Frequently Asked Questions

Modern Hunter

-Can it be converted to .223?

No. This model can only use our uppers based on the .308 bolt face which is larger dimensionally than what a 223 would use and the magwell is considerably larger as well.
It is currently offered in .260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win.

We recently received a NON restricted classification and FRT of our Modern Varmint model, which is chambered in .223 that employs AR-15 STANAG style mags. We are currently taking orders for the first production run of these rifles.


-Why is the Modern Hunter non-restricted?

The proprietary design of the upper and lower does not permit either to be used with any AR-10 upper or lower. It has only a front pin for takedown on our lower which can only work with our upper receiver. It also can only be built with a Timney trigger pack utilizing proprietary mounting techniques, so no full auto components or other AR fire control components can be installed due to design.


-How much accuracy can I expect from my Modern Hunter?

These rifles are designed to be the most accurate semi-auto we could build. Every barrel sold with these rifles is a custom match grade barrel with a match grade chamber. We have many reports of a sub MOA groups with Federal Gold Medal Match ammo. With properly developed handloads, groups are improved and .5 MOA is achieveable.


-Should I put a 24” barrel on my Modern Hunter?

This rifle is based on a direct gas impingement design. This means that after the bullet has passed the gas port, there is a port for the pressure behind the bullet to bleed off into in order to cycle the rifle. So the speeds gained by a longer barrel in a bolt gun are not going to be the same as a gas operated gun. Significantly smaller gains in bullet velocity are seen with additional barrel length on the Modern Hunter. To keep its non-restricted status an 18.6” barrel is the shortest it can be.


-Why is there such a long wait to receive my Modern Hunter?

We are currently only building these fine firearms in small production runs and all are custom built to the clients specifications. Most of the furniture components are sourced from makers in the US of A.

From time of order to delivery to us can take upwards of 5 months. There is also assembly time and testing that we require to build your rifle. We are a small company with high quality standards. Great things take time and most would agree, this is a great thing!


The ATRS Modern Hunter: Made in Canada & As Good As That Sounds

November 3, 2015   Hunting

Rick at Alberta Tactical Rifle Services was kind enough to send one of his Modern Hunters over, the idea was I’d bring it on a Mountain Goat hunt I was guiding and get some pictures of the rifle with game beyond the basic. Sadly that wasn’t possible as the client fell very ill and had to be helicoptered out, rather nixing plans to use the rifle on mountain game, this didn’t however detract from my experience with the rifle. I’m a hunting nut, and of course a firearms nut, I dabble in everything from rare antiques and double rifles to, well, modern rifles. Somewhere in the history of sporting arms it very suddenly became distasteful to embrace improvements, I feel this had more to do with legislation and societal pressures creeping into our sport than actually arriving at any sort of a technology plateau. Turn of the century, and on for fifty years through WWI and WWII era and a bit more, there was no distinction made between a sporting rifle and a cutting edge military arm; all that mattered was function and quality. One must remember the great white hunters of Africa and India, such as Bell and Corbett went afield with what were the contemporary equivalents of today’s AR-10/15s… actually no… their Mauser based firearms were more advanced at the time than the sixty year old AR family is today. Westley Richards, Holland & Holland, Rigby and the other greats all tailored the most advanced military designs of the time to the sportsman’s purposes. I owned until recently a semi-auto C96 “Broomhandle” dating from 1896, an extremely advanced arm for the time naturally, as wild as a caseless ammunition HK… and they were marketed and customized by Westley Richards and others for well heeled gentlemen, including Winston Churchill who used his in Africa.

