There is truth in the title's advertising pronouncement by America’s oldest gunmaker.
In 1962 Remington announced the new model 700 ADL (Average Deluxe) and BDL (Better Deluxe) and within a year or so even Remington management was stunned by the rifle’s success.
Remington had enjoyed good success with the 721 and 722 centrefire bolt rifles first introduced in 1948. Remington sales had been close to 450,000 before the introduction of the model 700 but the Remington Model 700 took features from the 721 & 722 and elevated the design to another level. The new design had a number of improvements and new features :
Wider improved trigger
Monte Carlo Stock with new checkering
Quality controlled barrel manufacturing
Pressure Point Barrel Bedding
Overall the 700 had a sleeker more finished look than its predecessors. The Remington 700 came just after and during many introductions of factory cartridge until then had been wildcat calibers available only to reloaders with custom chambered bolt action rifles. The 222 Remington, which was a Remington creation, was first offered in the mod 722 in the early 50’s and became a standout for varmints and bench shooting but became very popular in the early days of the Model 700.
Additionally, the 700 was chambered in a number of other calibers:
243 Win and 6mm Remington both introduced in 1955
264 Win Mag Winchester introduced in 1959 Rem 700 clutched in 1962
280 Rem introduced in 1958
7mm Remington Mag introduced in 1962 along with the Rem 700 BDL rifle
300 Win Mag introduced by Winchester in 1963. Remington immediately chambered the 700 Rem for it.
270 Win from the 50’s was also chambered in first year Model 700
The above cartridges and their introduction certainly gave prospective hunters and target shooters a hunger for a new rifle and the 700 became standard for varmint hunters and bench rest shooters. It sported a 24” heavy barrel and was the best shooting rifle basically manufactured in the 60’s and 70’s and held many bench rest records for quite some time. The year 1973 saw Remington introduce the left hand 700 BDL rifle. It was initially chambered in 270 Win 30/06 7mm Rem Mag. Over years a number of calibers were produced and some discontinued. It was basically a mirror image of the 700 BDL only with the bolt on the left side along with the cheek piece long action and original calibers only were offered up until 1987 where Remington produced a left-hand short action 700 BDL in 243 Win and 308 Win.
The original model 700 ADL and BDL were revamped in 1974 and introduced even more changes:
Anti-bind slotted lug for receiver rail
Stainless mag follower
Bolt handle moved 1/8” forward
Rear sight used incline base
Recoil pad changed on Mag
Butt plate & pistol grip cap redesigned
BDL stock was slenderized and scroll style checkered replaced with cut checkering
Following the above changes 1974 was one of the best years for sales for the Model 700.
Remington would follow this success with the 700 Classic, a straight stock with no monte carlo or cheek piece and satin finish. The Classic also had open sights and originally came in six calibers. In 1981 Remington offered the 700 Classic in a limited production in caliber 7mm Mauser and every year there after the Classic was only offered in one special caliber.
The Model 700 custom shop was always busy with calibers, Kevlar stocks, custom beautiful wood stocks etc. The model 700 in the 90’s to present had so many catalogue offerings and special editions for different societies special military models. Fibre glass Kevlar, hard wood, stainless, other metal finishes this could fill another book.
What made the model 700 the world’s most wanted rifle?
The Remington Model 700 was born when the Winchester Model 70 pre 64 claw extractor bolt action died in 1964, which heralded the end of the rifleman’s rifle. Winchester diehards watched their beloved Model 70 line revamped and plagued with design mistakes and accuracy issues. The Remington was eye catching with fleur-de-lis checkering sleek stock with black fore tip on the BDL and the ADL with a nice stock and finish with an average pocketbook price. Above all they were very accurate and dependable. In getting close to 50 years firearms sales, I don’t think the Model 700 ever presented an extraction problem that was not caused by a badly disformed case, too thick a base or a bad reloader. The extractor inside the ring of steel bolt (the strongest production bolt) is one of the best.
Ruger also entered the scene in 1968 and offered a very classy model 77 with classic lines and a Mauser modified extractor system which many argued was the only dependable extraction system. Unfortunately, Ruger 77’s in the 70’s and 80’s had barrel problems. I know of one customer who had a Model 77 220 Swift varmint barrel rifle which shot phenomenally while his Model 77 R, despite his best efforts, off the bench would group over 3 ½” no matter what he did. At the time this was happening, in the 80's, I had the good fortune of talking to Bill Ruger, the man himself, about this problem. He said that my complaint was not new unfortunately. Mr. Ruger said their 77 Rugers’ popularity lead to Ruger seeking alternate barrel makers and it was a disastrous adventure. He had said a solution was being put in place which was either in plant production or complete control over an outside source. Within two years the Model 77 was shooting much better but much of the damage had been done. In the 70’s and 80’s when someone came in the store looking for a good quality bolt action rifle, we regularly handed the customer a Remington Model 700. It could always be counted on for customer satisfaction, an easy sell and no returns.
The second scope I ever added to a rifle (the first being a 7/8” Bushnell which I put on my Ruger 10/22) was a Japanese made Bushnell Banner 3-9x-40mm 1” riflescope which was mounted on my CIL model 830 222 Remington bolt rifle. Without a doubt the scope was more accurate than the rifle was. Conversely, the Remington model 700 standard and varmint rifles mated with the improved quality of this next generation of glass gave the hunter, the target shooter, reloader etc. a thirst for that more accurate rifle in the late 60’s the 70’s and the 80’s and beyond. Word of mouth proved to be one of the best salesmen.
My favourite Model 700 is the Mountain rifle that was introduced in 1986. It’s a pencil barrelled, slenderized stocked rifle and weighs in at 6 ¾ lbs. The 700 Mountain rifle was available in 1988 in a short action in 243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem and 308 Win.
My own 700 Mountain rifle in 7mm Mauser had a Leupold 2.5x-8x scope and I recall once when I was at the range with a new Steyr Lux 308 Win bolt rifle with a Schmidt & Bender riflescope and the 700. I was sighting in the 308 with 180 gr factory and couldn’t get it to shoot a 4” group. I switched to 150gr and the group to 3”. Frustrated, I picked up the Remington and shot a 1” group. The Steyr was returned to its supplier and my 700, which was a 3rd the price of the Steyr combo went deer hunting.
I consider the 60’s through to the 90’s to be the Golden Age of the Remington Model 700 with over 2 ½ million being produced. By far the largest production numbers of bolt action commercial rifles ever. In the Golden Age of the model 700 you would find them in hunt camps, bench rest matches, gun clubs, police stations, the Vietnam War and collectors vaults.
Right up to its restructuring, Remington still offered a range of 700s with the 2020 version, the 700 CDL (Classic Deluxe), being a beautiful firearm and definitely carrying its family’s genes. We’ll have to see what happens when Remington emerges this year or next. And just for the record, a 700 BDL sold in 1964 in Canada for $149.00. The 700 CDL is $1200.00 in 2020.