@ 06:24 pm (GMT)
Nathan FosterHi Erich, thanks for your kind comments, I am slowly coming right.
The difference between the XCR II and standard SPS is essentially a paint job. Apart from the coating, the barrels and actions are the same, the stocks are the same SPS stock except for the soft rubber panels.
Personally, I prefer to steer clear of painted metal work as it can come to grief during bedding or rebarreling operations at which point, the entire finish needs to be removed. This is why I prefer the British army method of coating a rifle using Elastoplast tape and enamel paint. Nevertheless, on stainless, such coatings are not really necessary, I prefer to reserve tape and paint coatings for black steel rifles. A coating of hand rubbed axle grease once every few months will do the trick. I use a great deal of axle grease on client rifles, this sets the rifle up to be used in inclement weather.
So, looking at the M700 SPS of 2011/2012, the rifle is best described as an outstanding platform yet suffering extremely poor quality control over the last two years. Quality control is not just an issue at the Remington plant though, its a problem everywhere, shoddy burred bores from both low end and high end manufacturers, I have a high end unit here that has been grouping 12 at 100 yards, saved only by a heavy dose of fire lapping. Tikka are in my experience, on fire at the moment, note- I did not say Berretta or Sako, I said Tikka. One of the most important factors I have learned throughout all of this research is that its all about people. You can have the best rifle design in the world but if you have a corporate devil thrashing a whip, poor management or simply a poor work culture, all of that CNC machine investment equals exactly nothing. People, who would have thought?
It is surprising how corporates still try to tell me over the phone that all of our rifles are accurate" and we never make mistakes. Readers must understand, this is a lie, humans make mistakes- period. Its the ones who wont admit to making mistakes, they are the ones to steer clear of, shutting the doors to any and all truth. Its all about them, the customer is always wrong. For those who think that CNC machining removes all error, remember, someone has to check the tool heads, tools chip within a daily production run, lazy staff neglect to clear swarth mixed with Rocol, there is a lot of room for errors within CNC machining- again, its all about people, ethics and attitudes.
The one problem with the Tikka design is that the mag box is too short for an optimum accuracy long range rifle in 7mm rem mag. The mag box is approximately 85.5mm long. You will want at least 87mm to play with unless you want to single feed pet loads. Some Tikka Magnums are extremely accurate, some have to be single fed, its a luck of the draw thing. One other thing to consider though, is that if you intend to shoot to a more limited range, such as 600 yards, you will most likely be able to find an adequate load for the T3 that works through the magazine. The accuracy limitations I speak of are more regarding the goal of a true long range rifle (out to and beyond 1000 yards).
Apart from this, its back to the M700 with its impressive build-me-a-7mm-Practical 94mm magazine. The M700 action is a keeper, it is the heart of the platform. It may need blue printing one day but again, it is your platform.
The SPS Magnum has a 26 barrel, the XCR II has a 24 barrel, the laminate mountain rifle has a 23 barrel. My concern is that the crowns are no longer cut conventionally but instead, cut with a piloted tool. If the pilot has swarth on it, its goodbye muzzle. This happens roughly 50% of the time (2011 and 2012). Fire-lapping can remedy this (but not on a fully burred bore as pictured at the bottom of the page)- my success rate has been 50% with fire lapping swarth scratched bores. Otherwise, the barrel needs to be cut back and recrowned. If you start with a 24 barrel and discover the dreaded swarth damaged muzzle, the rifle will need to be docked back to 23. Throat burrs and land burrs are also not uncommon, though fire lapping seems to work very well on the current SPS barrels in this regard. You are probably reading this in horror but honestly, these problems are occurring across the brands so take a breath, keep reading, stick with me here.
The stock of the SPS / XCRII is very slim. It can be strengthened to minimise flexing with ease. The main concern is forend control, the smaller the forend, the harder it is to grip and control under recoil. Felt recoil of the SPS 7mmRM is moderate but the effects on accuracy are measurable. Epoxy bedding the rifle is pretty much imperative. If you get one that shoots well out of the box you are very lucky (it does happen from time to time).
Free recoiling an SPS in 7mm Rem Mag with full power loads is not just counter productive, its down right silly. The SPS is a light rifle, the forend needs to be controlled with a firm hand if it is to be accurate. Bipods and the SPS magnums do not work, the SPS rifle is too light, the bipod making the rifle jump. This has nothing to do with stock flexing, as I have said, the entire stock can be made rock hard with our bedding and stablizer compounds. You will have to decide whether you are normally good at controlling magnum recoil, if in doubt, fit something like a Boyds Classic laminated stock- a sporter stock which features a beaver tail forend. Some folk do prefer the slim mountain profile of the SPS, this requires careful consideration.
