I could just have easily titled this article “the most accurate .308 caliber out-of-the-box rifle ever” and simply ended it here. I deal with accuracy all day. It’s silly really. Most rifles on today’s market are sufficiently accurate to the demands placed on them, easily capable of hunting level or tactical level accuracy with good ammo. Yet I still continue to pass over or sell off any rifle in my collection that not only will not hold minute of angle accuracy or better, beat it by half. Years ago I adopted a Remington 700P in .308. It was a fine rifle but at that time, it was cursed with a very long throat. There seemed to be an era in Remington’s production history where quality control fell a bit and that particular rifle suffered from a few issues. Remington has long since rectified these problems and has since released many a wonderfully accurate piece. I’ll tell the tale of that particular 700P to illustrate how far things have changed at the Big Green. My 700P was a mid 1990s era rifle. It suffered from an excessively long throat. Bullets had to be seated well beyond magazine length to net best accuracy. The bolt wasn’t making decent contact and I swear the screw holes in the receiver top were drilled off center, making scope mounting a little quirky. You can read my fixes in the September 1998 issue of Tactical Shooter magazine (Page 41, Vol.1 No.8). That rifle has since served me extremely well and has proven time and again to be one of the most accurate rifles in my cabinet. After a bit of gunsmithing to tune things up, the rifle, with original barrel, has exceeded my expectations for what is still in effect, a factory rig.
Which brings me to the topic of this article. In 2003 I believe, Remington started offering a rifle that to this day is still little known to many Remington fans and long range shooters who do not follow the industry closely. This is mainly because the rifle is offered only through one national distributor and if you are not set up with them as a dealer, you probably have never heard of it. Added to this fact, comparatively speaking, very few of these rifles are made annually. Numbers seemed to fluctuate between 250 and 500 per year. Known as the Remington Model 700SS 5-R Milspec this rifle is much sought after by those in the know. The premise of the piece is a stainless steel M700 action and barrel set in a newly designed HS Precision varmint stock. From its original format, the rifle has evolved a bit and for 2005 comes in the new HS Precision PSV74 varmint stock, which appears to be a hybrid between the tactically oriented Police stock found on the 700P and the more handy stocks found on the Remington Varmint Synthetic and Sendaro lines. The stock comes with a very nicely shaped palm swell that instantly places the hand in the proper position for solid trigger control. The 3 inch wide forearm has a re-curve in it which makes for very comfortable placement of your fingers in offhand positions. It also provides a very stable rest for bench shooting. The forearm is shorter than that found on the tactical rifles, making for a nice balance between solid feel and portability. Of course the stock comes with HS Precision’s full-length aluminum bedding chassis system and it is a true drop in. Old time gunsmiths will claim at the minimum a small pad of bedding compound should be placed just forward of the recoil lug to support the barrel, but I have to tell you, this particular rifle shoots so astoundingly well that I would not mess with a thing. The action screws are to be torque-set at 65 inch pounds and that’s it. Go forth and shoot.
The rifle derives its name from its barrel. 5-R Milspec refers to the rifling used. 5R-rifling features a radius’d shoulder between the lands and the grooves. Advantages are claimed to be a smoother engraving transition on the bullet jacket which, in theory at least, creates less drag in flight – which means possibly a slightly flatter shooting bullet compared to a bore of standard rifling profile. The second benefit is cleaning. Without the 90-degree angles between lands and grooves, fouling seems less likely to adhere as tenaciously to the bore. Copper fouling may also be reduced. This rifling profile is used in the Army’s M24 Sniper rifle. It has a proven track record for accuracy at long range, often making M.O.A. or better shots possible to 1000 yards. The M700SS 5R Milspec has a 24″ stainless steel barrel very close in profile to the original 700P Police rifle, before Remington went to the longer 26″ tubes on their police line. I’ve never quite understood the need for a 26″ barrel on a .308 rifle meant for tactical law enforcement use, but I’ve never complained about the slight increase in velocity since 1000 yard shooting was part and parcel of my life for a time. However, when it came to field use, portability and storage, I’ve always preferred the shorter 24″ barrel of the older pre-1990s 700P or current M24. Were I in law enforcement where shots are generally limited, I’d definitely prefer the 24″ barrel as urban environments are as likely, or more so, than rural.
