For quite some time I’ve been impressed with the overall quality, fit and finish and the accuracy of rifles from PGWDTI out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Each of the various PGW Coyote rifles I’ve owned – both the McMillian A5 and Aluminum folder versions – were/are serious half-moa capable as was a very fine F-Class rifle I’d previously owned that was built on an early PGW reeiver. This history with PGW meant that when I found myself able to upgrade my .338 Lapua, the PGW Timberwolf rifle most certainly made my short-list of potential replacements for the Savage 110BA that I’d decided to re-home.
Of course, PGW are not the only folks who make fine guns and readers may be interested to know what other .338LM rifles made my short-list for consideration:
Made in Finland the SAKO TRG 42 – Having owned two TRG 22’s I’ve nothing but compliments to make about the quality of SAKO rifles. The TRG’s I’ve owned were awesomely accurate and very well made. The only criticism one often hears is that the cost of TRG accessories seems to be expensive. Outside of PGW, this was the strongest contender for my money;
Made in Great Britain the Accuracy International – As I’m a Brit by birth, the ‘Old County’ offering has a real, emotional, appeal to me but one doesn’t usually buy such an expensive piece of gear on emotions alone. Fortunately AI can rely upon a reputation of extreme ruggedness and accuracy rather than any emotional draw to sell its rifles and no serious, informed, shooter could argue that AI are not amongst the very top-tier of firearms. I’ve been fortunate enough to handle and spend sometime behind the wheel of an AI and the word ‘nice’ would be an understatement.
Made in the USA the Barrett 98B – never owned one nor, indeed, ever shot one – hell, come to think of it I don’t even thing I’ve seen one – the Barrett made the list on looks and reputation alone.
Each of the rifles under consideration was available from reputable dealers in Canada and, while none of them are cheap, they are priced comparably.
Why factory ? Well, while I have a number of nice customs – ATRS, Tac Ord, North Shore Barrels and others have all made fine, very fine, rifles for me – I chose to go factory as, quite frankly, at this level of expense I feel the premium brands hold value better than customs and, while no-one plans to quickly resell, it is nice to know there is some liquidity and value retention to purchases. I expect opinions to differ on this subject and I’m just sharing mine.
So why the PGW Timberwolf ? It honestly came down to three things; firstly, I really do like the way each of my Coyote’s have shot and at the end of the day it is very hard to argue with a track record of accuracy. Secondly, while the other rifles are backed by quality Canadian distributors the PGW’s are made here in Canada and so it ought to be the case that parts and service should be easier and, lastly, the level of service I’ve previously received from PGW cannot be bettered. No matter what I’ve asked about or been interested in, the service from Ross has been simply first-class and service goes a long, long way with me.
Decision made to buy PGW the rest was the easy part. I’d previously decided that for me the PGW folder was the better option that the excellent McMIllan A5 and so the only other thing to decide was the colour and I chose desert tan. All decisions made, a telephone call to Ross and a Timberwolf was on the way to me.
What do I think ? Read on :-
The Packaging and Delivery ? – I know some people don’t really care whether it arrives in a box or case or whatever and that packaging isn’t important but it is for me – no matter what I’m buying – and if someone cares enough to properly pack something up then I draw a pretty positive conclusion. My new PGW arrived in a well packaged and sturdy box via courier with signature required.
What Comes With The Rifle ? – My rifle came with 2 magazines, muzzle brake, cleaning rod, a Harris Bipod w/Podlock and an owners manual. The rifle came properly fitted into a really nice Pelican case that has spare compartments that allow for the storage of additional magazines, the muzzle brake and ( I suppose ) the optional suppressor that sensible, non-paranoid, countries allow people to attach to rifles to moderate the sound.
Fit and Finish ? – Here is where I am notoriously picky; I go over things carefully and my tolerance for uneven finish or other poor work is on a sliding scale in accordance with what I paid. In my opinion rifles in this price range better be perfect or darn close to it (incidentally, readers who may think I am a fanboy may recall the picaune criticism I leveled at PGW over the loose magazines on my first Coyote) and I am very pleased to be able to report that the Timberwolf finish is flawless with only some marks on the magazine that look to be from insertion and re-insertion which was likely during barrel break in.
Ergonomics ? – Readers may want to look at my previous reviews on the Coyotes for more detailed information on this subject but suffice to say that I find that the PGW folder is a really good fit for me – the folder locks up tight and the cheekpiece is height adjustable and once set won’t move on you. The fold is to the right which allows for a flatter storage than the left ( which, oddly, I used to prefer ). Spacers allow for a LOP adjustment and the pistol grip is a AR style that can – should one wish – be changed out for the grip of choice. One caveat that I will mention about the PGW folder is this: using bean bags or similar rear support the folder works perfectly but if you are a ‘bunny ear’ rear bag user then the A5 will work better for you.
Operation ? PGW rifles use a push feed system with a 90 degree rotation and oversize bolt knob. The safety is of the Winchester Model 70 three-position wing type with middle ‘safe’ position and the barrel is a free-floating Krieger with a 1:10 twist with the helical pattern fluting which gives this rifle (and the Coyote) such a distinctive appearance.
As with every PGW I’ve handled, the bolt is ultra smooth and closes up like the proverbial bank vault. Anyone who thinks that a tuned Remington will be just as nice is, quite simply, wrong – I have two beautiful customs built on tuned 700 actions and while both are half-minute guns neither is as smooth as the action made by PGW. Trigger operation is crisp and clean but it isn’t as light as one would expect on a custom range rifle – this is not surprising when you appreciate that PGW builds rifles that are designed for real world service not just range work. I’ve not once experienced a problem with my Coyote trigger and haven’t felt the need to replace it so I am unlikely to do anything with the trigger supplied on my Timberwolf.
The magazines supplied by PGW are proprietary and while I’ve sometimes wished they were AICS ones, the PGW mags are great quality, durable as hell and I’ve never had one fail. Capacity of the Timberwolf magazines is 5.
Accuracy ? While my Timberwolf came with a Harris bipod I decided to change it out for the LRA – now there is nothing wrong with Harris which is light and easy to deploy but for me it doesn’t compare to the LRA for stability so that’s what I attached. Given that I have S+B and NF amongst my scopes it may come as a surprise that for the Timberwolf I chose to mount the Bushnell Tactical DMR 34mm tubed 3.5-21×56 FFP scope. I’ve traditionally been a high magnification SFP scope user but last year started to experiment with FFP and the Elite DMR is a very good scope for the money and seems well suited to what I want to use the Timberwolf for.
So, how did it shoot – well, today was a zeroing and function testing day with all shooting done from either prone or redneck prone ( back of pick up ) but after getting my zeros and confirming that everything worked perfectly,I did a small amount of shooting for groups and the Timberwolf was easily able to print just outside an inch at 200m which is half-MOA territory and accuracy that exceeded my expectations for today as the ammo used was made up for my previous rifle chambered in this calibre.
Overall if you are looking for a .338LM that’s built like a tank and shoots like a target rifle then the Timberwolf should make your shortlist.