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Not too long ago I did a series of articles trying to get a bone stock Remington 700 to shoot a good grouping at 1,000 yards for less than $1,000 total. It worked, but it took a lot of fiddling and I still didn’t have a rifle I was happy with at the end of the process. After a weekend playing with Red Hawk Rifles’ latest offerings it turns out I could have just ordered one from them, paid a hair over $1k for the package, and gotten something pretty close to ideal.

The folks over at Red Hawk Rifles have a plan: take the accuracy of a precision long range rifle and make it available to the masses. Normally these long range precision shooting irons run somewhere around the same price as a down payment for a brand new Mercedes Benz, well above the price point where the average entry level shooter would be comfortable plopping down their cash. Red Hawk Rifles found a way to balance the quality and precision of a long range bolt action gun while keeping the price in check by using some well known manufacturers and taking a well-placed bet on a new entry in the market.

RHR starts with a standard Remington 700 rifle in the caliber of your choice. The first thing they do is “blueprint” the rifle, making sure that the actual firearm has been produced to the proper specifications. They also lap the lugs for a better lock-up, borescope the barrel to ensure that there are no defects, and fine tune the existing trigger pack for a better trigger feel.

Once the rifle has been polished up they drop it in a stock of your choice — the example I tested had a Grayboe stock. Grayboe is a new stock manufacturer, but that’s not the whole picture. They’ve only been shipping for a couple months but they were started by the prestigious McMillan family and their entire shop operates in the shipping department of the McMillan stock factory. In short, they’re pretty darn good. The stock has all the benefits of a proper McMillan but at a fraction of the price.

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Now that you’ve got a good rifle in a proper stock good things start happening. I had the opportunity to test out this rifle on the Cow Town range in Phoenix, Arizona where I was happily nailing targets out to 1,098 yards. The dope card I had from the rifle maker only went out to 800 yards, but with a little help and a good spotter we stretched that all the way past the 1,000 yard mark.

There are some things that I’d swap out on this rifle. First on the list is the trigger — the stock Remington trigger is good for the average shooter but miserable for precision shooting. Timney makes some amazing drop-ins at a remarkably low price point which will definitely help improve your group size. Another change is the bottom metal — the standard rifle comes with a hinged floorplate, but a removable magazine is much more my style.

Truth be told, when you’re all said and done you’ll be looking at about a $1,500 expenditure to do it right. But even at that price the gun won’t break the bank. For novice long range shooting enthusiasts this will provide an excellent platform with which to start stretching your legs and ringing the long distance steel, showing you what you like and what you want to change for your next “better” rifle. And because it’s a Remington 700 the thing will last forever, for when you have a younger, budding long range shooter you want to bring into the fold.

Naturally we’ll be looking to get one for a proper review, but the initial indications are great.

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37 Responses to Red Hawk Rifles: 1,000 Yards for Under $1,000?

    • And why does everyone gravitate to .308 Winchester for long range shooting? Why not .270 Winchester which has superior velocity and energy past 600 yards?

      • Recoil, blast, burns more powder, poor availability of high BC match bullets, poor ballistic form factor vs 6.5 and 7mm offerings and the bullets with a high BC usually require non standard rifling twits rates, it’s only available in long actions and if you want something other than a sporter contoured barrel rifle you will likely have to get something custom, and it is not an inerrently accurate cartridge (long skinny powder column with less than 100% case fill with most powders isn’t exactly ideal).

        Simply put, there are better tools, that’s why you don’t see them in any meaningful numbers in long range shooting.

        That and most people are actually gravitating to the short action offerings in 6.5mm (260rem, 6.5x47l, and 6.5Creedmoor) all of which will run circles around 308 and 270. Heck, the lowly 243win has the 270 dead to rights if you really just need something with velocities >3000fps. You need to hunt big game with it then the 7mm and 30cal magnums are better choices in a long action.

      • Comparison of .270 Winchester versus .308 Winchester at “long” range … assuming a bullet must still be traveling at 2,000 fps to penetrate Level IIa ballistic vests:

        Hornady’s premium .308 Winchester 155 grain ELD Match ammunition/bullets will drop below 2,000 fps around 460 yards, while their .270 Winchester 145 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter ammunition/bullets drop below 2,000 fps at 600 yards.

        Thus .270 Winchester gives you around 31% more range over .308 Winchester where bullets can still penetrate Level IIa ballistic vests. Personally, I think that is a significant advantage.

        • So you compare heavy for caliber bullet in the 270 to a light for caliber offering in 308 to prove what exactly?

          Also, Hornady ELD-X bullets are super long for caliber and require faster than normal twist rate in almost every case except for the 6.5 and lighter 30cal offering. You won’t get anywhere close to their stated BCs in a factory chambered rifle.