Some have assumed the barrel on the 700SS is the same as the M24 barrel. While identical in rifling method, the outer contour is decidedly more portable. It’s similar to what you see on the Sendaro or Varmint line, meaning it’s not so burdensome over long hauls in the wild. Yet the accuracy this rifle has demonstrated proves that it can shoot right alongside its military brother and leave nothing behind in pure accuracy potential. I had heard reports ranging from .25″ @ 100 yards to .7″ at the same distance. Knowing how people like to pad numbers, I figured it was a solid half-inch rifle. But testing was proving problematic. I could not keep one in stock long enough to get it to the range! Finally a friend bought one (mine still doesn’t have a scope) and we hit the range for our first tests.
Before going any further let me give you some particulars. One of the biggest complaints I have about factory rifles is the trigger and the throat length. Be it liability issues or some evil cabal bent on frustrating long range shooters everywhere, triggers usually come in at 8 pounds and throats are often long to avoid high pressures. The 700SS was not of this ilk. The trigger weighed in at 5 pounds. Still a little stiff but it was a crisp break with no creep. As the Remington trigger is bread and butter for any gunsmith worth his salt, I’d have it dialed down to a nice 3.5 to 4 pounds and leave it there. The chamber was equally, if not more impressive. I measured the maximum overall throat length for the bullet I indented on using, the Sierra 175 grain HPBT Match King. It came in at a reasonable 2.895″ with the bullet touching the rifling. Recommended standard length for the .308 Winchester is .2.800″. I was quite impressed. My 1990s era project 700P has had the chamber re-cut to match specs and its Max OAL with the same bullet is 2.885! Chalk one up for Remington! This meant I could seat bullets starting right at the recommended OAL or 2.8″ instead of having to seat them way long just to see any kind of accuracy. Max OAL is not a figure you will use in your loads. It simply gives you an idea of how far your bullet has to jump before contacting the rifling. Every rifle has its quirks but most do not like a super long stretch. Accuracy suffers. Hand loaders often seat long, just short of the rifling, in an attempt to gain better accuracy. This method is not without risk. Pressure can spike. Rounds often do not fit the magazine. The 700SS on the other hand, has a reasonable chamber and thankfully doesn’t force you to revert to extreme loading practices to net excellent accuracy. My buddy Aaron loaded up a batch of cartridges using Remington brass, 43 grains of Varget, CCI Benchrest primers and the 175-grain Sierra Match King bullets. He tried a few seating depths for testing purposes ranging from .015 off the lands to .095 off. I’ll get ahead of myself here and give you a hint. Bullets seated right at the recommended SAMMI length of 2.8″ shot the best!
For range testing I decided that, since this rifle is so popular in F class competition, we’d start right off the bat with hand loads. We used IMI 175 grain match for break-in purposes and the rifle grouped fairly well considering it was being cleaned between each shot, but groups were nothing to rave about, coming in around an inch @ 100 yards. This was to be expected since each shot was essentially a cold bore shot from a new barrel.
Aaron broke in the barrel by firing 10 shots and completely cleaning between each shot. Fouling for the first three or four rounds seemed heavy…but after the fifth round he was getting clean patches almost immediately! Break-in procedures are constantly in flux. Some claim now that it is unnecessary and wears out a barrel early. Others claim that a reasonable approach is to do a basic break in and don’t go overboard. I fall into the latter group. We shot 10 rounds, cleaning between each shot using, first, Hoppes M-Pro 7 and a bore brush to get out the carbon (this stuff is very effective on carbon deposits), followed by dry patching and Shooters’ Choice for the copper fouling. After 10 rounds we went right into shooting five round groups between cleanings. This break-in approach seems to be a good bridge between the no-break-in crowd and the rest of the long range shooting community.
