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Review: Franchi Momentum All-Terrain Elite Rifle

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I’ve been infatuated with the Scout-Rifle concept since Jeff Cooper began writing about it in the early 1980s. It was 30 years later before I had the means to thoroughly investigate it, and when I did, I tried every scout-like rifle I could find and used them every way I could. In 2018, I even wrote a book—“The Scout Rifle Study”—detailing what I’d learned. This year, Franchi introduced the Momentum All-Terrain Elite rifle. Though the company did not claim it to be a scout rifle, it embodies the spirit of the scout rifle, and it is clearly a well-configured, general-purpose rifle.

The General-Purpose Rifle
The thrust of Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept was a rifle that could answer most any question asked of it—it was a general-purpose rifle. In part, his definition stipulated a .308 Win. bolt-action rifle with a forward-mounted, low-power optical sight and backup iron sights in a package less than a meter long and weighing less than 6.61 pounds. There’s never been a factory rifle that met this definition, and this has resulted in a lot of custom scout rifles that tried to. The seemingly unattainable requirements and broadly defined application also made the scout rifle a misunderstood firearm that in reality is mostly an enigma.

Franchi avoided all the silliness associated with what is and what is not a scout rifle, and simply configured a rifle ideally adapted to general-purpose use. I believe a convincing argument could be presented that this new rifle might be the best example of a general-purpose rifle currently on the market. Admittedly, I looked at it and did not want to like it, but the more I used it, the more I realized it is in fact an excellent companion for the rifleman. “Momentum All-Terrain Elite” is a mouthful, so I shortened it to “MATE,” which might be the perfect description of a rifle this friendly.

Magpul magazine, buttstock

The included Magpul magazine is of high quality and holds 10 rounds • Like the comb, the buttpad, too, is modular with inserts of different thickness available.

The Details
The rifle is built on Franchi’s Momentum action, which uses a massive, fluted, chrome, three-lug bolt. The extractor is reminiscent of what was used on Winchester Model 70 push-feed-style rifles and is positioned at 90 degrees and centered in one of the lugs. Ejection is handled via a spring-loaded plunger recessed into the bolt face, and there’s a large bolt release on the left side of the action. The bolt has a 60-degree throw, and while this makes cycling minutely faster, more importantly it keeps the bolt handle low when opened. A decade ago, this meant little. Today, with the popularity of large-magnification throw levers on riflescopes, it helps keep one from ripping all the skin off your knuckles.

The freefloat 18-inch barrel is threaded, comes with a radial port brake and, like the action, is finished with a midnight bronze Cerakote. There’s a front-sight base near the muzzle that houses a flip-up, AR-style sight that’s adjustable for elevation. Unusually, when this sight is folded down, it has a small blade sight with a white dot that’s visible. The front sight interfaces with a flip-up, AR-style sight rear sight integral to the scope rail. It’s adjustable for windage, and the aperture or peep opening is only .06 inch. When this rear sight is folded down, there’s a notched sight that becomes usable with the white-dot blade sight on the folded front sight.

Momentum All-Terrain Elite features

Even from above, the Momentum All-Terrain Elite has a very distinctive look with its muzzle brake, iron sights, extended scope base and raised comb • M-Lok slots on either side of the fore-end make accessorizing easy. There are also QD sling attachment points behind the slots and elsewhere • A protected, adjustable post flips up in front, but when folded reveals a small blade (not shown) • The flip-up rear aperture works with the front post, but when both are folded, a notched, dot-enhanced rear sight is usable with the aforementioned small blade in front • A soft insert in the pistol grip provides both purchase and comfort • Comb inserts of varying heights are available to customize the fit of the rifle • The Relia-Trigger was smooth and light, and protected by a polymer trigger guard and floorplate.

Very smartly, Franchi extended the scope rail 4 inches over the barrel, but did not attach it to the barrel. This is important because, with the stress induced when shooting, rails that are connected to the receiver and the barrel tend to work lose over time. This well-designed rail offering  21 slots allows for the mounting of a conventional riflescope, a red-dot sight or a scout scope. In fact, with QD rings you could have all three pre-zeroed and ready to go.

The stock is polymer, has a True Timber Strat camo finish and sort of a modernistic shape. It’s also modular. Franchi offers aftermarket buttpads and interchangeable combs to allow adjustment of length-of-pull and comb height. The fore-end bottom is flat to work well from bags, but it is also dished out along the sides to rest comfortably in your support hand. Also, along the bottom and sides are three M-Lok attachment slots, each containing a quick-detach sling receptacle. There’s also a QD-sling receptacle on the belly of the buttstock as well as matching ones on each side of the buttstock for a total of six.

