This Old Rifle: Finding The Right Ammo Makes All the Difference

This Old Rifle: The Right Ammo Makes All the Difference

I’ve had my Remington 700 AAC-SD for about six years now, ever since I first reviewed it back in 2012. I had been looking for a good bolt action rifle with a threaded barrel so that I could take advantage of my newly-acquired AAC 762-SDN-6 silencer, and it looked like a match made in heaven.

I finally found one at a gun show in San Antonio and ever since that day I’ve been using the absolute heck out of the rifle. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth since I bought it, but recently I’ve started to feel like it’s coming to the end of its useful life.

This Old Rifle: The Right Ammo Makes All the Difference

If you look back through the TTAG catalog you’ll find some ridiculous things that I’ve done to this gun over the years. Things like putting it in this early MDT TAC21 chassis system. Or slamming hundreds of rounds down the barrel for the ammunition consistency testing project without even caring where they impacted on the berm.

I’ve put this 700 through a lot over the years, probably more than any sane gun owner would, but through it all, the rifle has maintained the same level of accuracy as the day I took it out of the box. Just add some good 175 grain ammo, pull the trigger, and a beautiful clover leaf grouping will appear downrange.

That all started to change about a year ago. I had slowed down a bit from writing so when the Remington 700’s groupings started to open up a bit I figured that I had just gotten rusty. But no, I was still as solid as could be with my other guns. Something had changed, and the old reliable Remmy just wasn’t performing anymore. What once was a 1 MoA guaranteed rifle could now barely keep it within the 4 MoA box.

I tried every box of quality ammunition I could get my hands on in that same weight range. Hornady, Eagle Eye, Federal… none of them cut the mustard. Some were grouping better than others but I couldn’t seem to keep things as tight as I used to anymore.

I put the rifle away for a few months while I tried to decide what I could do about the situation. I really like the Remington 700 platform, not only is it a solid and reliable design, it also has a ton of aftermarket parts available. Getting a replacement Remington 700 was an option, but with the history and sentimental value of this gun I really wanted to try to salvage as much as possible.

That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole of replacement barrels, and from there things just got way too complicated and expensive for someone who really just wants a good reliable 1 MoA rifle.

I was walking through a Dick’s on Black Friday (I know, they’re the devil, I get it) and saw that they had a sale on Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt ammunition. I hadn’t really considered Remington in my search for a good consistent quality ammo, but for the price I figured it was worth a shot. I bought a couple of boxes and headed out to the range to give them a try.

I expected the same results. Core-Lokt isn’t even Remington’s top-of-the-line match grade stuff. How could this possibly do better than a precision Hornady round? And yet, as I cycled through the cartridges a familiar pattern started appearing downrange than I thought I’d lost forever. Instead of the sporadic mess that I’d been seeing for nearly a year, the familiar clover leaf was back, and better than ever.

Three groups later and the rifle was still putting out roughly 1/2 MoA groupings and hasn’t stopped since.

The moral of the story: it’s not always a case of a barrel being “shot out.” Yes, at some point your rifle becomes a virtual smoothbore and it’s time to invest in a Bartlein. But if the rifling still looks pretty good then maybe you just haven’t found the right ammo for your gun yet. And in this case, a little Remington magic brought my budget precision rifle back from the dead.

comments

  1. avatar Ben Stoner says:

    Damn, quality writing! Very good article despite the Dick’s reference.

  2. avatar Tyler Kee says:

    Long throated Remmy becomes longer throated Remmy after abuse. Bullets jump too far – accuracy suffers. Nick finds heavier bullets with longer base to ogive – less jump – accuracy comes back.

    I knew I should have convinced you the rifle was a turd when it sat in my safe for a year. Could have definitely gotten a sweet deal on a “shot out” rifle. 🙂

    1. avatar possum says:

      Thanx, I was wondering why the bullet brand would make that much of a difference.

    2. avatar Scoutino says:

      Hey, Tyler, it’s been long time! Great to see both Nick and you are still around. Where have you guys been hiding?

  3. avatar ROBERT Powell says:

    some times it is the littlest bump in the road that gives the biggest results…i have had perry red lable match ammo that shot lousy then picked up some contract hardware store junk that shot like a lazer,, just a matter of luck of the draw..

  4. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Out of all the ammo that worked, I’m kind of surprised. I mean, it’s considered a dated if not decent quality hunting round, but not match stuff by any means.

    That said, it has a lot to say for throat size and bullet shape/weight.

  5. avatar possum says:

    I’ve had good results with Remington’s Core lockt when I hunted. The deadliest mushroom in the woods. I’ve found that those round nose soft points ( 220 gr. 30-06) shoot pretty darn good groups….. This was a top notch article

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I have experienced similar difficulty. I have a break-action (and thus single-shot) rifle chambered in .44 Magnum for deer hunting. I tried 5 different factory ammunition loads. I only found ONE factory load that shoots an acceptable group for hunting purposes (four inches at 100 yards).

    And I had similar trouble with other rifles and calibers.

  7. avatar California Richard says:

    The biggest problem with that rifle appears to be that it doesn’t shoot 6.5 Creedmoor.

  8. avatar ‘liljoe says:

    Is nick writing again? May need to start reading articles more frequently 🙂

  9. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Find a local smith with a borescope, shove the scope down the bore from the breech end, and have a look at what the throat looks like.

    You could get away with just setting the barrel back by a turn (or two), especially in a stock/chassis like that.

    Aside from that, I wholly approve of Bartlein barrels. It’s what I usually spec for barrel replacement for my customers’ rifles. I usually have Bartlein do the profiling and (if any) fluting. I do the chambering, crowning and (if my customer wants it) the muzzle threading.

  10. avatar Kap says:

    roll your own Ammo is much more fun, especially when you can make 1/4 inch groups at 100 Meters! make 10 rounds, of various loads, go too range set Chrono up check speed and accuracy, find what rifle likes make a bunch, never run out; after 1000 rounds, check chamber and bore!

  11. avatar LJPII says:

    You lost me at “I was walking through a Dick’s on Black Friday”

  12. avatar Mike Smith says:

    You should check out the Teludyne StraightJacket system–maybe put it on a cheap replacement barrel. I’m not sure what it would do to your used barrel after the fact, but it is supposed to make a big difference even on budget guns.

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