Using 200 yard benchrest targets set at 100 yards and a 10x magnification, we first tried bullets seating out close to the rifling. OAL was around 2.885″. The results were good, coming in around .6 inches with Aaron behind the trigger. He turned the rifle over to me when he got down to factory length loads. 2.800″ long just like you get in any box of Federal GM or hunting ammo. I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next. The first three rounds went into .192″ @ 100 yards! The next round I bolo’d because I was so exited about the way this was turning out. I should have gotten up, walked away and given it a minute. The fourth shot opened the group up with a flyer to .7 inches… but the fifth shot went right back into that oblong one-hole group, leaving those four shots at .192″! I was amazed. Had I not gotten antsy about it, this would have been the best ever group I’ve fired using a rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. We tried upping the charge and also tried other seating depths, but discounting that one round error on my part, the rifle definitely prefers 2.800 OAL and a muzzle velocity of about 2575 fps. To hedge my bets, I can definitely say this is a half inch rifle, right out of the box, with no extra work needed other than good ammo and a skilled shooter. But it gets better. The 175 grain match bullet is known for its ability to remain stable in flight to 1000 yards. The downside of that is that it might not always stabilize by 100 yards. Often, the groups you see at 100 yards are not much smaller than the groups you see at 200 yards with this projectile. Whether you shoot Federal GM2, Lake City M118LR, hand loads or any other load using this type of bullet, generally, you 100 yard group will not tell you the true picture.
The following day we took the rifle to 200 yards and shot it alongside my 700P. It out-shot my rifle with ease, turning out groups in the .3 M.O.A. range! That is 6/10ths of an inch at 200 yards! Think about that. Five Shots. Six tenths of an inch. 200 yards. Over and over again. Point three minutes of angle. From a rifle costing less than a good scope. The best I could do with the 700P that day as .4 moa (about .75 inches) at 200 yards! Needless to say, the 700SS 5R milspec is a winner and as I stated at the beginning of this article, is probably the most accurate out-of-the-box .308 rifle I have ever had the pleasure to shoot. Its capable of true sub half MOA accuracy. It also seemed fairly indifferent to some variables we experimented with. Going up a grain in charge didn’t phase it much, nor did playing with seating depth. The overall results indicate it likes 2.8″ in OAL which is a godsend to people who do not handload, and it also seems to prefer velocities one normally expects out of the 175 grain loadings. Accuracy was excellent between 2550 and 2580 fps. You can certainly push the bullet faster but you gain little for it in accuracy. What this means is that those limited to using factory match ammo will see very good results. Federal GM2 and GM all hover between 2500 and 2600 out of most barrels in this length range. You can expect accuracy with factory match to fall in the .4 to .6 moa range. This is excellent for a non-tuned, non-custom rifle. Finally, as the rifle is all stainless, cleaning chores should be less work intensive and thus far this has proven to be the case. Tactical shooters will want to blacken or paint the rifle camo of course, but for competitive shooters just run and gun. The combination of the stainless action and barrel against the HS Precision PSV74 stock painted black with green webbing makes for a very handsome piece. Balance is excellent and ergonomic.
If you cannot tell, this is fast becoming my favorite long-range rifle. I can solidly recommend it for Varminters, Law Enforcement snipers, F-Class competitors and anyone else looking for an extremely accurate .308 caliber rig priced well below what one would expect to pay for a custom rifle with the same accuracy potential. With the reasonable 24″ barrel length, the 700SS 5R Milspec breaches the gap between the Remington 700P and the 700LTR, giving law enforcement snipers a very accurate option for about the same money. You will spend over $1500 on a custom rifle to even come close to this level of precision.
My Rem. M700 is acting up. Meaning that it’s not feeding rounds from the mag. w/ any reliability. And I seem to be having difficulty loading any more than 2 in the mag. I can put 2 rounds in the mag. fine, but for some reason, the third one goes in w/ difficulty and will ,sometimes, look misalighned. The 4th rd. goes in w/ a large amt. of forcing effort and sometines doesn’t want to go at all. This is not a good thing. I want to be able to smoothly cycle the bolt and feed rds. for rapid fire.
I was practicing 5 shot rapid from prone at the range a couple of days ago. I could get 4 in the mag. and load a 5th in the chamber, but when shooting, the bolt would not grab the 3rd shot. The round appeared to be incorrectly oriented. I had to stop, dump the rds. or fiddle w/ no 3 in the mag to get things going.
Today, I visited my friend and mentor, Hook Boutin. We replaced the factory follower w/ an after market steel follower and he “peened” the underside follower tabs against the spring w/ a punch to prevent the follower from sliding back and forth on the spring. We noticed this sliding effect existed as well. The follower appears to be better positioned and tensioned more uniformly when looked at and touched. The old one would tip foward due to the sliding mentioned earlier. I thought this might be part of the prob. I got back home and tried loading rds. in the mag well. Still, it seems like too much effort and difficulty. Cartridge OAL is 2.80-2.805 in. So, over lenght is not the problem.
