Remington Model 700 Rifles
By Chuck Hawks
The Remington Model 700 series is the all-time best selling line of bolt action sporting rifles in the world. They were an immediate hit when introduced in 1962 and have never looked back. The Model 700 has also become the favored action of many custom rifle builders.
The Model 700 action was designed for ease of manufacture, given the manufacturing technology of the early 1960's, and uses a round action machined from bar stock, a plunger ejector in the bolt face and a sort of circlip in the bolt face that snaps over the rim of a chambered cartridge to extract the fired brass. The bolt face is recessed to enclose the base of the cartridge, which is also surrounded by the chamber end of the barrel and the front receiver ring. The cartridge head is thus circled by three rings of steel, much as with the Weatherby Mark V action, and this fact was not overlooked by the Remington advertising department.
Traditionalists considered these cost cutting innovations "cheap," but the customers responded in droves to the undeniable good looks of the Model 700 ADL and BDL rifles themselves. They were among the best looking hunting rifles ever introduced and the stock design handled recoil very well, which made them pleasant to shoot. The two position safety (back for "safe" and forward for "fire") at the rear of the action is easy to operate; it used to lock the bolt (to prevent inadvertent opening in the field) as well as the trigger, but the former feature has been eliminated. They were also hell for strong and very accurate. An excellent user-adjustable trigger with the exceptionally fast lock time of 3.0 milliseconds complemented the inherent accuracy of the new rifles.
Remington got a leg up on the market because in 1964 Winchester introduced a revised version of their famous Model 70 rifle--really a new action--also designed for easier manufacture, that pleased practically no one. The new Model 70 was actually a good action, but the stock design, barrel bedding, checkering, and so forth left a lot to be desired. Many previous Winchester customers turned to the sharp looking Model 700 from Remington.
The Model 700 has evolved with the market place and today it is available in a bewildering array of models. Some are pretty plain and some are bespoke rifles turned out to special order in Remington's Custom Gun Shop. Model 700 barreled actions are made from carbon or stainless steel, with matte or polished finishes, and stocked in solid walnut, laminated wood, and synthetic materials. They come in a variety of barrel lengths and contours and for a wide range of cartridges. The constant (at least for the centerfire rifles) is the Model 700 action itself, the heart of every Model 700 rifle.
I have been involved with Model 700 rifles since 1965 and I have lost track of all of the permutations over the years. In 2008 alone the Remington catalog lists some 21 variations of Model 700's, excluding Custom Shop offerings.
It is impossible to chronicle so many models in one article, so I will attempt to describe only a few of the best known and most interesting Model 700 variations. For 2008, the top of the Model 700 line is the CDL (blued barreled action and walnut stock) and CDL SF (stainless/fluted barreled action and walnut stock). CDL models come standard with a hinged magazine floorplate (the release button is inside the front of the trigger guard). The classic style, straight comb stocks are laser cut checkered in a generous pattern and supplied with studs for detachable sling swivels. Both the barreled action and the stock of all CDL models wears a non-glare satin finish. We have reviewed the 2008 Limited Edition version of the Model 700 CDL SF in .260 caliber, so for further details about this model I will simply refer you to the Product review Page.
The Model 700 BDL (which I translate as "B-grade Deluxe") was the flagship of the Model 700 line from its inception until the introduction of the CDL in 2005. BDL models come standard with a hinged magazine floorplate (the release button is inside the front of the trigger guard) or a detachable box magazine ("DM" versions). Stocks are checkered and supplied with studs for detachable sling swivels. Left handed BDL's are available.
The traditional BDL comes with a genuine walnut Monte Carlo style stock which is cut checkered in an attractive skip-line point pattern that wraps around the fore-end. This stock is fitted with a black fore-end tip, pistol grip cap, and black butt plate or recoil pad (in magnum calibers), all set off by white line spacers. The barreled action receives Remington's polished blue finish. An adjustable open rear and hooded ramp front sight are standard. This is Remington's most attractive regular production rifle.
Over the years, the walnut stocked BDL has been available in more calibers than any other Model 700 variation. in 2005 the list included .17 Rem., .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., .25-06 Rem., .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., .280 Rem., 7mm Rem. Mag., 7mm Ultra Mag, .308 Win., .30-06 Spfd., .300 Win. Mag., .300 Ultra Mag, .338 Win. Mag., .338 Ultra Mag and .375 Ultra Mag, but by 2008 the list had been significently reduced in favor of the newer Model 700 CDL.
There is also a Synthetic Stainless BDL. This version features a matte black synthetic stock with a recoil pad and a satin (silver) stainless steel barreled action without sights. The BDL Synthetic Stainless is a handsome example of a rifle of its type. It is available in calibers .270 Win., 7mm Rem. SAUM, 7mm Rem. Mag., 7mm Ultra Mag, .30-06 Spfd., .300 Rem. SAUM, .300 Win. Mag., .300 Ultra Mag, .338 Win. Mag., .338 Ultra Mag, .375 H&H Mag. and .375 Ultra Mag.
Special long range Model 700's include the Sendero SF and Varmint rifles. The Sendero SF is an ultra-long range big game rifle that features a fluted, stainless steel, heavy barreled action in a special, un-checkered, aramid-fiber-reinforced stock with full length aluminum bedding blocks. Calibers are limited to the various 7mm and .300 Magnums, plus the .338 Ultra Mag.
The three Model 700 Varmint rifles are the 700 VS, a heavy barreled varmint rifle with a fiberglass composite stock; the 700 VLS, a heavy barrel varmint rifle in a laminated wood Monte Carlo style stock; and the 700 VS SF, with a heavy, fluted, stainless steel barreled action in a fiberglass composite stock. None of these stocks are checkered. Calibers include .220 Swift, .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem. and .308 Win. The latter, of course, is not a varmint caliber at all.
An oddity is the Ultimate Lightweight Model 700 Titanium. This features a titanium action mated to a 22" lightweight stainless steel barrel, a fluted bolt, and a very plain, un-checkered, carbon-fiber composite stock. It weighs only 5 1/4 pounds in short action calibers .260 Rem., 7mm-08 Rem. and .308 Win. or 5 1/2 pounds in long action calibers .270 Win. and .30-06 Spfd. Maybe they should have named it the Ultimate Kick Model 700 Titanium!
One of the neatest Model 700's is the Mountain Rifle LSS. The Mountain Rifle LSS is a deluxe model that features a stainless steel barreled action with a slim profile 22" barrel and a slender, modern classic style, laminated hardwood stock. 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.
In the Remington world, "LSS" signifies a rifle with laminated wood stock and stainless steel metal parts. The internal magazine has a hinged floorplate with a trigger guard mounted release. The stock is stained a medium walnut brown color. The barreled action is made from satin finished 416 stainless steel. It is a good looking rifle that stops just this side of being gaudy--a line that other stainless/laminated rifles often, unfortunately, cross to their detriment. The stock has a tough synthetic finish to protect it from the elements. It also has a black forearm tip, a black pistol grip cap, a solid rubber butt pad and studs for detachable sling swivels. It is checkered in a generous and deeply laser cut point pattern that wraps completely around the forearm. Calibers offered in 2008 are .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, 7mm-08 and .30-06.
Remington Model 700 rifles have always had an excellent reputation for accuracy and that has been my experience with them. To this day the deluxe models remain among the best shooting and nicest looking production rifles on the market.
Note: Full reviews of the Model 700 Mountain Rifle LSS and Model 700 CDL SF can be found on the Product Reviews page.
Copyright 2003 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.