Monday, May 25, 2015

Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD .308 Tactical Review

Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD .308 Tactical Review

In a previous article, I tested the infamous Remington SPS Tactical .308 rifle which has inappropriately been nicknamed by many as the poor man’s sniper rifle. It is a fabulously shooting precision .308 bolt action for the price and durable to boot.

The SPS model started with Remington responded to a huge public request for a Tactical model lineup. The continual requests were simply for a straightforward heavier barrel Remington 700 action priced for the Target, LEO or military shooter. For almost everyone that request 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.

The original SPS Tactical rifle I reviewed came equipped with Hogue rubber stock, a 1:10 twist 20” threaded barrel ready for attachment of a suppressor and the X-Mark target trigger.

When I saw that Remington offered the AAC-SD model with similar specs I jumped on ordering one. I was interested to see how the models varied and also needed an extra Remington 700 to help support the many Remington 700 Chassis sniper chassis system reviews in process. What was this new flavor Remington was offering under the AAC brand.. I mean it should be similar with the same specs listed, right?  Actually not just similar, but absolutely freaking identical in every aspect with the exception of the model name on the side of the receiver and a different catalog model number. Even the color of the Hogue stock was the same.

The Remington 700 Action is famous for its reliability and outstanding out of the box accuracy and I am sure the threaded barrel SPS Tactical model just made sense to relabel under the AAC moniker. After all, Remington didn’t buy one of the top suppressor companies to not sell suppressors and start delivering suppressor ready firearms. This was Remington’s first obvious marketing step in that direction.

I had thought there would be a twist rate change, some tweaks… something different that would have made for a really interesting side by comparison. When shot side by side back in their respective Hogue stocks the SPS Tactical and AAC-SD even delivered almost identical groups with the same type of ammo… so let’s just get on with more about the SPS line. It should come as no surprise that much of my review will carry over points from my other article.

The Remington 700 SPS AAC-SD 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 pedestrian is the Hogue style rubber stock compared to the world of Remington's own lustrous wood and billet sniper 700 stocks. On the outside, the Remington 700 SPS AAC-SD 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 AAC-SD Tactical will end up coated with Brownells’ AlumaHyde II or some other coating, so I am not worried about surface finishes and the finish works in this case for the intent. 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. If you are interested what an aftermarket billet stock can do for this gun then take a peek at my Billet Sniper Chassis reviews.

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 AAC-SD 700 SPS actually has a several features I like which are exclusive to this model and the other 700 SPS; namely the combo of a 20” heavy barrel, threaded muzzle, and X-Mark Pro trigger. The heavy barrel delivers greater 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. I think the X-Mark Pro trigger is one of the bester factory single stage bolt action rifle triggers on the market.

In total, the AAC-SD 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. As noted there is another great identical Remington option with a SPS Tactical badge.

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. I used the same Lucid Cross Over 4-16x44mm Scope for accuracy testing as used on the initial build.  

After confirming the same boring accuracy potential as the original, I decided that I really wanted to try more of a DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) focused build in a bolt action .308 that was faster on target. I swapped the optic over to one of the newly updated Millet DMS-2 1-4x scopes, Xtreme Hardcore Gear picatinny base, and 30mm rings. The result is that this setup is really really fast to shoot at multiple targets at varying distances.

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 accommodate an oversized bolt handle. Usually this upgrade is done to both speed the ergonomics and 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 complaints people have with the ergonomics of the Remington 700 as a "Sniper system".

Without jacking around through a variety of ammo, I decided to go right for the 168gr rounds with proven accuracy from my other Remington 700 SPS. I loaded up Hornady 168gr TAP, Superformance, Z-Max and A-Max rounds as well as some Federal Gold Match.

Using the same Lucid Cross Over 4-16x44mm Scope for accuracy testing as used on the initial build, the results were literally identical to the previously tested Remington 700 SPS model. My best group with the AAC-SD was a 5-shot 100-yard .56" group with every round easily delivering sub-1" 100-yard groups. In a different day to day comparison, I would call a .06” group difference between the two rifles essentially the same.

With the Millet DMS-2 1-4x scope installed my groups did open up, however not as much as I thought they would. I was still able to hold right at 1” 100-yard groups with the same 168gr ammo that delivered my best groups. Was was fun though was how fast I could transition and hit the 100, 200, 300, and 500 yard steels on 1x or 2x after figuring out the BDC holds at those magnifications. The reality is that 90%+ of the shots most shooters will use any rifle for will be under 100-yards and likely 98% of the shots will be under 200-yards so this is a great little setup for the vast majority of shoots.  Unless you have specific plans to engage at longer distances or have high precision requirements, a lower power rifle setup is likely going to fill any imaginable need any typical shooter would have.

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 a marvelous 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 AAC-SD or SPS Tactical .308 are great places 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  AAC-SD
Remington 700 AAC-SD Tactical $650
KRG Bolt Lift $28
Millet 1-x DMS-2 $338
Xtreme Hardcore Gear Ranger Rings - 30mm $149
Xtreme Hardcore Gear Tru Level Base - Leveling Base - $99
= Total Build Price = $1264


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1 comment:

vader101 said...

Awesome build! Any reason in particular you decided to go with a $250 base and scope rings? Seems steep.