What was Remington thinking? Well, the stated project goal was to transform the standard AR15 into a “legitimate big game hunting platform.” Presumably, a 30-caliber cartridge was chosen for marketing purposes as that is the most common deer hunting caliber. The “science” of the design was basically to stuff the biggest cartridge possible in a standard AR15-sized magazine. According to Outdoor Life columnist John Snow: “DPMS President Randy Luth and Remington’s John Fink (brand manager for the rifle division) … both said that the goal was to look at the AR lower and see how much cartridge they could fit in there.”
|Parent Cases||Shoulder||Factory Load||Mag Type|
.308 bolt face
|25°||125gr SP or
Initially, the 30 Remington AR round will be chambered in complete, DPMS-built Remington R15 rifles, which start at $1,199.00 MSRP. For production rifles, the expected rate of twist is 1:10″, but that has not been finalized. What about separate uppers? Given the hefty price of the complete rifle, existing AR owners may prefer to purchase a 30-caliber upper by itself. While no release date was given, Remington stated that 30 RAR uppers will definitely be offered for sale in the future.
With 44 grains of capacity, the 30 RAR can generate some impressive velocities with bullets in the 120-125gr weight range. Remington claims its 125gr factory ammo will deliver 2800 fps muzzle velocities running at about 55,000 psi pressure levels. Three factory loads will be offered: Rem-branded 125gr Core-Lokt PSP and 125gr AccuTip BT, and a UMC-branded 123gr FMJ. At $18.99 per 20-round box, the UMC ammo is intended for inexpensive practice purposes. The $35.99/box AccuTip and $26.49/box Core-Lokt PSP are much costlier. The relatively light-weight bullets used in the Remington ammo have poor Ballistic Coefficients compared to the longer, heavier bullets typically used in a .308 Win or 7mm-08. The 125gr Core-Lokt has a 0.267 BC, while the 125gr AccuTip is somewhat better at 0.335. Nonetheless, Remington’s ballistics tables show that the AccuTip should match the trajectory of a 165gr AccuTip (fired from a .308 Win), fairly well out to 400 yards. However, there is a BIG difference in energy as you can see from the table below. At 300 yards, the 125gr AccuTip delivers 1153 ft/lbs of energy compared to 1661 ft/lbs for a 165gr AccuTip launched at 2700 fps from a .308 Win. (Note: these numbers were calculated with 24″ barrels. Remington’s 30 RAR-chambered R15 rifle has a 22″ barrel, so its performance should be somewhat less impressive.)
Our first reaction to the news of Remington’s new cartridge was: “Why?” The obvious (and cynical) answer is that Remington wanted to sell AR-style rifles to deer hunters who need an excuse to purchase a military-style semi-automatic. There may be a market for that… who knows. But there is already a proven, compact 30-caliber cartridge that fits a standard-sized AR15 lower — the 7.62×39. The 7.62×39 won’t push a 125-grainer as fast as the bigger 30 RAR, but the 7.62×39 will still kill a whitetail plenty dead. Perhaps Remington’s engineers should simply have applied themselves to producing a proper (i.e. 100% functional) 7.62×39 magazine. This Editor has tried most of the AR15 7.62×39 magazines on the market (from 3-rd to 30-rd capacity). None of those I tested worked particularly well. Some simple redesign work (call the MagPul folks) would solve that.
If the goal was to produce an AR15 with better ballistics and downrange energy than the .223 Rem cartridge delivers, we’re not sure a 30-caliber was the way to go. The 6.5 Grendel performs exceptionally well in AR rifles, delivering great accuracy with 123gr Lapua Scenar or Sierra bullets. Likewise, the AR15 can be a superb High Power and Cross-the-Course platform shooting the 6mmAR cartridge developed by Robert Whitley. The 6mmAR is the 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm. Shooting 105 Berger VLDs it comes very, very close to the ballistics of the larger 6mmBR cartridge, and it gives up nothing in accuracy. By contrast, with its low-BC bullets, the 30 Remington AR is not going to be competitive at longer ranges with either the 6.5 Grendel or the 6mmAR. And with factory mags limited to four (4) rounds, you couldn’t use this gun effectively in High Power matches, even if it proves highly accurate on the short course.
Only time will tell whether the 30 Remington AR cartridge will catch on with sport shooters and hunters. We’re not sure the round has an important purpose that cannot be filled by existing, proven cartridges. The complete 30 RAR rifles are expensive ($1200+) compared to a typical bolt-action deer rifle, so we wonder how many deer hunters will actually jump on Remington’s bandwagon. Speaking frankly, so long as the cartridge is available only with Remington-made brass, we predict little interest among competitive shooters. Now if Lapua were to produce a 65,000-psi rated version of this cartridge, THAT might interest hunter benchrest shooters and BR for score shooters. A Lapua 30 RAR would be like a 30BR on steroids. But alas, don’t expect Lapua, or Norma, or even Winchester, to produce 30 RAR brass any time soon.