December 22, 2021
By Dave Emary
Remington reintroduced its Premier Scirocco Bonded (RPSB) line of ammunition in late 2018. As a result of Remington’s bankruptcy and subsequent division, the ammunition operations are now owned by Vista Outdoors — the same parent company as Federal Ammunition. RPSB loads continue to be produced. Loaded with Swift’s Scirocco bullets, which were introduced in 1999, this ammunition still offers big-game hunters dependable performance today.
Before we discuss RPSB ammunition, I’d like to offer my views of what constitutes so-called “premium” ammunition. First, I don’t put a lot of stock in the cosmetic treatments often applied to “premium” ammunition. I have never seen compelling evidence that bullet coatings actually benefit performance or offer meaningful barrel fouling reduction. Nickel-plated cases offer some corrosion resistance and possibly easier extraction, but those aren’t usually serious issues for hunters outside of high humidity and salt-water environments such as those found in coastal Alaska.
Where I think the rubber meets the road for premium ammunition is the bullet, which should provide top-notch terminal performance or accuracy — and preferably both. Premium ammunition should also be loaded to tight specifications for low bullet runout, uniform cartridge overall length and high levels of performance uniformity. Lastly, premium ammunition should be loaded with a temperature insensitive propellant. There are a number of good choices for propellants that meet this standard including the Hodgdon Extreme line and Alliant Reloader propellants such as RL-16, -23, -25 and -33. With these requirements in mind, let’s examine RPSB ammunition and see how it measures up.
As mentioned, the RPSB ammunition is loaded with Swift Scirocco bullets. Sciroccos have been around for nearly 30 years and have garnered an enviable reputation for effective and reliable terminal performance. In design, it features a drawn jacket with a bonded core and polymer tip. Bonded bullets often use jacket material that is nearly pure copper in order to get a good bond to the lead core. This makes the jacket a little softer than the copper alloys of non-bonded bullets, which is why you see thicker jackets on most bonded bullets. The extra material is needed to control expansion. The thick jacket aids terminal performance, but can compromise accuracy due to the difficulty in achieving uniform wall thickness. Generally, bonded bullets are perfectly capable of producing acceptable hunting accuracy, but not necessarily top-shelf accuracy. The Scirocco bullets conform to this rule of thumb.
Sciroccos offer excellent weight retention and dependable expansion and terminal performance down to velocities of about 1,800 feet per second (fps). The short, steep boattail on these bullets is essentially an aid to loading and offers almost no aerodynamic advantage over a flat-base bullet. As my testing showed, the Ballistic Coefficients (BC) advertised for the bullets is on the optimistic side. That said, the black polymer tips improve BC and facilitate reliable terminal performance. So, overall, Remington made a good choice by using Swift’s bullets in their hunting-oriented RPSB lineup.
Remington offers Premier Scirocco Bonded ammunition in a range of calibers and weights: .243 Winchester, 90 grains; 6.5 Creedmoor and .270 Win., 130 grains; 7mm Remington Magnum and 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum (RUM), 150 grains; .308 Win., 165 grains; .3006 Springfield and .300 RUM, 150 grains; and .300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM), .300 Winchester Magnum (WM) and .300 RUM, 180 grains. Cases are non-nickeled brass and primed with appropriate Remington Kleanbore primers.
For testing, I received ammunition in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win., .3006 and .300 WM. The only load that had an extruded stick propellant was the .300 WM load. The other three were loaded with Ball propellant. This was a little disappointing for a premium line of ammunition since Ball propellants can be temperature sensitive and will lose or gain substantial velocity at temperature extremes.
For this evaluation, 20 rounds of each ammunition type was measured for bullet runout with the Hornady Concentricity Tool and then measured for cartridge overall length (COL). One round of each ammunition type was pulled down to confirm the propellant type and charge weight. Three, five-shot groups were fired for each to test accuracy potential at 100 yards, and all shots were fired in front of a Labradar chronograph to measure BC. The summary of performance for the four tested loads is shown in Tables 1 and 2. Table 2 lists the maximum effective range of each load, which is based on the measured muzzle velocity, measured BC, and using the common reliability and effectiveness standards of 1,800 fps for velocity and 1,000 foot-pounds (ft.-lbs.) of energy.
6.5 Creedmoor, 130 grains
The 6.5 Creedmoor RPSB load is advertised at a muzzle velocity of 2,750 fps with a BC of .570 (G1). The loaded round runout of this load measured .001 to .004 inch with 85 percent of them between .002 and .003 inch. This is quite good for factory ammunition. The COL measured 2.732 to 2.74 inch, which is also very good. It is loaded with 42.7 grains of Ball powder.
