An Overview of the Remington Model 788 Rifle
By Phil Mallow
The Model 788 was designed from the ground up by Remington's Wayne Leek to compete in the growing economy rifle market of the 1960s. Introduced in 1967, it remained in production until 1983, with over 560,000 produced in various calibers and barrel lengths.
The model 788 included some notable design features. The multi-piece bolt featured nine rear locking lugs in three rows of three, as opposed to the front locking lugs found on the vast majority of bolt actions designed since the late 19th Century. The 788's bolt lugs are located in front of the bolt handle and lock into the rear of the receiver. In addition, the lock time was unusually fast.
The safety has two positions and is located on the right side of the receiver, behind the bolt handle. On pre-1975 models, the safety position also locks the bolt, requiring the safety to be disengaged to unload the chamber. On 1975 and later models the design was changed, removing the bolt locking feature. The trigger group is simple, enclosed in a cast aluminum housing and not adjustable.
The spacing of the locking lugs allowed for a short, 60 degree bolt rotation and the lack of lug raceways in the receiver allow for a smoother action. The down side to this is the same as other rear locking actions in that it increases the potential for case stretching over time. The bolt handle is low temperature brazed to the side of the bolt body. To remove the bolt, one opens the bolt and slides it back while holding the safety all the way forward.
The magazine is a steel, single stack, detachable box. It holds three or four cartridges, depending on caliber, and it protrudes below the bottom of the stock. The release is at the rear of the magazine. Single cartridges may be loaded directly into the chamber with an empty magazine in place.
The ejection port is a rather small oval cut into the tubular receiver, good for rigidity, but making it harder to clear jams. The recoil lug is the "washer" type trapped between the barrel and receiver, in the Model 700 style.
A fully adjustable, open rear and ramp/blade front sight are included. In addition, the receiver is drilled and tapped for both receiver (peep) sights and riflescope bases.
The floor plate and trigger guard are steel stampings (not plastic!) and blued to match the barreled action, which received the standard Remington polish and bluing. The finish on the barreled action is clearly superior to the essentially un-polished matte bluing seen on most modern economy rifles.
The majority of Model 788s were outfitted with plain, birch hardwood stocks stained to resemble walnut. The comb is not fluted and there is no checkering. There is also no pistol grip cap and the butt plate is black plastic. This stock is anything but lovely, although it is more appealing than the cheap, noisy, plastic stocks found on most modern economy rifles. On the two Model 788s I own, the fit and finish is good for an entry level rifle.
Calibers available over the years included .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester and .44 Remington Magnum. Actions were produced in three lengths, one for .308 length cartridges (.243, 6mm, 7mm-08 and .308), one for shorter cartridges (.222, .223, .22-250 and .30-30) and a third for the much shorter .44 Rem. Magnum cartridge. Barrel lengths were 22 or 24 inches for standard rifles and 18.5 inches for carbines (.243, 7nm-08 and .308 calibers only). Left hand models were offered in 6mm Rem. and .308 Win.
In my experience the 788 proved to be a very accurate rifle, a sentiment voiced by most 788 owners. I own both a standard rifle in .222 Remington and a carbine in 7mm-08. My .222 rifle will regularly shoot sub m.o.a. groups from the bench with the proper ammo. Its no thrills construction and good accuracy make for a wonderful truck gun, excellent for potting varmints around the farm.
Although accurate, Model 788s were also known for a couple of significant design flaws. The soldered bolt handles have been known to break off with rough handling and the small extractor could fail to extract spent casings if the rifle was not regularly cleaned.
While I have never seen a bolt handle come loose, I have seen one 788 (my uncle's) that failed to extract on a regular basis. However, this rifle had fired a few thousand rounds over its life and never been properly cleaned.
One drawback I have experienced is the angle of the ejection port can throw a spent casing into the scope turret and bounce the casing back into the receiver, jamming the action until it is removed. I solved this problem by installing a scope with lower profile adjustment turrets.
Overall, the Remington Model 788 was a well made, accurate economy rifle. I consider it to be better designed and more attractive than most budget bolt action rifles on the market today.
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