September 23, 2010
By Jon R. Sundra
A new series of affordable 98 Mauser rifles from Remington
By Jon R. Sundra
Remington's Model 798 is a pure Mauser, shown as tested topped with a Swarovski PVI-2 High Grid scope with digital illumination.
I never thought I'd see the day when a 98 Mauser bore the Remington name, but it's happened, and it's a result of Big Green's push to become a major importer as well as a manufacturer of sporting arms. It started three years ago with the Spartan line of Russian-made over/under and side-by-side shotguns and single-shot rifles. The line has since grown to where there's a gas-operated autoloading shotgun, combination rifle/shotgun O/Us and even a double rifle.
Prior to this year these guns bore the rollmark "Spartan by Remington." But since all of the growing line of imported guns must pass Remington's own quality-control, safety and performance standards, management has decided that the guns are worthy of carrying the Remington name by itself. A suffix "SPR" is in reference to the former Spartan name.
Because of the growing number and diversity of products, the company recently formed a new ISP division, an acronym for International Sporting Products. It is this department that is responsible for all Remington imports, including the Genesis line of rotating-block muzzleloaders made in Spain and the Serbian-made Mauser, which is being designated as the Model 798. There's also a scaled-down 98 designed around the .223 cartridge family that is called the Model 799. Let's take a look now at both of them.
The Model 799 (below) looks very much like its larger brother but does not feature controlled-round feed.
Many of you may be aware that this line of commercial Mausers was previously imported by KBI under the Charles Daly name and before that for many years by the old Interarms Corporation as the Mark X. Remington, however, is bringing these guns into the country as barreled actions only and stocking them in its Mayfield, Kentucky, facility using an all-brown wood laminate, the blanks for which are supplied by the Rutland Plywood Corp.
|SPECIFICATIONS: REMINGTON 798|
|CALIBER:||.243 Win., .308 Win., .30-06 Springfield (tested), .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., .375 H&H Mag., .458 Win. Mag|
|BARREL LENGTH:||22, 24 or 26 inches|
|PRICE:||$599 (standard calibers), $635 to $839 (magnums)|
|SPECIFICATIONS: REMINGTON 799|
|CALIBER:||.22 Hornet, .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., 7.62x39|
|BARREL LENGTH:||20 inches|
|WEIGHT:||6 3/4 pounds|
RPC furnishes blanks to just about every manufacturer in the world who offers production rifles with laminated stocks. Also, virtually every custom and semi-custom gun builder, as well as gunstock manufacturers like Boyds, use Rutland blanks. The stocks for the 798 and 799 are patterned after the old Model 700 ADL, which until just two years ago had been the flagship model of the 700 line, which is to say it's a very conservative Monte Carlo.
The Model 798 sent to me for testing was chambered in .30-06 and the 799 in .223 Remington. Other calibers available for the 798 are .243 Win., .308 Win., .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Magnum and .300 Win. Magnum. In the 799 you can have a .22 Hornet, .222 Rem., .22-250 or even a 7.62x39. I had the good fortune to field test the 798 on a black bear hunt in Alberta in May, but more about that later.
The 798 is a pure 1898 Mauser, meaning that the bolt body, receiver and bottom-metal unit are literally interchangeable with those of a military Mauser. Just to reassure myself, I took a military bolt from a 1909 Argentine Mauser, and it fit the 798 receiver like it belonged there; ditto for the 798's bolt in the Argentine.
This, of course, was done purely out of curiosity; you wouldn't want to attempt this and fire the gun because the likelihood of the precise fit needed between the locking lugs and their bearing surfaces within the receiver, and the correct headspace, would be unlikely.
The bottom metal unit, too, is virtually interchangeable with that of any 98 Mauser and unique in that, except for the hinged floorplate, the entire frame, triggerguard bow and magazine box are one integral unit. It is probably the strongest, most reliable system of storing cartridges
, but it's an expensive solution to a problem that can be solved in other ways; that's why all other bolt-action rifles utilize two or three separate components to achieve the same end.
