Firearms

Remington’s All-Around Tactical Rifle — The Remington SPS

Remington SPS Tactical rifle right side

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.

How would Remington’s SPS rifle fit into your shooting needs? Share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in the comment section.

[bob]

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Comments (24)

  1. IMO, the better rifle in this class is a Savage 10 FCP-SR 20″ .308. It can be had with a threaded bbl in several lengths & has a 10 rd box magazine. Also comes with a 20MOA rail pre-mounted, and an AccuTrigger. The barrel is free floated and there are two sling studs on the front end for a bipod and sling.

    1. @GWDean

      I haven’t had a chance to shoot the Savage, but it certainly is more like what I would consider a tactical bolt action rifle. Just being light and easily stored in a truck doesn’t make a rifle “tactical.” This term is just grossly overused these days.

      A box mag is an important aspect of a tactical rifle because it provides not only for quicker reloads, but by loading mags with different types of ammo, you can quickly switch out to a round that is better suited to a specific and rapidly changing ballistic requirement such as a lighter bullet weight or different ballistic characteristic.

      I’m not seeing the free-floating barrel though. The Savage has a bedded barrel, which is a big accuracy booster because it keeps the barrel in a more consistent position relative to the stock after repeated jostling and multiple rounds that subtly alter the barrel’s ballistic characteristics.

  2. It’s disappointing to hear all the negatives about this rifle. I’ve been looking for a similar rifle that will accept a suppressor for hunting (I enjoy being able to hear and would like to leave the cans @ home). I don’t typically shoot beyond 200yrds, so I don’t mind the short barrel; In fact, it’s a plus in my book. I guess, for now, the search continues…

  3. I have this rifle with a threaded barrel. I have also found it to be very accurate even with a suppressor. My problems have been with the extractor. I have replaced the extractor 3 times using 2 different gunsmiths in addition to myself, and extraction is still a problem. I also find the trigger to be less steady than Mr Campbell does, but that could be me. I also would like to have a magazine, but generally this is a good pig gun.

  4. I bought this same rifle last year except mine had a threaded barrel, I made changes to it and eventually sold it. Two things, first the stock is anything but rigid, with a bipod the foregrip flexes enough to touch the barrel. Second, knowing Remington’s track record with triggers I really tried to give the Xmark pro a chance however, it would not adjust as advertised and according to my trigger pull gauge it was anything but consistent so I replaced it within a couple weeks of purchase then the recall notice for the triggers came out.

  5. Tactical for this rifle is the protective sniper role.
    Loaded prior to engagement able to take down at each shot but most of all- defuse a hostile with a single round.

    1. I agree with you that the sniper role is the only tactical role for a rifle like this, although even at that, it is not an optimal sniper rifle.

      The comment from the article: “The author’s personal rifle is well suited for use as a go anywhere, do anything rifle.” is pure fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, this is a nice rifle, but it is another example of something getting the “tactical” label as a marketing ploy, when it really isn’t a tactical item.

  6. My biggest problem with the 700 is its lack of a drop magazine. Loading rounds one by one is not tactical in the least.

  7. @ Bob Campbell
    Bob,
    What other rifles would you consider “smooth” from the factory? What is the criteria you base that evaluation on in a platform? When I think of a “smooth” platform it’s based on the action and trigger group. Both Tika and Sako’s offerings home to mind. These platforms from my POV are smooth as glass with very crisp an adjustable triggers like you just had a $500 action and trigger job done by a smith. Is the new 700 a few steps up from previous 700 factory actions?
    Inquiring minds….

    1. I just want to say that I’m very happy that Bob actually took this rifle out and tested it, and gave us many details about it. This is an excellent review compared to some other CTD articles that are much weaker on details and usage.

      So when Bob says “The trigger is smooth and free of either creep or backlash, with a trigger compression of just under four pounds”, he is describing exactly why it’s smooth from his own personal usage, and comparing it to all the rifles he has ever fired. I don’t think he needs to explain it further, and I thank him for an excellent review.

    2. ss1

      Thanks for reading and you said it all. This is the single smoothest Remington I have fired and I love the trigger.

      Best,
      Bob Campbell

  8. I bought a SPS tactical last year- I wanted a accurate, weather resistant and proven gun for all round outdoors. I thought this was it..
    WRONG.. It had to go back for a trigger recall and at that time I requested a redo on the finish due to a rusting issue with the factory finish. Not folks I have not fired a single round and the finish surface rusts right through any protectant I use.. I have decided to just let it go naturally and become a brown spotted gun and maybe over the years it will be uniform. When I bought it the “matte Finish” seemed like a good idea but it was not and no where close to the quality of Manganese phosphate. And so it goes. I’m embarrassed to take it to the range and I am NOT spending 200 bucks on a refinish

    1. Nice shooter but mine looks 50 years old as it rusted in the box.
      I got it as a gift and it was stored in the box for 2 months at the dealer before it was transferred to me.

