The Remington 700 Milspec 5R rifle was first introduced as a limited edition rifle back around the turn of the 21st century, and ever since then it has been of keen interest to many shooters. The ability to have a rifle with the same barrel as the M24 SWS used by the US Army, and other nations around the world, but at a fraction of the $6000 price tag of the M24 is a big drawing point. While the milspec is not a standard item in the Remington catalog, it is still being made when possible and they are still popular. We decide to take a look at one more closely and give it a good testing here.
As our readers know, we have reviewed quite a few Remington 700 based tactical rifles and after a while they do kind of all seem fairly similar so it takes some effort to point out the things that set one apart from another. The milspec rifles have an interesting history about them that does make them unique. Whether unique is good or bad will depend on each person’s perspective in this case. The single big thing that makes the milspec unique, and consequently gives it the milspec name, is the barrel. The way the milspec came about, as told to me by a Remington LE division employee, was a byproduct of the M24 production line. There are specific tolerances that each M24 Barrel must achieve in order to pass inspection. As is normal in any production line some of the barrels will not meet those specifications and Remington would toss those barrels into the “no-go” pile and discard them (I am not sure where they used to go from there). It turns out that someone had the idea of taking those barrels that did not pass inspection and re-contour the barrel to the standard Remington heavy barrel contour, mount it to a Remington 700 stainless action, and call it a “Milspec” rifle. Since there are not a large number of barrels that do not pass inspection the rifle were considered a limited edition rifle.
Now, this was how it all started, and to be honest I do not know if that is where the barrels continue to come from today or if they are new production on the M24 tooling. Either way, the barrels are a unique 1:11.2″ twist, as found on the M24, and have the 5R rifling which is also unique to the M24 and I believe the 40X target rifles as well. I will not get into the claimed merits of the 5R rifling, but I will mention that it does have a strong following of top notch barrel and rifle makers and I have no reason to dispute the merits of the rifling when backed by so many of the top rifle and barrel makers out there.
The barrel is 24″ in length which is also different than the normal Remington 26″ barrels. I personally prefer this length and the rifle feels very nicely balanced. The M24 barrels are stainless and as such so are these barrels. The barrels have the standard Remington 11 degree tapered target crown and as I mentioned earlier, the contour is the same as the normal Remington heavy barrel contour found on their 700P’s, varmint rifles, and others. The M24 has a much heavier contour, similar to a #8 or so, so that is a noticeable difference.
The action is a standard Remington 700 action though in this case it is stainless steel to match the barrel. Like most Remington 700 actions, this one was very smooth and nice to operate. The bolt handle, floorplate, extractor, box magazine, etc are all standard Remington 700. The M24 has a steel floorplate and a black powder coating over the metal work, but these milspec rifles only share the core barrel and have the standard, and less durable, alloy floorplate and no finish on the stainless metal.
These latest batches of milspec rifles have the now standard XMarkPro trigger. We are not a huge fan of this trigger but this one did come from the factory set at a decent breaking 3.5 lbs according to our trigger scale. My biggest complaint with the introduction of the XMarkPro trigger was the moving away from the ribbed trigger shoe and the removal of the more refined trigger adjustments, now it is down to a more simple single screw for weight of pull and that is it. In reality this is probably not such a big deal to a vast majority of shooter, but somethings we just grow to prefer. We did not adjust the trigger during our tests here and the factory setting worked fairly well.
The stock is a HS Precision stock that is actually a little different than the 700P and Varmint Synthetic (VS) stocks. The most noticeable difference is that the milspec stock has a green speckling over the black and while visually it is hard to even notice, it does provide some added gripping friction while in use, and yet it is another unique thing to help the milspec be a little different than the normal Remington.
