Remington 770 stalking rifle.
The US stalking ethos is very different to that in Britain.
Many hunters often have no real interest in firearms and are happy to borrow or purchase a cheap rifle that is shot once a year and then locked up after the hunting season.
Remington has spotted a hole in the market and now offers a ready-built rifle, complete with mounts and a scope for a realistic price.
An updated version of the original 710 rifle, the new Model 770 does have a place here in the UK, despite its Americanisms.
It would make a good first rifle or a no-nonsense estate gun. Its all-weather synthetic stock and drab metal finish will not endear it to the traditionalist, but it is practical on a sporting arm that will weather hard wear and is chambered in seven popular deer cartridges.
Despite a synthetic stock, the rifle weighs 8.5lb without the scope, so this is no lightweight. However, this is reassuring on a cheaper gun, where that extra bit of heft might make for a stronger, more resilient rifle.
Its overall length is pretty standard at 42.25in, but it is surprisingly comfortable to shoulder and points very well in the aim. Bold new action Remington boldly went back to the drawing board and designed a different action ? though it is similar to the faithful Model 700 series.
In keeping with modern trends and to cut tooling costs and manufacture, the Model 770 action is only available in one action length, which allows seven different calibres to be chambered correctly: .243, .308, 7mm-08, .30-06, .300 Win mag, .270 and 7mm Rem mag.
It is long, at 6.25in, and has an enormous ejection port to the right side which cuts through a typically rounded action shape. The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for a one-piece Weaver-style scope base, which is supplied and fitted and is all finished in a drab black finish.
To the rear, on the left side, is a toggle lever that releases the bolt. In the back position this is locked down and the bolt cannot be removed, while in the upright position the bolt can be removed for cleaning the barrel or maintenance.
It?s a bit fiddly, but actually better than the triggermounted Model 700?s catch. The bolt itself is a sturdy affair, but the head section is secured to the bolt body with pins and has a three-locking lug orientation.
This means there is the potential for a good solid supported lock-up on closing the action and also means the bolt lift is shallower than that of a conventional two-lug arrangement.
The head is fully supported and has the typical plunger-type ejector and sprung steel extractor in its face, which, despite their size, do a fine job of cartridge manipulation. The bolt handle is slightly bent down and back with a rounded knob to grip while in operation and proved quite smooth, though on the .308 tested – was a little long in travel.
TRIGGER, SAFETY AND MAGAZINE
The trigger is a standard Remington unit, with a single-stage pull that was heavy at 6.25lb, but better than you would expect on a budget rifle.
You could have the trigger looked at by a competent gunsmith or replaced with a good but reasonably priced Timney model, though this would defeat the reason for buying this cheaper model in the first place.
The trigger was more than good enough on this model rifle. The safety is familiar with a rocking lever to the right side of the action behind the bolt handle.
In the forward position the rifle can be fired and rearward the trigger is locked and therefore safe. A good feature is the detachable magazine. This differs from previous Remington designs, in that the twin side-mounted catches are done away with and replaced by a single front-mounted securing catch.
Pop this and the magazine falls into the hand. It is reinserted rear-first to engage a recessed lug cut-out and pushed up and locked home.
No fuss and secure, despite being made of plastic with steel sides. In the .308 model, the magazine holds four rounds.
BARREL AND SIGHTS
This Model 770 came with a 22in carbon steel barrel in a sporter profile with a diameter of 0.675in at the muzzle.
The finish is the same as the action, drab black but practical. This is not a rifle to admire aesthetically, but it does the job in hand.
There is the option of a stainless steel barrel, but only in limited cartridge chamberings and the stock comes with a camouflage coating rather than black.
The barrel is button-rifled and in .308 has a one-in-10in twist with six grooves for its 22in length. What makes the 770 different is the supplied scope and mounts. In the rifle on test this was a one-piece aluminium Weaver-type rail with a Bushnell 3-9×40 scope attached by 1in mounts.
This comes from the factory boresighted, so should get you near the mark before you sight the rifle. It?s a basic, no-nonsense scope, but do not expect great low-light abilities.
RUGGED BLACK SYNTHETIC STOCK
Probably the instantly recognisable feature of the 770 is the black synthetic stock. It is rugged and practical but not very pleasing to the eye.
It is moulded in two halves and then cemented together, but unlike some stocks in this market feels stiff and quite solid, especially in the critical areas of bedding and the fore-end.
It?s not perfect, but adequate for a rifle at this price level. The length of pull is 13.25in, a bit short, but there is a solid black recoil pad and raised cheekpiece to give a 2.5in height from the top of the stock to the eye level when looking through the scope.
The pistol grip has a stippled panel to each side that extends right along the stock to the fore-end, giving additional grip to the five angled panels that are moulded into the side and underside of the fore-end itself.
The barrel is not free-floated but, all in all, the stock actually feels solid and is surprisingly comfortable.
There are two areas that concern me, however. First, the moulded in sling-swivel studs that, though silent in use, look a bit thin ? I would prefer metal. Second, the trigger-guard is monstrous to look at.
It has a meaningless additional rear moulding, which I am sure most owners would remove.
SURPRISING RESULTS IN THE FIELD
I was quite prepared to be underwhelmed with the performance, given that the 770 has a price tag of less than £500, but I have to say the Remington pedigree must have rubbed off because this rifle gave some surprisingly good accuracy results.
Being .308, I chose 150- and 165-grain bullets, with the addition of some lighter 110- to 125-grain bullets for fox or deer applications.
I also used a smattering of factory ammunition from Sako, Federal and Remington to complete the testing at 100 yards.
The Federal 150-grain Power-Shok loads with a standard soft-tipped bullet printed 1.5in three-shot groups at 100 yards and produced 2,731fps for 2,485ft/lb.
The Remington 165-grain Accu-Tip sped along at 2,621fps with 2,518ft/lb energy and printed just over the inch, which was encouraging.
The Sako 150-grain Super Hammer Head shot under the inch consistently, sometimes three shots clustered into 0.85in.
From a cheap rifle with factory ammunition that is really rather impressive.
Fine-tuning with reloads usually helps shrink groups, and I managed to better the Sako factory fodder, but only just with 150- grain Nosler Ballistic Tips and 44.5 grains of H4895 powder ignited with a CCI 250 magnum primer.
This achieved 2,717fps and 2,459ft/lb and shot several groups of 0.75in with the bullets seated close to the rifling.
I tried some Speer 110-grain hollowpoints at 3,000fps and some 125-grain Ballistic tips at 2,987fps but that produced groups over the 1in mark.
The best load was with the 110-grain Speers and 45 grains of H322 powder for 3,058fps and 2,285ft/lb energy.
I was actually surprised at how the Remington performed out in the field and in the hand.
Cheap, yes, but certainly not nasty ? especially if you are one of those occasional stalkers who wants a ready-made package, or a seasoned stalker who wants a second rifle in a differing calibre, as a tough knock-about gun.
The stock was comfortable to use, but that trigger-guard needs attention.
Remington must have realised this as it now offers the same barrelled action but with a more conventional stock ? the Model 715.
Accuracy was quite good for a budget rifle. So, all in all, for the price, the Model 770 is certainly worth considering.
Contact: Edgar Brothers 01625 613177