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Gun Review: Remington Sendero SF II
Full test and range review of the Remington Sendero SF II – one of Remington’s premier Model 700 rifles.
I’m not exactly sure when the moniker “Beanfield Rifle” was actually coined, but it has been around for some time.
I believe it may have been the writer, Jim Carmichael, who first used the term when reviewing one of Kenny Jarrett’s custom-made rifles, but it now more generally encompasses those rifles designed for shooting at very long range.
Most of the original rifles of this ilk were custom made and could cost the potential owner more than many cared to fork out. But those who had the financial wherewithal and went to a custom builder, such a Kenny Jarrett, acquired a rifle that could shoot the eyes out of a snake at 200 yards. If you are interested, Kenny will still build you one of his “Beanfield rifles;” they, however, start at $5,380 US.
But what does it take for a rifle to be elevated to this lofty “Beanfield Rifle” designation? (Which henceforth in order to westernize it, will be referred to as a “Hayfield Rifle.”) First and foremost, it must be deadly accurate. Minute of angle accuracy (MOA) is a bare minimum requirement for such a rifle and, in fact, half-inch to at most three-quarters of an inch, 100-yard groups are the order of the day. Next, it must have the firepower to effectively and cleanly kill a deer at very long range. It must also have an excellent trigger, as even the slightest imperfection in trigger pull can cause a wobble or a pulled shot resulting in either a miss or a wounded animal. It must also have a bright clear scope of sufficient magnification to provide pinpoint long-range accuracy. Additionally, I would prefer the scope to have either a reticle with extended-range aim points or target turrets, or even better, both. For this kind of shooting, I also like a rifle with a bit of heft to it, as this extra weight can often provide greater stability.
As demand for these rifles grew, a number of companies recognized the market potential and introduced their own version, which for Remington was the Sendero SF in 1996 — no doubt named for those long, narrow, open tracks of land, referred to as senderos, that are blazed through the rough and hilly country of states such as Texas.
Sendero SF II
I must admit that ever since its introduction in 1996, I have had more than a passing interest in this rifle. Being a hunter and shooter who has always been drawn to rifles designed for long-range work, it just jumped out at me as a must test (particularly as the price point was significantly less than a top of the line custom-built rifle.) The question of performance however always rested in the back of my mind. This, despite the fact that I have never as yet owned a Remington rifle that I could not get to shoot well, and I have owned more than just a few. So let’s briefly look at what makes it tick and see how it stacked up.
Prior to detailing the other features of this rifle, I must discuss its size and weight. It is not a rifle designed to be packed up a mountainside. It has a 26-inch fluted barrel and weighs in at 8.5 pounds, which, interestingly enough, I did not find to be an issue. For years I used to pack a Remington heavy-barrel varmint rifle all over the prairies and found that this extra weight was a real advantage on long-range shots, particularly on running shots. So this rifle did not feel out of sync at all. I would however recommend a decent sling if you plan to pack it any distance.
In so far as other features, it has a high-performance composite stock that features a beavertail fore-end with full-length aluminum bedding blocks for improved accuracy. Remington also gave the barrel a concave target-style barrel crown. This leads me to the trigger — the X-Mark Pro Adjustable Trigger. Here is where I had a problem. I have always touted Remington triggers as one of the better factory triggers out there. In this instance, the Sendero X-Mark Pro is said to have an out of the box factory trigger set at 3.5 pounds with a two-pound range of adjustment. Unfortunately, the rifle I tested was factory set at five pounds, four ounces, and could only be adjusted down to 4.5 pounds. While this weight of trigger pull for a long range rifle is marginal at best, I could have lived with it, but as it was also a bit on the creepy side, it was not what I was looking for in a trigger. So I contacted Remington about this problem and they were quite willing to correct it. However, as it would have required me sending the rifle back to them and as time was short, I opted to test the rifle at 4.5 pounds.
In keeping with another of my requisites, I chose to test this rifle in a .300 Winchester Magnum. With its wide range of .30 calibre bullets and ammunition choices and its magnum capacity, it has all the knock down power I would need to drop a deer in its tracks out to distances beyond those I’m capable of shooting at.
Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x50mm AO MC Scope
In selecting a potential match for the Sendero, I went looking for a scope that offered sufficient magnification for long-range work, outstanding brightness/clarity, and a long-range capable reticle. Enter the Zeiss Conquest with its multi coated lenses and its Rapid-Z-Ballistic Reticle. The Rapid-Z is quite a system in its own right. It comes in three versions: a 600 for standard calibres, an 800 for magnum calibres, a Varmint and a 1000 for tactical applications.
