Aero Precision Solus Hunter Review: The Hunting Rifle Perfected?

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Aero Precision Solus Hunter Review: The Hunting Rifle Perfected?
The Aero Precision Solus is available in a variety of configurations. The rifle in this feature is a Hunter model with a Sendero profile fluted barrel.

The Aero Precision Solus Hunter bolt-action rifle revels in precision for the field or range.

Many modern hunting rifles look different than the hunting rifles I grew up with. In fact, a lot of the hunting rifles manufactured today are a great deal different than the hunting rifles manufactured only a decade ago. Influences from the world of long-range shooting and the sniper community have bled into the design and configuration of hunting rifles: This has changed their look and improved shooter interface and precision.

Now, we have what I like to call “hybrid” or “crossover” hunting rifles, and the Solus Hunter from Aero Precision is a perfect example of this modern trend.

The Platform Pivot

Though hunters might not have heard of Aero Precision, they’ve been building rifles for quite some time—but most of those rifles were of the AR-15-style and are very well respected, either in their complete form or as upper and/or lower receiver components.

The Solus Hunter is the first bolt-action hunting rifle from Aero Precision, and it’s available in three configurations that include a 20-inch barreled .308 Winchester, a 24-inch barreled 6.5 Creedmoor or a 24-inch barreled 6.5 PRC. All come with a suggested retail price of $2,570.

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Aero Precision’s Solus Hunter bolt-action rifle.

At that price, you’d expect these rifles to be loaded with features for hunting … and that they’d deliver a high level of precision. I reached out to Aero Precision for a test rifle in .308 Winchester. This was partly because I’m fond of the .308 Winchester for big-game hunting, but also partly because I liked its shorter barrel, which better interfaces with a suppressor. After spending several months with this rifle, I’m of the opinion that you’ll to get what you pay for.

The Action & Barrel

Aero Precision has designed the action for the Solus Hunter so it has the same footprint as the Remington 700. This is smart because it allows for interface with a wide range of aftermarket stocks. Like the Remington 700, the Solus action is also a push-feed design, but it’s a bit different: The bolt has three lugs as opposed to two, and it opens with only a 60-degree twist.

solus-3-lug-bolt
You can plainly see the three lugs on the Solus Hunter’s bolt, and the dual plunger ejectors.

Also, instead of a single-plunger ejector, the Solus action has two. Another unique feature is that the bolt can be easily field stripped, and the bolt head is interchangeable. This means that, if at some point you want to convert your .308 to 6.5 PRC or to one of the short magnum cartridges, a barrel and bolt head swap is all that’s required.

solus-bolt
The three-lug, cock on opening, 60-degree throw bolt of the Aero Precision Solus Hunter.

Another unique feature of the Solus action is that the scope rail that comes with the action is not screwed to the action. Aero Precision machines the 15-slot Picatinny scope rail onto the action. This means there’s zero chance it can come loose. This might not seem all that important, but with the weight of many modern rifle scopes tugging on their moorings during recoil, it happens a lot more often than you might think.

solus-bolt-action
The action on the Aero Precision Solus Hunter was butter smooth to operate.

I was at a rifle class not too long ago, and several shooters running heavy optics had scope rails work loose. The integral rail eliminates any worry of this. Aero Precision was also wise to fit an adjustable Trigger Tech single-stage trigger to the action. This trigger was spectacular right out of the box, breaking at 3.0 pounds.

Aero Precision fits the Solus Hunter with a fluted, light Sendero profile barrel that has a rifling twist rate of 1:10 inches. They also thread the muzzle at 5/8-24, and a thread protector is supplied. Unlike some rifles that comes with threaded barrels and a thread protector, this one was not thread-locked in place. It was easy to remove, and the radius of the thread protector is flattened just in case you need to use a wrench. The bore of the barrel is honed and lapped, and like the action, it has an elite Cerakote finish.

solus-review-prone
The stock configuration on the Aero Precision Solus Hunter is ideally adapted for shooting from the prone position.

The bottom metal for this action is AG Composites Adjustable Hunter Bottom Metal. It’s aluminum and includes a trigger guard and a magazine well that will accept AICS short-action magazines. The rifle ships with one, five-round Magpul PMAG, and at the bottom front of the trigger guard there’s an ambidextrous paddle-style release that, when pressed, allows the magazine to drop free.

The Stock

Many rifle manufacturers have given up on stock manufacturing because so many other manufacturers make great aftermarket stocks. It just makes more sense to source the stock from a manufacturer that really knows how to make a good stock.

Currently, AG Composites out of Alabama is making some of the best; they currently build the carbon-fiber stocks Wilson Combat uses on their tack driving, sub 5-pound NULA rifles. The Adjustable Hunter Stock on the Solus Hunter rifle is a carbon-fiber stock that’s offered in three AG Composites finishes. There’s the carbon steel finish, the carbon black/tan finish, and the Kodiak Rouge finish.

solus-stock
The adjustable comb on the Solus Hunter’s AG Precision Adjustable Hunter Stock is shaped so you can remove the bolt from the action when the comb is raised.

