In all the “tacticool” circles “long range” shooting has become quite the rage, but what exactly does it take to participate in such shooting. Like many things, to a certain extent you get what you pay for, but do you really have to spend a small fortune on a completely custom set up? For the beginner the possibilities, prices, and options must be completely overwhelming. With the right amount of information a shooter may be surprised to see how little they could spend and have a fine shooting rifle completely capable of doing a little long range work. I will illustrate my point by highlighting a rifle I acquired basically as a budget project.
All too many of my firearm purchases come as a result of either something I have wanted for a really long time or because I have a specific reloading goal for the particular firearm, cartridge, or both. This rifle kind of falls into both categories, and I have been waiting on writing anything on it because I wanted to include a range assessment. I decided I would break it into parts and do the range assessment later. The rifle in question is a Remington 700 Long Range in 30-06.
Yes, I said 30-06. I know some of you just pounded your heads on your keyboards repeatedly screaming “Why?!?!?” . I would be willing to bet the other half of you are cheering. Some gun rags would lead you to believe in order to have an accurate shooting rifle you must have the new flashy uber fast fad cartridge. I would urge shooters to educate themselves, shoot what you like, and shoot what is comfortable. I personally like the ’06. It is certainly a cartridge that needs no introduction. It had a lengthy military career serving as a main battle rifle, sniper rifle, and machine gun cartridge in back to back World Wars, through the Korean War, as well as some use in the Vietnam War. The first 30-06 match ammunition was produced by the Frankford Arsenal in 1908. At one time the ’06 held more match records than any other cartridge, and it is the patriarch of oodles of wildcats some of which are now standard cartridges. Many match shooters still shoot the often overlooked 30-06. One hundred eleven years later, it is still a cartridge that is used when comparing other cartridges. To say it is outdated or simply grandpa’s old deer cartridge is not fair to the round. It is the grandfather of the much beloved and touted 308. It most certainly will do everything the 308 will do, and we do not consider the 308 outdated. The 30-06 can be loaded with bullets ranging from 110-220 grains. This gives the shooter and particularly the handloader single cartridge versatility that rivals most other cartridges. This combined with the fact I simply like the ’06 is why I chose the archaic cartridge.
I plan on shooting 100-600 yards which is WELL within the capabilities of the cartridge. At these ranges almost any high power offering will do. My advice would be to do your homework. Know what you want the rifle to do and find a cartridge that suits you and the shooting task. Bottom line, keep it simple, shoot what you like, and spend your money on quality ammo (or powder and bullets) to practice your skills.
As an aside, I feel I need to make the point known that the Remington 700 is an action that I personally am not very fond of. I have owned quite a few and done my fair share of carrying and shooting one. Like all actions, they have their strengths and weaknesses; and shooters also have their likes and dislikes. It is a matter of my personal shooting preference. Please do not shred me in the comments. I am not implying it is inferior. I have simply shot one enough to realize I prefer other actions over the 700.
Now then, cartridge rant and action disclaimer stated moving on with the review and assessment. One may wonder then if I do not care for the 700 why spend the money on one. Excellent point, the reason is that I have always wanted a long range target 30-06. Ever since I saw that iconic photo of Carlos Hathcock sitting with his Winchester model 70 target 30-06 propped on his knee glassing a target I knew one day I had to have one. Over the years I have passed on a few nice Winchester model 70 target guns. I now regret doing that since their values have skyrocketed. The prohibitive cost of the rifle I REALLY wanted and the fact that the 30-06 is no longer a caliber commonly offered in a target or long range style rifle is the reason I ended up with this 700. I decided I had better jump on it before Remington discontinues the offering.
