September 23, 2010
The new-for-2008 25th Anniversary Edition Model Seven from Remington is a real shooter as well as a beautiful rifle to behold.
Remington is celebrating a quarter-century's production of its famed and popular Model Seven short-action bolt rifle with a special 25th Anniversary Edition. It's not a "commemorative" to be displayed unfired as a collector's item; it's a real working gun that is nonetheless laden with such a list of unique and beautifully executed special design and appearance features that many who buy it will be loathe to subject it to the wear marks of the hunting fields. Maybe they'll buy two.
I first saw a Model Seven in the hands of a Remington sales representative at a local gunshop in 1983, the year it was introduced. I've always had a passion for short, lightweight hunting rifles, and I immediately bought the first 7mm-08 Model Seven that dealer received. It had the then-standard 18.5-inch barrel and Schnabel fore-end wood stock. I've hunted with it ever since and currently own six other Model Sevens in varied subsequent calibers and configurations. If pressed, I would probably admit the Model Seven has been my personal favorite rifle for all those years. Like I said, I like light and handy rifles.
The new Model Seven 25th Anniversary Edition has all the basic Model Seven characteristics that have made it so popular for so long. I have often heard the Model Seven described as a "compact Model 700," and to a degree that's true. While the Model Seven receiver is a half-inch shorter than a Model 700 short-action receiver, it has the same cylindrical design as the Model 700 to provide a consistent bedding area in the stock, and it features the same famed "three-rings-of-steel" strength as the Model 700 action with the boltface, barrel, and receiver encasing the cartridge head.
The design, position, and throw-arc of the bolt handle and the two-position manual thumb safety are also the same as the Model 700. The box magazine with drop-down, hinged floorplate is also the same as the Model 700's. However, the Model Seven's 23„8-inch shorter overall length (in standard configuration) and 133„8-inch length of pull compared to Model 700 counterparts in the same calibers make the Model Seven perfectly sized for small-statured shooters and dense-cover hunting situations--or anywhere a fast-handling compact design is warranted.
The Model Seven 25th Anniversary Edition is offered only in 7mm-08--considered by many as the most classic Model Seven chambering--with a 22-inch standard-contour barrel. Regular-production 7mm-08 Model Sevens have 20-inch barrels. The metal finish on the barrel and receiver is a special high-sheen blue. There are no sights, and the receiver is drilled and tapped to accept standard scope mounts.
What's truly unique about the Anniversary Edition is its semi-gloss American walnut Classic Deluxe-style stock, which has custom laser-engraved checkering in an intricate pattern on the sides of the grip and wrapping around the fore-end, a raised "Model Seven" logo carved in both sides of the fore-end checkering, and "25th Anniversary" on the fore-end bottom. It also has an intricate pewter-finish 25th Anniversary medallion inset in the pistol-grip cap and a satin-silver Remington "R" trademark etched on the blued magazine floorplate. Plus, the stock features Remington's new high-cushioning, thick SuperCell recoil pad, which is frankly an unusual feature to find on a rifle chambered for such a mild-recoiling cartridge as the 7mm-08. But it does make this Model Seven an extraordinarily comfortable gun to shoot.
Overall, it is a beautiful, traditional American-styled package.
In performance terms, the most important new element of this otherwise classic Model Seven 25th Anniversary Edition, and the feature that will likely be seen as separating all future Model Sevens from those of its first 25 years, is the inclusion of Remington's new X-Mark Pro trigger system that was first announced last year. Even if you're only a casual rifle shooter, you're keenly aware that the trigger is the only point where a shooter actually interfaces with the mechanics of his gun at the moment of fire. No matter how "mechanically accurate" a rifle may be, if it has a stiff, crawly, inconsistent trigger pull, it will not be capable of consistent, precision accurate shooting--even for a champion marksman.
Remington's previous Model Seven/Model 700 trigger mechanism was a fine design with multiple adjustment capabilities. It was superior to the majority of other "standard factory" bolt-action rifle triggers and was capable of refined tuning in the hands of a skilled riflesmith. But Remington didn't want you, the owner, to adjust it and told you not to, in no uncertain terms. If the shellac seals on the adjustment screws were broken, the gun's warranty is void.
It was a tricky mechanism to set properly in the first place, requiring factory assembly fitters to reach an exact balance for each individual trigger mechanism in the positioning of the various adjustment screws. And as the many Model Seven and Model 700 users who ignored Remington's strictures and adjusted their triggers themselves discovered, it was also very easy to over-adjust on the light side, leading to a situation where the sear might not hold when the bolt was closed or where disengaging the safety might release the firing pin.
Remington's new X-Mark Pro trigger system, with its integrated safety mechanism, eliminates these problems. If you're an old hand with Remington rifles, you probably won't believe this until you actually work one. It breaks like glass, has virtually zero creep, and offers a truly superior level of shot control. The introduction of the X-Mark Pro comes during an industry-wide period of attention to the issue of quality trigger pulls (see "Trigger Renaissance: A New Era In Factory Triggers" in the April 2008 issue of ST). But while other new trigger systems use what Remington terms "gadgets and add-ons to hide inconsistencies," Remington's approach was to re-engineer its conventional trigger design by applying state-of-the-art modern manufacturing techniques with the tightest possible production tolerances.
The X-Mark Pro features a mirror-like finish on its internal components, which enhances corrosion resistance and provides an ultraclean feel. From the box, it offers as much as a 40 percent lower out-of-the-box pull weight than the previous Remington trigger design; virtually zero creep; and one of the cleanest, most overtravel-free breaks I've ever felt on any production rifle. It is also fully adjustable for pull weight "by a qualified gunsmith," as Remington states. The trigger pull on my review Model Seven 25th Anniversary Edition was a glass-crisp 3.0 pounds from the factory, which I then set to a rock-solid 2.25 pounds--I like light triggers.
