The imminent arrival of a pair of these rifles sent into effect a number of interrelated projects to be presented here on Sniper Country over the next few months.
I have always desired a good long range (well to me anyway) rifle capable of accuracy from 500 to 1000 yards, and possibly beyond. After my experiences at the Carlos N. Hathcock II Memorial Sniper match at Storm Mountain this past October and shooting along a fellow competitor equipped with a .300 Win. Mag. the significant differences at longer range, 500 to 875 yards or so, became immediately apparent even to tired old little peteR.
The time between the shot being fired and resultant impact on the E-2 and B-27 silhouette "Iron Maidens" seemed to be just a wee bit quicker than my pet .308 load of 44.0 gr Varget load behind a 175 gr Sierra BTHP @ 2683 fps.
After contemplating this "edge" for a couple of weeks, the comparable ballistics were run at home to see what benefits if any existed over my .308 tactical rifle. I plugged the values into my Oehler Ballistic Explorer program and did a comparative study of the two Federal Gold Medal ammunitions .308 Win/175 gr. (stock # GM308M2) vs. .300 Win Mag./190 gr. (stock #GM300WM). (Oehler Ballistic Explorer sez .308 time to target @ 500 yards 0.69957 seconds VS. .300 Win Mag 0.60314 seconds.)
In the computer generated comparative data, the .300 Win Mag seemed to beat the .308 for both wind deflection and trajectory, but at the cost of greater recoil and possibly some increased wear and tear on the barrel.
The .300 Win Magnum will then suit my somewhat limited needs more than adequately, maybe for use in an occasional tactical shooting event, and lots of research, development, and experimentation stuff.
Either of the two is very similar to my Model 700 Police DM .308 caliber, in all aspects but length of the receiver, to allow for a similar "feel" while both setting up for shots and shooting. I am a very firm believer in the muscle memory concept and keeping everything as similar as possible within a firearms category.
The stock is the H&S Precision Police version replete, as found on the rest of Remington's 700 Law enforcement line, with the aluminum "Vee" type bedding block that runs from the pistol grip up through the center of the forearm channel, and three studs for sling and a detachable bipod, or similar accessories.
Part of the exterior "shell" consists of Kevlar fibers giving it very good long term durability and the exterior is covered with a speckled or spider web type black matte finish.
One nice addition is a 1" thick recoil pad to soften the thump of the larger, more powerful Magnum caliber. The .300 Win Mag generates about 19.4 ft. lbs. of recoil energy compared to 11.5 ft. lbs. for the pretty much universally respected .308 Winchester. Anybody who has done much shooting will understand the cumulative effects of an additional 8.0 ft lbs of muzzle energy over more than fifty rounds of shooting.
I am completely satisfied with the bi-lateral palm swells on the pistol grip area of the stock and find that the similarity with my 700 Police .308 keeps things on an even keel. The same goes for the wider beavertail type forearm
Length of pull is the same 13 1/2" found on my other Model 700 L-E versions and is good for this Magnum variation as well. I had no problem with creeping the stock in the prone position and eye relief was not a problem at any magnification range.
Removal and inspection revealed a number of subtle changes: The stud holes for both the front sling swivel and bipod swivel on this stock had been drilled all the way through into the forearm channel. The bedding block exhibited a rather rough looking finish with the starboard side showing some handiwork with a die grinder. The barrel and stock channel did not bind at any point and the folded dollar bill test worked flawlessly.
The detachable magazine floorplate also showed some slight revisions. The cutouts for the spring loaded magazine retention studs appear to have been cleaned up and not problems with affixing the magazine or removing it occurred during the first 300 rounds fired through each rifle.
The option of 4 additional rounds of .300 Mag ammo available quickly pre-loaded into spare magazines is very nice.
So far, I have not had a problem with the detachable magazines feeding rounds on either of these two rifles. Time will tell, my 700 Police DM seemed to work well until the Carlos Hathcock Memorial Sniper Match, and began to balk at the end of the UKD range event with three distinct bobbles during feeding the rounds from magazine to chamber.
The barrel and receiver are the same standards found on the Model 700 line and are roll marked accordingly. Overall barrel length is 26" and the measured twist rate using a tight fitting patch and cleaning rod with a tape "flag" at the rear ferrule revealed a 1:10" twist as specified.
