Remington 700 VLS
Every year, thousands of hunters traipse deep into the woods, stomping
around trying to find the perfect spot where they can sit very still
for many hours,
freezing their fannys off hoping that some decently large woodland
critter will happen by. When the creatures of the forest aren't
pointing and laughing at this hunter (admit it... if
you hunt, this has happened to you) and the hunter
actually successfully bags his or her prey, there is a decent
chance that the rifle at the hunter's side is a Remington
Introduced in 1962, the original four variations Remington lists
were the ADL and BDL factory models along with the D-grade and
F-grade premium and custom-shop offerings. Over the course of
production—and assuming I counted correctly—there
have been some 69 variants produced by Remington, not counting
special runs, with 23 different varieties currently listed in
their catalogue. "Out of the box
accuracy" is one of Remington's key selling points for
this model. Over the years, the rifle's reputation for
performance has justified Remington's support of the
model. This same reputation has also made it a popular base
for custom projects.
When introduced, some of the features on the rifle, intended
to keep production costs down and therefore market prices,
were deemed cheap by some but Remington does not have a habit
of producing poor quality products (which is a large part of
the reason that they have been in business in one form or
another for nearly 200 years.) Once the public got a look,
they liked what they saw. In fact, after almost 50
years, the iron-sighted BDL is still in the catalogue and
continues to be a best seller.
My rifle, though, is the more recent VLS. Entering the Remington catalogue
in 1995, this short
action rifle is in the varmint class. Instead of iron
sights, this variety is fitted with rails for your favorite
scope. The laminated wood stock of the VLS (which actually
stands for Varmint Laminated Stock) is of the Monte Carlo
style with a beaver tail fore-end. Even though I didn't know a
ton about rifles at the time of my purchase, one thing I
did notice almost straight off was the countoured barrel and the
concave barrel crown. I noticed them because they struck me as
somewhat unusual shapes. I'm not sure what I was actually
expecting it to look like but this caught my attention.
|| Bolt-action rifle
| Barrel Length:
|| 26 in.
| Overall Length:
|| 45 3/4 in.
|| 9 lbs. 6 oz.
So why did I choose the 700 VLS? Well, back when, when I went
into the shop, my
aim was to procure a decently accurate rifle chambered for a
reasonably powerful, flat shooting round. There was no notion
of getting any particular rifle or any particular caliber,
simply, "Lets see what you have, and I'll see what I
like." After listening to me explain my objectives, the
woman at the counter turned around, considered for the
briefest moment, and grabbed what to me was one of the better
looking rifles they had on display at the time.
The 700 she handed me was chambered in .308 Winchester (which
isn't exactly a varmint round, of course) and felt pretty
comfortable. The bolt cycled smoothly and the trigger seemed to have a crisp, short pull. I
was initially skeptical of the beaver tail fore-end but I've
since gotten used to it and have come to appreciate it in a
rifle of this caliber. I tried two or three other rifles but
none of them felt quite right to me, so that was that.
Naturally, lacking fixed sights, I needed some way to aim this
critter. While my knowledge of rifles was incomplete, I knew a
thing or two about optics. A
quick trip to that end of the counter and the optics display case
resulted in the 700 being matched with a Burris Fulfield II. This
Burris scope has a variable magnification of 4.5 to 14X with a
42mm objective lense and
parallax adjustment graduated from 50 to 500 yards with a
"wish and a prayer" infinity setting just in case
you want to try your luck a bit further out. The reticle is
what Burris terms a "Ballistic Plex" which is
basically a drop compensating reticle. It almost goes
without saying that, after spending that much on both the
rifle and scope combined, the scope rings were thrown in for
free along with assistance getting them mounted properly.
The rifle itself weighs about nine and a half pounds. With the
scope and rings, add another 20 ounces for a total weight of
about ten and a half pounds. I appreciate this extra mass
since, with the factory hard rubber recoil pad, the .308 will
certainly pound the heck out of your shoulder if you spend all
day at the range and since any skill worth learning requires
considerable practice, I can speak from experience. To that
end, one of the first things I did was to find a thicker,
softer pad to bolt on in place of this. Since that time
though, I have become much more accustomed to stiff recoil and now
think that I probably could tolerate the standard pad with
little to no issue.
Snap, Crackle, Pop
Down at the range, I was immediately impressed with this
rifle. Loading four rounds into the internal magazine and
setting my scope on ten power, the six inch target
out at 100 yards came into view. Even with my
less-than-adequate shooting, all 4 rounds went inside the 6
ring. Remember the break-in period,
it got better from there and so has my shooting.
You don't need a to buy a custom rifle to find one that
shoots like a custom rifle.
After getting to know this rifle, I have grown very fond of
it. With practice, I have become a decent rifle shooter with
pretty much anything I pick up, whether using a scope or iron
sights. Yet this rifle is the match of just about anything
else I have had the opportunity to fire, even with factory
"Out of the box accuracy"
The .308 winchester has been among the most
popular rounds almost since it was developed. With a muzzle
velocity approaching 2,500 fps, these rounds develop about
2,000 ft-lbs of energy, very similar to its parent cartridge,
the venerable .30-06. That is more than enough for all but the
biggest game. Hand loading data is also quite abundant and
very easy to come by.
My VLS has always been exceptionally accurate. Even with
my shooting, off the bag, I'm able to get groups as tight as
two inches at 100 yards quite routinely. Every once in a while
I have a bad day, but as the targets demonstrate, this was not
one of them. The largest group was just over three inches
using Remington's 150gr MC target rounds.
Recall that I stated two to three inches with the stock rifle
using factory ammunition, and generic target rounds at
that. There is no doubt in my mind at all that I could shave
perhaps a half inch off that with a visit to the gunsmith for
no more than the most basic tuning and through the use of
careful handloads. Fired from a fixture, that would probably
make this a sub-MOA rifle.
My Remington 700 VLS and I have become fast friends over the
time it has been in my posession. Every time I take it out to
the range I come home happy. For me, if my plans for the week
included sitting in a stand out deep in the woods freezing my
back side off, waiting for a mature, good looking bull elk to come
into view, I don't think I'd want to carry anything
else. Oh sure, there are other rifles and other calibers out
there that will also get the job done and I'll likely end up
with a good number of them as well when all is said and done but this
rifle just works oh so well. Despite putting many a round
through this rifle, I've never had a failure or even a
hiccup that I couldn't attribute to the ammunition I was using.
As long I take care of it, it keeps taking whatever I throw at
Remington's model 700 is not a top of the line rifle by most
standards but that's not the intent. Performance at an affordable
price was one of
the original goals and thus it remains firmly at competitive
price levels. I couldn't be happier with this purchase and am
grateful to have been introduced to this line of rifles.