Remington Model 700 XCR-II .30-06 Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Remington advertises their Model 700 XCR-II as the world's most weather resistant rifle. It is built with an injection molded synthetic stock and a stainless steel barreled action, but that does not make it unique. What sets the XCR-II apart is its proprietary TriNyte multi-layer, corrosion control coating. The entire stainless steel barreled action is coated with this black, electroless nickel and PVD material. According to Remington and backed by the findings of an independent laboratory's saltwater tests, the result is, "the world's most effective barrier against rust and abrasion for firearms."
Our first impression was that the action of the XCR-II was exceptionally smooth. We have used Model 700 since the model's introduction, some five decades ago and we found the XCR-II to be the smoothest Model 700 we have ever encountered. Apparently, the TriNyte coating also serves to smooth the action. Indeed, the inside of the TriNyte coated receiver and its bolt raceways were completely smooth, with no hint of tool marks.
We also think that the new TriNyte used on the XCR-II looks good. (The original TriNyte, introduced in the Model 700 XCR in 2005, was a clear coating that left the stainless barreled action silver.) The XCR-II wears a silky black finish that complements the business like purpose of a hunting rifle, without the flat dullness of the unpolished, matte blued finishes so commonly used as a cost cutting measure on rifles these days.
The XCR-II barrel is a full 24" long, the standard length for .30-06 test barrels. This should allow factory loads to develop their full velocity. The muzzle is finished in a target crown, a fad afflicting more and more hunting rifles. Target crowns may provide very slightly enhanced accuracy, but they also provide less protection to the critical rifling at the muzzle than a field crown. We would rather see a field crown on big game hunting rifles.
The XCR-II stock is an improved version of Remington's standard, injection molded stock. The barrel is free floating in the stock from the receiver up to the tip of the forend, where there is contact with the forend that provides some support to stabilize the barrel. While an entirely free floated barrel is the least expensive way to manufacture a rifle, because it eliminates the labor intensive job of properly bedding the barrel, sporter weight (#2) barrels generally shoot better when bedded, or at least given some light upward pressure at the forend tip. (Heavy varmint or target weight barrels are usually stiff enough to get by without being bedded in the forend.)
The XCR's stock is an olive drab (OD) green color with black, over-molded Hogue grip panels where checkering would ordinarily be. The overall shape and clean lines of the stock are excellent. Remington has done a fine job of providing Model 700 rifles with well-shaped stocks since day one and the XCR-II stock follows this tradition. The stock is functional, handles recoil well and fits most shooters. It is provided with a black pistol grip cap, sling swivel studs and Remington's excellent SuperCel recoil pad. The OD green color, however, did not appeal to anyone on our staff. This stock would be far more attractive if it were in desert tan or field gray. All we can say in favor of the color is that it is better than a black plastic stock, because it offers somewhat more contrast to the black TriNyte barreled action.
While we are commenting on the stock, we should point out that there is an obvious mold line separating the right and left halves of the stock that was not dressed at the factory. In addition, there are unattractive, wide, molded lines running around the forend and pistol grip areas. The molded depressions for the Hogue grip panels are oversize, leaving an unsightly gap all the way around the grip panels. The bottom line is that, while well shaped and weather resistant, the XCR-II stock is obviously designed to be mass produced at minimal cost. A fiberglass composite stock from the likes of McMillan or Bell & Carlson would be a big improvement, as would a laminated hardwood stock from Accurate Innovations. Neither would detract from the all-weather capability of the XCR-II rifle. We suggest that Remington offer the Model 700 XCR-II barreled action in a (#30) tan with black spider web Bell & Carlson Medalist straight comb stock as a premium alternative to the present molded plastic stock. It would also be nice if Remington offered an XCR-II barreled action, so the buyer could choose his own stock from the many "drop-in" aftermarket alternatives available for Model 700 rifles.
Most Guns and Shooting Online readers are familiar with the details of the Remington Model 700 bolt action. It is a very strong ("three rings of steel") push feed design that allows the shooter to load a single cartridge directly into the chamber, if desired. The dual front locking lug bolt cocks on opening and unlocks with a 90-degree lift. The lock time is very fast. The ejector is a plunger type mounted in the recessed bolt face and the extractor is a circlip in the bolt face that snaps over the case rim when the action is closed. This extractor is probably the weakest feature of the action, but it usually works fine. The oval shaped bolt knob is checkered on the top and bottom. The receiver is drilled and machined from steel bar stock. The loading/ejection port is smaller than that of a Winchester Model 70 or Mauser 98, but much more generous than the oval slots cut in Tikka T3 and Steyr-Mannlicher receivers. There is no integral recoil lug; the recoil lug is a thick steel washer that is trapped between the barrel and receiver. The safety is a positive, two-position type mounted at the right rear of the receiver. We have always found the Remington M-700 safety easy to use. The bolt can be opened with the safety on.
We didn't like the initial version of Remington's X-MARK PRO trigger, but the latest, externally adjustable, version is excellent. It is set for a clean 3.5 pound release at the factory and it is user adjustable over a two pound range without removing the barreled action from the stock. (The adjustment screw is in front of the trigger.) A small Allan wrench is provided for trigger adjustment. We immediately adjusted the trigger of our test rifle for a 3.0 pound pull, which is what we prefer in a big game hunting rifle.
