A classic beauty in a classic caliber
Story and Photos by Denis Prisbrey
In 1961, Remington was working hard at re-vamping its centerfire bolt-action lineup. At a time when “new” was automatically better, modern was “in” and the public at large was busily spending money hand over fist for the latest and greatest, the company—which traces its roots back to 1816—felt the push. Building on the foundation laid by Mike Walker’s design team with the 721/722 Model series in the 1940s, the new Model 700 was introduced to the shooting world at large in January of 1962, in ADL and BDL models—originally A “Deluxe Grade” and B “Deluxe Grade.”
Arguably, the new 700 did almost as much to solidify Remington’s reputation as a top-tier American rifle maker as the invention of gunpowder did. The Remington 700 rifle and 870 pump shotgun are two undeniable classic designs in the firearms world, and neither one shows any signs of slowing down today. With 49 years of history behind it, chances are very good you’ve handled, fired or owned a Model 700 if you’re interested enough in firearms to be reading this magazine.
Preceded by two years by Winchester’s highly unpopular 1964 overhaul of its competing Model 70 boltgun to lower its costs, Remington’s goals with the new design were to improve on the earlier hunting rifles in several areas that included reliability, strength, cosmetics and (not least) economical manufacturing. The end result succeeded far beyond the company’s expectations. Where riflemen were downright angry with Winchester for “cheapening” the Model 70, they loved the new Remington 700.
At the heart of the Model 700 was a very strong and stiff cylindrical action milled from bar stock that could be easily bedded in its stock, added to which was a unique barrel bedding system, fast 3.2 millisecond lock time, a crisp trigger, tight bore tolerances, a relatively short-leade chamber, and a bolt with double locking lugs up front and a rear backup “safety” lug in a recess on the right side of the receiver next to the two-position safety. And let’s not forget that recessed bolt face with integral extractor and plunger ejector that locks up inside the breech of the barrel to provide the famous “three rings of steel,” long touted by Remington as a safety measure should a case rupture upon firing.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
During the years since 1962, the Model 700 has gone through several changes, variations and calibers. Today it’s a favorite in police and military hands, and it remains a first choice among hundreds of thousands of hunters. The “black” tactical and synthetic models get a good chunk of the available space in print, but Remington still hasn’t forgotten the days when walnut and polished blue steel ruled, nor has it forgotten about those customers who feel that tradition and pride of ownership counts for something, too.
Currently, Remington shows no ADL on its website and only one configuration for the BDL, but that BDL is more than just a deluxe Remington; it’s a blast from the past. The only Model 700 variation in the regular lineup I can find that still has adjustable iron sights. The rifle also hearkens back to the days of a highly varnished walnut stock, with cleanly cut skipline checkering on the wrist and fore-end.
Another well-done nod to more distant times are the perfectly fitted black checkered buttplate with Remington crest, wrist cap and fore-end cap, all three with white-line spacers. And, a Monte Carlo comb with full raised cheekpiece. You just don’t see many rifles now that are set up like the BDL.
Other features include the recessed target crown, hinged alloy magazine floorplate, checkered bolt handle, jeweled bolt body and sling swivel studs. The BDL gets preferential treatment, and out of the box it’s nice to see what life used to be like before matte finishes and “plastic” stocks took over.
THE VERSATILE .30-06
Available now in .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Remington Ultra Mag, the BDL can handle anything from antelope to bear with the appropriate caliber choice. The two most popular of those calibers are obviously the .30-06 and the 7mm Mag, and since we’re going old school, I asked Remington for a sample in the tried-and-true .30-06 that has worked so well for so many generations over the past 105 years. Technically speaking, the .30-06 caliber in itself can also handle anything from antelope to bear with the right bullet weight, and those can run from 110 grains to 220 grains in full-diameter projectiles.
There are many shooters who like to use one rifle and one caliber since it’s cheaper to buy one do-it-all gun than it is to buy several guns, each dedicated to a specific size or type of game, switching through different bullet weights in that rifle as indicated for different needs. But, I don’t like constantly messing with sight or scope adjustments, and once I get a load worked out for a particular gun, I tend to stick to just that load.
With that in mind, I rounded up five newer .30-06 factory loads in three different bullet weights appropriate to whitetails, muleys and elk for range testing, and took along an old standard for benching at 100 yards at a state-owned range near my home. As popular as the caliber is, it’s under continual development in recent years as advancements are made in new bullet technology, and terminal performance today has come a long way since your grandpappy hunted with his old ought-six.
To read this article in its entirety, pick up the July issue of Gun World magazine, available on newsstands now.