Remington’s 40X rifle dates to 1955 when the company introduced the original 40X match rifle in caliber .22 Long Rifle. These rifles, adapted from Remington’s Model 722 action, quickly established a reputation for accuracy and reliability. While the 40X rifles made before 1964 were built on the modified 722 actions, the 40X center fire rifles made after 1964 were built on modified M700 actions.
Subsequent to the introduction of the Model 700, the 40X was introduced in other calibers for various specialized competition events, including bench rest, free rifle and national match types. Calibers included the original .22 Long Rifle, .222 Remington, .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, among others.
The 40X has always been a precision rifle, usually available only on special order from Remington’s Custom Shop in the Ilion, NY facility. The 40X also has long been noted for exceptional accuracy and build quality and usually was to be found in competitions that required precision accuracy.
Recently, however, Remington adapted the 40X for precision tactical work, put the venerable 40X into SWAT black and designated it the 40XS Tactical Weapon System. This superb rifle can compete with the best custom precision tactical rifles in terms of accuracy and reliability and gives up nothing to any of them, if our test rifle was an example.
The 40XS begins with the tried and true Model 700 action, appropriately marked “40-X” on the receiver’s left side, although the receiver is essentially a modified M700. With few exceptions, most American builders of custom precision tactical rifles begin with a Remington 700 action, itself a testimonial to the overall quality of the action.
The 40XS is a true custom rifle, hand crafted in Remington’s law enforcement custom shop, which is a story all of its own. Until recently, Remington’s military and law enforcement rifles and shotguns were made on the same line as the company’s other firearms, but this is no longer the case. Remington’s military and law enforcement firearms now are manufactured in a dedicated facility that assembles only military and law enforcement firearms.
Parts for these guns are 100% inspected prior to build. The personnel who assemble military and law enforcement rifles and shotguns have no other jobs—they are dedicated to these products. If repairs are necessary, these guns are returned to the facility where they were manufactured and repairs are carried out by dedicated armorers.
Remington is making a major effort to cater to the military and law enforcement markets. To that end, not only has the company established a special facility for military and law enforcement products, but it has reorganized internally to meet those markets. Remington now has a separate dedicated organization to accommodate sales to military and law enforcement.
The 40XS can be ordered as a “bare bones” rifle with no sights or accessories or as a complete package. The basic rifle is a true custom firearm with features on a par with the finest rifles in the world. The bolt is trued in the action, and the headspace is set to match tolerances. Both action and 24-inch barrel are made of 416 stainless steel.
The heavy barrel is rifled with a twist rate of 1 inch in 12 inches, it tapers from 1.18 inches at the breech to 0.934 inch at the muzzle, and it is free floated along its entire length. The critical crown is deeply recessed for protection against damage that could affect accuracy.
Metal parts are finished in Remington’s satin black proprietary polymer finish that is resistant to scratching and scuffs. The stock is a McMillan “A3” with adjustable cheek-piece height and length of pull.
Our test rifle was delivered as a complete package and as such was essentially set up ready to go to the range right from the box. Standard features of the 40XS “Complete System” include badger Ordnance MIL-STD-1913 scope rail and steel mounting rings. The scope that comes with the Complete System is the Leupold® Vari-X III 3.5x10 LR M1 (long range) 40mm with Mil Dot reticle. For this evaluation, we swapped this scope for a Horus Vision 4–16x unit.
The 40XS also comes with a Harris Model HLMB-S bipod with quick adjustable swivel lock. This is a particularly impressive bipod. We prefer a bipod that swivels so it can be adapted to irregular terrain, and this Harris not only swivels, it has adjustable tension that can be set from loose to rigid. That said, most military and police snipers prefer to shoot from their packs or a similar rest with the bipod as backup.
No rifle is complete without a sling, and the 40XS comes with a M1907-type sling from Turner Saddlery. This match-type sling is made from biothane, a polymer that has the feel of leather, but it will not stretch and is impervious to weather.
The 40XS also features a Sunny Hill steel trigger guard. The trigger is externally adjustable for pull weight, although our test rifle came with a trigger that broke like the proverbial “glass rod” at 2 pounds, with a tiny bit of creep just before let off. We consider this about as good as it gets in a precision tactical rifle.
The overall fit, finish and mating of metal to the stock is what one would expect from a custom rifle—flawless. Every 40XS that leaves the Remington Custom Shop must shoot ¾ minute of angle (MOA) or it is rejected. That is below the established 1 MOA standard of most such rifles and equates to ¾ inch at 100 yards, although our test rifle surpassed the ¾ MOA standard by essentially putting every round of some test ammo into the same ragged hole at 100 yards.
A precision tactical rifle usually is carried operationally in a soft case or “drag bag” that enables the sniper to carry his rifle in any one of a number of ways. Under administrative conditions, he will carry his rifle just like he would every day, but when things go tactical, so does the way the sniper may wish to employ his rifle case. He may carry it slung over his back, but when he is on a stalk and conditions have not yet reached the point where he wishes to deploy his rifle, the sniper will pull it beside him in his “drag bag.”
Blackhawk Industries’ “Stalker” drag mat responds to all these conditions. It can be used as a carry case, a drag bag, an over-the-shoulder bag and a shooting mat. The Stalker holds the rifle firmly in place via internal straps and pockets and protects it with 1,000 denier NyTaneon™ (Blackhawk’s proprietary heavy-duty nylon formula). There are interior compartments for the sniper’s data book and cartridges. On one side of the exterior are paracord attachments at 2-inch increments for attaching ghillie material.
Shooting the 40XS was one of life’s gratifying experiences. This rifle really shoots! It will consistently put round after round of 168-grain ammunition into essentially the same hole at 100 yards, which is twice the average distance that a police marksman will be called upon to engage a target. Although the 40XS was remarkably accurate with all brands of ammunition, it preferred some over others.
We achieved the best group of the day using Remington 168-grain HPBT Match ammunition, exactly 0.5 inch. This Remington ammo also delivered the best average with average groups of only 0.68 inch. The Remington ammo was followed closely by 168-grain HPBT Match ammo from PMC (0.75-inch) and Black Hills (0.83-inch).
Heads up…this rifle is heavy! As tested, our 40XS tipped the scales at 15 pounds! We did not find the 40XS’ weight to be particularly onerous, but the reader should be advised that this is a hefty rifle. However, we will take the weight in exchange for the accuracy. Besides, most precision tactical rifles are not lightweights. It comes with the territory. The current Marine Corps M40A3 precision tactical rifle outweighs the 40XS by 3 pounds and really doesn’t shoot any better!
The bottom line in our evaluation of Remington’s latest offering in precision tactical rifles is that Remington has hit a home run! The 40XS has everything the military or law enforcement marksman needs or wants right from the box. This rifle shot with remarkable accuracy from the first rounds fired with no break-in whatsoever.
As time passes and more rounds go through the barrel, accuracy should improve. Based on our experience with similar rifles, we expect that the 40XS’ groups will eventually shrink into the 0.25 MOA range once it has a few hundred rounds fired through it. There are other custom precision tactical rifles that cost more, but we have yet to see another that surpasses the overall quality and accuracy of Remington’s 40XS.
Charlie Cutshaw is a small arms, ammunition and infantry weapons editor for Jane’s Defense Information. He served as an Army infantry, ammunition and intelligence officer before retiring in 1996. His military assignments included a tour of duty in Vietnam as an adviser. He currently lives in Alabama, where he is a full-time writer and reserve officer. He can be reached at CQCutshaw@aol.com.