The rifle editor for Field & Stream, Dave Petzal, once told me, “There’s nothing as dead as a dead gunwriter.” Well, he might be wrong. The 30 Remington AR cartridge might be deader than that. This is partly because Remington’s launch of the cartridge was bungled and coincided with the great AR buying spree. It was also partly because a lot of shooters assumed the 30 Remington AR was a reincarnation of the old 30 Remington or an American version of the 7.62 x 39 Soviet round. It is neither.
I was excited at the launch because the cartridge finally established the AR-15 as a true big game rifle. Sure, there are AR-10s, but have you picked one up? They’re heavy! All of the virtues of the AR-15 — such as its serviceability, accuracy, reliability and most notably its light weight — are what make it even more special when chambered for the 30 Remington AR.
So, what is the 30 Remington AR? Essentially, Remington started with the 284 Winchester case, which has a rim diameter of 0.473 inch. They shortened the case to 1.53 inches, gave it a 0.304-inch-long neck and a 25 degree shoulder. The problem was the 0.473-inch rebated rim would not feed reliably in the AR, so Remington increased rim diameter to 0.492 inch. The result is a cartridge that will hold about 44 grains of water, just slightly less than the famous 300 Savage.
Per SAAMI specifications, the 300 Savage is loaded to a maximum average pressure of 47,000 psi. SAAMI established the maximum average pressure of the 30 Remington AR at 55,000 psi. For all practical purposes, these two .30 caliber cartridges offer the same level of performance — a fact that’s overlooked by almost anyone talking about the 30 Remington AR, and even Remington, which claimed the 30 Remington AR is like a 308 Winchester. It’s not.
But, it’s close enough. The 308 Win. is loaded to a much higher pressure and holds more than 20 percent more powder. Still, a cartridge that can push a 150-grain bullet to almost 2,600 fps is nothing to overlook. I have a good bit of field experience with the 30 Remington AR, and it’s ideal for about 90 percent of anything that anyone in North America will ever hunt. I liked it so much I had Melvin Forbes of New Ultra Light Arms build one of his feather-light, bolt-action rifles for me in this chambering.
I’ve used the cartridge in either an AR-15 or the New Ultra Light Arms rifle to take black bear, pronghorn, whitetails, mule deer, kudu, mountain reedbuck, and a blesbok. I’ve also used the factory Remington ammo, and handloaded Barnes and Nosler bullets, from 110 to 150 grains during those hunts.
But you know what? Nobody really cares. Remington no longer makes rifles chambered for the cartridge, and no one else but custom rifle builders do either. And, good luck finding ammo. Fortunately for me, I have about 1,000 rounds on hand, with about half that much brass. The 30 Remington AR might be as dead as a dead gunwriter, but it’s not dead to me, and I ain’t dead, either. I’ll keep using the cartridge because it works very well in my hunting rifles.
Images by Richard Mann