The Mark X trigger is a problem. Some can be adjusted to suit long range work, some become dangerous at these low settings. The Maine Police department have just had a row with Remington over this in the P model rifles. Unlike the M24 Sniper rifle (M700 Sniper rifle), the Model P (M700 Police) does not have an aftermarket trigger. Again, my stats show that only 50% of the Mark X triggers cut the mustard and come up very well, I am having to scrap the other 50% for parts. In NZ, a Timney trigger can be obtained from Reloaders Supplies, its a nice fat trigger, grooved, can be set down at 1.5lb which is about perfect for long range hunting.
The M700 rifle is a modular design in many regards, the availability of parts and mods are endless- unlike many other brands. With some of the more exclusive brands, a simple replacement part can cost 1000% more than the cost of production, quite disgusting.
As I wrote in the last NZ outdoor magazine article, barrels come and go, they are consumables whether they are flawed from the get go or simply wear out, stocks can be the same depending on taste, but the action is the heart of the platform. Youll want a brand that is easy on the smith when it comes time to re-barrel, no hidden surprises, no galling threads.
Your chances of a good M700 barrel in 7mm Rem Mag are roughly 50/50. Firelapping and re-crowning can save a barrel that is otherwise a bin job. In fact these two operations can change groups from 3 MOA to .3MOA.
Lower inertia M700s seem to suffer less from bore flaws. For example, all of the M700 .308s I have tricked up over the years have shot in the .3s. It is so much like vehicles, race cars need better tires than town cars.
Would I buy a Remington knowing all of this- yes! An SPS rifle is worth around $1200-$1500 NZ, about the same cost as importing a custom rifle action on its own without the 12 month wait and paper work difficulties. Consider the barrel and stock as freebees.
In recent years, I have warmed to the T3 (regarding new rifles) but I am always mindful of the magazine length, great in short action calibers and a few of the longer ones such as the .25-06 and .30-06 (but not the .270 and .280). However many folk find favor with the whole line. The laminate stocked Tikkas are very nice as well. In the last year, I have only seen two T3s with flawed bores. Thats pretty good stats. One of my major concerns regarding the T3 is recoil. These rifles do tend to recoil a lot due to their light weight. It is the type of recoil that can ruin accuracy (due to less than optimal shooting technique) and cause suffering to animals. In this regard, I wish Tikka would go back to medium weight rifles, though the Laminate Tikka is a compromise. Regardless, Tikka do an outstanding job in spite of the Corporate which currently owns the brand.
As to your other questions, yes, I will be able to work on your rifle in the longer term. As you can see, there is quite a bit involved, both in actual bedding work as well as observation and problem solving, followed by load work etc.
The Burris scope will serve you well in the interim but you will eventually learn to out shoot the scopes range limitations. You will need to weigh this up, it can sometimes be more productive to sell while the scope is in new condition, rather than down the track. On the other hand, you may want a range limit.
The 150 grain Partition is a good bullet but I would like to suggest the 160 grain Partition as a start point, just to push the BC up a bit. Start your load work with a cheaper bullet like the 162gr Interlock, then move to the Partition once the bore is run in and the basic pressure work completed. The 160 grain Partition is outstanding, ideal for your chosen game (90-180kg / 200-400lb). I am glad to hear you are wanting to utilize the Partition, its a bit of a forgotten bullet these days.
A while ago I helped a hunter from London set up his 7mm Rem Mag for African Antelope, using the 160 grain Partition. The results were emphatic, all one shot fast kills on all body weights from the lightest of species up to Blue Wildebeest and greater Kudu. Fast expanding, violent, deep penetration, these are the hallmarks of the 7mm 160 grain Partition when it is matched to appropriate game weights.
Tape and paint, British sniper method, a fully water proof, extremely tough form of preservation....
A tricked up SPS 7mmRM with Sightron 6.5-20x50 scope....
Bedding and stabilizing of the SPS 7mmRM...
Client showing excellent form, photo taken under full recoil....
The below SPS came to me after it was threaded for a brake by another smithing business. If you look into the bore, you will see the circular burrs which occured during the crowning operation prior to the muzzle brake work. It pays to check these things before investing in brakes, cutting threads etc...