CVA Cascade SB 300 Blackout

The most accurate of the three rifles tested, the CVA Cascade handles well and shoots well. The bottom of the receiver on the Cascade matches the common Remington 700 pattern, allowing this rifle to accept almost endless aftermarket triggers and stocks.

0

What are some good bolt-gun options for hunters who don’t want to deal with a lot of recoil? We reported on 22-250 rifles using loads suitable for deer hunting in the November 2019 issue of Gun Tests and noted the need for proper bullet construction and plenty of speed. Now we turn to a little cartridge that will fit in a standard AR-15 magazine, can roughly equal the energy of a 7.62×39 or a 30-30 Win. round, and has been designed to work well at supersonic or subsonic velocities. We are talking about the 300 Blackout — a cartridge scoffed at by some, but which we find both interesting and useful. Toward that end, we tested three of the current crop of bolt-action rifles chambered in 300 Blackout.

Our test samples were examples of relatively short-barreled bolt-action rifles with threaded muzzles, for those readers who might want to attach a suppressor and shoot subsonic 300 Blackout loads. They were the Ruger American Ranch Rifle 26968, $529; the Savage Axis II 18819, $385; and the just-introduced CVA Cascade SB CR3914R bolt action, $621.

All in a day’s work at American Shooting Centers. We used ammunition from Magtech, Frontier, and Precision One. The green Bear Bag from RecoilGear.us provided a very stable platform for our shooting.

As usual for this team, all testing was done at American Shooting Centers in West Houston. For accuracy comparisons, we fired multiple five-shot groups at 100 yards from a well-sandbagged position. We fired using a 13-pound bag called The Bear, plus a rear bag. Both did a great job of staying where they was supposed to on the bench while supporting the rifle. We learned that The Bear’s sides grip your firearm well and we were not having to reset our long guns every few shots. Available at RecoilGear.us, The Bear sells for $185, and we also used their Medium/Flat rear bag with the non-slip option, $35. The products are made with 1000-denier water-resistant Cordura fabric, put together with UV-resistant non-wicking thread, and every internal seam is at least double stitched, with some being triple stitched. Because of materials and construction methods, the bags are very unlikely to take on water and turn into something resembling a brick, a problem we have seen with other bags. All velocities were measured using a LabRadar device, and we fired three factory loads, two of which were supersonic and the third was subsonic. Those were Magtech 123-grain FMJs, Frontier 125-grain FMJs, and Precision One’s 200-grain Nosler hollow points. Using all this gear to record objective data, we then rendered our buy/don’t buy recommendations based on how the products performed in head-to-head testing.

Gun Tests Grade: B+ (OUR PICK)

$621

The CVA brand is part of BPI (Black Powder, Inc.), which is well known for its muzzleloading rifles. BPI also owns Bergara, which is renowned for the quality of that brand’s rifle barrels. The company recently decided to introduce a new series of rifles for the more cost-conscious among us and did so in the Cascade line, using technology from the other members of their family. We first mentioned the Cascade model in the July 2021 edition of Gun Tests, when we reviewed a CVA rifle chambered in 350 Legend. We obtained a later-production sample chambered in 300 Blackout for this test. There was a notable difference in the newer rifle.

Action TypeBolt
Overall Length37.0 in.
Barrel Length/Twist16.5 in., 1:8 in.
Overall Height w/o Scope Mount7.1 in.
Weight Unloaded0.6.5 lbs.
Weight Loaded6.75 lbs.
Sight RadiusNA
Action FinishGraphite black Cerakote
Barrel FinishGraphite black Cerakote
Magazine Capacity5
Magazine TypeDetachable box
StockFiberglass-reinforced synthetic
Drop at Comb0.75 in.
Drop at Heel1.0 in.
BeddingMetal pillars
ButtplateCrushzone recoil pad
Buttstock Length of Pull13.75 in.
Receiver Scope-Base PatternSavage, 2-piece Picatinny rail attached
Trigger Pull Weight2.2 lbs.
Safety2-position thumb rocker
WarrantyLifetime
Telephone(770) 448-4687
WebsiteCVA.com
Made InSpain

The standard Cascade line uses a 22- to 24-inch barrel. That is a great length for many hunting rifles, but it is simply longer than is needed for a smaller-cased cartridge. Once, while building a 300 AAC AR-15 pistol, we read that a 300 AAC can get full burn on the powder charge in an 8-inch barrel. In subsequent tests, we have found that we get a bit more velocity from 300 AAC firearms sporting longer-than-8-inch barrels, but not tons of speed. CVA decided to use a 16-inch barrel on this 300 Blackout instead of a longer tube, thus the “SB” in its name, for “Short Barrel.”

