I’ve always been interested in a short, tactical, accurate rifle, since it is a package that would make a great rifle for bushveld hunting and sport shooting, due to reduced barrel length, weight and overall compactness.
Over the past few years, I’ve done research on all the various models, brands and designs available world-wide, including custom built rifles. I even considered various scout rifles, but after extensive research found none to be accurate enough.
Remington has built some accurate rifles, especially the bull-barreled model 700 series, which have been in use as sniper rifles by the US forces (known as the M40 variants) since the Vietnam war era and are very accurate factory rifles. In fact, they are still part of the battery today and in use by various units, such as the Marine Scout Sniper division. It must be noted that these Remingtons are all custom tuned and fitted with other stocks, such as the McMillan A5, tuned triggers, aluminium bedding blocks and so on. Examples of these rifles by Remington in military/police use are the M40A1 and variants, and the M24. These rifles start as standard factory Remington 700 bull barrel rifles, such as the 700 VS (Varmint Special), the 700 Sendero, and then custom tuned to get the best results from them. The M24 however, is purpose built from scratch.
The model 700 SPS Tactical has proven to be a popular addition to the 700 line of rifles and fills a specific niche. Remington offer two models in the SPS Tactical line - the SPS Tactical and the SPS Tactical AAC-SD. The main differences between the two models are the rifling rate-of-twist, the stock colour and the AAC-SD comes standard with a threaded crown (5/8-24 thread) for a sound surpressor, muzzle break or flash hider. The standard SPS Tactical is available in .223 and .308 but the AAC-SD model is available in .308 Win only.
In testing the rifle I was anxious to see if it was capable of some degree of accuracy, since for me, a rifle isn't worth much if it's not accurate.
I hurriedly zeroed the rifle at 110 yards and settled down to shoot a three shot group to see what it can do. I used factory Lapua 185gr Mega ammunition and the rifle shot well right from the start, with a centre-to-centre 0.5 MOA group (below left - the green dot on the target is actually 1 inch in diameter, and not 1 MOA and a square block is 1 x 1 inch).
Further testing revealed the same accuracy with factory Federal PowerShok 180gr soft point, also at .5 MOA. A day before the testing I quickly made some hand loads, using Nosler Ballistic Tip 180gr bullets. The results were not bad for a start, and grouped close to the same (picture below right) as the Lapua factory rounds at .5 MOA and just over.
The 1 in 10 twist (faster) rate was designed to include the use of sub-sonic ammunition, and would suit heavier (longer) bullets, with weights above 180 grain. I have a feeling that the Berger 215gr and 230gr VLDs will do well in this rifle. I also did some initial testing at 300 and 500 yards with satisfactory results.
This rifle is not a true "sniper" quality rifle (as is) for government use, but it sure is a Designated Marksman or counter-sniper rifle with plenty of accuracy, and very well suited for midrange hunting and sport shooting at targets or steel plates up to 800 yards, including competition shooting.
Bear in mind that all sniper-grade rifles of any kind are tested with factory match ammunition and not with finely tuned hand loads. Another issue is that we cannot buy "match" grade ammunition such as Federal Gold Medal Match, Black Hills or Lake City in our country, and we therefore have to use whatever is available. If your rifle shoots .5 MOA with standard (not hand loaded), non-match, factory hunting rounds, then it's a keeper! Don't ever sell it!
This rifle has one weak spot - and that's the stock. The stock is a Hogue Overmould with a nice feel to it, but not stiff enough at all. The fore-end touches the barrel when using a bi-pod or a front rest of any kind, and that will have an effect on accuracy. But since one would use it for hunting and sport shooting, and my accuracy tests were more than good enough - what more does one need? This rifle is definitely excellent value for money.
Currently the Remington SPS Tactical sells for R15,850 at Sons of Guns Gunshop and Indoor Shooting Range in Parys. The owner Jan Lubbe can be contacted at 082 421 1122.
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