Remington Model 7600 Gamemaster .30-06 Rifle
By Cal Bablitz
Remington 7600 Synthetic. Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co.
Last hunting season ended with me looking around for a new rifle to use on particularly tough hunts. Much of my moose and elk hunting is done by canoe on extended wilderness river trips and the rifle I had been using for these hunts was starting to look a little worse for wear. I was browsing through a local gun shop and spotted a used Remington 7600 in .30-06 caliber with a black synthetic stock. Topped with a 2-7 power Bushnell Elite scope, it seemed like a rifle that would be well suited to the mixture of dense bush hunting with the occasional longer range, cross or down river shot that is typical of the river hunting I do. At the very least, I reasoned, with its matte finish and plastic stock, one could hardly abuse it to the point that it looked much worse.
This last comment is directed at the fiberglass reinforced synthetic stocked models. I find the versions with walnut stocks and a polished blue metal finish to be attractive rifles. The walnut stocked 7600's are offered with a choice of high gloss or matte stock finishes. All 7600 stocks come with Monte Carlo combs and there is checkering on the grip and slide handle for a more secure hold.
Remington also makes a 7600 carbine model that has an 18.5” barrel. The carbine is currently offered with a walnut or synthetic stock in .30-06 caliber only. The rifle that is the subject of this article has the regular 22” barrel.
Model 7600 Specifications
Here in the west, hunters are overwhelmingly biased towards bolt action rifles and prior to owning my 7600 I had been no different. The general opinion is that anything else cannot be counted on to produce acceptable accuracy and reliability. However, the 7600's rotary bolt lock-up design is advertised to be as strong and reliable as bolt actions.
Since this gun was intended for use primarily on large game, I decided to sight it in for 180 grain bullets. I had boxes of Remington Core-Lokt, Winchester Powermax and Federal Fusion ammo on hand. My new rifle shot all three into groups averaging around 1-˝” at 100 yards, which made me happy.
I had assumed that the store would have cleaned the rifle before selling it, but while cleaning it after the initial testing I found that the barrel was heavily copper fouled. After a thorough scrubbing I tried it again, but the only cartridges I had left were the Winchester Powermax, which the 7600 proceeded to shoot into nice 1” groups. Happy with the results, I did no further load testing. The rifle for which I had rather low expectations is actually my most accurate hunting rifle.
Since this rifle was going to get used on hunts where any major complications could not be fixed and bringing a spare rifle was not an option, I was concerned about reliability even more than accuracy. Prior to the start of hunting season, I put over 100 rounds through the 7600 with no malfunctions of any kind.
In the course of all the range time, I really started to like this rifle. The stock fits and handles well. The action is smooth and reliable. The detachable magazine feeds well and is easy to remove and replace. It is very accurate.
When hunting season came around I used it as my primary gun for most of the season. I took it on a one week river hunt for elk, a four day late season moose hunt and a three day moose/ whitetail combination hunt, as well as many shorter after work and weekend trips. It was subjected to extreme moisture, heavy snow, rough use and very cold temperatures. Quite often, when conditions were particularly bad, I would cycle a round or two through the gun and dry fire it, just to make sure it was still working. It never failed to function.
Throughout a season spent with the Remington 7600, I discovered a few inconveniences that I can live with and a number of advantages that I really appreciate. To start with the disadvantages, the trigger, although not overly heavy, has lots of creep. Second, this is the only rifle I have ever owned that comes without any means of attaching a sling. The front sling stud or swivel must either be attached with a barrel band or a replacement screw at the front of the forend. Because the forend is on a sliding action bar, the latter seemed potentially awkward, so I went with a barrel band. The barrel band did not seem to affect accuracy, but attempting to use the sling as a shooting aid would probably change the point of impact.
To offset these minor annoyances there are some substantial advantages. The handling is very good compared to a bolt gun and the balance is such that I can shoot it better offhand than any of my other rifles. Its slim receiver, without the annoyance of a protruding bolt handle, fits nicely in the hand for carrying. The twin action bars provide smooth, anti-bind operation. Last but not least, follow-up shots are faster and disturb the aim less than with a bolt action rifle, since neither hand needs to be removed to cycle the action.
In this last regard I can scarcely imagine an auto loader being much faster. Without even thinking about it, there is a fresh round in the chamber by the time I get the crosshairs lined up again.
Before I got my 7600, I never understood the need for quick follow-up shots. It conjured images of hunters sending round after round in the general direction of a fleeing animal. After owning this rifle, I see “fast follow up shots” a little differently. Sometimes after the initial shot the animal has a “moment of confusion” and offers another good shot opportunity. If the hunter can chamber a fresh round quickly, a second well placed shot can be made. One of the deer I shot with this rifle made a short dash at the initial shot and then stopped to glance around, looking for the source of its distress. I was able to drop it in its tracks with a second shot. With any of my other rifles, I would have still been working the bolt, or the movement involved in cycling the action would have prevented this opportunity from occurring.
In summation, I have found the 7600 to be an accurate and reliable rifle. Used examples in good condition can often be purchased at a very reasonable price. Its good handling, excellent balance and quick cycling make it a good choice for hunting in dense brush. It is accurate and chambered for cartridges that are capable of making longer shots in more open country when required. For the hunter looking for a true “all around” rifle, it would be difficult to do much better than a Remington Model 7600.
Copyright 2012 by Cal Bablitz and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.