Hooks tells me this is a major drawback in the Rem. design and this very problem has occured in combat situations. For this reason, he preferrs the Win M70 pre-64 action because of it’s loading ease and feeding reliability. He demonstrated as much w/ two M70s of his own. Well, I get all frustrated and think, now what? I really don’t know what is wrong w/ my rifle, nor how to fix it if it’s fixable.
While driving home, I was having a major pout about all this. I even though about getting one of these modifications done where M1-A mags. can be used. I thought, okay , fine, I’ll forsake Remingtons and get a pre-64 M70. My house can burn down, my car can burst into flames, my kids can be kidnapped and sold into slavery, but don’t , please God, don’t let my M700 malfunction in any way. I just can’t take it,Lord. I’m not that strong!! So I drove home sucking my thumb after having lost control of my bladder in the front seat in the fetal position on Hwy I-20. Oh, well, maybe I exaggerate just a bit. But I was a little frustrated and pissed. Has anyone ever experienced this ” loading the mag./feeding rds. from the mag.” problem.?
Jeff returns to his red flannel hide with a fresh change of Depends and holds his breath hoping against hope for soothing words of wisdom and comfort from his betters at Sniper Country…
Whimpering like a spineless girly-man in Smyrna, Ga USA – Saturday, October 10, 1998 at 01:41:34 (EDT)
Jeff A. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT GO WITH THE M1A/M14 MAG MOD TO THE REMINGTON 700!! If you are finding yourself in the Kent State fetal position over feeding problems now, you will end up like little black sambo running around in ever diminishing circles until you disappear up our own asshole if you try the M1A mag mod. I have a question. Are you shooting short action rounds out of a long action weapon? Sounds like the same problem we have occasionally with the M24 which is built on a long action but shoots 7.62. If this is the case, make sure that you push the rounds all of the way to the rear of the magazine as you fill the mag.
If you are having feeding problems out of a Remington action check out the fit between the floorplate and the magazine box. During assembly you can squeeze the box if you aren’t careful which will give you fits trying to get the mag to feed right.
After reading about all of these problems with the Remington 700 actions (feeding, extracters etc.) I find it amazing that both the Army and the USMC found it good enough to build thousands of sniper systems based on it. I had a smart ass comment but I will withhold it.
Guys, be careful who you have work on your rifles. There are a lot of fella’s out there with certificates from mail order schools who claim to be gun-smiths. Spend the extra bucks to send it to someone like Armament Technology, Iron Brigade Armory, Texas Brigade Armory etc. Also don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!!!!!!!
Well manly men. Keep doing it in a manly manner and I will catch y’all on the flip flop.
Sherwood, AR USA – Saturday, October 10, 1998 at 03:29:51 (EDT)
I thank you for your email and the Roster post as well. I just now read both. I see no bust on anybody in it. As a matter of fact, I see your comment about the possible” squeeze effect” as a damn good observation.
When loading the 3rd rd., I will encounter resistance that, in my opinion, shouldn’t be there. Moreso when attempting to load rd. no. 4.
No. 4 is really a bitch. I’m not sure if this is what you’re referring to,but, the mag is a piece fo metal w/ the opening or split at the back. It basically fits in to the opening in bottom of the reciever body when you reassemble it to place it back into the stock. When out of the stock, the two edges of the backside split of the mag well body are just touching or close to it. They also appear to be flush or even, to my eyes, at least.
Now, once back in the stock, w/ screws tightened down, the “line” where the two edged of the split touches appears like it might protrude forward ever so slightly. Not as even or as “flush” as when removed from the stock. Might this be an indication of the squeeze effect you referred to? If there is a squeeze that shouldn’t be there, then it could cause a slight deminsional change and, hence, resistance to the loading and perhaps the feeding of rds. I looked this for quite a while last night and wondered. This is my untrained observation,please understand, but it either is congruent w/ what you suggest or at least I, by virtue of neurotic conjecture(what?), am making it fit with what I’m seeing.
In other words, it just don’t look rite.
