The Remington Models 760 and 7600 Gamemaster Centerfire Pump Rifles
By Chuck Hawks
Model 7600. Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co.
Remington has offered centerfire pump (or slide) action rifles since 1912. Their current line of pump action rifles for high intensity cartridges dates back to the Model 760 of 1952. Named the Gamemaster, the 760 was offered in several variations, including Premier, BDL deluxe, rifle and carbine. The 760 Gamemaster was manufactured until 1980; in 1981, it evolved into the similar Model 7600, which is still being produced. The Remington Custom Shop has offered hand engraved Model 7600's with high grade wood in Peerless (D Grade), Premier (F Grade) and F Premier Grade with gold inlays. Between 1996 and 2003, standard grade 7600's came with roll engraved game scene panels on the sides of their receivers. Unfortunately, current production has dispensed with the roll engraving.
The 760 and 7600 are based on a front locking, rotary locking bolt operated by dual action bars. They have a streamlined, forged steel receiver, two piece stocks and externally look somewhat like a shorter and more slender Model 870 pump action shotgun, although the rifle and shotgun actions are entirely different, as is the stock design. The rifles are fed from detachable box magazines, rather than a tubular magazine under the barrel. Their receivers are slender in cross-section and smooth, without a projecting bolt handle, but deep. Remington advertises the 7600 as having, "Weight distribution and slim-line design [that] result in shotgun-like balance and pointability." They are, of course, alluding to pump shotguns, which are actually clunky handling at best. It is fine double guns that have long set the standards for shotgun handling and no pump gun even comes close. (Thus do advertisers "spin" the truth.) However, the 760 and 7600 balance and generally handle as well, or maybe a little better, than an average bolt action rifle, although they are inferior to most lever guns and single shots.
A far more valid comparison would be to Remington's 742/7400/750 autoloading rifles, which use a nearly identical receiver and stock design. The significant difference is that the autoloaders harness the force of the expanding powder gasses to cycle the action, while the pump guns rely on human power. Because of their gas operation, the 742/7400/750 series of autoloaders have less apparent recoil than the 760/7600 pump guns. Both are notable for spongy and overly heavy triggers, a defect that seems to afflict pump and autoloading rifles generally. Unfortunately, not many gunsmiths are experienced at improving 7600 triggers.
These Remington pump action rifles have been offered at various times in rifle (22" barrel) and carbine (18-1/2" barrel) versions in calibers ranging from .222 Remington to .35 Whelen and most of the popular numbers in-between. For 2010, the Model 7600 cartridge list has been shortened to .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield. All of these are high intensity calibers that require a 24" barrel to achieve a SAAMI standard performance and a 22" barrel is the practical minimum, so the 18-1/2" Carbine model is best avoided. Once upon a time, the .35 Remington was offered in the Model 760, which was a far better caliber for a carbine length barrel than any of the high velocity calibers currently offered. A 7600 Carbine with a 20" barrel in .35 Rem. would make a good woods rifle.
There are Model 7600 (walnut stock) and Model 7600 Synthetic variations from which to choose, in carbine (.30-06 only) and rifle versions. The muzzle blast from the .30-06 Carbine's 18-1/2" barrel is something to see, preferably from a distance. I certainly do not want to be doing the shooting! The Synthetic version comes with a matte blued barreled action and a black injection-molded stock. Walnut stocked versions are available with either a satin or high gloss stock finish, the latter in .270 and .30-06 calibers only. Regardless of stock finish, the barreled action is polished and blued and the walnut stock comes with diamond pattern checkering and a black butt plate, forend tip and pistol grip cap. All 7600 rifles are the same weight and overall length, regardless of stock material, so there is no advantage to the synthetic stock, except lower price. Current stock design incorporates a moderate Monte Carlo style comb. All 7600's come with fully adjustable iron sights and are drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Here are the basic specifications for the Model 7600 walnut rifle.
Remington used to claim that their Model 7600 was as accurate as their bolt action rifles, which I have always taken with a grain of salt. Now, they just claim "Legendary Remington first shot accuracy," whatever that means. In my limited experience, the 760/7600 pumps have never been quite as accurate as the 742/7400 autoloaders, perhaps because of the pumps moving forend. In any case, nothing could live on the difference, so it doesn't matter in practice.
A demonstrably valid claim is fast follow-up shots, and this the Remington pump rifles deliver. Their rotary bolt pump-action uses twin action bars and operates very smoothly. An expert can shoot a 7600 almost as fast as a 750 autoloader, although pumping the forend undeniably disturbs the aim more than the self-loading action. The pump gun's big advantage over the autoloader is increased reliability, since its manually operated action is independent of cartridge performance.
Historically, pump shotguns have been very popular in the U.S. Pump-action rifles, on the other hand, have not. Colt, Savage and Remington, among others, have all marketed moderately successful centerfire pump rifles, but only Remington has stayed with it over the long haul. Perhaps this is because lever actions are the quintessential American rifles and accuracy buffs are wedded to the bolt action. The military went from the single shot to the bolt action to the autoloader, overlooking the pump entirely.
To summarize, the walnut stocked 7600 is an attractive rifle with good lines. Handling is better than average. The Remington's solid top receiver makes scope mounting easy and decent iron sights are supplied for those who know how to use them. Accuracy is entirely adequate for big game hunting within the MPBR of the cartridges for which it is chambered, which is all you can ask of any big game rifle. The heavy, creepy trigger is a drawback. Operating the pump action is fast and reliability is good. The 4+1 cartridge capacity is more than you should ever need in the field. (If you need to shoot more than five times to bring down any animal, something is seriously wrong with your technique and you need to take a break and figure out what you are doing wrong.) Overall, if a pump-action hunting rifle appeals to you, a (used) Remington 760 or (new) Model 7600 is the way to go.
Copyright 2010, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.