• The barrels of early rifles were button-rifled, a process developed my Mike Walker and used by Remington today only in making barrels for its 40X target rifles. Model 700 barrels made after 1966 are hammer-forged.
• Early Model 700s have the exact same rear sight as the Model 725, which was a fancy version of the Model 721. Turning a screw located on the side of its leaf moves it for windage adjustment and elevation is via a separate, stepped elevator. It was replaced in 1974 by a sight consisting of a sliding leaf attached to a ramped base.
• When fully retracted, the bolt of an early Model 700 has about as much side play as the Winchester Model 70 bolt, although I never found it to be enough to cause any binding in either rifle. In 1974 a groove was added to the outside of the right-hand locking lug of the Model 700. Its engagement with a track milled into the receiver rail decreases bolt wobble considerably.
• During about the first 20 years of production, the extractor was held in place with a rivet, but it was eliminated around 1982. Design of the extractor has received some criticism through the years and, while it does not have the strength of the Mauser Model 98 extractor, it must be strong enough because I have yet to experience a single failure. The same goes for its plunger-style ejector. Keep both clean and the ejector lightly lubricated, and they will give many long years of trouble-free service. The biggest single change to the Model 700 was the introduction of the X-Mark Pro trigger in 2005.
• During the past 50 years, the Model 700 family has grown from those first ADL and BDL models to dozens of variations, some still with us, others long gone. Also introduced in 1962, the Safari version in .375 H&H Mag. and .458 Win. Mag. was quite similar to the previous Model 725 Kodiak and differed from the standard BDL grade by its heavier 26-inch barrel, additional reinforcement in the action area of its stock and fancier wood with cut checkering. Integral muzzle brakes on the barrels of early rifles became an extra-cost option in 1964.
The Model 700 Custom came along in 1964 and for about the following 20 years was offered in grades ranging from “C” at the bottom to the highly engraved “Premier” at the upper end. Introduced in 1967, the Varmint Special in .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win. and 6 mm Rem was Remington’s first standard-production rifle with a heavy barrel. My wife, who shoots a rifle from the other side, received for her birthday in 1973 the very first left-hand Model 700 in .270 Win. to appear at a gun shop in our area. That was also the year impressed checkering was finally replaced by cut checkering.
The Model 700 Classic with unnecessary adornments—such as a cheek rest, grip cap and forearm tip—missing from its extremely handsome stock came along in 1978, and it was followed in 1984 by a Model 700 economy-grade version called Sportsman 78. It was priced at $300 compared to $421 for the Classic, $464 for the BDL, $793 for the Safari and $4,474 for the Custom in Grade V. Other milestones include the first synthetic-stocked Model 700 (Custom KS) in 1986, the do-it-yourself Kit Gun (1987), the MS (Muzzleloader) in 1996, the ill-fated EtronX (2000) and the Titanium in 2001. There have been many others but the 6-pound Mountain Rifle (1986) and the Sendero (1994) with its medium-heavy, 26-inch barrel round out the list of important variations.
Model 700 lock time is incredibly quick at 3.0 milliseconds for the long action and 2.6 milliseconds for the short action. The actions used by Remington in several other firearms are nothing less than modified versions of the Model 700 action. They include the 40X, Model 600 Model Seven rifles and the XP-100 pistol.
With more than 5 million built, the Model 700 has proven to be one of the strongest rifles to come down the pike. Several years ago I examined a rifle in .270 Win. in which its owner had somehow managed to fire a .308 Win. cartridge. Replacing the barrel and bolt made the rifle as good as new.