Pete Moore checks out the upmarket version of Remington’s bargain basement 710 bolt-action; a rifle that is definitely not a Model 700 but can shoot like one.
Over the years I have looked at possibly thousands of guns, and you start to get a feeling for what’s good and what’s not. Occasionally you can get it wrong and this was brought home to me a few years ago when Edgar Brothers (Remington imports) sent me the Model 710.
You may not be aware of the 710, as you would not for a second think it was a Remington. It was however aimed at a very specific market - the occasional US hunter. There are thousands of these people, they buy their deer tag, hunt once a year and have no real interest in guns as regular shooters do. But they want a scoped, fullbore rifle that can knock down a white tail or two… Then they go home and stash the gun somewhere and forget about it, only to start the same process next year. Most of these people don’t even go to gun shops, instead the sporting goods section of their local K-Mart or similar super market, where you can buy rifles and ammo as easy as you can tennis rackets.
Build a cheaper rifle
Remington obviously realised that there was a market here and set about addressing it! The end result was the Model 710; probably the ugliest and most unlovely sporting rifle I have ever seen. However, it offered a good detachable magazine, solid action and came fitted with a workable 3-9x40 scopes, so you got it all in one cheap and apparently nasty package. Typically it was chambered in 270 Win or 30-06…
Edgar sent me a 710 in 270 Winchester and I have to say I pretty much wrote the article even before I fired the gun, the trip to the range was merely to confirm how badly I ‘knew’ it was going to perform. Boy, did I feel stupid when I shot it. With 130-grain Remington Express ammo that damn gun was pulling in 5/8” groups at 100 yards off the bench. I kid you not, as a friend was with me who also knows a few things about accurate rifles and his initial comments matched mine. So I went back to fill in the blanks and ended up re-writing the article as despite its homely looks the 710 had some serious potential. It also taught me a thing or two about jumping the gun and humility; lessons that can benefit us all…
Shoot the stylist
I would imagine that the 710 was a big success, as Remington has recently introduced its replacement, the 770. It is essentially the same rifle though they have made the stock look a little different with accents of their new SPS range crossed with Winchester’s old Super Shadow about it. It works OK in terms of hold, but whoever designed the trigger guard wants taking outside and… well, you know what I mean. The length of pull (LOP) is 13 3/8” and drop at heel and comb are both 1 1/8”.
Apart from the standard black stock/blued action they also offer a stainless/camo version in the new Realtree AP (All Purpose) camo pattern. I have to say that this does make it look a deal more acceptable. They have also sensibly increased the calibre range considerably with we Brits now being catered for with numbers like 243 and 308 Winchester, plus 7mm-08, 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag. Though still a cheap rifle I now feel Remington are aiming it more at serious shooters who want a good gun at a fair price.
At 8 ½ lbs the 770 is no lightweight, which is attested to by its long-action only, tubular receiver and medium weight barrel. Obviously just having one action length simplifies production though means the mutha' of ejection ports and I would imagine the barrel profile is identical on a 243 or 300 Win Mag, just the length differing with 22 and 24” accordingly. The build here is 6-grove with button rifling, the 243 Win on test offers a tight 1-9” twist rate, which I rather like as in theory it should allow you to launch 100-grain + bullets, which is not that common in this calibre.
This medium/heavy build is taken into the stock, as it’s a heavy piece of synthetic. With the barrelled action removed the sides of the action void do not flex under pressure. Likewise there is a lot of fullering in the substantial forend to give good rigidity. The butt shows a low comb and cheek piece with a thick rubber recoil pad. Extra hold is provided by a textured panel at the front of the pistol grip and a rather fanciful if efficient design along the forend. Unusually this finish is even applied to the cheek piece. What I did not like (though I can see why it was done) is the cast-in sling points that will accept QD swivels. Meaning if you want to fit a bipod; buy the screw and do it yourself.
The recoil lug is simple – it’s a steel plate integral with the inside of the stock, with a corresponding slot cut under the receiver, this is how Tikka do it with their T3 and you wouldn’t bad mouth that would you? The action screws are unusual, as the two that do all the work are placed either side of the recoil lug, with the one to the rear of the trigger guard just acting as a stabiliser for the rear of the action.
The magazine is nice and dare I say it a better design than the standard Remy 700/SPS unit with its twin integral catches. Here the box locks at the front by a single latch and at the rear by a lug in a cut-out. It free falls away easily enough but must be inserted base-first so that the rear engagement locks up.
The bolt is a simple 3-lug unit that offers a reasonably low lift angle; the head is pinned on and shows the classic Remington fully supported design, complete with plunger ejector. The handle is a simple, bent bar with a ball end and a far cry from the familiar cranked, dog leg design of the 700. The safety is the same rolling lever – forward FIRE, rear SAFE with bolt operation. The shroud is a nasty plastic moulding and the bolt release a swinging lever on the rear left of the receiver.
The 770 comes with a 3-9x40 Bushnell with Dual-X reticule on a one-piece dovetail base with rings. Remington say it’s bore sighted before leaving the factory. Generally a bit homely but not a bad looking piece, with the exception of that hideous trigger guard.
Though looking a little homely the overall feel is one of solidity; the forend fills the hand nicely, the rifle comes up and offers a good eye/scope and cheek weld and the length of pull is adequate. The only thing I do not like is the effort required to lift the bolt to cock the action and shut it again, as that is a bit on the heavy side. The trigger is also good with the mid-width, grooved blade breaking at around 5 lbs, but in a predictable manner.
I used Remington ammunition in the form of 100-grain Express soft point and the 75-grain ballistic tipped Premier AccuTip. These two very much cover the top and bottom weights favoured by shooters in the UK. The AccuTip at 75-grains strikes a good compromise for a fox/deer bullet, where you are looking for a flat shooting round. The 100-grainer; a heavier option for the pure deer shooter.
The solid build of the 770 did not disappoint, shot off a range bag with butt support the rifle was printing about an inch with the AccuTip and ¾” with the Express. Not really surprising as the faster twist probably favoured the heavier bullet slightly. But give this is a purposely cheap gun performance is very good indeed. More than enough in fact for your average deer shooter, though I would imagine reloading could get more out of it. However, given the potential user, then why bother reloading? If a box of Express, which is Remington’s cheapest can do that, surely it’s a done deal?
I like the 770, as it’s an honest and surprisingly capable design, and it includes a scope, so it’s good to go straight from the box. With performance like that it makes you wonder why we spend so much money on guns that yes can do a bit more and look better, but at the end of the day not that much more given what we are using them for… I wonder if guns like this are the shape of things to come?
A solid shooter
Good accuracy potential
|Calibre||243 Win (on test)|
|Barrel||22” (1-9” twist)|
|Extras||Scope and mounts included|
|Price||£474 (inc VAT)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates