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First Impressions and Range Report of the Remington SPS Tactical
Update: I'll try and get some photos up since I got a request for them, I don't have a camera and the cellphone doesn't seem to be able to take very good pics. I'll see if I can borrow my friends and do it when I have time.
Update 3: (4/14/13) Unfortunately, at the time I wrote the article, I did not have a bipod for this rifle. As soon as I mounted a bipod, the accuracy with the same ammunition changed a little. After looking the rifle over, I realized that the Hogue Stock is too flimsy to resist the weight of the gun. The free floated forend gets bent until it contacts the barrel when a bipod is used. When i shot off of the sandbags, the way the shooting benches were set up I had pulled the bag closer to raise the rifle where I needed it, which took the weight off of the front of the forend and kept it from contacting the barrel. This is not a huge deal at 100 yards, but it was amazing to see just how much of a difference it made on the paper. It added about an inch to the group size. I think perhaps because the stock never contacts the barrel in the same way each time the trigger is pulled it removes some of the consistency offered by the more rigid heavy barrel. It is not a huge issue for most practical purposes, however I have put the rifle up for sale on gun broker and plan to buy something a little nicer. My dislike of Remington products sadly continues.
First off, I am not a fan of Remington, which says something about this purchase.
While Remington is often thought of as the standard to which others are measured, my experiences with Remington have been wholly awful. The first Remington I ever purchased was a 597. I cleaned it and brought it out to the range and it jammed every single time. Being somewhat new to shooting, I had some more experienced friends take a look at it. Still, it jammed every single round. Being the type of person that, for whatever reason, never returns firearms, I paid someone to fix it. I paid almost what I paid for the rifle, and now it works just fine thanks to a few Volquartsen products. A friend got a new 870 that couldn’t pop the primers on any brand of shell. Another friend got the Target Tactical and it fell apart as he picked it up out of the box for the first time and it never seemed to hold a zero. The ammunition I’ve gotten from Remington has performed worse than Wolf brand.
Anything old I encountered was great, but anything five years or less seemed to be garbage. I’m sure there are those that will say differently. Regardless, that’s a lot for one person to come across to be considered any kind of fluke.
I’ve written some articles about the recent Albany Rally and other gun rights related topics. I mention it only because it was writing that had caused the chance encounter with this rifle. I had stopped by my favorite gun shop, The Civil Armory, where I sometimes bring my work to get it critiqued by the owners. While we were discussing what our next moves were in the fight for gun rights, I caught a glimpse of the Remington SPS Tactical.
I can't lie, the looks won me over.
When I first saw it, I thought “Scout rifle” however it is not drilled and tapped for a forward mount, but for a traditional location. Still, it had that handy sort of “go anywhere” look to it. It has a nice heavy barrel, and yet manages to be extremely well balanced and feels much lighter than its factory claim of seven and a half pounds with nothing on it. While a lot of people complained in online reviews about the Hogue stock, I thought it was awesome. I lightly bounced the rifle in my hand, the rubber is soft and yet seems to resist abrasion as I have a tendency to scratch up guns within only a few minutes of owning them. I ran a dollar bill between the barrel and the stock and there were no points of even light resistance all the way down.
I put the rifle down, though. I was not going to buy anything Remington, since I had had so many bad experiences with their products. The owners and I continued to talk, but once there was a little lull as a few customers came in that handy, well balanced feel called to me again. I picked up the rifle and placed my hand on the bolt lever. Once I unlocked the bolt it immediately fell completely open with no resistance. I ran the action a few times and it was smooth. I checked out the trigger, and while I can’t say that I am experienced with bolt guns as I’ve never owned one, the trigger appeared to be user adjustable, had little to no creep and broke very decisively and crisp. Yeah, but it’s a Remington, I thought.
Still, seeing that Remington has for so long been such a cornerstone, I wondered if maybe they were about to redeem themselves in my eyes. I looked up some online reviews and saw few complaints about the rifle. By the end of that little visit I bought the gun.
At first, I was second guessing myself. How often will I get out to the range? Do I really need this thing when I can already shoot 1” or less at 100 yards with my FNAR? Shouldn’t I be spending the money on something more important, like presents for my girlfriend? Oh wait… no… that was what my girlfriend said. No, I’m kidding, she thought the rifle was a lot easier to handle than the FNAR and liked it.
Cleaning it and dissembling it was pretty easy. My Beretta CX4 Storm comes apart and goes back together in seconds, but my FNAR is about twice as much of a pain to clean as changing my car’s oil outside in the middle of winter. The Remington SPS Tactical sits somewhere between those two in terms of ease of maintenance.
Off to the range.
I bought a TPS one piece rail, which sat flush and perfect as I set the mounting screws. All I had was a 4.5-14X40mm Nikon Buckmaster scope to mount. It’s not a terrible scope, but at distance the targets tend to darken a bit. I will say that using Burris Signature Rings with the plastic inserts helps to better align the scope and the picture is brighter. It makes a scope seem more expensive than it is.
I took the scoped rifle out to the awful indoor range; Davis Shooting Sports. The range is actually quite nice but the workers make the experience as excruciating as they possibly can. I set up a couple of little sandbags to rest the rifle and used a laser borescope to get close to on-target. After three shots, I was ready to see what kind of accuracy I could get.
