Mark van den Boogaart
On our regular trips to England I’m often called a name or two - ‘bloody Aussie’ being pretty much top of the list though I’m also sometimes referred to as a shooting journalist, which takes me a little by surprise. Another is ‘travelling gun’, a tag I could easily become used to though it’s a little misleading as I rarely travel with a gun and have, over time, become comfortable using whichever firearm is presented to me.
So as a travelling gun I had the chance to test the new Remington AWR in .270 Win. The AWR - American Wilderness Rifle - is classed as an all-weather hunting rifle and makes use of a synthetic stock and Cerakoted barrelled action. Advertising for the AWR is that of an inherently accurate rifle made to handle all kinds of climate, which for many Australian hunters is pretty much their standard operating environment.
As you might expect, the AWR is built around the famous Model 700 action. Love them or hate them, and there are plenty of both, the 700 is a stayer and along with the Model 92 Winchester is one of the most prolific sporting rifles in the world. As supplied, the test rifle was topped with a new German Precision Optics (GPO) scope, specifically an Evolve 6X 2.5-15x56i.
While this review is primarily concerned with the Remington, I was impressed by the GPO which over a few days of use proved highly capable - and it’s reasonably priced. In fact, I bought myself a set of 8x32mm GPO binoculars in England and back here in Oz both scope and binoculars produce great lowlight performance so I’m eagerly awaiting their release of a spotting scope.
As I was hunting in England the AWR was also fitted with a suppressor, something you don’t often see and which does change the dynamics of the rifle. However, the extra weight is countered by another piece of English deer hunting equipment ‑ shooting sticks. In England you shoot off sticks and, to be honest, I’m unsure if it’s a hinderance or a benefit. During my time there I gave a lot of thought to hunting with shooting sticks and bought myself a set to try back home but at present the jury’s still out.
As to the detail of the rifle, the AWR stock is a little out of the ordinary, synthetic though not plastic it’s actually a Grayboe fibreglass composite stock, meaning essentially you have a high-quality aftermarket stock as a standard feature. As presented the stock is an ambidextrous sporter design with straight cheekpiece, standard palmswell and fore-end. It’s certainly no lightweight though feels rigid and solid, displaying earthy brown tones with the coating textured to provide a non-slip finish. The stock also uses aluminium pillars and has a length of pull of 13.5” (standing 6’ 2” I found this a good length and comfortable to shoulder).
Like the stock, the AWR makes use of a well-proportioned sporter-style barrel made from 416 grade stainless steel and measuring 24” for the .270 Win. The barrel design includes Remington’s 5R or five rifling grooves technology. As stated, the 5R is designed to promote accuracy and reduce fouling, the idea being AWR can retain accuracy for longer even in less than ideal conditions, which lends itself well to the wilderness pedigree of the rifle.
Sitting behind that barrel is the Remington model 700 action. With its three rings of steel the Remington 700 is regarded as the most popular bolt-action in the world and is used extensively across civilian and military applications. It’s also an action that seems to generate a lot of argument about its merits or otherwise among shooters and hunters, though I used the rifle on several occasions and found it a quality action, positive in loading and cycling with clean ejection.
Feeding the action, the AWR uses a hinged floorplate magazine system. To be honest I prefer a removable box magazine though found the system in the AWR to be reliable and easy to use. As I like to hunt with an empty chamber I was able to work out a way to do so without too much fuss, as to clear the internal magazine all you do is release the floorplate via the button in front of the triggerguard. The X-Mark Pro trigger on the test rifle was set a little lighter than standard and I’d have liked more weight, though it did break cleanly and there was no feeling of creep.
Bringing it all together, the metalwork of the AWR is finished in black Cerakote, something I’ve become a big fan of recently (I have two such coated rifles). The finish of the AWR is top quality and the muted black tones add to its all-weather claim as well as complementing the stock, giving the rifle a purposeful look.
Rather than testing off the bench, for this review it was literally off the bonnet of the best Land Rover 90 Series I’ve ever ridden in. For those interested, it was highly modified, finished in British racing green and super-cool. Our targets were a series of swinging steel gongs and a couple of silhouettes including a roe deer and fox set out in a row at about 100m. With some practice off the bonnet, 1” groups with quality factory ammunition were no problem for the AWR and I believe this could have been improved on with more preparation and experimentation with ammunition.
But the AWR is a hunting rifle and that’s what I was primarily interested in exploring. Our target was deer, specifically muntjac, a small forest-dwelling species and our first hunt had me carrying the AWR across forest floor, down muddy lanes and across equally muddy fields. While it’s an easy rifle to carry I didn’t take a shot, so our test was inconclusive.
All that changed on our next outing where again we spent a short winter’s day in search of game. This time the muntjac were about and I managed two - both drop-dead shots with the AWR – and while one was off the sticks the other was from an incredibly awkward position and I was pleased to hit my target with such precision. In both instances the AWR performed flawlessly and delivered accurate shots on the intended target, even when it was a little tricky.
In considering the AWR, it held up its side of the deal and proved a handy rifle designed and purpose-built for less than ideal conditions. It’s also a nicely fitted out rifle from the outset, with a number of features as standard which many shooters and hunters usually add to their chosen rifle as aftermarket upgrades.
Where it all matters, the AWR is a comfortable rifle to carry and shoulder, the action smooth to operate, precise in its movement with reliability in firing and reloading. Most importantly I found the ruggedness of design and its build quality instilled a level of confidence which translated well from the bench to the field.
The Remington AWR is distributed by Raytrade Australia and has a recommended retail price of $2250. The German Precision Optics Evolve 6X 2.5-15x56i scope is also distributed by Raytrade and has a recommended retail price of $2415.