Gun Review: MG Arms Ultra-Light in 7mm Remington Magnum

“I assume you’ll want a .30-Caliber of some sort for the plains game rifle?” Kerry O’Day and I had been discussing the two MG Arms rifles they would be providing for my hunt with Zambeze Delta Safaris in November 2020. The ‘dangerous game’ rifle would be an Ultra-Light in .416 Taylor they had built previously (see TTAG review).

Kerry was correct that any .30-Caliber would be the perfect cartridge to pair with their .416. I have hunted with .30-06’s etc. in the past, but I told Kerry that if they were OK with it, I would prefer a 7mm Remington Magnum.

My Dad really did affect my preferences in firearms; my request to Kerry reflects another of his influences. I remember seeing my Dad use his beautiful Browning 7mm Remington Magnum on our whitetail hunts in the Texas hill country. I remember thinking that it was such a powerful caliber and it was…compared to the .243 Winchester that he had given me as my ‘deer rifle’.

So, when I purchased my first deer rifle, I went for a Remington Model 700 in — you guessed it — 7mm Remington Magnum. That was a lot of years ago, and I’ve taken all sorts of game with that Plain Jane Model 700.

Kerry said that my preference was fine with him. That set the ball rolling for the construction of the MG Arms Ultra-Light Plains Game rifle in 7mm Remington Magnum.

Specifications

Carol O’Day is in charge of stock design and construction at MG Arms. She asked what design (color pattern) I would like the standard Kevlar stock to wear. I told her that I was primarily going to use the rifle for the Plains Game portion of a safari in Mozambique. Carol is an old-hand in Africa, so she suggested their South Texas Camo finish. When I received the rifle, I was very pleased with how this design looked with the matte black Teflon finish of the metalwork. The camo stock was equipped with a  1″ Decelerator pad.

The standard action for MG Arms Ultra-Light rifles is a Remington 700 right-hand action that’s been skeletonized. Optional actions include Stiller and Left-handed models. My rifle came with the standard action.

The bolt has an AR style extractor and is skeletonized and fluted.

The rifle features an SS National Match Barrel that’s free-floated with aluminum pillars and glass bedding.

It’s also equipped with the MG Arms Super Eliminator muzzle brake. The brake does an excellent job of mitigating recoil.

MG Arms installed a Jewell adjustable trigger (pull weight: a mere 2 lbs)

The Ultra-Light has a two-position safety.

I tested the rifle with Leupold’s VX-5HD 3-15x44mm CDS-ZL2 Riflescope that was mounted on the Ultra-Light with Talley Rings and Bases.

Range Session – Accuracy

I used three different cartridges for this review.

Two types were from Swift Bullet Company. One of the Swift loads was topped with 150 grain Scirocco and the other with 160 grain A-Frame bullets. Both the Scirocco and A-Frame cartridges gave near MOA accuracy and thus would be suitable for hunting with the rifle sent to me. However, the accuracy data came from some custom loads with 62 grains of IMR 4831 and 162 grain Hornady ELD-X bullets.

MG Arms always provides a target showing how well the custom rifle performed with their custom ammunition. I always wonder if I will be able to replicate their results. In this instance, the answer was a resounding yes. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

As with all my accuracy tests, I used the size of groups obtained from the bench as the baseline for the accuracy from field rests. On the bench, I used a sandbag for the forearm and an Armageddon Gear Waxed Canvas Optimized Game Changer Support Bag for the butt.

I checked the muzzle velocity of the MG Arms Custom loads with my LabRadar. The velocity of 2816 fps I measured agreed well with that provided by MG Arms (2842 fps).

I’ll be using my 4StableSticks‘ rests when I head to Mozambique. With that in mind, I used their Ultimate Leather – standing bipod rest – to collect ‘field accuracy’ data.

The target pictured below came from the 300 yard mark. The two-shot group was fired from the standing rest, not the bench.

Needless to say, I was very pleased to see the 300-yard group, but that was not the only sub-sub-MOA group I got. The graph provides the results from both the bench and the standing rest for targets placed at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards.

The missing data are due to the fact that I had only one box of the MG Arms Custom ammunition. In addition to this review, I also needed to use the Custom ammunition for a ‘Box Test’ of the Leupold riflescope. I chose to skip shooting at 300 yards from the bench and 400 yards from the field rest.

I was able to achieve sub-MOA groups at all distances, from both the bench and the Stable Stick bipod. Four of the six groups were sub-0.5 MOA. That’s phenomenal accuracy for me, especially from the standing rest at 200 and 300 yards.

Shootability

I know that isn’t actually a word, but I like it. For this rifle, I am referring to whether its Ultra-Light weight of six pounds might make it great to carry all day, but a serious pain (literally) to fire. The answer for this rifle is, as I mentioned previously, that the MG Arms muzzle brake dampens recoil to almost nil.

I fired the first 20+ rounds from the bench with no shoulder pad. I forgot to wear my normal gel pad. I didn’t remember to put the pad on until I was preparing to shoot from the Stable Stick rest. I put it on because I thought that I might get sore, not because I was feeling significant recoil.

Needless to say, I could shoot this rifle all day long and not notice the recoil. But, I better not have to do this while hunting.