The muzzle and the OEM crown is of conventional design, showed no irregularities when viewed under 10x magnification and ends at a hefty .920" diameter.
The chamber and leade were measured with a Stoney Point Chamber Overall Length Gauge and the 190gr. Sierra MatchKing bullets gave an overall length of 3.605" seated to just touch the lands. The detachable magazine gave an internal length of 3.670" and I have decided to use 3.555" as the maximum allowable length to ensure certain functioning.
Stripping and inspecting the bolt assemblies revealed no burrs or irregularities. Both bolts were lightly lubricated with Shooters Choice All Weather High Tech grease on the sides of the lugs, and the cocking piece cam points.
The raceways in both of the receivers were fairly well finished and all machine work appeared to be well done.
One issue of concern on the more recent Remington Tactical rifles has been the trigger release weights. I feel that a 5 1/2 lb. Release weight can be effectively handled by a skilled shooter with minimal difficulty, and for the "average" shooter or rifle enthusiast this should be fine and dandy.
These rifles are not designed for benchrest competition, but for use in the field where 100% reliability under any and all conditions is paramount. For L-E, use it is normally not recommended to go below a minimum floor level of about 2 1/2 lbs.
That is, unless you shoot and practice very extensively, including lots of stress type drills, and have a VERY good lawyer on retainer.
Breaking out the Chatillon pull gauge revealed Rifle #1 had a release weight of 4 1/2 lbs and rifle #2 at 4 3/4 pounds. Not bad for a company that has to regularly deal with our society ridden with liability protection.
The triggers on both rifles "broke" crisply, and the .332" wide grooved blade made the release very controllable. The sear block safeties worked positively on both rifles and no dragging or excessive freeplay existed in either trigger module or against the inside of the stock.
If you are unhappy with this release weight, you may either do it yourself, have the factory unit tuned by a competent gunsmith, or replace it with an aftermarket variation like the Jewell HVR, Shilen, or any other brand that catches your fancy. Be warned that any modifications or the installation of an aftermarket trigger will most certainly void the factory service warranty.
Rifle #1 features a matched set of 30mm Badger Ordnance Maximized Rings and a Badger Ordnance base with a Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10x50mm EFR (1" tube body) scope mounted up top for preliminary work.
I also purchased the Badger ring reducer inserts to allow the use of the smaller 1" diameter scope. After opening the ring reducer box I was surprised to find they were NOT synthetic material, but machined steel and looked one heck of a lot like small engine type connecting rod or crankshaft journal bushings, very well made and individually sealed in a piece of plastic to prevent any shipping damage.
Rifle #1's optics will be converted in late May to a Leupold & Stevens Vari-X III 3.5-10x40mm M-3 Tactical Scope (utilizing the .300 WM calibrated turret cap) which was purchased and zapped right out to me from Chris Farris at SWFA. SWFA came through in a pinch and their prices and delivery services are absolutely SUPER!
For Rifle #2 the optics chosen for use was a Leupold 6.5-20x50mm Vari-X III (1" tube body) mounted in Burris Signature Rings with spherical synthetic bushings mounted on a Badger Ordnance one piece steel mount.
The Badger mounts features the 20 degree forward incline to gain a little more scope adjustment at longer ranges. The fit and finish of the base plate/mount was the finest that I have seen on a Picatinny type rail, and the rings equally well done.
The scopes were first checked for mechanical/ optical center before installation and everything carefully degreased and mounted up in a trial run and checked with a bore collimator.
The Badger Rings shipping box specifies torque values of 15 inch pounds for cap screws and 65 inch pounds for the Mounting Bolts. These were all carefully tightened in a cross bolt pattern to exact ranges via a Sears Craftsman #44593 inch pound torque wrench.
Rifle # 1 was quickly equipped with a Brownells supplied Harris BR-1A2 model bipod, and one of Mike Miller's Tactical Intervention Slings. An Olive Drab colored Eagle Shooter's Stock Pack was strapped onto the butt of the stock, which I was quite pleased to discover, will hold five rounds of .300 Win Mag ammo just as easily as the smaller .308 Winchester.
The SSP allows for a more comfortable cheekweld with the comb in poor weather and bumps the height up just a hair, which works superbly with the larger diameter 50mm scopes and high mounts.
