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Broadsword takes a look at a short but stylish all-rounder that can take on almost any shooting opportunity
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Bavaria-based Unique Alpine’s rifles are spilt into three main categories – target, hunting and adventure. The UPG and TPG are more tactical-biased rifles and fit the target category. The JPR-1 actioned rifles come in a variety of guises and cover the remaining categories depending on stock type, barrel length, etc. The JPR-1 range is really classified as a hybrid rifle as it can be used for more than one shooting application – and hence their appeal. The only exception is the Europa, which is a classic walnutstocked stalking rifle.
This Nordland Scout model has the GRS Berserk stock and as it name suggests is the shorter – or Scout – version of the Nordland rifle. This is probably the most practical of all the Unique Alpine range as it a very compact and rugged rifle with a short barrel and extended Picatinny rail that lends itself to a diverse range of shooting applications. Regardless of model, Unique Alpine rifles are all highly practical all-rounders, with key features being the controlled-feed bolt, controlled ejection and three-position safety, which is silent and positive. All Unique Alpines shoot below MOA at 100yd with proper factory loads and less with reloads.
The most striking feature of this model is the GRS Berserk stock, with extended Picatinny scope rail and stubby 16.5" .308 Win barrel. It looks really purposeful. It is heavy at 4.31kg, but that weight is so well distributed that it handles like a rifle a lot lighter.
The Picatinny rail is in fact in two halves. The first 6.5" attaches to the action, with a further 10.75" length extending over the barrel. This attaches around the barrel to secure to the forward section of the stock and thus allows the barrel to free float at all times to ensure best accuracy potential. This makes it great for longer varmint scopes or tactical style optics, where a forward mounted NV or thermal device can be readily attached and aligned.
The barrel itself is really well finished with a super tough and shine-free nitride-coated surface that is highly scratch resistant and almost oblivious to the British weather.
I really like the short barrel on this Scout model, but you can choose 20", 24" or 26" barrels as well. Even with a sound moderator fitted you can manoeuvre it easily in dense woodland. Being a .308 Win, having it this short does not adversely affect the ballistics too much. I run many 16" or even a 14.5" .308’s just fine. Underneath the nitrided surface is a match-grade stainless steel barrel with six grooves and a 1 in 10" rifling twist rate, ideal for the most popular .30 cal bullet weights.
You have a very good barrel profile that is not quite a varmint but more a heavy hunter type, with a straight taper ending in a 0.8" diameter muzzle that is 5/8x24 UNEF threaded and an 11° match muzzle crown for precise bullet exit from the rifling. Looking down the bore scope shows very few tooling marks, and although not stated as a honed barrel it looks very clean and concentric.
The JPR-1 action also has a tough outer finish and so does the bolt itself. This time it’s a subtle DCL coating to repel day-to-day rough handling and moisture. It’s quite a long action at 8.5" and you have a large ejection port, 3.25" long and 1" high for good cartridge ejection and handling.
I like the dog-leg bolt handle and rounded ball end that does not snag clothing and is very fast and sure to manoeuvre. It’s a heavy bolt, at 0.395kg, and you must retract it fully to engage the spur-type ejector that protrudes through the bolt face to hit the rim of the spent cartridge.
A currently very popular three-lug bolt-head system ensures a fast and low bolt lift while still engaging the action abutments very squarely and securely. The JPR-1 uses the timehonoured, controlled-round feed system, so one of the three locking lugs is larger to form part of the wraparound feed mechanism. This extended lug and valance piece, combined with the oversized extractor claw, ensures the cartridge is pushed under the extractor claw during feeding and held during the feeding process for total reliability. Even tough or sticky reloads are no match for the Unique Alpine, as an in-built primary extraction feature ensures the case is released from the chamber during the unlocking movement of the bolt.
Safety-wise the rifle uses a boltshroud mounted three-point system of the wing operational type. It’s not my favourite design, but it is smooth and quiet to use. Forward is fire, midpoint is safe with the bolt still operating, and fully rearward results in a locked bolt and safety. The trigger can be set at different positions on its sliding mount and being a match unit can be adjusted to a lightweight setting – so the good safety system is welcome. It’s a short, two-stage unit with a light first pull to a distinct stop and then a very precise instant sear release at 1.8oz on test. It’s adjustable from 1.9-5.5lb and can be safely dry fired for practice.
The Nordland uses the universal AICS magazine system, so there are a good number of aftermarket magazines that fit. However, it comes with a 10-shot mag with a staggered loading system but single feed, made from steel with a polymer base. The mag release is a bit of a pain as it is sited in the trigger guard itself and it’s a bit awkward to release the mag quickly. An extended external catch would be better in my view. Finally, that highly practical stock.
The GRS system is usually made of laminate wood, but this Berserk model is made from very dense tan-coloured polymer. I really like the colour combination set against the metalwork. It’s also a very stable platform for the action to bed into, which takes the form of epoxy bedding to the front and rear stock screw areas, enhanced with large polymer blocks. The front section is V-shaped and has an additional steel recoil lug for a really solid union between action and stock.
The forend has a gently rolled edge with a nice grippy rubber insert that is lightly stippled, as is the pistol grip, which aids in assured control of the rifle. The pistol grip is quite vertical and comfortable, with a generous supportive thumb shelf and scalloped palm area for a good, firm grip. An under hook is cut into the stock for prone work and the supporting hand when shooting off a bench or bipod.
The best features are the elevating cheekpiece, which uses a single push button to raise the 4.5" cheekpiece an extra 1.0" on three pillars for solid positioning. The same is true of the rubber recoil pad that slides the pad in and out to adjust overall length from 36.25" to 37.50" – again on three aluminium pillars. You also get two quick-detach swivel attachments for alternative sling deployment as only one quick-detach stud is fitted to the forend, presumably for bipod use.
I fitted a very nice Kahles K6-24x illuminated scope and Evolve sound moderator to the Nordland Scout.
Being a semi-tactical/short ‘adventure’ rifle as Unique Alpine call it, I chose to shoot some game and target loads to see what diet best suited this Nordland.
The award for best factory went to the Hornady SST 150gr loads, which even in the short 16.5" barrel achieved 2707fps/2441ft-lb and 0.75" groups at 100yd.
One of my favourites – the Sako 123gr GameHeads – shot 2731fps and 2038ft-lb with 0.95" groups. Some Remington 168gr Match cruised along at 2498fps for 2328ft-lb and solid 1" groups, and RWS DK 165gr shot 2508fps/2305ft-lb and just over the 1" mark.
It did not like the new Winchester Copper Impact lead-free 150gr load, which shot 2563fps and 2189ft-lb with 1.5" groups.
Reloads are where it is for me, so I split things up into light and heavier bullets, with some subsonic loads thrown in for good measure.
As you can see from the results, this Unique Alpine shoots very well on paper and going a bit faster on the burn rate of the powder helped increase velocities in the short barrel. It handles really well even fully loaded with the big Kahles and Evolve mod. Shooting offhand at steel targets was no real issue due to the welldistributed weight, and I would use this gun for stalking or sitting and waiting for deer or foxes to emerge on an open field.
I did experience some issues with ejection; you need to use the full length of bolt travel to eject the cases, otherwise the ejector spur only touches the back of the spent case without flicking it out.
I really liked the laminate stock version of the Kodiak Scout, but those shooters wanting more adjustment will appreciate the GRS Berserk polymer stock. It makes a tough, highly portable rifle with a myriad of uses and great looks; a do-anything, goanywhere type of gun. With the ejection sorted and the mag release moved it would be even better.
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