Stuart Wilson reviews the latest iteration of the legend that is Remington’s 700, this model coming in .223 with a 5-R rifled barrel
Remington 700s have been one of my go-to rifles for a long time now – the time-tested rugged reliability hasn’t seen many changes over a number of decades, perhaps the odd facelift, but the action and barrel have been hitting their mark consistently for years. I would hate to try and put a number on the number of targets that have been hit by this sometimes derided rifle, whether that is fur, feather or paper. Remington barrels have always been good – occasionally you will get a more difficult barrel, but I have never failed to get a new or second-hand Remi 700 to do the business. Factor into the equation the ease of customisation and or rebarrelling, and most people get many years of solid service.
The review rifle arrived. Unboxed casually one morning, my first impression was that this was definitely a Remington, and on the face of things I couldn’t really see much different from previous models from this manufacturer. This 5R in .223 Rem just reminded me of an LTR crossed with the VSSF 11 minus the black inflated flutes. On closer inspection, some of the new features became apparent. As I checked out the muzzle and thread I noticed the laser-engraved lettering down the barrel, instead of the usual stamped markings. Mounting the rifle in my shoulder, and sneaking a test dry fire, the trigger was certainly different as well.
The new laser engraving, much neater, showing the twist rate 1-9 tactical
Grabbing a spare scope, I was pleased to find that the picatinny rail atop the Remi allowed my mounts to slip straight on, and even with high mounts the cheekpiece centred my eye nicely down the scope. I slipped the rifle and bundled some Remington 55-grain accutips into the truck and set off to my zeroing ground. The 1 in 9 twist may prefer a slightly heavier bullet but I have normally had reasonable results in the 700 PSS in .223 Rem, which is also the same twist. Bore sighted and loading the first few rounds, a few minor adjustments saw my groups cutting the bull about an inch high, out to 200 yards, and I settled in to see what the 5R would do. The best group just pushed outside the inch mark – it would have been nice to crack under ½ MOA but all the same the rifle shot very well.
I was a bit saddened at the thread being ½x28, a step away from the norm for me, and I couldn’t get a moderator in time. That’s not to say it’s overly loud – I was just hoping to sneak a night sight on top to try and get at some post-harvest foxes. The noise and flash just won’t let that happen this time.
The stock is one I am quite familiar with, a solid design. It’s a HS Precision, with a good palm swell with a semi vertical pistol grip, the cheekpiece of the stock runs pretty much parallel with the scope rail, so slight variances in shooting position will not see the shooter struggle to see through the scope; this is perhaps more relevant to hunters than target boys, particularly foxing at night where the positions can be many and varied. The butt pad is grippy rubber, about perfect for getting it into your shoulder, then holding it there when you grip for the shot. The forend has a full feel to it, with thumb and finger rails neatly keeping my sausages away from the barrel, the usual double sling studs allowing bipod and sling options to suit. The stock is finished with a green spider’s web paint over a gray black base, which all hides the aluminium bedding and forend block that keep everything nicely bedded and true.
All the metalwork has a satin bead–blasted finish to it, apart from the bolt body, which is engine turned to a superb finish. The barrel and action are both stainless steel, sporting the same recoil lug design, the action is the time-tested ‘three rings of steel’, and the magazine is still the floor plate design. Not everyone’s preference, but you can’t lose a floor plate, or forget one, leaving it snug in your rifle case for you to discover your error in the field!
Barrel and trigger
So, you may be asking, what is new? Two main aspects of this rifle that I find most intriguing are the new 5R barrel and the X-Mark Pro trigger. Firstly, let’s look at Remington’s new 5R hammer forged barrel, the essence of the technology behind it and why. A conventional rifled barrel, let’s say a standard 4 or 6 groove configuration, has by its nature a groove opposite a groove, and more importantly a ridge or ‘land’. When we fire a bullet down the barrel these lands cut or press into the side of the bullet to impart spin on the projectile, while the main body of the bullet seals against the diameter created by the alternating grooves. When a land is opposite a land, the pressure needed to ‘squirt’ the bullet down the barrel will be greater and will create more metal fouling (copper deposited onto barrel steel) than a barrel with the same bore dimensions and matching rifling specification by using an odd number of grooves/lands – simply because each ridge/land sits directly opposite a groove at 180 degrees. (Barrel technology is a broad topic and would be better placed in its own chapter rather than this article). Add the benefit of the 110-degree shoulder at the edge of each land instead of the more conventional 90 degrees and the reduction in fouling is further compounded. The theory is sound, and the practice I am sure will also back this up. This is not the first time a barrel of this design has been manufactured. The barrel will shoot cleaner, smoother, needs less cleaning, and when you add up all those factors it will lead to better accuracy for much longer.
The trigger on the Remington 700 has always needed some adjustment, and while many shooters just slot in a full replacement unit, now Remington have designed the X-Mark Pro, an advance on the old X-Mark in that it is adjustable, and externally adjustable at that. Still, it’ll end up on the heavy side. This test model is furnished with that trigger, but the weight it can be adjusted down to will not suit some shooters. I am more than happy with any safe trigger – these days my sensitivity is tuned out after trying so many different firearms. To be fair to Remington, the trigger broke at 3.75lb with the adjustment grub screw protruding just at the top of the nicely curved blade. Despite the weight of the trigger, the groups shot were not affected.
The 5R tactical .223 Remington sports the beautiful stainless 5R barrel, with stainless action to match. The 20in barrel makes this a perfect vehicle foxing rifle, preferably equipped with a moderator, which would certainly not detrimentally affect the handling or pointability. I wasn’t overly keen on the ½x28 thread, but the machining is excellent, leaving a flat crown with a small 45-degree recess to protect the end rifling from any inadvertent dings, finished with a solid thread protector.
I have always liked the dimensions of the HS stocks that Remington put on these rifles – this one is a smidge short in length of pull, but this is barely noticeable in the shoulder, with the integral aluminium bedding block and the aluminium bar inside the forend produces a rock-solid chassis for a barrel and action more than worthy. If the rifle belonged to me I would perhaps spend some time trying a slightly heavier bullet, and more than likely reload a 60-70 grain bullet, I would expect some fairly spectacular groups.
I have already run through the possible uses for a .223 Rem. Perhaps this would make a perfect rifle for use with night vision, maybe a superb daytime long range varminter, and let’s not forget our smaller deer species. Weighing in at 4kg unscoped, and being pretty compact, I would also quite happily sling this rifle on my back in search of Scottish roe deer.
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