There’s has been a lot of attention focused on ARs or MSRs (Modern Sporting Rifles) for hunting in the past few years. If you love the classic .223 round, and it’s legal to shoot for big game in your state, it’s a no-brainer to have one in your gun closet.
Where it gets a little cloudier is whether you want or need an MSR in the .30 range. Choices in that caliber at your local gun counter fall off fast, but more importantly the weights can climb dramatically. I have had more than one friend buy an AR-10 in .308 to find the gun pushing the scales at around 11 pounds. In turn, they realized that it’s just a little too much to carry in the field. One of the most disappointing aspects to the large 10 platforms is even though the gun works exactly like your .223, it lacks the smaller MSR’s fast pointing and light balance. The larger .30 platform simply lacks the grace and speed that brought MSRs to hunters in the first place.
Last fall I trialed what may be the perfect alternative, Remington’s new R-15 in .30 Rem. The gun feels, points and balances just like its .223 cousin. However, it sports what many shooters are finding to be a highly efficient .30 round that has practical killing performance out to nearly 400 yards. The R-15 will make shooting any target at less than 300 yards a walk in the park.
The test was for pronghorn on an energy wind ranch in Wyoming where we could take three goats, one male and two females. The property had a consistent reputation for a high selection of pronghorns at about 16 inches. After glassing all day we located a calm 17-inch goat that was thick laced with non-typical stickers. Our Remington R-15s were outfitted with Swarovski’s new BT Series scopes that use adjustable turrets to instantly adjust at 100-yard increments.
With a goat spotted and the flip of a coin going my way, my partner Dean Capuano and I planned the stalk. I was torn between wanting to test the rifle at nearly 200 yards or the fun of stalking him down a dry creek bed. After a few hundred yards of slipping down the wash we peered up to find the goat had come closer.
“I know you wanted a longer shot, but that’s a really sweet goat, even at 90 yards,” said Dean.
I opened the aperture of the Swarovski, turned the turret to 100 yards, instantaneously stood up and shot the buck. In less than a second, the pronghorn tipped over, kicked once, and that was it.
The shot was ideal and the moment felt fluid.
“Man, you had all the time in world,” Dean said. I just looked back, grinned and said, “Yes, but it felt so right.”
There just something about making a clean shot so quickly. I pointed out that if I had been carrying an AR-10, the experience would have slowed down and I may have stumbled to get the gun up, pushing the double-digit weight.
Our day ended while watching the sun set over the windmills hoping for an errant coyote to run by.
The next morning was classic Wyoming pronghorn hunting. The wind was howling between the wind turbines with an eerie charm. It was such a big blow that we needed to be careful when we opened the truck doors or we could have bent the hinges.
Conditions like this are where a .30 bullet is a far friendlier ally than a .223 that can get a little “froggy” in a 30-mile-an-hour gust.
After plenty of driving and a few long stalks that sent every pronghorn in the next ranch running for cover, we found a group of fairly calm does that stood at 300 yards. Dean was right behind me when he said, “Do you see the doe on the left?” I looked over, took a rest on a rock and turned the turret to 300 yards. When the wind gust died down, I squeezed the trigger and the doe tipped just like the buck. Without lifting my eye from the reticule, Dean said, “On the right 20 yards, quick!” I panned over, found the only doe left standing and before he could utter another syllable I fired and knocked her into the dust. From the time I fired the first shot, the entire experience clocked in at roughly 2.5 seconds.
I credit all the pinpoint accuracy to the Remington R-15. The Swarovski BT adjustable distance turret added a confident dynamic that contributed to fast accurate shot placement. If I had used a larger and much heavier .308, I would have had the distance capability, but could have never matched the handling speed of the .30 Rem AR caliber in its ultra agile light platform.
This amazing rifle makes larger .30 caliber distance performance a reality with the comfort of a less than 8-pound AR. It shoots as if it were a part of you.