Every firearms manufacturer aspires to build a legendary rifle, yet few get to build one for a living legend. Ashbury Precision Ordnance Mfg. (APO), located in Ruckersville, Virginia, got to do just that, and more, when they selected by the National Rifle Association (NRA) Friends of NRA to honor former Secretary of the NRA and father of modern Marine Corps Scout Sniping Major Edward James Land, Jr.
“We are humbled to be selected by the NRA and approved by Major Land to undertake this custom tactical rifle project,” said Matthew Peterson, Ashbury’s product development manager. “It’s an honor and a privilege for Ashbury, and especially our contingent of USMC and Army veterans, to work under the tutelage of Major Land on this project for the NRA. It’s a rare opportunity to work with such a great American patriot, historic Marine sniper, firearms instructor and defender of America’s Second Amendment rights.”
There was just one catch. The rifle had to be not only good enough for the NRA to put their name on it; it had be good enough for Major Land’s name as well.
The Father of Marine Corps Scout Snipers
“I’ve spent seven decades involved with firearms,” said Major Land, “from hunting and marksmanship training, to shooting rifles as a competitor and instructor, to being a sniper in combat. I follow a few simple rules that have not changed over my career. Keep it simple, stick to the basics and use technology only to supplement the basics. These rules have served me well, and I feel we’ve incorporated this spirit in these NRA tactical rifles, which bear my name.”
Was APO up to the task? Absolutely. In fact, they didn’t build a rifle good enough for Major Land and the NRA just once, but 50 times. Because that’s what Friends of the NRA and Major Land wanted. Yes, Major Land shot every single rifle. Yes, he sighted in every single rifle. And yes, he hand-inspected every single rifle. Every. Single. One.
Just an FYI, in addition to the once-in-a-lifetime honor of building this limited-edition NRA tactical rifle that bears the signature of Major Land, Ashbury was also selected to build the featured sniper rifles for the 2016 USA Network Television action drama series Shooter. The series depicts a fictional renowned Marine Scout Sniper.
According to APO, their custom shop was commissioned to build 50 “good enough for Major Land” custom Saber-M700 rifles. They would be aptly named “Major E.J. Land Signature Edition Tactical” rifles. Each rifle sports an individual number and bears Major Land’s engraved signature. Major Land is a Marine, and of course so were the men who worked on his rifles. Ashbury’s Precision Weapons Section is led by a team of former Marine gun builders—known on the military street as MOS 2112 gunsmiths—and a MOS 2111 armorer. The entire project was supervised by Marine rifle team equipment shop chief instructor, Master Sgt. Gary Gregory. He served under Major Land’s command at Marine Corps Base Quantico, located just south of Washington, D.C.
“Major Land wanted this rifle to be based on the battle-proven, American-made Remington Model 700 bolt-action receiver, which has a long and storied history in the Marine Corps,” continued Peterson. “It was important that his tactical rifle be a modern modular design, based on solid, reliable, American-made components and be capable of sub-1 MOA or better accuracy, chambered for the efficient 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.”
Major Land had absolutely no interest in Ashbury building a safe queen. Instead, he wanted a rifle that exceeded the 2-MOA accuracy specification of his original Vietnam-era Model 700 sniper rifles. And Ashbury delivered.
APO Saber M700 Tactical Rifle
According to APO, the custom Saber M700 Tactical Rifle for Major Land was inspired by his visionary leadership and formation of the renowned USMC Scout Sniper program, conducting the first course since World War II in Hawaii in 1961. True to his teachings, Major Land led the new Scout Sniper program into combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam in 1965. Further, he successfully trained, mentored, led and fought alongside some of the finest American military snipers in our nation’s history. Bottom line—Major Land is a name any rifle shooter dreams to live up to. I’m willing to bet it’s every rifle’s dream to have his name etched on it for all eternity.
APO Saber M700 Specifics
The custom Saber M700 Major E.J. Land Signature Edition Tactical Rifle began with hand-selected, current factory production, stainless steel Remington Model 700 bolt-action receivers. The receivers underwent detailed inspections, truing and an accurizing process, which included hand-fitting, lapping and polishing the components. Each Remington Model 700 receiver comes with a tuned Rifle Basix trigger set to a crisp 3 pounds. Then, the newly accurized Remington Model 700 receivers were individually hand-fit to equally inspected and hand-selected Proof Research match-grade, 1-in-8-inch twist, 22-inch barrels made of 416R stainless steel with a medium Palma contour, and chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.
“Proof Research’s engineering team was excited to work with Ashbury Precision Ordnance on this project for the NRA and Major Land,” said Larry Murphy, CEO of Proof Research. “Providing APO’s Precision Weapons Section with 50 exceptionally high-quality, match-grade barrels that yielded consistent high levels of accuracy and precision is a testament to Proof’s advanced rifle barrel manufacturing technology.”
The Proof Research barrel tenon threads, chamber and muzzle incorporate precision machining on CNC lathes to very close tolerances. The suppressor-ready muzzle comes finished with a target crown, threaded 5/8-24 TPI and fitted with a protective thread cap. The newly minted custom Saber M700 accurized barreled actions features a 20-MOA scope base rail and mounted into the patented Saber RSA-A3 Alloy Series MOD-0 modular rifle chassis system, enhanced with the advanced Magpul M-LOK accessory attachment system.
The Quattro V17 forend incorporates M-LOK Picatinny accessory rail attachment points. They reside at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock for lights, lasers and other accessories. The 6 o’clock forend position includes a bipod stud. The Saber RSA-A3 MOD-0 rifle chassis has an ergonomically adaptable Tactically Adjustable Shoulder Stock (TASS) with thumbscrew cheekpiece height, length of pull spacers and push button recoil pad drop adjustments. The rifle comes paired with Leupold’s new Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm riflescope with TMR reticle mounted in Mark 4 scope rings.
Wait, There’s More
The TASS shoulder stock on each rifle fits with a custom LimbSaver premium recoil pad and lower butt hook. This provides for secure nonfiring hand placement or optional monopod. The shoulder stock assembly attaches to the chassis center section with a robust, tension-adjustable double locking hinge to fold the rifle, reducing its length for transport and stowage. The Saber chassis for this NRA custom tactical rifle build features a repositionable Magpul MOE handgrip with a 17.5-degree grip angle (the same as the Major’s favored M1911 pistol), a 5-round Magpul AICS-type polymer magazine and ambidextrous paddle lever magazine release. The barreled action features a premium Cerakote H-190 Armor Black ceramic coating finish. The Saber chassis utilizes a coating in H-170 OD green and weighs a comfortable 11.25 pounds.
Nearly 12 pounds may seem heavy for such a modern tactical rifle. But when you consider the legendary weight a name like Major Land’s carries in the military and shooting sports industry, you know it’s worth every single ounce.
Where to Find the APO Saber M700
The custom Saber-M700 Major E.J. Land Signature Edition Tactical Rifle comes exclusively through Friends of NRA National Sponsor program. For more information about how you can acquire this piece of history, contact your local Friends of NRA field representative.
For more information, visit ashburyprecisionordnance.net.