October 15th, 2008

Remington Introduces new 30 Remington AR Cartridge

30 Remington ARRemington Arms just introduced a new cartridge, the 30 Remington AR (aka “30 RAR”), to be used in AR-platform rifles to be built by its DPMS subsidiary. (Remington, DPMS, and Bushmaster are all owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private holding company.) The cartridge carries the “short, fat” design to the extreme. It is based on a shortened version of the .450 Bushmaster, which itself was a cut-down version of the .284 Winchester. Like the .284 Win, the 30 Remington AR has a rebated rim, so it will fit a .308 Win-sized boltface (0.473″). While it resembles a 30BR, the new case is much fatter, offering an impressive 44 grains of powder capacity. The portly diameter of the 30 RAR case dictates that the magazine will be a single-stack, and will hold only four (4) rounds.

Cram a Big Cartridge in an AR15 Mag and Make Sure It’s a Thirty
What was Remington thinking? Well, the stated project goal was to transform the standard AR15 into a “legitimate big game hunting platform.” Presumably, a 30-caliber cartridge was chosen for marketing purposes as that is the most common deer hunting caliber. The “science” of the design was basically to stuff the biggest cartridge possible in a standard AR15-sized magazine. According to Outdoor Life columnist John Snow: “DPMS President Randy Luth and Remington’s John Fink (brand manager for the rifle division) … both said that the goal was to look at the AR lower and see how much cartridge they could fit in there.”

30 Remington AR (30 RAR) Specifications

Case Capacity Rim
Parent Cases Shoulder Factory Load Mag Type
44.0gr H20 0.473″
.308 bolt face
.450 Bushmaster
.284 Winchester
25° 125gr SP or
125 B-Tip
2800 fps
0.267 BC
Single Stack

30 Remington AR

Factory 30 Remington AR Rifles and Uppers
Initially, the 30 Remington AR round will be chambered in complete, DPMS-built Remington R15 rifles, which start at $1,199.00 MSRP. For production rifles, the expected rate of twist is 1:10″, but that has not been finalized. What about separate uppers? Given the hefty price of the complete rifle, existing AR owners may prefer to purchase a 30-caliber upper by itself. While no release date was given, Remington stated that 30 RAR uppers will definitely be offered for sale in the future.

Impressive Velocities but Much Less Energy than a .308 Win Shooting 160s
With 44 grains of capacity, the 30 RAR can generate some impressive velocities with bullets in the 120-125gr weight range. Remington claims its 125gr factory ammo will deliver 2800 fps muzzle velocities running at about 55,000 psi pressure levels. Three factory loads will be offered: Rem-branded 125gr Core-Lokt PSP and 125gr AccuTip BT, and a UMC-branded 123gr FMJ. At $18.99 per 20-round box, the UMC ammo is intended for inexpensive practice purposes. The $35.99/box AccuTip and $26.49/box Core-Lokt PSP are much costlier. The relatively light-weight bullets used in the Remington ammo have poor Ballistic Coefficients compared to the longer, heavier bullets typically used in a .308 Win or 7mm-08. The 125gr Core-Lokt has a 0.267 BC, while the 125gr AccuTip is somewhat better at 0.335. Nonetheless, Remington’s ballistics tables show that the AccuTip should match the trajectory of a 165gr AccuTip (fired from a .308 Win), fairly well out to 400 yards. However, there is a BIG difference in energy as you can see from the table below. At 300 yards, the 125gr AccuTip delivers 1153 ft/lbs of energy compared to 1661 ft/lbs for a 165gr AccuTip launched at 2700 fps from a .308 Win. (Note: these numbers were calculated with 24″ barrels. Remington’s 30 RAR-chambered R15 rifle has a 22″ barrel, so its performance should be somewhat less impressive.)