So when did we suddenly eschew military designs, even if they had merits, in favour of “classic choices”? I figure in the 60s and 70s when the ARs were becoming mainstream and commonly recognized arms of political aggression. The counter culture movement and villainization of the black rifle occurred through the Vietnam War and the civil protests, with these viewpoints trickling into even the most stalwart of the old school; plaid-clad hunters. Suddenly, showing up for a hunt with an AR-10 became inconceivable, branding its owner as a Rambo wannabe, or a range warrior out of place in the field. This is of course, absurd. There are a host of reasons why modern rifles make fantastic field guns, and the criticisms and prejudice look even more ridiculous beside a Browning BAR, Benelli, Remington, or any other hunting autoloader- even a semi-auto goose gun. A semi-auto dressed in wood is somehow more acceptable than the more functional synthetic, again ridiculously. For some time we seem to have lost the rational sense that a gun is a gun, and how it is dressed means little in the field, and in fact modern designs offer many merits in accessory availability, magazines, trigger groups, you name it. No more looking for a single set of bases for your sporting rifle when anything picatinny will work, offering thousands of different mounts and configurations.

Modularity, and being able to alter your rifle to the task are huge components of the modern design. Everything from grips, to hand guards, to optics and sights, to the entire barrel is easily and rapidly interchangeable on a modern rifle. Accuracy and reliability are generally exceptional, as the most modern techniques, concepts, and designs determined through decades of evolution are employed in manufacture. Now how about the clincher, when even my beloved Model 70 is made in Portugal, the Modern Hunter I’m dancing around in this introduction is made here. By Canadians, for Canadians, in the face of ever tightening restrictions. The ATRS Modern Hunter is the flag in the ground at the foot of our firearms hill- for the politicians to take our Winchesters they first have to attack the Modern Hunter, a point I’ve borrowed from a fellow named Clark. We all owe Rick and the ATRS crew a debt for manning that position, Rick didn’t need to build this rifle, he has a strong business based on bolt action long range precision rifles. As a smart business man he took a gamble, a gamble on future regulations and I know without asking him he also did it for the firearms community on principle. He, as the rest of us, was aware the regulations in place are absurd, unfair, and aren’t saving anyone or anything, unfairly keeping the Canadian firearms and hunting community in the past.

Well, Rick made a statement through his company’s machining and technical expertise, and I can tell you it is a hell of a statement. This won’t be a technical review of the Modern Hunter, those already exist, and well done to boot ( ). Instead I’ll lean on what I do and my understanding of firearms; hunting and field use. I’m an outfitter and guide on the North Coast of British Columbia, with a business based on coastal Grizzly Bear and Mountain Goat hunting. For this purpose I ordered a Ruger Gunsite Scout as a weatherproof knockabout rifle with a detachable magazine. The detachable magazine is an important tool for me, and the lack thereof my main misgiving with my “conventional” choices of double rifles and custom bolt actions. Reason being, as per our regulations in BC a magazine may not be loaded inside a firearm in any means of motorized conveyance, for me that is a light jet boat on the coastal rivers. Very frustrating when scouting for instance and hitting numerous sites a day, unloading a conventional bolt action and reloading every time you go in and out of the boat sand bar to sand bar. You may do better than I but I fumble and drop many a cartridge in the sand or river. A detachable box magazine clicking into place soon as you stand on the sand is a small pleasure I’m becoming extremely fond of.

Now it occurred to me, the ATRS Modern Hunter shared an awful lot with the little Ruger Scout. Both are available in .308, both are weatherproof, both use box magazines, however one shrinks to a smaller size than even my 16″ Ruger with the stock collapsed, for the penalty of a couple extra pounds of weight. As much as I appreciate the three position wing safety of my Rugers, Kimbers, and Winchesters there is no substitute for the modern, thumb activated switch / selector above the grip. It is as intuitive as a safety / selector gets, and there’s a reason essentially every modern design has used the design and placement. Now combine the aforementioned modularity of modern rifles… don’t like the grip shape? Change it. Want iron sights? Put them on the rail in 30 seconds. Need magazines? Shop a half dozen manufacturers. No matter what your heart believes about walnut and checkering, these are superb packages for field use… work guns, and as accurate as an off the shelf bolt action now thanks to ATRS and their Modern Hunter. Before the hunt I hit the range to sight in the package ATRS had sent, the rifle had a boresighted Nightforce on top. I was cautioned to only use match, FMJ, or robust polymer tipped ammunition and I halfway heeded the advice.

