When I was a gunsmith, an “autoloading Remington in .308″ meant an M740 or one of its descendants. While Remington still makes the 7400, it has a new autoloader, the R-25. Available also in 7mm-08 and .243, it is the latest hi-tech hunting rifle in the expanding Remington line. Unlike the 7400, the R-25 uses the direct-impingement gas system, where gas is ported down a tube into the action and the bolt carrier is cycled via the gas blowing the carrier off the tube. The carrier cams the bolt to unlock it, and once the energy for operation has been absorbed by the recoil spring and buffer, those parts drive the carrier back forward to strip a round off the magazine, chamber it and rotate the bolt to lock it.
The big advantage is the lack of an operating rod, the guides for it that have to be pinned to the barrel and any piston or tappet needed to drive the op rod. The effect is to freefloat the barrel, which, in most barrels, is good for accuracy. The bolt has seven lugs, spaced as if there were eight, with the extractor taking the location of the eighth. The lug symmetry also acts to increase accuracy, as it limits the amount of bolt tip under the load of firing.
The upper and lower receivers are made from aluminum forgings, and the handguard is turned aluminum, all impervious to the weather; climate changes will have no effect on accuracy or bedding. Additionally, the R-25 has a Mossy Oak Treestand coating, so if you aren’t careful in the woods, you may spend some time hunting for the rifle you set down while doing something else.
The top of the receiver has a continuous rail for scope mounting, and you will find an embarrassment of riches when it comes to scope mounts. On the bottom of the stock and forearm are sling swivel studs, so any of your quick-detach slings will fit right on. As it is just under nine pounds empty and bare, you’ll want a sling for the R-25. Add a scope and rings, sling and five rounds and you could be over 10 pounds, so recoil is not going to be onerous.
The trigger is single stage. Those accustomed to a tuned turnbolt trigger may find it a bit creepy, but if you really object, there are plenty of aftermarket triggers you can install that will make the pull on your R-25 as nice as anything in your gun safe.
The magazine holds four rounds, a prudent choice since the purpose of the R-25 is hunting.
I took a Bushnell 3-9X that I have used for years as a test mule and attached it to the rail with a pair of Redfield lever-lock rings. The “High” rings positioned the scope very low on the receiver, the way I like it. Since the receiver has no drop front and back, if you use a scope with an objective larger than 40mm, you’ll have to use “Extra-High” rings.
The R-25 is a proven design, so I had no worries that it was not going to function properly. The precision free-floating barrel, complete with fluting forward of the gas block, promised accuracy. So that’s what I went looking for. As a result, I spent no time testing the R-25 with hunting ammo. All I used was match ammo to see what kind of accuracy it delivered. Keep in mind that match-grade bullets are not designed with expansion in mind. In fact, expansion is not even a design consideration. So do not consider this an endorsement of these loads for deer-whacking.
I found what I expected. With is resting in the Caldwell Fire Control shooting cradle, I had no problems keeping the crosshairs centered on the little orange dot at 100 yards. After bore-sighting it, the first few groups were spent getting the bore broken in and using my Sightron spotting scope to get the scope zeroed.
Being a Neanderthal, my idea of “bore conditioning” is to shoot until the scope is zeroed, run a patch with solvent down the bore, swab it clean and begin shooting for groups. Before you protest in howls of outrage, the R-25 didn’t care. It functioned 100 percent through all the ammo I fed it. It shot nice, tight, consistent groups, and it did so until the ammo gave out. All four match loads proved to be sub-MOA performers in the R-25, which bodes well for hunting ammo. I’m sure that like any other model, individual R-25s will show preferences toward one load or another, but that is something you’ll have to determine with your own rifle.
Some of you are no doubt wondering if you might be able to do some modifications. Of course. The upper and lowers are separate assemblies (the serial number is on the lower, thus it is the firearm), so you can swap the upper for one in a different caliber. If you wanted an R-25 with a .308 upper for deer and a .243 for coyotes, that would be easy. There are any number of custom gunsmiths and barrel makers who can plug in a barrel in the caliber of your choice. As long as the cartridge case is .308-derived, he will be able to tune the gas system and the magazine will feed them flawlessly. Me, I’m thinking .260 Remington. Long-range varmint shooters might be contemplating a .22-250. Yes, the parent case is the .250 Savage instead of the .308, but it is probably close enough that a clever gunsmith can tune the magazines to work.
In fact, there are a slew of calibers we can turn the R-25 into (or Remington can), so don’t dismiss the R-25 simply as a “deer hunter’s AR-10,” as I heard one shooter describe it. The R-25 is more than that and could well be the base Remington rifle well into the 21st century.