Remington 700 LTR
With his fascination for short/light rifles and intermediate calibres, Pete Moore checks out Remington’s neat and compact Light Tactical Rifle in 6.8 mm SPC
This review is really in two parts, the first is very much a known quantity in the form of a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, though this example is unusual being what is termed a Light Tactical Rifle (LTR). The LTR has a heavy barrel and decent synthetic stock, but does not come in the usual large and weighty package common to this sort of equipment. It’s a handy rifle that’s still capable of good short/mid-range performance.
It’s the second part that is perhaps of more interest as this LTR is chambered in the new calibre of 6.8 mm Remington Special Purpose Cartridge (SPC). This round has been developed to operate in an M16 platform and is said to offer more power/performance than the current 5.56 x 45 mm (223 Remington) ammo. The idea would seem to indicate that eventually the 6.8 mm could become the new US Service cartridge and totally replace the 5.56 x 45 mm. This would give the 40-year old M16 family yet another new lease of life.
Though there are other and similar calibres in development and use, such as the excellent 6.5 Grendel, only the 6.8 SPC is a factory item with both Remington and Hornady making ammo. So it would seem likely that if the switch is made from 5.56/223 then the SPC will be in the frame for the job.
However, this is not an essay on military ammunition development but a gun test, and though the 6.8 mm is interesting, I have my doubts as to its ability to out perform the 223 Remington significantly to make it attractive to the British sports shooter. I picked the SPC example, as I wanted to see what it could offer from a bolt-gun, as I had previously tested it through one of Bob Clark’s Speedmaster AR15s last year. Back then there had been no factory ammo available, so I had to rely on reloads that were tailored to suit the foibles of a straight-pull action. Now I have some Remington 115-grain FMJ for the LTR.
The good news is that the LTR is also available in more mainstream calibres to the tune of 223 Remington (1-9” twist) and 308 Winchester (1-12”). So if you are looking for a compact tactical/precision rifle then this neat little gun could be right up your street, and in both cases is more than capable out to 600 yards. And if you like pain there’s also a 300 Remington Short Action Ultra Mag (SAUM) option too. I say this as a 20”, 7.5 lb rifle is going to be a bit of a handful in a calibre of a similar power bracket to the mighty 300 Win Mag.
Cute ‘n’ Compact
Measuring 40” from butt to muzzle with its 20” tube and un-scoped weight of just 7.5 lbs, the rifle comes across as very handy indeed. Unlike a true compact however, which usually shows a short butt, the length of pull on the LTR is a reasonable 13.75” which includes a decent rubber butt pad. The forend is a little abbreviated and with a bipod fitted onto one of the two QD studs the supporting arm position is a bit cramped, though not uncomfortable.
The stock is a heavy, black synthetic with an integral aluminium bedding block, so you can be assured that the barrelled action is sitting in some decent furniture. The barrel is floated all the way up to the re-enforce and the diameter (at muzzle) is 0.858”. It also shows the three, wide, flat flutes common to Remington tactical guns. This will shave a bit of weight off the tube and might even add to its rigidity too, but the chances are it’s mainly done because it looks good.
Apart from that it’s a standard Remington 700 BDL with a floor plate magazine system that loads through the top of the receiver. Unusually in 6.8 SPC the capacity is five rounds and not the normal four. The 2-position safety catch is located rear right of the action and gives bolt operation in SAFE mode, which is useful for unloading drills. Plus it’s well placed for easy thumb operation without having to break the firing hand grip, which is always an advantage. The trigger was nothing special and came from the box a bit on the heavy side, which showed up in initial accuracy testing. However, the 700 mechanism is easy to adjust and five minutes work had it down to something far more acceptable.
Facts & Figures
With a Leupold 4.5-14 X 50 LRT M1 scope on top and a Harris BRS bipod up front the rifle, though perhaps a tad nose-heavy, felt handy and more importantly solid in the shoulder. Initial groups were well over the inch, but after a bit of trigger adjustment these dropped to ¾” at 100 yards; recoil was very much as a 223, though slightly heavier but still mild and easy to control.
Performance-wise this compared quite well to my 20” Speedmaster shooting a 69-grain Sierra BT/HP bullet over 26.4-grains of Vit N 140, which gave an easy ½”. However, I do have plans to reload for the 6.8 mm and feel that a 110-grain bullet might be a better choice for the LTR, as small changes in weight/speed can often make big differences to performance from the same barrel.
The 115-grain, Remington factory load produced the following figures:
H 2478 fps
L 2446 fps
Av 2459 fps
Energy 1476 ft/lbs
My Speedmaster was averaging 2994 fps/1373.2 ft/lbs from the aforementioned 69-grain Sierra BT/HP reload. A quick bit of maths indicates that the SPC offers 103 ft/lbs more muzzle energy than the 223. Running these figures through my Sierra Infinity V ballistics programme shows the SPC gives marginally improved energy figures out to 400 yards. After that and out to 600 yards the 223 aces it by a few ft/lbs with less drop and windage too.
However, these figures were achieved in 20” barrels, which are short by comparison to the more normal 22 and 24” options. With a 24” tube and a110-grain reload, Hodgdon reloading data tells us that the 6.8 can be pushed at 2649 fps to make 1713 ft/lbs. This shows little improvement in windage and bullet drop over the 223 but gives a whopping average energy increase of 250 ft/lbs across the board. All this is achieved with similar powder charge weights too.
Bigger is Better?
In terms of a military cartridge, I think the 6.8 SPC, given they get the right bullet weight/speed ratio, should offer more power and therefore lethality than the current 5.56 x 45mm. However, the .270” bullet it uses shows a lower ballistic coefficient (BC) than a comparable 223 projectile so I don’t think that it will give better accuracy.
And now we come to the other question: can the 6.8 SPC be made deer-legal? From the 20” barrel of the LTR I doubt it, as it’s shy of that mandatory figure by over 200 ft/lbs. As we have seen, running a 110-grain bullet at around 2650 fps will give the required 1700 ft/lbs, likewise a 90-grainer at 2920 fps. But this data was taken from the Hodgdon website that use match-grade, 24” barrels to achieve these figures and real time results rarely match paper ballistics!
It would, however, make a cracking woodland stalker for roe and muntjac where ranges are short to medium, given you could currently guarantee an energy output of 1700 ft/lbs. Likewise, if England and Wales change the calibre laws on these two deer species with a view to the use of 22 centrefires, the 6.8 SPC would make an excellent alternative to the larger calibres like 308 Winchester even at its current 1500 ft/lb limit.
The conclusion of this feature is very much in two parts, as was the test itself. The Remington LTR is a sweet little rifle with a lot to offer the shooter looking for a practical compact. My personal choice would be one in 223 Remington, as its 1-9” rifling twist would easily handle a wide choice of bullet weights so making it a versatile performer for varminting as well as range use. A 308 Winchester chambering would offer similar criteria though as a deer rather than a fox rifle, but recoil might be a little on the sharp side. In both cases I would get the muzzle threaded for a moderator and/or brake.
The 6.8 mm SPC is an interesting cartridge and it’s easy to see where it would fit in with future military/police needs at both assault and sniper levels. Though capable and accurate for the UK civilian market it’s perhaps a bit too specialised to have a broad appeal. However, I have 6.8 mm dies coming and will be doing some reloading to see how far it can be pushed and in what directions too.
|Calibre||6.8 mm SPC (on test)|
|Barrel||heavy fluted 20”|
|Weight||7.5 lbs (un scoped)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates