Model 700 VS Composite
At first glance, a Model
700 VS looks like a typical 16- or 17-pound bench gun, complete with long, massive bull
barrel and wide, flat-bottomed, hand-filling forend. Pick it up and you realize your eyes
have been deceived. Appearances to the contrary, a Model 700 VS weighs only a few ounces
more than the average Model 700 sporter.
This year, the fertile
brains back in Ilion have come up with a new approach to barrel-making that augurs well
for future varmint hunters and competitors. Briefly, the barrel of the VS consists of a
slender, stainless steel, rifled barrel liner, a muzzle cap formed from the same material
surrounded by a casing formed with graphite fiber and toughened epoxy wrapping. The result
is an unbelievably stiff barrel that sheds heat rapidly and is immune to most forms of
sheets made of thousands of graphite fibers and epoxy with additional thousands of fibers
carefully wound around the barrel liner is merely the first step of the process.
Steel, engineers tell us,
is an isotropic material, i.e., its mechanical properties are the same in every direction
forces are applied. This new synthetic composite, on the other hand, is anisotropic. That
means its mechanical properties can differ, depending on which direction forces are
applied. Taking advantage of that characteristic, Remingtons process orients the
wound fibers in such a manner that they increase the barrel liners strength and
After the composite
material is wound around the liner, it has to be cured. That process is Remingtons
secret and will probably remain so for some time to come. If conventional curing
techniques were applied, company spokesmen say, internal stresses created during the
curing cycle would result in microcracks, weakening the whole. Remingtons new
process leaves the composite completely free of cracks and voids.
Although not quite as
stiff as steel, the composite material is much lighter. If a VS barrel, one of equivalent
stiffness, were made of steel, its diameter would measure 1.21 inches and it would weigh a
whopping 11.96 pounds. Remingtons composite barrel is 1.25 inches in diameter but
tips the scales at an easy-toting 2.6 pounds. Quite a difference.
Another benefit of this
new synthetic composite is that it is practically unaffected by heat. In addition, it
sheds heat 10 times faster than steel. As a barrel heats from firing, it usually flexes as
it expands. Locked in the grip of the surrounding synthetic, however, the VSs steel
liner is virtually immobilized. As a rule, it cant move. If it should, its shifts
are so slight, the bullets points of impact on target seldom deflect a measurable
Since the surface area of
that long, 1.25 inch diameter tube is so much greater than that of the relatively thin
barrel liner - and that synthetic material whisks heat away from the steel so rapidly - it
is practically impossible to overheat the liner. Not only does that mean a more stable
and, consequently, a more accurate barrel but a longer-lived one as well. That might not
be a critically important consideration for the average big game hunter, but to a
varminter or competitor, who might fire thousands of rounds a season, reduced barrel wear
is money in the bank - literally!
Well, thats the way
a composite barrels made and the way its supposed to shoot. Does it?
Judging from the rifles
performance at the local range, the answer has to be in the affirmative. For the range
tests, a Weaver variable was mounted on the Model 700 VS and set on 8x. Sixty rounds of
.223 Remington Premier Varmint loads featuring 50-grain Green Tip boat-tails were
consumed. No handloads were tried.
First, a number of
three-shot strings were fired to get the scope zeroed. Extreme spread of those groups
ranged from .6 to .8 inch at 100 yards. Trigger pull was clean-breaking, as usual, but
heavy. When measured on a Chatillon trigger pull gauge, it registered a consistent 5 1/2
Everyone tells me that
adjusting Remington triggers is a simple matter, but I decided against it. Why? Because
past experience indicates that any time I pick up a hand tool, disaster follows. So I
chose to accept the trigger the way it was. Most of the time, it proved manageable. Every
now and again, however, it was my undoing and a wild shot resulted. Such shots were always
called, of course, but still, its always frustrating to see what should have been a
decent group marred by a flier or two, called or not.
Once the Model 700s
zero was established, a series of four-shot strings were launched slow-fire. All were
sub-MOA, despite that weighty trigger.
Four instead of five
rounds were loaded into the magazine because, in the beginning, I didnt understand
that the fifth round had to be stuffed in the magazine base first. Once that trick was
learned, filling the magazine posed no problems. By that time, however, the four-round
string was pretty well established so it was decided to stick with them.
To see how the liner
handled heat, a three-string series was fired as rapidly as possible. After the 12th round
went, the outside of the barrel was slightly warm, about the same as normal body
temperature. The muzzle cap was uncomfortably hot, and the liners muzzle was too hot
to touch for more than a second.
Then, another four-shot
string was fired slow-fire to see if the point of impact had shifted. It hadnt.
After that, I touched the liners muzzle again. It was still hot, but I could leave
my finger pressed against it. In short, as that last four-shot string was being fired, the
barrel liner was actually cooling.
Next, another three
strings were fired slow-fire. Ten of the 12 bullet holes clustered inside an inch. Two
others, both called fliers, opened the group to 1.3 inches. That blasted trigger!
Visually, the composite
barrels exterior gleams dully, like blued steel. It feels like steel too. On closer
examination, though, theres an unusual pattern of light and dark splotches covering
the barrels exterior. I tried to photograph it but was totally unsuccessful. It
resembles nothing Ive ever seen and is practically invisible unless the barrel is
held up to the light at just the proper angle.
stock is matte gray and extremely comfortable. A thin, rubberlike buttpad adds to shooter
comfort. The pistol grip is generously proportioned and should fill the largest hands. Its
a very straight stock, offering the shooters cheek plenty of support and puts the
eye exactly where it should be: in line with a low-mounted scope. As a bonus, theres
a receiver-length bedding block of aircraft-grade aluminum embedded in the stock.
This year, the VS will be
chambered for three calibers: .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington and .308 Winchester.
All in all, the Model 700 VS is an intriguing
rifle - a sign of things to come and certainly, an impressive performer by any standards.