This spring, my friends from Remington and I ventured to southern Florida to collect beards, spurs and free-range breasts with the help of Osceola Outdoors—an outfit with an unrelenting reputation for tagging Osceola gobblers. It didn't take long for birds and smiles to start stacking up. With time to spare and hogs to kill, I was excited about the prospects of bringing home some bacon. To add to the thrill, I would be prowling for pigs with a top-secret boomstick from Remington.
As I made my way to the shooting range with Eric Lundgren, Remington's product manager of the rifle division, his eagerness to break the silence around the hush-hush firearm was obvious. "Remington has wanted to get back into the muzzleloader market for a while, but we wanted to do it with something truly special," Eric explained. "I think you're going to be very impressed with what we came up with."
And I was.
Get a closer look at the 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader from Remington's Eric Lundgren.
FIRST GLANCE: REMINGTON 700 ULTIMATE MUZZLELOADER
We uncased the two different styles of the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader under the beaming rays of the Sunshine State sky. The first configuration struck me with a gentlemanly glow, wearing a sleek gray laminate stock and factory-mounted open rifle sights. The second, constructed with a rugged composite Bell and Carlson stock, was obviously built to take a beating.
The Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is offered in two versions. The first, called the LSS, sports a laminate stock and factory-mounted open rifle sights. The other model is wrapped with a Bell and Carlson Medalist M40 composite stock, built to withstand bumps and bruises and handle extreme temperature changes without affecting accuracy.
Both of the 47-inch-long Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloaders weigh-in at 9.5 pounds and come with 26-inch stainless-steel fluted barrels, drilled and tapped for mounting your favorite optics. Each version also has a hinged floorplate that covers a special storage compartment for backup primed cases. Primed cases? This is where things get interesting.
The Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader comes standard with a storage compartment beneath the floorplate for extra primed cases.
GUTS AND GLORY
While the external cosmetics of Remington's 700 Ultimate Muzzloader might catch your eye, it's the internal organs of this powder-burning powerhouse that will stop you in your tracks.
In-line muzzleloader manufacturers and shooters have likely exhausted all possible powder and bullet combinations to achieve optimum performance. Certainly there are muzzleloaders available that are capable of punching respectable groups out to 200 yards—and maybe even a touch farther—but the Ultimate Muzzleloader was built to eat two football fields for breakfast and still be hungry for longer-range lunch. This bold claim is backed up by Remington's Accelerated Muzzleloader Performance (A.M.P) ignition system.
The bolt-action "700" Ultimate Muzzleloader uses the reputable Remington Model 700 receiver. It shouldn't be a surprise, considering more than 5 million 700s have been sold since its inception in 1962, and Remington applies fresh skins to the bolt-action masterpiece every year. And you can bet the X-Mark Pro (XMP) user-adjustable trigger in the Ultimate Muzzleloader will work as expected—Remington put the XMP under a microscope to ensure absolute perfection after a recent recall of rifles equipped with it.
What sets the Ultimate Muzzleloader apart from its Model 700 centerfire-cartridge-spitting counterparts is the A.M.P ignition system. It consists of a breech plug and a primed magnum rifle casing. Drop a 200-grain stack of Triple Seven pellets down the barrel and seat your 250-grain saboted Barnes bullet. Then, all that's left to prepare the Ultimate Muzzleloader for action is to slam the primed brass home with the bolt. The casing interfaces perfectly within the breech plug, creating an airtight seal for flawless ignition. Every grain of powder is consumed as the dragon breathes and your bullet flies downrange at 2,450 fps with 3,333 foot-pounds of energy from the muzzle.
This patented breech plug accepts the rim of a primed magnum rifle casing and creates a perfect seal. When the primer detonates, the flame ignites up to 200 grains of powder in the barrel and burns every bit of it, creating optimal ignition and bullet-pushing performance.
All Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloaders ship in a hard-side gun case with 20 primed cases and 20 Barnes Spit-Fire T-EZ bullets. Of course, you're free to mix the cocktail a number of ways and experiment to find a powder/bullet combo that fits your personal ballistic taste.
Every Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is shipped with a hard case, 20 primed cases and 20 Barnes Spit-Fire T-EZ saboted bullets as part of the full package.
The efficiency of the A.M.P ignition system also creates a squeaky-clean internal environment—to the point that Remington doesn't even recommend cleaning the breech plug. We removed the breech plug from one of the two prototype rifles at the range. It had endured hundreds of rounds from the factory to the field, yet it barely required the swipe of a rag. Cleanliness is a sexy attribute—especially for a firearm that's traditionally known for being dirtier than a back-road bar.
FIELD TEST: ON PAPER AND PIG
Two of us started our afternoon shooting test 100 yards from our targets, lying in the prone position on a bed of crispy pasture grass with additional support from a stock-mounted bipod.
Even with a 10-15 mph crosswind, our best shots touched the same hole. Backing out to 150 yards, we punched 1- to 2-inch groups. Recoil was minimal and trigger breaks were crisp. As a self-proclaimed amateur shooter, I'm confident that some intimate range time would allow me to ethically take 200-yard pokes at medium- or large-sized game. While the Remington Ultimate Muzzleloader is capable of producing a reasonable trajectory and deer-stopping energy for 300-yard shots, at the moment of truth it will come down to the proficiency of the hunter behind the trigger. Regardless, the proof was on paper—this new front-end loader is a force to reckon with.
It was time to set fire to some swine. My guide, Jimmy Hook, loathes the hog invasion—so much that he doesn't even like to "waste time" killing porkers. However, he managed to put me on an active bait site for immediate daytime action. When we arrived on the scene, I glassed the feeder from a distance and discovered three pigs vacuuming up every kernel of corn, stealing directly from the supplemental diet of valued native species. I would do my part to stop it.
The author had the pleasure of killing this wild hog in the Sunshine State with the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader. This was the first-ever animal killed with this new front-end loader from Big Green.
The bone-dry ground crunched with every stalking step and a loud-mouthed sandhill crane instantly became alerted of my presence. As the pigs fed, I nervously slinked closer and eventually found a palm tree that I would utilize as a steady rest. I ranged the black beasts at 144 yards and took ample time to catch my breath. Knowing the pig gig could be blown at any second, I took the first broadside opportunity on the biggest black squealer of the bunch. A plume of smoke enveloped me. When it cleared, I stared through a 9X Leupold at my feral fortune. It was the first animal ever killed with the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader … and it surely won't be the last.
See the author stalk and kill a feeding feral hog from 144 yards with the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader. This was the first-ever animal ever taken with this new smoke-pole!
The Remington Ultimate Muzzleloader will become available at gun shops around the country by early July 2014, just in time for fall hunting seasons. MSRP is $1,295. For more information, visit Remington.com.