September 26, 2022
The Winchester Model 94 had long been a burr beneath the saddle of Remington officials. In some ways, the company’s Model 141 and Model 760 slide actions and Model 81 and Model 742 autoloaders were better deer rifles, but they were always quite a bit more expensive. At the time, the Winchester sold for $85, and the price difference between it and a Remington 760 was enough to buy a dozen boxes of .30-30 cartridges or a good pair of boots. So during the early 1960s, Remington engineers were tasked with coming up with a rifle that was more accurate and more powerful than the Model 94—at a competitive price.
The rifle was the bolt-action Model 600 Carbine. It and the Remington XP-100 handgun were developed at the same time, and except for the latter being a single-shot, their actions are the same design. Both were ready for introduction during the same year, but there is a logical reason why they were not. It was illegal to shorten the barrel of a rifle action to handgun length, but there was no restriction on lengthening the barrel of a handgun. So the XP-100 with a 14.5-inch barrel was introduced in 1963, and the Model 600 with an 18.5-inch barrel was introduced in 1964.
With a claimed weight of 5.5 pounds, the new Model 600 was a pound lighter than the Winchester 94, but its overall length was the same. At $100, Remington missed the price target by $15, but whereas the Model 94 was chambered for the “slow-poke” .30-30, the Model 600 could be had in the much faster .308 Win. Other options during the first year of production were 6mm Rem., .35 Rem. and .222 Rem.; the .243 Win. was added in 1965.
The Model 600 had a nicely shaped walnut stock with good coverage of impressed checkering. Early stocks left the factory with no sling swivel posts installed, but the same was true of the Winchester 94. To draw attention away from a barrel made extremely thin for weight reduction, the Model 600 wore a nylon ventilated rib with a front sight shaped like a shark fin. The material is in the same family as was used in Remington’s Nylon series of rifles in .22 Long Rifle. A fully adjustable rear sight was attached to the rib. A cartridge in the chamber of the Model 600 is enclosed by the counterbore wall at the face of the bolt, the chamber wall and the receiver ring—“three rings of steel,” as Remington advertisements proudly described it.
In the event of a blown case during firing, turn-bolt actions from other companies were usually designed to direct propellant gas and debris away from the shooter. All were not successful in doing so. Like the earlier Model 700 and Model 721/722 rifles, the Model 600 was designed to totally contain the gas. Also like the Model 700, the Model 600 has a plunger-style ejector and a C-shaped extractor resting inside a groove in the wall of the counterbored bolt face.
Unique Bolt Handle
The Model 600 inherited its dogleg bolt handle from the Remington Model 30, which had been introduced in 1920. The Model 30 in turn had inherited it from its ancestor, the Model 1917 Enfield. While the bolt handle has never won a single beauty contest, it rests far enough forward to prevent whacking the shooter’s hand during recoil. The bolt handle also hugs close to the side of the stock, making the Model 600 quite nice for carrying in a saddle scabbard while hunting from horseback.
When engaged, a two-position thumb safety located beside the receiver tang blocks the trigger and prevents bolt rotation. The trigger is basically the same as the Model 700 trigger. The blind magazine holds five .308 or six .222 cartridges. On the negative side is a difficult-to-reach bolt release located inside the receiver and a one-piece synthetic magazine cover and trigger guard that tends to sag a bit as it ages. Remington stopped producing Model 600 carbines in 1967 with just 80,944 built. The Model 600 Magnum in 6.5 Rem. Mag. and .350 Rem. Mag. was introduced in 1965. The .350 was a modern version of the .35 Whelen while the 6.5 promised to do anything the .270 Win. could do but in a much shorter rifle.
The familiar washer-style recoil lug sandwiched between the front of the receiver ring and a shoulder on the barrel extends slightly above the top of the receiver to support the base of a scope mount. The Magnum version also has a laminated stock that consists of three layers of walnut and two layers of maple wearing a “bowling pin” skin, as Remington described its DuPont-developed RKW finish. Checkering coverage is about the same as on the standard Model 600.
A thick pad does a good job of soaking up recoil, and a nice leather sling with quick-detach swivels was included. Measuring 0.650 inch at the muzzle, the free-floating, 18.5-inch barrel is a bit heavier than on the standard Model 600. Magazine capacity is three rounds, and advertised weight was 6.5 pounds. That was pretty close because with a Weaver K1.5 scope in a Conetrol two-piece mount, my .350 Rem. Mag. weighs seven pounds, five ounces.
