The Remington Model 700 LSS Mountain Rifle
By Chuck Hawks
The Remington Model 700 series is one of the best selling bolt action rifles in the world. They were an immediate hit when introduced in 1962, and have subsequently sold in the millions. Over the years the Model 700 line has evolved with the market place and today Model 700's are available in a bewildering array of models.
One of the nicest Model 700's is the Mountain Rifle LSS. The Mountain Rifle is a deluxe model that features a slim profile 22" barrel and a slender, modern classic style stock with cheekpiece. It is what Remington refers to as a "Specialty" rifle. Remington literature says that the Model 700 Mountain Rifle is designed for wilderness or high country pack-in hunts that involve rigorous hiking. It is, indeed, a good choice for such use.
Until recently, there were two variations on the Model 700 Mountain Rifle theme. One was the Mountain Rifle DM, which was discontinued in 2007. The DM was supplied with a walnut stock, satin blue metal finish and a fully detachable box magazine. It was the most traditional looking Mountain Rifle. The surviving version is the Mountain Rifle LSS, the subject of this review. In the Remington world, "LSS" signifies a rifle with a laminated wood stock and a stainless steel barreled action.
The Model 700 action is so well known that it hardly needs description. Briefly, it is a push feed bolt action with dual front locking lugs, a 90 degree bolt rotation, plunger ejector and bolt face mounted extractor. It is machined from bar stock and the recoil lug is a heavy steel washer trapped between the barrel and receiver. The convenient two-position safety is located at the extreme right rear of the receiver. The internal magazine has a hinged floorplate with a trigger guard mounted release. The bottom "iron" and trigger guard are cast from aluminum and, unlike the barreled action, rather poorly polished. The barreled action is made from satin finished 416 stainless steel and the brown laminated stock nicely sets off the silvery metal. It is a handsome rifle.
The LSS stock is made of laminated hardwood stained a medium walnut brown color. It has a tough, synthetic satin finish to protect it from the elements. It also has a black forearm tip, black pistol grip cap, solid rubber butt pad and studs for detachable sling swivels. It is laser cut checkered in a generous and deeply cut point pattern that wraps completely around the forearm. Unlike most stocks supplied on factory made rifles today, the LSS stock is slender at the wrist and forend.
The Mountain Rifle comes without sights, but the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting bases. For 2008 the LSS comes in calibers .270, .280, .30-06 and 7mm-08. The rifle reviewed here is an LSS in .260 Rem.; this caliber was (foolishly) dropped from the LSS in 2007.
Why, you might ask, are the .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, .257 Roberts and .308 Winchester, obvious mountain rifle calibers all, not offered? My answer is, "I don't know, but they certainly should be; write to the nice folks at Remington about it."
The basic specifications for the Mountain Rifle LSS are as follows: barrel length is 22 inches; overall length is 42-1/2 inches (long action), 41-5/8 inches (short action); length of pull is 13-3/8 inches, drop at comb is 3/8 inch, drop at heel is 3/8 inch; average weight is 6-5/8 pounds (long action), 6-1/2 pounds (short action); cartridge capacity is 4+1. In 2007 the list price of the LSS was $833.
I have written an article about the .260 cartridge, so I will not go into it in depth here. Suffice to say that the .260 is a nearly ideal caliber for this type of rifle. A light rifle should be chambered for a light, yet effective, cartridge and the .260 fills the bill. This has been demonstrated all over Europe, where mountain rifles were invented, and calibers like 6.5x54 and 6.5x55 are long time favorites. The .260 Remington is as good or better than any of the traditional European 6.5mm cartridges. Shooting 120-129 grain bullets the .260 provides the flat trajectory necessary to nail game such as mountain sheep and goats at long range, and with 140 grain bullets it becomes a satisfactory all-around cartridge for a mixed bag hunt.
Recoil is always the problem with very light rifles, and the .260 has a little less recoil for a bullet of similar sectional density than the 7mm-08, which would be the other obvious cartridge choice for a Model 700 Mountain Rifle. A .260 rifle weighing 7.5 pounds (including scope and mount) and shooting a 120 grain bullet at a MV of 2890 fps generates about 10.9 ft. lbs. of recoil energy. With a 140 grain bullet at a MV of 2750 fps the recoil energy rises to 13.6 ft. lbs.
When shooting 140 grain factory loads the little rifle comes back fast (the recoil velocity is 10.8 fps), and I would have no desire to do much shooting with one of these rifles chambered for one of the long action calibers, especially .30-06. For comparison, a 7.5 pound .30-06 rifle shooting a 165 grain bullet at a MV of 2900 fps would slam the shoulder with 21.5 ft. lbs. of free recoil energy and achieve a recoil velocity of 13.6 fps.
The test rifle wears a Leupold VX III 2.5-8x36 variable power scope with a Mil Dot reticle in a Leupold mount and Burris rings. The excellent VX III scopes offer sharp, bright, fog free, fully multi-coated optics, an extremely accurate internal control system, and proven durability. The windage and elevation adjustments proved accurate and easy to use when sighting in the rifle. The 2.5-8 power variable offers a generous field of view at low power and plenty of magnification for use at the range or for a long shot at a small target in the field. It is a good match for the ballistics of the .260 cartridge.
The Mil Dot reticle has a very fine crosshair with lots of little, uniformly spaced, ranging dots strung up and down the vertical wire. These I completely ignored. This reticle would be harder to see in dim light in the field than Leupold's standard Duplex reticle, but it is excellent for use at the range. In my opinion, the Leupold VX III is one of the best premium scopes on today's market, regardless of the reticle chosen.
Remington Model 700 rifles have always had a good reputation for accuracy and this .260 caliber Mountain Rifle LSS was no exception. Shooting was done over several trips to the Izaak Walton outdoor range south of Eugene, Oregon. Remington Express factory loads with the 140 grain Core-Lokt bullet were used throughout. We shot from a bench rest over sand bags at 100 meter targets.
The average size of three shot groups turned out to be about 1.5 inches, with the best individual groups going into an inch. As with any rifle with a slim contour barrel, it is best to shoot three shot groups and to let the barrel cool down between strings. Gordon Landers, a G&S Online Technical Assistant who shared the shooting chores, had adjusted the trigger of the test rifle for a clean release of about 2.5 pounds, which aided accurate shooting from the bench. Reliability was 100% in all respects.
I am impressed by the Remington Model 700 Mountain Rifle LSS. It is largely impervious to the elements, easy to carry, good looking, accurate and deadly. What more could the mountain or wilderness hunter ask?
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2002, 2008 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.
SPECIALIST IN ENGRAVING AND RESTORATION