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KINETIC RESEARCH GROUP "SOTIC" Rifle Review

This review was completed by competitive shooter Ryan Anderson, ryan_in_ab on Instagram and @Ryan.M.Anderson on CGN

 

Tom from GBT gave me the awesome to opportunity to review the KRG SOTIC – and just after finishing the Cadex R7 too! I would hazard a guess that the SOTIC is probably one of the rarest guns in Canada at this point. The SOTIC comes in a complete package with a combo soft case/shooting mat, picatinny rail, picatinny rail section for bipod mounting, allen key tools, and some swag. The SOTIC does not come with a muzzle brake but it is threaded 5/8-24 so any self-indexing brake can be easily added.

I mounted up the picatinny rail and topped things off with my Minox ZP5. If you don’t want to run a picatinny rail on the action you can use a direct Spuhr mount made for the TRG series of rifles. I used the Spuhr low rings (1”) and the scope is nice and low with enough clearance for some Tenebraex caps.

I only managed to get about 100 rounds down the tube before someone bought the gun but I spent lots of time dry firing and examining the gun. As a demo gun I could not run a torture test but I had no issues at all during my testing.

 

Accuracy:
I had the opportunity to do load development with this gun. I still had my 308 dies kicking around and I shoot Varget in my 6mmBr(s) so I was already half way there. I got a new box of Lapua brass and a couple hundred 175gr Scenars. I started off at 44grs and worked my way up to 45grs. I seated the bullets 10 thou off the lands which was particularly easy to do as KRG engraves the chamber specs onto the barrel.

A problem materialized right away – the neck tension on the new brass was off the charts! Seating the bullets almost made me pull my bench over. Against my better judgement I went with it. I got some OK groups (.7”-.8”) but they were below my expectations. There were no pressure signs but the Labradar numbers were terrible, ES was in the high double digits and SDs were in the 30fps range. I wanted to continue my other testing so I just chose the best load and carried on. I knew this was a brass issue and the load was good enough to ring steel 500M away.

After I finished my other testing, I revisited the accuracy issue. I annealed the brass on my AMP, expanded it on 2 thou undersized mandrel and loaded up 5 more rounds. The seating feel was much improved after these steps. In minus 20-degree weather and with winds pushing me around on the bench I put together a nice sub .5 MOA group. As I mentioned in my Cadex review I did not spend too much time doing accuracy testing. I am firmly of the opinion that with good components (including proper neck tension) most rifles today are capable of consistent sub-moa accuracy.

 

Chassis:
KRG started out as a chassis manufacturer so it should come as no surprise that this is a well thought out design. The SOTIC comes with the Gen 6 version of the Whiskey 3. I had an earlier version of the chassis a few years ago and you can see the lineage and changes they have made. The changes are evolutionary in nature and I would say the biggest change has been moving to a polymer fore-end from a metal one. You can attach an ARCA rail to the bottom if you choose and there are also flush cup attachments if desired. KRG also sells an enclosed fore-end with a NV bridge if that is something you need/want (fits the Bravo and X-ray as well). The polymer fore-end is a nice as it doesn’t freeze your hands come winter time. You can add a spigot mount to extend the bipod further out while also lowering the centre of gravity when shooting prone.

This particular SOTIC comes with the folding stock, the stock folds to the left so the final package is not as slim as designs that capture the bolt but it is still a nice feature. The stock features a quick adjust buttstock (quarter inch adjustments over a 1.75” range) and cheek piece (infinitely adjustable in 1” range) which is common on most high-end chassis designs.

The grip panels on the SOTIC can be changed between large and small options. I found whatever came on the gun to be perfect for obtaining a 90-degree bend in my trigger finger – I have medium sized hands BTW. The grip is almost completely vertical, like the MPA /MDT ACC, and KRG has been doing it this way for years. The W3 chassis is one of the most comfortable chassis I have shot and its myriad of accessories (enclosed fore-end, flat bag rider, angled bag rider, spigot mount, grip panels, weight tuning system) make it one of the more adaptable chassis out there.

