January 03, 2018
Over the past two years, the hunting rifle market has changed significantly, diverging into two separate paths. On one hand, there is the budget-rifle market producing serviceable rifles at very low price points. On the other hand, there is the emergence of a thriving high-end hunting rifle market where smaller manufacturers are putting custom rifle features into production models.
The Havak from Seekins Precision is in this latter group. Part long-range precision rifle, part hunting rig, the Havak epitomizes the modern trend. This rifle is produced using premium components with innovative features that set it apart from most other rifles on the shelf.
Glen Seekins was a mechanical designer whose life was changed by a broken set of scope rings. He put his design skills to work to build a better mousetrap and his first product was born. In the decade since, Idaho-based Seekins Precision has become a significant player in the firearms market by building parts, accessories, and firearms. The Havak is the company's first entry into the bolt-action world, and true to its roots, the company did it its own way.
Most rifle actions that enter the market are either an innovative take on (or a downright copy of) the Remington 700 or the Mauser 98 — or a combination of the two.
The Havak's action is a different animal altogether and can't be inextricably linked to any one previous design. The Havak uses a four-lug bolt that locks up at the 3- and 9-o'clock positions so that they don't interrupt the feedramp at the 6-o'clock position. Unlike most multi-lug actions, the lugs on the Havak are big and beefy and appear to be plenty strong. The helical extraction cams are built into the bolt's locking lugs, providing a good deal of rearward force. The removable bolt head, which is made of tool steel and DLC-coated, attaches to the bolt body via two massive roll pins.
The boltface is recessed generously to support the case head, and an M16-type extractor and plunger ejector handle getting cases out of the receiver with ease. The bolt body is full diameter and has a deep groove milled into the left side that works as an anti-bind system in conjunction with the receiver-mounted boltstop. The result is a smooth bolt throw that runs straight back and forth with little or no wobble. The stainless-steel bolt body is spiral fluted, and the stub that the replaceable bolt handle threads into is homogeneous to the bolt and will never snap off.
The receiver itself, which is machined from pre-heat-treated stainless steel, is designed to fit on the Remington 700 short-action footprint and has an integral recoil lug. The round action uses a relatively small ejection port to maintain as much rigidity as possible, which is likely one of the factors that contributes to this rifle's accuracy.
A 20-MOA Picatinny rail comes standard and is securely attached to the receiver using an integral lug and five 8-32 hex screws. The boltstop is located at the 9-o'clock position, and the safety sits at the right side of the tang where it is easy to access.
Seekins Precision's own bottom metal is used to accept a detachable box magazine made by Accuracy International. The magazine fits nearly flush with the bottom of the stock, so it shouldn't be uncomfortable when slung. The bottom metal uses an ambidextrous magazine release button, which can be pushed to either side to release the magazine; it's easy to manipulate, especially when shooting prone from a bipod. Like a semiautomatic, the magazine's follower locks the bolt to the rear on an empty magazine.
The barrel on the Havak is stainless steel and is bead-blasted to match the finish of the action. The 24-inch barrel uses 5R rifling and is twisted at 1:8 inch to accommodate the long projectiles common with the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. Six deep spiral flutes run nearly the length of the barrel. They cut weight, provide additional surface area for heat dissipation, and look cool. The muzzle is threaded 5/8-24 for either a suppressor or a brake and comes fitted with a knurled thread protector. The paperwork for my SilencerCo Omega suppressor is trapped somewhere in the lumbering bureaucracy of the ATF's NFA branch, so I wasn't able to test it on this rifle.
The Havak's green stock is actually the McMillan Game Warden, a classic hunting stock combined with the vertical grip profile and butt of the A3 stock used on the USMC sniper rifle. The result is a rifle that is very comfortable to shoot from benchrest, prone, and other bipod-supported positions. Textured panels on the grip and forend provide a nonslip hold, and flush cups for QD sling mounts are located at the fore and aft ends of the rifle. The stock is fitted with two aluminum pillars to support the action, and glass bedding ensures consistent contact between the components. The barrel is completely free-floated forward of the receiver. I carried the rifle, sans sling, around the local hills to get a feel for the way it balanced and never found it to be a burden.
We mounted a Leica 2.4-16x56i Magnus — a scope we were extremely impressed with — and headed to the range with a selection of three 6.5 Creedmoor factory hunting loads. Despite shifting and gusting winds, accuracy was excellent from the start. Most three-shot groups hovered just above a half-inch, with the Hornady 140-grain A-Max load turning in the best group at 0.459 inch.
What was most impressive wasn't that the rifle shot exceptionally well with a single load; it shot all three loads with nearly the same degree of accuracy. I'm confident that on a calmer day I could have shot groups under a half-inch with every one of the loads.
Bench accuracy is fine, but this rifle is made for the field. I attached a Harris bipod using the stud on the forend and used a nylon buttpad to get a proper cheekweld for the 56mm objective scope's height. From the prone position, I set the Leica's illuminated dot at the top of a 325-yard Pepper Popper target and squeezed off three shots. The 9-o'clock full-value wind pushed the shots to the right edge of the target but all three were hits. I didn't measure the horizontally strung group, but you could cover it with your thumb. I kept this up from various positions until hitting the steel became boring.
The Timney trigger was set to break at 3½ pounds, but it's adjustable for user preference. Recoil was mild. The rifle fed, extracted, and ejected with 100-percent reliability. I found the way the rifle extracted/ejected to be very practical. When I cycled the bolt slowly during accuracy testing, the cases dropped out of the receiver. If I cycled the bolt rapidly, it ejected with authority and threw the cases a few feet to my right. This was the best of both worlds: reliable and positive ejection under field conditions and not having to chase brass across the range when I wasn't in a hurry.
The Seekins Precision Havak isn't a budget-priced rifle, but it isn't designed to be. This rifle is for hunters and shooters who are looking for top-tier components and innovative features and are willing to pay a bit of a premium for them. They won't be disappointed with the fit, finish, and performance of the Havak.