Tactical Rifles Chimera M40T7 and Coonan Inc. Classic 1911

posted on February 16, 2012

What's so special about a limited-edition package that combines a .308 Win. turnbolt with a 1911? It only takes a second to realize there's something magical about the 1911, while the .308 Win. must be shot to be fully appreciated. Tactical Rifles has teamed up with Coonan Inc. to provide a limited run of 100 M40T7 rifles packaged with the Coonan Classic 1911 chambered in .357 Mag.

For detailed images of these guns, click here for the rifle and here for the 1911.

Chambered in .308 Win., overall length of the Chimera M40T7 is 39.5 inches and it has a 20-inch barrel.

Tactical Rifles' Chimera M40T7 is a precision bolt-action rifle chambered in .308 Win. When the company began building precision rifles several years ago, it used commercial parts for its designs. Relying on outside vendors left it at the mercy of those vendors' manufacturing tolerances, Tactical Rifles' owner David Rooney worked with engineers to design components of his own. With regard to the M40T7, only the barrel, magazine box, trigger and scope are provided by outside sources, while the receiver, stock, bottom metal, scope rings and Picatinny base are all produced by or specifically for Tactical Rifles.  

Its action is a proprietary design, combining the proven elements of the Remington Model 700 action with the precision tolerances of a custom receiver. Externally, it is recognized by its large ejection port—which provides increased access to the chamber—as well as the receiver-mounted bolt stop. The spiral-fluted bolt has an extended "tactical" knob that allows cycling the action without breaking cheek weld and potentially losing sight of your target. Built with both accuracy and reliability in mind, Tactical Rifles maximizes the benefits of existing actions, while avoiding their shortcomings. Unlike the thin extractor on the Remington 700 action, the Chimera contains a large steel unit that hinges on a roll pin through the bolt body. Production receivers must be blueprinted to achieve concentricity, while the Chimera is built to tight tolerances without additional hours of labor.

A wide ejection port and flat-bottomed recoil lug are two of the features that comprise Tactical Rifles’ proprietary action.

The T7 stock is made of a blend of fiberglass and Kevlar and incorporates several features shooters will find useful. A tapered fore-end allows for fast incremental elevation changes, while its textured palm swell provides a comfortable grip. The bottom of the buttstock sweeps forward, enabling the non-firing hand to control the rear of the rifle when the fore-end is resting on a benchrest or bipod. Female sockets for pushbutton QD sling swivels are embedded in the left side of the stock, which, when carried, places the flat surfaces of the rifle comfortably on the shooter's back without protruding magazines, bolt handles or optics. 

The test rifle featured a No. 7 contour 20-inch stainless steel match barrel, however as a custom rifle company, Tactical Rifles will build a rifle to suit the customer's desires when it comes to barrel profile and length, cartridge selection, stock "fill" weight and finish. The heavy taper of this rifle's barrel kept recoil to a minimum; a customer seeking more mobility would likely choose a lighter profile. Using premium-quality barrels is essential for creating the level of accuracy Tactical Rifles guarantees its customers. It pledges all of its precision rifles will shoot less than a half-inch, 3-round group at 100 yards with factory match-grade ammo.

I've tested five of the company's rifles, and have yet to find one that doesn't exceed that standard by a wide margin—with this rifle being no exception. The best five-round group measured .240 inch, and averaged .602 inch. If you're interested in three-round groups, this rifle puts them in the .125- to .175-inch range. This was my second experience with Stan Chen's ASYM Precision Ammunition, which is custom loaded with quality components like Lapua brass and Sierra MatchKing bullets. The rifle and ammo combination produced one-hole groups with predictable and impressive regularity.   

Chambered in .357 Mag., overall length of the Coonan Classic is 8.375 inches.

The M40T7 fed and extracted reliably from the five-round Accuracy International detachable-box magazine. Its magazine seats into Tactical Rifles' own beefy bottom metal, one of the few parts it sells as an aftermarket item. An oversize paddle-style release enables the shooter to change magazines quickly without fumbling for a button.  

Atop the rifle, a Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50 mm LR/T included in the package was secured to the 20-MOA Picatinny rail base using the company's Chimera titanium-alloy 30 mm rings. These precision-ground rings feature six oversize Torx bolts for maximum strength and purchase. All of the rifle's metal, excluding the rings, is coated with a titanium-colored, moly-resin finish tested to 6,000 hours of salt spray.

