Over the years I’ve built quite a few custom rifles on Remington 700 actions. The only factory parts I’ll typically use are the receiver and bolt assembly, everything else is upgraded. When Remington offered a $75 rebate on the 700 Special Purpose Synthetic (SPS) Varmint, I decided it was time to revisit the factory Remington 700.
In the ever changing hierarchy of Remington 700 models, the SPS is one model up from the bottom, the ADL which has a blind magazine (and is the least expensive version). I purchased this gun retail. After the rebate, the it ended up costing just under $500- not much more than the stripped actions I’ve been using. In many places, street price for the rifle (as of July 2016) is under $600.
The 700 SPS Varmint is available in five different calibers; 204 Ruger, 223 Remington, 22-250, 243 Winchester and 308 Winchester. For a slight premium, the rifle can also be ordered with a left handed action.
The 700 SPS has a 26″ Remington Varmint contour barrel. For a production rifle, it is considered heavy, however, for a match rifle, it is on the lighter end of the spectrum (a table showing various barrel contours can be found here). The rifle is equipped with a synthetic stock and a four shot internal magazine(five for the 204 Ruger and 223 Remington versions) with a hinged floor plate. The model I purchased is chambered in 243 Winchester with a 1 and 91/8″ twist barrel, model number 84217. The rifle without accessories weighs 8.5 pounds.
On the SPS Varmint, Remington uses a fairly light synthetic stock that DOES NOT free float the barrel. On this rifle, the front of the stock contacts the barrel. I suspected this could possibly interfere with accuracy, however, you’ll see this was not the case.
The stock is equipped with 2 front QD studs and 1 rear. This allows the attachment of a sling as well as a bipod.
The front of the stock has cooling slots cut into it. This actually seemed to work, during long strings of fire, I could feel the heat radiate out of the openings. The fore end is wide and would pair well with an improvised rest.
The rear of the stock has a built in cheek piece and soft rubber recoil pad.
A view of the standard pressed metal trigger guard and floor plate. Note the use of hex head cap screws for the action, a welcome improvement over the standard screws from years past.
The muzzle of the varmint contour barrel is finished with a dished crown.
Headspace on the rifle measured 1.631″, .001″ over minimum SAAMI specification. The X-Mark Pro trigger was set at 5 pounds 9.5 ounces (average of five pulls) from the factory. Remington allows the user to adjust the trigger pull weight. The lowest weight I was able to adjust the trigger too was a stout 5 pounds.
Since I was unsure how the 1 in 9 1/8″ twist would stabilize heavier bullets (online reports vary), I decided to work up some loads a wide weight range of Sierra bullets. I selected the 70 grain Sierra Match King (SMK) #1505– above, left, 95 grain Tipped MatchKing (TMK) #7295– above center, and 107 grain SMK #1570– above, right.
For reloading information: WARNING: The loads shown are for informational purposes only. They are only safe in the rifle shown and may not be safe in yours. Consult appropriate load manuals prior to developing your own handloads. Rifleshooter.com and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.
I’ll cover load development for these bullets in a future post. In the interim, these bullets were loaded over Lapua brass with Wolf large rifle primers (we’ve found they give the lowest SD for standard rifle cartridges). For the first trip to the range, I developed five different H4350 loads for the 95 TMK, three Varget loads for the 70 SMK, and two Reloader 22 loads for the 107 SMK.
Prior to firing, I equipped the rifle with the following accessories from Brownells:
- Badger Ordnance Maximized 20 MOA scope base
- Harris bipod
- Tactical Operations stock pack
- Nightforce Ultrlight rings
- Nightforce 4.5-14x 50mm F1 SHV scope
All shooting was done prone, from a bipod with rear bag. The target was a 1″ orange dot shot at 100 yards. With the exception of the initial 95 TMK 3 shot group (I needed two rounds to get a rough zero on the rifle), all groups are 5 rounds.
To measure group size, digital calibers were zeroed to the diameter of the bullet (in this case .243″) and checked against the actual size of the hole in the paper. The target was then placed on a flat surface and the group was measured from outside edge to outside edge. The reading on the digital calibers would then indicate the center to center group size. To convert this value to MOA, it was divided by 1.047″.
Groups ranged in size from .509″ (.486 MOA) to .884″ (.844 MOA). Average group size was .720″ (.688 MOA). You’ll note all ten loads shot under 1 MOA! I was really impressed.
Overall, I would say we have a shooter here.
So what are my thoughts on the Remington 700 SPS Varmint?
- It is a great option for a budget precision rifle. Average group size for my first 50 rounds was .688 MOA! The rifle is capable of better than 1/3 MOA 5 shot accuracy as configured at the factory. I didn’t think it would shoot as well as it did.
- Sometimes rifle stocks don’t have to be free floated to shoot well. This was the case with this rifle. I am still shocked.
- Despite occasional guidance to the contrary, the 1 in 9 1/8″ twist works with the 107 SMKs. I ended up shooting some fairly low velocity loads at sea level (my range has an elevation of 20 feet above sea level) over the course of testing and evaluation and still managed to stabilize the bullet.
- The X-Mark Pro trigger appears to have been designed by a committee made up of lawyers and safety professionals, it made a great gun a chore to shoot. Savage and Mossberg both supply much nicer triggers on their rifles. For perspective buyers, I would suggest upgrading the factory trigger to a Timney 510.
- This rifle would serve as a great basis for a competition or match rifle build. Simply change the trigger and drop it into a stock or chassis that accepts a DBM system and you’ll have a winner.
I’m really happy with my Remington 700 SPS Varmint. It is a nice, accurate rifle for reasonable price point. If you’ve been thinking about on, give it a shot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.