September 23, 2010
As much as our shooting editor appreciates the new Model 700 VTR's exceptional accuracy, he is even more enamored with its futuristic appearance,.
The new Remington Model 700 VTR, shown here with the author's Fox Pro caller, is a predator hunter's dream.
My latest assignment was a welcome respite from the shoulder-busting drudgery of testing magnums of every stripe. Be they short, long, or ultramag, I shot them all this past fall. So when the futuristic-looking new Remington 700 VTR chambered in the easy-on-the-shoulder .223 Rem. showed up at my local gun dealer in mid-December, I thought Christmas had come early.
The Model 700 VTR was designed as a varmint gun, but it would serve admirably as an urban sniper rifle, too, hence the "VTR" (Varmint Tactical Rifle) designation. It is based on Remington's battle-proven Model 700 action, with a hinged floorplate and, in .223 Rem., a five-round magazine. The short-action rifle is also chambered for several other popular varmint and tactical cartridges, including the .204 Ruger, .22-250, and .308 Winchester.
The 700 VTR's vented, beavertail fore-end and unusual, triangular barrel are distinctive features.
Regardless of the chambering, all 700 VTRs come with the new model's distinctive 22-inch, triangular barrel with integral, recoil-reducing muzzle brake on top of the barrel. The triangular design is said to reduce weight and increase rigidity. I'm sure it does, but most of the people I showed it to could have cared less about that aspect of it; they thought it looked cool.
The twist rate varies according to caliber, but in all cases it is optimized for match bullets. In the case of the .308 Win., that means a 1:12-inch twist, which is ideal for 168-grain pills. Rate of twist on my .223 test rifle was 1:9 inches, which should handle most target and varmint bullets with aplomb.
Like all new Model 700s, the 700 VTR comes with Remington's excellent X-Mark Pro trigger. This new trigger is a huge improvement over the original Model 700 trigger. While the old trigger could be professionally tuned to a light, crisp, safe pull, the new model was designed to reduce or eliminate the need to ship the rifle off to a gun plumber for a trigger job. Although I have yet to find one that was as light as a custom job, all the X-Mark Pro-equipped rifles I've tested had a nice pull right out of the box. In my experience, the crisp, 4-pound, 10-ounce pull on the test rifle is typical of the new trigger.
The 700 VTR's stock is very similar to that of the 700 SPS line, save for its OD green color and vented, beavertail fore-end, which allows more air to flow over the barrel to facilitate cooling--a wonderful feature to have in overpopulated prairie dog towns. A second, forward sling-swivel stud serves as a mounting point for a bipod and further differentiates the stock from the standard SPS furniture. Remington's new Super-Cell recoil pad is also standard.
REMINGTON 700 VTR
| || |
|MANUFACTURER ||Reminton Arms Co. Inc. |
870 Remington Dr.
Madison, NC 27025
|MODEL ||700 VTR |
|PURPOSE ||Varmints, Tactical |
|ACTION TYPE ||Bolt Action |
|OPERATION ||Turn-Bolt |
|MAGAZINE CAPACITY ||Hinged Floorplate; |
4 rounds (.22-250, .308)
5 rounds (.204, .233)
|RECIEVER MATERIAL ||Chrome-moly Steel |
|CALIBERS ||.204 Ruger, .233 Rem. (tested) |
.22-250 Rem., .308 Win
|BARREL LENGTH ||22 inches |
|RIFLING ||1:9 twist (.223) |
|SIGHTS ||None; drilled and tapped for scope mounts |
|METAL FINISH ||Matte Black |
|SAFETY ||Two-Position |
|TRIGGER TYPE ||X-Mark Pro Single-Stage |
|PULL WEIGHT ||4 pounds, 10 ounces |
|STOCK MATERIAL ||Synthetic with vented, beavertail fore-end |
|STOCK FINISH ||OD green |
|DROP AT HEEL ||1 3/8 inches |
|DROP COMB ||1 1/8 inches |
|LENGTH OF PULL ||13 3/8 inches |
|RECOIL PAD ||Remington Super-Cell |
|SLING-SWIVEL STUDS ||Two forward, one rear stud |
|WEIGHT EMPTY ||7.5 pounds |
|OVERALL LENGTH ||41 5/8 inches |
|ACCESSORIES ||Gun Lock, owner's manual |
|MSRP ||$805 |
The stock comes up the shoulder nicely and feels good in the hand. The beavertail fore-end is not too fat to handle for offhand shooting, but it is wide enough that it rides the bag nicely. The stock has overmolded grip inserts on the pistol grip and fore-end for added traction. Production models are slated to have black panels, but the inserts on the test rifle were olive-drab green. I prefer the solid OD look.
