When I first opened the box containing Remington’s new Model 700 American Wilderness Rifle (AWR) and closely examined it, I imagined it was speaking to me. It whispered, “I want to go hunting.”
Now, before you alert the mental health authorities to come and drag me away from my keyboard, understand that I meant that in a figurative sense—but I really did want to test the gun under actual hunting conditions. That can be difficult to accomplish in midsummer, when hunting seasons are mostly closed. Fortunately, I live in Texas, where there are year-round hunting opportunities for hogs and a host of exotic species.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to hunt a blackbuck with the AWR when fellow Texan Greg Heine informed me he needed to cull one or two from the herd on his Central Texas Hilltop Ranch. These smallish antelope, native to India, Nepal and Pakistan, are abundant in Texas. They have striking markings and magnificent spiral-shaped horns. In many ways, they remind me of pronghorn … and they can be just as challenging to hunt.
Fond of wide-open spaces, blackbuck have blazing speed and great eyesight. In addition, because dominant males gather harems, you might need to elude numerous pairs of eyes, rather than just one, to complete a successful stalk.
And so, I found myself, along with a Remington AWR chambered in .270 Win, riding around Greg’s ranch, glassing groups of blackbuck and lone individuals at distance. When we eventually spotted a fine buck I very much wanted to put on my wall, he was skylined and moving away. We made a large detour, hoping to intercept him on the far side of a hill. Creeping up behind a box deer blind to cover our approach, we spotted the buck at 250 yards. There was nothing between him and me except open grassland, and his alert posture made it clear that I wasn’t going to get any closer.
“The Remington AWR is built around the venerable Remington 700 action… however, apart from the action, the new Model 700 rifle bears little resemblance to the original.”
I set up on shooting sticks. I then waited for my breathing to slow and the scope reticle to settle on target. I slowly squeezed the trigger and touched off a Federal Premium Trophy Copper 130-grain round. Lost in recoil, I didn’t see the impact—but I did hear it. Greg lowered his binocular and informed me that the shot was perfectly placed. The American Wilderness Rifle had held up its part of the bargain.
IMPERVIOUS TO THE ELEMENTS
The Remington AWR is built around the venerable Remington 700 action, and Model 700 rifles have been around in numerous variations for more than half a century. However, apart from the action, the new Model 700 rifle bears little resemblance to the original. For starters, the AWR sports a 24-inch, 416 stainless steel barrel with 5R rifling. A great many claims have been made in favor of 5R rifling, including enhanced accuracy, but I really haven’t found 5R barrels to be inherently more accurate than barrels with other types of rifling.
They do seem to foul less and are easier to clean, and I believe the ones I’ve shot were able to retain accuracy with more bullets down the barrel between cleanings. That’s a big plus in my book, especially during long sessions at the range while testing a variety of loads for a given rifle.
In keeping with the rifle’s “Wilderness” moniker, the barrel and machined-steel action have a black Cerakote finish, making them virtually impervious to the elements. The rifle has clean lines and a utilitarian, yet somewhat elegant, appearance—or at least as elegant as any synthetic-stocked rifle can appear to be. That’s partly thanks to the rifle’s use of an epoxy and high-fiberglass-content Grayboe stock. With a dark-brown-and-black spiderweb finish, the stock is rather attractive. It’s equipped with a substantial rubber recoil pad, which does a fairly good job of soaking up recoil.
(If you are unfamiliar with Grayboe stocks, you might be interested to learn that the company was co-founded by former Navy Seal Ryan McMillan, of the famous McMillan stock-making family. A Grayboe stock is a fully beddable, drop-in design that offers many of the advantages of McMillan stocks at a significantly more affordable price.) In the AWR, this translates into a fairly light, rigid and completely weatherproof stock with aluminum pillar bedding that allows for a free-floated barrel. At 7 pounds, 6 ounces, the rifle is not as light as many of today’s guns marketed as “wilderness” or “mountain” guns, but it’s worth noting that one of the most popular original lightweight rifles, the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight, tipped the scales at around the same weight. The AWR is, for the most part, light enough to tote just about anywhere. For those who struggle to shoot ultralight rifles accurately—and many people do—the AWR strikes a nice balance between portability and shootability.
“A Grayboe stock is a fully beddable, drop-in design that offers many of the advantages of McMillan stocks at a significantly more affordable price.”
