REMINGTON MODEL 700 - 50 Famous Firearms You've Got to Own: Rick Hacker's Bucket List of Guns (2015)

50 Famous Firearms You've Got to Own: Rick Hacker's Bucket List of Guns (2015)


This Remington 700 BDL is fitted with a Bushnell Banner 4-12x scope and was manufactured in 1980.

Given its classic styling, calibers, model variations, and widespread use by civilians, law enforcement, and the military, one would think the Remington 700 had been around since the days of Colonel Townsend Whelan. But it is definitely a post-war gun, having been designed in 1962, though this bolt-action has its roots in the latter half of the 1930s.

Back then, two of Remington’s designers, Oliver H. Loomis and A.L. Lowe, had developed a new bolt-action, the Model 720, which was based on the Pattern 14 Enfield action that had proven itself in World War I. The Remington 720 was launched, in 1941, just in time to see the United States enter World War II. This bolt-action was initially positioned as a sporting rifle. However, the war changed all that, and the initial run was purchased by the Navy, after which production was put on hold. Nonetheless, the Model 720 set the stage for a new generation of bolt-actions that would ultimately lead to the Model 700.

After the war, the short-lived Model 720 was replaced with two improved yet almost-identical bolt-action sporters, the Models 721 and 722, the only differences being the length of their receivers. The 721 had a longer action and was initially chambered for .270 Winchester, .30-06, and .300 H&H Magnum cartridges. Its sister rifle, the Model 722, had a short action and was chambered for the .257 Roberts and the .300 Savage. Subsequent chamberings were added to the 721 and 722 over the years. Both guns enjoyed moderate success during their production run, which lasted from 1948 until 1962, when they were replaced with what would become, to many, the best bolt-action sporter ever produced—the Remington 700.

Remington engineers Merle “Mike” Walker and Homer W. Young and their team had created the Models 721 and 722, yet they always wanted to do more with that basic rifle. This was especially true of Walker, an avowed competitive benchrest shooter, who saw in the 700 series the potential for a mass-produced rifle that would combine strength with superb out-of-the-box accuracy. In 1962, that goal was achieved with the Remington Model 700. To quote from Roy Marcot’s excellent book, Remington - America’s Oldest Gunmaker (Primedia, 1998):

Considerable debate has occurred over the years on the reason for the Model 700’s accuracy reputation. It appears there is not one factor, but a combination of several: the greater stiffness of the Model 700 cylindrical receiver; the unique bedding system of a free-floated barrel except for twin, V-shaped contact points at the front of the fore-end; fast lock time (3.2 milliseconds) from the rifle’s bolt and trigger design; sharp, crisp-breaking action of the single-stage trigger; a snug barrel chamber with relatively short lead; tight barrel-manufacturing tolerances for bore and groove diameters; straightness and uniformity of crown; and consistent, uniform cartridge positioning by the recessed bolt face.

In addition to its physical design and shootability, another factor that made the Remington 700 an immediate success was the fact that this rifle was offered in both long and short actions and, consequently, was available in a wide variety of calibers, including .222 Remington and Remington Magnum, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, .30-06, .308 Winchester, and the .264 Winchester Magnum. The .375 H&H and .458 Winchester Magnum Safari Grades were also available through Remington’s Custom Shop. In addition, the new Model 700 was also chambered for the 7mm Remington Magnum, which became one of the hottest big-game cartridges in America. In short, the Remington 700 had something for every hunter.

Two versions of the 700 were initially offered: a 700 ADL (A Deluxe Grade) with checkered Monte Carlo stock, hooded ramp front sight, and without a hinged floor plate (also known as a “blind magazine,” so that the gun could only be unloaded from the top of the open receiver); and a 700 BDL (B Deluxe Grade), which featured fleur de lis checkering, black composite pistol grip cap and fore-end tip, hinged floorplate (thereby permitting the gun to be quickly unloaded from the bottom by springing open the hinge lock), detachable swivels and sling, and a higher blued steel polish. In 1969, the rifle went through a series of internal and external changes, including a stock redesign and a revamped bolt that prompted Remington to tout it as the world’s strongest.

Since then, the Model 700 has been produced in a multiplicity of calibers and a bewildering plethora of models. Some of the more notable variations were the introduction of the Model 700 C Custom Shop special order rifle with upgraded wood and metal finish, in 1965; a left-handed model, brought out in 1973; the six-pound, 12-ounce Mountain Rifle, introduced in 1986; a fiberglass-stocked ADL, in 1987; stainless and camo varmint models, in 1992; the synthetically-stocked Model 700 Sendero Special, introduced in 1993; and detachable magazines offered on select models, in 1994. In addition, beginning in 1981, a limited edition Model 700 Classic Rifle series debuted, available in one specially selected caliber per year, starting with the 7mm Mauser and including such stalwarts as the .257 Roberts (1982), the .35 Whelen (1988), and the .25-06 Remington (1990).

Launching a variant that has taken the Model 700 into the tactical arena, as early as 1966 Remington developed the Model 40 Marine Corps Sniper Rifle. In 1986, a Model 700 SWS (Sniper Weapons System) Rifle was introduced in 7.62 NATO, and 2008 saw the XCR Tactical Long Range Model 700, with black stainless barrel, externally adjustable trigger, and Bell & Carlson synthetic stock. Model 700 Police Rifles in .223 Remington featured Kevlar stocks with aircraft-grade aluminum bedding, while the DM version of this model was chambered in .308 and had a detachable box magazine. All are available with a Tactical Weapons System (TWS) package, which includes telescopic sights, bipod, and carrying case.

Although other specialty rifles are now entering the scene, the Marine Corps M40 and the Army’s thick-barreled, synthetically-stocked M24 SWS were the mainstay of our snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Special Forces troops at Fort Bragg had nothing but praise for their M24A2 rifles, which were outfitted with detachable Leupold 10x42 Ultra M3A scope, HS Precision adjustable stock, detachable 10-round magazine, Remington MARS (Modular Accessory Rail System) Picatinny rail, and a suppressor-equipped barrel. These rifles can fire more than 10,000 rounds without requiring major repairs and easily punch out 1.30-inch groups or less at 200 yards. Thus, although the Remington 700 remains the quintessential hunting rifle, in its various military and law enforcement guises, it has proven to be extremely versatile.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this classic rifle, in 2012, the Remington 700 returned to its roots with a recreation of the BDL in its first chambering, the 7mm Remington Magnum, and embellished with a laser-engraved commemorative floor plate, a “B” grade walnut stock adorned with fleur de lis checkering, and satin bluing on the receiver and barrel. Then, taking a giant step backwards and forwards at the same time, in 2014, Remington introduced the Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader, an inline (the company’s second; the first was introduced in 1996 and is now discontinued), that uses a proprietary shell and primer casing. Frankly, I’m more of a traditionalist, when it comes to front stuffers, but the Remington 700—specifically the cartridge-firing versions—deserves a place in our hunting camp, on our battlefield, and on my bucket list.