If this were the cause, what would be the solution? The stock is an HS Precision tactical.
I do have another M700 SA mag well body that I’m tempted to see if switching would help. Or, does some surface or point need to be releived to eliminate the squeeze effect? Not being a gunsmith, I just don’t know. Part of me wants to create a solution, I guess, to make this puppy run right.
Anyway, thanks for your input. Hell, you may be closing in on the prob. I asked for help. You’ve responded. Ain’t no bust on anybody or anything from where I’m sitting.
Smyrna, Ga USA – Saturday, October 10, 1998 at 14:42:33 (EDT)
I forgot this part: It’s a short action. I do push rds. to the rear. Also, I’ll go double check, but I believe there is a small amt of space between floorplate/TG assy. and bottom of mag. body.
Still Smyrna, Ga. USA – Saturday, October 10, 1998 at 15:04:24 (EDT)
Jeff – Your problem may be that the mag body is not fitting into the recess on the floorplate/trigger guard assembly. There is a step cut out that the mag body must fit into so that the mag body is straight and aligned with the receiver cutout. This would cause the pinching and mis-alignment of the rear slit on the mag body. We have had similar experiences at SOTIC and it is almost always caused when the student fails to check the recess during re-assembly. This is a step we drill into the students for re-assembly check. Open the floorplate and feel inside the mag body. Does the mag body fit inside the floorplate assembly recess? If not, loosen the receiver screws and re-align the body with the recess. If this is difficult to accomplish, then remove the stock and check to see if the mag body fits inside the recess when the stock is off the weapon. It may have been torqued out of shape due to it not fitting before, and being squeezed under pressure of the receiver screws. Also check and see if your receiver is fitted with the Mil Spec mag body screw. The screw attaches the mag body to the reciever and is about as usful as a rubber chisel. If you have a screw holding the mag body, remove it and try to fit the mag body into the recess. Alot of times this will clear up the problem. The army wanted the screw so the weapon would pass the three ball bearing test. Anytime that the weapon’s mag body is not aligned with the recess and fitted into it, the results are exactly as you described your problems. In .308 it is the fourth round that is difficult to load and the fifth is impossible. The third round jams in an angled down position. Hope this helps.
Well, better close this one out before I get too long winded on you guys. Hold Hard and let the wind gods be kind. Always remember, “The wind is the shooters friend!!!”
Remington 700 Police Sharp Shooter (PSS)
The Remington 700 Police Sharp Shooter (PSS). For years, this rifle has been in service with countless law enforcement agencies across the United States. Based originally on the old Remington 700 Varmint rifle of days gone by, the PSS shows its fine, tack-driving lineage. Over the yeas, the rifle has undergone many minor improvements that have kept it up to date technologically, yet affordable to the average police unit. Moreover, this rifle has led the march for many toward ever increasing accuracy and, in its current form, is quite capable when compared to a custom-built rig, especially because of its reasonable price. Most recently, Remington changed the designation of the PSS to the 700 Police, or 700 P, and has made available a detachable magazine version, the 700 D.M., though this review will only focus on the PSS model.
The Remington action has long been considered the best of its type for strength, rigidity, and safety. Many shooters have based their custom rigs on this action and many manufacturers have built actions in its image. And in factory tactical rifle offerings, the 700 PSS is the rifle by which all others are judged. There may be better systems out there, in terms of pure accuracy, but generally they far exceed the price. In short, Remington continues to be the standard.
The current PSS sports the H.S. Precision kevlar and fiberglass-reinforced synthetic stock with a full-length, aluminum bedding block. Except for two modifications, this stock is identical to the M24 stock currently used by the Army. The M24 comes with an adjustable length-of-pull stock; the PSS does not. The M24 barrel channel is wider also as that rifle’s barrel is almost a straight taper whereas the PSS has the same contour as the current Remington varmint line of rifles. The stock is sturdy without being overly heavy. It has a wide fore grip and is quite stable off a bag, bench, or bipod. The H.S. stock is molded with a non-slip pebbled finish and is black in color. It has a palm swell at the pistol grip that fills out the hand nicely and makes trigger control easy by positioning the hand properly. The stock has two sling swivel studs, the forward of which is for a bipod. The stock attaches to the action with Allen screws set at 65 inch pounds. A helpful tip: If you purchase any Remington with an H.S. Precision stock, consider getting the appropriate torque wrench. This will save you much anguish the first time you want to pull the stock off for trigger work. Further, with the torque wrench, you are assured proper bedding tension when you re-install the action.
