Remington Model 700 CDL SF (Limited Edition) .260 Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Remington claims that their Model 700 line is the most diverse available today and we have no reason to dispute that claim. Since its introduction in 1962, the Remington Model 700 line has grown from two offerings (the standard 700 ADL and deluxe 700 BDL) to 21 distinct variations in 2008. That figure does not include Custom Shop offerings or the very similar Model Seven line.
For 2008, the top of the Model 700 line is the version reviewed here, the 700 CDL SF Limited Edition. CDL stands for "Custom Deluxe" and SF stands for "stainless fluted" (barrel). The Limited Edition is identical to other 700 CDL SF rifles except for its (laser?) engraved floorplate and "Remington Model 700 Limited" roll stamped into the left side of the receiver.
The test rifle is based on the short (.308 length) Model 700 barreled action fabricated from 416 stainless steel, although the standard length Model 700 action is also used in M-700 CDL SF rifles where appropriate. The Model 700 is a push feed bolt action based on a round receiver drilled from bar stock. It cocks on opening and there are two large locking lugs at the front of the bolt. Bolt rotation is approximately 90 degrees. The bolt body is attractively engine turned and the oval bolt knob is checkered on its top and bottom sides. The ejection port is fairly large, although not as generous as found on Remington's Model 798, and allows loading single cartridges from the top. The Model 700 action is known for its strength and fast lock time and its plunger ejector is powerful and reliable.
Not as powerful or reliable as its ejector, the extractor is a circlip set in a groove in the rim of the bolt face that takes a rather small bite on the rim. This extractor is probably the worst feature of the action, inferior to the large, full length extractor used in Remington's Model 798. We would like to see Remington fit a Weatherby-type extractor in the Model 700 bolt head.
Cartridges are fed from an internal, sheet steel, box magazine with a hinged floorplate. The floorplate release is conveniently mounted inside the trigger guard. The trigger guard and bottom "iron" are all cast from aluminum alloy to reduce weight and cost. Magazine capacity is four rounds of .260 Rem.
The bolt release is a stamped sheet steel part that is activated by pressing inward on a square tab located directly in front of the trigger. This is not the most elegant system in the world, but it works.
The recoil lug is essentially a thick steel washer that is trapped between the barrel and receiver. Visually this system leaves something to be desired and it is almost certainly not as strong as a recoil lug that is an integral part of a machined steel receiver as per the Model 798, but we have never heard of it failing and Model 700's are chambered for some very potent cartridges. Remington could improve the Model 700's aesthetics by hiding the recoil lug under a front receiver flange, as Kimber does.
The Model 700's two-position safety, mounted at the right rear of the receiver, has always been one of its better features. It is convenient and easy to use and on current production blocks both the sear and trigger. The safety no longer locks the bolt closed to prevent inadvertent opening in the field, although it used to, but it does allow the bolt to be opened to remove an unfired cartridge with the safety on.
The biggest change on Model 700 rifles in many years is the X-Mark PRO trigger assembly. Remington recently introduced this new trigger in the Model 700 and Model Seven and our test rifle is so equipped. This revised Model 700 / Model Seven trigger features highly polished engagement surfaces and tight production tolerances to mask what is actually a rather heavy factory set pull weight by providing a crisp release. The X-Mark PRO Trigger is advertised as "adjustable for pull weight by a qualified gunsmith." The X-Mark PRO trigger mechanism can be retrofitted to any older Model 700 or Model Seven rifle at a Remington authorized service center. (Why anyone would want to replace the original, excellent, fully user adjustable Model 700 trigger assembly with a unit that requires the services of a gunsmith to adjust is not explained.)
Our rifle's X-Mark PRO trigger came with a short, but gritty, take-up and an excessively heavy 4.5 to 5 pound release. A good hour on the work bench of our in-house Gunsmithing Editor, Rocky Hays, produced a clean 3-7/8 pound trigger; this is the lightest pull weight consistent with safety and reliability attainable in this rifle, short of a complete re-manufacturing job. The trigger supplied in Model 700 rifles when they were introduced in 1962 was user adjustable in about 5 minutes time and could be set for a clean 2.5 pound release simply by turning an adjustment screw. So much for progress.
