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Aero Precision Solus Hunter: Full Review

Aero Precision's Solus Hunter is a future-proof bolt-action beaming with features and forethought.

Aero Precision Solus Hunter: Full Review
Respected for its manufacturing and rotating selection of gun parts-including, and especially, its AR build kits-Aero Precision has historically been loath to don the laurels of a full-fledged gunmaker. (Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

In 2023, the Tacoma, Washington, builder “crossed the Rubicon” with its Solus bolt-action rifle.

At writing, the Solus comes in three flavors and four chamberings. The base configuration is the Solus Bravo which features a patrol style stock and can be had in 6 Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, or .308 Winchester. The Solus Competition is a full-chassis design with maximum adjustability and accessory compatibility, and is offered for the same cartridges as the Bravo. The final configuration, and subject of this review, is the Solus Hunter. Our test rifle was chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor, but 6.5 PRC and .308 Win. models are also available.

The Sum of Its Parts

The heart of Aero’s new bolt action line is the Solus Short Action. The action itself shares the Remington 700 Short Action footprint, includes a pronounced forward recoil lug, and utilizes dual action screws for installation. Comparisons to any legacy 700 offerings end there. The Solus action is a beast in its own right, designed for compatibility, customization, and modularity.

rifle resting on bags
The bolt features a fast, 60-degree throw and has a larger knob for good grip. (Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

Machined from 416 stainless steel, the one-piece action includes an integral 20 MOA Picatinny rail for mounting optics. Traditional bolt-on rails are perfectly fine for casual pursuits or infrequent excursions to the range and field, but the Solus action was designed for hard use, both on duty and in competition, and the Hunter model benefits from its overengineering. Fewer screws mean fewer failure points, so I’m a big fan of integral rails. The three-lug bolt moves as smoothly in the action as any full-diameter design despite the reliefs and tracks machined into the body. There are two primary reasons to prefer a three-lug bolt head: First, one of the lugs will hang in the 6 o’clock position when the bolt is cycled, ensuring excellent engagement with the magazine’s topmost round for reliable feeding. Second, three-lug bolts require only a 60-degree throw to lock/unlock, meaning there is plenty of clearance between the bolt handle and even the largest of optics. Again, these considerations are especially relevant to tactical and competitive shooters, but equally handy for hunters—especially those who really enjoy wringing out their rifles.

three-lug bolt
A three-lug bolt provides smooth operation and solid lock-up. (Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

Aero also designed the Solus to be future proof. Following the Rem 700 footprint invites compatibility with aftermarket stocks and trigger assemblies. The receiver is spec’d to accept Zermatt Origin pre-fit barrels and the bolt head is interchangeable, meaning barrel swaps and even caliber changes are well within the realm of possibilities for the Solus. Speaking of those components, the Hunter’s carbon fiber stock is from AG Composites. Features include a cheek riser for adjusting comb height, a pronounced vertical pistol grip, and dual sling studs in the forend (plus one in the buttstock) to accommodate both a bipod and a sling. I also appreciate the forend is nearly flat on the bottom which offers good stability on rests without being uncomfortable in the hand. Three camouflage color schemes are available in the Solus Hunter: Carbon Steel; Carbon Black/Tan; and Kodiak Rogue. Our test sample wore the latter.

stock fore grip
Dual studs on the forend provide mounting options for slings, bipods and other accessories. (Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

For triggers, the Hunter ships with a TriggerTech single-stage drop-in trigger assembly. It’s an adjustable trigger with a two-position manual safety that locks the trigger, but the bolt is free to travel in either the Safe (rear) or Fire (forward) position. The back of the receiver includes corresponding “S” and “F” engravings. Out of the box, the test rifle’s trigger pull averaged 4 pounds, 11 ounces, which is definitely safe for field use, but I would probably take a pound or so out of it for extended range work.