The CVA Cascade provided some nice groups from the Precision One Subsonic ammunition.

The stock is the same soft-touch style commonly found on Bergara rifles. This creates a slightly tacky feel to the hand and is very different from most synthetic stocks. The stock starts with two sling swivel studs on the fore end and ends in a Crushzone recoil pad. Both fore end and wrist are fairly slim with raised checkering, and there is a slight palm swell in the wrist. In keeping with our goal of perhaps using these for nocturnal hog hunting, the stock in colored in a Veil Tac Black camo pattern, consisting of medium-gray, charcoal-gray and black tones. The overall effect of the stock and the graphite colored Cerakote on the working parts produce a firearm that looks like it would be very difficult to see on a night hunt.

We were able to do a bit of reloading for these tests. This five-shot group from the CVA using Sierra Tipped Match King bullets hints at some nice results with further experimenting.

The action is a fascinating mixture of proven designs. The bottom of the action is based on the ubiquitous Remington 700 pattern. We were thrilled to find that the Cascade in 350 Legend we reviewed a year ago had a trigger that reminded us in of a Remington 40X trigger. Alas, we fear that lawyers have intervened, and the current-model trigger reminds us more of Remington’s X Mark Pro, which we do not like as much. Still, the Cascade had an outstanding trigger pull, requiring only 2.2 pounds of effort to release. Standard deviation for the trigger pull over 10 tries was only 2.2 ounces. The trigger feels good and works well, but it is not in the same league as the 40X trigger of long ago.

The upper part of that same receiver matches a Savage Model footprint which, we are told, is much easier to manufacture. Once again, CVA smartly uses a proven design with lots of aftermarket accessories. The current model of our Cascade SB ships with a two-piece Picatinny rail attached. Shooters can also buy 20-minute-of-angle rails at CVA.bpishopping.com.

As with the Ruger, the bolt is a three-lug full-diameter-body design. This one ran smoothly in the race way. Bolt lift is only 70 degrees, leaving the bolt handle well clear of optics. The bolt head contains a plunger-style ejector and a sliding-plate extractor. Removal is accomplished via a lever on the left rear of the receiver. Depress the forward portion, and the bolt slides out easily to the rear. The rifle’s safety is a thumb-activated two-position rocker switch located on the right side of the receiver just behind the bolt handle.

We were able to do a bit of reloading for these tests. This five-shot group from the CVA using Sierra Tipped Match King bullets hints at some nice results with further experimenting.

The bottom metal isn’t metal, with both the floorplate/trigger guard assembly and the magazine being polymer affairs. Magazine release is accomplished by pressing a latch on the front of the mag to the rear. The latch was properly recessed, as was the magazine, presenting a smooth surface for hand carry.

The barrel on our 300 Blackout was 16.5 inches long with a 1:8-inch twist. Cascade has offers a minute-of-angle guarantee with this rifle, but we didn’t quite get there. Take out the Magtech ammo, which none of the three rifles shot well, and we only missed their mark by about 0.3 inches. Excellent results from a few reloads tell us the problem may well be ammo selection. Of course, finding the right ammo is part of the journey required by most new rifles. The muzzle is threaded 5⁄8×24 tpi, and a knurled thread protector comes on the rifle. The barrel is free-floating and should stay that way, even with pressure exerted. The fore end is well reinforced and requires some effort to make it touch the barrel.

The CVA uses a two-piece set.

The CVA Cascade was the most accurate of the three rifles in this test, with the Frontier 125-grain FMJs averaging 1.16 inches for multiple five-shot groups. We knocked down the grade just a bit because we didn’t get down to that magical MOA guarantee. We have a suppressor still in purgatory (waiting for the tax stamp to arrive), but it is held for our use at American Shooting Centers. We can legally use it at that range only, and did so. With no noise generated by the cycling of the action and little blast from a subsonic load, the bolt-action 300 Blackout is a very quiet cartridge and should be a hog-hunters dream.

Our Team Said: The CVA Cascade handles well and shot the best of the three rifles tested. Its ability to accept Remington 700-pattern aftermarket triggers and stocks is a big plus. It’s Our Pick.

