Find tips on Hunting, Firearm News, Reviews, & Training
I grew up being very fond of Winchester firearms. The .22 I used during my youth was a Winchester Model 90 pump that shot .22 Shorts. The rifles that were used in the western movies that were so popular during my youth were Winchesters. The legendary Winchester Model 70 centerfire was introduced in the same year I was born. Both my brother and a shooting buddy had Winchester 94 lever actions. With so many connections, I had to love Winchesters.
But around 1964 things changed. I was starting to get interested in varmint hunting. The rifles that I was using were a bolt action Mossberg Chuckster .22 WMR and a Savage 342 in .222 Remington caliber. Both performed well but I wanted something different. The opportunity to make a change came when I found a used Remington Model 700 ADL in .222 Remington that had a Weaver K4 scope on it. I bought the combination for a fair price and soon became a more careful reloader with better equipment. In a few years, I grew tired of the Weaver K4 scope and replaced it with a Weaver K10. That rifle and scope combination shot very well and wrought havoc to crows and groundhogs.
Eventually it dawned on me that something was not right with the trigger. I took the rifle to a gunsmith in Cody, Wyoming and he found that the previous owner must have tried to get the lightest and most crisp trigger pull possible. In so doing, something in the mechanism had broken and the parts were glued together! A nice Timney trigger was installed by the gunsmith and that remedied the situation. He adjusted the trigger to give a crisp let off with a pull of three pounds and after that I had a very nice rifle for varmints. Later, in a moment of weakness, I sold the rifle to my brother who kept it for a few years. As my involvement in shooting sports took a turn toward writing, I was left with only rimfires as varmint rifles. In a moment of weakness, my brother sold the rifle to me, a move that he later regretted.
The .222 accounted for numerous varmints and performed in a superb manner. The .222 cartridge is easy to load, but the twist rate of the .222 is one turn in 14 inches so many rifles in that caliber are limited to bullets of 55 grains or less. Most .223 Remington rifles have a twist of one turn in 12 inches or faster so they can handle heavier bullets. My Savage Axis has a twist rate of one turn in nine inches so it will stabilize bullets weighing at least 70 grains. With bullets of 50-55 grains, there is little difference in the performance of the .222 and the .223.
Later in life, I became the reloading editor for the now defunct Gun World magazine. With the enormous popularity of the caliber, I had to make use of a rifle in .243 Winchester caliber. That rifle was one that I had had for several years, Remington 700 that started out as a SHOT Show special version of the 700 ADL that had a polymer stock. I converted it to a BDL by adding a floor plate and trigger guard assembly and getting a BDL stock on the internet. That rifle easily shoots five-shot groups smaller than one inch with some loads. With bullets in the 55-80 grain range, it is a superb varmint rifle, especially for larger species. With 90-100 grain bullets, the .243 is effective on game of medium size. My favorite factory load is the 95 grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip that gives one-half to three-fourths inch groups. Full power handloads with the same bullet perform just as well.
The used stock from a Remington BDL that I got from the internet was one that had seen rather rough use. Not content with things as they were with the .243, I replaced that damaged BDL stock with a Boyds At-OneTM stock in the pepper color pattern. Although that stock added a little weight to the rifle, the result is worth it. The stock can be adjusted to give the dimensions that I want and on a rest from a bench it is rock solid.
So at this point in the discussion, I have a duet. Having long since traded my only .30-06 Springfield, I needed another for load development and testing. It so happened that my brother had two rifles in .30-06 caliber and wanted to keep only one. The one on the “to go” list was a Remington 700 ADL. Having had considerable experience with that model Remington, I snapped it up. That rifle has probably the nicest stock of any Model 700 ADL that I have seen.
I mounted a Leupold 3-9X scope on the rifle and found that it to be very accurate for a factory rifle with several loads. I now have a Remington 700 with which I can hunt any species that interests me. In the classic book Complete Guide to Handloading, Phil Sharp describes such a light load for the .30-06 as his varmint load. I imitated Phil Sharpe and loaded ammunition with 110 grain bullets loaded to approximately 2000-2200 ft/sec (about the velocity produced by the .30 M1 carbine). My Remington gives small groups at 100 yards with such loads and would be eminently suitable for use on called coyotes. Before the introduction of numerous specialty cartridges, the .30-06 was a “do it all” cartridge. With modern bullets in the 165-180 grain range a .30-06 is suitable for all but the largest game. One of the attributes of the .30-06 is its versatility and many hunters of varmints and large game could get by with nothing else.
My Remington Trio has had no number one hits and in fact does not make music charts at all. However, the trio gives me hunting tools for species from prairie dogs to bears and everything in between. With those three rifles, I could hunt most of the game species of the world. Moreover, they are complete rifles with sights. Although I still consider myself to be a loyal Winchester fan, the Remington Trio entertains me well.
Performance of this Remington 700 in .222 Remington has always been superb.
With bullets up to 55 grains, performance of the .222 Remington (left) and .223 Remington (right) is similar.
The Boyds At-One stock is very stable and works well on my Remington 700 in .243 Winchester.
Still in factory configuration, the .30-06 Remington Model 700 is a very versatile rifle.
Phil Sharpe had an enormous amount of experience with the .30-06 cartridge and his classic book has some excellent information.