The ST-18 bolt-action long-range chassis rifle manufactured by Sabatti offers interesting technical features and levels of performance that go far over just sport shooting applications
Sabatti is a force to be reckoned with: as one of the oldest Italian firearms and barrel manufacturers still in activity, the company capitalized on centuries of experience to produce some of Europe’s best known hunting and precision sporting rifles.
Sabatti manufactures all components for their rifles entirely in-house, with the significant exception of stocks, which are however supplied under strict Sabatti specs by specialist makers from the same Val Trompia region.
The Sabatti company takes particular pride in their manufacturing techniques and procedures, with the manual work of master gunsmiths going hand-in-hand with state-of-the-art CNC machineries and other industrial technologies; the result of this masterly mix of old-school and new-school gunmaking is a product line offering high levels of quality, accuracy and performance, yet maintaining an excellent price point.
The Sabatti ST-18 is the first chassis rifle made by the company. It was first introduced at the 2018 SHOT Show, with an upgraded variant launched in 2021 following the feedback from a rich pool of faithful Sabatti users, chiefly long-range, precision sport shooters and professional operators.
The Sabatti ST-18 rifle is an excellent choice for PRS shooting competitions, but solid and versatile enough to serve the needs of modern urban marksmanship and countersniping for professional applications.
The Sabatti ST-18 has two “hearts”: the action and the barrel, both unique to Sabatti’s product line, engineered and manufactured entirely in-house.
The action of the Sabatti ST-18 is dubbed the “Blizzard”, it is found on other models of the Sabatti product line and was specifically conceived for long-range shooting competitions.
The bolt of the Sabatti ST-18 rifle is CNC machined out of special steel alloy and features three locking lugs and a 60-degrees throw. The bolt body is subsequently heat-treated and chrome-lined until the desired level of thickness is achieved for a perfect match with the receiver, making it smooth, fast, and above all silent to operate, eliminating all roughness.
The ST-18 three locking lugs bolt is a kind of Sabatti’s signature feature, a feature found on most of their product line. The action has a 17-4PH stainless steel extractor that was designed from the ground up to keep reliable even with high pressure loads: the company calls it a “guillotine extractor”, given its form and function, and with the bolt closed, it also works to support the case rim and prevent rupturing under high gas pressures.
A standard 5/16” thread at the end of the cocking handle allows the factory bolt knob to be replaced with any compatible aftermarket knob that may better suit the shooter’s preferences.
The receiver of the Sabatti ST-18 rifle is machined out of a solid billet of high-strength, heat-treated steel with a full matte black finish and a 20 MOA Picatinny rail for optics comes standard from factory.
A two-positions manual safety is located on the right side, just behind the cocking handle, and a bolt removal button is on the right side, in a customary position that most bolt-action rifle users will be familiar with.
The action is coupled to the stock with two screws, and doesn’t enter contact with the stock itself anywhere else but in correspondence of these two interface points. The action and barrel are thus free to float within the stock, eliminating any level of coupling tension that could be detrimental to accuracy.
Sabatti takes great pride in their barrel-making, and being a precision rifle, ST-18 is equipped with a Sabatti cold-hammer forged MRR barrel, where MRR stands for “Multi-Radial Rifling”. First launched in 2011, MRR barrels are covered by a Sabatti patent and are unique to the Sabatti production, heavily featured on the company’s tactical and sporting long-range rifles.
MRR barrels were developed with accuracy in mind, to achieve levels of performance that couldn’t be matched by existing traditional rifling patterns; MRR barrels feature a modified forcing cone geometry, providing a better fit and alignment of the bullet to the rifling and the bore axis.
The Sabatti ST-18 is available in three barrel lengths: 20”, 24” or 26”, in all available calibers. All barrels are cold hammer forged, protected by a matte black finish, and feature a 22 mm diameter muzzle with a 5/8”x24 thread pitch. A 30mm muzzle brake is issued with every ST-18, and easily replaceable with aftermarket muzzle devices – including silencers.
The chassis of the Sabatti ST-18 is CNC manufactured in-house, machined from a solid billet of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy. All surfaces are hard-anodized in black.
The Sabatti ST-18 feeds through detachable Accuracy International Chassis System (AICS) compatible magazines, with a standard capacity of seven rounds. The magazine release button is ambidextrous and located in front of the trigger guard, at quick and easy index finger reach for right-handed and left-handed shooters alike.
The Sabatti ST-18 comes issued from factory with a FAB Defense AG-43 AR-15 storage pistol grip, and with a folding buttstock of Sabatti’s own design that’s manufactured out of powdered, metal-reinforced Ryton PPS high-strength polymer, offering the necessary levels of durability, and stability without impacting on the overall weight of the rifle. The buttstock comes standard with QD sling swivel cups on both sides and a fully adjustable cheek riser.
A free-float, machined aluminum M-Lock handguard manufactured by Sabatti is standard with every ST-18 rifle. At 10.9 to 11.3 lbs of overall weight, the Sabatti ST-18 remains highly portable in most conditions.
Last, the chassis also integrates the factory trigger: a Sabatti’s own design, a Match-grade three-lever trigger that breaks at an average weight of 600 grams (approximately 21.1 oz.). As of today no major aftermarket supplier manufactures triggers that are compatible with Sabatti rifles (an explicit decision from the company), but the performance of the Sabatti Match trigger is on par with those that sport shooters, hunters and professional operators worldwide have come to expect from the best aftermarket brands.
The Sabatti ST-18 bolt-action rifle offers all what is needed, at a competitive price. Available on the European markets at an MSRP starting at 2.000 euro, the Sabatti ST-18 is one of the more affordable multipurpose bolt-action precision rifles currently available in the market. If we had to find the Sabatti ST-18 defective on something, it would be just on the finishes: not because the black anodized finish is not good, but just because it is our strong opinion that the use of Cerakote or similar finishes on the metal surfaces would make this rifle far better looking. An aspect, that of the external surface finishes, ever more important today in the very crowded international market of the bolt-action rifles.
But as we have learned in time, and still in the third millennium, when it comes to family-run Italian companies in the Val Trompia district: they do things that work, but without worrying too much about marketing.