Remington SPS Varmint
This must be a first for Remington – a budget-priced Varminter that does the business even in its standard, synthetic stock. Join Pete Moore as he marvels at the SPS Varmint in 22-250
If you’ve been out of the loop a little bit I need to fill you in on the developments at Remington and in particular their Model 700. Their good old ADL synthetic version, which was the entry level gun with its closed bottom magazine system, is now no longer produced. The ADL might not have been that pretty but it did the job, and has probably served as the base for more custom 700s than anything else. My first Riflecraft Light Sporting Rifle (LSR) was nothing but a 308 gun re-stocked and fettled.
To replace the ADL, Remington introduced a new model called the SPS – Special Purpose Synthetic. In truth it was the same tried and tested, 700 barrelled/action with a slightly tidier stock and also the option of a detachable magazine (DM) version too. Not bad for what was still a cheap rifle. But unlike the ADL, the SPS series seems to have more about it in terms of options, which is a good thing.
In the Remington scheme of things you have basic rifles, intermediates and the heavy barrelled varmint and precision models VSF, LVSF etc., which are nice, but also cost a lot more. But if you wanted an accurate gun from the box; this is what you bought. So it was with some surprise that last year Derek Edgar (MD) of Edgar Brothers, the Remington importers, asked me if I would like to look at the SPS Varmint. The concept of a cheap rifle in this format intrigued me and I agreed.
The gun duly arrived and what came out of the box really impressed me, even before pulling the trigger. Most obvious is the 26” heavyweight barrel, which offers an OD of around the 0.900” mark that tapers slightly to the muzzle. Mated to the usual M700 action we already have the recipe for accuracy and performance.
The finish was that flat, semi-matt that we have come to know on the ADL and SPS series, so no fancy blueing or stainless. The stock too was a partial departure with the back end showing the now familiar SPS build with cast-in panels of stippling on the pistol grip and the low combed butt with its American-style cheek piece. However, past the action and more panels of stippling, the forend swells out into a rather nice semi-beavertail shape with tandem QD sling studs and slots in the sides. For what is a one-piece synthetic moulding this is quite a sophisticated and practical design, given the varminting role it promises.
X- Marks the Spot
Two more slight deviations are the solid rubber recoil pad, which replaces the R3 unit found on all SPS rifles, and what appears to be a new trigger. The only reason I twigged this was the fact it’s smooth and not the usual vertically grooved blade I am used to. More importantly it’s been sorted prior to going into the box. This is a vast improvement over the earlier guns; even though it doesn’t take much to adjust any 700 mech down to something a whole lot more useful.
Remington call this the X-MARK PRO TRIGGER and say all internal components have a mirror-like finish on them and it offers up to a 40% lower out-of-the-box pull weight, virtually zero creep and 100% adjustability.
Remington are the second company to my knowledge to go down this improved trigger route recently, along with Ruger and their new LC6 unit that are standard in all their M77 Hawkeye rifles. Doubtless this has been done to keep up to speed with Savage who originally offered their AccuTrigger in selected models and now fit it to their whole range. A bit of a mini arms race, but one that all of us will benefit from…
Suffice to say the new X-MARK PRO is smooth, crisp and breaks at around 2 lbs, which is good enough for me!!! Another plus is that this new rifle does not have Remington’s horrible key lock system integral to the bolt shroud. This I believe has been discontinued due to safety problems according to Remington’s website. I have to say that I had a Model 700 25-06 VSF on test a few years ago and it simply locked up on the range, due to a malfunction with this system. Since then I have never trusted it and - as I have an SPS with it on a 7mm-08 - I always take the key with me when I go hunting, just in case.
So for what is still essentially an entry level rifle - even though in a heavy barrelled format – there are improvements all round.
For the test I fitted a Swift 6-24 x 50 scope in a Leupold, one-piece base using their 30mm tactical rings, so a good solid platform to start off with. Up front; what else - a Harris BRS bipod in the second QD stud position. This moves the pressure point nearer the action so will slightly reduce any tendency of forend-influenced movement. The rifle came in 22-250 as requested, along with a quantity of 50-grain, Remington Premier Accu-Tip ammo. For this model there is a choice of other calibres too.
Inspection of the forend showed that the barrel was not free-floating, but that big, 26” tube would probably provide some stability, even though the stock was touching it and this proved to be so. Recoil was smooth and pleasant, as might be expected, and the gun shot sub-3/4”. The trigger did impress me, giving a smooth, light and crisp release every time; normally with any 700 I have to adjust it from its factory-set, litigation-free pull, but happily not this time.
The ammo was producing 3725 fps, which translates into 1540 ft/lbs. Zeroed at 200 yards you are only ½” high at 100 yards and the drop at 300 is 4.75”. So a nice flat shooter for foxing and hopefully for CWD and Muntjac by the end of this year too.
Obviously the synthetic, varmint-style stock is a bit of a compromise, as it’s not totally ideal. Though the barrel channel could be opened up to fully float the tube and the action bedded. But even as it is, it shoots well enough. Now we come to the price, which combined with the trigger and build is little short of amazing; especially when you consider the high end varmint Remingtons are easily in excess of £1000. The SPS costs just £719 including VAT. Now that’s a hard act to follow…
Remington seem to be doing a lot more with their SPS range than they ever did with the ADL, as the Varmint ably illustrates. They now also have a Tactical model, which looks to be similar, but in a slightly heavier stock than the standard sporting guns and with a heavier barrel, which looks to be 24” long.
|Name||Remington SPS varmint|
|Calibre||22-250 Remington (on test)|
|Trigger||X-MARK PRO (adjustable)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates