August 20, 2020
For a lot of us Baby Boomers, Remington’s milestone Model 700 —introduced in 1962—is the bolt action we reflexively associate with the Big Green and its late, great design genius, Mike Walker. But the 721 (long action)/722 (short action) series, produced from 1948 until the advent of the Model 700, still has plenty of fans. I became one myself, through a couple of sessions with the final (1958-61) member of the line: the Model 725.
What differentiated the 725 from, say, the 721? A couple of interesting features—some retro, some progressive. First off, it didn’t have the smaller, thumb-friendly safety lever of the 721. Instead, it employed the larger safety of the pre-war Model 30 series—including the rear cut-out. But unlike the 721, it had a quick-release latch for the hinged floorplate located ahead of the trigger, in front of the 721-style push-button bolt release.
The 725’s Monte Carlo stock was in contrast to the straight-ahead sporting stock of the 721 BDL (which was reincarnated in the 700’s Classic series much later). But there was no “Weatherby-esque” Monte Carlo cheekpiece on the 725, just a token dip at the rear of the comb.
The 725 was produced in long-action ADL trim only, although it was chambered to short-action cartridges in its final two years of production. These included the .222 and .244 Rem. as well as the .243 Win. The standard-length chamberings were the stars of the day: .270 Win., .280 Rem. and .30-06. And until Remington stirred things up mightily with the 7mm Rem. Mag. version of the Model 700, these cartridges pretty much represented most of what any responsible adult could ask for in terms of big game performance for North America.
The Model 700 may have contributed heavily toward mainstreaming magnum chamberings, but it wasn’t Remington’s first attempt in this regard. There was, interestingly, an ultra-rare limited-edition Model 725 Kodiak in .375 H&H and .458 Win. Mag.
As you might expect, they’re worth tall dollars today. In fact, my source for these vintage Remingtons, Doug Fee, has been scouring auction lists in search of a semi-affordable Kodiak for many moons. At last report, his search continues.
The .30-06 Model 725 I had access to featured a vintage Leupold M7 4X scope in a rock-solid Redfield one-piece bridge mount—a period-correct setup. Pretty bombproof? Yes, as far as I’m concerned, the bridge mount may be a pain in the butt for loading quickly, but this is a hunting rifle. The only problem was the reticle on that elderly Leupold—a two-minute Lee dot set at the intersection of the finest crosshairs I’ve ever seen—made it a challenge to shoot. And the trigger pull was a bit heavier than I would have liked, 4.5 pounds but with nothing in the way of creep.
However, in the interests of shooting a vintage rifle “as is,” I was pretty much married to it for better or worse, particularly since I’d borrowed it from Doug, and I wasn’t about to mess with his rig.
Although the Model 700 and its myriad variants became Remington’s go-to bolt action, that didn’t stop the company from introducing other bolt actions over the following decades. The inexpensive rear-lug Model 788 (maybe the best “price” rifle ever), Model 78 Sportsman, Model 710, Mauser-style Model 783 and Model 600 carbine. But the Model 725 is well worth scouting used racks for. Doug’s got a line on a pristine one in .280 Rem. That oughta be worth looking at.
The Model 30S
Before Remington updated its postwar bolt-action lineup with the 721/722/725 series, the distinctive Model 30S served American hunters with distinction. It was a sporterized, upgraded descendant of the M1917 Enfield of World War I fame, some featuring a Lyman or Redfield receiver sight.
In the early 1940s Remington attempted to replace the M30—and perhaps compete with Winchester’s Model 70—with the sleeker Model 720, which was discontinued before the war ended.
The Model 30 series would have classified as an anomaly when compared to more modern Remingtons, as it employed controlled-round feed. Some—in testimony to the company’s use of military leftovers—were cut for stripper clips.
I got to shoot a Model 30S variant, chambered to .257 Roberts. It featured two significant departures from the military 1917 template that were designed to increase its appeal to American sportsmen: a single-stage trigger and a cock-on-opening action.