Go on. Admit it. You want a precision rifle. For hunting. Target practice. Picking off zombies from your bedroom window. Does it really matter why? No. The only thing that matters is how much. A well-sorted precision rifle with pillar bedding, free-floated barrel, high quality bases and rings and killer optics will melt your credit card faster than a butane blowtorch.
Alternatively, you can scratch that itch for Old School Cool with a Remington Model 700 VS. With a few odds and ends, you can built a precision setup that will exceed your shooting capabilities (in a good way) without breaking the bank. Yeah, let’s do that.
Why not? The Remington 700 bolt action rifle has been a tried and true platform since America embargoed Cuba (1962). The police still turn to the 700 (PSS) for sniper duty, while the Army and Marines deploy 700 variants (the M24 and M40). And no wonder. It’s rugged, simple and, above all, accurate.
The Remington Model 700 VS (Varmint Synthetic) features the legendary Remington 700 short action receiver nestled in an HS Precision composite stock. The rifle has a full receiver-length aircraft-grade aluminum bedding block for maximum stability.
Our VS came with a 26-inch free-floated heavy contour barrel and concave crowned muzzle, chambered in .308 Win with a 1 in 10” twist. The barrel and receiver have a matte finish, while the two-lug bolt is nicely jeweled. Remington sends the rifle from the factory drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
Nothing screws-up a precision rifle’s ergonomics faster than a narrow trigger. Some manufacturers forget that trigger control isn’t everything—it’s the ONLY thing. Fortunately, the VS’s adjustable trigger is wide enough to comfortably accomodate the index finger’s entire pad. It also sports a series of vertical grooves that give the shooter plenty of non-slip contact surface.
Remington has set the VS’s trigger to break cleanly and crisply at around three pounds with virtually no take-up and no creep. You get 4+1 chances to send lead downrange without reloading; there’s a hinged floor-plate magazine for unloading ease.
The main difference between the 700 VS and the PSS: the VS’s fore grip is not as wide, the bolt handle is smaller and the civilian rifles comes with only two sling swivels. In terms of accuracy, the mass-produced VS runs with the big dogs.
The $1200 Leupold Mk4 optic is the standard by which precision rifle optics are measured. Meanwhile, we fitted our VS with a $500 Shepherd Model 310 P2 on Leupold rings and two piece bases. The Shepherd P2 is a 3x10x40 adjustable objective scope featuring an innovative stadia reticle that provides a highly effective Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) out to 1000 yards.
Our test VS had a major issue right from the start. The extractor refused to grab onto and extract the empty casings. Tapping a spent casing out of the chamber with a cleaning rod after every shot doth not a great shooting session make.
Under most circumstances, the FTF would have been a deal-breaker. But the few shots fired proved the Remington rifle was capable of serious accuracy. Remington customer service told us to send the rifle to a factory-authorized repair shop in Las Vegas.
When the gun returned, the extractor still wasn’t working properly. Worse, the composite stock was chipped at the rear of the action. Remington sent me a new shipping label to return the VS to the factory. Nine days later, the Big Brown Truck brought the rifle back to papa.
The extractor was properly riveted and functional. Remington had polished the chamber. I added a Harris ultra-light bipod, a butt-cuff ammo carrier and a sling. Then it was time to get down to business.
Business was good. Using Federal Gold Medal Match 168 grain boat tail hollow points at 100 yards, the 700 VS was easily grouping between 3/4” and 1/2” from a solid bench rest. Before long, I was putting together my own handloads using Hornaday 168 grain BTHP Match bullets, shooting consistent 3/4” groups.
The rifle was hit with my friends. They found great satisfaction in demolishing clay pigeons placed out on the 300 yard berm. When we stretched out to 500 yards, the 700 VS was landing consistent hits on a 12” square steel plate with both match ammo and surplus ball ammo thanks, in part, to the Shepherd scope’s excellent BDC.
In steadier hands than mine, the 700 VS was capable of scoring hits at 1000 yards on a five-foot section of vertical steel I-beam, though that’s really pushing the upper limits of the .308’s effective range.
Anyone who shoots precision rifles will tell you that consistency is the key to accuracy. The accurate shooter needs a consistent sight picture, trigger control, breathing and body positioning. One of the biggest keys to the rifle’s consistency: figuring out which load it likes best. This requires serious range time. I know, I know: “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch,” right?
In a recent precision rifle class with a few members of a local sheriff’s department SWAT team, the Remington 700 VS with the Shepherd scope more than held its own against several tricked-out PSS’s sporting Leupold Mark 4 scopes [see: above]. Having leftover scratch to buy more of that dollar-a-holler match ammo was even better.
After firing approximately 1200 rounds through the VS, a curious weakness developed in the magazine spring. Under the pressure of two or more rounds, it would occasionally fail to exert enough upward pressure to position the cartridge high enough for the bolt to pick up. Manually stretching the z-shaped magazine spring provided a temporary fix. But it’s a sure bet the spring will need replacing.
The Remington 700’s quality problems were not what you’d call endearing or, for that matter, reassuring. But you get what you pay for. If you want a precision rifle that challenges your skills every time you pull the trigger and you’re on a budget, the Remington Model 700 VS is a bargain-priced weapon that gets the job done. Unlike some weapons, even after fixing its foibles, the 700 VS proves that the key to happiness is to want what you have.
Caliber: 308 Win.
Weight w/Scope: 11.5 lb.
Action: Bolt action
Finish: Black matte
Capacity: 4 round internal magazine
Price: $595 (at time of purchase)
RATINGS (Out of Five)
A great example of how simple can be sexy. The looks of the 700 VS are understated, but it’s clearly built for action.
Not a rifle you’re going to want to pack up and down the hills. It’s heavy. But the HS Precision stock is comfortable and soaks up the 308 recoil well. Controls are well placed and easy to manipulate.
The extractor and magazine issues on this rifle have given me some heartburn over Remington’s quality control, but the simplicity of the bolt action has proven utterly reliable and it has shot everything I’ve fed it from plinking junk food to match grade filet mignon.
Customize This ****
Once you’ve glassed and slung this rifle and attached a bipod, it’s pretty much good to go. A cheek piece may be necessary for some shooters to achieve a solid cheek weld.
Overall Rating ****
I’ve seen guys bail on rifles with far fewer issues than this one. But its accuracy has ensured this straight-shooting thunder stick a place in my heart. For the money, it’s hard to beat.