November 04, 2023
The Remington Model 30 story begins at Great Britain’s Enfield Arsenal, where the design of a rifle to replace the Lee-Enfield in .303 British was completed in 1913. About 1,000 of the new Pattern 13 rifles chambered for the .276 Enfield cartridge were built for military trials.
World War I began in July 1914, and Great Britain declared war on Germany during August of that year, so out of necessity many thousands of Lee-Enfield rifles continued to be built. And since production capabilities ruled out taking on the new rifle, its chambering was changed to .303 British, its model designation changed to Pattern 14 or P14, and huge contracts were awarded to Remington and Winchester.
In addition to producing rifles at its Ilion, New York, plant, Remington leased more than 30 acres of factory floor space from Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, where as many as 6,000 P14 rifles were produced each day. Cancellation of the contract by the British in 1916 dealt Remington a heavy blow, and while the company was down, it was not out for the count.
When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, there weren’t enough 1903 Springfield rifles on hand, and production at Rock Island Arsenal and Springfield Armory would be incapable of meeting the projected demand. With two huge plants already geared up to produce the P14 Enfield, Remington officials convinced Uncle Sam that the rifle could easily be modified to handle the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.
Contracts were awarded in 1917, and so it was that a British-designed rifle became known as U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917. When the war officially ended in November 1918, Remington had built just over 2.7 million rifles.
Cancellation of the contract found Remington with enough parts on hand to continue building thousands of rifles, so the decision was made to utilize them—as well as machinery used for turning out P14 and P17 rifles—to build the company’s first sporting rifle chambered for a high-intensity cartridge.
Introduced in 1920 as the Model 30 High Power Rifle, it was chambered for what Remington’s first advertisement described as the .30 caliber Springfield Model 1906 Cartridge. Three factory loads were also introduced: 180-grain Bronze Point at 2,700 fps, 150-grain Bronze Point at 3,000 fps and 110-grain High-Speed Mushroom at 3,500 fps.
Remington’s family of rimless cartridges in .25, .30, .32 and .35 calibers was eventually added. Among those, the mild-recoiling .25 Rem. sold more rifles because it performed nicely on both deer and varmints.
The first big game rifle Jack O’Connor gave to his wife, Eleanor, was a Model 30 in .25 Rem. with a Lyman 48 sight. She used it to take her first mule deer in the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. In 1935 Jack bought another Model 30 in .257 Roberts and had it restocked by Adolph Minar. It had a 2.5X scope built by Rudolph Noske of San Carlos, California, and Eleanor used it to take her first Arizona Coues deer.
Transforming the P17 action into one more suitable for sporting use required a lot of work at the Remington factory. The huge steel wings protecting the rear aperture sight were machined away from the receiver, and a weight-reduction cavity in the bridge of some receivers was filled in. Doing so resulted in a more eye-pleasing bridge contour of the same height as the receiver ring.
Machining the trigger guard to a more narrow profile and straightening the front tang of the bottom metal further improved appearance while also reducing weight slightly. It also reduced magazine capacity to five rounds.
In those days, military rifle parts were made strong and durable by adding mass, and the magazine box consisted of four thick pieces of steel held together by 12 rivets. That detail remained unchanged in the Model 30.
The original steel floorplate also stayed the same, and while it was not hinged, using the nose of a cartridge to trip the latch worked equally well. Short-stroking the controlled-feed bolt before cartridges completely entered the chamber and ejecting them into the hand was another option.
A dogleg bolt handle makes the Model 30 easy to recognize at a glance and is why it is sometimes mistaken for a 1917 Enfield with a different stock. While not pretty, it is easy to grasp while wearing gloves. Resting quite close to the stock makes it good for carrying in a leather scabbard when hunting from horseback. Many years later that style of bolt handle would appear on the Remington Model 600 carbine.
The original P17 safety was retained, and it is a better design than seen on many modern rifles. The safety doesn’t merely block trigger movement; thumbing the safety to the rear deactivates the firing pin by camming the cocking piece rearward and away from resting against the sear. Bolt rotation is also blocked.
