As the leaves begin to turn and deer season is upon us, I felt that it would be fitting to review an old standby, the Remington 700.
The 700 has been around officially since 1962, but its simple push feed bolt design originated with the Model 721 in 1948. Touted as the “most accurate out-of the box production rifle on the market today” with its “three rings of steel” bolt and receiver the 700 has more than its fare share of lovers and haters. Since its inception the rifle has undergone many changes, cosmetically speaking, but the design remains the same. However, it wasn’t necessarily a slam-dunk when it was introduced half a century ago; it first had to contend with the Winchester Model 70.
The Model 70 was “The Rifleman’s Rifle” and was considered the ne plus of American-made bolt guns. Many parts were handfitted, it was made in calibers ranging from .22 Hornet to .458 Winchester Magnum, it was unfailingly accurate and reliable with its Mauser-style controlled round feed bolt, it was also downright beautiful. The Model 70 was the standard by which all bolt guns were measured. However, for the 700’s benefit, that was soon to change.
In 1964, Winchester unveiled their new Model 70. The rifle had undergone numerous cosmetic and design changes that were intended to reduce the cost of the firearm and increase production numbers. The resulting product was poorly received by hunters and shooters all across the world who bemoaned the death of their beloved Model 70. Even to this day, Model 70s are separated into two categories, the Pre-64, and Post-64 models, with the Pre-64 Model 70s bringing a considerable premium. Remington in their wisdom capitalized heavily on this opportunity and began to outsell the competition. They have never looked back.
My 700 is one of the ADL variants. This means that it is an economy version of the 700. The biggest difference between this and say, a BDL or a CDL, is that the ADL has a blind magazine and no floorplate. In all truth, it isn’t even marked as an ADL, it just has “Model 700” stamped on the receiver. I purchased this rifle for my 22nd birthday from Cabelas several years ago as a package deal. It came with a scope and was boresighted already for the low, low price of $399.99. I wanted a deer rifle that was in a hard hitting, versatile, and accurate chambering that was easy to find ammo for. With a few years in the Army already under my belt, I knew that the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm was a very capable round out to 1200 meters, had excellent terminal performance, and was easy to find cartridges and reload for. So that is what I chose.
This rifle has a standard contour, 24” free-floated barrel mated to an ugly black composite stock. This rifle with the factory 3-9x40mm scope weighs a fair 7lbs and 10 ounces, which is reasonably light actually. Speaking of the scope, it has no name on it. It is completely bare except for the adjustment dial. Like I said before it came pre-mounted on the rifle, but as we will see, it is more than adequate. The trigger is absolutely exquisite and breaks like a glass rod at 4lbs even. All metal surfaces are coated in a matte finish -“dura-coat” -like substance that certainly reduces glare but does nothing to increase the attractiveness of this wall-flower rifle.
Something I find interesting about these 700 ADLs is that Remington does not acknowledge their existence. There is no mention of them on their website, if you go to a dealer and ask, they will respond with “out of stock/and or production”. According to the to all the company reps, the SPS has completely replaced the ADL as the economy version of the 700. However, if you go to any big box store, e.g. Wal-Mart, Cabelas, Dick’s, etc. they have tons of these ADL package rifles on the shelves and in the back room. Hmmm…
Anyways, I don’t think there is some huge conspiracy against the ADLs, I just find it somewhat interesting.
Shooting the 700
I have owned this rifle for a number of years and am very pleased with its accuracy. It was not until recently that I became aware of the prejudice against these big-box store package rifles. As I was reading up on the Remmy, deep in the bowels of the interweb amongst the shooting and hunting forums, there seemed to be a consensus against the package deal ADLs. Numerous people seemed very dissatisfied with the accuracy of the 700 ADLs purchased at these big box stores, with some people claiming they couldn’t get these rifles to consistently group shots at all, and others claiming the best groupings they could attain were in roughly 4 MOA area. There wasn’t a hate against the other 700 variants, just the big box store package deal rifles. I found this to be very peculiar, as I have not found this to be true in my own experience. Even a very respected gun writer on a well known firearms review website, whilst testing a 700 ADL in .243, produced rather “meh” results with both handloads and factory ammunition.
Anyways, on to the range!
For testing this rifle I used Winchester 150 grain Powerpoint rated at 2820 fps, Remington 180 grain Core Lokt at 2620fps, and Hornady Superformance Match 178 grain at 2604 fps. The Winchester’s average velocity was 2902 out of my chrony, with a 3 shot group of 1.17inches, The Remington’s average was 2541 with a 1.71 inch group. Here comes the ringer: the Hornady averaged 2650 fps, with a standard deviation of only 5fps between the high and low, and my best group measured a mere .52 inches. Yes, you read that right. A smidge over half an inch. That is downright scary, and as I found out later, very repeatable. A man could get a big head shooting a rifle like this too often.
To be honest, I had often wondered if that no-name mystery scope was worth a hoot. In the past I have often contemplated selling that ugly rifle or trading it if something better came along, but now, I’m not so sure…
The Remington 700 has become one of those iconic American firearms that will probably last another century. From police marksmen, to Army snipers, to deer hunters here at home, the Remington 700 has definitely earned the respect of its users and continues to outshine its peers in design, modularity, accuracy, usability, and affordability. The ADL variant, if you can find it, remains a very affordable option for the user who wants a Remington 700 with no frills, but all the sass. Mine is probably gonna stick with me for a while; after all, I do like venison.