The ammunition was tested with a Thompson/Center ICON having a 24-inch Bartlein barrel with 1:7-inch twist and a Nightforce NSX 5.5-22X scope. This gun can be counted on to shoot better than 1 MOA with good ammunition. As Tables 1 and 2 show, the muzzle velocity was above advertised values and the actual BC was well below. The velocity extreme spread (ES) of 87 fps leaves room for improvement. Averaging 1.02-inch groups, accuracy is good for factory ammunition and more than acceptable for traditional-range hunting. The combination of accuracy and bullet terminal performance would make this load effective on deer-size game out to about 550 yards. This load would serve the typical American hunter well.
.308 Win., 165 grains
The .308 Win. RPSB load is advertised with a muzzle velocity of 2,680 fps and a BC of .475 G1. The loaded-round runout measured .001 inch to .005 inch with 80 percent measuring .002 to .003 inch — very good. The COL measured 2.72 to 2.74 inches, and should be better for that “premium” description. It is loaded with 41.6 grains of Ball powder. Temperature sensitivity will likely rear its head in this load, but probably not to the extent it will in 6.5 Creedmoor.
The ammunition was tested from a Remington 783 HBT with a 24-inch barrel fitted with a Leupold VX-5HD 4-20x52mm scope. During the course of shooting this rifle, it appeared to have a bedding problem. It consistently shot to two different places in a five-shot group. Each separate group was quite good, but it never put them all in the same place. I am confident the ammunition will shoot near 1 MOA through a better rifle.
Tables 1 and 2 show the muzzle velocity was above advertised, and actual BC was a bit lower. The 61 fps velocity spread is at the higher end of what I would consider acceptable for factory ammunition, too. The bullet’s terminal performance would make this load effective on deer-size game to about 500 yards in a more accurate rifle, which is about as far as you’d want to hunt with a .308 anyways.
.3006 Springfield, 150 grains
The .3006 Springfield RPSB load is advertised at a muzzle velocity of 2,910 fps with a BC of .435 G1. The loaded-round runout of this load measured .001 to .004 inch with 80 percent of them .001 to .002 inch. This is exceptional for factory ammunition. The COL measured 3.210 to 3.230 inches, again, not ideal for a higher-end offering. Its charge is 52.7 grains of Ball powder.
The ammunition was tested through a 1976-made Sears-Winchester Model 70 with a 22-inch barrel and a Leupold VX-3 3-9x40mm scope. The rifle has proven consistently capable of shooting groups under 1 MOA with good ammunition. Tables 1 and 2 show the muzzle velocity was below advertised for the barrel length, and the velocity extreme spread of 93 fps is not what I would expect from premium ammunition. The actual BC was somewhat lower than advertised, too. The accuracy of this ammunition and bullet terminal performance would make this load effective on deer-size game out to 550 to 600 yards.
.300 Win. Mag., 180 Grains
The .300 WM RPSB load is advertised at a muzzle velocity of 2,960 fps and a BC of .507 (G1). The loaded-round runout of this load measured .001 to .004 inch with 80 percent between .001 and .002 inch. Again, exceptionally good, especially for the short-necked .300 WM. The COL measured 3.304 to 3.316 inches, which is reasonable for factory loaded ammunition. It is loaded with 69.8 grains of a stick propellant, a necessary choice as Ball powders can have extreme temperature performance variations in magnum cartridges.
The ammunition was tested from a stainless Remington Model 700 with a 24-inch barrel and a Leupold VX-5HD 5-20X scope. Shooting this load was frustrating. I consistently thought I had a good group going and then would get an uncalled flyer. For this load, I shot several extra groups but I continued to produce flyers ruining otherwise good looking three- or four-shot groups. Tables 1 and 2 show the muzzle velocity was above advertised. The extreme spread of 55 fps is good for a factory loaded magnum cartridge, and the actual BC was significantly lower than advertised. The bullet’s terminal performance would make this load effective on deer size game out to 750 yards. However, in my opinion, the accuracy performance of this load would limit it to 450 to 500 yards — maximum.
Is Remington Premier Scirocco Bonded “premium” ammunition? It qualifies thanks to the reliable performance of the Scirocco bullets, which set the standard for effective, reliable terminal performance during the late ’90s. Critical measurable dimensions of the ammunition show reasonable-to-good care and attention to detail during production, especially loaded round runout. As with most bonded bullets, you should not expect top notch accuracy from these loads, but all exhibited acceptable hunting accuracy and two exceeded it. I have to continue beating the drum on the Ball powder use, which will show changes in performance to the tune of 125 fps velocity change from zero to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternate propellants are better suited for temperature variance, and would also likely improve uniformity and accuracy in some of these loads.
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