          Never mind that though, let’s load a 185gr Berger VLD (HSM sells this as a factory load) into that 308 and re-run your little comparo again. I can speak from experience because I actually shoot this combination, and any elevation above sea level shot from my rifle that bullet is >2000fps at 600yds and it stabilizes in my factory 1:12 rifling. It burns 10-15 grains less powder and shoots softer than a 270.

          That’s just one example. The 270 is a good lower 48 hunting rifle, but is completely outclassed in any true Long Range environment.

      • Also note the following velocities and energies of .270 Winchester versus .308 Winchester at 1,000 yards:

        .270 Winchester (Hornady 145 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter)
        At 1,000 yards — 1,492 fps, 716 foot-pounds

        .308 Winchester (Hornady 155 grain ELD Match)
        At 1,000 yards — 1,259 fps, 545 foot-pounds

        • You keep comparing a light for caliber 308 with a heavy for caliber 270, again not sure what you are trying to accomplish their, but if we pick a heavy for caliber bullets in a 308 things change quite a bit. This isn’t a factory load but lots of people load the 208gr A-Max and get muzzle velocities near or sometimes higher than 2550-2600fps in factory chambered 308’s. So, using that number @ 1000 yds, we get 1405fps retained velocity and 911ft lbs retained energy.

        • You need to be looking at 168 and 175 grain pills in .30 caliber. Those are the standard match pills outside the Palma game.

          The best .30 caliber pills are now over 200 grains.

        • Tex and Dyseptic,

          It looks like you have to get into 178+ grain bullets in .308 Winchester to get similar or better ballistic coefficients than 145 grain bullets in .270 Winchester. And I am curious to know how completely those heavy bullets would expand (if at all) when they are down to 1,400 fps or so at 1,000 yards.

          For reference my “requirements” (if you will) address a realistic possible national security scenario … a scenario where we are defending our nation from aggressors wearing Level IIa (or equivalent) vests. In that scenario we want to retain the minimum velocity needed to penetrate Level IIa vests as far out as possible. (Retained energy at 1,000 yards is irrelevant if the bullet does not have enough velocity to penetrate a Level IIa vest.) Of course it is also nice if a bullet has sufficient velocity, penetration, and expansion ability out to 1,000 yards to promptly take down aggressors who are not wearing ballistic vests. The higher muzzle velocities and smaller cross section of .270 Winchester seem better suited for such a scenario.

          By the way, using the bullet from Hornady’s .308 Winchester 178 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter cartridge with the loading from their .308 Winchester 178 grain Superformance Match cartridge provides a theoretical combination of muzzle velocity of 2,775 fps with a 178 grain bullet that has a ballistic coefficient of 0.552. Even that combination drops below 2,000 fps at 500 yards … and is down to 1,400 fps and 777 foot-pounds at 1,000 yards. Hornady’s .270 Win 145 gr ELD-X Precision Hunter cartridge stays above 2,000 fps to 600 yards … and is down to about the same velocity and energy at 1,000 yards (1,492 fps and 716 foot-pounds).

          Obviously, that isn’t a huge difference. I like the idea of adding 100 yards to my maximum effective range to defeat aggressors with Level IIa ballistic vests without giving up any significant energy at 1,000 yards. And I would hope that a 145 grain bullet would produce markedly less recoil than a 178 grain bullet.

          As for .270 barrels that can stabilize a 145 grain bullet, I would hope all of them stabilize it adequately since it is quite common to shoot 150 grain bullets out of .270 rifles. (I thought that the minimum twist which a barrel needs to stabilize a bullet was a function of the bullet’s weight, diameter, and muzzle velocity and was independent of a bullet’s ballistic coefficient … noting that two bullets of the same weight could have different ballistic coefficients if they have different shapes.)

          Disclaimer: I do not profess to be a long range shooting expert. I am an enthusiast who is just getting into this and understands the basic concepts.

        • I will only addres the stability vs BC argument here, as I think your other points are largely addressed by the complete and utter lack of mainstream use of the 270win in any public or private security/defense function. Same goes for match/ competition use.

          So, dtability is also a function of projectile length as well as weight. Bullets like the Hornady ELD-X and Nosler Accubond LR are super long for caliber/weight. Meaning in factory rifling they will not adequately stabilize the same as a traditional bullet of similar weight (for example, the 178gr ELD-X 30cal is 1.42″ long, that puts it in the same category as some of the 200gr+ bullets and requires a 1:10 twist va the 178 Amax which will stabilize on a 1:12). The .277 caliber bullets are especially handicapped in this area as it has a poor ballistic form factor vs bullets of similar weight in more efficient 7mm and 6.5mm calibers. This means to get high BCs you have to go very heavy for caliber or very long by using plastic tips or lower density alloys. This plays hell on stability. Brian Litz has written volumes on this but basically, a bullet may group well or even excellent at 100yds with an SG (stability coefficient) of >1, but the stated BC of that bullet is not optimized unless SG is >1.5. This can have as much as a 10-20% impact on effective BC of a bullet. The super low drag High BC .277 bullets almost exclusively require a 1:9 or faster twist to get an SG >1.5

          Google “Berger Stability Calculator”, input your projectile details, atmospheric conditions, and muzzle velocity/rifling twist and you can see what your effective BC is and what the % reduction (if any) is over what Hornady or others state.

