In my search for the ‘someday’ rifle that I will someday own, I have examined many and kept few. The latest is one kept is a rifle that goes the extra mile and serves as well as any other quality rifle. The price won’t prevent me from vacationing in the foreseeable future, neither is it a pittance, but money well spent. This rifle is the tactical bolt-action Remington SPS.
The SPS is designed as a tactical-grade rifle. You can use it for hunting or recreational shooting, but since it was designed as a tactical rifle that is the criteria for the evaluation. The Special Purpose Synthetic (SPS) rifle is based upon the proven Remington 700 action. The Remington 700 is widely regarded as among the smoothest, more reliable and most accurate factory rifles.
An important difference between a tactical rifle and a varmint gun is the tactical rifle must be relatively light and compact. The rifle must be rugged as it is often stored in a vehicle or carried in a drag bag. It must be capable of rapid deployment, sometimes in close quarters. With a short 20-inch barrel and Hogue OverMolded stock, the Remington 700 SPS fits the bill nicely.
The stock is the foundation of the rifle; the action is the heart. The Hogue stock features a firm hold and a flattened section near the forend for good control. Though the stock is designed for firing from a braced support or shooting bag, it works fine off hand, as well. The slightly pebbled surface offers excellent abrasion and adhesion.
The reason the Hogue stock is called an OverMold is because the rubber is molded over a plastic frame. The ribbed backing offers a degree of rigidity. There are aluminum pillars in the design that also add to the rigidity of the stock. Rubber, plastic and aluminum mesh well together in the design.
The barrel is well finished. My example features the threaded 16.5-inch barrel. I am unlikely to mount a suppressor in the near future, but the barrel is very handy in close-quarters maneuver. There is a well-turned crown to protect the muzzle. The action is typical Remington 700. Bolt throw in this short-action .308 Winchester caliber rifle is relatively short.
An advantage of the rifle is the addition of the modern Remington X Mark Pro trigger. You will never need an aftermarket trigger! Custom grade performance in a production trigger was the design goal. This is a state of the art trigger that, in my opinion, is the best suited for tactical use of all the modern adjustable triggers offered by the major makers.
The rifle feeds well, with no suggestion of hesitation on feeding. The action has plenty of leverage. The trigger is smooth and free of either creep or backlash, with a trigger compression of just under four pounds. As for the short barrel, a short but stiff barrel often provides excellent accuracy. The .308 Winchester is a very efficient cartridge that proves accurate from relatively short barrels. There is some velocity loss, but since the rifle is intended for deployment at less than 200 yards, velocity loss is not a significant drawback. The HPR Ammunition 168-grain MATCH load averaged 2,500 fps from the abbreviated barrel.
Next, the rifle needed good glass. First, DNZ scope mounts were acquired. These solid mounts feature heavy construction that ensure the scope doesn’t move out of place and remains solid and zeroed for thousands of rounds of ammunition. Next, the Redfield Battlezone scope. The 6x18x44mm scope seemed ideal for this application. The multi-coated lens is designed to reduce glare. I grew up when all scopes were not fogproof and appreciate the nitrogen-filled scope. The tube is one-inch diameter and allows 3.5 inches of eye relief.
The Battlezone offers from 10 to 33 feet of field of view at a long 100 yards. The reticle is a tactical design with two MOA markings. Drop and windage, once noted, are easily compensated for. My rifle featured a dial calibrated for the 168-grain .308. While the scope isn’t useless with 150- to 175-grain loads, this is the usual bullet weight when accuracy is the primary objective.
When zeroing the rifle using the box method, the clicks were positive. There was no question concerning movement, and the dials stayed in place. The primary goal of any product is performance (from the consumer’s viewpoint), but the performance is matched against price. The Redfield Battlezone offers good performance for the price.
With the rifle properly set up, I took time to sight the rifle in from a solid bench rest firing position. I used handloads using Lapua brass. The bullets were the Hornady 168-grain A Max over H 4895 powder. The first results were interesting and the rifle was sighted in with a minimal expenditure of ammunition. During the firing test, at all times I fired three shots for accuracy. I then waited for the rifle barrel to cool between shots. This works to a point, extended firing produces a barrel too hot to touch.
Easy was the word for accuracy testing. After settling into a solid rest, the Hornady cullet-tipped load averaged .5 MOA at a long 100 yards. That is all we can ask. This is a pleasant practice load I will use often. The precision manufactured Hornady bullets may develop greater accuracy with a bit of tweaking with the loading. This was the first and only combination I tried, but what a beginning!
After the first efforts with my own loads, I moved to HPR Ammunition .308 Winchester loads. High Performance Downrange loads have often given gilt-edged accuracy with a clean powder burn. The .308 combinations were no exception. I used both the 150-grain JSP and the Barnes polymer tipped 150-grain loads in initial testing. Each averaged three-shot groups of .6- to .7-inch at 100 yards, super accurate by any standard. I was beginning to like this rifle and scope combination. Next, I moved to the 168-grain MATCH bullet load. I carefully pressed the trigger and waited a full minute between shots with every thought given to the best accuracy possible. The first three-shot group went into a solid .45-inch. Another three-shot group averaged .5-inch and the final three-shot group went into .4-inch.
Clearly, the Remington SPS 700 Tactical and HPR ammo are up to any reasonable task. My results from the bench rest were satisfying. The ability to fire off hand and produce a good three-shot group of less than five inches is another matter, but that will be addressed at a later date. For now, my someday rifle has arrived.