Is the Remington 700 the Best Beginner’s Hunting Rifle?
The title of “Gold Standard” is not easily achieved in any real competition, regardless of our modern tendency to proclaim anything new as the best thing ever. That being said, if you put the proverbial gun to my head and demanded that I crown the greatest American hunting rifle of all time, I would have to pick between the Winchester Model 70 and the Remington Model 700. Today, we will focus on the latter of the two and what makes its reign so supreme.
The Model 700
The 700 was first produced in the early 60s. The design was meant to be mass-produced with all the best knowledge that Remington had learned since its inception. It has since been revised, refined, improved, copied, cloned, and adapted. One would hope that the diverse offerings in the 700 line were not a contributing factor to Remington’s financial problems (but I’m sure it was).
There have been quite a few variants over the years. Some stood the test of time, while others quickly faded away in dust-covered gun cabinets. I’ve had a few myself during my firearms infatuation, and I can say none of them ever let me down.
A Hunter’s Rifle
The 700 has always had some great features that make it an excellent choice for hunters. Whether you like wood or synthetic, there is a stock selection that should fit your taste. There are stainless and all-weather models for those of us who love to hunt in the clouds. There are also traditional bluing and satin-coated spray finishes.
Remington made everything from left-handed models for those who were “miswired” to assorted barrel lengths, twists, contours, and even some with threaded muzzles. Whether you are hunting varmints with a .223 or moose with a .338 Winchester Magnum, there are incredible choices in calibers across the many variants.
It’s All About the Options
Few rifles in the market enjoy as much aftermarket support as the Remington 700. You can find almost any conceivable accessory made for rifles. This gives shooters the ability to customize their rifles in subtle or extreme ways, and we know how much everybody loves to make their rifles their own.
All the best trigger manufacturers have a model for the 700. Rifle chassis for the 700 are everywhere, making it easy for beginners to upgrade their rifles as their skills improve. There are plenty of scope mounts, bolt releases, improved extractors, floor plates, and magazines of all kinds to fit the rifle to your specified purpose.
The Model 700 is so prevalent that its footprint has become the standard for the growing mass of custom action makers. This is not so much an endorsement of superiority in design, but more of a recognition of market direction.
A new hunter could start out with a simple stock 700 SPS from a pawn shop and, as their skills and needs grow, they could install a better barrel. A new stock or chassis could be added to increase rigidity, followed perhaps by a muzzle brake to help visualize impacts and recoil management. They could add better scope options with canted bases for increasing range. You get the idea…
Years later, the same hunter may be using the same carbon fiber stock but with an upgraded Defiance Action and carbon-wrapped barrel. Many of us have traveled this road that started with a humble little Remington 700 picked up from a swap meet. My first 700 came from way back in the 60s when the guns were still quite new. It has since moved along to a new owner, but sometimes I miss that old, smooth action. At least one elk and a few deer succumbed to its shots.
The 700 has seen action across the planet, whether it be for hunting, law enforcement, or as a military tool. Being in the business of shooting things for over 50 years can sure build a case for setting the standard, and the Remington 700 has surely shown that. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who got handed down a rifle from your father or grandfather. It’s the kind of rifle that comes with both history and prestige.
Much of the same could be said about the 700’s biggest competitor, the Model 70. But not to the same degree. The Remington 700 has everything a budding hunter could ask for, and you could probably find a dozen of them between here and the next sporting goods shop. It’s a rifle that can grow with you or spend generations giving families their annual venison without much more than the occasional oiling.