Bruce Potts tests a tough, dependable, go-anywhere rifle that can withstand harsh Alaskan winters - and summer stalking in Scotland
I decided to try out the Remington American Wilderness Rifle (AWR) while roe stalking in Scotland, and in Argyll at this time of year you can usually count on one of two things — that it is midge ridden or blowing a hoolie with rain. Guess what? The temperature was 26°C with light winds to keep the midges at bay. Some people may think that’s great, but this is a rifle that was built to withstand harsh Alaskan winters.
Never mind, though — the synthetic fibreglass stock and bedding would ensure a consistent accurate rifle in heat or cold, and the Cerakote-finished metalwork would shrug off the early-morning dew and inevitable gralloch spillage. Also, the Remington’s new 5R rifled barrel ensures extreme accuracy and velocity, coupled with easier cleaning. The rifle I had on test came chambered in .270 Winchester, which is a classic Scottish cartridge.
Action and trigger
The Remington AWR is available as a long-actioned rifle, as the Americans like their long cartridges and magnum calibres. There is a choice of .270 or .30-06 in the standard calibres, which is good for British shooters, but it is also available in 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum, as well as the .300 and .338 Remington Ultra Magnum for large game or long canyon shots.
The action is the classic Remington Model 700 configuration in the long-action size, being 7in long with a 3.25in ejection port. It is your typical twin-locking 60° bolt-lift bolt-action design with Remington’s famous three rings of steel. This means the bolt shrouds the case, the barrel surrounds the bolt and the action surrounds all these. Remington still uses the small sprung ejector, which is OK but can be temperamental, though the sprung plunger ejector is forceful.
The rear bolt shroud diverts gases in case a cartridge ruptures and the cocking piece protrudes slightly to show a cocked rifle. The semi-dog- leg bolt with flattened bolt knob and moulded-in serrations makes the bolt easy to manipulate.
The magazine system is a hinged floorplate design, and I like this as there is no magazine to lose. Simply load up four .270 cartridges and if you do not use them all then dump them in the hand by pushing the small button in the front of the trigger-guard.
The trigger is good for a factory rifle, as Remington has chosen a good blend of functionality and safety to keep everyone happy. The X-Mark Pro trigger is set here at 3.25lb and is adjustable externally, and the test trigger had very little creep and broke cleanly.
Barrel and stock
- The AWR has a long, slender, profiled .270-calibre barrel. This is made from 416 stainless steel, a good grade for uniformity, strength and longevity — and, of course, resistance to rust.
- Best of all is the 5R rifling within five rifling grooves, so the rifling lands are directly opposite the grooves for less pressure, and the shallower angle of the rifling edges reduces fouling from the copper jacket of the bullet and powder residue, thus enhancing accuracy.
- The 24in barrel is a sensible length on a .270 Winchester to maximise velocities, and it comes factory threaded with a metric 14mm/1 thread and thread protector for sound-moderator use.
- The muzzle has an 11° crown for a precise bullet exit.
- The metalwork has the super-tough baked-on Cerakote finish, here in black. It has a smooth muted texture to reduce reflections and further enhances the stainless steel beneath for extra weather protection.
- The stock is quite striking, despite being a pretty simple Sporter design with sling swivels and black recoil pad. I think that is because Remington has made an interesting colour choice of mid-brown with a black spider-web pattern loosely applied. Actually, it is a very practical colour and I grew to like it during the test. Regardless of the pattern, the stock beneath is a good stable platform for the action, being a Grayboe epoxy-based fibreglass synthetic stock with pillar bedding. This is truly waterproof and even in the worst weather or temperature changes the zero of your rifle will not budge. That is both handy and reassuring if a bear in Alaska or Cape buffalo is charging at you, but just as good for a precise shot at roe and one of the reasons that synthetic stocks are so popular for real-world hunting. It also allows the barrel to free-float and the action is pillar bedded for a solid union of action and stock.
On the range
The rifle was supplied with the new and well-engineered GPO (German Precision Optics) Evolve 3xi scope. This 4-12x50mm scope is good for both the range and the woods, and has an illuminated reticle. I also fitted an MAE blacked stainless- steel Compact sound moderator and started to shoot a variety of factory ammo to find out the AWR’s preferences.
