Remington's Model 700™
Sendero® SF II Ultra Mag Part I
My wallet seems to get lighter as the guns get bigger...
After a few years of staring at
a too exposed
house foundation and a lawn that resembled the mid west dust bowl of the
30's, my wife and I decided to landscape. The project went well, with the exception of a
couple of stretches along the driveway where the soil remained
as hard as cement and staunchly grass repellant. So I broke
out the Sears Hi-Po rear tine tiller, fired it up, dropped the
handles down and almost
immediately discovered the meaning of those bright orange
squiggly lines Dig Safe had spray painted on the ground prior to the
start of excavation. I'd never
seen a tiller actually glow bright red before. Anyway,
with Central Maine Power emergency truck lights
flashing and people in hardhats frantically running about, I
thought I'd head to the shop and get started on a heavy thirty rifle
project... with the aid of the standby generator.
This past year, I had the
opportunity to work with a Remington Model 700 CDL chambered for
.300 Ultra Mag.
The CDL proved to be an excellent firearm and the .300 Ultra Mag turned out to be quite
a cartridge. The combination was accurate, flexible when handloading and the
ballistics were...scorching. One segment of handload development
that particularly stood out for me was live fire and data
collection over longer ranges. There is something about hitting
targets at 300 yards that is a lot more fun than hitting them at
100 yards, even if it means loading up the truck and driving
halfway to New Hampshire to find a place where trees don't get
in the way at those ranges. So one thing led to another, my wallet
got a bit lighter and I became the proud owner of a new
Remington Model 700 Sendero SF II with the intention that it
would serve as the basis for a long range shooter.
Doesn't hurt if it looks
Sendero's steel hardware is made of 416 stainless, an alloy that
seems to hold up better
to harsh environments and is less susceptibility to throat and bore erosion than carbon steel
Verified by a good deal of
infrared thermometer data logging, the gun's barrel fluting
helps to dissipate heat more
rapidly by providing
greater cooling surface area. Fluted barrels also tend to be more
rigid than tapered cylindrical types, which narrows the effects of harmonics on shot
to shot placement. The 26" long barrel is hammer
forged with a 1:10" twist, the chamber is reamer cut. The 0.820" muzzle
has a shallow concave target crown. The metal work
is...pretty, like when the protective paper is pulled off of a
piece of precision machinery. The barrel finish is satin with
flute insets and muzzle powder coated a non-reflective black, the
receiver and bolt are a bright satin, the bolt body is cleanly
jeweled, the bolt knob is checkered - Form follows function
doesn't have to result in a utility drab appearance.
The long Remington Model 700 action is quite
compact considering its cartridge capacity. The bolt
travel is approximately 4.75" with a mag well functional length
of approximately 3.750", which works out well as the Ultra Mag
cartridge has a maximum spec length of 3.600". There is a little room to play with when handloading,
which is always appreciated.
Obligatory and gratuitous spec comments
to follow - The bolt is a two lug design, requiring approximately ninety degrees of rotation to unlock. The
action is push feed, cycling smoothly and cleanly both feeding
and extracting rounds. Pushing a small tab inside and at the top
of the trigger guard releases the bolt for removal. Pushing a small
tab located at the
forward inside of the trigger guard opens the hinged floorplate
and unloads the magazine well. While handy in placement, neither
control is in jeopardy of being accidentally actuated.
Perhaps the best factory
single stage trigger...
The X-Mark PRO Adjustable
is...spiffy, and a mouthful to say. Assembled with durable, close tolerance parts,
the X-Mark Pro is catalogued as leaving the factory preset to three and one-half pounds and
as being shooter adjustable within a
two pound range. Adjustment does not require rifle disassembly, only
1/16th inch hex wrench that is included with the rifle.
Digitally scale checked as
preset pull ran from 3 lbs 14 oz to 4 lbs 2 oz. The
scale noticed the variance, my trigger finger did not. I usually
set rifle trigger pull in the
high three to low four pound range, anything lighter feels...unsteady. I
ran the Remington trigger down to 2 lbs 12 oz and it was so
crisp I left it there. The two position safety is positive in
Target shooting at sporter weight...
The stock's construction and
geometry played a significant part in my selection of this firearm. It is comfortable
shooting from any position and it is hand filling. The wide
forearm and palm swell, while not nearly as much fun as Palm
Springs, make it easy to get a good hold on the
gun and operate controls like the safety, floor plate and bolt release. The two buttons on the
forearm are handy for shooters who want a sling and bipod mount.
I'll take a stab at the intent and assume the forward button is
for the bipod. The bottom metal, including a hinged floorplate
are nicely textured and anodized aluminum alloy. No, I don't
know what kind, but thank you for asking. Considering half
million pound airplanes land on aluminum alloy landing gear, I
believe this bottom metal should be able to support three rounds
of ammunition and/or a finger without too much trouble...and
perhaps a slightly smaller airplane.