The Long Range model is a newer offering in the model 700 line up. It is essentially a long action BDL offered in 25-06, 30-06, 7mm magnum, 300 win mag, and 300 RUM. It is practically a budget Sendero in my opinion. The differences between the Long Range model and the Sendero are almost purely cosmetic. They wear similar contoured barrels and have stocks of similar construction. The rifle comes with Remington’s matte blued finish and a Bell and Carlson stock in lieu of the Sendero’s HS precision stock. The Bell and Carlson looks really good, and not simply aesthetically. When I removed the action from the stock to clean and check everything, I found the stock was inletted really well and the aluminum in the bedding areas is very clean and prominent. The action seems to fit very well simply being torqued down to the aluminum, but I will most likely steel bed the rifle. I plan on seeing how it shoots before bedding it; I plan on experimenting with it along the way since it was relatively inexpensive. The fit and finish on my particular model was stellar. There is a gap of two and a half to three business cards’ clearance between the barrel and the entire stock channel. The barrel rides the center of the channel and the stock is stiff enough to use a bipod on its front swivel.
That pretty well sums up what has impressed me about the rifle thus far. Now I will gripe a little bit. The rifle is finished in Remington’s matte blue finish. I have owned a few firearms in this finish, and I have found that this finish will rust quite easily. This is just something to be considered when purchasing one of these rifles. I suppose one could refinish the rifle. I just check it often and use a little extra oil on the areas covered by the stock. By using a little extra oil on areas covered by the stock, I do not have to constantly check those areas for rust.
The next gripe I have is the trigger. This rifle comes with the X-Mark Pro externally adjustable trigger. I found this trigger ridiculously heavy. Out of the box mine measured just shy of eight pounds. I adjusted the external screw all the way out and only dropped the pull weight about a pound. I will admit, though the trigger was very heavy, it broke like glass. I found a schematic of the new trigger system and figured out how the external screw contributed to the fire control as a whole. I then further adjusted the pull weight. After doing this I was able to safely obtain a 3.75 pound trigger pull. Though it was much nicer I still wanted it in the two pound ball park. I called Darrel Holland and asked if his model 700 spring kit was compatible with the new X-Mark Pro trigger. He said yes and explained to me how to go about installing the spring and adjusting the trigger. Thanks to Darrel the trigger in the rifle breaks cleanly and safely at 2 pounds. I drop tested the rifle, beat it on the workbench, pounded the butt plate on the ceramic tile floor, and all but threw the darn thing and the trigger did not even budge. I also verified nothing does anything weird when the safety is actuated, or the trigger is pulled with the safety on then switched to fire. I confirmed that the trigger returns after it is pulled so that it catches the sear. If all of that sounds like Greek check out one of the great videos AGI has on the 700. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know what you are doing when you adjust a trigger! Back on topic, the trigger now feels identical to my old model 700 BDL with the generation 1 trigger in it. I could not be happier. Darrel really has a top notch product. I kind of regret not getting the kit that has his firing pin spring in it too. I may have to do that since this is an “experimental” project!
I topped the rifle off with a Meopta 6-18×50 mildot scope. I caught the scope on sale for just shy of $400. I have never owned a Meopta, but I have heard good things about them. I thought a mildot scope with 6-18 magnification for less than $400 was hard to beat. All together the rifle and scope combo cost right at $1000 dollars. The last uber accurate “sniper” rifle I read about in one of the gunzines cost $6000 rifle only!
All I really wanted to point out in this article is how little you could spend on a fairly nice “long range” shooting rig if you know what to look for. I hope if nothing else it is food for thought. There is certainly nothing wrong with spending big money on a rig, but you need to know how your money spent is actually contributing to the intent of the rifle. I am certainly not trying to tell anyone how to spend their money; I simply encourage them to think for themselves. This rifle provides the basis for possible upgrades in the future and is versatile enough to be at home on a bench or on a hunt in the field. I hope to try different modifications and loads (handloads and commercial), so I can keep you guys in the know on my little budget project. My first project is to devise an ultra-slick 30-06 long range round using Sierra’s 195 grain tipped matchking bullet. I hope to get some loaded up and make a range trip soon. Stay tuned!