Despite faults, Remington 700 has devotees, and rightly so

Second of Two Parts
Find the first installment at: www.lebanonlocalnews.com/remington-model-700-while-a-favorite-has-flaws/.

Ask the average hunter/gun owner what the biggest problem is with the Remington 700 rifle and you will probably get a vague mention of “some problem with the trigger.”
This is probably one of the 700’s best features, in reality.
Unfortunately, Remington did cause themselves a very expensive, deadly problem with this trigger system. There have been a few lawsuits, some in the millions of dollars, that are based on some idiot pointing a loaded rifle at a human being, flipping the safety off and consequently killing some and maiming others.
Sad, but stupid, mistakes made with potentially deadly tools do get people injured and killed every day.
Remington’s fault in the matter is that they put a “packing grease,” or cosmoline, in the trigger mechanism with the good intention of curbing problem-causing rust and corrosion.
This was a very good intention that has gone horribly wrong over the years. As time goes by, the lubricating “oily” part of the grease has leached away or evaporated leaving the “waxy” gunk behind. This wax is bad enough by itself, but it also tends to hold dust, pine needles, sand, dirt and other debris in the trigger system/housing.
The usual scenario is that a round is chambered, and the safety is applied, which holds the striker in the fired position. The trigger itself is free to move back and forth with the safety on, its return spring returns it to the reset position and, when the safety is pushed off, the sear and cocking piece fall back on the relaxed trigger. If the trigger housing is so full of muck that the trigger sticks in the forward (fired) position, it is not there to catch the relaxing sear and cocking piece and the gun fires.
If the rifle was/is maintained properly, this would be a virtually impossible occurrence; but Remington didn’t do themselves any favors by using that packing grease.
None of this changes the fact that, at its core, the Remington “7 series” trigger is one of the best ever put in a mass-produced rifle. They may not have the greatest pull “out of the box,” but they rarely can’t be made to break very cleanly.
There are a few other characteristics of these rifles that are mistated, misunderstood or ignorantly propagated.
One is that the round receiver of these rifles is easier to bed and more importantly; a better bedding foundation. This is only true if you are wanting to simply inset a V-block into a stock and bolt it on. That is not the best bedding system anyway – simply the easiest good bedding system that can be quickly manufactured with no hand fitting.
Even a V-block system on a round receiver benefits from epoxy bedding.
A flat bottom action with a substantial recoil lug, such as a Winchester Model 70 (especially if the forward action screw threads in behind the lug and not into it), and similar actions produce superior bedding as they cannot rock around like a round tube in a round saddle can.
Both styles can be bedded very effectively if done correctly by hand, but the flat-bottom action is better in this aspect.
The thin, wafer recoil lug sandwiched in between the barrel and receiver on the Remington rifles is problematic also.
It is too thin to really do its job well all of the time and it is quite often not flat and square.
Some might not think this is a big deal, but since it is placed between the two largest steel components of the rifle that have the most bearing on accuracy and they are screwed together through, and around, it I would think that it being wedge-shaped would be detrimental to the alignment of the action and barrel.
Much thicker, robust and absolutely flat and parallel recoil lugs have been a staple of the 700-building fraternity for years and it is no big deal to install one when rebarreling one. But it’s not so easy to add to a factory rifle, which is why most Remington rifles still wear the factory item.
The 700 is easier to “true” than the non-round actions, however, since it is easier/quicker to set up in a lathe.
Many Remington owners look down their nose at Savage rifles. One thing they point to is the multi-piece bolt design of the Savage as inferior.
We’ve already learned there are at least two pieces to the bolt: the body and the handle, but actually there are three: the forward part of the bolt body containing the recoil lugs is a separate piece from the rear in Remington’s “Sevens.” They are joined into one and then polished out or blasted with media so that the seam cannot be seen.
As a nod to my Savage bias, I will say that the separate bolt head/locking lugs of its design actually serve a purpose other than manufacturing simplicity; it “floats,” compensating for receiver/barrel mis-alignment. Since the Remington’s bolt is ridged, it has no such advantage.
I’ve mentioned one distinctly good point of the Remington that was also its perceived weakness: the very good trigger mechanism.
But there are a couple of other good features.
The first is the lock time. This is a measurement, in milliseconds, of the time it takes from the trigger releasing the sear to the firing pin/striker to make contact with the detonating primer in a chambered cartridge.
The 700 has one of the shortest lock times of any rifle, which has contributed (rightly or wrongly) to its popularity in any accuracy- oriented pursuit.
Most modern bolt-action rifles have an acceptably short lock time as well and this can be compensated for by simply following the correct technique of “following through” with the shot/trigger pull.
The last advantage is that the Remington 700 is the “Small Block Chevy” of rifles.
If you see an accessory for a bolt rifle in a catalog or magazine there is a virtual guarantee it is available for the 700.
You must be thinking that I wouldn’t own a Remington “7” series rifle. You’re right! But I would own an amount of them in the double digits.
I have Sevens, 700s, 721s and 722s, even a 78 and two 600s.
Remington’s stocks – be they wood, laminated or synthetic – have consistently “fit” me better than about any other make and I have a fondness for the pre-early 1980s rifles when the safety still locked the bolt closed when applied.
Most still wear the factory recoil lug I have just derided, as well.
Most of the Remingtons that I use as serious hunting rifles all have had the extractors replaced with Sako/McMillan-style ones for peace of mind.
The bolt handles have been reinforced with a machine screw attaching them securely to the body and while I was in there, I swapped the springs out for the stronger ones by Wolff to ensure they will always go “bang” no matter what temperature they are subjected to.
I still prefer a Savage or Sako for varmint and target shooting and a good old fool-proof Winchester pre ’64 or Classic Model 70 or the dead reliable Mausers if hunting an animal that can kill me back.
But my Remingtons dutifully and proudly take their place right alongside the others in the gun safe.

Jeff Hutchins is owner-operator of Rangemaster Gunworks in Lebanon. He writes regularly for Lebanon Local.