- At 100 yards over the chronograph I had some impressive groups and velocities.
- First up were Remington’s 130-gr AccuTip and Core-Lokt loads. The Core-Lokts shot three groups of 1.25in at 100 yards off the bench with a velocity of 2,882fps for 2,398ft/lb energy. The AccuTips shot better with solid 1in groups consistently and just under with a healthy velocity of 2,929fps for 2,477ft/lb energy.
- I also shot some Winchester 140-gr AccuBond factory loads at 2,950fps and 2,706ft/lb energy for nice 0.85in groups.
Reloads get the best from a rifle, and with a good-quality 5R barrel it deserves extra care to optimise accuracy. I have tested many .270 rifles and cut-down barrels, and have found it helps when reloading to match the key components to achieve the best loads both for accuracy and velocity.
- The AWR will probably be used for deer, but I shot a light fox/vermin load with a 90-gr Sierra hollowpoint bullet at 3,457fps velocity and 2,389ft/lb energy with a load of 52.5 grains of Hodgdon H4895 powder.
- In my opinion, a great bullet weight for the .270 is the 140-gr, of which the Nosler AccuBond achieves a velocity of 2,911fps with a load of 53.5 grains of IMR 4831 powder that gives a healthy 2,635ft/lb energy and 0.65in groups.
- The venerable Sierra GameKing 150-gr bullets were next, and 56 grains of Reloder RL22 powder yielded 2,785fps for 2,584ft/lb and sub-MOA groups.
In the field
It’s easy to pontificate about a rifle’s performance on the range, but it’s in the woods that a rifle’s true abilities come to light. I liked the overall feel of this Remington AWR. It was a bit long with the moderator fitted, but was well balanced, and felt tough and ready for work.
Although the reload 140-gr load shot really well, as a lot of people don’t reload I used the Remington 130-gr AccuTip factory bullets. The rifle was zeroed at 100 yards, so I knew if a roe popped out in front of me at 200 yards I would be 3.3in low.
Here in Argyll there is a sea lochside environment where the hills gently roll into the small farmland strip between the rocks and the shoreline. It means that on the intervening “fingers” of ridges that run down to the sea you have roe bedded down to feed among the tree-lined hillsides, who then sneak down after dark for tastier titbits in the farmland landscape.
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Often at this time of year even an early start has the roe coming back off the fields to the relative security of the woods. With the Remington AWR slung on my shoulder I headed up to one ridge to survey the land. Sure enough, there were a few feeding roe – does with twins in tow and a yearling buck. One doe was acting a little skittish, and as I followed her gaze I could see a bedded six-pointer among the long grass. Bingo! I now had a buck to stalk. I slipped quietly downwind and approached obliquely to the roe through the silver birches until I reached the field edge. The trouble was, so did a red hind, and as we came eyeball to eyeball she tore off over the field taking the roe with her!
However, I persevered and saw the buck enter the wood opposite. He then slowed to feed and browse. I slowly stalked the field margin as he fed on the far side of the wood and caught up with him as he was halfway across the far field. If he went 20 more yards he would in the forest and gone. I set up the sticks and dropped to a seated position in the silhouette of a fallen birch tree and rested the GPO’s reticle 1in high off his heart as the range was now 165 yards. I barked to stop him in his tracks, then squeezed gently on the X-Mark Pro trigger. There was a muted report from the MAE moderator and the meat shot sound dropped him as he looked back. That’s when the Remington AWR’s accuracy accounted for a nice Scottish buck and some fine eating.
The Remington AWR looks good and shoots remarkably well. It is weatherproof, well priced and the 5R rifled barrel is capable of longer shots with confidence. I was really pleased with its performance in Scotland on roe, and though not a typical .270-calibre quarry those AccuTip factory loads did the business.
If you are a professional needing a tough, go-anywhere, dependable stalking rifle then look no further. A small-actioned version in .243 and .308 Winchester would be the icing on the cake.
Accuracy: Whether factory or reload this AWR shoots well 18/20
Handling: A bit long, but no real issues 17/20
Trigger: Good factory trigger 17/20
Stock: Excellent and highly practical stock 18/20
Value: Good value with 5R barrel and Greyboe stock 17/20
A tough, dependable, go-anywhere rifle