And another great thing about the new Remington trigger system is the fact that it can be retrofitted into any existing Model
Seven or Model 700 rifle, right-hand or left-hand, all the way back to their original years of introduction. Remington isn't selling the X-Mark Pro mechanism as an accessory to ordinary customers, but it will be available to certified gunsmiths. And, of course, Remington officially recommends that you send your rifle to an authorized Remington Service location. A nationwide list is available on the Remington website: www.Remington.com.
I'm going to be dropping X-Mark Pro triggers into just about every Model Seven and Model 700 I own, and I've already warned Remington they're probably not going to be able to make enough X-Mark Pro triggers to satisfy demand for several years. The X-Mark Pro is standard equipment for 2008 on select Model Seven and Model 700 rifles, and it will undoubtedly be extended throughout both lines in coming seasons because customers will demand it.
I mentioned earlier that the original versions of the Model Seven had 18.5-inch barrels. I loved them. I could carry one by the pistol grip in one hand without the muzzle dragging the ground with my arm down along my side. Then after a few years, Remington increased the standard-caliber barrel length on the Model Seven line to 20 inches, and when short-action magnum cartridges were added to the Model Seven family, those barrel lengths were standardized at 22 inches, except for the .350 Remington Magnum version, which remains configured at 20 inches with iron sights. I wasn't particularly happy about that, and I've trimmed most of my Model Seven inventory back to the "original" 18.5 inches. I probably won't do that to my 25th Anniversary Edition; it's just too pretty as it is. But I haven't ruled it out yet.
So a word about Model Seven short-barrel accuracy and ballistic performance is in order.
There was a time when carrying a shorter, lighter-weight rifle meant you had to trade something off in comparison to "full-sized" guns, either accuracy, power, or range--or all three. But due to improvements in firearms manufacture quality control and recent advances in ammunition propellant technology, current lightweight short-barrel rifles can now fire cartridges with every bit as much performance as the biggest, longest, and heaviest guns. Short rifles are easier to carry and handle; they are faster, more maneuverable, and more accurate across the board than their longer counterparts.
Did I say more accurate? Yes. Given an equally well-specced chamber and bore, equally well-bedded action and barrel, equally clean and crisp trigger, and equal barrel weight/diameter profile, a shorter barrel shoots tighter groups than a longer barrel. This is because a shorter barrel doesn't flex, writhe, or vibrate as much as a longer barrel while the bullet is passing down the bore. It is, simply, inherently more accurate. The only way to make a long barrel as accurate as a short barrel is to make it equally stable--either by making it fatter and heavier (i.e., stiffer) or by installing some type of harmonic tuning device.
Of course, velocity is a consideration. Individual bullets have an optimum velocity range and rate of spin, a "sweet spot" where their particular weight, configuration, and ballistic characteristics provide the most stable and consistent flight characteristics. Cartridges also require sufficient bore length for consistent round-to-round ignition, depending on their propellant burn rate. These things vary load to load, and if a barrel is too short, bullet velocity will vary widely shot to shot, the bullet may not properly stabilize, and it may not provide the desired impact effect on the target. In general, long-action cartridges require somewhat longer barrels to optimize than do short-action cartridges.
When I have cut a 22-inch short-action magnum-chambered Model Seven to 18.5 inches, I've found that I'm only giving up an average of about five percent of its velocity and energy. That is less than the percentage of measured variation among individually chronographed rounds.
Point being, no one should be surprised these days that short and handy rifles like the Model Seven--in any of the barrel lengths it has been offered in--are exceptionally accurate compared to "standard-length" guns. Shooting a variety of commercial 7mm-08 hunting-grade ammunition, our review sample 25th Anniversary Edition averaged under a half-inch at 100 yards with its preferred load (see the accompanying chart), and even the "worst" was barely an inch and a half. And when we fired it with some of my favorite 7mm-08 accuracy handloads originally developed for my standard 7mm-08 Model Seven, they all shot under a minute of angle. Not bad for a "little" gun. And it is worth mentioning that our sample was a preproduction version fitted with a 20-inch barrel instead of the final-specification 22-inch barrel.
I congratulate Remington for having produced a 25th Anniversary Edition that is worthy of the Model Seven's heritage and capabilities, that is a real shooting performer as well as a beautiful rifle to behold.
FAVORITE LOADS: HOT OFF THE PRESS
I've been hunting with the 7mm-08 Remington cartridge in a variety of different rifle and handgun platforms for everything from woodchucks and coyotes to whitetails and mule deer to feral hogs and boar since it was introduced in 1980. It is, in fact, my favorite of all short-action centerfire rifle cartridges, and it's the one I've found most generally useful.
The 7mm-08 is simply a .308 Win. case necked down to 7mm (.284) diameter, and it was based on the 7mm/308 wildcat format that first appeared around 1958 soon after the .308 was invented. I like it much better than the .308 itself, due to its flatter trajectory and the superior ballistic coefficient of 7mm bullets, which result in better retained energy at 200-yard-plus distances than do equivalent-weight .308 bullets at matching launch velocities. Plus, I have always found 7mm bullets to be inherently less finicky to handload for extreme accuracy than .30-caliber bullets. The 7mm-08 also lends itself extremely well to handy shorter-barrel rifles--like the Remington Model Seven and Ruger Frontier/Compact models--and hunting pistols--such as the T/C Encore and Remington XP-100. In fat, the 7mm-08 loses only about 4.5 percent of its nominal velocity from a 24-inch ballistic test barrel to a 16.5-inch carbine. The handloads listed here are the most accurate I've found in a wide variety of 7mm-08 guns. It's actually hard to roll a 7mm-08 handload that isn't accurate.