Before George Kelgren founded Kel Tec CNC in Cocoa, Florida in 1995, he ran a similar company Grendel Firearms, which had a short but interesting seven year run in nearby Rockledge. The Swedish wunderkind produced a number of designs that we see today in their more mature Kel Tec variants but one that (so far) has not been recast in a new image is the SRT, the only George Kelgren bolt-action rifle to make it into production.
The Finnish connection
First, you have to remember that Kelgren cut his teeth designing submachine guns for the Swedish Army. That military force long used Mauser rifles for sniper weapons while one of the most popular precision long arms in the region were made by the Sako company in neighboring Finland, patterned off the Mauser design. While Sako sold complete rifles, they also made deals for stripped actions and receivers to a number of larger firearms manufacturers as a foundation to build their own super accurate rifles on.
With that being said, you shouldn't be surprised that GK, with his brand new company, chose to use off-the-shelf Sako L579 A-II (A2) actions, a refined design that was introduced in 1985, to build his new rifles from. After all, why reinvent the wheel when you know a great wheel maker.
Design of the SRT
Chambered in either .308 Winchester, .22-250, .358 Winchester, or .243, this bolt-action rifle used a non-detachable 9-round box magazine that gave it a 10-round capacity with a cartridge in the chamber. With the A-2 action (to include a trigger that could be adjusted down to 2.5-pounds) married up to a Douglas fluted match barrel threaded with single-baffle compensator, the gun was a tack driver. Marketed at the law enforcement market, the gun weighed just 6.7-pounds due to its polymer stock that had an integral bipod base that accepted a M16 style clip-on and ...(wait for it)... folded.
Yup, it folded. In 1987.
When folded the 20-inch barrel version rifle was only 30-inches long overall, capable of being carried in a backpack case without being disassembled.
The rifle was always meant to be used with optics, and thus came with no sights from the factory. Instead, it had a dovetailed receiver and an all-over matte finish to keep down on the glare.
The barrel came in three lengths, 16, 20, and 24-inches with the model numbers running SRT-16F (folding stock, weighs just 6-pounds) SRT-20L (non-folding stock) SRT-20F (folding), and SRT-24. Retail started at $525 and moved up from there for these, essentially being custom built.
(Look for the Grendel Arms markings on the left hand side of the stock and the SAKO markings on the receiver)
Use and getting your own
In production for just three years, these rifles are among the rarest in the Kel Tec/Grendel family-- that is saying something. They did appear in a couple films in 1990 including being used in a portrayal of the NYPD ESU (SWAT team) in a bank robbery film starring Bill Murray called Quick Change.
The SRT at work. Photo by IMFDB.
While Fjestad and Petersen list these guns for $775 in virtually NIB condition, don't hold your breath. Looking around various classifieds sites, these rifles go for about twice that. By far the most common version is the SRT-20F in .308, which makes oddball calibers and optional barrel lengths even more collectable.
And yes, we all wish Kel Tec would breathe new life into this legacy design.
Now that would be something.