By Bruce Potts
Monday, 23 April 2012
Remington 700 VTR rifle: An eye-catching barrel and muzzle-brake impress Bruce Potts on this revolutionary rifle.
Remington 700 VTR rifle.
Still going strong since its introduction in 1962, the Remington Model 700 genre of rifles has seen myriad changes and formats over the years.
What remains the same is that this is one of the best-enduring rifle actions on the market, and that it has more aftermarket products made for it than any other brand.
The latest guise of this rifle is futuristic in its approach, while cleverly retaining Remington’s core values of great value for money and a strong action which can achieve good accuracy.
The new SPS (Special Purpose Synthetic) Model 700 range replaces the ADL and BDL formats, and this Model 700 VTR or Varmint Tactical Rifle is intended to appeal to vermin hunters as well as target shooters.
It has a synthetic stock with rubber inserts for traction, the famed Model 700 action for strength and, just to spice things up a bit, a triangular barrel profile with built-in muzzle brake.
The action still offers twin locking lugs in a strong circular receiver ring, giving a positive lock-up around the cartridge head.
The extractor is a small pressed-steel insert into the bolt face and the ejection is via a recessed plunger.
These extractors always appear a bit flimsy to me, but they work fine. The receiver is finished the same as the barrel, with a matt bluing, and it is drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
I fitted a one-piece aluminium Weaverstyle (and Weaver-made) rail.
The recoil lug protrudes downwards into a recess into the synthetic stock and though this is a production rifle with no special bedding, the fit of the action to the stock is actually okay.
TRIGGER, SAFETY AND MAGAZINE
The new X-Mark Pro Trigger looks the same as the older Model 700 units, but its internal mechanism has undergone an overhaul.
What you get is an overall 40% reduction in trigger-pull weight, as well as much smoother travel giving minimal creep as the trigger blade is squeezed.
The trigger breaks cleanly at just less than 4.5lb on this rifle, a great improvement on older models with their muscle-building trigger-pulls!
The safety is still sited on the right and is a sliding lever acting directly on the trigger unit.
Forward is off, rearward is safe. The hinged floorplate is convenient and in .308 holds four rounds — I had no feeding problems during the tests.
Most striking on this VTR model is the triangular barrel profile, with the apex pointing upward. This has three equal sides that extend back to within a few inches of the receiver ring.
This not only catches your eye instantly, it also saves weight and is meant to give a more rigid barrel for accuracy — the last will show during testing.
It is also claimed that it will dissipate heat more efficiently, but there seems to be less surface area than on a fluted barrel profile, for example.
Another revolutionary feature is the integrated muzzle-brake, which has three vents for 2in of the brake’s length, so the 22in barrel is effectively 20in long.
This brake reduces recoil by redirecting the muzzle blast and reducing muzzle flip, allowing a quick second shot.
The downside is that it increases the noise to the shooter’s ear.
The finish is a tough matt blue that is certainly in keeping with the style of the rifle and is ideal on a hunting tool; however, there is no attachment for a sound-moderator.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
Remingtons are usually accurate straight out of the box and the VTR performed perfectly well, though I did not see any great difference in accuracy over other models from the company.
The best factory load was a Hornady Superformance which spat out a 150-gr SST bullet at 2,843fps producing 2,692ft/lb of energy. It is a great bullet design and produced 1in groups at 100 yards.
The Winchester Ballistic Silver Tips were almost identical in accuracy, but the Hornadys were faster.
The barrel twist is one-in-12in so favours the 110-gr to 165-gr bullet weights well. Reloads produced more throttle and accuracy from the VTR.
The Nosler 150-gr Ballistic Tip bullets with 47 grains of Varget powder produced 2,799fps and 2,610ft/lb energy and clustered three shots at 100 yards into .75in.
The Bergers did not suit this barrel and the Sierra Game Kings put two shots almost touching, followed by an off shot, which ruined the group.
A little bedding to the stock would certainly shrink the group.
However, its performance was more than good enough for hunting, with excellent accuracy in general.
The injection-moulded two-piece synthetic stock certainly keeps the cost of this rifle down and can be an asset in terms of its not being affected in the long term by bad weather and knocks.
This stock has a semi-Varmint styling with flared or beavertail fore-end to accommodate the fuller barrel profile and aid in resting for longer shots.
The green stippling is attractive and makes a change from the more usual drab black. Particularly pleasing are the inserted rubber-cushioned group areas to replace chequering on the pistol grip and fore-end.
A solid black rubber recoil pad finishes the stock nicely, though it is a bit hollow or light in the butt section for me — a little more weight would give it better balance.
The fore-end’s design provides good stability for holding the rifle, and it also is beneficial when shooting off a bipod.
Twin sling-swivel stud placements allow the bipod to be fitted further back on the stock, which can prevent “stock bounce”.
This causes upward pressure changes on the barrel and can change the point of impact between shots.
Finally, there are three vented cuts on each side of the fore-end, which aid in cooling the barrel as it warms up.
Remington has been wise to stick to what works with the Model 700 action design, but its other tweaks have made a difference.
The trigger is certainly smoother and lighter, which improves accuracy, and while the stock is a bit too hollow for my liking, the practical tactile inserts work well.
The overall styling is functional and, whether or not the triangular barrel profile makes a difference, it certainly makes a great statement, though the muzzle-brake is more effective when shooting from the shoulder than from a bipod.
For the money you get a reliable, and adaptable hunting rifle — with a little sparkle.
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