30 Remington AR

Our first reaction to the news of Remington’s new cartridge was: “Why?” The obvious (and cynical) answer is that Remington wanted to sell AR-style rifles to deer hunters who need an excuse to purchase a military-style semi-automatic. There may be a market for that… who knows. But there is already a proven, compact 30-caliber cartridge that fits a standard-sized AR15 lower — the 7.62×39. The 7.62×39 won’t push a 125-grainer as fast as the bigger 30 RAR, but the 7.62×39 will still kill a whitetail plenty dead. Perhaps Remington’s engineers should simply have applied themselves to producing a proper (i.e. 100% functional) 7.62×39 magazine. This Editor has tried most of the AR15 7.62×39 magazines on the market (from 3-rd to 30-rd capacity). None of those I tested worked particularly well. Some simple redesign work (call the MagPul folks) would solve that.

Better AR Ballistics with 6.5 and 6mm Cartridges
If the goal was to produce an AR15 with better ballistics and downrange energy than the .223 Rem cartridge delivers, we’re not sure a 30-caliber was the way to go. The 6.5 Grendel performs exceptionally well in AR rifles, delivering great accuracy with 123gr Lapua Scenar or Sierra bullets. Likewise, the AR15 can be a superb High Power and Cross-the-Course platform shooting the 6mmAR cartridge developed by Robert Whitley. The 6mmAR is the 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm. Shooting 105 Berger VLDs it comes very, very close to the ballistics of the larger 6mmBR cartridge, and it gives up nothing in accuracy. By contrast, with its low-BC bullets, the 30 Remington AR is not going to be competitive at longer ranges with either the 6.5 Grendel or the 6mmAR. And with factory mags limited to four (4) rounds, you couldn’t use this gun effectively in High Power matches, even if it proves highly accurate on the short course.

Important Innovation or Another Orphan Cartridge?
Only time will tell whether the 30 Remington AR cartridge will catch on with sport shooters and hunters. We’re not sure the round has an important purpose that cannot be filled by existing, proven cartridges. The complete 30 RAR rifles are expensive ($1200+) compared to a typical bolt-action deer rifle, so we wonder how many deer hunters will actually jump on Remington’s bandwagon. Speaking frankly, so long as the cartridge is available only with Remington-made brass, we predict little interest among competitive shooters. Now if Lapua were to produce a 65,000-psi rated version of this cartridge, THAT might interest hunter benchrest shooters and BR for score shooters. A Lapua 30 RAR would be like a 30BR on steroids. But alas, don’t expect Lapua, or Norma, or even Winchester, to produce 30 RAR brass any time soon.

So, does the 30 Remington AR (aka “30 RAR”) have a future? It will certainly stimulate sales of AR-platform rifles to some extent. That’s important because AR sales have been lagging recently. Perhaps that is enough justification for a new round. All things considered however, we think Remington would have been better off building its “AR for big game” around the 6.5 Grendel case, perhaps in a 7mm version. Still, we have to credit Remington’s designers. Using a modern “short, fat” design, with a rebated rim, they’ve achieved impressive velocities in a very compact cartridge. The chopped-down .284 may prove to be a very accurate design.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing 113 Comments »
October 15th, 2008

Pacific Tool & Gauge Provides Bolt Components for Phoenix Actions

Phoenix rifle actionsGlen Harrison, designer/creator of the original Nesika actions, now has a new Montana-based company, Phoenix Machine Technologies. In time, Harrison plans to produce a full series of high-grade custom actions, using state-of-the-art CNC machining. Currently, Phoenix has been producing CNC-crafted Remington-clone actions. These seem to be working very well and are being used by GA Precision and other top gunsmiths.

Current Phoenix Machine production receivers are Remington 700 derivatives that utilize Remington-style bolts and are being manufactured in long, short and M7 lengths. Teaming up with Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge (PT&G), Harrison will offer a selection of custom bolt components made by PT&G. This allows the owner of a Phoenix action to fit out the finished action in many ways. Want a colored bolt shroud? No problem. You can also a choose variety of fluting styles, and pick from a selection of PT&G-crafted bolt handles. There are many action-makers offering Rem-clone style receivers in chrome-moly or stainless steel. With the wide variety of bolt components offered by PT&G, the Phoenix action offers the action-buyer an impressive array of optional features.

For more information about Phoenix Machine Technologies, LLC, call (406) 756-2727 or write 36 Jellison Lane, Suite B, Columbia Falls, MT 59912. Email inquiries may be sent to Lisa [at] boltactions.net.

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