Does size matter? Custom Remington 700 16.5″ 300 Winchester Magnum follow up

Our article 300 Winchester Magnum: How Does Barrel Length Change Velocity- A 16″ 300 Win Mag? became a pretty big hit on the net.  If you didn’t see the article, its worth a look.  We cut back a 24″ barrel 1″ at a time and recorded the velocities using 190 grain Federal Gold Medal ammunition.  As I mentioned at the end of it, I planned on properly crowning the barrel and heading back to the range one last time with it.

The rifle, hacksaw and barrel sections.

The rifle, hacksaw and barrel sections after our ballistic testing.

Since that article was posted, I performed the following work on the rifle:

  • Installed a tactical bolt knob
  • Crowned the barrel and installed a Surefire brake
  • Bedded the scope base
  • Installed a Timney trigger

More information on how each of these operations is performed can be found in the gunsmithing section of this website.

The Leupold Mark 6 scope was removed and replaced with with a Mark 4 M1 4.5-15×50.  That poor Mark 6 took enough abuse during the first round of testing and to its credit, survived and was still performing well.

I used the following parts from Brownells:

A Remington 700, chambered in 300 Winchester Magnum with a 16.5" barrel and Surefire muzzle brake.

A Remington 700, chambered in 300 Winchester Magnum with a 16.5″ barrel and Surefire muzzle brake.

Just to be clear- the purpose of our original article was to measure the effects that changes in barrel length had on velocity.  We weren’t and aren’t advocating 16″ barrel belted magnums.  The only reason we went through the trouble to keep shooting the gun was just to see what happened as barrel length decreased and to provide hard velocity data.

Heading back to the range, I zeroed the rifle at 100 yards with Federal 190 grain Gold Medal and fired a 3 round group.  All shooting was done prone, from a Harris bipod and rear bag.

If the 16.5″ barrel wasn’t brutally loud enough, the addition of a Surefire brake didn’t help.  Shooting the gun was reminiscent of touching off a 50 AE Desert Eagle at an indoor range.  Lots of blast and a big flash.  Remarkably, the recoil wasn’t that bad at all- my guess being, all that escaping gas helps the brake work well.  Even with plugs-under-muffs hearing protection, the rifle’s report was brutal.

Here is my 3 round group at 100 yards, .868".  Not bad...

Here is my 3 round group at 100 yards, .868″. Not bad…

.868″ with 3 shots at 100 yards.  Not too shabby; I would have liked better but I’ll take it.  I limited groups to 3 shots because I was starting to run low on my Federal Gold Medal ammunition and shooting this rifle makes your head hurt for the rest of the day.

I then fired a three round group at 500 yards.

3 rounds in 4.5" at 500 yards. This was shot using a 3 mil hold over on the reticle.  This works out to around .860 MOA. I think the group would have been better if I dialed in correction.

3 rounds in 4.5″ at 500 yards. This was shot using a 3 mil hold over on the reticle. This works out to around .860 MOA. I think the group would have been better if I dialed in a correction- the dots on the Leupold Mil Dot reticle are fairly large.

I shot the 500 yard group using a mil dot reticle and holdovers.  In retrospect I should have dialed the zero in, but I still managed a sub MOA 3 shot group.  Again, I would have liked better, but this was acceptable performance.

Finally, I started shooting steel from 200-600 yards away.  Probably the coolest part of shooting a heavier caliber is the way the steel reacts.  My shooting partner and I were hitting a 5″ bobber at the 500 yard line.  When we hit it with a 223 it barely moved, the 260 wasn’t much better, but the 300 knocked the heck out of it.  Quite impressive.

Before I packing the rifle away, I found two other shooters willing to shoot it.  They both shot it well and commented on how much less recoil it had then they had anticipated.  The rifle was loud and aside from giving you a headache, it didn’t beat up your shoulder.

That’s it for my experiment with the short barreled 300 Winchester Magnum.  Time to re-barrel the action into something else- two days worth of headaches with this thing have taken their toll.

The 16.5" 300 Winchester Magnum (front) has superior ballistic performance to the 16.5" 308 Winchester (back). This comes at the price of significantly increased muzzle blast, recoil, and cost of ammunition.  To realize the full benefits of the cartridge, take a look at a longer barrel.

The 16.5″ 300 Winchester Magnum (front) has superior ballistic performance to the 16.5″ 308 Winchester (back). This comes at the price of significantly increased muzzle blast, recoil, and cost of ammunition. To realize the full benefits of the cartridge, take a look at a longer barrel.