This review was completed by competitive shooter Ryan Anderson, ryan_in_ab on Instagram and @Ryan.M.Anderson on CGN
I received the Cadex R7 Field Comp in 6.5 Creedmoor for review from GBT (Huge thanks to Tom for the opportunity!). In addition to the rifle, the package included a fairly nice drag bag, MX1 muzzle brake, and some literature. Separate from the rifle, I had the Eotech Vudu to top it off. It weighs in at about 14 pounds bare; with the Vudu and a full mag, I would guess the total weight at around 16 to 16.5 pounds, which is fairly standard for precision rigs these days. My review will primarily compare the Cadex to other PRS set ups I have had in the past with a main focus on my AI AX as it seems that the Cadex and AI are attempting to occupy the same space.
This review is not exhaustive as I only ran about 100 rounds through the gun for accuracy and to test its suitability in some standard PRS-style drills. As a result, I cannot speak to the long-term reliability and durability of the system.
I did not do extensive accuracy testing of the gun. It is a $4,000+ rifle and I think it is fair to say that solid accuracy is to be expected. Cadex uses Bartlein 5r straight taper fluted barrels; the majority of the fluting is hidden underneath the handguard. Using some Hornady ELD-M 140gr ammo, I shot three five-round groups after sight-in. I printed one group in the .3s, and two groups in the .7s (see below). I am fairly confident that more thorough ammo testing or making up some hand loads could result in smaller groups. More time behind the gun would also shrink group sizes.
It goes without saying that Cadex is known for their chassis; however, the fact that they make complete rifles appears to be a lesser known fact. During testing, many people at the range thought I was using a custom action in a Cadex chassis. The fit and finish on the chassis is excellent – no sharp edges, burrs, or machining marks in sight. When compared to the AX, it has a superior finish. Don’t get me wrong, the AI is definitely not bad, it’s just that the Cadex is nicer.
This gun has the small fore-end tube with “mirage” technology which just means that the fore-end tube is closed on the top. I am not really sure if it works or not but it certainly does not reduce any functionality. A benefit of the small tube is that it allows for the scope to be mounted lower to the barrel than the AI. The Vudu cleared the tube with no issue in a Spuhr 4001 (1.18” high) mount. I also tried it with a Minox ZP5 and it also cleared as long as the Tenebraex covers were not in the mix.
The Field Comp comes with the fixed skeleton style stock. The butt stock can be adjusted in approximately ¼” steps for cheek piece height and LOP. The recoil pad is also adjustable up and down. The range of adjustments available should satisfy the vast majority of shooters in finding a comfortable shooting position with this stock. While these adjustments can be made without tools, they cannot be done as quickly as with some other chassis.
From an overall standpoint, the Cadex is more comfortable than the AX chassis. The geometry of the buttstock felt more familiar to me on first impression than any other chassis I have shot with. The Ergo grip that came with gun was comfortable for me, but could have been switched out if it hadn’t worked out. This was a definite point in favor of the Cadex over the AX.
The R7 actions are a 4-lug, 50 degree throw action with dual ejectors in a 700 footprint layout. The cocking action is split between the opening and closing of the action. I am not sure of the split, but you can feel it when running the bolt. The bolt lift is heavier than your standard 90-degree but that is to be expected. I set the Cadex up beside my Defiance action and cycled both back and forth and noticed that the Cadex certainly sports a stiffer action. However, I could not actually discern much of a difference when shooting out at the range. The Cadex action feels very fast and the throw is so short that it feels like a toggle switch. I don’t try to run my bolts super-fast and have been working on slowing down in a “smooth is fast” type of way, so the benefit of a shorter throw may be lost on me. The action fed well and ejected reliably –nothing exciting to report in this regard. The action is Cerakoted and I expect it would break in and smooth out as the action is cycled more.
The action has a side bolt release that is very beefy and reminiscent of the AX. Going off looks alone, I think there is a very low risk that it would break. The bolt handles are swappable to a few different styles to suit different tastes, but it bears mentioning that the stock handle (tear drop) was quite comfortable. The rail is indexed to the action with built in recoil lugs, and a shooter would be able to choose from 0, 20, and 30 MOA rail options.
The gun is equipped with the DX2 trigger, a two-stage 700 style trigger. They are adjustable from two to five pounds; I would guess that this one came set at approximately 2.5 pounds. The stage weights and second stage travel can be independently adjusted. The first stage was consistent and the second stage was very solid and had a clean break. My current favorite trigger is the XTSP CG22; the DX2 is definitely comparable as I would not bother replacing the DX2 with the CG22 if I were to own this gun.
If two-stage triggers are not for you, swapping in a single stage trigger is possible, as the action can take any 700 style trigger.
I won’t spend much time talking about the brake. The brake is quite effective, but the concussion rearwards is pronounced compared to the more common side-venting brakes. While the shooter may not feel much of the concussion, those beside him/her will certainly feel it – it may be as bad as the APA Bastard series of brakes.
Suitability for PRS
I have expressed before how skeptical I was of the Cadex chassis system for PRS type shooting. However, while running drills, I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. With a Gamechanger (or whatever barricade bag you prefer) on the barricade, the Cadex balances very nicely. If you don’t shoot off a barricade bag, the Cadex’s balance would probably rank worse than others but I personally never shoot that way. I was able to run the Cadex in nearly the same way that I run my T4s or my MPA and actually found it easier to shoot the Cadex than my AI. The increased bolt lift I mentioned earlier wasn’t really noticeable to me when cycling the bolt on barricades as I am not a free recoil shooter and normally hold the fore-end for stability. While the Cadex may not have been designed for PRS shooting like the MPA chassis, my testing definitely proves to me that it can work. As Cadex does sponsor a shooting team, I guess this really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise.
In the interest of providing a complete review, there were a couple things I noticed during my testing of the Cadex that I feel could be improved upon. None of these issues would be a sticking point for me, but I will detail them here in case they are important to someone else.
The first issue I ran into was that I accidentally engaged the safety numerous times while cycling the bolt. Originally, I attributed this to the fact that I was wearing gloves during the testing. However, the same thing happened to another shooter at the range who wanted to test it out. I think this happens because of the very short bolt throw; with more familiarity, this could be likely be avoided or you could run a trigger without a safety.
Another minor thing I noticed was that the mag release is a straight design. I have come to prefer mag releases that have paddles that protrude to the side (MPA, Hawkins DBM). The functionality of the mag release is just fine, but when you need a quick mag change, side paddles help.
Third, I had to run a Harris bipod on this gun as the only attachment point that came with the gun was a sling stud. I can’t quite figure out why Cadex does not make an arca rail that is compatible with their fore-ends. You can get universal rails to fit on their fore-ends but as Cadex is a CNC master, it should take them no time at all to make one. An arca-integrated fore-end would be even better (wink wink). I have seen that AI is working on something like this and I think it would make a big difference and improve the functionality of the gun.
Finally, the gun does not accept AW magazines. The AICS mags may be the gold standard for most guns but the AW double-stack/double-feed mags are the best I have ever used and wish all of my guns would accept them. My two lug Defiance can use them so not sure why the Cadex cannot.
Overall, I was impressed with the Cadex R7 and would like to have been able to test it for a longer period of time. It is a well-made and accurate rifle that I found quite enjoyable to shoot. If someone was interested in running a Cadex in PRS type competitions I cannot think of a reason for them not to.