The only ammunition available locally was Winchester Deer Season XP 150 grain, a large tipped fairly new round at least to me, and Power Max bonded 150gr hollow points, a fairly open / large hollow point. I fired sixty rounds total, all flawless in function, and startlingly accurate, and to my surprise the tips and hollow points fed to the chamber with extremely little deformation (I play with a lot of match M14s and Garands that chew such bullets). The picture of the two rounds on their boxes is of rounds cycled through the action aggressively to determine how much damage they receive- nearly none. I fired off the hard case with the butt unsupported, and rather hastily as I was sighting in the rifle right before jumping on the Beaver floatplane for the lift to our alpine lakes. Still I managed 1″ 3 shot groups at 100 with little trouble and a warm barrel, the rifle liking the Power Max 150 grain best. On bags, and with a cool barrel and more time, I would expect the rifle to half that for 3 shot groups- this is the most accurate semi-auto I’ve ever fired, hands down. Nothing else has even been close. Being direct impingement, there are little to no gas system vibrations affecting the barrel. Some call direct impingement old school and dirty; I have to vehemently disagree. For accuracy, it is still be best system devised, the light tube transferring the bare minimum vibrations to the barrel, and the fully free floated barrel inside the encompassing handguards the system is typically mated with further ensures the barrel is left to do its work without outside interference. Compare that to the torquing, levering slam of a piston system and it is easy to see, at least in my eyes, why this is the most accurate semi I’ve had the pleasure of operating.

So, you have an agglomeration of superior ergonomics, modularity, and quality all made right here in Canada, and Non-Restricted. This is as real a hunting rifle as any Remington or Winchester, and it is as accurate to boot. And it stands as the very important sentry at the front line of our concern for the future of firearms here in Canada. It’s not if I’ll buy one from Rick, but when, and I suspect that should be fairly soon. Features and controls I should quickly run over, I haven’t gone in to depth as the other reviews have, and well everything is perfect. There is a left side, non-reciprocating charging handle that folds away, it will accept a gazillion AR system hand guards and rails, grips, stocks. It’s a rather simple affair to customize yours and be sure no other is like it. Ambi bolt release, with a button either side, conventional AR type selector perfectly placed, AR style mag release again perfectly placed. The receiver mating system ATRS devised, of a simple cross pin and a longitudinal centering pin at the rear of the receiver is ingenious. No slop, and recoil actual tightens the receiver mating as it pushes back on the tight fitting longitudinal pin. ATRS is offering carbon wrapped barrels to keep weight down, and while this model didn’t feature it, weight was perfectly in keeping with standard hunting rifles. No… I did not have my scale in the field, but again the other reviews will have this covered. In my safe’s future is a pencil or carbon barrel Modern Hunter I suspect, and I would urge you to put one in yours. They are available in the majority of the .308 case family, tailor it to your purposes from gophers to Moose. It’s an excellent rifle well worth its price of approximately $3,500 and up depending on options, and being modular and modern you can always outfit your base model with standard off the shelf accessories for a long term evolution plan.

Would I recommend this to a friend? A resounding yes.







Edward Osborne

November 1, 2014

The Modern Hunter is an exceptional rifle from the precision gun shop Alberta Tactical Rifle Supply. Based in Calgary, ATRS started in 1997 and has built a business producing premium AR-15s and long range bolt guns. In 2012, they started tinkering with the idea of designing a direct impingement semi-auto rifle that used features from both their business lines. Three years later, after a variety of concepts and prototypes, they settled on the Modern Hunter.

While at first glance it may well look like an AR-10, but the Modern Hunter has achieved a non-restricted status from the RCMP inspection lab. It is a completely unique rifle without any lineage or compatibility to AR-15 uppers and lowers.

