In 2021, Wesley Pootoogooluk set his sights on one of the biggest grizzly bears to ever hit the record books. The rifle he trusted to do the job was a Remington 700 chambered for .340 Weatherby Magnum, and the confidence he placed in it was well-earned.
The Remington 700 has more than 60 years of history to its name. It’s been one of America’s favorite sporting rifles year after year, the king of all Remington rifles, and hunters have handed their Model 700s down from generation to generation. It’s won competitions and set benchmarks for accuracy. It’s served law enforcement officers in the U.S. and military snipers all around the globe.
If you have one of these rifles, you know why they tend to stay in the family. If you don’t, it’s time to dust off the history books and find out why the Remington 700 is such a big deal.
Remington 700 History: A Classic Comeback Story
In 1918, Remington was all dressed up with no place to go. The American arms manufacturer went all-in on the Model 1917, a rifle meant to replace the Springfield M1903 as America’s battle rifle in World War I, but hostilities ended shortly after the M1917’s release.
Remington modified the design and sold it commercially as the Model 30, but sales struggled against competition like the Winchester Model 70, which hit store shelves in 1936. The company continued to play second fiddle to Winchester after World War II. The Model 30, Model 720, Model 721, and Model 722 didn’t have the chops to dethrone Winchester.
By mid-century, the suits at Remington had about all they could stomach of being an also-ran in the U.S. gun market. Remington’s designers pulled out all the stops to create the Model 700. To keep pace with the Winchester Model 70 — the rifleman’s rifle — it had to be a nearly indestructible tack driver that was pretty enough to hang above the mantle with pride.
Mission accomplished. The Remington 700 was an instant smash hit and remained one of the most sought-after hunting rifles year after year, decade after decade, and generation after generation. Guns & Ammo reported in 2012 that Remington had sold more than 5 million copies of the rifle in its first 50 years of production. It didn’t just compete with other brands, it’s one of the most popular hunting rifles of all time.
Ultimately, it wasn’t competing gunmakers that posed the biggest threat; it was legal battles and management issues. Remington recalled Model 700 and Model 7 rifles built between 2006 and 2014 to replace faulty triggers. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and again in 2020. Troubles continued with layoffs and union protests. Remington moved its global headquarters from New York to Georgia in 2021, and production of the Model 700 followed in 2023.
You can still buy a Remington 700, but some of the shine has worn off this iconic rifle in the minds of many consumers. There are too many great, affordable rifles to ignore these days, and Remington’s acquiescence to legal pressure from anti-gun activist groups left a sour taste in a lot of customers’ mouths.
What Makes the Remington 700 So Special?
The best bolt action rifles have a lot of great attributes, but the action (the assembly made up of bolt and its housing) is what makes or breaks a rifle. The Remington 700 action keeps company with the Mauser 98, Springfield M1903, and Winchester Model 70 as one of the best rifle actions in history.
The Remington 700 action is a case of brilliance in the basics. The cylindrical design is simple and easy to produce, which reduces the likelihood of manufacturing errors. This design is referred to as “three rings of steel” because the rim of a loaded cartridge is wrapped by the bolt face, the bolt face is wrapped by the barrel, and the barrel is wrapped by the receiver.
There are only two action sizes — short and long — but they cover every cartridge the Remington 700 has ever been chambered for. The sturdy two-lug bolt allows Remington to achieve high degrees of precision because fewer lugs mean fewer surfaces to machine just right.
A bolt action rifle can chamber a round with either a push-feed system or a controlled-round feed system. The difference is whether the extractor grips each fresh round in the time between popping free of the magazine and seating in the chamber. The Remington 700 is a push-feed rifle that’s simpler to build with fewer potential points of failure.
The common theme here is simplicity. Since the Remington 700 isn’t complicated, it’s easier to build with precision. More precision in the machine shop translates to more precision on the firing line, and the Remington 700 is famously accurate. Custom action makers still reference the Remington 700 in their designs.
Another nice side effect of this simplicity is reduced cost; the Remington 700 is an excellent rifle that the average shooter can afford and be proud to own. Current retail prices start at less than $600 and even the popular Remington 700 SPS (special purpose synthetic) costs less than $700.
