September 23, 2010
Like many shooters, I knew it wouldn't be long before Remington introduced an AR-15-style rifle after it was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, the company that also owns Bushmaster.
We were right, but Remington went in a unique direction right off the bat--for AR makers, anyway--aiming its new R-15 VTR line of AR-style rifles squarely at American varmint and predator hunters.
The R-15 VTR--short for Varmint Tactical Rifle--is available with a fixed stock and a choice of an 18- or 22-inch barrel; it is also available in a collapsible-stocked configuration with an 18-inch tube. All are available in .223 Remington or .204 Ruger.
The 18-inch-barreled, collapsible-stock version, which Remington calls the Predator Carbine CS, is the model I toted on a Utah predator-calling expedition in early December 2007. It was chambered for the .204 Ruger round, and it is the subject of this article.
Like all R-15 VTR rifles and carbines, the CS starts with a forged, aircraft-grade, 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower that are finished in Advantage Max-1 HD camo. An A2-style pistol grip is standard, as is Remington's new single-stage trigger, which broke at 4 pounds, 6 ounces on my review sample. The trigger had a bit of take-up and minimal overtravel.
REMINGTON R-15 CARBINE CS
| || |
|MANUFACTURER ||Reminton Arms Co. Inc. |
870 Remington Dr.
Madison, NC 27025
|MODEL ||R-15 Carbine CS |
|PURPOSE ||Varmints |
|ACTION TYPE ||Semiautomatic |
|OPERATION ||Direct-gas-impingement |
|MAGAZINE TYPE & CAPACITY ||Detatchable, five rounds. Accepts all standard AR-15 magazines. |
|RECIEVER MATERIAL ||7075 T6 aluminum |
|CALIBERS ||.204 Ruger (tested) and .223 Remington |
|BARREL LENGTH ||18 (tested) and 22 inches |
|SIGHTS ||None; flat-top upper has a Picatinny rail |
|METAL FINISH ||Realtree Advantage Max-1 HD camo |
|SAFETY ||Single-sided |
|TRIGGER TYPE ||Single-Stage |
|PULL WEIGHT ||4 pounds, 6 ounces |
|STOCK TYPE ||M-4 style, six-poistion collapsible (tested) or fixed, A2 style |
|STOCK FINISH ||Realtree Advantage Max-1 HD camo |
|SLING STUDS/SWIVELS ||Fized Studs |
|WEIGHT EMPTY ||6.75 pounds (as tested) |
|OVERALL LENGTH ||33.25 inches to 36.25 inches |
|ACCESSORIES ||Lockable hard case, owner's manual |
|MSRP ||$999 |
In keeping with its "Carbine CS" designation, the CS has a collapsible, six-position, M-4-style stock. But unlike the mil-spec M-4 version, Remington's has a conventional sling-swivel stud that I much prefer for ease of sling mounting over the mil-spec stock's integral loop.
The CS also has a relatively thin 18-inch, fluted barrel that measures just 0.68 inch at the muzzle. The barrel is free-floated under an aluminum handguard, which also conceals the carbine's low-profile gas block. The handguard has four, 2-
inch-long cooling slots around its circumference both fore and aft. Mine came with a single sling-swivel stud, but it has a pre-drilled hole for mounting an extra stud to facilitate mounting a bipod. The handguard also has screw holes at the 6 and 9 o'clock positions for mounting accessory rails for those hunters who like to clamp lights, lasers, or other such tactical accessories on their carbines.
The upper receiver has a Picatinny-spec, flat-top rail for scope mounting. For my Utah hunt, the test rifle was equipped with a 2.5-10X Nikon Monarch, but after the hunt, it arrived at my office with only a set of scope bases and Warne rings. So in preparation for my testing, I mounted a 3.5-10X 42mm SII Big Sky scope from Sightron. The Sightron scope was bright and clear, tracked perfectly, and held its zero throughout my testing.
Sadly, I was only allowed to keep the prototype R-15 for a few days, and the day I chose for my accuracy testing turned out to be one of the windiest days of the season. As I wrote in the accompanying article on the new Model 700 VTR on page 46, a 25 mph breeze gusting to 45 mph made for a hellish day on the range. But the show had to go on, so I took my time and managed to eek out a few sub-inch five-shot groups. The conditions made shooting good groups tough, but the Carbine CS's 1.03-inch, five-group average with Remington 40-grain AccuTip ammo was pretty darn impressive considering the maddening winds.
In Utah, I packed the R-15 up and down the mountains in blinding snow and driving wind for the better part of three days. On the snowiest day, I took a break to test its reliability by running several magazines into a hill as fast as I could pull the trigger. It ran without a hiccup, despite being wet and filthy.
Over the course of that hunt, I also got a feel for the Carbine CS's suitability as a predator rifle. I liked the collapsible stock because it allowed me to shorten the stock to compensate for my bulky winter clothing. I also thought the 18-inch barrel and 6.75-pound weight made it a joy to carry and gave the carbine a lively feel. When it came time to shoot at a fox that was trotting across a field a little farther than 300 yards away, the gun tracked perfectly. That and its crisp, clean trigger allowed me to make a nice second-round hit on what was the first of the only two varmints we called in on the trip.
SHOOTING REMINGTON'S R-15 CARBINE CS
|FACTORY LOAD ||VELOCITY (fps) ||100-Yard ACCURACY (in.) |
| ||.204 Ruger |
|Hornady 32-gr. V-Max ||4225 ||1.56 |
|Federal 39-gr. Sierra BlitzKing ||3750 ||1.27 |
|Remington 40-gr. AccuTip ||3900 ||1.03 |
|Notes: Accuracy is the average of five, five-shot groups fired from a Caldwell rifle rest and rear bag at 100 yards. Velociy is the manufactuer's claimed muzzle velocity, as winds prevented chronograph use during testing. |
I really liked Remington's new Predator Carbine CS. Fit and finish were excellent, and I was most impressed with its accuracy and trigger. Although the accuracy table is not that impressive, it is a direct result of the high winds on test day. In fact, I blew several sub-half-inch groups due to some strong, ill-timed gusts. Given a little more time and better weather, I have no doubt the little carbine would have shot some screaming groups.
As a predator hunter who happens to prefer the AR platform for walking and calling, I am especially thrilled to see Remington come out with a trim, easy-to-carry package. And I am pleasantly surprised to see the company chamber it in .204 Ruger, which is fast-becoming my favorite predator round.
I think Remington's new R-15 line will be a big hit. And, with the Remington name stamped on the receiver, I think a whole new group of shooters will learn the joy of the Big Green, err, black rifle.