Paul Markel steps into the's Hide debate

We’v previously covered the liberal/slander/assault lawsuit filed by gun-builder Tactical Rifles against the Internet shooting forum Sniper’s Hide. The suit has created bad optics for the company, over criticism that—from what I’ve seen—appears to be be relatively tame.


Student of the Gun Paul Markel has now waded into the debate with a measured response, simply detailing his experiences with a number of different guns from Tactical Rifles over the past decade, starting with the company’s take on a M40-style rifle.

The rifle in question was a .308 Winchester built on a Remington 700 action. A twenty-inch barrel was free-floated into a woodland camouflage McMillan stock. Although I don’t have the specs in front of me I can safely say that trigger was tuned somewhere in the 2.5 to 3 pound range. I installed a Leupold Mark IV 10x variable riflescope on the gun and headed to the range with a variety of .308 Winchester ammunition.

My plan was to zero the rifle at 100 yards and that is what I did. The target was a Birchwood Casey “Dirty Bird” bulls eye. I truly appreciate these targets as they provide an easy to view shot hole, even at distance. After perhaps a dozen rounds, I was getting very comfortable with the Tactical Rifles gun. I decided to shoot some groups for record at 100 yard. With a clean target and a 168 grain match load from Black Hills Ammunition I settle in behind the stock. I could see through the Leupold optic that my first shot was in the center ring. I fired the second round and was disappointed that I could not find a new shot hole. Clearing my head and taking several deep breaths, I pressed off the third shot. Peering through the scope it appeared that the first shot hole was a bit larger.

I cleared the rifle and took a stroll down range to get a closer view of my handiwork. When I arrived at the target I was stuck by a sense of awe. The first shot hole was now a ragged cloverleaf. All three rounds had passed through the target within one-quarter of an inch from the others. That was the first time I’d ever fired a 0.25 inch three shot group and I remember it vividly to this day.  Needless to say I was excited about my testing opportunity with the TR M40.


Markel goes on to note that everything he’s fired from Tactical Rifles has been of very good quality, and he’s had very good experiences with the company.

Does this in any way impact the lawsuit? I don’t see that it does. The lawsuit seems to revolve around comments made around a specific rifle built for a customer, and criticisms of the customer relations experience with the company.

To this day, I don’t see how Sniper’s Hide is responsible for words posted by someone else on an internet forum, unless there was libel, slander of assault committed by the site’s owner and staff that I frankly couldn’t find.

It is going to be interesting to watch this one play out.

Update: I surfed into this description of the case. It looks like Tactical Rifles has a history of similar complaints against them (some historical information at the link). After having their work called into question on Sniper’s Hide (and other forums) for several years, TR had lawyers file a very sloppy lawsuit that seems to have little merit:

…we’re left with is something that gives every appearance of legal threats being used to shut down critics, which isn’t how the system is supposed to work. The filing goes long on motive and speculation, but provides very little in the way of actual, provable facts — the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit, one which appears to have been filed solely in hopes of blustering TRI’s critics into silence.


I warned in my initial post on the subject that filing a case like this is a very dangerous play. Filing a suit like this raises your profile immensely and causes a lot more people to look at you. Unless you have a slam-dunk case against your critics, you could lose the case and destroy your company’s reputation in the process.

It appears that Tactical Rifles really overplayed their hand here, and unless they have a ace up their sleeves, they may have set their brand up for failure.

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