A Legendary Hunting Rifle
The Remington 700 is accurate, tough as nails, and chambered for just about every hunting cartridge you could ask for.
Remington catered to North American hunters with a variety of popular chamberings for the Model 700 in 1962, but one was more important than the rest. The company released the rifle at the same time as the 7mm Rem Mag. This all-star of a cartridge quickly established itself as a dominant big-game load that struck a wonderful balance between power, velocity, and recoil. It outperformed existing cartridges of the day and beat the .300 Win Mag to market by a year.
We may not admit to being vain but nobody wants to show up to deer camp with an ugly rifle, and part of the Remington 700’s success comes from its good looks. The 1962 Remington 700 ADL hit the scene with a sleek Monte Carlo walnut stock engraved with a checkered texture. Model 700 BDL rifles got more ornate engraving, a better metal finish, and black caps with white spacers on the fore-end and pistol grip.
The combination of a handsome new rifle and a versatile new cartridge was music to hunters’ ears in 1962, and sales numbers reflected the broad appeal.
Remington currently sells 15 variations of the Remington 700 that handle everything from law enforcement to laying down the law on varmints. Supported cartridges include .203, .22-250, .243, .270, .300 AAC Blackout, .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06, .300 Win Mag, 7mm-08, 7mm PRC, and 7mm Rem Mag. Capacity, barrel length, and stock material vary by cartridge.
The Military’s Remington 700: A Sniper Rifle Is Born
When the U.S. got involved in Vietnam, the need for a new sniper rifle was quickly evident. The Marine Corps sat down with Remington to develop a dedicated sniper rifle and what they came up with in 1966 was the M40 sniper rifle chambered for 7.62 NATO.
Unlike the commercial Model 700 sporting rifle, the M40 got a free-floating, medium-contour, chromoly steel barrel with a durable Parkerized finish. The side of the barrel was tapped for peep sights and the receiver was slotted to accept stripper clips (even though the presence of a scope made using them impossible).
Feedback from the field resulted in continuous improvements to the platform. Remington welded the magazine box and recoil lug to the receiver to increase rigidity. A weatherproof fiberglass McMillan stock replaced the original wood stock. Stainless steel took the place of chromoly steel in the barrel. As a result, the M40 grew from 9.25 pounds in 1966 to 17.14 pounds in 2001.
Snipers might not have enjoyed carrying the extra weight, but they loved shooting the undeniably high-performing M40. Variations of the M40 served as the Marine Corps’ sniper rifle until 2023 when the Mk22 Mod 0 began to phase it out.
The Army was slow to get on the Remington 700 train. Instead, Army snipers were stuck with the M21 (a scoped-up M14) until 1988. The M21 had its strengths — namely rapid follow-up shots — but it suffered from warped stocks and weak bedding. It was also semi-automatic, and throwing shiny brass into the air after each shot isn’t always ideal for someone whose life depends on keeping a low profile. The Army turned to the Remington 700 to create the M21’s replacement, the M24.
The biggest difference between the Marine Corps’ M40 and the Army’s M24 is the action. While the Marine Corps committed to the Remington 700 short action and the 7.62 NATO cartridge, the Army wanted to have the option to re-barrel rifles for .300 Win Mag so snipers could really reach out and touch someone when the need arose. That necessitated choosing the Remington 700 long action instead, even for rifles chambered for 7.62 NATO.
It’s also worth noting that while the Army purchased the M24 directly from Remington, Marine Corps armorers built M40 variants themselves using Remington components.
Love From Law Enforcement
Law enforcement snipers typically don’t encounter the distances military snipers shoot but they still need a precision rifle system. Agencies across the country rely on the Remington 700 P or Remington 700 PSS.
These police-issue rifles are quite similar to the Army’s M24, although without the adjustable length of pull on the synthetic stock. The crowned chromoly barrel has a medium-heavy contour, 5R rifling, and a Parkerized finish.
Since police almost never engage targets beyond 100 yards, these rifles are generally chambered for either .308 or 5.56 NATO. These fast-burning cartridges offer adequate power and accuracy without the need for a long barrel. The resulting rifle is compact enough to throw in a vehicle and maneuver indoors, even with a suppressor.