The rifle comes with Remington’s externally adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger. On a Lyman trigger gauge, the trigger broke crisply, with no creep, at a pull weight of 5 pounds, 8 ounces. That’s heavier than I prefer for a hunting rifle, but I left the trigger at its factory setting for testing and for my hunt, in order to duplicate a buyer’s out-of-the-box experience. After testing was complete, I was able to adjust the trigger down to a more acceptable pull weight of 4 pounds, 5 ounces, where it seemed to bottom out. That’s fine for many hunters, but I’m rather finicky about triggers and would likely drop in a Timney trigger if it were my rifle.
The safety is a two-position type that is located atop the right rear of the stock just aft of the bolt handle. It engages and disengages with an audible click—and, notably, it does not lock the bolt down when the safety is in the “on” position. This allows you to cycle rounds through the action with the safety engaged. Initially, the rifle is available chambered in .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum. The capacity of the internal box magazine, with a traditional hinged floorplate, is four rounds for the standard calibers and three rounds for the magnum calibers. Barrels for all calibers have a 1:10 rate of twist, except for the 7mm Rem Mag chambering, which has a 1:9.25 twist rate.
“With real-world performance… and a design that resists the elements, the Remington American Wilderness Rifle is a true go-anywhere rifle.”
RESULTS AT THE RANGE
For both hunting and accuracy testing, I mounted one of Bushnell’s new Trophy Xtreme scopes—the X30 2.5-10 model with a 30mm tube and 44mm objective lens—in a set of Tally lightweight rings. It proved to be a solid and reliable combination. I have long been a fan of Talley rings, and the Trophy Xtreme scope has so far performed well in some high-volume shooting with a couple of rifles. Marketed as a scope that delivers premium performance at a price that won’t break the bank, the scope is covered by a “no-questions-asked” lifetime warranty. Functionally, everything on the American Wilderness Rifle worked as you would expect it to. The bolt cycled with silky smoothness, and rounds fed, fired, extracted and ejected without a single issue.
As a hunter, one feature I really appreciate is the design and location of the magazine floorplate release button. It’s inside the front of the trigger guard and requires a fair amount of pressure to operate, which makes it very unlikely to be snagged or accidentally tripped open at an inopportune moment. Because most ammo makers list velocity for 130-grain .270 Win loads as 3,060 fps, I was keenly interested to see what sort of velocities the rifle’s 24-inch barrel would produce.
All the tested 130-grain loads stepped out a bit slower than that 3,060 fps mark. The smallest variance was with the Federal Trophy Copper load, which was only 14 fps below the factory-stated velocity. Winchester’s 130-grain Razor Boar load was nearly 200 fps slower than advertised, but the single 140-grain load tested, also from Winchester, clocked in at 45 fps faster than factory-stated velocity.
Accuracy testing with five different factory loads and five-shot groups yielded mixed results. Three of the five loads produced average groups measuring less than 1½ inches, and that’s plenty accurate for just about any hunting application for which you might utilize a .270 Win. Considering that all testing was done on a day with the wind gusting to 14 mph, as well as the fact that I tend to shoot tighter groups with three rounds versus five, I consider that to be good accuracy. Even the two worst-performing rounds delivered 1.5 MOA-or smaller
A couple of loads printed best groups that hint at the rifle’s true accuracy potential. Remington’s Premier 130-grain Accutip load turned in a best group of slightly over 1 inch, while Federal’s Premium Trophy Copper 130-grain load produced a best group measuring just 0.84 inch. I suspect groups would have been a bit tighter with a lighter trigger pull. In any event, the trigger broke so cleanly that its relatively heavy factory-set pull weight didn’t prevent me from making a textbook shot placement with the Trophy Copper round on a relatively small target at 250 yards. With real-world performance such as that and a design that resists the elements, the Remington American Wilderness Rifle is a true go-anywhere rifle.
|Avg. Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Avg. 100-Yard Group (inches)||Best 100-Yard Group (inches)|
Federal Premium Trophy Copper
Hornady America Whitetail 130-grain
Accutip Boat Tail
Winchester 140-grain Accubond CT
|Winchester Razor Boar 130-grain||
NOTE: Five-shot groups were fired in winds of 6–14 mph at 100 yards. Velocities were measured with a Competitive Edge Dynamics M2 chronograph.
CALIBER: .270 Winchester (tested), .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Mag, .300 Win Mag
ACTION: Bolt action
CAPACITY: 4+1 (standard calibers); 3+1 (magnum calibers)
BARREL: 24 inches; 416 stainless
RIFLING: 5R rifling; 1:10 rate of twist
FINISH: Black Cerakote
STOCK: Grayboe fiberglass and epoxy
TRIGGER: X-Mark Pro adjustable
WEIGHT: 7 pounds, 6 ounces
LENGTH: 44.5 inches
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.