Ever hear of the Remington Accelerator rifle cartridges?
Think about a .22 caliber saboted bullet fired from a .30 caliber rifle.
Let’s dive into history and examine what the Remington Accelerator cartridges were all about.
The idea of saboted sub-caliber projectiles fired out of conventional weapons has always intrigued me. The increase in velocity and a flatter trajectory sure seem to offer a great addition to the cartridge tool box of variety. My first exposure to them back in the 1980’s was the B.R.I. Sabot Shotgun Slugs that were originally billed as vehicle engine block busters to law enforcement. Then they were commercialized as big game hunting shells of a new modern era. Yes they even made it to Hollywood on the movie “Alien Nation” in 1988 with the bad alien guys shooting B.R.I. Sabot Slugs through a car at actor James Caan (no actors were harmed…).
Back to the subject of Remington’s version of saboted rifle ammunition. It all started on a commercial basis in 1977 with a .30/06 chambering of the Remington Accelerator cartridge. The 55 grain soft point .22 caliber projectile was housed in a plastic sabot case surrounding it to fit in a .30 caliber case. The muzzle velocity was a blistering published 4080 feet per second. Muzzle energy was at 2003.
What was the main purpose of such a sub-caliber cartridge of high velocity? Well it was to turn any .30 caliber deer rifle into a proper varmint cartridge. High velocity and flat trajectories would bring out deer rifles to the varmint hunts. Sounds like a great idea right? Well Remington thought so and subsequently released two more calibers to the Accelerator line.
.30/30 Accelerator, 55 grain SP projectile, 3400 fps muzzle velocity, muzzle energy of 1412
.308 Accelerator, 55 grain SP projectile, 3770 fps muzzle velocity, muzzle energy of 1735
Think about that. With the .30/30 Accelerator load that old lever action “thutty thutty” could be dusted off and pressed into coyote or groundhog busting in the summer time. Your .30/06 or .308 caliber deer rifles would also be well fed for vermin eliminating applications. That is a slam dunk product right? Not so much…
The above information was easily found in a borrowed “Cartridges of the World, 8th Edition” printed back in 1997. It was noted in that article the writer was unable to get better than 2 M.O.A. at 100 yards through various rifles.
My personal research became a bit murkier after that. Viewing online sources some bloggers wrote about rumors that Remington was pressured from the government in the decade of “cop killer bullets” and “assassin’s bullets” to end production. High velocity projectiles and body armor are not good friends and saboted projectiles would lack rifling marks for forensics to identify. I cannot vouch for such statements as true and here is where the mystery resides. Was there any truth to the above online statements? You be the judge.
Lack of overall accuracy could be more the culprit in the overall scheme of things. You see, the well versed varmint hunter is unimpressed by less than 2 M.O.A. accuracy at 100 yards. That same hunter generally has a specific highly accurate rifle that a standard .30 caliber deer rifle with Accelerator loads could not match. Also each rifle has it’s own taste on what it will shoot accurately. Possibly there was too much variation of the cartridges overall performance to consider it acceptable in any varminter role?
What about point of impact compared to traditional ammunition? Well it certainly would print nowhere near what a standard .30 caliber projectile would. Now you would have to know the zero for two separate cartridges out of the same rifle. We can certainly see how confusing that could be when the wrong ammo ends up in the rifle using the wrong hold over…
I was unable to fire my own test shots due to the unavailability of Remington Accelerator cartridges. The above images were taken from a collector’s box on loan from my good friend “The Grizz”. The .30/06 cartridges sure look imposing. Remington has long discontinued the .22 Accelerator line so good luck finding any for actual testing.
In closing of this examination of the odd Accelerator cartridges much mystery still surrounds this now obsolete cartridge. While saboted shotgun slugs and muzzleloading projectiles abound centerfire rifle cartridges stalled out for the most part except possibly for military use. Also, proven use of the Accelerator cartridges on game has proven quite fleeting to find. Will the centerfire sporting concept of the saboted rifle bullet be visited again? Only time will tell.
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