For a gun design to remain unchanged for a quarter of a century is rather common for a bolt-action centerfire rifle, but not so when we’re talking about a semiauto. Remington’s Model 750 Woodsmaster, introduced last year, represents the first substantial change in the design since its predecessor, the Model 7400, was introduced in 1981. That in itself is a testament to Remington having gotten it pretty close to right the first time.
Actually, the basic design goes back to the Model 740 of 1955 when it replaced the Model 81 that had been in production since 1936. According to Remington historian Bill Marcot, the decision to replace the 81 was made in August of 1944, so why it took an 11-year gestation I haven’t a clue.
The history of Remington’s involvement with self-loading centerfires is an interesting one, as it was the first American manufacturer to introduce such a gun in this country back in 1906. It became known as the Model 8, and, interestingly enough, it was based on a John Browning design for which Remington paid him royalties. The Model 8 utilized the same recoiling barrel system as the one first seen in the storied Browning A-5 shotgun that became affectionately known as the “humpback.”
Remington Model 750
|MANUFACTURER:||Remington Arms Co.|
|ACTION TYPE:||Gas-operated semiautomatic|
|CALIBER:||.243 Win., .308 Win., .270 Win., .30-06, .35 Whelen (tested)|
|BARREL LENGTH:||22 inches, 18 1/2, carbine)|
|WEIGHT:||7 1/4 pounds, 7 1/2 pounds|
|STOCK:||Satin walnut or synthetic with recoil pad|
|SIGHTS:||Adjustable rear, ramp front. Drilled and tapped for scope|
In conjunction with the Model 8 came the .25, .30, .32 and .35 Remington family of cartridges. The Model 8 was replaced in 1936 by the Model 81, which was little more than a cosmetic redo of the Model 8 and was chambered for the same cartridges except for the .25, which was dropped from the line at that time.
Which brings us back to the Model 740 of 1955, the progenitor of the new Model 750. Designed by L.R. Crittenden and Bill Gail, Jr., the 740 was the sleekest, smallest and lightest semiauto rifle capable of digesting the .30-06 family of cartridges. It remains so to this day. Inside the 740’s streamlined, compact receiver was a multi-lug rotary bolt that locked up with an insert housed in a barrel extension.
Gases bled from the barrel powered the piston that reciprocated twin action bars connected to the bolt. Unlike its predecessors, the 740 utilized a four-round detachable box magazine. The 740 lasted only five years before it was replaced by the 742, but it was essentially the same gun cosmetically updated and with Teflon added to some bearing surfaces.
The first substantive changes to the 740/742 series came in 1982 with the Model Four/7400 series. Despite the two designations, the guns differed only in cosmetics. The major change over the 740 was in the lockup.
Whereas the earlier guns used the interrupted thread system, which resulted in 19 individual (and obviously very tiny) locking lugs, the bolt head of the new 7400 sported only four. With fewer locking lugs it’s easier to achieve tighter manufacturing tolerances, which in turn ensures a greater degree of contact between the locking lugs and their abutment surfaces.
To improve reliability, the magazine was changed to feed cartridges at a shallower angle, and the breech was counterbored to a funnel shape to “gather in,” as it were, the noses of misaligned cartridges headed for the chamber.
The extractor was also changed; where once it was secured by a small rivet, it was now held in place by its own spring tension exerted against its annular retaining groove inside the recessed bolt face. (This same change was also made to the extractor of the Model 700 bolt-action rifle.) The Model Four designation used to distinguish the deluxe version of this gun was dropped after a few years; only the Model 7400 name was used, until now.
With the new Model 750 comes the fourth generation of the original Model 740. For testing I chose a caliber that in this gun makes for a very potent short- to medium-range rig perfectly capable of taking on any animal on the continent, the .35 Whelen. Ind
eed, my plan was to use the test gun on an Alberta black bear hunt, for it would be difficult to come up with a more formidable choice for that particular application, but I didn’t receive the gun in time for my hunt.