In honesty, my first shot missed my target by several inches, however that was all me and not the rifle. What was nice to experience, however, was how little recoil was felt during the shot. My friend, who I managed to finally convince to get his own rifle, owns a Kel Tec SU 16 and the SPS kicks only slightly more than the Kel Tec. With Kel Tec’s harder butt plate, and the SPS’ soft, recoil absorbing pad, my friend actually enjoyed shooting the SPS a little more than his Kel Tec. Granted, he is still learning how to properly mount a rifle, but I think the pad makes that process a less painful endeavor as he often complains of the sting he experiences when shooting his Kel Tec which is chambered in the much lighter recoiling .223/5.56 cartridge. I’m trying to get him to understand where the pocket of his shoulder is, but he’s a stubborn one and will figure it out when he figures it out.
Anyway, I got back behind the rifle and tried again for accuracy. My next shot hit the upper right portion of a ¼” dot on the target which sat exactly one hundred yards away. The grin on my face could be seen in the reflection of the Nikon’s glass as I reached for another round.
By the way, if you’re wondering why I was reaching for another round instead of just running the bolt, do not worry, this is not a single shot rifle. There is an internal magazine capacity of four rounds, but the Davis Shooting Sports employees were being so annoying I decided to load them one at a time so they’d leave me alone. There are also some aftermarket ten round box magazine options if you have a competent gun smith available to install the kit, which involves modification to the stock.
Back to the story; I sent another round down range and it landed touching the edge of the last. I sent another round down range and it hit rather close, as did the following shot. Total three shot group size was .78” at one hundred yards. I had been shooting Ultramax 168 grain boat tail hollow point remanufactured ammunition, and wondered if something a little higher quality would do any better.
Next, I fired a three shot group using Hornady Superformance 150 grain SST rounds. The first shot punched a hole through the ¼” dot of the next target. I fired another shot which touched the edge of my last, and fired another shot which touched the edge of that shot. Total three shot group size measured .52” at one hundred yards.
My friend then fired the rifle, we are both relatively inexperienced with shooting, though he is even more so, and he still managed a 1.35” three shot group having never touched a .308 rifle before. I do not feel it would be pushing the limit to say this is a great rifle for an inexperienced shooter.
With all this being said, the only thing I can really complain about, is not a true complaint. They say that the trigger is adjustable, and I suppose it is, yet there seems very little difference between the adjustments. They claim each turn of the set screw adjusts the pull by one pound. Yet, even after taking the set screw out completely, it did not seem much lighter than the factory setting. Also, while I tend to be very light as I pull the trigger, I can’t help but wonder if firing under stress could put more strain on a trigger that has a hole in it big enough to remove about half the material from its center. However, as far as my current experience is concerned; the trigger works phenomenally and is robust. Creep and over travel are almost nonexistent. I’m sure there are better triggers out there, but for its price point, it is impressively crisp.
What are my next upgrades? Probably nothing.
I’m not sure there is much gun smith work worth doing to a rifle capable of half inch groups at one hundred yards, probably hand loads are a smarter bet than messing with the rifle. In that regard, I think it’s a great buy because you can take whatever money you might have spent on blue printing the action, lapping the bolt lugs, trigger work or anything else and put it towards the purchase of a high quality scope instead.
So, do I still have regrets towards the purchase? No. Has Remington redeemed itself in my eyes? Not yet. I am very happy with the rifle, but ran into a stranger at the range who was having trouble with his new 870, which sort of negated my positive experience in terms of how I view the company's quality control.
The fit and finish of the rifle I purchased does make me wonder if Remington is getting back to their older, higher quality ways. Yet, I’ll have to send a few thousand rounds down range before I start to believe this rifle is truly as awesome as it seems.
Hopefully this helps anyone interested in the Remington SPS Tactical in .308. For those interested, there is also a .223 version.
Thanks for reading, Kephra
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Remington Scope Mount Model 597 1" Scope Rail (lr Or Mag) No. REM18635 by Remington scope mounts rails mounting kitspersonalsecurityzone.com/product/Remington-Scope-Mount-Model-597-1...
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Overview: The Model 597 Scope Mounting Rail is a lightweight, easy to install one-piece scope mount that allows the use of Weaver-type rings for full-size one-inch ...www.remington.com/.../scope-mounts.../model-597-rifle-scope-rail.aspx
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This complete kit provides everything necessary to mount virtually any 1-inch or 30mm scope the correct way, including an instructional DVD. Proper scope installation is critical to the accuracy of your firearm. Alignment and Lapping of rings ...Youtube - Mar 02 2009
The rib serves as the mounting platform for the scope base that comes with all Taurus Silhouette ... I had already tested the Remington Model 597 Magnum in .17 HMR with its 20-inch barrel the week before (see my other report elsewhere in this issue of ...shootingtimes.com - Jan 02 2011
The stock comes with fixed adjustable sights and a handle mountable scope mount which is included. This stock is it exellent condition with all screws and the scope mount, all it needs is your action and barrel. Thanks for looking and good luck offerding.Pet Peoples Place - Sep 12 2013
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