By Richard Mann
At first blush you might think you have to shell out big bucks for a long-range rifle, but the Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD with a suggested retail of only $833 will hold its own against rifles costing much more. Features like a 1-in-10-inch twist, 20-inch heavy barrel with a threaded muzzle, a Hogue OverMolded Ghillie Green Pillar Bedded Stock and Remington’s externally adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger make this .308 Win. a bargain when it comes to precision rifles. Once we added all the right components, its performance was so good that it’s going to stick around for ammunition testing.
Going with the 700 platform is also a no-brainer for other reasons. There are more aftermarket accessories for the Remington 700 than any other bolt-action rifle. You can pick up a detachable magazine kit like the one from Accuracy International. There is an abundance of top rail options, like the MARS rail that allows night vision and illumination to be mounted in conjunction with other optics. And, you could even opt for one of the high-tech S.T.A.R. fully adjustable stocks from Sisk Rifles. With the 700 the possibilities are endless.
The first three-shot group fired from this rifle made a single hole. It was well under MOA. Since then a lot of different loads have been run through this rifle and none have disappointed. The gun’s “sniper” log (at least that’s what the log book for this rifle says on the cover) shows that Black Hills 175-grain Match, Remington 150-grain Hog Hammer, Norma Diamond Line 168-grain Match and Lehigh Defense 170-grain CF Subsonic loads have all continually delivered sub-MOA performance.
Some of the rifle’s stock setup seems to beg for long shots, like the X-Mark Pro Trigger that comes from the factory set at a 3.5-pound let-off weight. It’s crisp and provides kind of interface mandatory for reliably connecting at distance.
The barrel has 5/8-24 threading for the addition of muzzle devices. To mitigate recoil, a muzzle brake can be added, but expect things to be a little noisier. A flash hider can reduce visual report after dusk and suppressors are another option.
But a rifle alone does not a sniper make, even a rifle that shoots as well as the Remington SPS Tactical AAC-SD. As a minimum you’ll need a riflescope and scope base and mounts. To be versatile and efficient in the field you’ll also need a bipod and a sling. If you want to be silent and deadly, you’ll need a suppressor, too. By taking the base Remington model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD and adding a few accessories you can shoot with the best rifle money can buy out to 500 yards and beyond. Here’s what you need.
Riflescope, Scope Base & Mounts
The selection of a proper riflescope is key, especially if you want to keep it simple. Most long-range riflescopes have a mil-dot reticle, which is a very effective tool for long-range shooting, but it can be confusing without routine use. Also, it’s best suited to working with a spotter who can give the shooter corrections in mils. Most average guys don’t have a spotter. (Girlfriends don’t count.)
There are many styles of reticles for long-range shooting and they all work. However, many are as hard to figure out as your spotter. (At least spotters who are also girlfriends.) You need to use them and use them often to be able to use them with efficiency and speed. Most tactical riflescopes also come with target turrets that are elevated windage and elevation adjustments with 1/4 MOA or 1/10th MIL clicks. These allow you to dial-in hits at long range. The thing is, you have to know how many clicks to make.
Life for average guys with non-sniper jobs is already confusing enough. I know common folk who can’t figure out heir iPhone. Leupold’s CDS (Custom Dial System) riflescope seemed like the hillbilly solution to a math problem that can be as complex as taxes. This riflescope utilizes a standard duplex reticle and custom generated elevation dials marked to match the trajectory profile of your ammo from your rifle. If you want to hit at 300 yards, you turn the dial to “3,” hold dead-on and shoot! This approach works because you actually go to the range and chronograph your ammo to determine an average muzzle velocity. You send that, along with some other information, to Leupold and it will custom engrave a turret for your CDS scope. Cost? About $700.
None of this will work without a way to mount the scope, and it might surprise you that the mounts are just as important. A riflescope has to be mounted solid for precision shooting. Leupold’s Mark 4 rings, used by military and police snipers, area as reliable as the sun, but if long range is your game the base is just as important. To ensure you have enough adjustment to dial in a correction at 500 yards, you’ll want a scope base with some integral elevation correction. Leupold’s one-piece Mark 4 base has a 15 MOA slope built in. The bases and rings will set you back about $250.
Bipod & Sling
Harris bipods have been the industry standard for a long time. Caldwell also makes some good models. Serious long-range rifle work is conducted from the prone position and from there, a six- to nine-inch bipod is ideal. Harris offers both a fixed and a swivel version. The swivel option offers a bit more leeway in positioning, but it’s not a must. Brownells can get the fixed version headed your way for about $80. You might want to carry this rifle, too, so a sling is not a bad idea either. The very wide Blackhawk Kudu Stretch Sling is extremely comfortable. If you want a shooting sling, consider the Galco Safari Ching Sling.
Suppressors are becoming more common, and more states are also allowing their use for hunting. This is great news, because suppressors eliminate noise pollution and save shooters’ hearing. Suppressor ownership, if legal in your jurisdiction, is easier than you think. It does, however, involve an application process, more background checks, a $200 check to ATF and the kind of paperwork that makes it best to enlist the aid of a local dealer to help walk you through the process.
We’ve had the opportunity to use suppressors from a variety of different manufacturers, but Lehigh Defense versions are very quiet and built to extreme precision. In fact, the suppressor we prefer on .30-caliber rifles is the Lehigh Iroquois, which retails for $1,000.
The Lehigh Defense Iroquois suppressor is 12.25 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter. It is manufactured from grade-nine titanium and heat-treated stainless steel. It is not rated for full-automatic fire, but is compatible with both supersonic and subsonic ammunition. Thread adapters are available for a variety of thread configurations for between $60 and $75. In most cases, rifles will shoot better with the Iroquois suppressor than without.
What else do you need to go with your $700 dollar rifle in order to get hits at long range? Well, for sure you’ll need ammunition. Usually, the best place to turn is match loads, like those from Black Hills, Buffalo Bore, Federal, Norma and Winchester. If you want long-range hunting loads, consider ammo loaded with bullets that have a high ballistic coefficient, like Berger Hunting VLDs, Nosler AccuBonds or Barnes Barnes Tipped Triple Shocks.
One other accessory you might need for this rig is a cheek pad. Why? When you get your riflescope mounted, unless you have a really fat head, you’re probably going to find if you rest your cheek on the comb of the stock, your eye will be below the center of the riflescope. Improper cheek weld is detrimental to precision shooting, so attaching a cheek pad like the Blackhawk! IVS Performance Cheek Pad will put your eye in the right spot, give you place to store some extra ammo and maybe even a range finder or some breath mints. (Hey, be considerate of the girl who is spotting for you.)
A stock Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD weighs 7.3 pounds and has an overall length of 39 5/8 inches. It is currently only available on .308 Win., but the wide range of options offered in the Remington 700 line for the last 50 years has set the standard for sporting and tactical rifles. They range in price from a suggested retail of $702 for the snythetic-stocked SPS (available in 14 different chamberings) to $2,117 to the Bell & Carlson Medalist Varmint/Tactical stocked Target Tactical model.
There you have it. You should be able to put this complete kit, sans suppressor, together for less than two-grand which is about half the price of some top-end long range rifles. Will they shoot any better than your Remington 700 SPS? Probably not. At least if you go the 700 SPS route, you’ll have enough cash left over to buy an identically set up rifle for your significant other. Be warned though, girls sometimes shoot better than guys.