The H-S Precision composite
stock accounts for 2 lbs 10 oz of the
Sendero's 8 lb 12 oz total weight, a weight which is impressively
the stock is dimensionally quite beefy and includes an integral
aluminum bedding block and shoulder considerate recoil pad. To
put the .300 Remington Ultra Mag Sendero's weight into context,
a Weatherby Accumark in .30-378 WM weighs 9 lbs and is
classified a sporter and the Winchester Model 70 Super Grade in
.300 Winchester Magnum, another sporter, is only about 4 ounces less.
The barrel floats the entire length of
the forearm with no speed bumps in the channel. Remington lists
the construction of the stock as "...composite stock reinforced
with aramid fibers." The aramid fiber description is shorthand
for aromatic polyamide fibers which are used in the production
of fire and high heat resistant material and in advanced forms
of body armor. While I don't believe it would be appropriate to
use the Remington to put out a campfire, or as part of a
barricade defensive against speeding bullets, I do believe
Remington's use of aramid fibers adds a
tremendous amount of strength to the composite material along
the direction of the fiber. The result is a highly resilient
stock that is very carefully shaped for maximum shooting control...and
Quality is in the details...
know that blueprinting a rifle, like blueprinting an engine, can
help get it closer to optimal performance. I just don't like the
idea of purchasing a new rifle with the understanding it will
have to be sent to a shop to be made accurate. Remington rifles
are shipped in accurate and already finessed condition.
I plopped a dab of Prussian Blue on
the backside of the Model 700's lugs, wiped the lug almost dry,
assembled the rifle and worked the bolt. Both lugs had a uniform
wipe that covered the lug from bolt body radius to the
chamfer at the outside lug radius. In comparison to other
firearms, the lug contact is full and uniform without the need
to finesse the fit with further machine work or lapping.
Beyond the issue of lug
engagement, metal and synthetic stock surfaces are blemish free,
markings are stamped cleanly and at a uniform depth, parts fit
together well, seams between assemblies and parts are straight
and parallel where intended. The bore finish is smooth and
uniform and chamber is cut at the midrange of spec dimension.
The result of all of this is a rifle that performs well right out of the box
and with an appearance
that instills pride of ownership. With an MSRP of $1,359 and a
typical gun store price a couple of hundred dollars less, the
Sendero SF II is a bargain. I've been a Remington owner for many
years and I believe, today's product is their best.
It may not be the ultimate
magnum, but it's pretty close...
The .300 Ultra Mag gives this Sendero
its personality, just as the .220 Swift gave personality to the
Remington VS SF II
companion rifle that was the subject of a project earlier this year. Pictured left to right in progression of size
and potential: .30-06 Springfield, .300 Weatherby Magnum and
.300 Ultra Mag with capacities of 68, 99 and 112 grains
Remington engineering/marketing gets credit
for parking the .300 Ultra Mag is a space right between the
.300 Weatherby and the .30-378 Weatherby. In picking up 12% case
the former and yielding 16% to the latter, the .300 Remington
Ultra Mag is approximately 100 fps faster than the .300
Weatherby and100 fps slower than the .30-378 Weatherby when
tested with common 26" barrel lengths. By going to a case
diameter midway between the two Weatherby cartridges, the .300
Remington Ultra Mag held onto three shot
magazine capacity as opposed to the two shot .30-378 Weatherby's
magazine capacity. Additionally, by losing the belt
and moderating case size, the cost of brass for the Remington .300 Ultra is in line with the .300 Weatherby Magnum at a buck
each, rather than the three dollars per the 30-378
Weatherby empty case commands.
Weatherby is not being
criticized. To the contrary, I
own and shoot a number of their Mark V rifles chambered for
Weatherby proprietary cartridges and I believe the .300
Weatherby has been the high standard for .308" magnum
performance for over half a century. The comparison with the
Ultra Mag was done to place the Sendero and
.300 Ultra Mag into proper
The Sendero in .300 Ultra Mag is
a unique firearm and a rifle/power combination not readily
available elsewhere. A similar application rifle, chambered for
the .300 Weatherby Magnum with a tactical stock and a slightly
thinner profile and unfluted barrel would be Weatherby's Mark V
Threat Response Magnum Custom. It's starting price is $2,990
compared to the .300 Ultra Mag Remington Sendero SF II at
$1,395. While both Ruger and Savage offer varmint,
target rifles of a similar physical configuration as Remington's
Sendero, neither offer a .308" gun at this magnum level of
performance. So it was more than dart throwing as a method of
selection that brought me to the Remington product.
