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Light April 2005
Gerhard Schroeder  

The first encounter happened during an annual NRA show in Phoenix many, many years ago. I snuggled up to several Ultra Light Arms rifles, and each time silently uttered 'hmmm'! Back then the financial reality condemned those finely crafted light weapons to dreamland.

Actual drooling threatened years later when I fondled a heavily customized Remington 700. This baby was chambered in 6mm Remington, and had been trimmed down and re-stocked to stay around six pounds. Still, too much money would have to trade hands to obtain one for myself. The desire grew, though.

In 2002 an itch got scratched. Advertised as the last one, this Colt Light Rifle was talking to me from Randell's rack. So I asked to check the dark-gray-stocked rifle out, fondled it some, then gave it back. But too late, the CLR had already infected me. Four days later I returned to buy Colt's bolt gun. 24 inches of barrel got this 30-06 up to six pounds and 10 ounces, naked. Now that's light for a full-sized rifle! Adding a 6x42 Leupold brought the total to just over seven and a half pounds. She was accurate, too. With 125 grain Sierras and 54 grains of Reloader 15 you only needed three quarter inches of paper to shoot a group. Bolt operation was smooth as well. So what's the problem? Me. Probably for the same reason that I don't drive a full-size set of wheels, I'm just not much of a 30-06 fan, either. I like things crisper, sportier, more efficient. And besides, I'd still like to shed at least a pound of rifle. The light Colt cracked a few rocks, but never drew blood in my hands, and only about a hundred rounds fouled its barrel.

Call it a failed attempt! My own custom Remington 700 short action in 6-250 ended up fat, despite buddy Ron going to work hard on the excess metal on action, bolt and bolt handle. The failure began with specifying a 25½" barrel, and Ron doing such an excellent pillar bedding job on the factory wood stock that I did not replace it with something hollow that doesn't grow on trees. Adding the heavier but crystal clear Meopta 6x42 scope constituted the final weight sin. No, at 8 pounds and eleven ounces, the rifle did not even come close to being a lightweight. BUT, yeah, a big fat 'but', this rifle is a real favorite now for other reasons. Memories of spectacular kills lead the way.

For one, the 6-250 sent an Area 31 whitetail to the freezer. For another, efficient vultures enjoyed dead rats some 300 steps from our shaded ambush site. Yep, this sporter did in rodents with regularity at distances that made me take note.

The rifle also saved Game & Fish some aviation fuel. On two occasions did coyotes underestimate its reach. Almost scary when the 70 grain Ballistic Tip picked a loping canine out of a jungle of creosote bushes over 200 paces away. Another antelope baby killer paused just before entering a wash some 300 yards out, wanting to check back at what had disturbed him. Fired quickly, and off-hand, Nosler's finest kept him there.

Next in line is notable accuracy. If there's a miss, the reason can be found between the earplugs, not on the rifle. Finally, this rig balances perfectly offhand, and hunting is easy on the ears because the blasts originate over 25 inches away from my face. In summary, my 6-250 is a serious "go-get 'em" tool, just not a light weight.

You could say that I made the terrible mistake of actually touching, handling, operating the thing. That took place inside the Sportsman's Warehouse in Phoenix in the spring of 2004. The thing was a Remington 700 Titanium. This one happened to be chambered for the 30-06, therefore a long action. Ideally, I would have wanted one in 6mm Rem, but they don't chamber Titaniums that way. For a short action, yet another quarter pound off, we have only three choices from 'big green': .260 Rem, 7mm-08, and .308 Win. Don't matter, the hook had been deeply set, I wanted one 'bad'. The search began for 'best price', all the while churning gray matter as to what caliber to order. (They come in a Short Magnum version also, but that adds over a pound.)

The .308 won. Yes, this NATO kid is the furthest from a 6mm, but provides the most versatility of the given three choices. Apparently, I'm not alone by having a positive bias towards this well-balanced cartridge. Can't recall ever hearing or reading anything negative about this .300 Savage on steroids. My hope was that the .308 would also do fine with light 110 grain projectiles, its intended main fodder for off-season plinking and varmint hunting.