In place of the non-rotating Mauser-type extractor on the 798, the 799 uses an M16 type that rotates with the bolt.
There were, however, some liberties taken with the scaled-down Model 799, or what under previous importers was called the "Mini Mauser." For one, the magazine box is not integral with the floorplate frame/triggerguard bow; it's a separate component made of stamped sheetmetal--as is just about every bolt-action magazine employing a staggered column for the storage of cartridges.
Other departures from the 98 that are seen on the 799 are the lack of a true Mauser non-rotating extractor and the presence of a recessed boltface, both of which preclude the controlled-round feeding that is so characteristic of Paul Mauser's masterpiece. Instead, this pygmy action employs an M16-type hook extractor and a guide rib that aligns with the right locking lug. The guide rib stays in the right-lug raceway as the action is cycled and provides lateral support for the bolt.
As they came from their boxes, the 799 weighed in at 63?4 pounds and the 798 at seven pounds even, both with 22-inch barrels (magnum calibers sport 24- or 26-inch spouts). Both guns are finished in a fairly lustrous blue, while the stocks wear a semi-gloss finish. Cut checkering and sling swivel studs are the only embellishments.
To ready the guns for a range session I mounted a Nikon 2-7x36 Monarch UCC scope on the little 799 using Weaver-style bases and rings by Warne. For the .30-06 I stuck on one of the new Swarovski 1.5-6x42 PVI-2 scopes using a Talley QD lever mount.
|REMINGTON MODEL 798 .30-06 SHOOTING RESULTS|
|FACTORY LOAD||LARGEST GROUP (ins.)||SMALLEST GROUP (ins.)||AVERAGE GROUP (ins.)|
|Federal Vital Shok 180-gr. Triple Shock X||2.20||1.45||1.85|
|Federal 150-gr. Fusion||1.85||1.00||1.35|
|Hornady 165-gr. SST Light Magnum||1.65||.90||1.20|
|Remington 180-gr. Core Lokt||1.30||.60||1.20|
|Winchester Supreme 150-gr. Power Point+||2.40||1.65||2.00|
|REMINGTON MODEL 799, .223 REMINGTON SHOOTING RESULTS|
|FACTORY LOAD||LARGEST GROUP (ins.)||SMALLEST GROUP (ins.)||AVERAGE GROUP (ins.)|
|Federal Premium 50-gr. Speer TNT||1.90||.9||1.35|
|PMC 55-gr. HPBT||.170||.65||1.20|
|Rem. 55-gr. Accu-Tip||1.45||.8||1.25|
|Win. Supreme 40-gr. Ballisitic Silvertip||1.70||.55||.95|
|Hornady 40-gr. V-Max||2.20||1.20||1.55|
|Accuracy results taken by averaging five three-shot groups with each load. All shotting was done at 100 yards.|
Aside from its superb optics and ruggedness, this 30mm scope has an illuminated reticle (choice of four), the battery power for which is entirely contained within a slightly enlarged elevation turret cap. What's more, it can be removed and replaced with the standard protective cap and a spare battery stored in the windage cap. Very clever, and it works like a charm. I figured the illuminated reticle would come in handy on my upcoming bear hunt shooting at a jet-black target in what would likely be dim light.
Would it come as a surprise if I were to tell you the guns performed as expected, with no functional glitches of any kind? After all, the 798 in particular has been in continuous production one place or another in the world for 108 years now with no change in its basic design.
That's because it was right in 1898, and it's still right today. Both actions could have cycled more smoothly, however, but that's to be expected. Unless a Model 98 is machined and polished to the standards set by Mauser-Oberndorf and the DWM plant in Berlin more than a century ago, they're all going to be a little rough.
top is a bolt from a 1909 Argentine Mauser made nearly 100 years ago. Other than lacking a turned-down handle for scope clearance, it is identical to that of the Remington 798.
Both units share the exact same trigger assembly, which is fully adjustable for sear engagement, overtravel and tension, but
are factory sealed to discourage tampering. To do so by any but an authorized Remington service station would void any warranties.