In Canada, all AR-15s are restricted by name. Regardless of barrel length, regardless of name or designation. So any gun that separates into an upper and lower and can be attached to an AR-15 upper or lower is listed as a variant.  The RCMP test lab has a whole range of variables they use to determine a firearm’s classification, but the upper and lower problem is important here specifically. If either component can be convinced or forced to fit the opposite AR-15 component, it will be likely be classified as an AR-15.

Yes, the Modern Hunter shares some design concepts and even some components with the AR , but one could easily argue that it also shares concepts with the M1 Garand (one bullet after another) and even more with the Brown Bess Musket (making a small piece of lead go very fast in one direction.) The point being that describing one gun as similar to another is a rabbit hole that can easily go in circles. It’s part of the issue we face when Canadian law talks about things like “variants” but fails to define them.

This rifle is magazine fed, uses the direct impingement gas system, and features a rotating locking bolt that recoils on a buffer and spring system. If you described that to a knowledgeable American shooter they’d say you’re talking about an AR-15.

But the Modern Hunter differs from the AR in some key ways. A side-folding charging handle, a proprietary gas block, and a proprietary bolt all integrate into the unique upper and lower system that separates the Modern Hunter from conventional AR-15s.

All the modern accouterments you’d expect from a 21st century rifle are available: ambidextrous bolt and magazine releases, non-reciprocating charging handle, modularity for hand-guards, muzzle-devices, stocks, grips, and optics.

The Modern Hunter is a semi-custom rifle. There isn’t a single style of factory model rolling off the production line, but a selection of different configurations being offered. ATRS offers a wide variety of barrels and furniture to assemble a number of unique builds.

One of the featured options is the Proof Research Carbon Fiber Barrel that replaces ATRS’s match stainless barrel. Proof Research takes a 416R stainless steel barrel blank, then dramatically reduces the profile between the muzzle and the chamber to form an axle shaped length with only a small portion of full profile barrel at each end. Then they wrap the slimmed down center length in a proprietary carbon fiber until its flush with the original profile. The carbon fiber is much lighter than the steel its replacing, and its better at dissipating heat too. This labour intensive process means that the barrels are only offered in 18.6″ and 20″ lengths, while the regular stainless barrels can also be had in 22″ and 24″ lengths with a variety of profiles.

Using the lightest parts configuration, and the 18.6″ carbon fiber barrel, ATRS produced a bare rifle that is just over 8lbs. The heaviest configuration with an extended target barrel and precision stock comes in at 12lbs.

My review rifle had a 20″ stainless barrel, a JP Enterprises hand-guard, a Magpul PRS adjustable stock, an Atlas bipod, and a hefty Nightforce 5-20×50 on top. On the scale it weighed in at a full 14.5lbs. Maybe heavy for an AR, but still manageable for a precision semi-auto rifle.

In field conditions I was shooting groups just under 2MOA with Privi Partisan and Federal Gold Medal, with my best 5 shot group coming from Fiocchi 180grain Exacta at 1.28 MOA. I am confident that an established reloader shooting from bench rest could produce sub-MOA groups after working up a load.

It was Col. Townsend Whelen who first said “only accurate rifles are interesting” and Rick Timmins, the owner and designer at Alberta Tactical Rifle, certainly follows that school of thought. The Canadian market has a number of non-restricted rifles in both .223 and .308 that will easily manage battle rifle accuracy of 2-4 MOA. But rifles that can produce sub-MOA groups out of the box are generally bolt actions, or a restricted AR-15 variant like the SR-25 or MR308. The Modern Hunter offers the best of both worlds. Freedom to own and carry, semi-auto capability, and the accuracy potential to reach out. Parts compatibility is an added bonus. This does come with a premium price-tag. ATRS is a small shop, who’s built their business on producing high end rifles. So the basic configuration of the Modern Hunter starts at $3100, my dream build would cost me $3964, and the maxed out kitchen-sink configuration is $4974 before taxes.