A large serrated tab makes the safety easy to operate when wearing gloves, and as it should be on a big game rifle, it can be operated quietly. That same safety later appeared on the Remington Model 725, which was a fancy version of the Remington Model 721/722.
The Model 30 originally had a smaller version of the P17 aperture sight attached to its receiver. Elevation adjustment was out to 500 yards. It was eventually replaced by an elevator-adjustable open sight attached to the barrel with a steel band.
Available at additional cost was a fully adjustable Lyman 48R or Redfield 102R aperture sight attached to the receiver. Installation of either required filling the dovetail slot out on the barrel for the open sight with a steel blank.
The Model 30 was introduced with a 24-inch barrel, but it was eventually shortened to 22 inches. Advertised weight was eight pounds. The walnut stock was without checkering, although both sides of its trim fore-end had finger grooves.
Early stocks can be rather crude in appearance, but several improvements were made in 1926. In addition to having nice checkering at wrist and fore-end, the stock was reinforced by a steel crossbolt between the recoil lug mortise and the cutout for the magazine. A canvas carrying strap included with the rifle had hook-style swivels shaped to engage steel eyes in the stock. As on the P17, the firing pin originally cocked during bolt closure, but due to complaints from hunters it was modified to cocking during bolt lift. All this prompted changing the name to Model 30 Express.
My rifle in .30-06 was built in 1930 and weighs 7.5 pounds. It reliably feeds cartridges loaded with various styles of bullets, ranging from 110-grain spitzer to 220-grain roundnose.
I find it interesting that the serial number is roll-marked on the receiver ring, engraved on the body of the bolt and stamped into the bottom of the barrel channel of the stock.
Even though the common use of telescopic sights among hunters was still quite a few years away, its receiver was drilled and tapped. The headless filler screws on my rifle appear to never have been removed, which makes sense because the rifle departed the factory wearing the Redfield aperture sight.
I made a few changes prior to hunting with the rifle. With the Redfield sight adjusted as low it would go, shots on paper were too high. The front sight is dovetailed to an integral ramp on the barrel, and its bead was so small it just about vanished when light was poor and deer movement at its best. A taller sight with a larger bead took care of both issues.
During installation of a recoil pad, a previous owner had drastically shortened length of pull, so I lengthened it by adding the lace-on leather recoil pad you see on the lead photograph.
The single-stage trigger on my rifle has a bit of creep followed by a consistent five-pound break. Not bad for a rifle built during the same year Babe Ruth signed a $160,000 contract to play for the New York Yankees.
Bolt lift to full firing-pin compression is seven pounds, or only about two pounds heavier than for my Remington Model 700 rifles. Firing-pin strike energy is 20 percent greater than in the Model 700, so lighting the fires of primers with hard cups has never been a problem. Lock time is 5.2 milliseconds, compared to 3.0 milliseconds for the Model 700 long action—not enough difference for most hunters to notice. Protrusion of the cocking piece at the rear of the bolt indicates a cocked firing pin.
In 1923, Remington became the first to load ammunition with non-corrosive primers, but who knows how many years thereafter ammunition with corrosive primers would sit on shelves in gun shops, hardware stores and other places that sold it? Even though the bore of my rifle has light pitting, the gun’s accuracy is quite good considering its age.
Back then new rifle cartridges did not appear monthly, so chambering options for the Model 30 remained quite limited throughout its production life. The 7x57 Mauser was added in 1931, followed by the new Remington-developed .257 Roberts in 1936.
There were only a few model variations. The Model 30R Express Carbine with a 20-inch barrel was introduced in 1926, and the Model 30S Premier Grade with Lyman 48R sight and stock of fancy wood was added in 1930.
The Model 30 action was long enough to handle the .300 H&H Mag. and .375 H&H Mag. cartridges, and while Remington never offered them, Griffin & Howe built custom rifles on the Model 30 action chambered for both. The Griffin & Howe rifle used by Ben Comfort to win the prestigious 1,000-yard Wimbledon Cup match at Camp Perry in 1935 had a Model 30 action and a heavy Winchester barrel in .300 H&H.
After building around 23,000 Model 30 rifles, Remington ceased production in 1940. It was followed in 1941 by the Model 720 of similar design, although few were actually built due to the beginning of World War II.