This Old Rifle: The Right Ammo Makes All the Difference
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I’ve had my Remington 700 AAC-SD for about six years now, ever since I first reviewed it back in 2012. On my wishlist was 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 short-action 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 centerfire 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 the bolt handle, 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 off a bipod later and the rifle was still putting out roughly 1/2 MoA groupings and hasn’t stopped shooting sub-MoA 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 you checkout the rifling and it 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 long range rifle back from the dead.

Remington 308 Win Core-Lokt; qty 20 rounds/box, UPC BOX 047700056203; SKU 21479

Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD (As Tested Originally)


Caliber:               308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO)

Barrel Length:    20” 1:10 rate of twist Heavy Barrel, matte black finish

Overall Length:   39.75”  

Muzzle:               5/8-24 threaded muzzle with thread protector installed; accepts threaded flash hiders, muzzle brake and suppressors

Weight:               7.3 lbs.

Trigger:              X-Mark Pro® externally adjustable trigger system

Stock:                Hogue Overmolded Ghillie Green pillar-bedded stock; SuperCell Recoil Pad; front and rear swivel studs

Magazine:          Hinged floorplate 

Operation:         Bolt action

Finish:                Black

Capacity:           5

MSRP:                $780 ($650 street)


Related articles:

Gun Review: Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD

Remington Announces Model 700 SPS Tactical in 300 Blackout


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    • I’m not as forgiving that you patronized Dicks Sporting goods, and to add insult to injury it was a firearms related product!!!! Are you for real???

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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..

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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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