The overall effect of the matte-black metal against the OD green stock combined with racy features like the slotted fore-end and triangular barrel make the 700 VTR a truly striking rifle. At the range, it was a real head-turner.
The 700 VTR looks nice, but it isn't just a pretty package; it handles beautifully, too. The weight and balance of the rifle are perfect for a walking-and-calling gun, but the beavertail fore-end and muzzle brake make this one just as perfectly suited to the range or a prairie dog town.
The 700 VTR's muzzle brake was extremely effective. It virtually eliminated muzzle jump without significant noise penalty.
The VTR At The Range
I had a good feeling about the new VTR, so I rushed home the minute I got it and tore apart my gun safe looking for a suitable scope. I didn't have one that wasn't in use, so I removed a Schmidt & Bender 4-16X 50mm PMII from one of my custom sniper rifles. It is bigger than I like for a walking-and-calling rifle. In fact, it's big enough that it looks out of place atop the little VTR. But it is, without a doubt, the brightest, most precise scope I've ever owned. I knew it would help me wring the utmost accuracy from the new rifle.
Although the author's prized Schmidt & Bender 4-16X 50mm riflescope is arguably excessive for the VTR's intended role, Greg installed it on the new rifle with Badger Ordnance rings and Leupold QRW bases.
The scope was already in a set of Badger Ordnance heavy-duty 34mm scope rings, so I rummaged around for a suitable base. I didn't have any spare one-piece bases, but I did find a set of Leupold QRW bases. The Badger rings mated to the bases perfectly, so I screwed them on, gave the barrel a thorough cleaning, and headed to the range.
Greg tested the .223 VTR with an assortment of ammo from Black Hills, CorBon, Federal, and Hornady
in 55- and 69-grain weights. The rifle was far from fickle, but it showed a slight preference
for the CorBon and Hornady
I was on a tight deadline for this article and only had one day to shoot this rifle and the new R-15 from Big Green detailed on page 52. Sadly, that day saw steady 25 mph winds that gusted frequently to 45 mph. Those gusts buffeted the shooting bench, tore targets from their backers, and knocked over my chronograph until I boxed up that piece of equipment in frustration. It was not the ideal day to be shooting, and certainly wasn't fair to the rifle, but I had a job to do, so I patiently waited for breaks in the gusts to squeeze off my shots. The new rifle was impressive, and I am sure it would have blown me away if the wind hadn't.
REMINGTON MODEL 700 VTR ACCURACY
|FACTORY LOAD ||VELOCITY (fps) ||100-yard ACCURACY (in.) |
| ||.223 Remington |
|CorBon 55-gr. BlitzKing ||3000 ||0.58 |
|Hornady 55-gr. TAP ||3240 ||0.49 |
|Winchester 55-gr. Ballistic Silvertip ||3240 ||0.98 |
|Federal 69-gr. Match ||2950 ||1.09 |
|Notes: Accuracy is the average of five, five-shot groups at 100 yards from a Caldwell rifle rest and a rear bag. Velocity is the manuafacturer's claimed velocity, as winds prevented chronograph use during testing. |
I started out with some generic 55-grain loads to get the gun dialed in. I got it zeroed with little effort, and those initial rounds gave me a chance to get a feel for the 700 VTR. Immediately, I was impressed with the X-Mark Pro trigger. Although it was a little heavier than I like, it was crisp and clean and with a minimum of take-up and overtravel.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the rifle's integral muzzle brake. That is a tough confession for this muzzle brake-hater, but the VTR's brake doesn't make the gun appreciably louder than any other 22-inch-barreled .223 I've fired, and it doesn't vent gas and concussion back towards the shooter like most other brakes do. It also does a great job of keeping the scope on target. In fact, I could watch bullet holes appear in my targets as long as I held the gun normally. Although it is not a "must" for shooting groups at 100 yards, being able to call your shots at long range--whether shooting paper or prairie poodles--is a big help.
