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The Remington 700 is an icon. It has been around since the early 60s. It was designed to be an affordable, mass produced, accurate bolt action rifle.
It has been used in military, law enforcement and numerous sporting applications. When I started out in my quest to hit small targets at long range without needing to remortgage my house, this was the rifle I selected. I will give you my honest opinion after several thousand rounds and take you through the flaws and modifications I made to solve them….
The rifle I bought before any mods, the 700 SPS
The picture above shows a standard factory rifle. Remington offer a number of different models in the 700 family. They differ in terms of stock, barrel contour, weight and length. If you were looking for a hunting rifle to lug around the woods then a sporting, lightweight barrel is the way to go. Hunters might fire a rifle between 1-10 times a day. Pin point accuracy is not an issue. A target shooter wants a high level of accuracy and may put over 100 rounds through the barrel per day. Therefore a thick, heavy barrel is preferential. It takes longer to heat up and maintains heat consistency better (always looking for consistency). A heavy barrel is less prone to flex under heat and pressure which increases accuracy. If a barrel is moving as the bullet exits then the point of impact will change. Might be minimal at 100yds but it will be considerable at 1200yds..
The barrel length is particularly important to the long distance shooter. The .308 produces a lot of energy in the form of hot gasses which exit by pushing the bullet down the barrel. Once they exit the confines of the barrel they are expelled into the air and the bullet will slow down from then on. A short barrel will waste some of that energy. Serious Palma and target shooters will select a 32″ barrel in order to accelerate the bullet as much as possible, making the most use of the .308s energy. A faster bullet means less wind deflection and greater achievable distances. 32″ is fine for static disciplines. If you like practical rifle or hunting then it is going to be to cumbersome. Remington offer a 26″ which suits me very nicely. It isn’t overly heavy or long for practical shooting but it still makes use of much of the .308s energy. Its been out to 1200yds and given sub moa performance. I’m going to attempt 1400yds in a couple of weeks and I will post results. I’m confident. In contrast my friend and guest writer Raf uses a 20″ barrel and he is disappointed with the results. The rifle is a tack driver out to 800-900 yds. At 1000yds the groups open up considerably. This is likely due to the bullet entering the transonic zone as it slows down and becoming unstable.
Customising the rifle
My rifle is not a standard example. I will list the changes I made to it and the reasons why.
After reading as much as I could find on the Remington 700 there were two gripes that kept popping up. The stock and the trigger. The stock supplied as standard is a cheap model. The barrel is supposed to free float (not touch the stock) but most users complained that the forend was prone to flexing and touching the barrel. I do not like the idea of stocks flexing at all. It is an unknown variable which we just don’t want. I decided to order a rifle in a Manners T5 stock which has excellent reviews from users. South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies had such a rifle AND it was left handed. In the UK that is about the same as finding a Unicorn..
Not only did the rifle have a decent stock but SYSS had given the trigger parts a good polish and recrowned the varmint profile barrel. On top of all that the rifle had been fitted with a mini chassis. The mini chassis holds the stock and action together more securely than the standard fittings. It also allows you to use external magazines. The Remington 700 series come with an internal magazine and a hinged floor plate. That is fine for hunting or plinking. If you want to shoot in timed disciplines then you want a removable magazine for quick reloads. The Badger Ordanance chassis on this 700 accepts Accuracy International magazines. In the shooting world AI mags are the gold standard. They are robust, simple and very reliable.
You can see the external magazine from Accuracy International
SYSS had also added a 20MOA canted picatinny rail. The canted rail gives me extra elevation which is needed when your dialling in for 1200+ yards.
At first I borrowed some mounts and a friends Hakko scope. I was not happy with the scope at all. It didn’t track well, the knobs were prone to loosening off, the parallax adjustment was way to tight and the reticle was so fine it would disappear. Even with that shonky set up, it was putting in groups of 1inch @100yds (1MOA).
The first change I made was the scope and mounts. I bought a pair of Third Eye Tactical rings and a Vortex optics Viper PST scope. This bought the group sizes down to .75MOA and more importantly gave me accurate turrets and a clear reticle for distance work. The new set up was a tad higher so I needed to raise my cheek a little to get really comfortable on the rifle. You want consistent and comfortable head position. I bought an AIM field sports cheek piece which does the job perfectly.
The rifle needed a bipod so after much research I went with a Harris. Harris have been around a while and are the go to guys for military and law enforcement. I selected a 3-9″ notched leg version with adjustable cant. I also ordered a lever to replace the knob used for locking the cant. A cheap but very worthwhile purchase. Anyone who has used a Harris will know the knob is a real pain to tighten down.
After running a few hundred rounds through the rifle it had settled into a consistent pattern. It was consistently giving .75MOA with hand loads and 1MOA with 7.62 milsurp ammo. It was hitting targets out to 1000yds on demand. I use the rifle in long range target comps and this accuracy was only just acceptable. Most guys I shoot against are using £3000+ full custom rifles. I decided to chase further potential. In my mind there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to improve things.
I took a good look at everything and noted a point on the stock which came very close to the barrel. I theorised that when fired, the barrel would flex (all barrels do) and touch the stock. This would interfere with barrel harmonics (which we will discuss in depth in a future article). I removed the stock and went to work with some sandpaper. After about 20 minutes of careful sanding in the for end I replaced the action with a torque wrench and tightened down to the spec quoted by Manners (the stock maker). This little job made a huge difference. I worked a new load up after sanding as the harmonics had been altered. Accuracy increased to .3MOA on the 100yd load testing range. It was more than I could have hoped for.
The Remington 700 in use
I use the rifle for F class target out to 1000yds. I also use it for practical long range target out to 1200+yds. It took a while for the gun to come into its own. At first it all felt a little stiff. The bolt was quite sticky and the trigger felt a little tough. After about 500 rounds everything became a lot smoother as the metal surfaces had polished one another and removed imperfections. The bolt has sections where the metal has been worn and smoothed out by friction. The trigger is also cleaner and more predictable. All rifles need a good run in period before you make a judgement.
The 700 happily shoots out to 1200 with total consistency. It has taken second place in a “smallest group” comp at Bisley. It was up against .284s .260s and other exotica, many costing several times that of my rifle. In conclusion it is an incredible rifle. It has been totally reliable, it just does what I need when I need it. Quite amazing considering the price. Many more expensive rifles have failed in front of me at the range. The Remington just keeps on chugging.. That is why I don’t hesitate to recommend. It can be customised with a plethora of aftermarket gear. With a little cash and a little savvy you can get your hands on a world class rifle in accuracy terms. Many rifle snobs will baulk at the Remington, but if it works, how can you knock it?