Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Remington 700 SPS Tactical .308 Review

Remington 700 SPS Tactical .308 Review

I am sure every word possible has been already said about the Remington 700 over the years. With the exception of the Remington 870 shotgun, the Remington 700 action remains the most popular gun in Remington's entire line up. Currently to date, Remington offers nearly 30 model versions with multiple caliber options in each model. The shear number of configurations is dizzying. Both the long and short Remington 700 actions have become the standard for everyone from the occasional hunter to pro hunting guides to target shooters to snipers. The Remington 700 Action is famous for its reliability and outstanding out of the box accuracy.

Remington responded to a huge public request for a Tactical model lineup. The request was simply for a straightforward Remington 700 action priced for the LEO or military shooter. For almost everyone that started with the value price Remington SPS (Special Purpose Synthetic) line. Remington's response was adding the Remington 700 SPS Tactical model in 2010 available in various barrel configurations with chamberings in .223 .308, and later adding 300 Blackout. I choose the insanely popular and combat proven .308 for this review. Of the barrel configurations availabe, I choose the 20" threaded barrel model with a faster 1:10 twist.

The Remington 700 SPS forgoes all the nice little surface treatments in favor of a fairly pedestrian grade black oxide finish.  The finish though plain is extremely durable, but does nothing to represent what the high grade Remington 700 rifles offer. Equally unimpressive is the Hogue style rubber stock in a world of Remington's own lustrous wood and billet sniper 700 stocks. So on the outside, the Remington 700 SPS Tactical is about as understated as it comes compared to pretty much any other rifle in Remington's line, but looks and exterior finish are where the quality differences of comparison end. Internally the SPS Tactical .308 feature all the same specs as the higher dollar more expensive 700s with hammer-forged barrel, and externally adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger (yes mine was post recall).

Chances are high that my Remington 700 SPS Tactical will end up coated with AlumaHyde II or some other coating, so I am not worried about surface finishes. The Hogue stock features dual-point pillar bedding to increase accuracy and a SuperCell recoil pad. The stock may not be fancy, however it is completely weather resistant, durable, will take an extreme amount of abuse, and will hold zero regardless of weather. For the price and intent, there simply is no other better stock on the market.

The heavy profile hammer-forged .308 barrel delivers everything you could ever want from any stock Remington 700 action from an accuracy perspective. Many note that the SPS Tactical is actually one of Remington's most accurate 700s.  

The Remington 700 SPS actually has a several features I like which are exclusive to this model; namely the 20” heavy barrel, the threaded barrel, and the X-Mark Pro trigger. The heavy barrel delivers great accuracy over the thin profiles found on most 700 models. I wanted the threaded 20" barrel model because I had an intent to attach a brake or supressor later on. My experience has been that you can greatly increase follow up shot speed and even provide self-spotting with a quality muzzle brake attached to keep the muzzle flat and reduce recoil. The last thing I really wanted to do was to make my first stop on the upgrade train to be a $200 thread and muzzle recrown. Why not just click the button for the threaded model and in this case Remington offers the option in .308, but oddly enough the threaded barrel is not available in the .223 model. I think the X-Mark Pro trigger is one of the best factory single stage bolt action rifle triggers on the market and I like it far better than those from Savage for example.

All in all the SPS Tactical in .308 is one of the toughest models to beat at $650 from a value across the entire 700 lineup and even when compared to the competition.

I wanted to equip the rifle simply with quality components which I would not have to swap around too much as I upgraded the rifle trigger and stock later on. This build used a Harris bipod, and quality optics setup. The optics were set up with Lucid Crosso Over 4-16x44mm Scope, Brownell's steel Remington Short Action picatinny base, and American Precision Arms steel 30mm rings.

The Lucid 4-16 is an excellent and stunningly clear optic for the price which has all the features you would typically find on top end optics with the exception of a first focal plane. I think everyone knows that Brownell's has an excellent line of their own products and this all steel scope ring base is an exceptionally well made solid piece, however I do wish they offered it in a 20MOA version.  

The American Precision Arms 30mm rings are unique and I will get into their features in a future article and you can guess at $195, they are exceptionally well made and as high precision as I have seen in a set of scope rings. I did make a mistake going with the .856” rings as you will see in some future articles where I test other chassis/stock systems. You really need at least a 1.031” ring (Medium) height especially if you have a larger objective optic. If you plan on sticking with a standard open top stock such a the factory Hogue or a high grade open barrel McMillian stock a set of .856” low rings will work fine, however it you plan on using one of the billet “tubed” handguard chassis systems, then you will likely need higher rings.

One of the little "features" I would like to have included on this Tactical version is a threaded bolt handle. One of those first upgrades everyone does is to have the bolt handle milled and threaded to accomodate an oversized bolt handle. Usually this upgrade is done to speed the ergonomics and speed of the reloading cycle. I found a simple product called the Bolt Lift $28 from KRG which is a bolt on extended and enlarged bolt hand knob which just bolts on over your existing bolt handle. After the KRG Bolt Lift is installed, you have a hard time telling that you didn't spend the $50-$100 for a custom threaded bolt handle.  For around $30, you can overcome one of the annoying compaints people have with the ergonomics of the Remington 700 as a "Sniper system".

After some research and a few rounds down range, pretty much everyone's notations that the Remington 700 SPS Tactical delivered its best groups with 168gr rounds seemed correct. I opted to round up the usual Hornady suspects of TAP, Superformance, Z-Max and A-Max rounds in 168gr bullet weight and headed to the range along with some Nato spec XM80 149gr ammo.

The results did not disappoint me. My best group was a 5-shot 100-yard .51" group with almost every round delivering sub-1" 100-yard groups. The XM80 was a great inexpensive practice round which still delivered consistant 1” 100-yard groups. Playing around with the X-Mark Pro trigger netted a little tighter groups trimming about a tenth of an inch off all the groups which officially pushed my best groups under the .50” mark at 100-yards.

The Remington 700 SPS Tactical .308 is an amazing performing rifle which eats and spits out amazing groups downrange even with milspec ammo. With top end target and match ammo, the SPS Tactical is an amazing out of the box factory shooting gun which some folks have reported as good as ¼” 100-yards groups with. My best group approached those groups, however perhaps with a great aftermarket Timney trigger that extra .25” in group reduction may be typical.

For the upgrade bound buyer, the Remington 700 SPS Tactical represents a simple path for just upgrading the chassis/stock and trigger. Drop the rifle into a new free-floating chassis with a new trigger and shooters have a pretty nice little long range rig and for $650, the SPS Tactical .308 is a great place to start.

20" heavy barrel
X-Mark Pro Adjustable Trigger system
Hogue overmolded stock
Pillar bedded stock for accuracy
Durable satin black oxide metal finish
Hinged floorplate magazine
Caliber .308 Win
Average Weight 7.5lbs
Barrel 20" with Threaded Muzzle
Overall Length 39 5/8"
Barrel Twist 10"
Model  84203
Remington 700 SPS Tactical $650
KRG Bolt Lift $28
Lucid Optics 4-16x44 Cross Over Scope $419
Brownell's Steel Remington 700 Short Action Base $99
American Precision Arms 30mm Steel Rings $195
Total Build Price = $1391


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