 

Action:
The KRG guys have been heavily influenced by the TRG22/42 and the SOTIC action has many similarities with the famed sniper rifle. The SOTIC action is a 3-lug, sixty degree throw action, with an AR style extractor, and a plunger ejector. The bolt-lift is what you can expect out of a 3-lug action. It is heavier than my 2 lugs but it is similar to Accuracy International AX/AT rifles and the TRG22 I had in the past. The bolt is one of the slickest I have felt – it is PVD coated and with a little bit of dry lube it was very nice to cycle.

The included 20 MOA picatinny rail has recoil lugs built in and is attached using 4 screws. It is a very low profile picatinny rail unlike the very tall ones which came standard on the AI ATs. If you want you can use a Spuhr TRG direct mount instead of the picatinny rail.

The action fed well and ejected reliably which is all that I really want out of an action.

 

 

Barrel interface:
A brief note on the barrel interface. SOTICs are equipped with a barrel nut system. It is a stylized barrel nut and works with Savage pattern wrenches. The thread pitch is the same as the TRG rifles and you can order replacement barrels directly from KRG. I would also think that if you wanted to have a custom shouldered barrel spun up that would be possible.

Trigger:
The gun comes equipped with a 2-stage trigger of KRGs own design. I am not sure if it is similar to their new Tikka Midas trigger but again it shares a lot of similarities with the TRG22/42 trigger. It has the standard adjustments found on most 2-stages – overtravel and first and second stage weight are all adjustable. The shoe is also moveable fore and aft to account for varying hand sizes and preferences. All of these adjustments can be made without removing the action from the gun. The trigger uses a bottom mounted safety which is easy to flick on and off and it doesn’t get in the way as the trigger guard is roomy. The trigger is rated to go down 2.5 pounds but I have a feeling that it can go lower but stating so would be a liability issue. 

The first stage has a clean and consistent take up before the very clearly defined second stage wall. I rank this trigger along with the best 2 stage factory triggers out there (TRG22 and AI). The pull is a bit heavier than I like but as it was not my gun to play with I left things at the factory settings. This trigger is swappable with TRG triggers.

Suitability for PRS
The SOTIC would be a great gun for PRS, however, this particular gun was a 20" unbraked 308 version which would not be optimal for PRS (the super short overall length is super handy though and could be useful in lots of situations outside of PRS of course). However, the chassis has all the hallmarks of a great PRS chassis. It has a long flat fore-end that lets you snug the magazine right up to your support bags and with a longer barrel (barrel lengths up to 26" are available) it would balance nicely right at the centre point. The SOTIC with its 3 lug action was more disturbed when cycling the bolt than my 2 lugs but the experience was very similar to my AI and it wasn’t particularly noticeable once you get going. The excellent ergonomics of the chassis made it easy to set up the gun to my liking and transitioning from my T4 equipped rifles to the W3 equipped SOTIC was easy. Running a SOTIC well in PRS style matches would be very possible.

The rifle is very light, this particular gun weighs less than 10 pounds (sans optics). The trend these days seems to be towards heavier guns and KRG has moved in the opposite direction. Part of the lightness is due to the shorter barrel. Shooting the SOTIC is definitely a different experience than my normal 15+ pound guns but a lighter gun is refreshing and makes sure you focus on your fundamentals and are not free-recoiling all the time. At the time of writing this KRG is working a weight kit as is another 3rd party so if you want to add additional weight it is very easy.

In this configuration I can see the gun be very popular for hybrid duty (hunting and the range) or possibly useful in actual tactical situations.

 

SUMMARY

The SOTIC is offered in 6/6.5 Creed, 308, and 260 with the longest barrel options being 26”. I personally prefer longer barrels as they provide better balance. It would be nice if KRG could offer a 26” barrel options on their available calibers. Additional caliber options would also be nice. 


The SOTIC does not have an AW cut for the magazine. I still contend that AW mags are the best mags out there for a bolt action. It is not that the AICS don’t feed well but I prefer AW mags when I can use them.

I really liked the SOTIC while I had it. The rifle has some really great features, the action is very nice to operate, and the trigger has excellent feel. The fact that KRG give you the option to alter your chassis is a nice deviation from many of the other high-end rifle makers out there. I think that you can safely place the KRG SOTIC along side the other high-end rifle makers like AI, Sako, and Cadex.