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Zip guns: spring in the air.


Spring is in the air as you read this and, in our part of the country, we start to break out our zip guns anticipating hordes of ground rats popping up to begin their yearly ritual of finding girlfriends and doing what rats do. By the way, what they do entails making more rats and, a more critical issue, they dig lots of big holes and eat everything green down to a nubbin. This rat onslaught requires a good rifle to hold the horde in check, and good ammunition is always helpful no matter the event.

My rifle for stopping-the-grass-eating-furballs is a Remington 700 light tactical rifle chambered for the .223 Rein. Common knowledge confirms the Remington rifle as issued by the factory is practical and accurate enough for this type of application. I personally use a single shot conversion tray in the magazine well as the lack of charges by multiple rats (that's a joke) means I have time to load the rifle and pre-empt the potentially challenging Remington internal magazine system which often leaves something to be desired--no joke--when it comes to reloading by using the bolt knob.

The factory rifle is set up with a 20" barrel of medium weight bearing three fiat cuts similar to flutes but not as pronounced. The barrel length is good, the flute things irrelevant other than for the CDI factor, yet barrel weight helps to dissipate the heat. On occasion I have shot the rifle enough from one place to have the barrel heat a bit but a damp cloth draped over the barrel cools it down and reduces heat waves coming off the barrel. I use a Leupold Mark IV, 4.5-14x40mm PR with mil-dot reticle. The mil-dots come in handy with the sandy rolling hills and .223's low recoil impulse because you can see the off target bullet strikes and use mil hold off adjustments for second round follow up shots as longer distances and wind starts to affect the projectile placement.


My personal load is based on the Sierra 69-grain hollowpoint boattail MatchKing (No. 1380). Designated for, and so stated by Sierra, the 69-grain works best in twists from 1:7" to 1:10" for best results, and the Remington falls in the middle with its 1:9" twist.

Using CCI primers behind 25.2 grains of Winchester 748 ball powder (below maximum in my Sierra Reloading Manual), the rifle performs well and doesn't get beat up. My only requirement for this load brass wise is just clean stuff regardless of the maker, although I often load it in batches broken down by the manufacturer.

The combination of this ammunition and this rifle produces results on the fringe of a minute of angle and definitely puts a dent in the rodent population. Dent is the correct nomenclature. So no one worries, the day after you leave the rat field, you often can't even tell you were there by the recurring numbers present. Personally I'm just glad they all don't live near me or, better yet, under my house--there are truly hundreds of them. It is the old saying, "target-rich environment" come true.

Although the shooting prairie dog/ rat thing has been addressed by others in writing, the .223 Remington 700 rifle helps me on an individual level address an area sometimes a bit bothersome to me. This is just a bump in the road for me, although it might help some of you solve a similar issue. Due to some issues resulting from a Honda ATV being on top of me instead of the more proper me on top of it, I have had to work on some personal repairs over the last few years.

Not to go into it too deeply, when some segments of this ongoing neck repair work is done, I am outlawed from shooting rifles (especially my .308) for weeks at a time. So it does fall under the adage "all shooting is good shooting" and I can sort of sneak off and shoot the .223 a bit without it beating me up or altering the repair work. I have taken lots of time and spent the effort to make this .223 rifle shoot well and consistently to 500 yards. By using the Sierra 69-grain bullet, the Remington rifle is able to hold it on at these extended ranges and most importantly it lets me get some work on my personal trigger schooling. Low or no recoil, stable bullet, and modest velocity all make for good practice sessions.

All In All

So between the rodents and the personal repairs, the Remington 700.223 is a great rifle to shoot for marksmanship maintenance and for polishing trigger skills, all of which is transferable to bigger rifles. Although the .223 is not everyone's favorite caliber these days, it still serves a practical function for a wide spectrum of uses. By reloading the Sierra 69-grain bullet, it has helped to broaden the world I use it in.


P.O. BOX 700, MADISON, NC 27025

(800) 243-9700, WWW.REMINGTON.COM



(607) 753-3331







(913) 362-9455, WWW.HODGDON.COM




(503) 646-9171, WWW.LEUPOLD.COM
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Title Annotation:RANGING SHOTS[TM]
Author:Smith, Clint
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:May 1, 2009
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