  9. Beautiful gun, and the Remington 700 is a tried and proven design.

    But, to me anyway, this is not a “tactical” rifle, no matter what the appellation tries to convey. The term “tactical” is now applied to everything from weapons to flip flops, and only a small percentage of them can truly be considered a tactical item.

    A short barrel alone does not make something tactical, even with threading for a suppressor (which most people will never acquire let alone use) it makes it compact or a carbine. This may have been a tactical rifle in 1941, but a bolt action rifle without a detachable mag or rails can’t really be considered tactical in the 21st Century with the exception of sniper tactics, which is exactly how this rifle was fired and reviewed. And even at that, it is not a true sniper rifle

    Sorry to split hairs here, but just click the live link “tactical-grade” in the article and see how many bolt actions appear in the result. I guess I’m just tired of the term tactical being bandied about. Go to http://www.tacticalrifles.net/ to see what a true tactical bolt action rifle looks like.

    1. Mikial I went to the website you posted and studied some of the rifles. Those definitely are some serious tactical rifles. I saved the website as a bookmark for future reference.

      I enjoy your postings and I remember reading something about 4 or 5 weeks ago where you described some overseas action or duty you had done. Can you describe your background again if possible (and if it’s not too personal)? I’m just curious. I’m not a veteran, just a gun hobbyist.

    2. Thanks.

      Thanks for your interest, but I don’t go into many personal details on forums. I have a US Army combat arms background, and now work in private security in high risk and conflict countries and regions.

      I love guns of all kinds, but I still have a lot to learn to be anything close to an expert. One nice aspect of my line of work is that I get to see (and shoot) some really unusual, and often vintage weapons that are still in daily use. I even got to shoot a Sterling in Iraq. Fun.

    3. ss1,,,just a word of CAUTION. As one that has a rifle built by Tactical Rifles, I would suggest, urge you, to do your homework first. Research law suits and Florida BBB about the company. I wish that I had done this BEFORE I bought the rifle. Nuff said.

    4. @CommonSense4America:

      Thanks very much sir for looking out for me.

      Actually I’m not close to approaching a custom rifle company like that. I have a Savage 10T .308 that I’m trying to decide what to do with. It’s got a smooth trigger just like the one here, and a built in rail, and an accu-stock, and a 24″ bull barrel. I’m trying to decide if I should cut it to 20″ like the one reviewed here, for ease of use, without sacrificing accuracy. Also, I just found out that Savage apparently has a 10 round box magazine which I was told is currently out of stock. If I can acquire this box magazine, it will renew my interest in the rifle I already have.

      Good luck with the rifle that you bought.

  10. Any information on the bottom metal form factor.. specifically would it accept the new MagPul Remington 700 bottom metal platform.

    1. The Magpul Bolt Action Magazine Well is a drop-in solution for Magpul’s Remington 700 Hunter Stock for those that are wishing to add detachable box magazine capabilities to their rifle. By simply removing your OEM bottom metal and the insert on the Hunter 700 Stock, users can add this reinforced polymer trigger guard and magazine well to their rifle without the need for custom inletting from gunsmiths. Designed to work with AICS pattern, short action magazines. This kit also includes the new Magpul PMAG 5 AC (5-Round Capacity, 7.62×51).

      NOTE: Also compatible with other Remington 700 short action stocks with custom inletting and gu

      Chris from what this says, looks like you need a MagPul stock as well. Probably need to contact MagPul for final word. Does this help?

    2. I have had a Remington 700BDL custom shop rifle for close to 30 years, in 300 Win mag and it is a tac-driver out to 800-1000 yd’s with hand loads. It is crowned and threaded for a compensator or silencer, and I can tell you that the trigger on mine is as good as they come. With the Lupold Goldring scope you just about have to try to miss once it is sighted in for the range you want to use it on. I will say I was not a fan of the finish of the fluted barrel as it was splotchie but it has not been a problem in 30 something years. I don’t know if I would call it tactical or not but I myself would not want to meet up with a sniper with a rifle like mine for any reason. Now maybe a 308 won’t reach out as far as my 300 win mag, but it will darn sure come close. And I have never owned any rifle but a 243 Enhanced magnum custom that was built for one of the magazines many years back that even comes close and that is just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt

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