January 26, 2022
The 1960s and early ’70s may have represented a high point in print-ad creativity for firearms, and no ad campaign surpassed Remington’s push for the Model 600 Carbine. It was aggressive, colorful and pretty darn cool: “Carries like a carbine, points like a shotgun, shoots like a rifle!”
As a teen back then, I can testify it was catnip to me. But there was a lot more to it than a sexy 1960s aesthetic. If nothing else, the Model 600 rates a lengthy footnote in the scout-rifle saga. It was Jeff Cooper’s early interest in a couple of .308 Model 600s altered for a forward-mounted, low-powered scope that pretty much birthed the scout template.
The Model 600 was produced from 1964 to 1968 and was chambered in .222 Rem., .223 Rem., 6mm Rem., .243 Win., .308 Win. and .35 Rem. It was also chambered in two failed belted powerhouses that were ahead of their time: the 6.5 and .350 Rem. Mags.
From 1971 to 1980, the rifle was marketed as the less-expensive, non-ribbed Model 600 Mohawk, which had a much shorter caliber menu. A 20-inch non-ribbed Model 660 was made from 1968 to 1971.
From a commercial standpoint, it’s not hard to see why Remington hung its hopes on the Model 600. In its original 18.5-inch, ribbed-barrel trim, it had an overall length of 37.25 inches and an unloaded weight of 5.5 pounds. By contrast, the company’s more conventional marquee item, the 22-inch-barreled Model 700 ADL, had an overall length of 41.5 inches and was nearly a pound and a half heavier.
With its unorthodox appearance, the Remington Model 600 fits the “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” cliché to a T. It looked space-age modern, starting with its glossy DuPont RKW finished stock.
That it was considered so modern looking is actually kind of ironic, because its distinctive dogleg bolt—referred to in company ads as “stock hugging”—and serrated thumb safety were stylistic cues held over from the company’s 30S Sporter from the 1920s.
The Model 600 I was able to lay hands on came from a shooting buddy, Doug Fee. Chambered in .243 Win., it sported a vintage Bushnell Scopechief 1.5-4.5X variable, a compact number with no objective bell. It was a great aesthetic match for the rifle, even if a shade underpowered for handling the varminting side of the .243.
When Doug’s standard Model 600 was first minted, the suggested retail price was $100. The magnum version went for $145. Even if you factor in more than 50 years’ worth of inflation, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not going to even find a “beater” today at anywhere near those prices.
The trigger pull weight on this Model 600 was a definitely a pre-lawyer shocker at 2.2 pounds. Don’t bother looking for a bolt release button in all the usual places. To get the bolt out, pull it to the rear and stick a thin-shanked screwdriver down the gap in left side of the bolt sleeve a little ways to trip the release catch and withdraw the bolt. It’s all part of the Model 600’s charm.
The loads I had on hand included Federal 100-grain Power-Shok, Sako 100-grain Gamehead and Prvi Partizan 90-grain softpoint. The gun liked the 100-grain stuff best, turning in three-shot averages of just under 1.25 inches with both the Sako and Federal. The 90-grain PPU ammo ran between 1.5 and two inches. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any 55-, 65- or 75-grain .243 loads on hand. This gun is pretty much of a whitetail setup anyway, but someday I’m going to see just how well light-bullet loads shoot in it.
Although the Model 600 series pretty much died out with the 1970s, the concept of a scaled-down, short-action bolt gun was far from dead in the eyes of Remington. In 2003 the company did attempt a brief resurrection of the Model 600 concept with the Model 673. To fans of the original it was kind of an unholy hybrid between the Model Seven—a sleek, classy, short-action bolt gun that made its debut three years after the 600 ceased production—and the Model 600 Magnum.
The Model 673 was chambered in .300 Short Action Ultra Mag, .350 Rem. Mag., 6.5 Rem. Mag. and .308. It had a 22-inch vent-rib barrel, laminated stock and Model Seven-configured bolt. The rifle lasted only a year.
Carbines like the Model 600 and today’s Model Seven provide deer, antelope and hog hunters a lightweight, compact bolt action with the handling qualities of a lever action, with the extended reach afforded by cartridges with greater ballistic potential than, say, a .30-30.
This is a need that has never gone away, and I don’t think it ever will. The Model 600 addressed it admirably and stylishly, which is why I’ve always been so damned fond of it. There’s something about it that still appeals to the teenage kid in me who so avidly sucked up those wonderful print ads way back when.