The 24" fluted barrel is a nice touch, allowing the cartridge to reach its full ballistic potential without excessive weight. Unfortunately, the execution leaves something to be desired. The machine that cut the flutes was set to work too fast and the result is extremely obvious tool marks throughout the length of the flutes. If the speed at which the barrel was fed through the cutter were reduced, the tool marks could be largely eliminated--and they should be. The external finish of the satin stainless barreled action is otherwise good. It is smooth, but not reflective, and glows with a dull sheen.
The engraved floorplate and trigger guard assembly is fabricated from cast aluminum finished in a silver that nicely matches the color of the barreled action. Unfortunately, these aluminum parts are crudely cast, not polished, and their golf ball like surface texture is a poor match for the attractive satin surface finish of the barreled action. The floorplate decoration consists of an undersize and slightly out of proportion representation (neck too short, shoulder too sharp, very stubby bullet) of the .260 Remington cartridge, along with some simple but attractive border scroll. The floorplate also bears the logo ".260 Remington" and "Limited Edition." The funny thing is that the floorplate is large enough (it has to be, since it covers the bottom of the magazine that actually holds the cartridges) to allow a full size, properly proportioned engraving of a .260 cartridge. Why Remington used the not very accurate cartridge representation that they did is hard to understand.
The one-piece black walnut stock has excellent lines and a functional shape. Unlike the great majority of mass produced rifles, it is commendably trim at the forend and pistol grip wrist. This slender, elegant stock stands in stark contrast to the Euro-trash stocks with their squared shapes and nonfunctional accent ridges that are appearing on more and more rifles these days. Remington has been getting Model 700 walnut stocks "right" since 1962 and we wish that other manufacturers would follow Remington's lead in this critical area. After all, it is through the stock and trigger that the shooter interfaces with the rifle.
The inletting of the CDL SF stock is about average for contemporary factory produced rifles. The laser cut checkering wraps around the forend in an attractive diamond pattern and there are generous checkering panels on both sides of the pistol grip. Laser cut checkering is getting better and better. This example is attractive and offers an excellent grip. The stock's fluted comb is straight and there is a modest cheek piece. Other nice touches include a a black forend tip and grip cap. The black recoil pad is a Limbsaver with an embossed Remington "R" logo and it is noticeably proud where it meets the stock. It was clearly ordered as a "ready fit" item and simply screwed in place, presumably after the stock had been finished, without any attempt to blend it into the stock. Blued steel (rather than stainless) detachable sling swivel studs are provided.
Here are the specifications of our Model 700 CDL SF test rifle:
Note that the 2008 Remington catalog specifies a weight of 7-1/2 pounds, which makes our sample CDL SF Limited over a half-pound lighter than advertised, a very significant difference. This is more than can be attributed to differences in the density of the wood, so our guess is that other CDL SF Limited rifles will likewise be lighter than advertised. This was subsequently confirmed by Remington's Linda Powell, who explained that the published catalog weight applies to all 700 CDL SF rifles and not just the Limited.
We mounted a fine Sightron SIIB (Big Sky) 3-9x42mm scope on our test rifle using Weaver two-piece bases and Leupold QRW rings. This is a somewhat large scope, but it offers excellent optical performance, accurate adjustments and has become one of our favorites. (A review of this scope can be found on the Product Review Page.) Our test rifle weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces with scope and mounts, a very practical weight for a .260 rifle. Not too much of a burden to carry and not so light that recoil becomes a problem.
