The Remington 700ML / 700 MLS Magnum Rifles
The Remington .50 caliber muzzleloader was one of the first inline bolt-action muzzleloaders on the scene, if not the very first. These circa-1995 rifles are built on the Model 700 short action. The receivers are drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
The 700 ML features a matte black synthetic stock, a carbon steel action and 24" barrel with a satin-blue finish and a 1 in 28" rate of twist. This twist is intended to accomodate all types of muzzleloading ammunition, including round balls, conical bullets, and sabots. The 700 ML weighs approximately 7 3/4 pounds and is 42.5" in overall length. The instruction manual states that the maximum charge should be held to 120 grains of black powder or Pyrodex in .50 caliber rifles and 90 grains in .45 caliber rifles.
The 700 MLS Magnum model is similar but features a satin finished stainless steel barreled action with a 26" barrel. The fiberglass reinforced synthetic stock is supplied with either a matte black or Mossy Oak Break-Up finish. The MLS is 44.5" long and weighs about 7 7/8 pounds. According to the Remington Catalog 2003, the 700 MLS earns its "Magnum" nomenclature by being rated for up to 150 grain charges of either black powder or Pyrodex. This is in direct contradiction to the statement in the instruction manual supplied, which reads as stated in the paragraph above. Never use smokeless powder in any Model 700 black powder rifle.
Remington desperately needs to bring their instruction manuals, catalog, and WebSite into agreement. The information supplied in these three sources is not identical, and in some cases is contradictory. As it is now, the situation with these black powder rifles is confusing and perhaps dangerous.
Remington in-line muzzle loaders are supplied with a set of tools that includes a cleaning tube, breech plug, nipple wrenches, ramrod handle, ramrod extension, primer pick, weather shroud, Allen wrench, and patch jag.
Remington has had some eight years to "perfect" what is currently the most popular muzzleloading action. They had gold in their hands, and they had it first. The notion behind bolt-action muzzleloaders was the faster lock-time afforded by the bolt/hammer versus the plunger type action, and the familiarity offered to those migrating to black powder from "centerfire land," building upon the success of the popular Remington Model 700 centerfire cartridge rifles.
Unfortunately, the 700 ML / MLS rifles have some serious flaws. As supplied, the trigger varies from over 6 lbs. to in well in excess of 7 lbs. as measured by my trigger pull gauge. I can't understand how this could be considered acceptable to anyone. When asked, Remington tech reps advised that the trigger was "plausible."
The buttstock is hollow, which helps to explain the rifle's muzzle heavy feel. The ramrod is poorly designed and painful to use. Worse yet, the barrel can easily be lifted away from the flimsy plastic forearm no matter how tightly the lug screws are tightened. The action is quite rigidly attached to a hollow, flaccid piece of synthetic nonsense. The three-point engagement would afford a rigid barreled action to stock engagement, had Remington not decided to supply such a flimsy plastic stock.
The hex-head bolt stop screw on the tested model is fussy. Finger-tight, the bolt falls right out. Tightened firmly with the supplied wrench, the bolt is locked in place and does not move at all.
The instruction manual suggests that you stick a coin in a vise to disassemble the bolt. A coin, and a vise to hold the coin, is not included in the supplied tools. These Remington muzzleloading rifles are the only ones I have seen shipped today that do not come with all tools necessary for disassembly. The front trigger guard screw is a very small hex-head, much smaller than the other two 5/32" Allen head stock screws. To remove the barreled action for a though cleaning you'll have to hunt for a wrench, as well as your vise.
The 3-way ignition (#11 caps, musket caps, and 209 primers) breechplug comes with a 209 shotshell primer nipple installed. Unfortunately, the blow back with 209 primers is fierce, the worst I have encountered. This is due to large vents that surround the primer. If you don't believe in wearing protective eye gear, you will quickly learn. And the 209 primers stick in the 700ML after virtually every shot. Remington knows it, that's why the rocket flare vents are in the 209 primer-holder. Included with your new Remington is a green handled primer pick, so you can pry out the spent primers.
The supplied weather shroud is a tube that fits over the end of the bolt, then ensconces the primer nipple. The folks at Remington told me, "We warn users against using the weather shroud for repeat shooting. It is for one shot situations in inclement conditions." Currently, the Remington WebSite states "NOTE: The Model 700 ML Weather Shroud is not intended for use with 209 primers." This information has not yet filtered into the instruction manual (!), but it is good advice. Firing the rifle with the weather shroud in place directs most to the gas right into your face. If you must shoot a Remington 700ML / MLS with the weather shroud in place, the #11 cap ignition is the least painful option.
A 700 MLS was test fired for this article. With the feel of flaming sand impregnating itself into my face, this gun truly is a pain to shoot. It kicks like a mule, is decidedly muzzle heavy, and the barreled action is poorly fitted to the molded stock. The tang portion at the end of the barreled is canted from the appropriate stock's molded depressions by an easily visible 1/8th inch or so.
All this comes as a huge disappointment to me. Remington is the oldest name in U.S. firearms, and I've had many happy days in the field with a variety of Remington Model 870 Wingmaster pump guns. In fact, the Wingmaster remains my favorite currently produced pump action shotgun. I've also owned my fair share of 700ADL and 700BDL centerfire rifles. The reader may well wonder if I have some long-standing bias against Remington. Quite the contrary: my retail purchases of over 100 Remington firearms in times past suggests just the opposite propensity.
In a recent widely distributed article I suggested that the prospective muzzleloading buyer was better off looking to a true black powder company to fulfill their needs. Remington has confirmed the veracity of that suggestion.
Note: Remington has apparently left the muzzleloading business, no longer participated in NMLRA events in 2004, and has no production scheduled for their 700ML in 2005.
Copyright 2003, 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.