The title of “Gold Standard” is no easy achievement to attain in any real competition. Having said such, if you put the proverbial gun to my head demanding I crown the greatest of all time American hunting rifle. I would have to pick between the Winchester Model 70, and the Remington Model 700. And lucky for you, today we will focus on the latter of the two, and what makes its reign so supreme.
The Model 700
The 700 was first produced in the early 60’s. A design meant to be mass produced with all the best that Remington had learned since its inception. It has since been revised, refined, improved, copied, cloned, and adopted. One would hope that the diverse offerings in the 700 line were not a contributing factor to Remington’s financial problems (but Im sure it did). There has been quite a few variants over the years, some stood the test of time. While others quickly faded away in dust covered gun cabinets. I’ve had a few myself during my firearm infatuation, and I can say none of them ever let me down.
A Hunter’s Rifle
The 700 has always had some great features that make it an excellent choice for hunters. Whether you like wood or synthetic, there is a stock selection that should fit your taste. Stainless all-weather models for those of us who love to hunt in the clouds, as well as traditional bluing and satin coated spray finishes. Left-hand models for those who were mis-wired, assorted barrel lengths, twists and contours, as well as some with threaded muzzles. And whether you are hunting varmints with a .223 or moose with a 338WM there are incredible choices in calibers across the many variants.
Its All About the Options
Few rifles in the market enjoy as much aftermarket support as the Remington 700, you can find almost any conceivable accessory made for rifles. This gives shooters the ability to customize their rifle in subtle or extreme ways. And we know how much everybody loves to make their rifle their own.
All of the best trigger manufacturers have a model for the 700, which is great considering the recent issues Remington faced with the X-mark. Rifle chassis for the 700 are everywhere, making it easy for beginners to upgrade their rifle as their skills improve. Scope mounting systems, bolt-releases, improved extractors, floor-plates and magazines of all kinds can be used to fit a rifle to your specified purpose.
So prevalent is the Model 700 that it’s footprint has become the standard for the growing mass of custom action makers. This is not so much an endorsement of superiority in design, but more of a recognition of market direction.
A rifle that grows with you
A new hunter could start out with a bone-stock 700 SPS from a pawn shop, and as skills and needs grow, a better barrel might be installed. A new stock or chassis could be added to increase rigidity, followed by perhaps a muzzle brake to help visualize impacts and recoil management. Better scope options with canted bases for increasing range as hit ratio increases at typical distances. You get the idea…
And years later the same hunter may be using the same carbon fiber stock but has since upgraded to a Defiance Action and carbon-wrapped barrel. Many of us have traveled this road that started with a humble little Remington 700 picked up from a swap meet. My first 700 came from way back in the 60’s when the guns were still quite new. It’s since moved along to a new owner, but sometimes I miss that old smooth action. At least one elk and a few deer succumbed to its shots.
The venerable model 700 has seen action across the planet. Whether it be hunting, or as a law enforcement/military tool. Being in the business of shooting things for over fifty years can sure build a case for setting the standard, and the Remington 700 has surely shown to be that. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who got handed down a rifle from Father or Grandfather, a rifle that came with both history and prestige.
Much of the same could be said about the 700’s former biggest competitor, the Model 70. But not to same degree. But that ship sailed, and all that are left besides the limited 700’s are countless 700 clones from companies like Bergara and others. As well as seemingly cheaper models that while serviceable, don’t carry the same reputation or performance.
The Remington 700 definitively has everything a budding hunter could ask for. And you could probably find a dozen of them between here and the next sporting goods shop. Its a rifle that can grow with you, or spend generations giving families their annual venison. All this without much more than the occasional oiling.