Model 600 in the Field
I have owned Model 600s in .350 Rem. Mag. and 6.5 Rem. Mag. for many years. I used the .350 for shooting whitetails in a thickly wooded area where a wounded deer could make its way into a swamp full of hungry alligators and unfriendly cottonmouth moccasins. If a buck shot through the lungs with a 200-grain bullet at 2,600 fps did not drop in its tracks, it was almost always found at the end of a very short blood trail.
My most memorable shot with the .350 Rem. Mag. was in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I was slowly walking along a narrow, single-lane logging road bordered on both sides by cut banks about eight feet high. Shortly after a shot rang out on a ridge above me, I heard a deer bounding through the woods in my direction. Just as the buck began its leap across the road about 30 yards in front of me, I swung the Model 600, pulled the trigger as the crosshairs caught up with its shoulder and followed through.
It was the same type of passing shot I had made thousands of times with a shotgun when shooting doves. The deer took the bullet as it was flying through the air, and upon landing, it piled up without a quiver. I mention this not to boast of my prowess with a rifle but to describe an advantage to carrying the smooth-handling, quick-pointing Model 600. Sad to say, the Magnum version was discontinued in 1967 with only 13,142 built during a two-year production period.
The Model 600 and Model 600 Magnum were replaced by the Model 660 and Model 660 Magnum in 1968. Gone was the ventilated rib, and barrel length was increased to 20 inches. Except for black fore-end and grip caps replete with white-line spacers, the stocks remained pretty much the same. Cartridge options were .222 Rem., .223 Rem., 6mm Rem., .243 Win., .308 Win., 6.5 Rem. Mag. and .350 Rem. Mag. Both were discontinued in 1970 with 45,332 Model 660s and 5,204 Model 660 Magnums built. I had one in 6.5 Rem. Mag., but I eventually sold it because I already had a Model 600 Magnum and a Ruger No. 1 chambered for the cartridge.
In 1972, the Model 600 Carbine rose from its ashes in the form of the economy-grade Mohawk 600. Except for a birch stock, heavier barrel and less polish on the metal prior to being blued, it was pretty much the same as the Model 600 Carbine. Available in .222 Rem., 6mm Rem., .243 Win. and .308 Win., it was discontinued in 1979 with 97,594 sold. For as long as I can remember, my father’s favorite rifle was a Winchester Model 92 in .44-40. He used it to take most of his deer, a bunch of feral hogs and a black bear. In an effort to coax him into the 20th century, I gave him a Model 600 Mohawk in .308 Win. wearing a 1-4X scope. After using it to bag a couple of deer, he decided it was too heavy and went back to his little Winchester. I still have that Mohawk.
Another Model 600 I still have is a custom job in 7mm-308 Improved built in 1979. It was built on a lightened Model 600 action and incorporated an external bolt release and a 20-inch Douglas barrel with a muzzle diameter of 0.490 inch. The barreled action then went to Chet Brown of Brown Precision for one of his Kevlar stocks. Chet called it the 600 Superlight, which was no exaggeration as it weighs five pounds, nine ounces. He eventually sold quite a few of them in various calibers, including the 6.5-284 and .27-284 wildcats.
Despite a barrel as thin as a soda straw, my Superlight consistently shoots three Speer 130-grain spitzers inside 0.75 inch at 100 yards. But the barrel heats up fast, and shooting two more bullets without a cool-down greatly increases group size. Although Remington discontinued the Mohawk, the company wasn’t quite finished with the 600 lineage. In August of 2002, I received the first Model 673 Guide Gun built. It was in .350 Rem. Mag. with 6.5 Rem. Mag., .300 Rem. Short Action Ultra Mag and .308 Win. slated to be added in time for the official introduction of the rifle in 2003.
From a distance its laminated stock made it appear to be a lengthened version of my Model 600 Magnum, but closer examination revealed a Remington Model Seven action. A 22-inch barrel of heavier contour and topped with a ventilated rib of steel rather than nylon made it considerably heavier than the Model 600 Magnum. Quality was good, but at $825 the Model 673 was more expensive than the Model Seven, which since its introduction in 1983 had been doing an excellent job of replacing the Model 600. The Model 600 in .350 Rem. Mag. hung from the shoulder like a security blanket when netting a salmon in grizzly country or in the hands of a hunting guide for backup. In 6.5 Rem. Mag. it carried easy to the top of the tallest sheep mountain and shot flat when it got there. The Model 673 had the advantages of an external bolt release and a hinged magazine floorplate, but all things considered, it completely missed the intent behind the Model 600. It was discontinued in 2006.