The Remington R-15 Rifle Chambered in .30 Rem. AR
By Christopher R. Bartocci
It is undeniable that the Black Rifle is America’s most popular rifle by a wide margin. The versatility of this rifle is second to none. It has full use in military, law enforcement, competition, self defense, plinking, collecting and hunting. The versatility in calibers the rifle can be chambered in has brought the rifle to all new levels. With the adaption to calibers such as 6.8mm Rem. SPC, .300 Blackout, .50 Beauwolf, .458 SOCOM and .450 Bushmaster, the rifle has become suitable for most game in North America.
Remington Arms introduced their line of hunting rifles in conjunction with DPMS called the R-15 Varmint Target Rifle (based on 5.56mm length cartridges) and the R-25 Modular Repeating Rifle chambered in .308 Winchester caliber. The rifles are offered in both fixed and telescopic stocks.
The R-15 is offered in calibers .223 Remington, .204 Ruger and the proprietary Remington caliber, .30 Rem. AR or .30 RAR. The purpose was to achieve .308 Win. caliber ballistics in a light R-15 Hunter platform. The .30 RAR did just that. With the backing of the Freedom Group companies, as AAC did with the .300 AAC Blackout, Remington worked with these vast resources and developed the .30 Rem. AR cartridge. The goal of Remington was to propel a .30 caliber projectile at .308 Winchester caliber velocities (2,800 fps) while maintaining 55,000 psi and putting it all in a standard R-15 rifle and feeding the cartridge out of a modified 5.56mm magazine. The .30 Rem. AR was designed with the parent case being the .450 Bushmaster. This case offers a wider cartridge case body .488 when compared to the .308 Win. .453 and the .300 Blackout at .361 inches. There is a good size case capacity (44 grains of water) to take advantage of modern high performance propellants. Remington technicians found that the ideal case, powder and projectile would be the use of the 125 grain projectile. This would allow the maximum amount of propellant to be put in the case to get optimal velocity while still keeping under the 55,000 psi threshold. The cartridge is loaded with a small rifle primer. The overall length of the .30 Rem. AR is 2.260 inches, which allows it to be fed out of a standard 5.56mm with some major adjustments to the feed lips. The magazine provided held 4 rounds, which are hunting legal in most states. The right feed lip was bent straight in so the round is only fed from the left side. This is reflected in the feed ramp on the barrel extension. There is a large feed ramp cut on the bottom to the left of the barrel extension.
When comparing ballistics with a 125gr projectile, the .300 Blackout offers a muzzle velocity of 2,215 feet per second, the .308 Winchester offers 2,382 feet per second and the new .30 Rem. AR offers 2,800 feet per second. The new .30 Rem. AR cartridge was released in 2009 by Remington. When dealing with the lighter projectile, the .30 Rem. AR offers higher velocity than either the .300 Blackout or the .308 Win. Loads for the .30 Rem. AR do not exceed 150 grain projectiles. The 150 grain load is shy of 2,600 feet per second comparable to the .308 Win. with the same projectile. That is correct, the 125 grain projectile in .30 Rem. AR surpasses the same combination .308 Win. load in both velocity and energy.
Remington is the only company as of this writing offering ammunition for this new caliber. The loads include a less expensive UMC 123 grain full metal jacket load and high performance loads 125 grain AccuTip, 125 grain pointed soft point, 150 grain pointed soft point and 125 grain Barnes TSX. However if the user chooses to reload, dies are available from RCBS and Redding. There are a plethora of projectiles that can be loaded for this cartridge. New cartridge cases are available as well.
No modifications other than the bolt are needed for this chambering. The head of the bolt had to be increased from .476 inches to .492 inches to prevent accidental insertion of a .30 Rem. AR cartridge in a .450 Bushmaster chamber. Due to the larger cartridge base, the standard bolt diameter is too small. This could be made larger more easily due to the maximum allowable pressures in the .30 Rem. AR being less than the 5.56mm. The bottom two lugs (lugs used to strip the cartridge from the magazine) are beveled to facilitate feeding in the .30 Rem. AR. Also due to the way the single feed ramp is on the barrel extension there is a single locking lug that is unsupported by the barrel extension. The ejector is significantly larger in diameter than that of the standard 5.56mm rifle as well. In all, the parts which are proprietary for the .30 Rem. AR caliber are the barrel extension/barrel, bolt assembly and magazine. The rest are compatible with the standard AR platform.