Ammunition selected for this evaluation included two of the industry standards; Federal Cartridges Gold Medal Match 190 gr. BTHP, (#GM300WM), and Remington Arms Premier Boat Tail 190gr. BTSP (#PRB300WA) and consisted of five 5 shot groups fired at distances of 100 and 200 yards.
The Federals chronographed velocity at 15' from the muzzle averaged 2917fps with spreads of: hi- 2931fps, lo-2908fps, ES of 23, and a Sd of 13fps.
Remington Premier chronographed velocity at 15' from the muzzle averaged 2897fps with spreads of: hi- 2959fps, lo-2922fps, ES of 37 fps, and a Sd of 21fps.
The Federals chronographed velocity at 15' from the muzzle averaged 2892fps with spreads of: hi- 2915fps, lo-2871fps, ES of 44fps, and a Sd of 14fps.
The Remington Premier loads chronographed velocity at 15' from the muzzle averaged 2932fps with spreads of: hi- 2964fps, lo-2911fps, ES of 53fps, and a Sd of 18fps.
Intrinsically either of these rifles is capable of far better performance than I can deliver on a regular basis. Rifle #1 seemed to prefer the Federal Gold Medal match rounds and grouped a little tighter over the testing, while #2 shot them both to similar sized groups.
Rifle #1 exhibited what I will call exceptional accuracy for an out of the box production version with all preliminary groups at 100 yards cutting around 5/8" c.t.c. At 200 yards the accuracy was more than acceptable at less than two inches c.t.c. with the average hovering around 1.46"
Rifle #2 also exhibited what I will call exceptional accuracy for an out of the box production version with all preliminary groups at 100 yards cutting around 7/8" c.t.c. At 200 yards the accuracy was again more than acceptable, at less two inches on the average.
During the recent winter interim the installation of a muzzle brake on rifle #2 helped to reduce the recoil sensation and testing quite naturally showed that the conventional "hunting" design generated a large dust signature.
The velocity and consistency of both the factory loads would be very hard to beat for the average reloader without resorting to pretty advanced techniques and equipment. For the operational sharpshooter/sniper the stigma of using "Handloads" is removed with little loss in performance. Having a Belted Magnum rifle shoot like this (Probably much better in REALLY skilled hands) from the box is no longer considered an unusual occurrence.
Further work as an outgrowth of this review will revolve around the use of three bullet weights: The 190 gr. Sierra MatchKing bullet at 2900 fps utilizing a charge of H-1000 powder ignited by a Federal GM215M primer seated in Federal Gold Medal case. A 175 gr Sierra MatchKing and 155 gr Palma bullet load will each be developed using the H-1000 powder as an experiment and reported on later.
Incidentally all of the hand loads were assembled in a Redding Competition Neck Die set replete with the new Competition Shellholders which allow for quick and efficient headspacing of the brass.
The Competition Shellholders are simple to install and use, just normally set up the dies in the press, except installing the .010" marked shellholder, then sizing a case, and trying to chamber it in the rifle. If the case does not chamber, use the next shellholder .008" and repeating the process until the case chambers. You are now set up to the correct headspace minimizing the "working" of the brass. In a word "Schweeeeet!"
I am by no means a physically large person, and have to take certain steps to negate the affects of recoil. The first is to shoot only mid to heavy weight rifles in Magnum calibers; hand me a feather weight and I will pass on shooting it, EVERY TIME.
For limited application shooting the Remington factory recoil pad as found on the 700 Police (Magnum) is fine, but start firing say 50 or more shots for accuracy evaluation from the bench, or prone positions, and it begins to get to me regardless.
Simple little changes like installing a folding bipod up front and the SSP Aft can help to slow down or absorb the recoil a wee bit too. I jokingly mentioned to Dave Liwanag that I was going to bolt my 24 pound Ransom Rifle Master machine front rest to the forend to extend my quality shooting time.
Actually, I have a section of high density neoprene rubber glued to the inside of my shooting jacket, and have been known to even slip in a P.A.S.T. magnum pad underneath that for extended Magnum caliber rifle shooting sessions.
If you are looking for a rifle with just a little more thump than that of the .308 Winchester, wish to keep the same "ergonomics" of a 700 Police .223/.308, be able to have some load component interchangeability via the same diameter projectiles, primers, and propellants, but do not wish to step up to either the Remington Ultra Magnum, or the .338/416 Lapua Magnum class of cartridges, this may be a rifle for you.