter smooth.Our XM408’s bolt operation wasinitially somewhat “gritty,but after wip-ing it clean and applying a light coat of Mil-Comm’s TW-25B PTFE spray to thebolt and the receiver interior, the actionsmoothed considerably. The owner’s man-ual states that the action might seemrough at first due to the phosphate finishand that it would become smoother aftersome usage and lubrication, but TW-25Binstantly smoothed the bolt’s operation.For high-shear applications such as lockinglugs, a tiny amount of TW-25B PTFE greaseenhances operation and reliability.
Leading-Edge Optics
We set our XM408 up with a LeupoldMark 4 6.5-20x 50mm scope with optionalHorus Vision H25 tactical reticle which wasrecently adopted by the U.S. Marine Corpsas its standard scope sight.In use, the shooter generates “come-up”data using the handheld Trimble TDS Reconcomputer with Horus Vision ballistic soft-ware installed. This data is transferred to awaterproof, adhesive-backed paper cardthat is used to determine precise holdoversfor elevation and windage. If time is avail-able and exact precision is desired, the TDSComputer can be used to generate specifictargeting data, to include elevation andwindage holds for the target to beengaged. Once the rifle is zeroed withone load, the hand-held computercan be used to generate come-upcards for other loads. The ballistic data forother loads is entered into the TDS and aseparate “come-up”card generated. All thatis necessary is to generate a come-up cardfor any load desired and confirm zero.Another recent Leupold product isthe company’s RX series of digital laserrangefinders (LRF) that deliver the exactballistic distance to the target, regardless of slope. Most rifle shooters know that as theangle up or down increases, the true bal-listic distance decreases. Previous devicesmeasured the cosine and read out a factorby which the shooter multiplied to obtainthe true ballistic distance. This took pre-cious time, during which the target mightgo behind cover and disappear. Of course,there were “whiz wheels”and slide rulesto speed obtaining the true distance, but
.408 CheyTac/bolt
Extended 54.5", 138.4cmCollapsed 48", 121.9cm
26 lbs, 11.79kg
30", 76.2cm
tWist rate:
1:13 twist
5 round standard7 round optional
rail length:
10", 25.4cm
aMMo high loW average extreMe std. averageveloCity veloCity veloCity spread deviation group
Chey Tac 2845 fps 2795 fps 2820 fps 50 fps 15 0.65 in419-gr.FMJBT
Testing conducted at 100 yards. Velocity data taken from 5 shots, Chronographed on Oehler 35 Chrono-graph, temperature 35 deg, F. Group size average of two, three shot groups fired from sandbag rest.
Global Defense THOR XM408
“The .408 gives The preci-sion TacTical marksman arange advanTage over any .308 or .338 caliber rifle,while adding liTTle moreTo The weighT burden.”
— Continued on page 91
The sturdy steel detachable boxmagazine of the Thor is a single-stack unit. The standard unit holdsfive rounds, although an optionalseven rounder is also available.Sniper ready XM408 not only looksthe part, but it shoots the part, too!
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