Baer’s Super Varmint scoped with Nightforce’s 3.5-15×50 NXS offers shooters a long-range precision shooting unit
Our mission was to give one lucky /Gun World/ reader a very high-end prize, so we selected a high-end rifle/scope combo, put it to the test and then drew a winner. Today, that winner is enjoying the use of a highly accurate, custom-made shooting outfit.
Editor Steve Quinlan coordinated the logistics. He contacted Les Baer and asked him to send me the Baer Custom .223 Super Varmint rifle and to recommend a scope suitable for varmint hunting and long-range precision shooting. Baer recommended Nightforce’s 3.5-15×50 NXS scope and offered to mount it to the rifle. Nightforce was agreeable to the joint venture, and the ball was in motion. As Quinlan put it, If we’re going to give away an ultra-accurate varmint rifle, we’d better equip it with a high-quality, high-magnification scope.
NATIONAL MATCH-GRADE QUALITY
The Super Varmint arrived at the Florida Gun Exchange with the Nightforce precision riflescope mounted, according to plan. Les Baer rifles are broken in at the factory, which is something I appreciate. Breaking in barrels involves a lot of cleaning between shots and groups. Less time spent cleaning means more time to shoot, and this rifle was definitely worth shooting.
The Super Varmint is built on National Match-grade forged and precision-machined aluminum alloy upper and lower receivers that are coated with DuPont S. In addition, the Super Varmint’s bolt carrier, extractor and bolt are chromed for smooth operation. The use of these coatings makes this a durable rifle that can withstand long sessions in dusty places such as prairie-dog towns.
The test rifle has a heavy-contour, 24-inch 416R stainless steel National Match barrel that measures .94 inch at the muzzle. Stainless steel is an excellent material for building a gun that’s used for hunting small varmints such as prairie dogs. The high volume of fire associated with hunting a dog town’s can heat barrels very quickly, and stainless steel is less prone to bore erosion than carbon steel when hot. The Super Varmint’s rifling is precision cut. Baer will produce this rifle with different twist rates, depending on the customer’s preference. The one he sent me for evaluation had a 1- in 8-inch twist.
The heart of the Super Varmint’s fire control system is a Giessele two-stage trigger. Giessele triggers have a very good reputation for durability, and the one on this rifle broke very cleanly at 3.5 pounds. The rifle’s Les Baer Custom grip assures that the user can get the proper hand position to get the best use out of this fine trigger.
Other features of the Super Varmint include a precision-made Picatinny top rail for mounting optics, two 20-round magazines, a Versa Pod bipod and a Les Baer .223 rifle case. I took a good look at the rifle’s internal and external fit and finish. As with other Les Baer products I’ve tested, I didn’t see a single tool mark, scratch or other imperfection. This is an extremely well-made rifle.
A complete set of instructions and a Les Baer video are included with the rifle. I highly recommend reading the booklet before firing this rifle, even if you are familiar with the AR action. One of many things you’ll learn from the booklet is that Les Baer chambers most of his ARs for the .223 Remington cartridge. This rifle is not intended for use with 5.56 NATO ammunition. Some people do not realize that the .223 Rem. and 5.56 are not the same cartridge. These two rounds have very similar exterior dimensions, but differences in the 5.56 cartridge case and the shape of the NATO-spec chamber give the 5.56 a higher operating pressure than the .223. Firing 5.56 NATO ammo in rifles chambered for .223 increases bolt thrust and can greatly accelerate wear. At best, this degrades accuracy and reliability. At worst, it could lead to injury of the shooter.
Les Baer AR Super Varmint
|Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||Muzzle Energy (ft/lbs)||100-yard Avg. Group (inches)|
|Winchester 50-gr. Bal. Silvertip||3,292||94||1,203||1.35|
|Black Hills 55-gr. X||3,134||43||1,199||Â Â .836|
|Federal 55-gr. T-Bonded||3,064||157||1,146||1.19|
|Black Hills 69-gr. JHP||2,749||49||1,157||1.29|
|Federal 69-gr. JHP||2,791||39||1,192||Â Â .816|
|HPR 75-gr. JHP||2,742||15||1251||1.38|
|Federal 77-gr. JHP||2,628||75||1,180||Â Â .637|
|Black Hills 77-gr. JHP||2,729||83||1,273||1.16|
LES BAER SUPER VARMINT
Action – AR-style semi-auto rifle
Caliber – .223 Remington
Capacity- Up to 31 rounds, depending on magazine
Barrel Length- 24-inch heavy target barrel
Overall Length – 42 inches
Weight- 13.5 pounds (w/scope and bipod)
Frame- Aluminum alloy upper and lower
Trigger- 3.5 pounds
Sights- Flat-top M1913 rail
Grip- Les Baer Custom
Finish- Black DuPont S
NIGHTFORCE 3-15X50 SCOPE
Exit Pupil- 14.3 mm @ 3.5x
– 3.6 mm @ 15x
Field of View- 27.6 ft. @ 3.5×7.3 ft. @ 15x
Adj. Range – 110 MOA elevation; 80 MOA windage
Click Value- 250 MOA; .1 Mil-Rad
Eye Relief- 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Tube Size- 30 mm
Objective Lens- 50 mm
Ocular Lens- 36 mm
Length- 14.7 inches (w/o sun shade)
Weight- 30 ounces
MSRP- $1,700 (approx.)
Story and photos by Dr. Martin D. Topper