Guns > Rifles

Remington's R-15 VTR

At 7.75 pounds with a 22-inch barrel, Remington’s semi-automatic R-15 makes an ideal predator rifle.

Based on the empirical evidence in my part of the world, global warming is a myth. Some of the Northeast's most severe winters in recent memory have occurred in this millennium. If anything, we are getting colder. The air stays bitter cold for months on end, while the snow comes early, piles high and stays late. So when an opportunity came along to spend a week in late March hunting coyotes in Texas, I jumped on it, if not for the hunting, then at least to have a few snow-free days basking in the warmth and sunshine. That my family would be back home watching me on Fox News a few days later was not part of the plan.

The helicopter shot showed cars lined up on the highway as far as the eye could see as a freak snowstorm swept through north Texas and everything ground to a halt. I was in one of the stalled vehicles that filled the open highway for miles, talking on my cell phone to my wife and waving out the window to see if she could spot our rental van. It turns out there were hundreds of other stuck travelers on their cell phones doing the same thing, so with all the arms waving in the air it looked like a rock concert tribute.

We hunted in two locations, one at the base of the Texas Panhandle and the other in East Texas; in fact, we were en route between the two when the snowstorm grounded us and we had to seek refuge in a hotel.

Several days of high winds preceded the storm and served to keep our success rates low in the first half of the hunt. I at least had an assist on one coyote that holds significant historical record. We were in the open, red-dirt desert of the lower panhandle. I was paired up with Ed Schoppman from EOTech sights and we made our first stand in a low creek bed that was slightly sheltered from the wind by high bluffs. We crept in quietly with the wind in our faces, got our rifles into position and I started to call.

About two minutes later a big male coyote stood up from the bush it was bedded in and started to us on a trot. The coyote ran the first 100 yards, then slowed and starting looking over the situation. My guess is it had been called before and was being cautious. Clearly, it wasn't seeing anything it liked and it turned to leave. When it paused to look back from some high ground about 50 yards out, Ed dumped it in its tracks. This was a significant event because, as far as I can figure, that was the first coyote ever shot with the new Remington R-15 rifle.

When Remington decided to market one of the world's most popular fighting rifles to the hunting world, it created a quantum shift in the industry. For many years the AR-15 has had a small, but loyal, following among hunters. This is particularly true with serious predator and varmint hunters; however, it could never gain enough traction to gain acceptance with mainstream hunters. Much of that is because of the stigma that has been plastered on "black rifles" by the media and Hollywood. Most hunters who would "never hunt with one of those rifles" would have no problem with a "normal looking" .223 semi-auto rifle. The prejudice was against the cosmetics rather than the function, but the bias held back the success of AR-style rifles in the hunting fields. This was slowly changing as hunters discovered the advantages of the AR-15 rifles, but the pace was glacial.

Then an investment company, Cerberus Capital Management, entered the picture. Cerberus is a huge company with international holdings in just about every aspect of industry. It is run by a guy with an interest in hunting, which influenced his business. In June of 2006 Cerberus bought Bushmaster, the industry volume leader in AR-15 rifles. Less than a year later, in April of 2007, Cerberus bought Remington and they followed in December with the purchase of DPMS, another major player in the AR-15 market.

It didn't take long to meld the world of Remington hunting rifles with the black gun design. The Bushmaster-produced Remington R-15 was the first rifle introduced- shown officially to the world at the 2008 SHOT Show. The DPMS-produced R-25, which is chambered in .308-size cartridges, followed just a few months later. DPMS would also later make the Remington R-15 in the new .30 Remington AR. This was introduced at the 2009 SHOT Show, but at this writing in November it is not yet in production.

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