Fifty years ago that Remington came out with what has become the best selling bolt-action rifle of all time: the Model 700. To commemorate this incredible success, Remington has come out with the Model 700 BDL 50th Anniversary Edition — a BDL production gun that will be offered in 2012 only.
Now the 700 didn't spring forth fully formed in '62. It was an update of the firm's 721/722 bolt-action rifles that came out in the 1940s. The 721 (long action) and 722 (short action) represented a big leap forward for the company in its constant quest to find ways to produce quality arms with lower manufacturing costs.
The 721/722 also debuted the now famous shrouded bolt head found on the Model 700. With the 700, which was developed by Merle "Mike" Walker, came the company's cornerstone "three rings of steel" slogan — which has served not just as a simple description of gun design but also a powerful marketing hook.
The Model 700's counterbored bolt head fully encloses the cartridge head. That's ring one. Ring two is the barrel; the bolt head is surrounded by the chamber, ensuring proper bolt/barrel alignment and adding additional security in the event of a case rupture.
The third ring is the receiver itself. Remington's quest to simplify manufacturing led it to a cylindrical receiver tube. After all, what could be simpler than machining a piece of bar stock and drilling a hole through it?
This design, with its sleek lines, instantly captured the attention of America's hunters, and it grew from an initial two offerings — ADL or A Deluxe Grade and BDL or B Deluxe Grade — to a family of rifles that includes more than 30 sporting variants (plus dedicated law enforcement and military models) and chambered at one time or another to nearly every modern centerfire cartridge. Current chamberings number nearly 30 and run the gamut from .17 Remington to .375 Ultra Mag.
The Model 700 50th anniversary edition is chambered to — what else? the 7mm Remington Magnum. The 1962 introduction of the Model 700 was also the debut of this now-legendary cartridge, and it was by all accounts a huge reason for the Model 700's success.
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With the 7mm Remington Magnum, Remington had a cartridge that, despite arriving 20 years after Roy Weatherby's 7mm magnum, immediately caught on with American sportsmen. Slightly shorter than full-length magnums such as the H&Hs and the Weatherbys, it could be chambered in standard-length actions, and its ballistics left standards such as the .30-06 in the dust.
With lighter bullets it possessed an incredibly flat trajectory for its day (and still does) while also having the ability to launch 160-grain bullets to speeds just shy of 3,000 fps — making it suitable for huge variety of game in virtually any environment.
Remington's anniversary 700 rifle brings all this history into focus. The first thing you might notice is that it sports a black bolt, which can be a little off-putting when you first see it — or at least it was for me since, in my mind, the jeweled bolt is a key Model 700 styling cue. However, jeweling is a feature that didn't show up on the 700 until 1969.
The stock on my sample was a beautifully feathered piece of satin-finished Grade B walnut. As Remington's Eric Lundgren pointed out, current BDLs come with a high-gloss finish, but the satin finish on the anniversary gun is consistent with the finish from the 1960s. My sample was flawless — except for some flaking around the white-line spacer on the fore-end tip — and evenly applied in the barrel channel.
The rifle's 18 lpi fleur de lis checkering pattern is laser engraved in an inverted pattern to give the appearance of the original press checkering.
"The checkering is the same as the original 1962 fleur de lis pattern with checkering on top of the pistol grip," Lundgren says. "At the very beginning of the process, one of the original guns was taken from Remington's archives, sent to the engineering facility and completely digitized. Using the digital reading, the stock, including the checkering, was matched exactly."
There's plenty of coverage on the wrist and fore-end, but it's certainly not overdone, and I think the overall effect is quite handsome.
In a nod to old-school styling, the Monte Carlo buttstock features a ventilated recoil pad. And in keeping with BDL styling that lives on today, the recoil pad, black grip cap and black fore-end cap are set off with white-line spacers. Two small-diameter brass crossbolts pass through the stock — one between trigger and magazine cutouts and one between the front action screw and the recoil lug cutout.
Obviously Remington had to do something special to commemorate the anniversary, and they chose engraving on the aluminum hinged floorplate, which has a black powder coat. You'll find "Model 700," the big Remington "R" flanked by "1962" and "2012", and "FIFTY Years" laser-engraved in white. Me, I would've rendered it in a gold color, in keeping with the 50th anniversary theme.
Specifications and accuracy results on page three
The 24-inch barrel is fairly standard fare, with a taper that goes from 1.26 inches in front of the sandwich-style recoil lug, 0.76 in front of the fore-end tip and .66 at the muzzle. For comparison, it's slightly heavier than my 2004-era 700 CDL, which runs 1.22, .70 and .67.
