If one had to choose the milestone year that began the ascendance of Remington Arms Co. to the pinnacle it achieved in the firearms industry during the second half of the 20th century, it would probably be 1962. That was the year the Model 700 bolt-action rifle was introduced. And the rifle had an immediate and major impact on the shooting world.
In truth, the foundation of the Model 700 already existed—in the Model 721/722 series developed in the 1940s by Mike Walker and his Remington design team. But, although highly regarded, these rather plain-looking predecessors had leveled off in sales, and Walker’s group had both mechanical and cosmetic improvements in mind.
The result was an attractive, sleek-lined rifle of exceptional strength and inherent accuracy that was chambered for a broad selection of the most popular calibers. It was a rifle that Remington was able to advertise as “the world’s strongest bolt action,” and one that ultimately earned a valid reputation of providing the “best, out-of-the-box accuracy” of any production-grade rifle. It was, in truth, a gun manufacturer’s dream.
Besides their more attractive stocks, the new Model 700 rifles also featured a more streamlined tang, more graceful trigger guard, and a swept-back bolt handle with an oval knob checkered on top and bottom. The volume of the favorable response of the marketplace to the new Model 700 rifles was surprising even to Remington. Unquestionably, one must factor in the response of the rifle’s availability in the new 7mm Remington Magnum cartridge, which rapidly became the most popular big-game magnum caliber in America.
Considerable debate has occurred over the years on the reason for the Model 700’s accuracy reputation. It appears there is not one factor, but a combination of several: the greater stiffness of the Model 700 cylindrical receiver; the unique bedding system of a free-floated barrel except for twin, v-shaped contact points at the front of the forend; fast locktime (3.2 milliseconds) from the rifle’s bolt and trigger design; sharp, crisp-breaking action of the single-stage trigger; a snug barrel chamber with relatively short leade; tight barrel-manufacturing tolerances for bore and groove diameters; straightness and uniformity of crown; and consistent, uniform cartridge positioning by the recessed boltface. Many of these factors were elements of the original Walker team’s design and Remington’s production methods.
Remington introduced the Model 700 in January 1962, in ADL and BDL versions. The ADL and BDL designations were originally acronyms for A “Deluxe Grade” and B “Deluxe Grade.” Both grades come in short and long actions.
While each year since 1962 brought cosmetic changes or new chamberings, it was 1969 when Remington made several significant changes. A jeweled finish was applied to the unblued portion of the bolt. The rear bolt shroud was extended to cover the area around the firing pin assembly. The stock was restyled, and a new checkering pattern was introduced on regular production models. And the buttplate on standard chamberings was changed from anodized aluminum to a hard black plastic. Nearly every other part of the rifle went through some change.
Model 700 ADL “Deluxe Grade” rifles were introduced with blind magazines; hooded ramp sights; and checkered, Monte Carlo-style walnut stocks. Model 700 BDL “Custom Deluxe Grade” rifles, as introduced, had fleur-de-lis-style checkering, black forend and pistol-grip caps, white-line spacers, sling strap and detachable swivels, and a higher-grade metal finish than the ADL version.
Both versions were originally chambered for the .222 Remington, .222 Remington Magnum (with twenty-four-inch barrels), .243 Win., .270 Win., .280 Remington, .30-06, and .308 Win. (all with twenty-inch barrels), and 7mm Remington Magnum and .264 Win. Magnum (with twenty-four-inch barrels). In addition, the Model 700 BDL was available in .375 H&H Magnum and .458 Win. Magnum (with twenty-six-inch barrels and muzzle brakes). In 1964 all twenty-inch barrels were changed to twenty-two-inch barrels.
These two, original, wood-stocked, right-hand Model 700 grades, with some cosmetic and mechanical changes, have continued in the Remington line to the present. Over that period caliber changes from original chamberings for these two specifically, are as follows:
.17 Remington (BDL) (1971-present)
.222 Remington (BDL) (1962-present)
.222 Remington (ADL) (1962-1983)
.222 Remington Magnum (1962-1968)
.223 Remington (BDL) (1983-present)
.22-250 Remington (ADL) (1965-1990)
.22-250 Remington (BDL) (1965-present)
.243 Win. (ADL) (1962-1967)
.243 Win. (BDL) (1962-present)
6mm Remington (ADL) (1963-1983)
.25-06 Remington (ADL) (1970-1989)
.25-06 Remington (BDL) (1970-present)
6.5mm Rem. Magnum (BDL) (1969-1973)
.264 Win. Magnum (ADL) (1962-1970)
.264 Win. Magnum (BDL) (1962-1977)
.280 Remington (1962-1967)
.280 Remington (BDL) (1991-1995)
7mm-08 Remington (BDL) (1981-1994)
7mm Express (.280) Remington (1979-1982)
.300 Savage (BDL) (1991-1992)
.300 Win. Magnum (BDL) (1963-present)
.300 Win. Magnum (ADL) (1965-present)
8mm Remington Magnum (BDL) (1977-1983)
.338 Win. Magnum (BDL) (1988-present)
.35 Whelen (BDL) (1989-1994)
.350 Remington Magnum (BDL) (1969-1973)
In the years following, a wide variety of variations were added to the Model 700, including new stock styles and materials, stock coatings, left-hand models, and barrel configurations. The advent of “niche” marketing in the 1980s resulted in an available selection of Model 700 rifle types to meet exceptionally specific end-use needs by shooters.