500 yards with a 223 Remington: Wood stock, solid pilot reamer and Shilen barrel…

500 yards with a 223 Remington: Wood stock, solid pilot reamer and Shilen barrel…

223 Remington is a great cartridge that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.  It is widely available in a myriad of modern sporting rifles.  Buy it in bulk, shoot it a lot and reload surplus brass.  Besides these attributes that help its mass appeal, it can achieve some really impressive performance with the right shooter and load.  As great as it is in a gas gun, it gets even better in a bolt gun.

A couple years ago I helped my friend Kevin rebarrel his old factory Remington 700 in 223.  We didn’t do a lot of work on the gun.  We trued the action with the Manson Receiver Accurizing Kit and installed a .224″ 1:8″ Shilen #7 Select Match barrel he bought from Brownells. The chamber was cut with a Manson solid pilot 223 Wylde reamer and the barrel was crowned at 20″.

He’s had it in a couple of different stocks.  First an MDT TAC-21 chassis system (it hammered), and later, when he wanted a more traditional look, a factory wood Remington stock.  Kevin pillar bedded his factory wood stock and painted it with custom camouflage (it looks a lot like a fiberglass stock doesn’t it).  For glass he selected a Vortex Viper 6.5-20x44mm in standard turn-in style mounts.

Tell me this isn’t a great looking rifle!  But how does it shoot?  Well, last week Kevin went to a 500 yard match and fired these two 10-shot groups.

The first group (above) is 3 3/4″ tall by 2 3/8″ wide.

His second group was 2 3/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide!

Wow, this is some nice shooting!

I asked him about the load he used.  He told me that he was using a Hornady 75 gr ELD over IMR 8208 with a CCI primer and Lake City Brass. In addition to the Hornady ELD, he told me that the gun also loves the 80 gr. Sierra MatchKing.

These are some great results.  What are the lessons here:

  1. 223 Remington is an awesome little cartridge in the right conditions with the right load.
  2. You can get a wood stock rifle too shoot well, especially if you bed it right.
  3. Shilen barrels can hammer.  I’ve had great luck with Shilen.
  4. Solid pilot reamers can do a great job!
  5. Lots of shooters have great luck with IMR 8208 XBR in 223!

Nice shooting Kevin!