Remington Managed-Recoil Cartridges

By Chuck Hawks

Remington ammo box.
Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co., Inc.

In 2004 Remington announced a new line of centerfire rifle cartridges. They called these "Managed-Recoil," and trademarked the name. Managed-Recoil cartridges come in green boxes that closely resemble Remington's famous Express loads, but these loads are special.

Managed-Recoil is desirable, because it allows a quicker recovery of the sight picture, better shot placement and less anticipation of recoil. Lower recoil is precisely the reason that cartridges along the lines of the .30-30, 6.5x55 and 7x57 have earned such a deadly reputation in game fields all around the world. It allows recoil sensitive shooters, which includes nearly all beginning hunters as well as many women and youth, to use (or borrow) existing "all-around" rifles, sometimes without the necessity for scope adjustment. It also allows more practice shooting at the range without discomfort. As the Remington literature points out, "Practice Makes Perfect."

Managed-Recoil cartridges were introduced in calibers .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum and .30-06 Springfield. The following year, the .308 Winchester and .300 Winchester Magnum were added to the Managed Recoil loading list. By 2012, the Managed-Recoil line also included the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 and .30-30 and by 2016 the 7mm and .300 Ultra Mags had been added.

Managed-Recoil cartridges are designed to reduce the actual recoil energy of these cartridges by about 50%. This is achieved in two ways: 1) a lighter bullet, and 2) a lighter powder charge for reduced velocity. Most reasonably experienced reloaders have realized that they could reduce the recoil of any cartridge by doing the same thing and I have written articles including reduced recoil cartridges for Guns and Shooting Online.

However, reduced recoil reloads can have problems such as erratic ignition and degraded accuracy if the normal powder charge is reduced the too much. (I assure you that I have been there and done that.) There is also the factor of reduced bullet expansion to consider when velocity is reduced, which degrades terminal performance. It is important to select a bullet designed for the velocity at which it will be launched. Reduced recoil reloads are a viable alternative for any experienced reloader, but the development of safe, accurate and reliable reduced recoil loads is not as simple and straightforward as it might seem.

As a major arms and ammunition maker, Remington has the capability to develop special bullets and select powders (including non-canister powders) specifically for reduced recoil cartridges and they have done just that. The Managed-Recoil bullets are lighter than the "standard" weight bullets normally used in these cartridges and they are loaded to lower velocity.

All of the new Managed-Recoil bullets are of Core-Lokt Pointed Soft Point (PSP) design (except in .30-30, where a flat point bullet is required). Here are their ballistic coefficients: .260/140 = .435, .270/115 = .295, 7mm/140 = .388, .30-30 = .215, .308/125 = .267, .300/150 = .314.

The Remington technicians also took other factors into account. They wanted the Managed-Recoil loads to shoot flat enough and retain enough killing power to be effective out to at least 200 yards. The goal for the new bullets was 2x expansion at 200 yards and 75% weight retention at 50 yards.

These goals were achieved. The Managed-Recoil loads all retain at least 1100 ft. lbs. of energy at 200 yards and the new bullets expand beautifully at that energy level. The only exception is the .30-30 Managed-Recoil load, which was designed to be fully effective on deer out to 125 yards.

Another goal was for the Managed-Recoil loads to shoot to essentially the same point of impact at 100 yards as full velocity Express loads. In Remington tests the new loads achieved a nearly identical point of impact to that of full velocity loads.

As experienced shooters know, the individual rifle has a big effect on the point of impact of different loads and the same load may shoot to wildly different places from two different rifles. Regardless, Remington claims that a rifle zeroed for full velocity loads need not be adjusted to hunt with Reduced-Recoil loads. My advice, without exception, is to check the point of impact at the rifle range before venturing into the field with any new load.

Managed-Recoil cartridges are not grizzly bear loads; they were designed specifically for hunting light framed (Class 2) game. As Remington puts it, these are loads for deer size game out to 200 yards. That is not a severe limitation for most hunters, as statistics show the majority of hunters should not take shots beyond 150 yards at Class 2 game. Deer size animals are by far the most commonly hunted big game all over the world and far more game is killed within 200 yards than beyond. If elk and moose are on your agenda, stick with standard power cartridges.

Here is a summary of the published ballistics of the .260 Rem., .270 Win., 7mm-08, 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag. Managed-Recoil cartridges (velocity in feet per second and energy in foot pounds):

  • .260/140 - MV 2360, V @ 200 yds 1991; ME 1731, E @ 200 yds 1232.
  • .270/115 - MV 2710, V @ 200 yds 2133; ME 1875, E @ 200 yds 1161.
  • 7mm-08/140 - MV 2361, V @ 200 yds 1951; ME 1732, E @ 200 yds 1183.
  • 7mm Mag/140 - MV 2710, V @ 200 yds 2265; ME 2283, E @ 200 yds 1595.
  • .308/125 - MV 2660, V @ 200 yds 2034; ME 1964, E @ 200 yds 1148.
  • .30-06/125 - MV 2660, V @ 200 yds 2034; ME 1964, E @ 200 yds 1148.
  • .300 Mag/150 - 2650, V @ 200 yds 2113; ME 2339, E @ 200 yds 1486.

