Purpose Of The Rifle
I purchased this rifle for the purposes of trying to maintain 1 MOA out to about 675yds. I live in Michigan, so there isn’t that much or an opportunity to stretch your ballistic legs out past 600yds very often. However, I do shoot a long-range steel matches/F-class matches once a month and a local range has recently started hosting a semi-annual “tactical” precision rifle match. This rifle is being purpose built to shoot the tactical precision rifle matches.
In my previous experience shooting rifle matches, I had used rifles that had minimum barrel lengths of 22”-28”. I never had problems shooting the stages, but my mindset in shooting started to change a few years ago when I purchased a Ruger GSR with a 16.5” barrel. Once I started shooting and hunting with the GSR, I really started to appreciate the capabilities of a 308 with a shorter barrel.
After the last precision rifle match I did an about face and asked myself “if a 22" barrel (28” suppressed) was really necessary to shoot out to 675yds?” My experience during the match was that I almost never shot in the prefect prone position. Some shooting positions required a competitor to shoot out of a vehicle, perched over 2x4 railings, off of a rooftop, and dangling from suspended platforms. The closest I came to the prone position was on a platform about 5’ off the ground that only your torso and thighs could fit on, and to top it all off you had to get on to that platform by going over a 10’ wall with all your gear under time. Needless to say, the benefits of a smaller more maneuverable rifle really started to come to light. Upon weighting my options for a .308 with a shorter barrel, I decided to purchase a Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD 16.5” barrel .308 rifle.
Wow, another SPS Tactical (sarcasm). This is my fifth SPS based rifle so there really wasn’t a lot of surprises out of the box. My first impression was that the overall balance was better than the 20” barrel models and there is a noticeable difference in the weight of the rifle. I would say the overall fit and finish is representative of your typical Remington SPS. Nothing special here.
Where I give particular attention on the SPS line of rifles is the “feel” when I rack the bolt. My other SPS Tactical 20” AAC-SD left a little to be desired out of the box; the bolt head is undersized and one of the lugs required a lot of lapping to smooth up the action. Nothing a little TLC can’t fix, but if you have the opportunity to test numerous SPS’s of the same make and model before you buy, always go with the one with the better bolt throw. Luckily enough, this rifle has a good bolt throw and doesn’t bind up in the action, an indicator of an under sized bolt face. One of the lugs will require a little lapping, but overall I’m happy considering the price point of the rifle.
The real test of value in the SPS line of rifles comes when you shoot them. All in, after the $40 factory discount that runs on all new SPS purchases though 12/31/2013, I will have purchased this rifle for $640.00. If the 16.5” barrel SPS Tactical AAC-SD provides me with a sub MOA barrel and action I will be satisfied with the purchase. This then begs the most important question; how did it shoot?
In short, the 16.5” SPS preformed right out of the box, but first some additional info. Range conditions for the day were 47 degrees, no wind, and what I would consider dusk* lighting conditions. I fired all test groups using five rounds of the same brand ammo from the prone position. The rifle was resting on a backpack riding a front bag, and a rear bag was used for stability. I avoid using a bipod on SPS’s because I have found that it can lead to inconsistent results on the factory Hogue stocks. For the optic setup I was using an EGW scope base and Vortex PST 4-16x50 FFP, with Larue T719 rings. All groups were fired consecutively and there was no time allotted for the barrel to cool down in-between shots. Prior to firing, I ran a brush and patch down the bore just to ensure all the factory crud was removed. Other than that, the only thing I did was disassemble and reassemble the rifle and apply a lite coat of oil.
I began by detaching the scope from my 20” SPS Tactical AAC-SD and clipping it onto the rail of the 16.5” SPS. From there I fired five rounds of PPU 308 Win Match 175gr ammo. The resulting five round group measured in at 2.21”. Nothing out of the ordinary for PPU ammo…It’s junk. Although PPU 308 match ammo is labeled “MATCH” ammo, I have found it is at best around 2 MOA in every rifle I have shot it in. No worries, moving on.
Once I got the rifle dialed in (1.7mil down, 2mil left), I proceeded to fire groups with match ammo. Below are the results:
PPU 308 Winchester Match 175gr
Group #1 = 2.21” Group #2 = 3.1”
Hornady 308 Win 155gr TAP FPD
Group #1 = .9” Group #2 = .83”
Hornady 308 Win 168gr Z-max (Zombie Ammo)
Group #1 = .38”
Remington Primer Match 308 Win 175gr Matchking BTHP
Group #1 = 1.9” Group #2 = .67”
Hand Loads – 175gr Sierra Matchking BTHP/42.5gr of H4895
Group #1 = 1.0” Group #2 = .85” Group #3 = 1.25”
Initially, I would have thought the rifle would favor heavier bullets considering it has a 1/10” twist barrel. However, the 168gr Hornady Z-Max bullets were a clear winner at .38 MOA. When I start to do more load development it is going to be with 168gr bullets because I believe that is where the most potential for accuracy exist.