The test & evaluation rifle sent was the R-15 VTR (Varmint Target Rifle) Hunter. This is basically a DPMS rifle manufactured for Remington. Both companies are part of the Freedom Group. This rifle is finished in real tree camouflage. The overall length of the rifle is 40 1/4 inches weighing in at 7.75 pounds. The rifle came with a cable lock and one 4-round magazine.
Starting with the lower receiver, the receiver is manufactured from an extrusion of 6066 T-6 aircraft grade aluminum. All lower receiver dimensions are exactly the same as the standard .223 Rem./204 Ruger R-15 rifle. The rifle is equipped with a standard length A2 fixed stock although Remington offers a telescopic stock as well on the .223 Rem. as well as the 204 Ruger but the .30 Rem. AR only is offered with the fixed stock. The standard A3-style pistol grip is used as well. The trigger is a standard single stage Mil-Spec type trigger. The trigger on this rifle broke cleanly at 6.25 pounds.
The upper receiver is manufactured from a raw extrusion of 6066 T6 aircraft aluminum. There is one difference in the upper receiver for this caliber. The upper receiver is .01 inches wider than the upper receiver on the traditional .223 Rem. and .204 Ruger rifles. This is to done to accommodate the bolt catch usage with the significantly larger .30 Rem. AR cartridge case. The ejection port is slightly larger as well to accommodate the larger cartridge case. The receiver has a standard forward assist, fired cartridge case deflector as well as ejection port dust cover. The rail on top is standard Mil-Std 1913. The material from the middle of the rail was cut away similar to the rails produced by A.R.M.S., Inc. This is done to decrease weight as this additional material serves no functional purpose. The mount locks into the rail’s stop notches securely. There is an aluminum free float tubular handguard with two sling mounts on the front bottom of the handguard.
The 22-inch barrel button cut rifled barrel is fluted to decrease weight. The barrel is manufactured from carbon steel then ChroMoly lined. The R-15 Hunter is only offered with the 22-inch barrel. The barrel features a 1/10 inch right hand twist rifling pitch. Of course the barrel is fully free floated. The gas block is low profile and pinned in place. This is better than those that are screwed in place. Although under extreme circumstances, screwed on front sight bases have been known to migrate forward during rapid firing in military testing. The pinned on sight is a much better and the most reliable option for a front sight base.
The optic chosen for this rifle was the Leupold 4.5 to 14x with a 50mm objective lens. This was an ideal optic for this rifle chambered in this caliber. The optic was clean and crisp – what one has come to expect from Leupold. The optics adjustments utilized the target knobs so they could be adjusted by hand. Butler Creek scope covers were installed on the optic as well. The mount was an ArmaLite 30mm mount.
The test ammunition was provided by Remington with the rifle. There were 200 rounds of the Remington UMC .30 Rem. AR 123 grain metal case ammunition (L30RAR1) used to break the rifle in as well to assess reliability. Using this ammunition there were no malfunctions of any type. This author would have preferred an additional magazine with a higher capacity than just the 4-round hunting magazine. Fingers got awfully sore. For accuracy testing, Remington provided 200 rounds of Remington Premier AccuTip rounds loaded with a 125 grain AccuTip projectile (PRA30RAR1). Again, this ammunition functioned flawlessly in the rifle. This rifle was undoubtedly a 1 MOA rifle off the bench with the Premier ammunition. In the hands of City of Rochester Emergency Task Force sniper Fabian Rivera, he was able to achieve the best group of .695 inches at 100 yards. His groups as previously stated were under 1 MOA even with the UMC ammunition. The rifle was lightly lubricated before shooting and had a total of 360 rounds fired through it without malfunction.
The R-15 Hunter chambered in .30 Rem. AR is an ideal rifle for the hunter in North America. It gives the light weight, range, quick follow-up shot and a potent round that can be loaded for the little critters up to the really big ones including hogs and moose. The rifle gives military grade reliability to a modern sporting rifle. With the AR platform becoming a staple in all aspects of shooting sports, this is yet another example of the modularity and adaptability of the weapon system. The .30 Rem. AR ammunition is readily available and at the time of this writing Remington was in the middle of loading .30 Rem. AR with Barnes TSX rounds. With the availability of new brass and reloading dies, the owner of this caliber has an endless number of projectile weights and types to load to whatever his purpose may be.
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