The Remington Model 14 and 141 Rifles
By Gary Zinn
The Remington Model 14 was one of the unique centerfire sporting rifle designs of the early 20th Century. It was introduced in 1913, as Remington's attempt to compete in the market for fast cycling deer rifles. At the time, the market was dominated by lever action rifles, such as the Winchester Model 94.
I suspect that most shooters and hunters born after about 1950 have never seen, let alone used, a Model 14 rifle. I have a personal history with the rifle, because I hunted deer with one during my teenage years.
The Model 14 was one of several Remington firearms designed by John D. Pedersen, who incorporated some cutting edge features (for the era) into this rifle. It was a sleek, hammerless design with a tilting bolt lockup, solid top receiver, side ejection port, cross bolt safety and bolt release button. The stock and trigger group could be separated from the receiver by backing out a single takedown screw.
The Model 14 is a slide (pump) action rifle with a tubular magazine. Cartridges are loaded through a gate in the bottom of the magazine, just forward of the receiver. The magazine tube is also the action bar, as the entire tube moves back and forth when the action is cycled. I am not aware of any other pump action firearm designed to work in this manner.
Another distinctive feature of the design was a spiral fluted magazine tube. The purpose of this was to offset cartridges in the magazine, so that the bullet tip of a cartridge would not rest on the primer of the next cartridge in the tube. In principle, this meant that cartridges with spitzer bullets could be loaded in a Model 14 without danger of primer detonation in the magazine. However, I have never seen or heard of any commercial ammunition in the calibers for which the Model 14 was chambered that featured spitzer bullets. Round or flat nose bullets were the norm in commercial loads.
The image below shows the receiver of a Model 14 rifle, with some of the features mentioned readily apparent. Note the cross bolt safety in the back of the trigger guard and the bolt unlocking button in the rear of the closed bolt. (I have seen the bolt unlocking button referred to as a thumb safety, which is incorrect.) The end of the takedown screw is visible in the side of the receiver, above the center of the trigger guard. (The knurled head of the takedown screw is on the opposite side of the receiver.)
Calibers, variants, and production history
The Model 14 was chambered for the .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington and .35 Remington cartridges. These were rimless cartridges originally designed for the Remington Model 8 autoloading rifle of 1906. The .25, .30 and .32 Remington cartridges are rimless equivalents and ballistic clones of the Winchester .25-35, .30-30 and .32 Special cartridges.
The three smaller caliber Remington cartridges share a common case (rim and body size), while the .35 Remington is unique, with a slightly fatter and shorter case. Maximum C.O.L. lengths quoted for the four cartridges vary slightly, depending on the source, but the 2.525" C.O.L. for the .35 Rem. will work for all of them. (The modern Remington 6.8 SPC cartridge for AR-15 rifles is based on a shortened .30 Remington case.)
Both rifle (22" barrel) and carbine (18" barrel) Model 14s were produced during the period 1913 to 1934. In 1914, a short action Model 14-1/2 was introduced in .38-40 and .44-40 Winchester calibers to compete with the Winchester Model 92 lever action. The Model 14-1/2 was produced until 1931. A total of approximately 125,000 Model 14 and 14-1/2 rifles were produced.
Remington phased out the Model 14 rifle in 1934, replacing it with the Model 141 Gamemaster. This was simply a revamped Model 14, with improved sights and a butt stock with less drop at comb and heel. Besides the no-frills 141A, priced at $46, Remington offered fancier grades, including the C (Special) for $80, D (Peerless) for $147 and F (Premier) for $300. (Prices quoted are for 1936, as reported in a 2012 American Rifleman magazine article.) Accounting for inflation, the equivalent 2017 price of the A grade rifle would be about $800 and the F grade over $5200! Even a basic Model 141 rifle was not inexpensive.
The Model 141 was offered with 24" and 18-1/2" barrels, in .30, .32 and .35 Remington calibers. There were a small number of guns made in .25 Remington caliber during the 1934-1936 transition period.
Model 14 and 141 guns had blued steel hardware, open sights, walnut stocks and fore end grips. Both rifles and carbines had five round magazines. The Model 141 Gamemaster was produced from 1935 to 1950, with nearly 77,000 units made.
The Remington Model 760 Gamemaster rifle replaced the Model 141 in 1952. The Model 760 (revised as the Model 7600 in 1982) was a more modern design with a front locking bolt. It was built to handle high intensity cartridges (.270, .280, .30-06, etc.) fed from a detachable box magazine. This ended the era of the tubular magazine Model 14 and 141 rifles.
When I was 12-1/2 years old, an uncle surprised me by giving me a Remington Model 14 rifle, chambered in .25 Remington. He explained that the gun was on indefinite loan to me and that I should practice with it over the summer, so that I could hunt deer with it the following fall. He gave me several boxes of Remington Core-Lokt ammunition to go with the rifle.
I took to the rifle like a duck to water, as I was already hunting small game with a Winchester Model 12 pump shotgun. During the summer, I learned how the gun shot by using it to plink woodchucks, which made for great familiarization and practice.
The following autumn, I took my first whitetail deer with that rifle and ammunition, followed by two more over the following three seasons. Having learned to shoot the rifle accurately and pick my shots carefully, I had no trouble felling those deer, at moderate ranges, with the mild .25 Remington cartridge.
Though it was a long time ago, my memory of hunting with the Model 14 is that it was a nifty rifle. It was well balanced, carried comfortably and mounted easily. The stock was shaped for natural, consistent sight picture acquisition with the low profile open sights. The safety and trigger functioned crisply.
