Tanner 6BR Prone Rifle
Versatile Versailles 300m Club Competitor
Here is a match rifle older than many of our readers, but it’s still a fiercesome competitor at 300 meters. A product of Switzerland’s Tanner rifles, this veteran has seen many seasons of use, but, with its fresh Lothar Walther 6mm BR barrel, it can still run with the best of them. Easily converted from iron sights to scope, the versatile Tanner prone rifle is a model of ergonomic excellence, with a dual-mode fire-control system more sophisticated than anything made in America.
French shooter Alain J offers this report on his handsome 300m match rifle: “I was lucky enough to get a Tanner rifle, re-barrelled in 6mm BR Norma, at a very favourable price (1200 Euros, about $1500 US). This rifle has an interesting history. I contacted Tanner about the gun’s origins. Tanner’s records showed the rifle was manufactured and sold in 1972. So this gun is over thirty years old, but it is still in very good shape, and it shoots remarkably well. It was very advanced for its time. Even by today’s standards it boasts some highly sophisticated features, especially in the fire-control system.
The Tanner Prone Competition Rifle
Tanner is a well-known Swiss maker of precision rifles. Though old in years, this Tanner is very accurate, even at long range. The barrel was recently changed. The current tube has about 2500 rounds through it, 500 shot by myself. All the rounds through the current barrel have been moly-coated. I bet the barrel is good for ten thousand rounds if we stick to moly bullets. This rifle can be used as an iron-sighted ISSF rifle. Or, to shoot in scoped class, just replace the rear sight with a Weaver rail and scope, and remove the front sight. My scope is a Leupold 8.5-25×50 Mk4 LR M1 with Mildot.
The barrel is a 26″ stainless Lothar Walther, with a straight 1.0″ diameter profile, that is turned down at the muzzle for the front sight. The gun is chambered for 6mm BR Norma caliber; I think the chamber neck diameter is about .271″. Early on, I shot two boxes of Lapua loaded 6BR ammo. They worked fine, but now I use only my own hand-loads.
The rifle weighs 6.5 kg (13 lbs) without scope, and is 1.22m (48″) long from butt, adjusted on my shoulder, to the muzzle. The buttplate rotates and adjusts for both length and height.
[Editor's Note: Alain has told us that his gun was able to shoot Lapua factory-loaded 6mm BR Norma ammo just fine. The Lapua loaded 6BR rounds we've seen in the USA measured about .2685"-.269" in the middle of the neck, with a slight flare at the mouth out to .270"-.271". These might not chamber easily in a .270" or even .271"-necked chamber. Dave Kiff currently recommends a .272" neck to fit Lapua loaded ammo. We will be getting a new batch in from Finland in a few weeks and we will measure that lot to see if the neck diameter is larger or smaller.]
Favorite Loads–Scenars and N150
I use Lapua cases, Lapua Scenar moly-coated 105gr bullets, CCI BR 4 primers and 31 grains (1.95 grams) of Vihtavuori N150 powder. I tried several powders, and, among those I tested, the Vihtavuori propellants produced the more consistent muzzle velocities and best groups. I did not notice any major differences between N140 and N150, except that N140 gives a bigger bang and a little more recoil. So I’ve settled on N150. It’s very accurate as the target shows (each white tape is about 4.2″ in length.)
I load to a 2.230″ OAL. With the Scenar 105s, this gives a base to ogive length of 1.434″. For reloading, I use a standard Redding 6BR body die, a Redding bushing neck-sizing die (.267″ bushing), and a Redding competition seater die.
Shooting the Tanner–How It Performs
The rifle is handy to shoot and recoils very mildly with the loads I use. It balances well, the bolt is very smooth and the butt is easily adjusted. I can say that it is certainly the most comfortable rifle I’ve shot, maybe partly due to my loads. Despite ten years of military rifle match-shooting (with MAS 49/56 MSE), thus far I’ve only used this rifle to shoot club matches in Versailles, using a scope. And for me at least, this rifle is pretty much for prone use only. The Tanner’s 13-pound weight makes the rifle a bit difficult to shoot kneeling or standing.
Shooting at Versailles
I shot competitively for many years while in the military but I stopped competing actively in 1981. I am still in the service, but at my current post, I can’t shoot as often as I would like. So I joined a civilian club (one of the oldest in France) and now I can shoot with good friends when I have time and we can talk about shooting, loading, and rifles. This club is the “Tir National de Versailles (TNV)”, very close to the Palace of Versailles. At the Tir complex, people can enjoy archery, 10m air carbine and pistol, handguns of any caliber at 25 or 50 meters, rifles from .22LR at 50 meters up, larger rifle calibers at 200 and 300 meters, and even black powder rifles. At TNV I’ve seen people shooting Sharps, Chassepot, Gras, black powder revolvers, plus very advanced competition rifles and pistols! (Click for TNV Map.)
Tanner’s Unique Fire-control and Trigger System
The percussion (fire-control) system and adjustable trigger are typical Tanner. That is to say, they are very sophisticated and are quite a bit different than what you find in American-style custom actions.
A. When moving the bolt to reload, ONLY the firing pin is re-armed, not the trigger. Consequently, despite the very sensitive trigger, the rifle cannot fire without a specific manual control action (described below). It is therefore pretty much impossible to have an accidental shot by mishandling the weapon at this stage.
B. After working the bolt and cocking the firing pin, the trigger must be actively re-armed. (Tanner’s thinking here is that only when the rifle is pointed on target should the trigger be activated). To arm the trigger, you pull on a lever located under the rear of the trigger guard. At this point, the trigger is armed and ready for your finger squeeze. The trigger weight adjusts between 40 grams (1.2 ounce) and 120 grams (4 ounces).
Another notable feature of the gun is that you can adjust the trigger pull without tools while you are in shooting position. Amazing! To adjust the trigger pull within the 40-120 gram range, rotate the little black knob located on the front end of the trigger guard. This is a very slick control feature and I was amazed to find it on a 30-year-old gun.
I am quite happy to have this fine Tanner 6BR rifle. With 34 years of military life, part of it spent training people to shoot military weapons, my own previous experience is very useful. However, I am still learning a lot from friends who shoot with me at the club at 300 meters and on the longer range. Now that retirement is approaching, my Tanner 6BR gives me something to work on for many seasons to come!”
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Topics: Tanner Rifle, Lothar Walther, 300m, 300 meter, adjustable trigger, prone, ISSF, TIR National Versailles, TNV, single-shot, competition, rifle accuracy, 6PPC, 6mmBR, 6BR, Norma, Factory ammo, stocks, custom actions, stainless barrel, Swiss Rifle, position rifle, globe sights, reloading, powder selection, case forming, no-turn neck, Lapua Brass, Scenar bullets, precision, Vihtavuori, N140, N150.