Diddling with a Remington 700
This past week I got a particularly interesting question written in English that I could actually understand, and so moved...
This past week I got a particularly interesting question written in English that I could actually understand, and so moved am I that I’m answering it forthwith:
The query regards a 1960s-vintage Remington Model 700 whose owner has used the daylights out of it and would now like to remodel it to unlock its maximum accuracy potential. He likes everything about the gun, but asks if he should glass bed the present wood stock or replace it with a new stock, and if so, wood or fiberglass?
To which I reply: First, what do you mean by “maximum accuracy?”
A lot of the 60s-era Model 700s were very accurate, and if the present rifle shoots 1 ¼ MOA or better, leave it alone. I’ve squandered a small fortune learning to leave guns alone.
If you must diddle with it, glass bedding is only part of the solution. What you want is pillar bedding with the tang of the receiver glass bedded. And have your gunsmith replace the factory recoil lug with a bigger, heavier aftermarket lug and glass bed it.
As I recall, the 700 stocks of that period had a ridge of wood an inch or two back of the fore-end tip that bore upward on the barrel. It was supposed to position the barrel consistently from shot to shot, but didn’t always work as the barrel would flop around on it. The solution is to either cut a groove in the ridge at 6 o’clock or rasp it out altogether and leave the barrel free-floating.
You mentioned that the trigger is fine. If so, leave it alone. A properly set-up 700 trigger is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, television “news” programs notwithstanding.
Leave the barrel alone, at least for the time being. In the 60s Remington made very good button-rifled barrels. If you do want to replace it and don’t want to spend a ton of money for a super barrel, go to Douglas or McGowan. If you do decide to re-barrel, have the gunsmith square up the front of the action and possibly re-cut the barrel threads.
Have your gunsmith check that both bolt lugs seat squarely. Sometimes they don’t. I had a 70s-vintage 700 whose lugs seated so unevenly that when they were lapped down, the bolt handle would not seat and had to be repositioned and re-brazed.
If you do want a new stock, there’s no question that synthetic is the way to go for a working rifle, as wood is by its very nature unstable. The two makes I recommend are High Tech and McMillan. Both are absolutely tops, and are priced accordingly. A cheap synthetic stock is a cheap stock.
I assume you handload. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to unlock your rifle’s true accuracy potential, and you might as well save your money.
I also suggest that you have the work done by someone who specializes in rifles. There are any number of highly competent gunsmiths who do fine work with rifles, shotguns, and pistols, but I would look for a rifle guy.
Now, what will you get from all this? If your rifle shoots around 1 ¼ inches, which is typical of the time, you can probably shave off a quarter-inch or even a bit better, but you will have spent a fair amount of money for an improvement that will make no difference in the rifle’s effectiveness. On the other hand, there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from the knowledge that your rifle is something special, and so if it makes you happy, do it.