TEAM SWFA - Admin
The Remington Model 700 Stainless Special 5R Milspec
By Scott Powers
I could just have easily titled this article "the most accurate .308 caliber out-of-the-box rifle ever" and simply ended it here. I deal with accuracy all day. It's silly really. Most rifles on today's market are sufficiently accurate to the demands placed on them, easily capable of hunting level or tactical level accuracy with good ammo. Yet I still continue to pass over or sell off any rifle in my collection that not only will not hold minute of angle accuracy or better, beat it by half. Years ago I adopted a Remington 700P in .308. It was a fine rifle but at that time, it was cursed with a very long throat. There seemed to be an era in Remington's production history where quality control fell a bit and that particular rifle suffered from a few issues. Remington has long since rectified these problems and has since released many a wonderfully accurate piece. I'll tell the tale of that particular 700P to illustrate how far things have changed at the Big Green. My 700P was a mid 1990s era rifle. It suffered from an excessively long throat. Bullets had to be seated well beyond magazine length to net best accuracy. The bolt wasn't making decent contact and I swear the screw holes in the receiver top were drilled off center, making scope mounting a little quirky. You can read my fixes in the September 1998 issue of Tactical Shooter magazine (Page 41, Vol.1 No.8). That rifle has since served me extremely well and has proven time and again to be one of the most accurate rifles in my cabinet. After a bit of gunsmithing to tune things up, the rifle, with original barrel, has exceeded my expectations for what is still in effect, a factory rig.
Which brings me to the topic of this article. In 2003 I believe, Remington started offering a rifle that to this day is still little known to many Remington fans and long range shooters who do not follow the industry closely. This is mainly because the rifle is offered only through one national distributor and if you are not set up with them as a dealer, you probably have never heard of it. Added to this fact, comparatively speaking, very few of these rifles are made annually. Numbers seemed to fluctuate between 250 and 500 per year. Known as the Remington Model 700SS 5-R Milspec this rifle is much sought after by those in the know. The premise of the piece is a stainless steel M700 action and barrel set in a newly designed HS Precision varmint stock. From its original format, the rifle has evolved a bit and for 2005 comes in the new HS Precision PSV74 varmint stock, which appears to be a hybrid between the tactically oriented Police stock found on the 700P and the more handy stocks found on the Remington Varmint Synthetic and Sendaro lines. The stock comes with a very nicely shaped palm swell that instantly places the hand in the proper position for solid trigger control. The 3 inch wide forearm has a re-curve in it which makes for very comfortable placement of your fingers in offhand positions. It also provides a very stable rest for bench shooting. The forearm is shorter than that found on the tactical rifles, making for a nice balance between solid feel and portability. Of course the stock comes with HS Precision's full-length aluminum bedding chassis system and it is a true drop in. Old time gunsmiths will claim at the minimum a small pad of bedding compound should be placed just forward of the recoil lug to support the barrel, but I have to tell you, this particular rifle shoots so astoundingly well that I would not mess with a thing. The action screws are to be torque-set at 65 inch pounds and that's it. Go forth and shoot.
The rifle derives its name from its barrel. 5-R Milspec refers to the rifling used. 5R-rifling features a radius'd shoulder between the lands and the grooves. Advantages are claimed to be a smoother engraving transition on the bullet jacket which, in theory at least, creates less drag in flight - which means possibly a slightly flatter shooting bullet compared to a bore of standard rifling profile. The second benefit is cleaning. Without the 90-degree angles between lands and grooves, fouling seems less likely to adhere as tenaciously to the bore. Copper fouling may also be reduced. This rifling profile is used in the Army's M24 Sniper rifle. It has a proven track record for accuracy at long range, often making M.O.A. or better shots possible to 1000 yards. The M700SS 5R Milspec has a 24" stainless steel barrel very close in profile to the original 700P Police rifle, before Remington went to the longer 26" tubes on their police line. I've never quite understood the need for a 26" barrel on a .308 rifle meant for tactical law enforcement use, but I've never complained about the slight increase in velocity since 1000 yard shooting was part and parcel of my life for a time. However, when it came to field use, portability and storage, I've always preferred the shorter 24" barrel of the older pre-1990s 700P or current M24. Were I in law enforcement where shots are generally limited, I'd definitely prefer the 24" barrel as urban environments are as likely, or more so, than rural.
Some have assumed the barrel on the 700SS is the same as the M24 barrel. While identical in rifling method, the outer contour is decidedly more portable. It's similar to what you see on the Sendaro or Varmint line, meaning it's not so burdensome over long hauls in the wild. Yet the accuracy this rifle has demonstrated proves that it can shoot right alongside its military brother and leave nothing behind in pure accuracy potential. I had heard reports ranging from .25" @ 100 yards to .7" at the same distance. Knowing how people like to pad numbers, I figured it was a solid half-inch rifle. But testing was proving problematic. I could not keep one in stock long enough to get it to the range! Finally a friend bought one (mine still doesn't have a scope) and we hit the range for our first tests.
Before going any further let me give you some particulars. One of the biggest complaints I have about factory rifles is the trigger and the throat length. Be it liability issues or some evil cabal bent on frustrating long range shooters everywhere, triggers usually come in at 8 pounds and throats are often