Some days bring bigger smiles than others. The day a Desert Tech SRS-A1 Covert came my way I was excited, and you’re about to find out why. There are a lot of reasons, but if the proof is in the pudding, I was shooting sub .5 MOA groups repeatedly, and with an audience of 38 police chiefs from around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. No pressure. When I was done with the rifle I’d shot it in .308 and .338 Lapua Magnum at a hundred yards and out past 600 yards. In my opinion, the SRS Covert is without a doubt a long range and tactical hunter’s dream come true.
Some of you will love this, some might hate it (but you should try it first!) – This is a bullpup rifle. Bullpup rifles are designed with their actions behind the trigger, often behind the magazine. This moves the ejection port back behind the trigger as well. More importantly, it moves the barrel back into the rifle resulting in a much shorter overall length. The Desert Tech SRS Covert configured with a 16” barreled .308 conversion kit is basically 26 inches long. That’s shorter than the typical AR-15! Shorter means easier in and out of vehicles. Shorter means less weight hanging farther out from your body when offhand shooting. Shorter means easier movement through brush, smaller cases and easier travel. To my way of thinking, this is the primary appeal of the bullpup design to tactical operators and hunters alike.
The biggest complaint about bullpup rifles is the trigger pull. From a design standpoint, this makes sense. Instead of the trigger assembly being located at the action with precision tolerances, the trigger sits far from the action and is usually connected via bars. Bars can flex and the extra linkages can and often do have slop. So many people naturally think bullpup triggers stink, especially for any kind of precision work. And they might have a point in a lot of cases.
But not in this one.
Unlike some other rifle companies, Desert Tech started life as a bullpup rifle builder under the Desert Tactical Arms banner. More specifically, they launched as a precision rifle company utilizing a bullpup design to create the DTA SRS (Stealth Recon Scout) modular rifle platform. Today they sell the updated “A1” version. The “Covert” model is simply a shorter version. Back to the trigger – The SRS/SRS Covert trigger is amazing. Really, seriously amazing. A fully adjustable three-pound pull is just right in my book. We all know that a great trigger helps you make great shots. I shot my best groups ever with this gun. And I have the digitally scored proof to back that up!
Closely related to the trigger of course is the safety. It works, reachable with your trigger finger. But I really wish it used a 45 degree selector at the thumb, much like an AR-15 short throw selector. Oh well, given the rest of the equation I can overlook my preference here easily enough.
Since the SRS is a bolt action bullpup precision rifle, the bolt is located rearward towards the butt of the rifle. Practically, this means you’re manipulating the bolt much closer to your face than you would with a traditional bolt gun. That initially throws some seasoned bolt action shooters off. It did me, but just for a few rounds as I was first getting familiar with an SRS. In short order I was running the bolt without giving it a lot of thought.
Modular from inception, the Desert Tech SRS can rapidly switch calibers. Rapidly, as in 30-60 seconds while not in a rush. The only tool you need is a torque wrench. The rifle is sold as a chassis with conversion kits. Conversion kits are what allow you to change out calibers. This is where the economics really start to make sense. The SRS-A1 Covert in .308 lists for $4995 at Desert Tech. That’s not chump change. But, say you wanted a bigger gun. The .338 Lapua Magnum is growing rapidly in popularity. Add $2095 list price and now you have two amazing precision rifles for street price of $6500. Desert Tech sells the following conversion kits (barrel, bolt and magazine):
7mm Winchester Short Mag
.300 Winchester Magnum
.338 Lapua Magnum
Now consider that the aftermarket is cranking out barrels in other calibers. Short Action Customs is working on .223 and .300 Blackout kits. So literally, this could be the one bolt gun to rule them all. Unless you want a lightweight gun. The .308 incarnation of the Desert Tech SRS-A1 Covert weighs 9.55 pounds which isn’t crazy heavy, but there are lighter weight options out there. Generally, I care about that, but when I shoot the SRS-A1 Covert I forget all about the weight.
So, is it the perfect bolt action rifle? Well, nothing man-made is perfect so I guess not. And some people might never get past the non-traditional design. Too bad, because in my opinion the Desert Tech SRS-A1 Covert is an ingeniously designed, exceptionally well executed rifle platform. I love all the benefits of the compact platform. And what do we all want most in a gun? Absolute reliability and accuracy. Others have more trigger time behind these rifles than I do and reliability appears to be unquestionable. Accuracy? Well, I’m no sniper, but shooting Norma .308 ammunition through the Covert’s 16 inch barrel and a Desert Tech .30 Caliber Silencer was an eye opener. Equipped with a Kahles scope from DT, I shot three round group after group at less than .5 MOA at the Sportsman Shooting Center near DFW airport. It was the best recorded shooting of my life. So, pardon my enthusiasm, but wouldn’t you be in love, too?