By Bruce Potts
Friday, 14 September 2007
RWS Titan 3 rifle review: Bruce Potts admires the overall look of the Titan 3, which has a great trigger and fine accuracy, as well as the option of having the muzzle screw cut for a sound moderator.
RWS is more commonly associated with premium ammunition supplies, but it makes a nice sporting rifle in the guise of the Titan 3. This is a synthetic-stocked stainless steel rifle designed for fox or deer, depending on calibre, and offers the shooter good build-quality with a quick-change barrel facility. The finish is designed to repel the elements and its ever-popular stainless steel metalwork is complemented by the black, textured, synthetic stock. Importers Ruag can offer any shooter a complete package the test rifle was scoped with a Night Force NXS sight and supplied with the excellent Norma ammunition.
The overall size of the action, or receiver, is suitably large, as the RWS Titan uses a common long-action specification so as to accommodate any cartridge's overall length, rather like the Tikka T3. The ejection port is 3.25in long and this makes for a long bolt operation on the smaller calibres, such as the .223 on test, but this seems to be the way manufacturers are going these days. The receiver is actually a well-crafted piece of aluminium alloy, 8.75in long, with a satin sheen to the surface. It certainly saves on overall weight and poses no problems with strength, as the bolt locks securely, directly into the back of the barrel, thereby alleviating any stress. The receiver at the bottom front section also has a split clamping system, which retains the barrel shank and facilitates a quick change of the barrel. It is securely retained by a lug and twin securing screws, thus allowing a degree of flexibility with regard to calibre choice.
The bolt is large and constructed of one piece; it is well machined to fit the receiver, achieving very smooth operation. There are three locking lugs up front that fit directly into the barrel recess and allow a short bolt-lift to disengage. This further helps a speedy and smooth bolt travel, aided by a nicely sized bolt handle, which is angled for maximum comfort.
Extraction is achieved by means of a large side-mounted and recessed claw, then a cartridge is ejected, with some force, by the plunger-type ejector sited in the face of the bolt. At the rear is a cocking indicator that protrudes slightly, giving a visible and tactile indication that the rifle is cocked, further emphasised by a red dot on the top. There are no scope rails or dovetails, but it is drilled and tapped for scope bases. Ruag supplied a set of Leupold quick-release units that complement the rifle's look and quick barrel change facility.
Single length magazine
The Titan possesses a single-action length, so it comes as no surprise that the magazine only comes in one length: large. This is no problem smaller and intermediate cartridges are properly supported by the use of a filler block. The magazine is of a detachable variety and the release catch consists of two side-mounted plungers with grooved exterior, which, when pressed in unison, pop the magazine out. It has enough force to clear the plastic magazine housing without fumbling. Capacity is three rounds in .223, though a five-shot version is also available. It's a well-made magazine with stainless wall construction and alloy follower, and a plastic rustproof base that feels solid and worked perfectly on test.
Triple setting safety
The safety catch is located in the best place: right where the thumb of either right- or left-handed shooters sits. It's a sliding affair sited in the tang at the top of the pistol grip. It has a three-way operation: forward, and the Titan is ready to fire, with a red dot exposed as further indication; middle, allows bolt operation, but the trigger is safe; back, and the bolt and trigger are locked and safe, allowing flexibility in settings to accommodate any shooter's preference. It's also quiet in operation, which is always handy.
The trigger is a great unit. It has no set trigger mode, as so many other Continental rifles do. The trigger broke cleanly at 2.75lb, which is good, and though you can adjust to your own settings, there is really no need. The thin, smooth-surfaced trigger-blade has a single-stage operation that I like, and the crisp let-off and fast lock-time ensures a better-placed shot.
Barrel and moderator muzzle
Made from stainless steel with quite a brightly polished surface, the barrel contour is sporter- rather than varmint-profiled. The outside diameter at the receiver is 1.14in, tapering down to 0.598in diameter at the muzzle. With a 22in barrel, the Titan has a sleek and light yet highly pointable feel to it, ideally suited to stalking or fox shooting. The barrel is easily removed from the action and has a close fit, slide-in union with the receiver, but the stock has to be removed to access the securing screws. As long as you match the calibre to the bolt there is no need to change this.
A great feature and something that all sporting rifles destined for the UK should have is a screw-cut muzzle to accept a sound moderator of some sort. RWS offers this for an extra £29 and it comes with a ½in UNF thread and complementary thread protector finished to the same standard as the barrel surface, so that it is nearly invisible. This feature alone makes the Titan a great buy, as it cuts out all the hassle of having a new rifle thread cut and proofed after purchase. I use moderators on nearly all my rifles, so, for me, the Titan makes for a complete, practical and ready-to-go rifle.
Stock and swivel studs
Whereas the rest of the Titan was a delight, the stock did not reflect the same quality. It's a hard, black, plastic-moulded unit with pressed chequering at the fore-end and a pistol grip. It is nicely contoured, ambidextrous and very slim in the fore-end section, and has no cheekpiece to the butt section. There are quick-detachable swivel studs fitted as standard and a thin, black, ½in rubber recoil pad and insert, while a Titan logo on the base of the pistol grip completes the look. The bedding is fine, with the large recoil lug, which is actually the barrel clamp protruding assembly, fitting into a moulded recess in the stock.
The thin and almost hollow fore-end lacks rigidity, however, and is easily twisted, which is not conducive to good group sizes. The trigger-guard is actually a one-piece plastic moulding, which forms part of the magazine well and retains the magazine release buttons. It's not my favourite assembly material for a rifle, but it is corrosion proof.
Taking a field test
Ruag supplied the Titan with Norma ammunition and fitted an excellent Night Force NXS scope on the Leupold mounts. All told, the rifle weighed more than 9lb. It was great to handle with the scope and stainless and black stock all complementing each other. I fitted many moderators but settled for a new muzzle-mounted PES 38mm design with new Mil Spec finish. You have to watch the extra weight on the muzzle with any moderator. Though the Titan has a free-floating barrel, the extra weight made the clearance between the barrel and stock minimal. This was further reduced when a bipod was fitted. The sling swivel to attach the bipod is very close to the end of the stock. With the bipod fitted, the hollow fore-end pushes upwards, causing contact to the barrel and inconsistent shots to occur. The remedy is to shave a bit out of the fore-end tip or site the swivel stud further back.
I took up a suitable hold for the accuracy test with the Norma ammunition, and Remington, Federal, Winchester and some reloads just for good measure. The trigger allowed predictably precise let off and the Titan turned in some great groups. I stuck to three-shot groups, it being a sporter weight barrel, and the best accuracy was achieved with the reloads of 24.25 grains of Varget powder under a 55-grain Nosler ballistic Tip bullet with a nice cluster of 0.45in at 100 yards.
The factory fodder shot groups in the 0.75in to just under 1in mark, which is impressive for a sporting rifle configuration. Actually the Norma 40-grain ballistic Tip ammunition had several groups at 0.5in at 100 yards, which was very impressive and would make a super fox round. With this level of accuracy, foxes at 200 yards and corvids beyond that distance were no problem. The Night Force scope (also distributed by Ruag) offers great light gathering and precision optics.As a complete package with threaded muzzle and synthetic materials, the Titan is robust and well assembled. Accuracy was impressive, despite the flimsy fore-end. At £580 it is a hard-working accurate rifle with a great trigger and barrel change facility should you require it.
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