These switch-barrel rifle/shotgun/muzzleloaders had a very short lived run in CVA's lineup, replaced by the Apex line only a few years after introduction. It's a shame, because these guns are solidly built and shoot great. Priced right, too. If you've seen Academy advertise the Optima Elite Stalker for $179, and sometimes on sale for $159, it's the same gun with a little bit of machine work done to the barrel lug and frame to keep them from being a switch barrel, an apparent strategy by CVA to do away with the remaining Optima Elite inventory without cannibalizing sales from the new Apex line (also a switch barrel setup). The gem of these guns is the Bergara barrel, which are nicely machined and finished, and will easily deliver sub MOA accuracy when set up right.

Some of these guns arrive from the factory with the the barrel free floating. If there is any contact from the forearm, it's solved simply by putting one or two thin washers in the cutout in the forearm where the barrel attachment attachment screw goes through, leaving the barrel touching only at the lug and the forearm screw receiving fixture. JB Weld or other epoxy formulations can be used to build a pillar in the same location, if desired.

The trigger isn't as light as I'd like, but it is crisp. I'm going to do some trigger work on it. Having already taken one of these triggers apart, I found it's a three handed job to put back together, so that will probably be a project for next winter.

This particular Optima Elite started out life as a 223 Rem/45 cal ML combo, with a paint-flecked thumbhole stock. It's now wearing the pistol grip stock from an Elite Stalker, with a Krylon camo tan paint job. The original thumbhole stock is the more deluxe of the two stocks, but the traditional pistol-grip stock has a shorter length of pull and offers more forgiving positioning of a scope to deal with eye relief. Both styles of stock have excellent, functional risers formed into the stock, for what I find is a very natural cheek weld. The base is a Durasight Z2 Weaver compatible, with NC Star rings that are a knock off of Weaver's quick release rings. A Simmons WTC 2-10x scope sits on the .223 barrel. Another nice feature of this setup is the barrel length. The length of the rifle is comparable to a carbine length gun due to the lack of a traditional receiver, but the barrel is 24". I've found that my .223 handloads pick up an extra few hundreds FPS over a 16" AR-15 barrel.

In the picture is a UTG detachable bipod. The Optima Elite comes with a non-traditional sling attach point molded into the front of the forearm. It won't work for sling-stud bipod solutions, but adding a sling stud is a simple matter. Just have to drill a centerline hole in the forearm and use a machine-screw type stud with a nut and washer fastening the stud to the forearm.

I've added 308 and 20ga Bergara barrels to my collection, and constantly on the lookout for more. My 308 barrel is sporting a Leupold M8 3x. I hope to use that combo as a stalking rifle in the deer woods next year. The 20ga comes from the factory with an extra full turkey choke, and I am using it with a fiber optic front bead sight.

These are simple guns, easy to work on, and the barrels, when they can be found, offer a lot of flexibility from one gun, without breaking the bank. They're also great guns for recoil sensitive shooters. The recoil pads on these are better than a lot of aftermarket recoil-reducing pads.