The Coonan Classic is the brainchild of Dan Coonan resulting from an argument among college kids between the superiority of the 1911 semi-automatic versus the .357 Mag. revolver. Production of original Coonan pistols began in 1979 and continued to be refined until the 1990s, when Coonan sold the company. The old Coonan Arms later went bankrupt, but devotees of the pistol eventually hounded Coonan into relaunching the design under the banner of Coonan Inc.

The Classic is constructed of 17-4 PH stainless steel and maintains the same basic lines as a traditional 1911. According to Coonan, the Classic model has 18 parts in common with the 1911A1. The pistol also features a brushed finish on the flats of the frame and slide and is bead-blasted to a matte surface on the remainder of the firearm. Its slide contains the logos of both Tactical Rifles and Coonan, along with the roll mark "Limited Edition 1/100" to designate the special package.

To accommodate the larger .357 Mag. cartridge, its grip dimensions are slightly larger in height, length and width. The magazine well is elongated to accommodate the large, seven-round magazine, and the engraved aluminum grip panels are oversize when compared to your grandaddy's old warhorse. The frame contains a full-length dustcover, extended thumb safety and slide stop, along with a semi-beavertail grip safety.

Compared to a 1911, the slide is nearly identical to a standard 5-inch government model, though approximately .25-inch longer. Its Trijicon night sights sport an innovative configuration—a front dot paired with dual horizontal rear bars, which is adjustable for windage and elevation and features a snag-free profile that is reminiscent of Novak's LoMount model.

The pistol’s linkless barrel consists of an oversize bottom lug, single top lug and an extended hood forming three lockup points.

An external extractor is tasked with cycling the long, .357 Mag. cases from the pistol's massive, oversize ejection port—the most striking element to the Coonan, and one of the things that sets it apart at first glance. Not only is the port larger in order to reliably extract and eject .357 Mag. cases, it is milled rearward to accommodate the extended barrel hood, which is .5 inch longer than the one on a .45 ACP and locks the barrel into battery like the rib extension of a side-by-side shotgun.

Internally, the Classic offers a departure from tradition. The designer took note of modern semi-autos when adapting the 1911 platform to accommodate .357 Mag. ammo. The linkless barrel incorporates three points of lockup: a modern oversize bottom lug, a single top lug forward of the chamber, along with the aforementioned extended hood. The trigger is a modern hinged unit, which pushes the trigger bow rearward to release the sear and theoretically this provides some leverage for the trigger finger. Assembly and disassembly procedures are identical to most 1911s, minus the process of aligning the barrel link with the slide stop.

Firing the Coonan was a treat. At nearly 3 pounds, muzzle flip was very reasonable and comparable to most 10 mm pistols. Muzzle blast however, was significant. The only mechanical issue involved rare instances when the slide didn't lock back on an empty magazine. 

I ran a few magazines of .38 Spl. through the Classic to see if they functioned without the appropriate recoil spring. Though they made the gun very pleasant to shoot, the load would not cycle the action at all with its 22-pound recoil spring. However, I'm told .38 Spl. cycles perfectly when a 10-pound spring is installed.  

This package was a lot of fun to shoot. The M40T7's excellent accuracy and mild recoil, combined with the muzzle blast of the Coonan Classic makes for quite a combination. While each firearm would be great to own individually—the limited-edition set makes things more impressive.

Chimera M40T7Manufacturer: Tactical Rifles; (877) 811-4867, www.tacticalrifles.net
Action Type: Bolt-action
Caliber: .308 Win.
Capacity: Five rounds (larger magazines available)
Stock: Fiberglass-Kevlar blend
Sights: Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50 mm riflescope included
Barrel: 20 inches; Premium hand-lapped stainless match-grade steel
Rifling: 4-grooves; 1:10-inch RH twist
Trigger Pull Weight: 2.0 pounds
Length: 39.5 inches
Weight: 12 pounds, 3.2 ounces
Accessories: Hardigg case, Chimera titanium-alloy rings

Coonan ClassicManufacturer: Coonan Inc.; (763) 786-1720, www.coonaninc.com
Action-type: Recoil-operated, semi-automatic
Caliber: .357 Mag.
Capacity: 7+1
Frame: 17-4 PH stainless steel
Slide: 17-4 PH stainless steel
Barrel: 5-inches, Storm Lake
Rifling: 6 grooves; 1:16-inch RH twist
Sights: Trijicon low-profile adjustable with tritium ampoules; front dot, rear dual bars
Trigger Pull Weight: 5.2 pounds
Length: 8.375 inches
Height: 5.6 inches
Width: 1.3 inches
Weight: 2 pounds, 11.4 ounces
MSRP: $7,889 (entire package)


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