Once you then have your scope matched to your rifle and ammo, all you have to do is zero your rifle for 200 yards and then go to the Rapid-Z Calculator at www.Zeiss.com/Sports and determine the specific magnification power setting for your scope when using the extended range sight points or, as Zeiss refers to them as, hold over lines. In a hunting situation it is then just a matter of a) determining the distance to your target, b) moving your power ring to the correct power setting and c) putting the correct hold over line on the target for a very quick and precise shot. I, however, even went one step further and had Zeiss ship me a Rapid-Z 1000 with target turrets. This combination of the Rapid-Z reticle that provided both windage correction points and hold over lines right out to 1,000 yards and target turrets that offered elevation adjustments for a dead on holds out to as far as I would ever want to shoot, was about as good a reticle system as I could find anywhere.
When this scope arrived I thought mounting it would be a snap, but I was to be proven wrong when I tried the first set of Warne rings supplied by Remington. They were so tight I would have marred the scope if I had attempted to tighten them. In an attempt to correct this problem, Remington sent a second set of Warne rings, unfortunately the results were the same. So, I next tried a set from Leupold and Burris and neither of these sets of rings would accept this scope either. At this point I realized that there had to be an issue with the scope tube, so I measured it and found it to be .005 of an inch oversized. While this may seem like a very small amount, with rings such as these that are designed and manufactured with very tight tolerances, it is not. In one case, the scope would not even contact the bottom of the ring. I finally found a set of alloy rings from Vortex that worked very well.
Without spending a lot more time discussing the various attributes of the rifle and scope, I would like to summarize by adding that during the test both performed well. The scope was as bright and sharp as expected and when using the Rapid-Z at extended ranges, I had little difficulty in smacking gongs out to as far as our range extended. I would additionally like to mention that it was my intention during this test to attempt to utilize as many factory ammo options as I could, as well as a couple of handloads that had worked very well in my two .300 Winchester Magnums. I therefore tested 14 different types of factory ammo and two handloads. Of note, I was able to include samples of new factory ammo from Barnes and some relatively new Superformance ammo from Hornady that was specifically designed to enhance velocity. All groups were three shots at 100 yards and all velocities were attained by the use of a Chrony Gama Master chronograph and then were averaged in feet per second (fps). See charts for results.
|Brand||Bullet||Velocity (FPS)||Group Size (inches)|
|Federal Premium||130-grain Barnes Tipped Triple-Shock||3,576||13/16|
|Federal Premium||165-grain Barnes Triple-Shock||3,051||7/8|
|Federal Premium||180-grain Barnes MRX||2,977||1|
|Barnes Vortex||165-grain Tipped TSX||3,233||7/8|
|Barnes Vortex||180-grain Tipped TSX||3,081||1|
|Winchester Power Max Bonded||180-grain PHP||3,020||1-1/4|
|Winchester Power Max Bonded||150-grain PHP||3,365||1-3/8|
|Hornady Superformance||165-grain InterBond||3,334||7/8|
|Hornady Superformance||180-grain SST||3,168||1-1/4|
|Hornady Superformance||180-grain InterBond||3,200||1-3/4|
|Hornady Superformance||150-grain GMX||3,456||1-5/8|
|Hornady Superformance||165-grain GMX||3,356||1-3/4|
|Remington Swift Scirocco||180-grain Bonded||3,015||1-3/4|
|Berger||175-grain Hunting VLD H 4831 powder||2,921||7/8|
|Berger||175-grain Hunting VLD R 22 powder||3,196||1-5/8|
I would like to offer a number of concluding comments and recommendations. First, had the trigger been better, I’m sure a number of these groups would have shrunk to possibly, in some instances, even a half-inch. Second, I also noted that the majority of velocities recorded were noticeably better than those advertised on the ammo box. I contribute much of this to the 26-inch barrel of the Sendero. Those extra couple of inches can certainly improve velocities, particularly in a Magnum, where it has the opportunity to burn up all or most of its powder prior to the bullet exiting the barrel. Third, without a doubt, three factory loads stand out. I will start with the Federal Premium 130-grain Barnes Tipped Triple-Shock as not only did this load group well in this rifle, but it has grouped very well in every .300 Winchester Magnum I have used it in. When you then add the incredible velocities generated, it becomes a great choice for long-range work on deer or antelope. Additionally, a couple of newcomers also performed very well, the Hornady Superformance 165-grain InterBond and the Barnes Vortex 165-grain Tipped TSX provided both fine accuracy and superb velocities making either an excellent choice for deer, caribou or even elk. With this ammo and a reworked trigger, I’m confident that this rifle and scope will make the grade as a quality “Hayfield Rifle.”
Sendero SF II Specifications
- Calibre: .300 Winchester Magnum. ( also available in .264 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum, 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum and .300 Remington Ultra Magnum.)
- Weight: 8.5 lbs
- Barrel Length: 26 inches
- Overall Length: 45 ¾ inches
- Rate Of Twist: 1-10 inches
Conquest 4.5-14x50mm AO MC Scope Specifications
- Tube Diameter: 1 inch
- Reticle: Rapid-Z 1000
- Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
- Length: 14 inches
- Weight: 19.75 ounces
- Field of View (feet at 100 yards): 25.5-8.8 feet
- Adjustments per Click (inch/100 yards): ¼ inch
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