When the opportunity arose to purchase a Titanium for quite a bit less than store prices, the checkbook came out. Once the rifle arrived, it got fattened up with a Leupold VX 2.5-8x36 in Dual Dovetail low rings, and a sling from Uncle Mike's. Even so, the package totals only six pounds, six ounces. Notice that you could stay below six pounds with different mounts holding a compact scope. By the way, this is my second 2.5-8x36. In Arizona, where twilight does not linger like it does in more northern territory, I found this Leupold number to be the ideal meat gun companion. Perfect compromise between weight and power. Enough at 8x to detect smallish antlers in dark timber with those pesky branches in the background, yet open enough at 2.5x to ruin the day of a running jack rabbit.

If you're looking for flashy new styling, you will be disappointed. The Titanium exhibits classic Model 700 lines. Remington gets the lead out of this rig by employing a light composite Bell & Carlson stock, pillar bedded, by selecting Titanium (hence the name) for the action, and seriously hogging away metal from bolt body and bolt handle. In fact, the bolt with its helical flutes is the only optical departure from a common short action look. What sold me is that they left the barrel 'alone', still sporting 22 inches of stainless steel, though at minimum diameter.

The Titanium means business, pure and simple. No frills like fancy inlays or fake engraving, no silly hinged floor plate, no open sights, no pretty high-gloss show tuning. The result is a real light rifle, a full two pounds less then its ADL brother, even beating the Model 7 by a proud pound. Still, due to those twenty two inches of barrel this rig balances more like a normal gun, yet swings noticeably faster. It is sweet! The Colt Light rifle and I parted ways at the September 2004 gun show.

Herr Oberst helped with the meticulous scope mounting, lapping in Leupold's Dual Dovetail rings. After the usual lapping of the locking lugs, and setting the trigger from the factory six pounds to a user-friendly two and a half, the barrel got stroked with JB bore paste and cleaned with Montana Extreme. Finally, it was time to make noise.

At first, admittedly due to respect for its low weight, I only unleashed light loads or bullets. As expected, recoil was sharper than with normal R700's. Simple laws of physics at work! But by no means was thrust-back unpleasant. In fact, both Mike and I had expected more punishment. Not so. The Titanium metes it out such that it feels a hint fast initially, then quickly turning it into more of a longer push than a painful punch. Frequent cleaning in-between the first 15 shots 'broke in' the barrel.

Going offhand is more of a challenge. It is noticeably more difficult to stay steady on target because the rifle is so light. Upon firing, however, recoil wasn't a factor. The rig is fun to shoot. Once again, I did not waste much time shooting groups. This is definitely a meat gun, to be tested away from any bench.

By the way, when the objective is to gather prime lean American game meat for the freezer, it is not required that you can hit a silver dollar at a hundred paces, or a rat at three hundred. Said meat will accumulate more reliably if you can hit a pie plate quickly. Take it from this meat hunter, if you're thankful for the many fine meals a downed critter will provide, and your first thought after downing large game is not to grab for your tape measure, then practice quickness. As soon as you've established that the animal in question is legal, the gun should be firmly against your shoulder, and seconds later the bullet should be on its way.

The 'meat' on that test day was really tough, also referred to as rocks. Sierra's 110 grain HPs nailed them with comforting regularity. On the plus side, these light projectiles are accurately exiting from the racy Remington. However, their point of impact is about 18 clicks off from the serious meat hunting slugs.

And to highlight it once more, it takes more concentration to keep the gun on target. This light rifle can be nudged around so easily. With game in sight, your excitement gets transferred noticeably. The crosshairs like the dance your heartbeat invites too!

In a test on a windy March 2005 morning, the Titanium had competition from both its 6-250 big brother, and my first meat gun, the beloved combo. Those fired 70 grain Ballistic Tips at 3450 fps, and 100 grain Sierra HPs at about 2900 fps, respectively. Using a paper target (really!) at one hundred paces, I took turns with one shot from each gun in field positions.

Whether offhand or sitting, the 6-250 'groups' were noticeably smaller than from both the light weights, like hitting a coke bottle instead of a gallon jug. Again, I could not out-maneuver physics. But all shots would have been fatal if the target had been something the size of a sitting jack.

Those hollow points aren't driven to the wall. 40 grains of Reloader 7 for 3000 fps seemed speedy enough, the .308 could get them past 3200. Pressure wasn't at maximum eardrum stress, and consequently recoil was also tamer. Overall a fun load to burn idle time with. This is now my favorite off-season load in this rifle.

Simulations, as in walking with rifle on shoulder, stopping, mounting, aiming and firing (at rocks, of course), showed how quick the Titanium can be. Ditto for lining up three rocks and blasting them in rapid succession.