The bottom metal is, in fact, metal, and designed to accept detachable box magazines of the Accuracy International single-feed (AICS) or dual-feed (AIAW) variety, so capacity can be easily increased or decreased depending on the pursuit, and spare mags are affordable and readily available. An oversized ambidextrous release paddle is incorporated into the front of the trigger guard for use with either hand. The rifle shipped with a five-round 7.62x51 Magpul PMAG, which also handles 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges without issue.

cocking indicator
The rear of the bolt features a cocking indicator. (Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

Finally, the barrel is a 24-inch Sendero-profile pipe rifled with a 1:8 twist. By comparison, the 6.5 PRC also uses a 24-inch barrel with a slightly faster 1:7.5 inch twist rate, while the .308 model has a 20-inch, 1:10-twist tube. All the Solus barrels are made to match standards by sister company Ballistic Advantage (ballisticadvantage.com). They are honed, lapped, finished in durable black Elite Cerakote, and threaded 5/8-24 for attaching suppressors or muzzle brakes. Make no mistake, the Aero Solus is no lightweight hunter, and I’d call the barrel a mid-heavy profile – in truth, its more comparable to my muzzleloaders than my mountain rifles. It is fluted to save some weight but, like some of the other features mentioned, the barrel takes its cues from the tactical/competition realm. It’s extremely accurate and durable, but it’s a chunk. Unloaded and sans scope the Hunter weighs in at nearly 9 pounds.

rifle with shooting gadgets strewn about
The Solus Hunter proved accurate on the bench with a range of ammo. (Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

That kind of weight is no issue for stand hunters and those who like to stretch the shot distance more than their legs. Too, shooters who want a do-anything utility rifle that can pound paper and steel will appreciate the robust components. But hunters that like to hoof it in big country may find the Solus Hunter a bit cumbersome. Never fear! Sources at Aero Precision tell me a lighter hunting rifle is on the way, and we can expect both a lightened action and a carbon-fiber wrapped barrel. Stay tuned.

rifleman with rifle on shooting bags
(Photo courtesy of Joe Kurtenbach)

At The Range

To wring out the Hunter I chose to test it with two hunting loads I’m very familiar with, and one match load to really get a sense of the gun’s accuracy potential. First up, Federal’s 140-grain Fusion load has become a standard in my 6.5 Creedmoor testing because it’s just so different than most of the long-range, high-BC ammunition the 6.5 is known for. The bullet is a seemingly simple jacketed lead core with a skived, exposed lead tip and a mild boattail base. Nothing fancy, but it always performs, and it’s a great option for soft-skinned big game. From the Hunter’s 24-inch barrel the load was running 2,704 feet per second (fps) as measured by a Garmin Xero C1 chronograph, and the average of three, three-shot groups at 100 yards was 0.97 inches. Moving on, Winchester’s Deer Season XP loads use a large diameter polymer tip and tapered profile to improve the bullet’s aerodynamic qualities. Upon impact, the tip is forced into a large diameter cavity and aids rapid expansion for fast, devastating terminal results. It’s perfect for bringing deer and antelope to bag. The 125-grain 6.5 load is also running pretty quick at 2,814 fps, and accuracy averaged 0.95 inches — a fair shake better than minute-of-dinner-plate.

accuracy test
(Accuracy results provided by Joe Kurtenbach)

Finally, given all its precision inspired features, I couldn’t resist running the Solus Hunter like a benchrest rifle and feeding it Hornady’s 140-grain ELD Match load. If you are familiar with Hornady’s prodigious ELD-X and Precision Hunter ammunition, you’ll know that ELD Match bullets have all the goodies, too: high ballistic coefficient (.646 G1/.326 G7); Heat Shield Tip; AMP jacket design; etc. From the muzzle, the Match ammo was cruising at 2,672 fps and measurements for the three, three-shot groups were 0.85, 0.61, and 0.58 inches, for an average of 0.68. In other words, better than ¾ MOA.

All told, the Aero Precision Solus Hunter is a very capable and exceedingly accurate rifle. When manufacturers offer sub-MOA accuracy guarantees, as Aero does, there is often a caveat along the lines of “with quality match ammunition.” They don’t expect a pair of deer cartridges from Joe’s hunting stash to crush the 1-inch mark, but the range results speak for themselves. When I requested a test sample of the Solus from Aero Precision, I selected what I perceived to be the most well-rounded rifle from the company’s new bolt-action family. A firearm well adapted for both the range and the field. The Solus Hunter in 6.5 Creedmoor was exactly that.

Recommended


AERO PRECISION SOLUS HUNTER Specs

  • Type: Bolt-Action
  • Chambering: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested) 6.5 PRC, .308 Win
  • Barrel: 24 Inches (tested) 1:8 Twist, Threaded 5x8x24
  • Weight: 8 lbs. 15 oz.
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Stock: Carbon Fiber
  • Finish: Black Elite Cerakote
  • Sights: None, Integral 20 MOA Picatinny Rail
  • Trigger: 4 lbs. 11 oz. (as tested) TriggerTech single-stage adj.
  • Price: $2,570



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