Here are the trajectories for the Managed-Recoil loads from a scoped rifle (1.5" sight height):

  • .260/140 - +2.9" @ 100 yds, +2.5" @ 150 yds, 0 at 200 yards, -4.7" @ 250 yds.
  • .270/115 - +1" @ 100 yds, 0 @ 150 yds, -2.7" @ 200 yds, -7.4" @ 250 yds.
  • 7mm-08/140 - +3" @ 100 yds, +2.5" @ 150 yds, 0 @ 200 yds, -4.0" at 250 yds.
  • 7mm Mag/140 - +1" @ 100 yds, 0 @ 150 yds, -2.5" @ 200 yds, -6.7" @ 250 yds.
  • .308/125 - +1.1" @ 100 yds, 0 @ 150 yds, -3" @ 200 yds, -8" @ 250 yds.
  • .30-06/125 - +1.1" @ 100 yds, 0 @ 150 yds, -3" @ 200 yds, -8" @ 250 yds.
  • .300 Mag/150 - +1.0" @ 100 yds, 0 @ 150 yds, -2.7" @ 200 yds, -7.4" @ 250 yds.

One could actually stretch the trajectory of a scoped rifle shooting most of these loads considerably by zeroing to take advantage of their maximum point blank range (+/- 3"). Zero the .308 or .30-06 loads to hit 2.8" high at 100 yards and the maximum point blank range (MPBR) is 247 yards. Zero a .270 to hit 2.8" high at 100 yards with the Managed-Recoil load and the MPBR is 255 yards. Zero the .300 Mag. load to hit 2.8" high at 100 yards and the MPBR becomes 252 yards.

Remember, though, that the bullets are designed for best expansion at ranges within 200 yards. Given the relatively low sectional density (SD) and moderate downrange velocity of the .270 and .30 caliber bullets, it may not be practical to take full advantage of their MPBR.

On the other hand, the sleeker and longer 7mm Magnum bullet (SD .248) would seem to have more potential. If it were zeroed at 225 yards, it would hit 2.8" high at 100 yards, 3" high at 125 yards and fall 3" below the line of sight at 264 yards. This would significantly extend the MPBR of the cartridge. At 300 yards that bullet would still be traveling 2067 fps and most 139-140 grain 7mm bullets will expand satisfactorily at that terminal velocity. Note that 2067 fps is faster than the .308 and .30-06 Managed-Recoil bullets are traveling at 200 yards and very close to the 200 yard velocity of the .300 Mag bullet. Food for thought.

Remington has published a graph showing the dramatic recoil reduction achieved by the Managed-Recoil cartridges. Judging by the Remington recoil graph the 115 grain bullet in the Managed-Recoil .270 Winchester load delivers about 9.5 ft. lbs. of recoil energy, compared to about 21 ft. lbs. of recoil from the standard 130 grain Express Load. The 140 grain Managed-Recoil load in 7mm Remington Magnum generates about 17 ft. lbs. of recoil energy, compared to 32.5 ft. lbs. for the standard 150 grain load. The 125 grain Managed-Recoil load in .30-06 kicks the shooter with barely over 10 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy, instead of the 22.5 ft. lb. kick of the standard 150 grain factory load.

The weight of the test rifle was not stated, but the amount of recoil reduction is clear from the above figures. For comparison, Remington points out that the recoil of their Managed-Recoil .270, .308 and .30-06 loads is actually less than the recoil of their .243 Winchester 100 grain PSP Core-Lokt factory load.

One aspect of the Managed-Recoil loads that I have not heard mentioned elsewhere is that they are perfect for use in today's popular ultra-light rifles. Reducing rifle weight dramatically increases recoil. Using Managed-Recoil cartridges in such rifles would go a long way toward taming the ultra-light beasts.

The nice folks at Remington were kind enough to send me, upon request, a box of their Managed-Recoil 7mm Remington Magnum cartridges. These were test fired in a Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe rifle by G&S Online Technical Assistants Jim Fleck, Bob Fleck and myself.

The accuracy of the Managed-Recoil ammunition was comparable to the reference factory load (Winchester Supreme with 140 grain Ballistic Silvertip bullet, MV 3100 fps) and full power handload (140 grain Hornady Interlock SP bullet at a MV of 3100 fps) with which it was compared. I would have no qualms about going deer hunting with this ammunition.

All of us agreed that the recoil and muzzle blast of the Managed-Recoil load was attenuated by a worthwhile amount. Bob Fleck was especially impressed by the difference, as he has had the least experience with this particular rifle and a full power 7mm Magnum tends to get one's attention.

My only quibble is with the assertion that the Managed Recoil loads will shoot to the same point of aim at 100 yards as full power ammunition. This may be true in some cases, but all rifles are individuals and may respond differently to different loads.

In our test rifle, at 100 yards the Managed-Recoil ammunition hit about 4.5" lower, but directly beneath, the handloaded ammunition for which the test rifle is actually zeroed. The 140 grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip factory loaded ammunition hit 3" higher and 2" to the right of the handload, or about 7.5" above and 2" to the right of the Managed-Recoil load. All of these loads delivered good groups from the test rifle, they just have different points of impact.

This is consistent with my personal experience with a large number of hunting rifles over the last 50 years, which has taught me that it is always a pious idea to carefully check the point of impact of any new load at the range. Sadly, in most cases it is necessary to re-zero the rifle when changing loads, even when the bullet weight remains the same.

For most hunting purposes, the use of Managed-Recoil cartridges has real advantages. First and foremost, everyone shoots better with loads that kick less. Bullet placement, not raw cartridge power, is the most important factor in achieving quick, humane kills. Although many will not admit it, most hunters find cartridges on the order of the .270, .308 and .30-06 somewhat intimidating to shoot. Very few shooters are really comfortable shooting a 7mm or .300 Magnum.

The use of Managed-Recoil cartridges in these calibers when deer size game is the quarry will undoubtedly result in more quick kills and fewer wounded animals. Save the full power loads for when you really need them and you will very likely become a better shot and a deadlier hunter.

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Copyright 2005, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.