This brings to mind an oft-repeated question. Shooters, looking to buy a sniper rifle and considering the Remington line want to know “What is the difference between the 700 PSS and the 700 Varmint?” Or, more appropriate to the current model offerings, “What is the difference between the 700 PSS and the 700 Varmint Synthetic (VS)?” Beyond the stock, there is virtually no difference! This similarity in offerings says a lot for the excellent work Remington does. The 700 VS has an H.S. Precision varmint weight stock. It has a moderately wide fore end and comes with one sling swivel stud. It has the aluminum bedding block. The pistol grip is narrow, about what you’d expect for a normal hunting rifle. In contrast, the PSS has the M24 non-adjustable stock, with a wide palm swell and a wider fore end. Now pay close attention — the barreled action is virtually identical! There is no difference. Let me repeat myself. They are one and the same — same barrel, same non-trued action, same trigger, and same recessed concave crown. Put a PSS stock on a 700 Varmint Synthetic action, and you have a 700 PSS. This must be a consideration if cost is an issue. On average the 700 VS costs about $100 less than the PSS. For sniping purposes, the M24 stock is far superior to the varmint weight stock, but it is not really worth the extra cost if you are on a tight budget. Accuracy levels are approximately the same with either stock but the PSS stock has a much better feel.
To reiterate, the PSS, like its close relative the VS, is a well-crafted firearm sharing many of the latter’s positive attributes… but that’s not all! Getting more technical, the PSS and VS share a few problems due to the modern plague of plaintiffs’ lawyers and the idiot owners who hired them to shift responsibility for their own mistakes — the PSS and VS have unacceptably long throats or “free bores,” and heavy triggers. Most rifles shoot at their peak accuracy when the bullet is seated just shy of the lands and groves. This generally means a gap somewhere between .010 and .030 between the rifling and the ogive of the bullet. For product liability reasons, the PSS — like most factory rifles — has a long throat, as compared to that found in a good match-chambered rifle. This assures you won’t get a pressure spike by seating a handloaded bullet too long and thus jamming it into the rifling. Unfortunately, this means you will not see the rifle’s true accuracy potential with a standard length cartridge. This is not to say that the rifle is not accurate — quite the contrary. However, it has far more potential than a non-handloader will ever see.
For example, the PSS I am currently testing will place the 168-grain .308 Federal Gold Medal Match into about .5 to .8 minutes of angle (MOA). This variation covers the spread for a typical five-shot group from this rifle. This is very acceptable as far as sniper accuracy goes. . . but, when I seat the bullet out to where it should have been in the first place, those groups shrink to .2 MOA to .5 MOA! The problem then becomes that the overall length (OAL) of the hand-built cartridge is too long to fit in the magazine!
I know what you might be saying to yourself right now, “Hey, Scott, this rifle’s a tack-driver.” Sure, the PSS I am testing has proven itself to be a solid .6 MOA rifle with factory loads; with handloads (probably not acceptable for sniping purposes because of “due process” and liability concerns), the rifle will happily shoot into the .3 MOA range and occasionally exceeds that measurement. Remington, as well as every other manufacturer of whom I know, does the shooter a great disservice by making the throat so long. Our manufacturers are letting the legal system push them around a little too much in my opinion. If a firearm builder is going to give us a weapon specifically made for tactical shooting, then at least give us chamber dimensions worthy of the purpose. Damn the liability! Accuracy above all else!
Notwithstanding the throat problem, the PSS has proven to be a reliable, accurate, and repeatable tactical rifle. My cold barrel shot (CBS) has consistently been dead-center and one-quarter inch high of the average group. If I were to place a series of CBS targets from different days on top of one another, you would see clean through each hole as though a pencil was driven front to back. I can not complain about that level of consistency.
The second major liability-related problem is the trigger; the factory pull weight is too great. Plan on lowering it to about three pounds. Thankfully, the Remington trigger is easily adjusted. The trigger is wide and is excellent for mating finger to weapon. Moreover, it is crisp, clean, and without creep. It’s just too heavy from the factory and that extra weight will affect accuracy.