Momentum All-Terrain Elite features

The Picatinny rail begins over the back of the ejection port and extends over the rear of the barrel, giving you considerable mount- ing options • Chrome- plated and fluted, the rifle’s three-lug bolt is big, strong and particularly handsome • Generously sized, the bolt handle is steeply angled to avoid interfering with large scopes and their increasingly popular magnification throw levers • An effective, radial muzzle brake is included, but the barrel is threaded should you prefer other options.

The polymer floor plate/trigger guard surrounds Franchi’s Relia-Trigger, which is adjustable from 2 to 4 pounds. Out of the box it broke clean and crisp at 3.25 pounds. The floorplate also includes a magazine well that accepts an AICS-pattern 10-round magazine that comes with the rifle, and there’s a large, ambidextrous, magazine release just forward of the trigger guard. Interestingly, the magazine does not drop free. This might seem counterintuitive, but this is not a battle rifle, and it circumvents the inadvertent loss of the magazine during dynamic field activities. If your needs do not mandate a .308 Win., Franchi also offers the MATE chambered in .223 Rem.

The Shooting
The shooting started from the bench, but with the open sights instead of a riflescope. The flip-up AR-style sights were dead-on at 50 yards right out of the box, and they were snuff-can accurate at that distance. However, the aperture hole was a bit small, making fast acquisition and shooting in low light problematic. I’d suggest it be opened up to about 3/16 of an inch for optimum general-purpose application. This would be easy enough to accomplish with a hand drill.

I then tried the folded down, backup, backup open sights. Because they’re so low, with the high comb—which worked great with a riflescope and the flip-up sights—it was a bit of a strain to get my eye behind them. Also, at 25 yards the point-of-impact was centered, but about 4 inches low. They’d work in a pinch for close-quarters application, and you could work with the sight picture to manage hits out to about 50 yards or so. They’re mostly a last-resort option, but add no weight and it’s better having them than not.

Next, I mounted a 4.5-14×40 mm Leupold VX-3HD riflescope in Leupold QRW rings. The rifle had plenty of precision for general-purpose application and held zero perfectly. Oddly, the MATE has a 1:11-inch rifling twist rate, and maybe this is why it tended to like the lighter—shorter—bullets better. But this is not a benchrest rifle; it’s intended for the field, and that’s where the bulk of the test shooting was conducted.

Momentum All-Terrain Elite shooting results

I shot the rifle with and without a suppressor, from standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. I conducted snap shots, I shot at moving targets and I did a good bit of shooting from what Cooper called “jackass” positions, using trees, rocks and logs for a rest. I even used a shooting sling—torqued tightly—to see if that would change the point-of-impact. It didn’t. I also installed a section of Picatinny rail on one of the M-Lok slots and shot with a Spartan bipod and tripod. I did all this with varied sight systems to include the conventional Leupold, a Burris Scout Scope and the flip-up open sights.

After 3 days, there were 25 empty ammo boxes on the range and 500 rounds had been fired. The action proved to be fast and smooth, the rifle fed and ejected every round flawlessly, I hit most of the targets I shot at, and I had a lot of fun doing it. You can trust this rifle to work in varied shooting situations, and you can trust it to hit what you’re shooting at.

Momentum All-Terrain Elite specsThe Verdict
A general-purpose rifle is not a battle rifle. As Cooper envisioned, it should lend itself to light-combat action, such as a with a scout operating remotely and alone. It’s a single-hit-and-move rifle, as opposed to a volume fire, stand-and-fight rifle. This also makes it suitable in a wilderness or societal breakdown situation, where survival is the goal. And the .308 Win. version should work well for hunting critters up to approximately 1,000 pounds out to the limits of practical field marksmanship, or around 400 yards. If you accept that as the definition of a general-purpose rifle, then the Franchi Momentum All-Terrain Elite is undeniably well configured to fill that role.

Today’s .308 Win. ammunition will do anything a .30-’06 Sprg. cartridge was capable of doing back in Cooper’s day. For less than $1,500 (reasonable, by today’s standards) you can purchase the Franchi MATE, and from a practical rifleman’s standpoint it should be capable of solving just about any rifle-shooting troubles you’re likely to have.

Ideally, the two-position safety should lock the bolt in the closed position, and the rifle is a bit heavier than I would like. However, when looking at other factory-offered scout-like or general-purpose rifles, the MATE favorably compares—Ruger’s Scout Rifle weighs in at 7.3 pounds, for example. I’ll not say the Franchi Momentum All-Terrain Elite is a scout rifle because it’s not. But for those interested in owning a very well-designed, good-shooting and extremely versatile general-purpose rifle, it could become your best mate.

Momentum All-Terrain Elite

Artic le by RICHARD MANN

 

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