A couple of steps more to
get to a complete shooter...
Based on prior experience with the
6500 series scope, this seemed to be the best optic for the
circumstance. I had mounted an Elite
6500 2.5-16x50mm on the .300 Ultra Mag CDL while that
project was in process, but it was the higher magnification
4.5x30x50mm version of the same product I evaluated shortly
afterward that seemed the natural choice; lots
of eye relief, very bright high quality optics, excellent
range of adjustment, high durability, and a very broad
magnification range. From a
cost perspective, the Bushnell is a high end performing scope with a
mid range retail price tag of approximately $600. The Elite
series comes with a lifetime
warranty. Yes, I do get excited about this Bushnell scope
because I finally found a product that doesn't cost as much as a
custom rifle, looks great and doesn't represent compromises in
specs, features or performance.
A set of Warne Maxima low profile steel bases
and fixed steel rings were purchased from Brownells, the price
for bases and rings was under $100. The front base can be flipped end for
end to adjust rings spacing to 4.5" or 5" between
combination of Weaver type side clamping and Warne's cross interlock
system will hold a scope onto anything, regard less the level of
recoil or weight of scope. This is a simple mount system with
a lot of integrity. I use Warne's quick detach rings also, but
this wasn't an application that required a feature of
Competition Plus sling was installed. What can I say? I like
good slings. They provide lots of support from any shooting
position and this sling happens to be a good one. Made
from high grade harness leather, it has a wide range of
adjustment and it is fast to setup. About $70 with Super
Swivels, also available in black.
I need a nostalgic component with my firearms. My
Dad, a WW II Marine Corp combat veteran, taught me how to use a
sling from virtually every shooting position and Jeff Copper did
a good job of reminding us of the benefits and techniques. There
is something nice about the contrast of genuine leather with
stainless steel and modern synthetic stocks that ties the past
to the future...and that's a good thing.
My two cent contribution to accuracy...
of disassembly, cleaning and double checking parts and
assemblies for inconsistencies (there were none), the only
contribution I could make was to not screw up the rifle on
reassembly. A torque wrench was utilized to tighten all rifle and scope mount system
hardware to assure everything was square, pulling in the right direction
and properly stressed.
I don't lap scope rings anymore. I think the
process of removing material sometimes does more harm then good when it comes to
ring clamping force and hold. I also don't use any form of liquid
thread locker. I clean all contact surfaces with a degreaser
Rem Action Cleaner or
KG3, then oil fastener threads, removing excess. In this
specific case, the two
short base fasteners were torqued to 16 in.lbs., the long base fasteners and all ring
fasteners were torqued to 22 in.lbs. I suspect a preset
scope ring torque wrench could get the job done and at a
much lower tool cost than a $150 micrometer wrench.
H-S Precision advises a 65 in.lb. torque limit
for synthetic stock fasteners, however, Remington advises a maximum of 45
in.lbs. for Sendero product. I went with 45 in.lbs. as the H-S stock
spec took only a generic barreled action into consideration and
disregarded bottom metal material type.
Finally, I preset the scope adjustment with a
laser bore sight. I use a standard grade product from
Laserlyte that is full adaptable to any caliber from .22" -
.50" as long as the gun has at least a 4" long barrel. I've been
using the same tool for an extended period of time on everything
from the .223 to the 500 Jeffery. Unless the firearm is
defective, I can preset to within an inch of being right on at
100 yards. so it has probably save me $1,163,892.50 in ammunition I
would have fired over, under, around and not through while
trying to get one on the paper.
That was the extent of my prepping the equipment.
Not that many years ago I would have had the rifle taken down on
the bench and going at it with wood scrapers and glass bedding
material to fix low/high spots in the gun's action inletting and
barrel channel, then I'd go on to seal all of the exposed wood
surfaces to minimize moisture absorption and warping. I might
have even cut shims to get the scope in a central adjustment
zone. Now all I need to do it buy a decent rifle like the
This is going to take awhile...
Pictured, only a small portion of the bullet
possibilities for the .300 Ultra Mag and a set of Hornady
reloading dies. Fortunately, I had the
opportunity to work up a decent number of loads for this
cartridge during the .300 UM CDL project, so I can begin by
seeing if there is a consistent correlation between the
early load performance and the
performance they produce with this rifle. Then I can go on from there.
With the limited shooting I have done, I can say
that the Sendero is a bit more well mannered than the CDL, but
there is no mistaken a magnum cartridge is being fired. The
stock is comfortable under recoil and muzzle climb is not too
bad. It's nice to be far away from the scope eyepiece and still
have a crisp clear view of a target.
I'll be back as soon as I have some perforated
targets to show.