Of course, some long-range shooting occurred as well. The 110 HPs go fairly flat for the first two hundred steps or so. You get the idea, I was learning this rig, having fun shooting. And with experimenting grew the positive impressions for this rifle and scope.

Daring into full throttle meat loads was next. "Whitetail" was specified on my 2004 tag. Hence the selection settled on 150 grain Ballistic Tips. Normally I'd prefer more lead, but AZ whitetails are smallish. Since I had a partial box, 180gr Ballistic Tips also got a ride down the new bore. Here's a block of data, hastily generated at the end of a turkey-scouting afternoon:

Bullet Powder Vel Comments
110 gr. Sierra HP 40 grains RL 7 3010 fps Scope zeroed for this off-season load
150 gr. SP Remington 24 grains IMR 4227 2170 fps Reduced load, shooting left of 110 HPs
150 gr. Ballistic Tip 46 grains RL 15 2820 fps Deer load, shooting left of 110 HPs
180 gr. Ballistic Tip 42 grains RL 15 2480 fps Shooting left of 110 HPs

All loads were briefly tested on paper, generating groups below ¾ inches at fifty paces. Later I tried one group each with the 110s and 180s at one hundred paces. They grouped right under 1.5 inches, plenty comforting for meat hunting. None of the loads felt uncomfortable. Even the 180s did not rattle my cage. Credit goes to the stock design, meting out recoil in a pleasant manner. This rig is simply a keeper!

By now the "Titanium" has also burnt a bright spot into my memory. On the second day outdoors the dying rabbit call faked nothing out, although a bugling elk, two busily feeding turkeys, four nervous widgeons and a fleeing muley with velvet headgear kept the entertainment level way up.

At the second stand, two miles down the road, I spied an occupied young yodel beast before I even blew the misery whistle. I'm brave enough to admit that the first offhand shot barely missed at some 150 paces. However, the young killer was more confused than scared, and quickly slowed. Now suffering from slightly more hunting fever - that is why we enter the woods armed, hoping to generate a little fever - I missed again. That only seemed to increase the critter's confusion, certainly not its speed. When the predator entered yet another clearing, hesitantly walking now, 110 grains of Sierra hollow point finally torpedoed his chest. Lots of red was visible through the Leupold before the grass swallowed all fur.

Relieved, yet excited I picked up the three empties. While fishing for fresh ammo in my pockets to refill the magazine, one of those "why not?" thoughts dropped in. Out came the call to send promises of an easy meal. And Bingo!

Not thirty seconds had passed, and another killer appeared, drifting towards where the first had stayed for good. He had no clue that crosshairs followed his every move. As he hesitated in that opening, the .308 slammed him to the ground. I kept viewing through the scope to make sure he was down for good. He was.

Totally thrilled about being blessed with such varmint success, I was about to leave my shaded stand when I detected more movement. Did one of the varmints get back up? No, a third one had slipped out of the junipers, almost exactly copying what his buddy had done only a minute ago. When this beast reached the fateful clearing, it turned, facing my direction. At that moment the crosshairs seemed just right for a little squeeze. When the Titanium returned from recoil, there was no more movement.

I waited several more minutes, counting my blessings. Also of importance was the fact that this load - I had fired 5 rounds without protection - did not blow away the rest of my tattered eardrums. Don't get me wrong here, shooting is still a major offense to your audio system. It's just that the bells weren't ringing as bad as they on occasion had already and regrettably done in the past. The desire for conformation eventually brought me to the scene. Unforgettable! Three antelope baby killers had expired, all within a seven steps circle.

More memory burning occurred a month later near Klondike, AZ, where the "Titanium" bagged me a fine whitetail on opening day. And to shamelessly steal from Harry, it has also taken a head clean off -- a running jackrabbit, that is.

I have made it a habit to shoot this rifle frequently, to get used to its dynamic behavior. The rifle may actually demand this, to cope with its lightness. I especially like it as a calling gun, where the low weight makes it a breeze to hold at the ready for long periods of time. Before an outing is over, a few rocks usually show gouge marks from visiting hollow points.

Bottom line: the Remington Titanium has been on a diet! You almost forget that it is on your shoulder, and you almost give the soft gun case a little squeeze to make sure it's in there. She is more difficult to hold steady on target, but way easier to keep in the firing position. Shoulders and arms just don't tire when handling this lightweight. With sufficient concentration during the moment of squeeze, it's a perfect all around rig. The Titanium will be the rifle to grab when I plan to leave city limits.

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