The Model 750 weighed in at 7 1/2 pounds as it came from the box, and with its 22-inch barrel it measured 42 5/8 inches overall. Distinguishing this gun cosmetically from it forebears is a beavertail-like forearm that’s accentuated by a sharply delineated ridge running its entire length on each side.
With the bottom half of the forearm being wider than the upper half, it forms a flute of sorts where the two surfaces meet. The visual effect is quite handsome and lends a distinctive look to the gun. As for the rest of the changes made, they’re all functional, but the only one visible from the outside is the presence of a free-rotating sling swivel stud at the forearm tip, a feature not found on previous models.
Beneath that forearm is an improved gas system that Remington claims is cleaner and more efficient. By moving the gas vent closer to the chamber, there should be less carbon deposits on the piston assembly and bolt velocity should be more consistent.
Also, all reciprocating surfaces are now coated with Teflon for smoother, quieter operation. All the aforementioned changes are said to translate into more reliable operation, particularly in severe environments.
The 750’s detachable magazine remains the same and is interchangeable with earlier Model 7400 versions. As such, it is unique in that the bolt hold-open feature is built into it. Holding the bolt open after the last shot is the magazine follower, which juts up into the bolt raceway to interfere with the bolt closing.
In this respect it’s like the military Mauser 98. By sliding a latch located near the bottom left side of the magazine forward, the rear of the follower is tilted downward, allowing the bolt to close. The magazine-release latch is also the same as on previous models in that it’s located on the front web of the triggerguard bow on the right side.
To ready the test gun for the range, I mounted a Swarovski 1.5-6×42 scope in a Talley mount. It should be noted here that even with a scope mounted, the 750 has a nice balance and one-hand grasping quality that is unlike that of a bolt-action rifle. Thanks to the rounded contours of the magazine and the slim receiver, one-hand carrying of the 750 at one’s side approaches the feel and balance of a Winchester 94 or Marlin 336, and that’s saying something.
Only Remington loads ammo for the .35 Whelen, and only two are offered: a 200-grain PSP at 2,675 fps and a 250-grain PSP at 2,400. Muzzle energies are 3,177 and 3,197 ft-lbs, respectively; that’s about 250 ft-lbs more in both cases than a 180-grain .30-06. All I had on hand was the 200-grain loading, and to wait the additional seven to 10 days it would have taken to get some 250-grain loads delivered wasn’t in the cards, so I went ahead with just the 200s.
Though it’s generally thought that anything other than a bolt action has no chance of even approaching MOA accuracy, I’ve tested a few other action types that refuted that notion, among them some predecessors of this new Model 750 and its sister model, the slide-action Model 7600. The latter is basically the same rifle, but instead of a gas piston doing the work, the action bars are connected to a movable fore-end for manual operation.
Over the course of firing 60 rounds at the range, the gun functioned without any problems. Accuracy was quite good, averaging 15?8 inches for the best of seven three-shot groups (out of 10 fired) from a cold barrel. That’s from a self-loader that can spit four rounds in the bat of an eye. The trigger was kind of mushy and had noticeable creep, and it broke at just under five pounds, but then that’s the nature of the internal hammer employed in the gun’s modular trigger unit. It really wasn’t all that bad by anything but bolt-action standards.
I’ve never been a big fan of autoloaders, but a lot of you out there are, and they just don’t come any better than this Remington 750. Its only real competition is the Benelli R-1 and Browning’s BAR, so with there being only two other guns one might consider, comparing the feel, balance and features among the three guns is relatively easy compared to shopping for a bolt action, of which there are so many. It’s a tough choice because they’re all very good guns.
When introduced last year, the 750 was offered only with a walnut stock as per the Woodsmaster test gun, but for ’07 the 750 Synthetic joins the line, displacing the previous Model 7400, which is no more. Both the wood- and synthetic-stocked 750s are offered in a carbine version with 181?2-inch barrels but are available only in .308 and .30-06. As for the .35 Whelen, it continues to be av
ailable only in the Woodsmaster, but I for one would like to see it offered in the Synthetic as well.