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LevelHead's SWS project

LevelHead's SWS project

Introduction and Factory PSS Review

The Sako TRG-42 in .300 Win Mag
In December of 2002 I decided I wanted to build a sniper style rifle. What I really wanted was a Sako TRG-42 in .300 Win Mag or a TRG-22 in .308 Winchester, but not having access to $2500 for the base rifle, I opted to go with a Remington 700 Police (700P or PSS). Word on the 'net is that this rifle is the best choice due to availability of parts and gunsmiths familiar with it. It is also the base for most of the sniper rifles used in the US today. I figured if the guys in the world that rely on their rifles for life and death choose the 700P, then it's good enough for a guy like me. For the record I'm not looking to be a sniper (A rifle, no matter how good, does not a marksman make). I want a rifle that is accurate and has the interesting lines of a device who's form follows function.

One of the reasons I wanted the Sako so much is the fact that I own a Sako 75 Stainless in 7mm Remington Magnum which is the best rifle I've ever owned. The fit and finish is flawless, the bolt feels like butter, and it shoots like nobody's business. I upgraded to a deluxe stock and for my money now own the best factory hunting rifle money can buy.

The Nickel Sig I traded away
In order to fund my new 700P, I traded away a Sig P226 in factory nickel. This gun took me over a year to find since Sig stopped making Nickel 226s in 1989 or so. My model was purchased unfired about two years ago. I'd shot it but it was still in top notch condition. I have a taste for quality firearms. Sig, Sako, H&K and so-on. No worries, the dealer told me that all new Remington Police rifles are fitted by the custom shop at Remington. I was leery about buying an American made rifle but the dealer convinced me I'd be happy.

When I received my PSS and opened the box, it looked used. The whole box looked like it had been in someone's trunk for a year, or was so old that it had been knocked around over the years. The box appeared to have been taped at the factory, so I assumed it was, in fact new. Even the Manual looked like it was 20 years old. Closer inspection showed that the bolt did not show the wear consistent with a used gun. The gun was new alright. On the receiver, the finish is nicked down to the bear metal. The stock (which is painted) has chips along the line where the receiver meets it.>

The box as it came from the factory
In my opinion, the fit and finish of the Remington 700P is a joke. Sure these rifles are meant to be shot not looked at, but c'mon - $700 for a bolt action rifle should get you a rifle with no visible metal showing through the finish! This rifle is an embarrassment to Remingon. As for it being fitted by the custom shop? I called them - the dealer lied. Totally my fault for believing such tripe, but the dealer swears that's what he was told. He also claimed the next three PSSs he received were in the same shape that mine was, and that he'll no longer sell them. Whatever.

Now many of the people I talked to said I shouldn't worry about the finish since this gun should be shot and not looked at, and to a degree I concur, however that's like saying don't worry about the scratch down to the metal in your new car - they should be driven not looked at. The finish on a gun is there to protect the metal from rust. That protection is now less effective on my rifle.
Receiver ding and stock chips
The stock is a H&S PRecision stock designed for the PSS. It has two sling swivels in the forearm (one for a bipod) and one in the rear, where you'd expect it for a sling. All three of these swivels were loose when I took the gun out of the box. I swear this gun was assembled by three-year olds.

The stock is painted a dull matt black. As stated earlier, the paint was chipped up where the stock meets the receiver. These chips can be seen on the picture with the arrows. When I took the stock off of the receiver, the chips are much more apparent since you only see the tips of them with the receiver in place. The shiny metal peeking through is the aluminum bedding block. See this image for details.

My Sako 75 next to the PSS. Notice the grip difference
The pistol grip has a very wide palm swell which many people complain about. That doesn't bother me. What does bother me is the distance from the grip to the trigger. It seems to be designed for a child! My finger naturally rests on the far end of the trigger guard, not on the trigger. I should note that the picture of my finger on the tigger looks odd because I was trying to hold the rifle and the camera at the same time. It is still a fair representation of how my finger rests on the trigger guard. I've never held a rifle like this in my life. My guess is that they have tried to make a vertical pistol grip, but instead of pulling the grip back a bit, they just altered the angle of the grip more which not only made it almost vertical, it pulled it closer to the trigger guard. The Trigger reach is not a huge concern for me since I'm replacing the stock with a McMillan Tactical A4 Stock.

I will say that the Remington PSS Stock has a wonderful forearm. The wide rounded grip is perfect for laying on sandbags or whatever, and the dual swivels are a pleasent upgrade from normal stocks that have only one. Of course one swivel is for a bipod and the other for a sling.

All of the parts on this rifle feel "cheesy" to me. No wonder all the serious shooters replace almost every part. The trigger guard and floorplate assembly is not what I'd call high quality (Just look at the comparison between te PSS and my Sako in the picture). There were metal shavings in the receiver when I pulled the stock off. There were shavings on the action screws and in the stock as well. The mag release does not feel like quality either. No wonder so many people replace the floorplate with a D.D. Ross or a Badger Ordinance model. Of course doing so requires the stock to be inletted for the larger floorplate.

Without shooting it I'd say "why bother?" If you're going to buy a rifle and replace all the parts on it - why buy that rifle? If you enjoy the process of buying and installing all new parts, then I'd recommend a Savage. If you want quality out of the box, then I'd say buy Sako or Sig. I guess that's why they cost so much more. You get what you pay for. Given the fit and finish on this rifle and the fact that Savage can turn out quality rifles that often outshoot 700Ps, there is no reason the 700P should cost as much as it does. Now if it shoots 1/2 MOA without tuning, I may change my tune.

McMillan A4 Stock coming for this rifle
The McMillan A4 Stock is on its way. I'll post more pictures when that comes in. This will resolve my Stock difficulties. Now I need a better floorplate, Rings and a base. I'm thinking all Badger Ordinance. As for how it shoots - As soon as I get my Mark IV mounted on it I'll let you know.