          Back to the original discussion, most 6.5mm, 7mm, and 30cal rifles come in twist rates that are optimized for even the heaviest/longest bullets that can be fired from them. So in factory form if you can load it, you are good to go in those rifles. Most .277 rifles however, still stick with a 1:10 twist which is optimized for the shorter less efficient hunting bullets commonly used in a 270. A 145ELD-X is going to be significantly longer than a traditional heavy for caliber .277 bullet like a 150gr SST, so while the SST might be stable the ELD-X most likely won’t be.

  1. This sounds like a direct competitor to the Ruger RPR in terms of price for features. I’m much more fan of traditional stocks, having owned several chassis and sticking with McMillan and Manners products.

    However, I still think the RPR is the better product for someone getting into long range shooting. You get the adjustability of a chassis and the DBM included.

  2. “…making sure that the actual firearm has been produced to the proper specifications.”

    That’s no small feat, given that the firearm was made by Remington.

      • Yep.

        They’re charging $300 to blueprint a 700 action. I don’t think that they’re doing this on a lathe, I think they’re using the PT&G or Manson blueprinting toolkits (which themselves run about $700 for the complete toolkit) that allow you to just pull the action off the barrel, pull the bolt and stuff in a piloted tool into the bolt bore and then cut the bolt lugs, threads and action face all in one go. Here’s the PT&G tool:

        http://pacifictoolandgauge.com/receiver-truing-kits/215-remington-standard-size-truing-kit-7-piece-kit.html

        Dave Manson’s toolset is similar. Basically, rather than put the action on a mandrel in a lathe, you use a bushed mandrel in the bolt hole, and you put the action vertically in a vise (with padded jaws) and you run these tools in. You can sorta-kinda true up the receiver in probably 20 to 30 minutes of careful work, and presto, you’ve charged $300. Easy money when you’re making the rifle from the ground up and didn’t have to pull the barrel off the receiver. Not such hot money if you had to break the rifle apart to do the blueprinting. IMO, you’re better off sinking money into your firing pin/bolt first, and then blueprinting. Getting a consistent, center-point hit on your primers is more important to achieving low velocity variations than blueprinting the receiver. This could require sleeving the bolt, bushing the firing pin, or getting a new bolt, reaming the receiver to accept the new bolt, getting a new, oversized firing pin and enlarging the FP hole, etc.

        Scope the barrel? Re-chambering the barrel? Meh. This is where the rubber meets the road in a precision rifle. Either you have a good barrel, or you don’t, and most long range competitors are using single-point cut barrels, eg, Krieger, Benchmark, Broughton, Brux or Bartlein barrels, and for a reason, and that reason is winning. Remington isn’t supplying single-point cut rifling on their barrels. I think you’re money and time ahead on a precision rifle to a) get a high-quality barrel, b) have it chambered by the barrel maker or your smith, and c) mount it on a quality action.

        The action could be a blueprinted Rem700, with firing pin/bolt mods, or it could be a custom action with an integral recoil lug (eg, a Defiance Machining action). You can buy a blueprinted Rem700 receiver from PT&G (without the crappy Remington trigger) for $605+s/h, and if you wanted to go the cheap route, maybe that’s the way to go.

        You could save money by re-using a factory Remington stock, pillar/glass bedded and floated. You’re going to need to pony up for a real trigger group.

        Trying to create a 1K yard rifle that will be sub-MOA for a $1K budget (w/o glass) is like saying “I want to go to heaven… but I’m not crazy about dying first.”

  3. Say what you will about Remington (and I have), but the 700 action is still the benchmark as well as the basis of many high-end rifles.

    I guess that the boys at Cerberus still need more time to screw it up.

    • Have no fear, they’ll eventually get around to ruining it. Have you compared a Freedom Group 870 to an older Remington? I’ve seen new 870’s on the rack at Cabela’s with worse fit-and-finish than the inexpensive Chinese and Turkish imports. I’m sure they still shoot OK, but Remington should be able to do better than that.

      If they can screw up one of Remmy’s bread-and-butter products, they’ll eventually screw up the others.

    • My family has some of the older pre-FG 700s in their safes. What you get nowadays new is nothing like those. Sorry, until Remington can stop shitting out turds, I’m going to avoid anything based on one of those “modern” 700s. Just the fact that pretty much everyone takes a 700 and then reworks it to make it a “better rifle,” is pretty telling.

