September 23, 2010
When it comes to big game rifle barrels there are round, octagon, straight fluted, spiral fluted--and, as of last year, triangular ones. Enter the new Remington Model 700 XHR (Xtreme Hunting Rifle), the first 700 to feature a sporter-weight barrel that in cross-section is triangular in shape (the concept was introduced in 2007 in a varmint/target iteration).
Other notable features on the XHR is a new, user-adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger and a barreled action carrying a dull, mottled satin-black oxide finish. It's quite attractive and highly non-reflective. All this is set into Remington's elegantly styled injection-molded synthetic stock covered in Realtree All Purpose HD camo with Hogue overmolded rubberized grip panels. Standard also is Remington's SuperCell recoil pad.
The X-Mark Pro trigger introduced two years ago was a definite improvement over the old Model 700 trigger, but not being user-adjustable, it was at a disadvantage when compared to some of its competitors. This second generation version addresses that problem. The Adjustable X-Mark Pro can be externally adjusted down to 2.5 pounds and is very crisp.
All Model 700 and Model Sevens now come with the new trigger as standard. And, yes, the Adjustable X-Mark Pro will be available as an accessory for retro-fitting any Model 700, a job Remington recommends be done only by a competent gunsmith.
As for the SuperCell recoil pad, it's one of those really mushy jobs into which you can sink your thumb a half-inch. It works so well at attenuating recoil that I can't figure out why it took so long to discover that these type pads were so much more effective than traditional ones.
The Tri-Barrel is also available in a tactical-style rifle. The jury's still out, but the design could prove more accurate than standard, round barrels.
The most unique aspect of the XHR, though, is its triangular barrel. Actually, I think either faceted or scalloped would more accurately describe the configuration, and it's triangular in shape for only half its length. From the receiver to a point about even with the stock's fore-end tip, the barrel is of conventional round contour; from there out to the muzzle the three facets change it to a triangular shape.
So what's with the triangular barrel? Does it actually do something or is it just a cosmetic thing? Remington claims the Tri-Barrel, as the company calls it, is stiffer than a round barrel of equal weight.So if indeed a Tri-Barrel is stiffer than a round one of equal weight, does it result in any demonstrable difference in accuracy?
The very first thought that came to my mind upon seeing the XHR was that its shape had to limit the directions the barrel could whip to only three, and they would have to be perpendicular to the plane of each facet. A round barrel, on the other hand, can flex in any direction. Assuming my intuitive assumption is correct, would limiting the direction of flex along just three planes of movement be an advantage?
I know one thing for sure: Triangular barrels had to have been tried before, and if there was any proof they were superior to round ones--or any other shape for that matter--we'd all be shooting them today.
The new Adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger is easily set by the user down to 2.5 pounds. It's standard on the XHR — and all new Model 700s and Model Sevens.
But as with any technology, advancements are generally achieved in small increments rather than in quantum leaps, and it usually takes a company with the wherewithal of a Remington to afford the research to quantify such results.
When I was working with this rifle last year, the company was still conducting tests, and all I've been able to get from them is that with the many examples of XHRs they've tested thus far, results indicate a higher average level of accuracy than obtained with standard 700s. If the results prove Tri-Barrels to be more accurate, I don't expect it to be by any dramatic amount.
I took an XHR in 7mm Remington Magnum on Safari last year, and I've also shot three other examples of Tri-Barreled 700s: an XHR in .270 Winchester, a VTR varmint/target in .223 Remington and a Target/Tactical in .308 Winchester.
All of the Tri Barrel rifles shot very well indeed. With the Target/Tactical I got consistent groups of 0.5 to 0.75 inch using Remington's 168-grain MatchKing load.
For the 7mm Remington Magnum I used in Africa, I chose the 150-grain Swift Scirocco, and it averaged three-shot groups right around an inch.
The author took the XHR in 7mm Remington Magnum to Africa, where it performed admirably on a variety of plains game.