Autauga Arms has been in the business of making one-piece scope bases for several years now. I saw their first base when they generously donated one as a prize for the first Carlos Hathcock Sniper competition in 1998. My thoughts at that time was that it reminded me of the Leupold Mk4 base -- only with a very steep taper that would allow one to zero their rifle WAY out there. At that time, Autauga only offered one base, an extremely high mount (from my perspective) that would allow one to install a very large objective telescope on a bull barreled Model 700 rifle. The back end of the base measured a whopping .645" and tapered down to .491", allowing for zeros out to and beyond 1200 yards using the typical tactical scope of the day. The mount weighed in at 15.5 ounces and was strong enough that the odds of ever bending or distorting it through general use were next to non-existent. It was, from what I recalled, a real brick of a mount. Heavy, strong, and built to take it. I seriously considered offering the winner of the mount a trade, as at that time I needed a good mount to reach the long-range targets. My scope, while excellent, could not make it past 700 meters without shimming. In the end I passed, as I really did not want so high a mount on my rifle. As many of you know, I am no great fan of large objective telescopic sights for various and sundry reasons and saw no reason for utilizing a mount designed specifically for these. Big glass certainly has its place and can provide a valuable service to those needing the extra light-gathering ability, but they do make a rifle somewhat awkward. As I was not going to move up to a 50mm objective any time soon, I chose to hold off and wait until someone created a lower mounting system. The Autauga mount, being as high as it was, would force me to use an added cheek rest to bring my face up to the higher level of the ocular lens. I expressed my desire for a lower mount to one of the Autauga shooters and we had an interesting discussion on the various merits of objective size versus utility and shooting positions. I did not give much thought to the mount afterward beyond knowing that someday I would like to find a decent tapered base for my rifle.
Several months ago Rusty Rossey of Autauga Arms contacted me and informed me that they would soon release a new tapered base for lower mounting. This new base would be identical to the high mount with the exception that the rear height would be considerably lower at .450" tapering toward the front to approximately .300". The new base would weigh in at 11.5 ounces. This was more like it! Mounted on a tactical rifle with a varmint weight barrel and utilizing a 40 or 42 mm objective this new mount would allow one to install the sight low enough to avoid having to use an added cheek rest. Autauga Arms was kind enough to provide me with an example of each mount for review.
Measuring approximately 5.440" in length, the one-piece tapered mounts come in a deep Matt green parkerized finish. The finish is typical of parkerizing, slightly textured and utilitarian in appearance. Each base, high or low, has four cross-slots capable of accepting Mk4 style rings which are typically tightened to 65 inch pounds. The cross-slots are positioned correctly and allow you several options for mounting your telescope fore or aft on the mount depending on its design and on your particular build. This is more than acceptable for 80% of the shooters out there who will never mount anything other than their one and only tactical scope on their rifle. It may appear to be less than ideal to someone needing to mount multiple optical systems to the rifle, but these people are few and far between. To save production costs Autauga Arms appears to have chosen the middle road.
Standard Torx Head screws are provided and are of the proper length. An Allen wrench is also provided. The counter-sunk portion of each mounting hole is drilled out for those who want to utilize size 8 screws. The standard screw is 6-40. You will need to enlarge the center hole if you chose this option. I will leave the debate over the merit of larger screws to those of you who see them as essential. From my perspective, it is simply nice that Autauga went the extra mile and provided the larger hole, thereby saving the potential user one less fee in gunsmithing work.
The quality of the mount is about on par with the Mk4 system. Tolerances appear a bit tighter. The weaver rail system so popular today is utilized and as stated, Mk4 rings and their clones bolt right on without problem. Once installed properly, the rings will not shift under recoil. The mating surface that contacts the Remington action is well done with little error in tolerance. If the screw holes in the receiver are a little off there is just enough play to align the base to the bore. This is of course assuming that the action is good to go. If you have one of the hopefully rare receivers that have been drilled off center, you might need to do a little work or accept the shift and adjust it with your telescope's internal adjustment. This has nothing to do with the mount in question but as with all mounts it is something you should be aware of and check. There is no integral recoil lug. Again, this is a matter of debate. Many claim it is needed or simply nice to have while others insist that it is not needed with the .308 or .300 WM cartridge. I am somewhere in between. I like overkill. But I am not always willing to pay for it. The lack of a recoil lug on a base made for a standard caliber is generally nothing to be concerned with but if you really insist on one, you will have to look elsewhere. When mounted on my rifle there was no appreciable shift over a period of many rounds fire, so I will leave this debate to those who really care. I can go either way.
The bridge of the mount is flat and straight cut. There is no groove on the right side to help you clear the base when loading the magazine. Loading rounds under stress is not as easy without practice. This is one caveat worth considering. Like all one-piece bases of this design, you give up a little flexibility for strength. You can easily strip flesh from your thumb when trying to speed load a rifle from the top of the magazine when using a one-piece base. Mounted on the new P-DM this will not necessarily be an issue unless you are in the habit of topping off from above, but if you have an older P or Varmint Synthetic, be aware that you best take a moment to consider your loading practices. Generally, the lack of a thumb port is not a problem but if you get into a stressful situation like a tactical stress course you can scuff your thumb a bit. On the plus side the rail is rounded slightly on edge and does not present a sharp cutting surface. You will bump more than fillet.
Autauga claims that the tapered base will allow a zero well in excess of 1000 yards. I was not able to verify this in practice, as I am currently limited to a 600 yard range. But by the numbers this claim is not surprising. If you use a sight with a total of 120 moa (60 moa from mechanical center each way) you will be able to zero well beyond your ability to hit, at least if you are a normal (meaning less than practiced) shooter. When employing a sight with 60 moa of total adjustment (30 moa from mechanical zero) you will easily get to 1000 and beyond. The bases are well made and function as advertised. I still question the need for the high mount, but this is a debate that will rage on as long as opinions vary on the matter and the method. What is nice is that Autauga Arms now provides devotees of both philosophies a method of mounting their scopes for under $150.
The scope base is available for the Remington 700 Short action in both a high and low mount. Autauga assures me that very shortly they will also release bases for the Remington Long Action, again in both a low and a high mount. For those of you bound to ask, they do not have any plans at this time for manufacturing a mount for any other rifle type. As you may have heard, there was some talk of a mount for the Winchester but this has been nixed at this time. For more information on the Autauga Arms tapered bases or any other Autauga product, you may contact Autauga Arms at 1-800-262-9563. You may purchase the mount from various sources including Borwnells and the Sniper Country PX.
In closing, if you have considered the purchase of the Mk4 style base (approximately $100 retail for the original) for your Remington 700, but think you may need the extra range allowed by a tapered base, you now have an option for $35 to $50 more that will give you all the elevation you will ever need in a rock solid design that exceeds the strength of the original by far. With the addition of the Autauga base you now have real choices (Badger, MGW, Baer, Leupold and others) that were just a dream just five years ago. You just have to love variety!