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Review: Remington Model 700 North American Custom

Review: Remington Model 700 North American Custom

An entire industry exists around the Remington 700 for good reason: it's simple, reliable, and very, very common.

The Remington 700 has been around for decades and, notwithstanding recent financial restructuring, will be around for decades more. An entire industry exists around the rifle for good reason: it’s simple, reliable, and very, very common.

History has shown that many riflemen start out with a base-model 700, but they personalize it over time. The first thing to go is usually the factory stock, especially in this age of so many injection-­molded polymer stocks as standard. Next is the trigger, and later the action and some barrel work is done. Overtime, the costs add up.

Instead of working on a rifle piecemeal, Remington has a better solution: its Custom Shop. Remington takes a Model 700 action and then blueprints it. This means that they tighten the tolerances on the tenon threads, action face, bolt lugs and lug abutments.

Remington-700-NA-Custom-2
The match barrel gets a recessed crown and the test rifle featured a fluted barrel.

Stress-­Free Action A factory 700 action is going to shoot just fine for almost any application. However, blueprinting an action ensures that it is stress-­free and concentric to the barrel. This is necessary when pursuing the tiniest groups or making sure that trophy animal goes down on the first shot. Should there be some irregularities in the action threads where the barrel attaches, the rifle will erratically throw rounds. Stress imposed by nonuniform threads can throw rounds at any time and the problem only gets worse as the barrel heats. Blueprinting an action removes any chance of this happening by making the threads incredibly uniform and gives them total engagement with the barrel.


The next improvement that comes with blueprinting is a square action face. The action face supports the recoil lug that gets sandwiched between the action and barrel. If the action face is uneven, the recoil lug will be crooked and sit unevenly against the barrel. This is another source of stress making for erratic groups downrange.


The most important aspect of blueprinting is the relationship between the bolt lugs and lug abutments. The lug abutments sit inside the receiver and are what the lugs rest against when the bolt is forward and closed. If one lug abutment sticks out too far, that forces one bolt lug further forward than the others. That same off-­axis pressure transfers to the cartridge in the chamber. Hence, the bolt pressures the cartridge to sit crooked in the chamber, which induces runout. Obviously, this is not helpful to extracting accuracy.

Remington-700-NA-Custom-1
The Custom Shop uses the 40-X trigger that’s been fine-tuned. The 40-X is an excellent trigger and the test rifle had crisp let-off.

Trigger Happy Blueprinting the action is just the starting point for this rifle. The folks in Remington’s Custom Shop forgo the common X-­Mark Pro trigger and replace it with a custom-­tuned 40-­X trigger. G&A has had nothing but a positive experience in using rifles with 40-­X triggers, and we were sorry to see Remington stop offering them in production rifles. The 40-­X triggers are easily adjustable from 1½ to 3½ pounds. They are robust and offer a clean break.

The Custom Shop also practices the dying art of timing the trigger to the action. Timing a trigger means the sear catches the cocking piece in the bolt shroud prior to the bolt handle engaging the cocking cam at the action’s rear. The Custom Shop 700 we tested does this, as it should.

If you look at the back of an action while you open the bolt, you’ll see a point where the base of the bolt handle hits a small ramp that pushes the bolt slightly rearward. Most rifles require the bolt to be traveling up that small ramp before the sear catches. If the bolt handle engages that small ramp before the sear catches, the shooter must continue compressing the firing pin spring while moving the bolt through primary extraction. It isn’t a big deal if that happens, but it’s a sign of poor craftsmanship. The Custom Shop sweats the small stuff and our test rifle was timed perfectly.


Remington-700-NA-Custom-6
The stock’s barrel channel closely follows the barrel’s contour. Fluting is an option that saves weight, and Remington does it expertly.

Stock Fit G&A’s Model 700 North American Custom rifle is the Custom Shop’s least expensive rifle, yet it sports a Bell & Carlson fiberglass stock. This stock is an excellent choice for any hunting rifle and it features an aluminum bedding block that supports the action and ensures stock rigidity. The aluminum bedding block runs all the way from the grip to the front sling swivel stud.

Most rifles can be dropped into a stock featuring a bedding block with no great need to bed the action. While there is no great need, it is frequently beneficial. The Custom Shop beds each of these rifles to the Bell & Carlson stock.

Remington-700-NA-Custom-5
The floorplate and triggerguard/bottom metal are made from steel on this Custom Shop rifle.

The bedding job on the test rifle was beautifully done. The recoil lug sits snugly in its pocket and the bedding extends about an inch beyond the lug to support a bit of the barrel. They even took care to bed along the sides of the action all the way to the rear tang.


One way to assess the quality of a bedding job is to place the empty rifle on its butt and remove the rear action screw. Next, put your hand around the stock’s forend with your fingertips touching the barrel. Loosen the front action screw. If the barreled action moves in the stock during front action screw removal, the bedding job is not holding the action securely. Our test rifle’s bedding job held the action as it should. We’re going to give the Remington Custom Shop high marks for their gunsmiths’ stock work.

Remington-700-NA-Custom-4
The bottom metal has been well fit to the stock. It sits flush with the stock’s contour.

Other nice touches include the matte-blue finish and the steel BDL triggerguard and floorplate. The triggerguard and floorplate sit flush with the stock around the action screws — more evidence of quality craftsmanship. Using a steel floorplate instead of an aluminum one means this rifle will better handle abuse in the field and the floorplate is less likely to spontaneously release, which dump rounds at the shooter’s feet.

Remington only uses match-­grade barrels on its Custom Shop rifles. The barrel is the source of 90 percent of any rifle’s accuracy, and this one performed very well. Not only was it very accurate, the contour was appropriate for a hunting rifle. The test rifle had a fluted barrel, which helps to shed weight.

Remington-700-NA-Custom-3
The barreled action is bedded to the stock. The bedding compound extends forward of the recoil lug, creating a small pad.

Accuracy testing consisted of firing three-­shot groups at 100 yards with three different loads. The rifle showed exceptional performance with Winchester’s 130-­grain Ballistic Silvertip. The best three-­shot group measured .56 inch and it averaged .77 inch.

The North American Custom rifle is an ideal choice for the rifleman that wants a fully customized rifle without the huge price tag associated with one. Building an identical rifle with another custom gunsmith is going to cost hundreds of dollars more. The only way to get close to this price is if you already have the action in hand, which is not really a fair comparison.

Remington-700-NA-Custom-7
Notes: Accuracy is the average of five, three-­shot groups at 100 yards. Velocity is the average of five shots recorded by a LabRadar chronograph positioned adjacent to the muzzle.

This is a nice-­looking rifle, too. In an age of economy rifles with polymer stocks and spray-­on coatings, it’s good to see clean bluing, a jeweled bolt and custom craftsmanship once again. This rifle has everything you need for supreme field performance. 


Remington Model 700 North American Custom
Type: Bolt action
Cartridge: .270 Win. (tested)
Capacity: 4+1 rds.
Barrel: 24 in.; 1:9-in. twist, fluted, target crown
Overall Length: 44.5 in.
Weight: 7 lbs., 11 oz.
Stock: Bell & Carlson fiberglass with aluminum bedding block
Length of Pull: 13.5 in.
Finish: Blued, matte
Trigger: 3 lbs., adj. (tested)
Sights: None
MSRP: $1,995
Manufacturer: Remington, 800-243-9700,
remington.com

 
 

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