I was not surprised at the clarity of the Schmidt & Bender scope. At 16X, I could easily discern the fine lines on the target, and at 300 yards, focus was at its sharpest with the side parallax adjustment almost perfectly aligned with the 300-meter marking. That is far more accurate than any other side parallax adjustment I've ever used.
Because its 1:9 twist is so versatile, I brought an assortment of ammunition in the 55- to 69-grain range by CorBon, Federal, Hornady, and Winchester. I didn't shoot any 75- or 77-grain loads because, in my experience, they need a 1:8 or 1:7 twist to achieve stability. However, most prairie dog hunting and target shooting is done with lighter bullets, and those longer, heavier pills are best left to serious long-range shooters.
I started out with CorBon's 55-grain BlitzKing load, which, thanks to its accuracy and varmint-vaporizing performance, is fast-becoming one of my favorite varmint rounds.
As evidenced by its 0.58-inch average and 0.4-inch best group, the 700 VTR liked it, too. Hornady's 55-grain TAP load performed even better, producing a 0.44-inch best group and a 0.492-inch average for five, five-shot groups.
Winchester's 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip load also performed well, averaging 0.98 inch and producing a best group of 0.69 inch. However, I have found that it sometimes takes a box or so of coated bullets--the Ballistic Silvertip has a Lubalox coating--to see their true accuracy potential, which I assume has to do with getting an even coating in the bore. Coated bullets are best shot with a clean bore or one that has been seasoned with coated bullets. Because I started with the conventional jacketed bullets first, I didn't do the Ballistic Silvertip any favors in my evaluation, but the bullet performed well nonetheless.
With the rifle's 1:9 twist, I expected it to do well with Federal's 69-grain match load, too. It did, but it didn't shoot the heavier bullet quite as well as it did those 55-grainers. Still, its 1.09-inch average for five, five-shot groups is pretty darn good, especially when you consider that I had to rush my shots between those 45-mph gusts of quartering wind.
Given the weather, I didn't think it was fair to do any testing for record at longer ranges with the new Remington, but I couldn't resist doing a little plinking at rocks at 200 to 300 yards. Golf-ball-sized rocks at 200 yards were easily dusted, but those 300-yard rocks required some pretty good wind calls. Still, when I did my part and the wind was steady, I reduced them to a pile of pebbles more often than not. And when I did miss, the muzzle brake minimized the movement to the point where I could see where I missed and adjust accordingly to make an accurate second shot.
I wish I would have had more time to work with Remington's new 700 VTR to get a better idea of its true accuracy potential. Still, it displayed easy sub-half-inch accuracy with two loads and sub-inch accuracy with the other two. I am certain I could have improved on that given a calm day, but even with the wind, it was more accurate than the majority of standard-production factory rifles.
The new 700 VTR is an exceptionally strong entry into its intended market, and it truly impressed me with its performance. It is accurate and affordable to be sure. In fact, I would say it is far more accurate than any rifle with an $805 MSRP should be. But as much as I appreciate its accuracy, I am even more enamored with its futuristic appearance. The Model 700 VTR's muzzle brake, vented fore-end, and triangular barrel combine to make it about the coolest bolt-action rifle on the planet. That's reason enough for me to add Remington's newest varmint rifle to my wish list.