On the subject of recoil, it is worth mentioning that we also had a Remington Model 700 LSS Mountain Rifle in .260 wearing a Leupold VX-III 2.5-8x36mm scope and a Merkel K3 wearing a Swarovski 3-10x42mm scope in 7mm-08 caliber at the range during our first shooting session with the Model 700 Limited Edition. (Both of these rifles, and both of these scopes, have previously been reviewed by Guns and Shooting Online and those reviews can be found on the Product Review Page.) The Remington Mountain rifle weighs about 7-1/2 pounds and the little Merkel single shot weighs about 6-7/8 pounds, complete with scopes and mounts. We did a side by side recoil comparison, shooting Remington Express ammunition loaded with 140 grain Core-Lokt PSP bullets in all three rifles. Our unanimous subjective impression was that the CDL SF definitely kicked less than the two lighter rifles (which felt similar) and was more pleasant to shoot. Credit the Limited's extra weight and superior recoil pad for that favorable result.
For this review, we had three Remington factory loads supplied by our friends at Remington, a Stars & Stripes factory load supplied by owner Clint Huisinga and a couple of reloads supplied by Guns and Shooting Online Editor Gordon Landers, our only staff member who reloads .260 Rem. ammunition. The Remington Express factory load launches a 140 grain Core-Lokt PSP bullet at an advertised MV of 2750 fps. The Remington Premium load using the 120 grain AccuTip BT bullet has a catalog MV of 2890 fps. The Remington Premium load using the 140 grain Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded PSP bullet claims a MV of 2750 fps. The Stars & Stripes factory load launches a 140 grain Hornady InterLock Spire Point bullet at a MV of 2700 fps. Gordon's reloads use the 140 grain Nosler Partition bullet with 43.8 grains of Reloader 19 powder for a MV of approximately 2700 fps and the 140 grain Sierra GameKing bullet in front of 40.0 grains of H380 for a MV of about 2650 fps. Gordon and Managing Editor Chuck Hawks did the test shooting, while Technical Advisor Bob Fleck and Chief Technical Advisor Jim Fleck observed and cheered them on.
We did our test shooting at the Izaak Walton rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. This facility offers covered bench rests with 25, 50, 100 and 200 yard target stands. The early spring weather was sunny with almost no wind and a high temperature of about 60 degrees F. We used a Caldwell Lead Sled DFT rest weighted with 50 pounds of lead shot and a Caldwell "The Rock" front rest with protoplasmic recoil absorber for our testing. Recorded groups were three shots at 100 yards, fired at Champion Score Keeper targets. Here are the shooting results:
As you can see from these results, our test rifle favored the 140 grain bullets, but was not happy with the Nosler Partition bullet. With any of its preferred loads it is more than adequately accurate for hunting CXP2 class game, its intended purpose. Note the consistency of the groups fired with the Stars & Stripes Premium Hunting load, with only 5/16" variation between the smallest and largest groups, an excellent performance. All rifles are individuals, so your results with a different M-700 CDL SF may vary.
Cartridges fed reliably from the magazine and single cartridges can be loaded directly into the chamber when desired. This is an advantage of push feed actions that is seldom mentioned in gun reviews. The floorplate latch is easy to use, performed correctly and showed no signs of allowing the floorplate to open under recoil. There were no malfunctions of any kind during our testing.
The staff consensus is that the Remington Model 700 CDL SF Limited Edition would be a very good choice for a general-purpose CXP2 game hunting rifle. We think that a stainless steel barreled action in a walnut stock is about as good as it gets and the CDL SF's trim stock with its generous cut checkering pattern, black forend tip and pistol grip cap drew universally positive comments. This stock, with its slender forend and wrist, simply feels good in the hands.
Jim really fawned over the dark walnut stock, although he would have preferred the barrel without fluting. Bob appreciated the engraved floorplate and both he and Chuck liked the fluted barrel. Gordon commented that the new X-Mark PRO trigger has a clean release, but is noticeably heavier than the Mountain Rifle's "old style" M-700 trigger (after both had been adjusted). Gordon and Chuck agreed that the CDL SF's extra weight (compared to the M-700 Mountain Rifle) is a plus, as is the longer barrel. Everyone likes the .260 Rem. caliber and we would all like to own this rifle, so it is doubtful that the nice folks at Remington will ever see it again!
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
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