Review: Remington Model 700 XCR Compact Tactical

posted on July 13, 2009

The years of chronic abuse show in the scarred synthetic stock as well as the receiver's haphazard scratches. It's rarely been oiled between outings-even if they're years apart. Despite arriving in Newfoundland in a case with broken latches, holes in the lid and, literally, tire skid marks, it dropped a moose at very long distance with a single shot.

That Remington Model 700 chambered in 7 mm Rem. Mag. and I have been a couple for nearly two decades now, and we're pretty much inseparable. She sprays expensive ammunition, but produces sub-MOA groups with cheap fodder.

It took a gunsmith to get the trigger the way I prefer on my homely homey, but that was a small price to pay for this kind of lasting relationship. Today there's no need for aftermarket tuning, because Remington got aggressive in regard to its triggers not long after I picked up my 700, and the 40-X Custom Shop trigger that's standard on the XCR Compact Tactical has achieved near legend status.

I can see why, too. It's more akin to some of the custom-rifle triggers I got behind when I was working for Safari Club International-triggers affixed to $20,000 custom rifles. Its feedback was positive and ungrittingly honest until it broke crisply at 3 pounds. Add the fact that it's externally adjustable for let-off weights of between 1 1⁄2 pounds and 3 1⁄2 pounds, and it's easy to see why the 40-X trigger is so highly regarded.

Don't tell my 700, but the XCR Compact Tactical also feels better to the touch and is good looking enough to be seen with in public. Part of that stems from the Bell and Carlson stock. An OD-green color scheme is always fashionable, but the black webbed overlay adds tactical class. It's not all about looks either. For whatever reason, I found the slight texture to the aramid-fiber-reinforced composite stock provided better traction. The beavertail fore-end stock has dual front swivel studs and another at the rear, easing attachment of a sling and bipod. Length of pull is 133⁄8 inches.

The XCR Compact Tactical's barrel fluting-designed to improve cooling-adds another attractive touch. The 20-inch, varmint-contour barrel is stainless steel, although it's hidden under a glare- and reflection-reducing flat-black finish called the TriNyte Corrosion Control System. The treatment, which applies a micro-thin protective layering that makes the rifle abrasion and corrosion resistant, is proprietary to Remington. So, those scratches scarring my rifle are pretty much a thing of the past and there's no reason for guilt if your busy schedule forces you to neglect the rifle. The barrel also has a dish-style target crown to protect rifling and it's free floated.

At the heart of this rifle is the Model 700 action, which was first introduced in 1962. Milled from a solid bar of 416 stain-less steel, the cylindrical-designed receiver provides the kind of uniformity and strength in its full-length aluminum bedding block that ensures shot-to-shot accuracy. The receiver, which also has received a TriNyte finish, is drilled and tapped for the addition of optics.

The XCR Compact Tactical, which was introduced last year, is available in .223 Rem. and .308 Win. It has a hinged floorplate and the magazines have five- and four-round capacities, respectively.

Using a Bushnell Elite 4200 6-24x40 mm scope, Shooting Illustrated Managing Editor Adam Heggenstaller conducted the accuracy testing and what he found is consistent with what you might suspect with the barrel's rifling. Heavier bullets stabilized better. Sierra's 168-grain MatchKings loaded in Federal's Premium Gold Medal Match cartridge was the best of the three factory offerings tested, producing sub-MOA performance. The Black Hills Gold with 165-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips narrowly missed MOA with a 1.05-inch average at 100 yards.

Heggenstaller reported that several groups included single fliers he felt compelled to include in the results-fliers that added as much as 3⁄8 inch to each average. The majority of the targets he produced had four holes touching one another, but in many cases there would be a single bullet that migrated. There was no pattern either, something we look for to determine if the barrel is heating, etc. Gusts of 20 miles per hour perpendicular to the firing line explain the single-bullet wander.

This rifle performs. If you dope the wind right and work up some handloads, I'm confident the XCR Compact Tactical will shoot one-ragged-hole groups as easily as any custom rifle I've handled.

Will this better-looking performer replace my 7 mm Rem. Mag.? The two of us have been through too much together to entertain that thought, but it could be these distant cousins will soon be sharing living quarters in my gun safe. The Remington Model 700 XCR Compact Tactical shoots every bit as good as it looks, and for a Model 700 fan like me, it's a combination that's hard to resist.

Manufacturer: Remington: (800) 243-9700;
Caliber: .308 Win. (tested), .223 Rem.
Capacity: 4 (.308 Win), 5 (.223 Rem.)
Action: Bolt action
Receiver: 416 stainless steel
Barrel: 20-inch, stainless steel with TriNyte finish
Rifling: 1:12 (.308 Win.); 1:9 (.223 Rem.)
Magazine: Internal box magazine with floorplate
Sights: None, drilled and tapped receiver
Trigger Pull: 
3 pounds
Stock: Bell and Carlson, aramid-fiber reinforced composite
Overall Length: 393⁄4 inches
Weight: 7 1⁄2 pounds
Suggested Retail Price: $1,434


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