Para equips the Tactical Target Rifle with a free floating aluminum handguard that possesses a rail at its forward end. This setup allows the user the choice of bare handing the handguard or attaching a vertical foregrip if desired. The top Picatinny rail is perfectly indexed to the receiver and allows for the forward mounting of optics should the user desire.
I mounted a Trijicon 3-9X 40 AccuPoint scope on the Tactical Target Rifle before testing it for accuracy at the range. I used a rifle rest for support and fired the five-shot groups from a cement bench. All groups were fired from a warm barrel without giving the barrel any time to cool.
Four of the six loads that I tried turned in sub-MOA accuracy (groups under an inch at 100 yards). This kind of precision is exactly what I like to see whether the gun is being used for tactical work or competition.
Insight Technologies sent me one of its new Integrated Sighting Modules (ISM-V) for evaluation. So I removed the Trijicon AccuPoint and installed the ISM-V on the receiver's Picatinny rail.
This sight provides the shooter with a red dot and a visible laser aiming point that are coaxially aligned. The combination should serve the user in just about any lighting scenario. You can use the red dot alone or with the laser.
The red dot is adjustable for brightness and features a relatively small, just 2 MOA, size dot that should work fine even for precision shots. What I like most about the ISM-V is its light weight—just 9 ounces with its single 3-volt Lithium battery installed. It boasts 1,500 hours of run time from the battery. Insight also offers a version called the ISM-IR, to qualified military and law enforcement agencies, which possesses an infrared illuminator and IR laser designator for use with night vision gear.
On a sunny August Arizona afternoon I set up some steel targets at a distance of about 30 yards. I had no problem finding the ISM-V's red dot, though it was nearly impossible to see the laser. I've used lasers before and this did not surprise me. They are most valuable in diminished lighting.
So I waited until just after sunset, when there was still a little ambient light and found that I could consistently hit my steel targets using just the laser at a distance of over 100 yards. The Insight ISM-V is as quick as any red dot or holographic sight and I feel that its ability to generate a laser, aligned with the red dot, makes it especially attractive to those searching for a tactical optic.
Para uses a standard 1:9 inches twist, which seems to have become the industry standard for its ability to accurately stabilize a greater number of bullet weights from 50 grains all the way to 75 grains.
Disassembly and Cleaning
For corrosion resistance and ease of cleaning, the barrel and chamber are chrome lined. It should also be noted that the op rod (or extended gas key) is plated with electroless nickel and the gas tube is chrome plated. In fact, Zitta tells people that this area of the rifle doesn't even need to be cleaned. "The wiping action of the stroke (the gas key slipping over the gas tube) and the gas pressure self-cleans this area and requires no lubrication."
To access the DIGS system, the user must first depress a spring-loaded plunger located at the muzzle end of the top rail and slide the rail forward and off the handguard. Next, pull back the action spring and remove the spring retaining clip and ease the spring forward. Push out the take down pin at the rear of the lower receiver, allowing the weapon to hinge open at the front take down pin, grasp the charging handle and remove it from the rear of the receiver and the bolt carrier and the op rod will come out with the charging handle. The bolt is disassembled in the same manner as any M-16 or AR-15 part. This is as far as you will need to disassemble the rifle for routine cleaning and maintenance.
I was amazed at just how clean the upper receiver of the Tactical Target Rifle was after I had fired about 450 rounds during my evaluation. Obviously, the DIGS system works as advertised. I used a rag to wipe down the op rod and gas tube and found surprisingly little firing residue.
Is the new Para Tactical Target Rifle, with its DIGS gas system, the next evolutionary step in the ongoing development of the AR-15/M-16 family of weapons?
It's hard to say at this point. One thing is certain, if shooters think that this particular design will give them some sort of edge, the DIGS will develop a huge following.
These new Para rifles, in fact all Para guns, will be built at a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina.
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Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.