Also, in the interest of full disclosure. My shooting became progressively more rushed towards the end of firing. I was loosing daylight quick and could hardly make out the aiming point on the 100yd line when I moved to the hand loads. Compound that, my wife kept calling to see when I would be home for dinner, and laying on the ground for almost two hours in jeans and a fleece jacket didn’t help much either in terms of comfort. So, needless to say, I think the rifle is capable of slightly better accuracy than is reflected in the last few groups, but probably not by more than .25”. Also, letting the barrel cool between shots would have been a better indicator of overall accuracy.
Either way, the 16.5” barrel SPS is showing promise as a sub MOA shooter right out of the box. With the Z-max rounds grouping right around .5 MOA I am very satisfied with this little rifle.
Although I only shot in the prone, I have developed some initial impressions regarding the rifle.
The bolt throw is about average for what you can expect for the SPS line of rifles. It should smooth up considerable after a little lapping of the recoil lugs and the first 300 rounds. I am happy with this result.
The hinged floor plate magazine sucks. I just don’t like these on the SPS lineup. They don’t feed that well and are a bi+ch to load under pressure. They are ok for F-class style shooting or flat range work, but don’t cut the tactical mustard for rifle matches. I will end up using a DBM for the rifle in the future.
The X-mark pro trigger was satisfactory. The pull seemed consistent and the safety was very tactile. There wasn’t a noticeable amount of over travel or take-up. If you are one of the people who can tune these than they make for a good factory trigger option, but they do leave a little to be desired. I will be replacing the stock trigger with a Timney trigger as a matter of personal preference.
Hogue stocks leave a lot to be desired…that’s all I’m going to say about that. As a rule of thumb, if you buy a base model Remington plan on treating yourself to an aftermarket stock, Bell & Carlson at a minimum.
RECOIL. Yep, there’s a lot of it. The recoil was very pronounced. Part of this can be attributed to the Hogue stock, which has a very short LOP and no comb rise so to speak of. I found myself with more of a chin weld rather than a cheek weld, and when the rifle fired it was loosely nestled in the pocket of my shoulder; ouch. The ergonomics will be solved by a new stock. However, standing alone this rifle still kicks. Part of the advantage of the short barrel is also part of the downfall. You are going to have a reduced weight at the tradeoff of more felt recoil. I would highly recommend a muzzle break, if not a suppressor on this rifle. A muzzle break would almost be mandatory if you plan on doing tactical shooting competitions so you can get back on target, but the 16.5” barrel would really shine suppressed. I plan on shooting this suppressed 100% of the time, not only will that eliminate a lot of the felt recoil, but it also negates the concussive force of a break, O…and it saves what little hearing I have left #Iraq06’ #Afghanistan08’.
The Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD 16.5 threaded barrel delivers out of the box performance for just shy of $650. All things considered this should be a great little rifle to work with.
I did this review just as a baseline and for those who may be interested in purchasing the same rifle. The next time I take this rifle out, it will be in its final configuration. This will include a B&C stock, Timney trigger, AAC Brakeout, AAC 7.62 Sdn-6 suppressor, and Harris bipod. Hopefully this rifle can consistently produce 1/2MOA groups with tuned hand loads. I’ll keep the thread updated with new information for those who are interested.
Lighting and range conditions when I first got there.
Honrday Z-Max 168gr ammo. Hoping for more results like this.
Size comparison between a Remington SPS 16.5" barrel and a Remington SPS 20" barrel rifle.
An example of lug engagement. As you can see the right lug isn't even engaging the breach. A little lapping compound fixes this and smooths up the action.
New pics in the final configuration!
I'm still really liking this rifle. Since last updating this thread I dropped the action in a Bell & Carlson stock, installed an AAC breakout, installed a timney trigger, bedded the action, and have continued load development with 168gr pro'jos.
The rifle weights in at 12.2lbs with the suppressor attached and the barrel has a total length if just over 22" in this configuration. Using 41.5gr of H4895 and a 168gr Hornady HPBT I am consistently shooting groups around .75MOA. This will probably be refined down around the .5MOA range once the weather breaks and I get a chance to do some more load development.
Comparison between a AR with a 14.5" barrel and the 16.5" AAC.
Comparison between a 20" AAC-SD and the 16.5" AAC-SD Suppressed.