Natural Selection: Remington Model 783 Review
January 11, 2013
After many months spent circumnavigating the globe aboard the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin began to form his theory of how traits are passed from one generation to the next. Darwin's concepts of evolution and natural selection stated the characteristics that made an organism successful in its environment would be the traits that were carried on and spread throughout the population. And although we don't typically associate Charles Darwin with firearms, there certainly is an element of Darwin's theory of natural selection that applies to the evolution of sporting rifles.
Throughout the history of modern firearms production there have been periods of significant advancement, usually thanks to some new technology. Rifled barrels were an example of a revolutionary step in firearms manufacturing, and very soon this successful trait spread throughout the population. Breech loading was another major advancement, followed shortly afterwards by self-loading capabilities for semi-automatic and automatic weapons.
The last decade has certainly been one of those evolutionary periods in the history of sporting rifles. Bolt-actions had been the most popular hunting rifle for about 60 years, and during that time there had been few major improvements that revolutionized the hunting rifle. Telescopic sights became more popular, as did synthetic stocks and stainless steel finishes. But there was very little sweeping change.
The last 10 years, however, have seen significant change in the realm of bolt guns. For starters, heavy, creepy triggers that came standard with many production rifles were replaced with crisp, light, user-adjustable models, and every major rifle manufacturer had to offer a top-quality trigger or risk extinction.
Likewise, accuracy-enhancing features such as pillar bedding, free-floated barrels and target crowns, which were once found only on high-priced target rifles, became standard on many off-the-shelf guns. The result has been rifles that are less expensive and more accurate, which is a boon for all shooters and a call to every major production rifle manufacturer to design budget rifles capable of extreme accuracy.
For 2013, Remington is unveiling its own budget rifle: the Model 783. Every new centerfire rifle that Remington introduces draws major attention and inevitable comparisons with the company's stalwart Model 700, a rifle that has proven to be a top performer for more than five decades. Because of the success of the 700, Remington's new 783 is less of a revolution and more of an evolution in the company's bolt-action hunting rifle lineup.
It isn't the Model 700 that the 783 is designed to challenge, though. Instead, the Model 783 is Remington's answer to guns such as the Savage Axis, the Ruger American Rifle and the Tikka T3, guns that have already proven that inexpensive rifles don't have to be inaccurate. The Remington incorporates many of features rifle shooters have come to demand at any price point — features such as a superb trigger, a quality, free-floated barrel with a target crown, and a pillar-bedded stock.
It's not likely that you'll mistake the new 783 for your standard Model 700, but the aesthetic of the new 783 isn't as radical as many of its competitors like the Axis or the Giugiaro-designed Sako A7. The stock is modern but not radical, and you won't see the colored grip panels or asymmetrical lines found on other rifles.
Again, this evolution at work, and Remington wisely opted not to design the 783 with an avant garde, in-your-face synthetic stock that will immediately repel traditionalists. Instead, the Remington stock is functional yet modern, with a sloping finger groove on the fore-end that helps the shooter grip and point the gun. The stock on my test rifle was black synthetic, but camo versions are set to debut soon after the gun goes into production.
The gripping surfaces are textured, and the pistol grip is wide enough to be comfortable through long sessions at the range. To help mitigate recoil, Remington included its SuperCell recoil pad on the Model 783, and the soft, textured surface helps reduce impact. Sling studs are molded into the stock, eliminating the metal-to-metal squeaking that sometimes occurs with traditional studs. The stock is pillar-bedded to improve rigidity, and the barrel is free-floated.
The action of the 783 works in a similar fashion to the standard Model 700, with a push-feed bolt with dual opposing locking lugs, an AR-15-type extractor and a plunger-style ejector that protrudes through the face of the bolt. The bolt face looks similar to that of the Model 700, which has served the company exceedingly well for 50 years.
The bolt knob has been flattened and bears a stylized "R" in the center. It's a subtle and effective change, and it's very functional. The bolt knob is easy to grip and allows a bit more space for scope mounting, which is a good thing considering the bolt throw on the 783 is 90 degrees. The bolt shroud is enclosed, with a small cocking indicator in the center. The two-position safety remains largely the same as the one currently found on the Model 700 and is located along the right side of the bolt.
The receiver of the 783, however, bears little resemblance to its Model 700 ancestors. The Model 783 has a one-piece cylindrical receiver with a small ejection port. This provides more mass and rigidity through the receiver and increases the accuracy capabilities of the 783. The combination of a single-piece receiver and pillar-bedded stock means the Model 783 has the potential to be a very accurate rifle.
Two additional keys to accuracy are a good barrel and a light, clean trigger. Remington didn't fall short in either area with the Model 783. The magnum contour, 22-inch, button-rifled barrel fits to the action with a barrel nut, a design similar to Savage's 110 rifles. Savage guns have long been known for accuracy because the barrel nut allows for better headspacing when the barrel and receiver are mated. In addition, the Model 783 also incorporates Remington's CrossFire trigger, a blade-style model that is user adjustable and factory set at 3.5 pounds. The trigger has a rearward cant and breaks cleanly.
The closed-top receiver is drilled and tapped for two front M700 bases, and the flattened bolt handle boasts a stylized 'œR.' The trigger is the new adjustable CrossFire, and the two-position safety on production models will be black.
The 783 employs a barrel nut to attach the magnum-contour barrel to the receiver. The forend sports a finger groove, albeit not a radical one, and features a molded-in sling swivel attachment point.
The 783 employs a detachable box magazine, one built from aluminum that incorporates a release latch. The mag functioned flawlessly during testing.