Specifications: MG Arms Ultra-Light in 7mm Remington Magnum

Caliber: 7mm Remington Magnum
Action Type: Remington 700 Action Skeletonized (squared & lapped, AR style extractor)
Capacity: 3 + 1
Overall Length: 45″
Barrel: SS National Match Barrel
Barrel Length: 23″+ brake
Muzzle Brake: MG Arms Super Eliminator muzzle brake
Weight: 6 lbs. (without riflescope)
Stock: Standard Kevlar (13 oz; LOP: 13 1/2″)
Metal Finish: Matte Black Teflon
Stock Finish: South Texas Camo
Trigger: Jewell adjustable rigger (1-3 lb pull)
MSRP:  $3995

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and appearance * * * * 1/2
OK, I admit it. I am starting to soften towards non-wooden stocks and non-blued metal parts. This is a really nice looking rifle, with the attractive camo pattern of the Kevlar stock complimenting the Black Teflon finish on the metalwork. The MG Arms folks always do a great job on skeletonizing and weight reduction of the action etc. That gunsmithing also looks good.

Ergonomics * * * * *
I can’t wait to load up some more ammunition, using the MG Arms recipe, and get back to the range. The recoil is so negligible, and the rifle’s accuracy is so good that it makes shooting this Ultra-Light totally enjoyable. My ‘pet’ rifle is a Model 700 Remington and I love its accuracy and feel. However, it weighs a good 5 pounds more than the MG Ultra-Light and kicks a whole lot harder. I know I will appreciate the weight and handling of the Ultra-Light when hunting African plains game.

Reliability * * * * *
The action and bolt handled all three types of ammunition perfectly. There wasn’t a single feeding or extraction issue.

Accuracy * * * * *
Wow! That should cover it. Paired with the custom loads, the rifle resulted in sub-MOA groups from both the bench and the standing rest at distances of 100-400 yards.

Overall * * * * 1/2
I am impressed with the looks, the light weight and the outstanding accuracy of the MG Arms Ultra-Light. I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time on the range, trying out different loads and field shooting positions before my safari in Mozambique.

 

 

Mike Arnold writes for a number of outlets; links to other articles can be found here.

[All photos courtesy of Mike Arnold.]

comments

  1. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Nice

  2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Wow! Very nice rifle! However, if I were going to Africa it would have to be .30 cal for plains game. Academic since I would have to win the Power Ball. That said, I have a custom 7mm Magnum. Mag-Na-Port muzzle brake. It was there when I stole it. But, why? 7mm Magnum doesn’t kick hard and the muzzle brake just makes it very loud. But it drives tacks. Especially with those 150 grain. Swift Siccoco loads. If you can handle a 3″ turkey load you should be able to handle most any African load.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Let’s go.
      I was supposed to be there in May of this year.
      I can hook you up and we’d enjoy some great hunting/photos/campfires/fishing/general awe of the country.
      It’ll be cheaper for you since you’re on the east coast.
      Live. This ain’t a dress rehearsal.

      I’m serious.

  3. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Camo pattern is nice and different than the usual spray paint jobs I see.

  4. avatar J. Smith says:

    Nice rifle, but you lose all the performance of a 7mm mag when using a less than 26″ barrel, thusly negating the benefits of the magnum class. Apparent, by the 2,800 fps velocities posted. I get better velocities when using 175g factory soft points in one of my bolt action 7’s.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      61 grains of IMR 4831 should be producing over 2,800 feet per second with that bullet out of a 24-inch barrel. The 62 grains listed in the article would be over the maximum load listed buy both the Hornady manual and the Hodgdon reloading data website.
      What load are you using to get much faster than 2800 fpswith a 175gr bullet? Maybe IMR 8133 pushed to its absolute top out of a 26″+ barrel? That might get you to 2,900, with a good fast barrel.

      1. avatar J. Smith says:

        Both Winchester and Federal production 175g soft point are listed at 2850-2860 with 24″ barrel. That is consistent with what I have chronographed them at, never tested 175g out of a longer barrel, as I use lighter, faster loads in the 26″ and 28″ barrels. I shoot factory ammo, and dont reload my 7mm mag as I dont shoot them much anymore.

        I Agree with you on the muzzle brake, i had a browning with a 26″ barrel with a brake it was unpleasant to shoot in the field and at the range. The above was listed at 23″, plus the brake, that is just way too short for a magnum. I would think a 7WSM would make more sense with this setup.

  5. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Great gun. I would much rather lose the muzzle brake and gain a couple pounds on the rifle. Really can’t stand a muzzle brake on a hunting gun.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Got to handle their wares at the sheep show.
    Fantastic craftsmanship.
    They had a .375 H&H there that I fell in love with.

    Glad to see they shoot as good as they look.

  7. avatar Andrew says:

    Nice gun, for an elk hunt. I’m surprised that your professional hunter would even let you use this with the muzzle break. Those are dangerous to use when hunting with a group of trackers who are not going to have hear pro on and may be standing nearby when you want to shoot. It’s fine for practicing at home, but you should screw it off before going to Africa. Same with the dangerous game rifle you mentioned.

    Honestly, a light weight rifle just isn’t the tool for Africa. Most African hunting is done from a truck, so it’s not like you’re elk hunting miles with a pack at elevation and want to save grams wherever and only have to take one shot. In Africa you have help carrying your other gear, and even your rifle if you want. Much better to get a heavier rifle that doesn’t need a brake to control the recoil and doesn’t put people at risk.

  8. avatar simobros says:

    Nice rifle in my favorite caliber. Good review as usual.
    The 7mm Rem Mag rifle I have, I bought in ’79 as a deer rifle for ME and VT. It’s a Ruger M77 tang safety round top receiver. It came with factory irons, but I put a Bushnell Scopechief 2.5-8x on it.
    It’s no featherweight and I’m too old to shoulder it all day any more. I get it out on the 300 yd. range at the club I belong to every now and then. It’s a cannon, but I still love shooting it and it’s spoiler accurate with the right loads. It’s one of the guns that will never be sold.

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