I feel for Remington. In many ways, Big Green is a victim of its own success. The Remington 700BDL in .30-06 is an absolute American classic. Perhaps the American classic. Many argue whether the ADL or BDL (I prefer the ADL) is the best configuration, but either way, Remington sold millions of these rifles over the decades.
It’s the biggest selling bolt action rifle of all time. And for good reason. They represented a good rifle and a great value. For a long time you could recommend a 700 in .30-06 to anyone and know that they could reliably hunt anything in North America with it. Generations have done just that.
Those are big shoes to fill. With the new Remington 700 American Wilderness Rifle in .30-06, Big Green has attempted to top America’s “go-to” rifle. And they did. Almost. But not quite.
The rifle I reviewed should have never left the factory floor. The bore is so off square to the action that it’s obvious to the eye, even an untrained eye. Holding the rifle upright, I was able to ask anyone “what’s wrong with this rifle?”, and they would point out that the barrel wasn’t laid out evenly inside the stock. I got one “is it supposed to be that way?” No. No it is not.
Looking down the barrel toward the receiver, you can clearly see that there is much more space on the left side of the barrel than the right. A little bit of difference is ok, but this is grossly off. That means the stock is bent, the action is laid out wrong in the stock, or the action threads aren’t square to the bore.
Taking the action out of the stock, I had a pretty good idea that the composite stock wasn’t bent. After measuring the stock six ways to Sunday, laying it out on graph paper, and laying graph paper inside the stock, I put to bed the notion that the stock itself was off, or that the action was laid out crooked in the stock.
I emailed John Stewart of Kiote Corp and sent him photos of the stock and action to double check my conclusions. He verified them, but he pointed out that the actual barrel tenon could be off square as well. Mr. Stewart said he sees the same thing that I and others have seen from Remington over the last decade. Ninety percent of the time, when there’s a problem, it’s not due to poor barrel to stock fit, it’s a bore that isn’t true to the action.
That’s particularly troubling because there is just no cheep fix for this. It’s going to have to go a competent gunsmith. Mr. Stewart, who is a big 700 fan, told me that most of the time, when a customer asks for a blueprinted action, he counsels them to go with a Stiller Predator action instead. In total cost, that’s about a $100 more to the customer, but actually less money to the gunsmith. That’s an honest smith, but as one of the many Americans who loved the 700, it’s sad for me to hear.
To make matters worse, the actual barrel to stock fit isn’t very good either. Not only is there a big gap on the left side of the barrel channel, there is a huge gap underneath it. This isn’t just a cosmetic concern for a “wilderness rifle.” As I found out when using a tree as a shooting rest, a small branch from the juniper tree got wedged in between the stock and the barrel.
After a few shots, the small branch disappeared under the barrel, but was enough to push the barrel into the stock, since there was so little space there on the right side. The difference was a whopping 4-inch point of impact at 100 yards. At 300 yards, that’s likely a missed shot, or worse, a gut shot.
Now some of that 4 MOA has to be eaten up in shooter error and the error inherent with any rifle, but the effect was repeatable and predictable. If you were in the field and were lucky enough to notice you had the problem before you took that once in a lifetime shot on a 160” 8-point buck, the only way to fix it would be to remove the action from the stock. Unacceptable.
I’m actually impressed with the stock itself. The length of pull is a tad short for me, but most are (I’m 6’1”). The comb height is great for use with optics, a necessity on this rifle as it comes without sights. It is very rigid. Supported only by it’s ends, I could stand on the bare stock without much movement at all. That’s impressive for a stock at this price point.
The entire stock is coated in a brown and black splash pattern resin that, although not particularly attractive, provides a solid and sure grip surface in any weather. It has a generous palm swell that I often see on higher end rifles and a Pachmayr Decelerator butt pad. Swivel studs are standard. I was a little surprised that, when I pulled the action from the stock, I saw bright metal hiding underneath the coating around the action screws.
The stock is pillar bedded. My curiosity piqued, I went on the Remington website and found that this is actually an aftermarket Grayboe stock. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Greyboe, and if this is any indication of the quality of their product I will certainly be on the lookout for them in the future. This is, however, the wrong barrel profile for the stock, as I have already lamented above.
The American Wilderness Rifle ships with the Remington X-Pro trigger. A small screw on the outside of the trigger face allows for the user to adjust the trigger pull weight. According to my Lyman trigger scale, the rifle came out of the box with a 5 lb trigger pull. I consider that too heavy for any bolt action rifle, and far too heavy for precision work. I’d like to see it closer to 2 or 2.5lbs.