Additionally the actual forearm area has a slightly different contour to it than the 700P stock, with a more pronounced beaver tail style. The forearm area is also about 1.75″ shorter than the 700P stock, I am assuming this is because the barrel is 2″ shorter and aesthetically the shorter stock probably looks better and it also saves a little bit of weight. The stock has the same 700P palm swell which I like but others do not, and it has the same thin rubber recoil pad. The pistol grip is also the same short pistol grip and I typically have to curl my pinky under it when shooting. All in all, I have always liked the 700P stock and this one is just slightly different and I find it just as nice.
The overall balance, look, and feel of the rifle are very nice. It is not large and bulky like many of the new tactical rifles and it is fairly light, our scales showing it at 8.25 lbs with no scope mounted. Of course, some coloring on the barrel will be required for tactical use and that can be done temporarily with the ol’ krylon spray paint can if needed, or you could have a more professional finish applied.
For testing purposes we mounted a Leupold VX3 6.5-20x50mm Target scope using Leupold Mk4 Rings and Base. The rifle handles like a normal 700P but a few inches shorter. The fairly light weight, for a tactical rifle, and minimal recoil pad leads to a bit more brisk felt recoil than most of the heavier tactical rifles, but the 308 cartridge is a tame cartridge and the recoil is still very manageable. The rifle fires well from the sandbag as well as the bipod and is not as bad as many to shoot from unconventional shooting positions.
Because of the unique rate of twist I wanted to try a wide variety for bullet weights from 155 to 190gr to see if one stood out as being well suited to the 11.2″ twist rate. The designers of the M24 performed tests and calculations to determine that 11.2″ was the ideal rate of twist for the sniping ammo at the time, the 173gr M118 Special Ball. Based on that, I figured the 175gr match might perform the best in the milspec. While that was not necessarily true, what we did find out is that it fired all of them just about the same! In fact, I have included a picture below of a target that was fired consecutively with Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr (Upper Left), HSM 190gr Match (Upper Right), and HSM 155gr Match (Lower Right). They almost look like they could have been from the same lot. I will say that the barrel and rifle appear to be quite flexible in terms of what it can fire well.
I thought that the rifle would not stabilize the 190gr bullets at all, but at least in the short range it works fine. I did not test the 190’s at longer ranges where it still might loose stability as the bullet slows down. If you want to take advantage of the heavier 190gr bullets I would advise some more testing at long ranges, but at 100 yards, it shot very well from this rifle. The best group from the rifle was fired with Federal GMM 168gr and measured .460″ center to center, but the better overall average was achieved with HSM 190gr and 155gr, but there were only a couple of groups each fired with those loads. The HSM 175gr was right about the same as the GMM on average.
|100 Yard Accuracy
|HSM 155gr HPBT Match
|Federal GMM 168gr HPBT
|HSM 175gr HPBT Match
|HSM 190gr HPBT Match
The rifle performed well shooting right in that .5-.75 MOA range that most of the new heavy barrel production Remingtons are shooting. The 175gr loads were extremely consistent, more so than any of the others though the ultimate accuracy was not as good as with the other loads. But like all rifle, finding the right load will probably result in even better performance.So what are the conclusions? Well, the performance is not anything better than what we have found in other Remington offerings, but there are some unique features on the rifle that do set it apart, primarily the barrel and rate of twist. Is it worth the $200 premium over a standard 700P? That will depend on the requirements of your team. The stainless barrel is nice, but unless your need heavier bullets than 175gr, I would say the 11.2″ twist rate is not a big enough reason to go with it as a 1:12″ is not that much slower and will stabilize the 175’s. . The 5R rifling is unique and may well be worth some extra expense and may be one of the reasons for the consistency across different ammo makes and weights. The stock is a little different as well, though not drastically, and there is no real functional improvement over the normal 700P stock. Do I personally like it better than the 700P? Yes, I do, because of the shorter 24″ barrel, 5R rifling, and the stainless is good to have for operations in all environmental conditions. Does it perform any better? No… not really, at least not in our test with a brand new, unbroken in rifle. I do feel it is a nice alternative to have available in the Remington lineup…. rejected M24 barrel or not.