This stock weighs about 40 ounces and comes with a 13.675-inch length-of-pull, which is not adjustable, but the comb height is. The adjustable comb is critical for helping you maintain a good cheek weld while having your eye perfectly aligned with the centerline of the riflescope. This stock includes an aluminum block inside the forend, from the tip of the forend to just in front of the recoil lug. Because of that, you can drill the stock to allow for rail installation. Aluminum pillars are standard, and AG cures the stock at 250 degrees for maximum rigidity and stability. It’s finished out with three sling swivel studs and a 1-inch Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad.

aero-solus-stock-comb
The adjustable comb on the Solus Hunter allows you to establish a perfect cheek weld while aligning your eye with the centerline of the riflescope.

The underside of the forend on this stock is flat, allowing it to interface well with shooting bags, and the forend is wide and hand-filling. The near vertical grip—also a feature now often seen on modern hunting rifles—is comfortable and fills the hand well. Though I think it a bit too vertical for fast-action snap shooting, it was very comfortable from the prone position, or when working from a bipod or tripod.

The Shooting

To evaluate the Solus Hunter rifle, I started with a Maven RS 1, 2.5-15x44mm riflescope mounted in Leupold Mark 4 steel rings.

aero-precision-solus-tripod-1
Aero Precision optimally configured the Solus Hunter for those wanting a precision shooting hunting rifle that can also pull double-duty on the range for long-range fun.

The first order of business was to see what level of precision this rifle was capable of. I tested three hunting loads by firing multiple five-shot groups at 100 yards with each. The overall average for all groups fired was 1.20 inches. That may not seem all that inspiring, but the rifle just did not particularly like Remington’s 172-grain load, which averaged 1.44 inches. Together, the other two loads averaged right at an inch, and the smallest five-shot group (Lehigh Defense 152-grain Controlled Chaos load) measured less than a half-inch.

aero-solus-group-target
The best five-shot 100-yard group fired with the Solus hunter measured less than a half-inch.

I then switched to a Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm riflescope for a bit more magnification and began working at longer ranges with the rifle. I also mounted a standard adapter from Spartan Precision and did a lot of shooting from prone with a bipod, and from standing with a tripod. I shot fast to simulate hunting situations, and I had no trouble repetitively ringing 8- and 12-inch steel plates out to 500 yards. I conducted all the shooting from the bench and from field positions with the incredibly lightweight and compact Silencer Central Banish Backcountry suppressor attached.

aero-precision-solus-review-shooting-results-table
NOTES: Reported average muzzle velocity (VEL), standard velocity deviation (SVD were established by firing 10 shots over a Caldwell G2 chronograph with the screens set 10 feet from the muzzle. Reported precision (PRECISION) was determined by firing three, five-shot groups with each load from a sandbag rest at 100 yards. Conditions at testing: Temperature: 49 degrees, Humidity: 80 percent, Pressure: 30.01 in-Hg, Elevation: 2,200 feet.

The Verdict

Weighing 8 pounds, 10.1 ounces naked, the Solus Hunter is a bit heavy for my liking. I prefer lighter-weight hunting rifles. And while the modern hunting rifle trend is starting to transition from heavy hybrid/crossover hunting rifles to lighter versions in similar configurations, many rifles similar to the Solus Hunter currently on the market tip the scales at about 8 pounds.

All that said, if you do most of your hunting from a stand or blind, the weight shouldn’t matter. And, if you want to play the long-range game, you’ll appreciate the added stability the weight of this rifle offers when shooting from a supported position or bags.

The other feature of this rifle I did not like was that the two-position safety does not lock the bolt when in the safe position. I guess it goes back to my early days with the early Remington Model 700s that had this feature, as well as all the time I’ve spent with my New Ultra Light Arms rifles that do as well. On multiple occasions, I’ve had bolts come open while carrying a rifle slung in the field. I just like a safety that locks the bolt closed.

Other than those two minor gripes, there’s very little about this rifle not to like. The action is as smooth to operate as any bolt-action rifle I’ve worked with at any price range. In fact, it operates so smoothly that, sometimes, it was hard to tell if I was chambering a round. My grandfather would have said it’s as slick as snot on a doorknob.

The rifle was also a solid shooter, and I have no doubt that with some additional ammunition experimentation or handloading, you could find a real tack-driving load. And if precision is something you worry about, every Solus Hunter rifle comes with sub-MOA precision guarantee.

If the modern trend of long-range precision/sniper-like hunting rifles appeals to you, and if you want a smooth-operating, good-shooting and good-looking rifle for the field during hunting season and for the range in the off season, the Aero Precision Solus Hunter might just be the right rifle for you.

AERO PRECISION SOLUS HUNTER SPECS:

  • Chamberings: .308 Winchester (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC
  • Action: Cock on opening bolt action with interchangeable three-lug bolt head and 60-degree throw
  • Length: 39.75 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds, 10.1 ounces, with empty magazine installed (actual)
  • Barrel: 20-inch, fluted, Sendero light profile, 1:10 RH twist, threaded at 5/8-24
  • Trigger: TriggerTech single stage (3.0 pounds as tested)
  • Capacity: 5+1 (AICS compatible) Ships with one Magpul PMAG
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Stock: AG Composites carbon-fiber adjustable hunter stock, with adjustable comb
  • Price: $2,570

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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