Remington's R-15 VTR .204 Ruger

Remington's R-15 VTR .204 Ruger

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
www.remington.com
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.

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