Unfortunately, regardless of how far out I adjusted the trigger pull force adjustment screw, I couldn’t get the pull any lower than just under 4 lbs. Although I consider that too heavy, the feel of the wide, curved trigger is excellent. In fact, it’s as good as many aftermarket triggers I’ve felt. There is no creep at all, and the break is so short and crisp that the trigger feels far lighter than it actually is.
Also well done on this particular rifle: the action. After a quick spray of Rogue American Apparels’ gun oil, the action glided on the rails with minimal wobble or movement from the bolt. Locking home the bolt was easy, as was extraction almost entirely throughout the review process.
I say almost, because after about about 300 rounds through the gun, the bolt got a little sticky on the stout 180 grain loads. About half of these were my own reloads. Included in that were about 100 rounds that I shot for accuracy. So I noted the results, and then fully stripped and cleaned the rifle.
This is a departure from my usual practice of never cleaning a review gun. That’s because the 700 American Wilderness Rifle sports Remington’s “5-R” cut barrel, similar to the one found on the US Army’s M24. In this cut, there are five lands, and they’ve been formed to a specific shape that is said to reduce the need for cleaning.
If that is the case, it must be after many more rounds than I had through the rifle. There was no measurable difference in the average group size between the fouled bore and the clean bore, although there was a slight change in point of impact.
Set on a rest with bags, the 700 AWR scored groups that were hunt-ready out of the box. But just. Mounting an Atibal Nomad 3X12 scope and shooting groups off a rest, the best performing commercial round was the Hornady Superformance 150gr SST, at a 1.4” average 5-round group.
Oddly enough, the Federal Premium Edge TLR didn’t score quite as well. In this 175 grain weight, the 700 AWR printed 1.8-inch five-round groups. I say oddly enough, as this same round has shown to print extremely tight groups with other rifles.
Some of my own reloads shot better than any of the commercial rounds for this rifle, and I suspect that a pet load in the 150 grain weight could produce sub MOA groups with minimal effort. Around 1.5 MOA isn’t bad for an off-the-shelf rifle at the top end of this price range, but I was expecting better.
As for reliability, there were no feeding issue of any kind, with any round or any manufacturer.
The gun’s capacity is 4+1. I could actually get five rounds into the magazine, but the top round would always bind up when I pushed the bolt forward when I did this. The only recourse was to drop the floor plate, dump the rounds, and start over. As long as you’re loading no more than four rounds in a four-round internal magazine, the rifle runs great.
All of the external facing metal, save the trigger shoe itself, is coated in a black Cerakote finish. When I look at the flat black Cerakoted metal and the web splashed stock, I see a finish that’s often requested by customers of custom Cerakote shops.
Remington followed what they were already seeing customers doing on their own guns for a few years now. And why not? It’s a work gun with a work gun look, but look also happens to make for a very durable and a affordable finish. It looks like a rifle ready for the wildernesses, and with this coating and finish, it is.
Despite all of my complaining about this gun, I would actually recommend it. Well, not THIS particular one, but one of the models like it. I would just make sure that I could physically inspect it first. It has all the basics for a good all-around rifle with a great stock, good trigger, and a proven action. I’d just make sure I was doing my own QC on this one, because Remington’s didn’t make the cut.
Specifications: Remington 700 AWR
Caliber: .30-06 Sprg
Magazine Capacity: 4 rounds
Barrel Length: 24 inches
Barrel Twist: 1:10 5R
Overall Length: 44.5 inches
Length of Pull: 13.375 inches
Drop Comb: 1.125 inches
Drop Heel: 1.375 inches
Barrel Material: 416 Stainless Steel
Barrel Finish: Black Cerakote
Stock Material: Grayboe fiberglass & epoxy
Stock Finish: Brown with black webbing
Average Wt: 7.35 lbs
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit and Finish * *
If the barrel was lined up straight with the action and all the way through the stock, the combination of the black Cerakoted metal and the black splash web patterned Greyboe stock would be a great one. If.
Accuracy * * *
1.4-inch groups with commercial hunting ammo is good enough for any game you’re likely to want to take. Still, I’d like to see better and I know the barrel is capable of it.
Reliability * * * * *
If your hand can work the bolt, the gun runs.
Customization * * * *
There are no bolt guns with the aftermarket support that the Remington 700 has. You can change anything, for a price.
Overall * *
This would have been a four star gun if the barrel was lined up straight and there wasn’t a gaping hole beneath the bore. Remington was close to a new American standard. Close, but not quite there.