300 Blackout Range Data

Magtech 123-grain FMJRuger Ranch RifleSavage Axis IICVA Cascade
Average Velocity2278 fps2245 fps2281 fps
Muzzle Energy1418 ft.-lbs.1377 ft.-lbs.1421 ft.-lbs.
Best Group3.50 in.2.89 in.1.97 in.
Average Group5.38 in.3.32 in.2.79 in.
Frontier 125-grain FMJRuger Ranch RifleSavage Axis IICVA Cascade
Average Velocity2191 fps2201 fps2199 fps
Muzzle Energy1332 ft.-lbs.1344 ft.-lbs.1343 ft.-lbs.
Best Group0.77 in.1.09 in.0.89 in.
Average Group1.79 in.1.61 in.1.16 in.
Precision One 220-grain SubsonicRuger Ranch RifleSavage Axis IICVA Cascade
Average Velocity1057 fps977 fps1067 fps
Muzzle Energy546 ft.-lbs.466 ft.-lbs.557 ft.-lbs.
Best Group1.28 in.1.16 in.1.14 in.
Average Group1.99 in.1.89 in.1.42 in.

Testing was done at American Shooting Centers in West Houston. Muzzle velocities were determined via a LabRadar chronograph, $559. All shots for group were done from a Bear model large shooting bag ($185) and a Medium/Flat rear bag ($35), both from RecoilGear.us.

Value Guide: Short-Action Bolt Rifles

Gun NameIssueGradeComments
Tikka T3X Varmint JRTXH312 223 Rem., $999Nov. 2021AOur Pick. The most accurate rifle in these tests and perhaps the most versatile, we’d buy the Tikka.
CZ Model 527 03019 223 Rem., $785Nov. 2021B+The trim receiver allowed the longest barrel, while maintaining a compact OAL. Outstanding trigger.
Ruger Hawkeye Predator 17122 223 Rem., $1359Nov. 2021B+A brushed stainless finish, a gorgeous three-color laminate stock, and a great trigger.
CVA Cascade CR3907C 350 Legend, $658Jul. 2021AOur Pick. Outstanding trigger and tons of features on a value rifle. Tied with the Savage M110 Hog Hunter.
Masterpiece Arms MPA BA MPR PRO 6mm CM, $2499Apr. 2021AOur Pick. A heavy, yet graceful beast of a rifle. The MPA is one of the most popular rifles on the PRS tour.
Christensen Arms MPR 801-03035-01 6mm CM, $1799Apr. 2021A-Lightest sample included in this group, tested for a sport that prefers heavy rifles, and it still almost won.
Ruger Precision Rifle 18032 6mm Creedmoor, $1599Apr. 2021B+Good accuracy and dependability. We would have liked a crisper trigger and a wide, flat fore end.
Savage M110 Elite Precision 57558 6mm CM, $1999Apr. 2021B+Least accurate with the Federal ammo. Black Hills and Berger ammunition were much better.
Savage Arms 110 Hog Hunter 223 Rem., $599Feb. 2021A-Oversized bolt, adjustable iron sights, adjustable LOP, a box magazine, and a threaded barrel.
Christensen Arms Ridgeline 801-06015-00 6.5 PRC, $1793Jan. 2021AOur Pick. Accurate with factory ammunition — even better with reloads. Carryover winner from Nov. 2020.
Seekins Precision Havak Pro Hunter 2 0011710059-F 6.5 PRC, $1895Jan. 2021AOutstanding accuracy. We loved the Seekins stock and the trigger.
W’by Mark V Backcountry 6.5 RPM, $2249Jan. 2021B+Beautifully put together, but downrange accuracy wasn’t up to what we saw with other rifles.
Bergara Premier M’tn 2.0 BPR28-65PRC 6.5 PRC, $1999Nov. 2020AA 100% carbon-fiber stock and trim 24-inch barrel make this a premier mountain rifle.
Browning X-Bolt Max LR 035438294 6.5 PRC, $1180Nov. 2020AA little longer and a little heavier than our other test rifles. Beanfield rifle rather than a mountain rifle.
Savage M110 Hog Hunter 57534 350 Legend, $487Jul. 2020AOur Pick. Compact size with a short, stiff, accurate barrel and a great trigger. Straight-wall chambering.
Ruger American Ranch Rifle 26985 350 Legend, $442Jul. 2020F/B+First sample failed when the bolt disassembled itself. The replacement rifle wasn’t all that accurate.
Winchester XPR Hunter 535741296 350 Legend, $635Jul. 2020A-A full-length rifle that looked great and handled well; dropped off half a grade for its just-average accuracy.
Winchester M70 F’wt SS 535234220 308 Win., $951Apr. 2020AOur Pick. Smooth handling, very good accuracy and classical styling.
Tikka T3x Lite Stainless JRTXB316 308 Win., $748Apr. 2020A-Best Buy. Functional polymer stock, the smoothest bolt in the group, and the best out-of-the-box trigger.
Remington Model 7 CDL 26423 308 Win., $798Apr. 2020AA nice piece of wood, a good trigger and a compact 20-inch barrel on a rifle that could really shoot.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here