The slide action did have a quirk, at least on the gun I used. With a full magazine, I had to be sure to rack the slide hard, or the nose of the cartridge being chambered would jam against the breech, below the mouth of the chamber. The jam was not hard to clear, but was an irritation. It happened only with more than three rounds in the magazine, so I surmise that magazine spring pressure was the root cause of the problem.
The slide action felt a bit heavy, relative to that of a pump shotgun. I attribute this to the fact that working the slide involved moving the weight of the entire magazine/action bar, plus however many cartridges were in the magazine. I learned to reduce the heavy feel of the slide and avoid the jamming problem by loading three rounds in the magazine and chambering one, giving me two backup rounds.
After my fourth deer season, my father bought a .30-30 Winchester Model 94 rifle for my use and I returned the Model 14 to my uncle. The Model 14 remains special to me, though, because it was my first deer rifle.
Incidentally, my uncle hunted with a Model 14 chambered in .35 Remington. He got a deer with that rifle pretty much every season.
Shooting a Model 14 or 141 today
Anyone who wishes to shoot a vintage firearm must satisfy two concerns before proceeding to the range or field. First, it must be confirmed that the gun is in proper working order and safe to fire. Second, one must buy or handload a supply of ammunition.
The ammunition situation is easiest for someone who owns or acquires a workable Model 14 or 141 chambered in .35 Remington. The .35 Rem. is still a viable commercial cartridge with a reasonable availability of factory ammo and new brass for the reloader.
I expected loaded ammo and brass in .25, .30, and .32 Remington to be very rare or nonexistent. However, the situation is not as dire as I anticipated. An on-line vendor named Ammo-One (www.ammo-one1.com) sells factory loaded cartridges in all three calibers, as does Graf & Sons (www.grafs.com). This ammunition is manufactured by Precision Cartridge, Inc. The .25 Rem. cartridges come with 117 grain Hornady JRN bullets, the .30 Rem. with 150 grain Sierra JRN or 160 grain Hornady FTX bullets and the .32 Rem. with 170 grain Lead-RNFP bullets.
Unsurprisingly, this ammo is pricey, at $35 to $60 per box of 20 (Dec. 2017 prices), depending on where you buy it. However, it is there for anyone who wishes to shoot their Model 14 or 141 rifle without reloading.
Graf & Sons also catalogs brass for all four calibers. I was surprised that .25 and .32 Rem. brass is available at all. Brass is priced at $50 for 50 pieces for .25, .30, and .32 Rem. and at $30 - $36 for 50 pieces of .35 Rem.
A reloader will also need dies. RCBS and Redding dies are available for all four calibers. Hornady makes dies for reloading .25 and .35 Rem. and Lee catalogs .35 Rem. dies. Other reloading components (bullets, powders, primers) are readily available from multiple sources.
Current reloading manuals generally do not include load data for the .25, .30, and .32 Rem. calibers, but show a few .35 Rem. loads. However, Winchester .25-35, .30-30 and .32 Special load data can be used for the equivalent Remington cartridges, as they have essentially the same case capacity and use the same bullets. Using the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading (9th Ed.), here are reasonable loads for the Remington cartridges:
Effective range and downrange killing power of these loads merit discussion. At Guns and Shooting Online we generally use the +/- 3-inch maximum point blank range (MPBR) of big game hunting loads to evaluate their effective range. The .25 and .32 Rem. loads just listed have a 200 yard MPBR, while the MPBRs of the .30 and .35 Rem. loads are 195 and 190 yards, respectively. (MPBRs are rounded to the nearest five yard increment).
The Guns and Shooting Online Killing Power Formula is useful for evaluating and comparing the downrange power of hunting loads. This involves calculating a killing power score (KPS) of a load at any relevant range, and evaluating the KPS value against a reasonable baseline for the game being pursued. I use a baseline KPS of 12.5 for average deer-size game (up to about 150 pounds), and a KPS of 15 for larger Class 2 game (up to 300 pounds).
Here are the results for the four Remington loads listed above:
These killing power scores need only limited further discussion. The .25 Remington is dependable as a deer load only for sub-100 yard shots, its 200 yard MPBR notwithstanding. I recall popping some groundhogs at over 100 yards with the .25 Remington, but I believe the longest range at which I dropped a deer with it was about 60 yards.
The .30 Rem. load is effective on deer out to its 195 yard MPBR, but would not be recommended for larger Class 2 game beyond about 150 yards. (The load shown has a MPBR of 15.0 at 155 yards.) The .32 and .35 Rem. loads have full Class 2 power out to their MPBR distances.
Most modern day shooters would likely want to mount a scope on a Model 14 or 141 rifle. This is feasible, for Weaver #20A (rear) and #27 (front) bases fit the gun. These rifles were not factory drilled and tapped for scope bases, so that would need to be done before the bases could be mounted. A 1-4x20mm variable or 2.5x to 4x fixed power scope, mounted as low as possible, would be ideal.
The Remington Model 14/141 never achieved the prominence of competing hunting rifles of its era, such as the Winchester Model 94, Marlin Model 336 and Savage Model 99. However, anyone who owns a Model 14 or 141 has one of the better examples of American rifle design and workmanship from the first half of the 20th Century. Further, a Model 14 or 141 in sound working condition is still useful in the deer woods, as long as the hunter works within the practical capabilities of its cartridge.
Copyright 2017 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.