      • In that case, would that logic of everyone taking the same design and polishing it up to be better also apply to the 500 different styled Glocks out there?

        • There are a half-dozen+ companies who sell Rem700-clone actions right now that are already as good as you’re going to achieve by blueprinting, sleeving/bushing/etc a Rem700 factory action. Their prices range from $900 to $1500. The best of the bunch, IMO, are those from Defiance Machining, Columbus, MT.

          When I say “Rem700 clone,” I mean:

          – the action will drop into a Rem700 stock
          – the receiver will accept a Rem700 factory or aftermarket trigger group
          – the receiver will accept Rem700 factory or aftermarket bottom metal/magazines
          – the receiver uses the same barrel tenon threads as the factory Rem700
          – the receiver might use the same Rem700-style recoil lug/barrel washer. Defiance’s actions have an integral recoil lug.

          The benchrest/F-class world moved beyond the dream of using a factory Rem700 action quite a while ago, which is why these accuracy market action companies exist and are doing a tidy business.

        • I’ve not used one (yet), but serious BR competitors have, and one of my gunsmithing instructors built quite a number of rifles off Stiller actions.

          The advantage of Stillers that would cause me to seek out some of their action(s) in particular are the flat bottom.

          The one downside that people have told me of is that unless one is consistent in their application of bolt grease, it is possible to gall the lugs in their aluminum receivers. This isn’t particular to Stiller – it’s a byproduct of using aluminum for the receiver to lighten weight. The reason for an aluminum receiver at all has to do with various weight classes in competitions – if you can pull weight out of the receiver, you can have a thicker (stiffer) barrel, or you could have more stiffness in the stock, etc.

  4. I took a 700SPS “tactical”, 308, 20″bbl. $600. Put it in a B&C stock, $225. Timney trigger, $150. Not counting Leupold scope base, rings and a Nikon 4-16×40 Prostaff 7 (30mm tube and 100mins of elevation adj.). It rings steel at 1000yds no problem.

  5. What about ammunition? I have heard many people say that factory ammunition does not produce tight groups. Is there any factory ammunition that produces tight groups?

    And some of us have no desire to sink another $800 in a re-loading bench … not to mention the extensive time it takes to actually load your own cartridges. (Nor have I touched upon the huge time suck that is “work up to a load that …”, or the fact that your average Joe has had significant trouble acquiring propellant over the last two years due to bona fide ammunition manufacturers taking ALL of the propellant available in the U.S.)

    • With a stock Savage 11 chambered in .243 Win, topped with a Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 scope. Shooting 95gr Federal Fusion, shot a jagged hole (really one hole) group at 100yds. The 95gr Fusion has a BC of .376, but if you reload and use the Hornady ELD Match 6mm/.243 it has a BC of .270.

      How the Fusion would work at 1,000yds, I don’t know. But for 100yds it work’s quite fine.

      • I’ll add that sighting-in my dad’s Savage 11 with Remington Core-lock does not work at all. 1-3/4″ group at 50yds!
        So the Core-lock’s don’t group worth-a-damn.

        I’m thinking that I’ll take the rifles out and shoot some Hornady Interlock’s and SST’s, Fusion, Winchester 100gr and for the sake of it the Core-lock’s.

        Knowing how my Savage 11 shoot’s it will be the control.

  6. I’m confused. The title says a 1000 yard rifle for under $1000, but the article quickly states that the tested rifle Is “a hair over $1000.” Then all of a sudden you are talking $1500 “to do it right,” and sorry, but $1500 is 50% more than $1000. Last, it is entirely unclear whether RHR does its magic for a price that includes the Remington rifle of your chosen caliber, or instead, you give them “a hair over $1000” to work on a rifle you already own.

  7. This article is terrible. No details, and the article disagrees with the title. Seriously, NYT could have done a better “review”. This is terrible product placement at best. More and more I’m dissatisfied with TTAG. Not trying to be snarky, but TTAG made a name with hard-core brassknuckled reviews. It’s what we’ve come to expect. When it’s absent, we notice.

    • “This article is terrible. No details, and the article disagrees with the title. Seriously, NYT could have done a better “review”.”

      The article makes no claim it’s a review:

      “Naturally we’ll be looking to get one for a proper review, but the initial indications are great.”

  8. No comment on the article or caliber discussions, but want to put in a good word for Red Hawk Rifles.

    RHR are good peeps, and do good work. They were very patient in going over options with this noob, didn’t try to up-sell me, and the price really wasn’t much more than if I tried to source all the components and do it myself (sans tools and knowledge).

    I turned in an honest to goodness 3/4″ group using factory 308, which is amazing for me.

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