The Model 700's internal magazine is a sheet metal box of the Mauser 98 type that holds four .30-06 cartridges in a staggered column and is loaded from the top of the receiver. It is provided with a hinged floorplate for easy unloading. The floorplate release is mounted inside the aluminum alloy trigger guard. The floorplate is engraved with an XCR-II logo, a nice touch.
We requested our Model 700 XCR-II test rifle in .30-06 caliber, but the XCR-II is also offered in .25-06, .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, 7mm Rem. Magnum, 7mm Ultra Mag, .300 WSM, .300 Win. Magnum, .300 Ultra Mag, .338 Win. Magnum, .338 Ultra Mag, .375 H&H and .375 Ultra Mag. Here are the specifications of the Model 700 XCR-II as tested:
For the shooting portion of this review, we mounted a Weaver K4 scope on our Model 700 XCR-II rifle. A fixed power, 4x scope is a good choice for a .30-06, or any all-around rifle, and the K4 has been around for as long as we can remember. It is still a good scope for a modest price. This is a long action rifle, so some short tube scopes will not be suitable, unless offset bases and/or rings are used. We used regular Weaver two-piece bases and Leupold QRW rings, which worked fine with the versatile K4. The addition of the scope and mounts brought the empty weight of our test rifle up to 7 pounds 8.5 ounces.
As usual, we did our testing at the Izaak Walton rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. This outdoor facility offers covered bench rests and target positions of 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards. The weather was cool and damp--no surprise for March in Western Oregon. Guns and Shooting Online staff members Chuck Hawks, Rocky Hays and Bob Fleck did the test shooting. Ammunition was graciously provided by our friends at Remington, Federal and Winchester, to whom we would like to express our appreciation. These companies support the shooting sports; please use their ammo. The test loads included Remington Premier 150 grain Copper Solid BT, Winchester Power Max 150 grain HP, Federal Premium 165 grain Trophy Bonded Tip and Winchester Supreme 180 grain E-Tip.
For record, three shot groups were fired at a distance of 100 yards. The rifle barrel was allowed time to cool when it became hot, but not between every three shot group. A new Caldwell Lead Sled FCX rest (see the review on the Outdoor Accessories page) and Hoppe's 100 yard "Crosshair" targets were used. Here are the shooting results.
AVERAGE GROUP SIZE FOR ALL AMMUNITION = 1.825"
This time out, Rocky and Chuck shot the smallest groups, all of which measured right at 1". As you can see, the accuracy of our Model 700 XCR-II was good with ammunition it preferred. Only the 180 grain E-Tip load gave unacceptable results. This is not a matter of brand preference, since the 150 grain Power Max bullet, also from Winchester, gave the best results of the loads tested.
Groups shot with the 180 grain E-Tip bullet invariably showed two bullets close together, about an inch apart, with one flyer that dramatically opened up the group. This held true regardless of who did the shooting. This is a unique, Lubalox coated, solid gilding metal, tipped bullet and we suspect that its rather erratic performance is due to some aspect of its design. Coated bullets, for example, often do not mix well with conventional bullets when fired from the same barrel without cleaning. The XCR-II did not exhibit the flyer problem with conventional 180 grain Core-Lokt bullets, for instance, although we did not have enough of those loads on hand for all three shooters to fire for record, which is why those results are not included. However, we think that the problem was with the E-Tip bullet or some other aspect of the E-Tip load, not the 180 grain bullet weight in general. There are many ammunition offerings in .30-06, so it should not be a problem to find one in any of the common bullet weights that shoots well in this rifle.
Since this is a relatively lightweight, although not ultra light, .30-06 rifle, the efficient Remington SuperCel recoil pad was much appreciated. It helps to remove the sting from shooting powerful loads. The XCR-II's well shaped stock also helped to tame the apparent recoil. However, any 7.5 pound .30-06 is going to kick. We would like to see a heavier stock on the XCR-II to bring the rifle's weight up to at least eight pounds. This would also correct its muzzle heavy balance, which is a result of the 24" barrel at the front and a hollow plastic stock at the rear.
We all appreciated the XCR-II's smooth action, reliability, the ease with which it can be single-loaded and its excellent trigger. These characteristics made it convenient and enjoyable to shoot at the range. We did not expect malfunctions from a Model 700 and there were none. Everyone enjoyed shooting this rifle and no one had any serious complaints. This makes for a rather mundane review, but a good rifle to own. While not perfect, the XCR-II is one of the best plastic stocked hunting rifles on the market today.
The Remington Model 700 XCR-II is designed for use in extreme environments, particularly around salt water. Bear hunting along the Alaskan and British Columbia coastlines is one application that immediately comes to mind. This is often done from boats, with the hunter going ashore in a Zodiac or other dinghy for the final stalk after a bear has been spotted. The hunter's rifle is thus exposed to salt air and salt water as well as (very likely) fog and rain. The Model 700 XCR-II would be an ideal rifle for the job!
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2010, 2012 by chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.