These days it's fashionable to produce rifles with clean barrels, but back in the 1960s lots of hunters still shot open sights, and even those who had adopted scopes didn't completely trust them and wouldn't dream of going without backup irons.
So Remington simply had to put irons on the anniversary rifle, and they're just what you would expect if you're familiar with the design the firm has been using for years. The rear sight is situated on a graduated ramp; loosening an Allen screw allows the sight to slide up and down to adjust elevation. Windage adjustment is courtesy of a slotted screw that permits side-to-side movement. A white arrow points to the notch.
The serrated-ramp front bead sight has a removable hood. The bead is painted white.
The anniversary rifle features the X-Mark Pro trigger, which is user adjustable. Simply remove the barreled action from the stock and turn the Allen screw in the face of the smooth trigger to change the weight.
My sample arrived with a heavy trigger pull of nearly eight pounds. I put two full turns on the adjustment screw and had the X-Mark Pro registering just shy of five pounds on my Lyman digital scale. It broke relatively cleanly with just a hint of creep.
For testing I mounted a Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x42 in medium rings. I used medium because when I tried low rings, the objective bell made contact with the rear sight ramp. Now, I could've detached the rear sight, but I thought it appropriate to set it up like a hunter would've in the 1960s.
There were no surprises at the range. The rifle shot well with everything but Hornady 139-grain SST Superformance. For some reason it really hated that load, and since I'd already run about 70 rounds through the rifle at that point and had had enough of magnum recoil, I stopped after two groups. The tightest group of the day was a 0.55-inch three-shot cluster courtesy of Hornady 139-grain GMX.
Overall, the rifle was more than acceptably accurate, just what you'd expect from a Model 700. Despite my whine about recoil, the gun's eight-pound stripped weight, combined with the old-school recoil pad, made the rifle relatively comfortable to shoot.
I had only two gripes from my single day at the range, unfortunately a too-short time frame mandated by press deadlines. One, the hinged floorplate kept popping open. However, Remington jumped through a lot of hoops to get us the rifle in time to make this issue, and Lundgren told me that while the barreled action came off the manufacturing floor, the gun was assembled as a pre-production prototype by the engineering department. Had the rifle gone through the standard assembly process, this glitch surely would've been caught by quality control inspectors.
Second, as adjusted the Allen screw on the X-Mark Pro trigger protruded from the trigger face. It didn't interfere with anything or cause any problems, but I found it annoying. I should've experimented with the adjustment screw to see if it was possible to get the pull I wanted without the screw protruding, but, alas, I had to box up the rifle immediately after testing and ship it to Intermedia Outdoors HQ for cover photography.
While I've hunted with scads of rifles over the years — Winchesters, Kimbers, Sakos, Rugers, Weatherbys, Brownings and more — I love the lines of the 700, its consistent accuracy, the smoothness of its push-feed action. And I don't care what anybody says: The two-position safety is fine just the way it is.
I think Remington did an excellent job with its anniversary 700. I'd be proud to own one, and I wouldn't hesitate for a second to take it afield — although I'd pick and choose what hunts I'd take it on because, hey, it's a special rifle that I wouldn't want to see go bouncing down a sheep mountain.
If you have a soft spot for Model 700s and recognize its important place in firearms history — and that goes for the 7mm Remington Magnum chambering as well — I suggest you get down to your local dealer and put in your order. Because at the end of 2012, the Model 700 BDL 50th Anniversary Edition will be history too.
- Type: push-feed bolt-action centerfire
- Caliber: 7mm Rem. Mag.
- Capacity: 3+1 hinged floorplate
- Barrel: 24 in., 1:9.25 twist
- Overall length: 44.5 in.
- Weight: 8 lb.
- Stock: satin-finished Grade B walnut Monte Carlo with ventilated recoil pad
- Finish: satin blue
- Trigger: X-Mark Pro adjustable; 4 lb. 10 oz. as tested
- Safety: 2-position lever; action can be cycled on Safe
- Sights: adjustable ramp rear, hooded front with painted white bead
- Price: $1,399
- Manufacturer: Remington
- Smallest avg. group: 140 gr. Remington Core-Lokt — 0.96 in.
- Largest avg. group: 160 gr. Remington Swift A-Frame — 1.49 in.
- Avg. of all ammo tested (4 types) — 1.22 in.
- Notes: Accuracy results are the averages of three three-shot groups at 100 yards from a Caldwell Fire Control rest.