My very first shot with Remington’s new high-tech rifle system was at a steel silhouette target 326 yards away.
I “tagged” the steel with the NASA-like digital optic, lined up the reticle on the red dot tag mark and squeezed off a shot. Hit! “Damn,” I thought to myself, “forget that 100-yard stuff—I’m center-massing steel at 326 yards with a rifle I’ve never shot before.”
I worked the bolt on the Remington 700 Long Range rifle, chambered another .30-06 round, retagged the steel and fired.And missed, the bullet blowing dirt a good foot to the left side of the man-sized target.And that, in a nutshell, is the reality of this newest offering from Remington Arms Company, a rifle system that pairs one of three rifles with a Remington 2020 Networked Tracking Scope.
The new system is the result of collaboration between firearms giant Remington and TrackingPoint, a tech company based in Austin, Texas. I recently spent three days using the three rifles and the Networked Tracking Scope in a variety of range and field conditions, and the system does what Remington says it will do—make consistent, accurate hits on game-sized animals out to 500 yards.
But it will do that if, and only if you either possess solid shooting fundamentals or are willing to acquire them. Also, the rifle system is not made for every hunting or shooting scenario.
On that second shot I got a little excited and jerked the trigger. I missed, even though the target was tagged, the reticle was working fine and the zoom function on the scope had the target just about in my lap.
I calmed down, breathed deep, reacquired my sight picture and slammed a couple rounds into the 326-yard target. I then made hits on similar-sized targets at 414 and 494 yards.
How It Works
TrackingPoint has been in the news because of the $27,000 super high-tech rifle it makes, capable of 1,000-yard shots (see TrackingPoint page 20). That rifle system has a number of differences from this Remington system, but suffice it to say TrackingPoint’s technological expertise is what makes the Networked Tracking Scope work.
The optic contains a laser range finder, gyroscopes to judge the angle or cant of the rifle, and sensors to determine humidity, barometric pressure and even the Coriolis effect (bullet drift caused by the Earth’s spin). You also program the optic to the ammunition you are using, and the software adjusts for the degree of bullet drop. All the shooter has to plug in is the estimated wind speed and direction, which is accomplished via a handy directional lever atop the optic.
The optic has 3- to 21-power zoom capability. It also video records all your shots and, with the press of a button, will stream a live video feed of what you are seeing through the optic to a nearby iPad. Looking through the optic, you line up the center white dot on your target. Next, you press the TAG button atop the optic housing and the optic “tags” that target with a red dot. At the same time, a number pops up in your field of view. That is the range in yards to your target.
Once your target is tagged, the Networked Tracking Scope checks and rechecks all data factors at an astounding 54 times per second, to provide what TrackingPoint engineers call the “ballistic solution” for that shot. You aim dead on with the reticle, but the optic has already figured out the bullet drop at that range, the impact of the wind, etc.
Once the tag red dot is set, a reticle appears with a blue center circle and four blue aiming posts. Line up the blue circle with the red tag dot, and the whole reticle, circle and aiming posts also turn red. Squeeze the trigger at that point, and the bullet is heading right for the red dot.
The rifle system isn’t perfect. One problem I had at the range was that the images were often so dark, I could barely make out the reticle. The sun and our bright plywood shooting tables created some very bright back lighting. Given the digital nature of the optic, the situation was much like taking a television set outside and trying to view the screen, which, of course, is hard to do. Inside a covered blind with no glaring backlight? It all works great.
The Networked Tracking Scope adds almost three pounds to the rifle. With the tag button atop the optic, offhand shooting and tagging is nearly impossible. It’s simply too difficult to hold a 10- or 11-pound rifle up with one hand and keep it still enough to effectively place the white dot on your target while you also press the tag button.
So shooting options are limited to firing from a stand or shooting bench, prone with a bi-pod or using very stable shooting sticks. The rifle system also has a suggested retail of $5,000, and that, folks, is a good chunk of change.
Many hunters will have ethical concerns about such a system. Is it right to use this much technology? Isn’t it up to the shooter to become proficient with his or her firearm, not to rely on computerized optics? These and other questions will certainly be debated. Yet, one of the central questions for the ethical hunter has always been: can you make a clean kill shot?
“With our new system, the question of when or if to take the shot still remains with the hunter. And the hunter still needs to practice with our system, though we believe it requires a good deal less time than traditional rifles,” said Alan Serven, Remington’s director of new technology. “But what we’ve created here is a system that will improve your accuracy and extend your range. That sounds pretty ethical to us.”
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