As they were, the triggers of both guns had a noticeable amount of creep and required four pounds to release--in other words, typical lawyer triggers. The two-position side safety that blocks trigger movement does not lock the bolt, so cartridges can be chambered and extracted with the safety engaged.
A few days after my range session with the guns, I left on that Alberta black bear hunt I mentioned. Having made as many baited bear hunts as I have, I knew the shooting distances would be virtually point blank, so I zeroed my Remington 180-grain Core Lokt factory load to hit dead on at 50 yards.
My hunt was booked with W&L Guide Services (www.wandl guides.com), which conducts bear hunting in the High Level area of northern Alberta about 350 miles north of Edmundton. I had hunted this general area about 15 years ago and remember it well, for it was the first time I had not one but two bears try to climb into my treestand with me.
Other than a new twist in the form of a transverse button to release the floorplate, the bottom-metal unit of the Model 798 hasn't changed in 108 years.
I'm sure it was more out of curiosity than aggressiveness, but the bears in this area simply seem to have no fear of man. Two other hunters in camp at the time had similar experiences sitting in stands many miles from where I was, and one ended up shooting his when it reached the top step. That bear had powder burns on its face.
The two bears that tried to share my stand were both small, and I didn't want to shoot either one, so I waited until they reached the second step from the solid floor of my stand, then peered over the edge so they'd get a sudden look at me. At the same time, I pointed my rifle right in their faces. Both times it was enough to get them to drop off the ladder. I'm sure they were far more surprised than I.
So here I was 15 years later hunting the same area, and damned if it didn't happen again. It was the first week of the 2006 spring season, and we were in a two-bear area, so I took one--just an average bear--on the first evening, just to ensure I'd have a story and pictures. On the third evening I had two bruins come in at the same time. One was a good bit larger than the other, but I wanted to be sure he was a really good one, so I watched them for a long time before deciding to shoot.
When my guide hoisted up a new bait earlier that evening (beaver carcasses purchased from local trappers), I made sure the bottom of the bait was more than seven feet off the ground. If a bear stood up and came close to his nose reaching the bait, I'd know I had a really good bear. Also at each bait site was a 55-gallon drum filled with honey-laced oats. Not only do bears love the stuff, the barrel provides another indicator of body size.
The battery unit that powers the illuminated reticles on Swarovski's LPV2-series scopes is contained in the slightly larger-than-normal elevation turret cap. It can be removed and replaced with the standard cap if the illuminated feature is not required.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the smaller of these two bears kept looking up at me like he knew I was there or that something wasn't right. When his curiosity got the best of him, he sauntered over to my ladder and started up.
I didn't want to scare away the larger one, so I did the same thing I did so many years ago: I waited until he got to the top step and literally poked him in the face with the muzzle of my 798. He dropped off the ladder, shook a couple of times, then started up a tree that was about three feet to my left.
When he got to where he was close enough, I poked him in the face again, harder, and he backed down the tree. During the next hour he never looked up at me again and never attempted to climb the ladder. It was like I never existed.
Meanwhile, the big bear couldn't have cared less about the commotion that went on as close as 50 feet away. When he finally went over to the oat drum and I had a good look at his size compared to it, I decided he was good enough to shoot.
The author's bear measured seven feet, two inches--a good one but only the third largest taken that week.
Good thing I did; he measured seven feet, two inches, which is a darn good bear, but it was only the third-best taken that week. The other two measured seven feet, three inches and seven feet, five inches. The five of us harvested 10 bears and together had seen more than 50. I didn't hunt the last three days, and only one of us hunted all six days.
During the 2005 season, 24 W&L hunters saw 267 bears (a lot were surely second and third sightings of the same bears), but you get the idea: There are so many bears in this area, it's hard to believe.
As for the 798, what can I say that you don't already know? It was chambered for one of the greatest cartridges ever devised (the .30-06) pushing one of the best bullets ever devised, premium or otherwise (the Core-Lokt), so when you've got that combination going for you and you hit 'em in the right place, the outcome is rarely in doubt.