FN A1a SPR 308 Police Sniper Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 7th, 2010




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For the past few days, I have been shooting a truly remarkable rifle. Right now in the United States, we are greatly blessed with a fine variety of exceptionally accurate sniper-type rifles. Some prefer the term “designated marksman” or “tactical” for such rifles, but “sniper” is a very accurate term for the style of rifle and those who use it, so we will just call it such. The term “tactical” is way overused, and today pretty much refers to any weapon that looks black and sinister, and has mostly become a marketing term. Anyway, there is a wide selection of sniper rifles available today, and most are very accurate. However, mechanical accuracy alone does not define a proper sniper rifle. The weapon must also be user-friendly. In other words, it must be designed to operate smoothly, reliably, and be comfortable to shoot, so that the shooter can use the full potential built into the rifle. This new A1a SPR rifle from FNH is built to shoot.

With the A1a SPR (Special Police Rifle), FN spared no expense in choosing the best components, and it shows in both the quality and the price of this rifle. It is by no means excessively expensive when compared with the custom and semi-custom sniper rifles on the market today, but with an MSRP of $2249 US as of this writing, it is not something that everyone at the local range will be shooting. However, for a law enforcement agency or an individual shooter who wants as near perfect of a bolt action sniper rifle as can be purchased today, this A1a SPR is a very good value. From my thus far limited experience with this rifle, it just might be the ideal police sniper rifle.

Starting with a forged steel action that is very much like the legendary pre-1964 Winchester Model 70, FN added a very stiff, heavy, fluted match-grade barrel. The hammer forged barrel is rifled one turn in twelve inches, is chrome lined, and wears a target crown. The barrel diameter measures 1.14 inch just forward of the receiver and .966 inch at the muzzle, and has six flutes to reduce the weight a bit without sacrificing rigidity. The barrel in the A1a measures twenty inches in length. The action has the famous huge claw extractor and fixed-blade ejector for reliability, and it has functioned perfectly throughout my shooting tests, feeding smoothly from the four-shot detachable box magazine. Extraction has also been positive and flawless. The very crisp trigger releases cleanly with three pounds, nine ounces of pressure. While the trigger is adjustable, FNH has applied a hardened glue of some type over the mechanism to discourage fiddling with the trigger pull. No problem , as the trigger feels really good to me as delivered.

Mounted atop the receiver, the rifle comes equipped with a 1913 Picatinny rail which has twenty minutes of elevation built in for long range shooting. This is the perfect scope base for such a rifle, and I am glad that it is included in the package. The barreled action is mounted into a McMillan fiberglass stock with two bolts through the all-steel one-piece magazine floorplate/trigger guard. The McMillan stock is an excellent choice, and is heavily textured for a positive grip. It is matte black, and the finish compliments the matte black steel of the barreled action and bottom metal. The stock has a high comb for scope use, and a very comfortable pistol grip, which has ambidextrous palm swells. There are sling swivel studs fore and aft, and an extra one on the forend for attaching a bipod. The sock wears a thick synthetic rubber butt pad that is non-slip and very comfortable on the shoulder. The barrel is free-floated it entire length within the generous barrel channel.

For accuracy testing, I mounted my “mule’ scope atop the Picatinny rail using a one-piece ArmaLite mount. I call this Leupold my mule because it is the scope of choice for me when I have to prove or disprove the accuracy of a rifle. I trust this scope completely, as it has served me well on dozens of rifles, and has never let me down. The optics are very clear, making it easy on the eyes for long shooting sessions. It is a Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power, and the target resolution from twenty-five yards on out to several hundred is very good. I gathered up four different types of 308 Winchester ammunition that has proven to be very accurate in the past, along with a quantity of Lake City military ball for getting to know the rifle before settling down for serious accuracy testing. I only had my one hundred yard range for accuracy testing, but that range is far enough to determine if the rifle will be an accurate shooter, and this A1a SPR proved to be a very accurate shooter indeed. Hopefully, I can hang onto this rifle long enough for some long range shooting at the Whittington Center in early June. I would love to try this SPR out to at least 600 yards, and maybe do some plinking out past 1000 yards.

As can be seen in the pictures, this rifle will shoot. Buffalo Bore Sniper ammo turned in the best performance, consistently shooting one-quarter inch groups at 100 yards, with Federal Gold Medal Match doing almost as well. FNH promises one minute of angle accuracy with these rifles, but they are being modest. If they all shoot like this one, they could easily cut that promised group size in half. I want to emphasize that it is not only the mechanical accuracy built into this rifle that makes it so sweet, but it is the ease at which a shooter can take full advantage of that accuracy that makes this rifle stand above many of its competitors. The rifle just has a good, comfortable feel to it. It is easy to sit behind at the bench or to lie behind in the prone position. The test gun weighed in at ten pounds, two ounces empty, which is plenty of weight to soak up the recoil of the 308 Winchester cartridge. Combined with that wonderful McMillan stock, the heft makes the rifle very easy on the shoulder. There is a discrepancy in the weight of this rifle on the FNH USA website. One chart lists the weight at 11.3 pounds, and another lists it at 12 pounds, 6 ounces, but I weighed this rifle repeatedly, and ten pounds, two ounces was what it weighed consistently on my scale. I verified the accuracy of my scale with a test weight just to be sure.

The FN A1a SPR is a fine rifle, well-suited for police or military sniper work, as well as for any shooter who just wants a highly accurate precision rifle, built right, and built in the USA.

Check out this and other FNH products online at www.fnhusa.com.

For a closer look at the entire line of Leupold optics, go to www.leupold.com.

For the location of an FNH dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the A1a SPR online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order the very accurate Buffalo Bore Sniper ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com.

Jeff Quinn

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:




McMillan stock.





Leupold Mark 4 scope.







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Click pictures for a larger version.


FN A1a SPR Police Sniper Rifle.



Simple, reliable trigger.



Massive integral recoil lug.





Heavy chrome-lined fluted barrel.



All-steel, one-piece trigger guard / magazine well.



1913 Picatinny rail.



Three-position safety.



Four-shot detachable box magazine.



Massive claw extractor enables controlled-round feeding for reliability.



Bolt release.



This FN rifle is one of the most accurate rifles Jeff has ever fired.