Move over AR: The Remington 700 has already claimed and proven itself as “America’s rifle.”
Why the Remington 700 is among the best bolt-actions ever designed:
- Strong action with three rings of steel supporting cartridge head.
- Extremely fast lock time (3.2 milliseconds).
- Known for tight barrel and chamber tolerances.
- Available with two action sizes.
- More than 5 million sold since 1962.
When the Model 700 was introduced by Remington in 1962, hardly anyone expected that it would dominate the rifle market for a half-century. The Winchester Model 70, in its pre-64 version, was the one that all other bolt actions were compared to at the time. The introduction of the 700 turned out to be good timing for Remington because, 2 years later, Winchester made many changes to the Model 70 that to this day make 1964 a turning point in rifle history. As is the case with most Winchester firearms, “pre-64” adds to the value.
The 700 was the creation of the late Remington engineer Mike Walker, who died in 2013 at the age of 101. It was an update of the Models 721, 722 and 725, which were also designed by Walker. The 700 had a stronger action, promoted as having three rings of steel supporting the cartridge head — the bolt shroud, the chamber and the receiver ring. It was advertised as “the world’s strongest bolt action,” a claim that Remington still makes today.
Accuracy of the Remington 700 is excellent; in fact, it has been called the most accurate factory rifle made in the United States. Walker had given the rifle a very fast lock time (3.2 milliseconds) that contributes to its reputation for accuracy, along with the tighter bore and chamber tolerances.
The Model 700 is the most successful factory-made bolt-action rifle, with more than 5 million made to date. Remington states on its website, “For over 50 years, more Model 700s have been sold than any other bolt-action rifle before or since.” The Model 700 has been chambered for more than 50 different calibers and, over the years, has been in Remington catalogs under a staggering 900-plus SKUs (stock keeping units.)
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The 700 was introduced in two action lengths and two grades, ADL and BDL. Barrels were 20 inches for standard calibers (.222 Rem., .222 Mag., .243 Win., 6mm Rem., .270 Win., .280 Rem., .308 Win., .30-06) and 23½ inches for magnums (7mm Rem., .264 Win.). A couple of years later, barrel lengths were changed to 22 and 24 inches, respectively. The ADL had a blind magazine and limited amount of pressed “checkering.” The BDL had a hinged floorplate and a stock with a fleur-de-lis pressed checkering pattern, and white line spacers at the butt plate, grip cap and the black forend tip. Initial prices were $114.95 for the ADL, $139.95 for the BDL and $15 more for magnums.
When the Model 700 came out in 1962, Remington used the occasion to introduce the 7mm Remington Magnum, which became one of the most popular chamberings. Some calibers are rare and will bring a premium on the used and collector markets. These include the .222 Rem., 6.5 and .350 Remington Magnums, 7mm Weatherby Magnum, .257 Roberts and 7×57 Mauser. Also, certain calibers are hard to find in certain models.
Learn More: The Revolutionary 7mm Mauser
Most Model 700s have been, and still are, hunting rifles. The calibers offered have ranged from the .17 Fireball to the .458 Winchester, suitable for any game on earth. There have been numerous variations of hunting models, including varminters, long-range rifles, designs for younger hunters, Alaska and Africa models, extreme conditions specials and others. When you add the different types of stocks, barrel lengths and styles, sights, finishes and other options, that’s where you get the 900 SKUs.
The Model 700 tactical models are also highly respected in military and law enforcement circles. Features that set them apart from the hunting models are special stocks designs, barrels types and lengths, and finishes. Some come as special packages that are sold with scopes, bipods, cases and other accessories.
One of the rarest 700s is the EtronX VS SF, which was on the market from 1999 to 2003. While an interesting in concept, it was not a commercial success. Ammunition for the EtronX had an electronic primer, and its firing system used an electronic discharge from a 9-volt battery that provided instantaneous ignition. No moving parts meant basically zero lock time. The rifle was introduced in .22-250 Rem., .220 Swift and .243 Winchester but never became popular — just a bit radical for the mainstream shooter. However, enough were sold that Remington still makes ammunition and the electronic primers, which are needed for reloading.
The Remington Custom Shop has created many special-order versions of the Model 700 over the rifle’s 57-year run. These models have different levels of engraving and wood, and from 1962 to 1983 they were known by grade designations C, D, F, Peerless and Premier. These became Grades I, II and III from 1983 to 1991. In 1992, grades were eliminated, and ever since the custom shop models have been simply called the Model 700 Custom Rifle.
Remington model 700 Estimated Values
Courtesy of Standard Catalog of Firearms, 2018 Edition.
BDL 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (2012)
CUSTOM C GRADE
AFRICAN PLAINS RIFLE (APR)
AFRICAN BIG GAME (ABG)
ALASKAN WILDERNESS RIFLE (AWR)
ALASKAN TI (TITANIUM)
CLASSIC LIMITED EDITION
Note: Add 25 percent for .250 Savage, .257 Roberts, 6.5 x 55 or 7 x 57
TACTICAL CHASSIS (2014)
XCR TACTICAL LONG RANGE
Note: Add 50 percent for .338 Lapua
The article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.