Stuart Wilson finds bags of appeal in a .223 rifle package based on a Remington 700 with McMillan stock and GPO Evolve scope.
So my shooting friends know, I am a big fan of the Remington 700 action, and over the years I have shot many variants of the factory rifles and also custom jobs.
I have owned several, and still own two: an old PSS in .243 Win, and a custom-barrelled short action in .243 Ackley sat in a McMillan stock that is near-identical to the one this test rifle came dressed in. I am fairly sure the colour is the only difference, aside from the many battle scars mine now sports.
It is also worth mentioning at this point that the best groups I have ever shot at 200 yards were produced by a factory-barrelled Remington 700 PSS in .243 Win – using factory ammunition as well (85gn Sierra BTHPs). It had been a second hand buy, and saw some serious use. This went on to become the donor rifle for the custom build.
What I am trying to say is factory rifles will shoot very well out of the box. If you have a personal preference, that is usually what will work best for you. In my case the Remington 700 has served me very well over the last 15 years.
I always enjoy unboxing a new arrival, and today, slipping the full Remington kit from its protective casing was no exception.
All I had to add were mounts, and I went with the tried and tested Sportsmatch 30mm mounts complete with the bubble level – which is handy when shooting in the field, but also useful for helping get the reticle in the correct plane.
The only consideration here is making sure the rings are tightened down equally to ensure the bubble level is exactly plumb.
This Remington 700 was chambered in .223 Remington, perfect for foxing and longer-range varmint control, sporting a heavy barrel profile, sat in a McMillan stock, topped off with the GPO (German Precision Optics) Evolve 6-24×50 scope, with the A-TEC Evolve moderator finishing the package nicely.
After a quick assemble, the scope received a quick bore-sighting, ready for a zeroing session using my shooting table. I grabbed some of the ammunition Remington supplied and headed off to a suitable field on my zeroing ground.
Folding out the shooting table, deploying a couple of bags to support the rifle front and rear, I wanted to get to grips with the rifle before using it in anger.
With the rifle nestled on the bags, you get a good chance to see how the fit of the stock is going to be. I am familiar with this style of stock – it feels substantial and solid, and applying some rearward pressure using the near-vertical pistol grip sees the butt stock seat reassuringly into your shoulder, followed by a quick adjust of my cheek weld and I was happy with my eye level to the scope, although this stock did come with a saddle cheekpiece that is adjustable.
The butt pad also offers adjustment for length with the addition or removal of spacers. Quickly loosening the two securing screws lets you slip spacers in or out before retightening to the new length – though it was perfect for me so there was no need for any adjustment.
The butt pad offers a large contact area, which should make for reduced felt recoil – with the test rifle being in .223 Rem, this was never going to kick, but the stock fits short action Remington 700s (there is also a long action variant) and for calibres that will produce more recoil, a larger butt stock will spread this recoil more evenly and allow for better, faster follow-up shots.
The pistol grip allows a near-vertical trigger hand position, which is perfect for the trigger finger to present inside the trigger guard effortlessly. I opt to place the thumb of my trigger hand vertically up and gently rest it behind the rear tang area, which reminds me to gently squeeze/pinch thumb and trigger finger for tension-free, repeatable shooting form.
The stippled panels either side of the pistol grip offer excellent grip to the trigger hand. The forend carries on the substantial theme, with a solid profile that expands out just past the past the point of the recoil lug to give a wider forend, with stippled panels further aiding the shooter’s grip when shooting in a variety of positions.
The heavy barrel is free-floated in the forend, and two sling studs would allow for bipod and slings to be attached, with he rear stud in the stock completing the sling attachment.
McMillan stocks are very durable, and over the years, my own has been banged and jolted for a variety of reasons, occasionally taking a small battle scar, but nonetheless remaining straight and true, and is still doing a perfect job of housing my Remington 700.
The olive drab colour of this stock is a good choice, and given the choice again now I would prefer this to the black variant that I have, but whatever floats your boat!
Barrel and action
The Remington 700 action is tried and tested, bombproof and rugged. That’s not to say it’s unrefined, but it is fair to say the Remington is better known for good accuracy and reliable performance in a multitude of environments, and while it’s not the slickest action ever created, it is certainly trusted.
Most of you will have heard the ‘three rings of steel’. A good number of you will understand the concept, but for those who don’t: The action forms the first, outer ring, the barrel forms the middle ring as the bolt nose engages into the counterbore machined in the barrel face, with the recessed bolt forming the third ring of steel around the chambered cartridge.
It’s proven and strong, and gives serious longevity, with many Remington 700s receiving several barrel changes that must put the service life of the action well into the tens of thousands of rounds.
The heavy profiled barrel complements the rest of the package, and makes it ideal for varmint shooting, which (if it’s long-range rabbits) may involve several shots in fairly quick succession, as would any target shooting.
I am happy lugging a heavier barrel around, and that added weight always helps soak any recoil, however slight. The muzzle is threaded ½x28UNEF, which is more prevalent across the pond, but as Raytrade supplied the moderator it wasn’t an issue, and the Evolve moderator did a solid job a cutting the muzzle blast down nicely. It’s not heavy either, being an aluminium construction for the most part.
The bolt cycles as expected, picking rounds from the magazine without issue, and spitting spent cases well clear of the shooting table. The two-position safety with the industry-standard ‘forward for fire, rear for safe’ does the job.
The action was topped off with a Picatinny rail, making for easy mounting of a conventional day scope, but also – importantly today – allowing easy mounting of NV, for which the .223 Rem is a perfect choice.
The scope provided with the kit was a GPO in 6-24×50 spec with external turrets, and a ballistic-style reticle inside. The turrets click positively, and there is a numbered scale to allow the shooter to confirm which rotation the turret is on, avoiding potential full-turn errors.
The clarity was good, with the magnification range offering a nice balance. I have to admit I was not the most familiar with GPO, but I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of this brand of optics if the price point is right.
I opted for some Remington 55gn Accutip ammunition, which covers most bases for this calibre. On the range, the rifle started printing straight away, from the first two shots to allow me to adjust into a zeroed position to the following five-shot groups that became single ragged holes. It was great fun and the whole package worked together extremely well.
I would have loved to have spent more time with this package, and though I have always leant towards a .22-250 Rem as my preferred .22 centrefire, I was somewhat swayed by this model.
Perhaps my cabinet could use a .223 Rem? It would certainly make sense for an NV rig, covering foxing duties and occasional longer-range vermin sessions. I could see myself picking off rabbits, hares, and corvids at good distances.
I was pleased with the package. It shot well, I am a sucker for McMillan stocks, and it got me thinking, “Is there space in my armoury for a .223 Rem?” Then when you consider the RRP of the rifle at £1,059 and the scope at £965, it’s an awful lot of bang for your buck. Cracking.
For more information, contact Raytrade UK: 01635 253344, raytradeuk.co.uk