The Remington Model 700 Ultimate:
Remington has lowered the MSRP of its new Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader to under $1000. It is, as far as I'm concerned, the best muzzleloader on the market today. To explain why, I'll mention why it isn't.
Long distance muzzleloading isn't a new thing. The first Creedmore match of 1874 included shooting the 800 yard and 900 yard relays in the morning and the 1000 yard relay in the afternoon. The Irish team used Rigby muzzleloaders. One of the best shots on the Irish team, J. K. Milner, a 24 year old wool merchant, scored a bullseye on his first shot at 900 yards, only to discover he had fired at the wrong target. His shot was scored a miss and cost the Irish the match that was finally won on the very last shot of the match by the American team.
The use of a primed firing module in a centerfire rifle is anything but new. My friend, Henry Ball, original patent holder of what became the Savage 10ML filed for patent US 5511334 in October, 1994. It was granted on April 30, 1996. Not only was Henry's firing module extracted, it was ejected as well.
Although so-called sabot-less rifles are somehow considered new today, Henry Ball pioneered them back in the 1990s. I've shot them with Henry and they were superb, long available as custom rifles (your choice of action, barrel and stock) from Bill's Custom Guns in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It is not because it uses large rifle primers, for that approach was used back in 1996 as the Posi-Fire ignition System by Knight Rifles in the Knight MK-95 Magnum Elite. An eighteen year old idea, used by the biggest name in muzzleloading at the time, is anything but new.
High velocity inline muzzleloading rifles aren't new, either. The Knight Super 45 of over a dozen years ago clocked an average of 2639 fps with 150 grains of Pyrodex pellets with the Knight Red Hot 45/150 saboted bullets.
It is not because it is built like a real rifle, from a real rifle company. Ruger in their 77/50 series, Remington in the 700ML and Savage Arms in the 10ML series all used their respective short action rifles as the basis for these muzzleloaders.
It isn't strictly because of velocities, for I've been shooting 300 grain projectiles at 2300 fps or so for many years, which is about the limit of what I care to enjoy. It wouldn't be because of the excellent user-adjustable trigger, for the Savage 10ML-II had the Accu-Trigger back in 2004. It wouldn't be because of its 1:26 rate of twist barrel, either, for barrel twist rates from 1:20 to 1:28 have been common for decades, although 1:22 is about as tight as practical with sabots.
It certainly wouldn't be from whence it came, for the Ultimate Firearms BP Xpress is one of the most shamefully over-hyped and over-priced muzzleloaders ever perpetrated in recent times. It was and is a muzzleloading marketing crime.
However, the Remington Ultimate is the first time all of these things have come together, competently and affordably. Some may wonder, "What is wrong with the Savage 10ML-II?" What's wrong with the Savage is the same thing that is wrong with the T/C Omega: they are discontinued.
The Savage was, and is, an excellent muzzleloader. While the 10ML's use of smokeless powder cleaned up the barrel, much of the public couldn't get used to the mysterious smokeless powder, which they used without question in every other firearm. In addition, changing vent-liners and drilling out breech plugs took a small amount of getting used to.
Remington has an additional advantage by having Barnes as their sister company, for Barnes has a long track-record of muzzleloading successes. Three of the last four bears we have taken were with Barnes T-EZ 290 Flat Base bullets, the fourth was with a Barnes Original 300 grain semi-spitzer soft point. Barnes copper bullets essentially have no velocity limitation with muzzleloaders and the green sabot from Remington/MMP is the first I am aware of to actually be stronger, not just easy to load.
Variations in 209 primer tolerances have created headaches for years in several muzzleloader models. With Remington supplying their own primed brass, the stuck primer syndrome is no more.
Aesthetically, the 700 Ultimate has great appeal, particularly in the laminated version. Keeping the magazine floor plate, jeweled bolt, fluted stainless barrel and adding a Monte Carlo cheekpiece to the laminated stock are premium features that make the 700 Ultimate look like a premium rifle. In addition, it can make two bullet holes touch at 100 yards.
After reviewing the Remington 700 Ultimate laminate, I really liked it at the originally announced MSRP of $1295. Who wouldn't? Now that it is actually released at $999 (2014 MSRP) for the composite stocked version and a sticker price of a few dollars less for the laminate version, I'm loving it. That is a substantial price drop in favor of the consumer.
The Remington 700 Ultimate is the only production muzzleloader on the market today built like a centerfire, bolt-action rifle. It has all the desirable features of the Model 700 action: the easy bolt lift, a large loading port (in this case for primed brass) and a large recoil lug. It has a superior 2.6 millisecond lock time, an excellent zero take-up trigger and the capability of using 200 grain (by volume) propellant charges.
It is one of the softest-shooting muzzleloaders with standard 100 grain class propellant charges, has the cleanest breeching system of any muzzleloader and it is the easiest, most hassle free muzzleloader to use. It also looks great and sells for thousands of dollars less than custom muzzleloaders that use the very same action.
S&W is going to sell a lot less T/C Encores this year; so is everyone else in the premium production muzzleloading arena. The Remington 700 Ultimate is, as far as I'm concerned, the industry-leading muzzleloader of 2014 by a substantial margin. The only problem Remington is going to have with this eleventh hour 2014 release is filling demand. That is not a bad problem to have.
Copyright 2014, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.