The Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) has become widely accepted in hunting circles across the country. And why not? Millions of people own and shoot them both for fun and as a self-defense tool, so their matriculation to the deer woods is a natural progression.
One of the issues with many MSRs is weight. Most are relatively heavy when compared to conventional bolt-action rifles, which is somewhat of a turn-off for many. That’s an issue Remington addressed when it brought to market the R-25 GII. How? By taking design features from its sister company, DPMS. Remington and DPMS came up with new designs, including a matched pair of forged, anodized, Teflon-coated 7075 upper and lower receivers that are identical in appearance to older versions — but being smaller, they weigh less. Also, inside the flattop upper you’ll find a forged, steel bolt carrier that has been made a bit smaller, which also reduces weight. Want more? How about an eight-sided carbon-fiber handguard that allows the barrel to float freely, which helps enhance accuracy. It’s vented to allow air circulation for cooling, and it’s drilled and tapped for attaching short rail sections for mounting accessories like sling swivels. The lower receiver features an integral triggerguard, black controls and a Hogue pistol grip. Remington ships the rifle with a four-round magazine.
The charging handle is fairly standard and provides plenty of gripping surface to facilitate racking the bolt. If, heaven forbid, a round fails to chamber, the rifle has a bolt forward assist on the right side behind the ejection port. Also, since the R-25 GII is designed to be used primarily as a hunting rifle, Remington has installed a steel feed ramp to assist all types of bullets, including soft points.
Since I do a bit of long-range shooting, triggers are very important to me. Thankfully, the “bad old days” of crummy AR triggers seems to have passed, and the R-25 GII comes with a standard two-stage match trigger and breaks a tick over 5 pounds. A skeletonized with a SuperCell butt pad helps take the sting out of any recoil.
At the end of the day, the R-25 GII weighs 7.62 pounds empty — more than a pound lighter than the previous generation R-25. Remington’s Adam Ballard, Senior Product Manager, Modern Sporting Rifles, told me in hunting camp it is the lightest AR-style gun chambered in .308 Win. that is currently available anywhere.
There are other improvements, but for a back-to-basics deer hunter like me, the questions I had came down to two: does it shoot, and is it reliable?
I arrived in Todd Rogers’ Rut & Strut camp before most everyone else, so I had a chance to shoot the R-25 GII quite a bit on the range. The 4-round magazine is easy to load. The rifle functioned smoothly, even when I fired it as quickly as I could. We were shooting one of the best .308 hunting loads around, Barnes VOR-TX ammo featuring the 168-grain Tipped-TSX all-copper bullet. Accuracy was excellent, with the several rifles I fired, producing 3-shot groups measuring somewhere between 1 and 1½ inches at 100 yards. It didn’t hurt that the rifle was topped with a Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 2.5-15×50 riflescope. Recoil is negligible.
Weather on our hunt was typical of this year — too warm, but also rainy and windy, and the rain made it about as muddy as the greased pig pit at the county fair. However, all six in our party shot nice bucks with this combination, and all said the same thing: the R-25 GII performed without a flaw. In my case, I hunted five days, the morning of the last day bringing success. Set up in a blind overlooking a beautiful CRP field bordered by thick woods and swamps, I took an old 10-point buck at about 100 yards. The Tipped TSX bullet took him through the front shoulder, passed through the heart and exited the far shoulder. The deer didn’t run three steps.
Remington says the R25 GII is “designed and optimized to be the most versatile big-game Modern Sporting Rifle on the planet, while delivering all the hair-splitting accuracy you’d expect from Remington.” I don’t know about that. What I do know is that after battering my rifle about for a week in muddy, windy, rainy, near-freezing weather, when the time came to make meat, everything went smooth as silk. Sportsmen searching for a MSR for big-game hunting would do themselves a disservice to not consider this rifle.
MSRP is $1,697. More information is available at www.remington.com/rifles/modern-sporting/model-r-25-gii.