I think it’s still safe to say that the majority of SCI members prefer traditional sporting rifles for hunting. By that I mean bolt actions mostly, but also including other action types such a levers, semi-autos, single shots and doubles. All are available in calibers suitable for all or nearly all the world’s game.
Be that as it may, the bolt action far outnumbers all the alternatives put together. That, however, is slowly changing as more and more ex-servicemen and women entering the hunting ranks choose the AR-10 and AR-15 platforms over traditional long guns. Of course this growing affection for the MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle, a term which I believe was coined by SCI’s Director of Publications, Steve Comus), is by no means limited to ex-military.
Of those not sharing the enthusiasm for the MSR, the main gripes are that the gun looks like a military rifle, and in the case of the lighter and more compact AR-15 platform, lacks the capability of handling true “big game” cartridges.
As far as the looks of the gun are concerned, the basic geometry of the AR can never be changed, but by eliminating the carrying handle/rear sight, pedestal front sight, adjustable buttstock and fiberglass hand guard, and going to a flat top upper receiver, no sights, a tubular handguard and a fixed buttstock that’s as close to a conventional one as the design allows, the result is a rifle that’s as “civilian looking” as it can get. And of course, eliminating the “black gun” connotations is done by sheathing the whole thing in camo, which further distances it from the “assault rifle” perception.
The larger AR-10 version, which can digest the .308 Win. family of cartridges — the .243 Win., .260 Rem., 7mm-08 Rem. and .338 Federal — addresses the claim that the platform lacks true big game capability. We are now seeing more and more companies producing AR-10 versions, the most notable is DPMS, who last year introduced the first major design overhaul of the original that dates back to the 1950s. Called simply Gen II .308, it essentially reduced the size and weight to where it is very close to the AR-15 platform.
With DPMS being a member of the recently formed Remington Outdoors group of companies, it was a sure bet that Remington would tap into that technology to improve its own existing Model R-25. And so they have. The big news from Big Green for 2015 is the R-25 GII. The gun has all the improvements of the DPMS version as reviewed here. In other words, this gun is smaller, lighter, shorter, yet safer and more reliable than other AR-10s. It also has all the improved handling qualities resulting from rounding off the sharp edges and corners of the original design that made it feel like you were handling a porcupine. A stylish new carbon fiber buttstock and handguard go a long way in reducing weight to 7.62 lbs.
I had the opportunity to put several 20-round magazines through the three pre-production examples available to us at the recent Remington New Products Seminar. In the .308 Win. chambering the gun was very pleasant-shooting off a bench and impressively accurate. All calibers previously mentioned will be offered, save the .338 Federal. The MSRP will be somewhere around $1,600.– Jon R. Sundra