In summation, I heartily recommend the Remington 700 PSS for your tactical needs. My voice is just one in a chorus of many who have, over several decades, found this rifle more than adequate for the job.
The Remington 700 VS
The Remington 700 VS is a very accurate factory rifle, affordable to both individuals and agencies on a budget. Virtually identical to the 700 PSS except for a few minor details – which I will cover later – the rifle is equipped with an H.S. Precision stock, fully aluminum-bedded from grip to tip. This bedding block eliminates most of the problems associated with poor bedding. When torqued to the recommended 65 inch-pounds, just about any Remington action can be interchanged into these stocks without a loss in accuracy. No further bedding is necessary.
The 700 VS sports a 26″ free-floated barrel, a concave crown and a short action. The bolt is engine-turned and blackened which (from a tactical standpoint) makes for a very non-reflective surface. The metal finish on the barreled action is a pebbled black, similar to parkerizing in appearance. The stock is finished in a nonslip, crinkle-type black, with a dull gray “drizzle” that is the hallmark of H.S. Precision stocks. The fore grip is not quite as wide as the 700 PSS but wide enough to make for a very stable rest. The fore grip only has one sling swivel stud which, from close scrutiny, is the only other visible difference between this rifle and Remington’s police offering. For the price difference, one is far better served by the VS. I added a second sling swivel stud for a bipod after talking with the people at H.S. precision. It was a very simple job.
For a factory rifle, in the $500 range, accuracy is very acceptable. The rifle tested was a .22-250 but the firearm is available in .308 and .223 also. While the .22-250 is not considered a sniper round, unless of course you are a varmint buster, the inherent accuracy of the Remington action lends itself to a wonderfully-shootable rifle with no tuning, right from the box. You might not want to compete at benchrest with it but for a police agency sharpshooter, varmint hunter, or bench plinker, the groups this weapon turns out are very exciting. Using factory, non-match grade ammunition for the break-in period, I was able to print an average of .850 MOA. Once the bore was properly broken in, the groups shrunk marginally to around .750 MOA. This is very good for the intended purpose as most Big Dollar Sniper rifles are only guaranteed to group under one inch. Once I started developing handloads, the rifle easily went into the .400 MOA range. My best-of-all-time, 5-shot, 100-yard group has been .218!!! If the .308 can hold even triple that, it will make an ideal weapon for any local police department on a strict budget.
The quality of the firearm is very high. There were no unsightly machining marks, blemishes, or rough spots. The scope mount I installed needed no shimming or adjustments, once again proving Remington’s consistency in metal work. The trigger, following the current trend of factory silliness, was crisp but HEAVY – eight pounds, to be exact. This was easily dropped to three pounds but as a special aside, the groups mentioned above were all fired BEFORE I had the trigger adjusted. The trigger itself has a very wide contact patch and almost no take-up or creep. It has vertical serrations or lines so finger slippage is a non-issue. Once adjusted, it is a very fine interface. In my less-than-humble opinion, the stock is just the best there is. You really do get what you pay for when you choose an H.S. stock.
To Remington’s discredit, the rifle was shipped with a small ding or punch mark right on the edge of the crown. This was surprising to say the least. Happily it did not seem to effect accuracy but I was upset all the same. After several hundred rounds I had it recrowned just for peace of mind. There was no noticeable increase in accuracy so one could assume the ding was harmless. Still, one also expects better from the Big Green.
The Remington 700 VS is a well-balanced, accurate rifle capable of sustained precision fire on targets of the smallest size. As a police sniper weapon, it can allow a department with modest funds the means to equip its sharpshooters with reliable, well-made precision tools. Combined with Federal’s .308 Gold Medal Match, the 700 VS should prove an accurate, confrontation-ending sniper system. For the varmint hunter willing to spend a little more, the VS is equal to any over-the-counter varmint rig. It is incredibly accurate without the need of any added barrel gadgets like the BOSS. When compared to the factory offerings of just 10 years ago, its inherent accuracy potential is what big cheesy smiles are made of.
Remington 700Police DM
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.
Well, on to the rifles.
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.
Receiver and Barrel:
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.
Peripheral Equipment – Scope/Mounts/Rings/Bipod:
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.
Feelings on Factory ammo
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.