The first run of 75 rifles have already been sold, and are slated to arrive in their owners hands in the first quarter of 2015.  A second and third batch are currently planned for summer and fall, but as a small shop ATRS is currently aiming for under 100 rifles in each production cycle.

The rifle is built around the .308 cartridge, and the vast majority of the pre-ordered rifles are chambered in the NATO standard. But ATRS does offer some more specialized caliber options based on the same bolt. Shooters can request their Modern Hunter be built in .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmore, 260 Rem, 7mm-08, or .338 Federal.

If you’re looking for chambering closer to the classic AR-15, then you’ll have to wait for the next evolution of the platform. ATRS has confirmed they are already planning a Modern Varminter and a Modern Magnum. Between their history with .223 AR-15 rifles and having already produced the Modern Hunter, a small caliber variant should be a logical step. Likely the longest part of that process will be the RCMP inspection lab’s process of FRT classification. The Modern Magnum however will require up scaling of all their components, and could be another 3 years or more in the making. ATRS builds bolt guns in .50BMG, .408 Cheytac and .338 Lapua, but the Modern Magnum will be a first for them.

Between the visual similarity to an AR-15, and the “no need to register” non-restricted status, the Modern Hunter runs the risk of being misidentified by people who don’t know (or think they know) Canadian firearms law. I have an envelope of paperwork I take with me shooting to explain transport regulations, magazine capacity rulings, and other commonly misunderstood laws. For the Modern Hunter I carried a 7 page inspection report from the RCMP Senior Firearms Technologist to make sure no one I met threw a fit. ATRS plans to ship each rifle with an explanation package that owners can laminate and carry with them to educate Law Enforcement Officers or other shooters.

But how exactly did this rifle qualify as non-restricted? The inspection report is surprisingly detailed.

The RCMP compared the Modern Hunter to an early model AR-10, and a late model Armalite AR-10, and noted where they are similar and where they differ.

The Modern Hunter uses an AR-10 modular trigger pack produced by Timney Triggers. This drop in system means that the Modern Hunter does not have a trigger pin hole in the receiver.

The RCMP notes that the Modern Hunter shares things like the bolt release, magazine release, safety selector, and recoil buffer system. But those things aren’t the deciding factor: uppers and lowers are.

Rather than using an AR-15 hinged design, the Modern Hunter upper mates to a tapered trunnion inside the lower receiver. The upper slides onto the trunnion, and a cross pin up front holds it in place. So rather than punching pins and the upper lifting free, the Modern Hunter requires you to pop the front pin, break the suction on the trunnion, and slide the upper forward and up. It takes a little getting used to, but is still ultimately a quick and easy take down process.

This means you no longer get the speedy bolt access by punching the rear pin of an AR-15 and flipping it forward, but it also means that no AR upper or lower can mate with the Modern Hunter. The placement of the trunnion inside the Modern Hunter lower will block the rear take-down lug of an AR-15 upper.

The sloping profile of the receivers also means that the Modern Hunter upper cannot fit onto an AR-15 lower. This saves it from the “guilt by association” fate visited on guns like the Akdal MKA1919, a gas operated shotgun that shares no AR parts, but can be forced to fit onto an AR-15 lower.

The Modern Hunter uses SR-25 pattern mags, and ships with a Magpul .308 Pmag. Theoretically it is also compatible with the XCR-M pistol magazines imported by Wolverine Supplies. ATRS has no plans to produce a pistol variant of their own. In fact, they are explicitly shunning short barrels and build-it-at-home parts kits to ensure that no restricted variant ever needs needs to be registered with the RCMP.

It is not some miraculous fluke that this rifle meets the non-restricted requirements. The Modern Hunter is an example of exquisite design carefully tailored to Canadian requirements, changing the way we think about black rifles and variants. For a shop like Alberta Tactical Rifle to produce an explicitly Canadian rifle is exceptionally rewarding, and highlights the dedication of our domestic firearms industry.


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