Remington Model 7 Predator rifle.
Remington?s Model 700 action, the mainstay of its full-bore rifle range, needs no introduction. However, often overlooked is Remington?s range of carbine-size rifles named the Model Seven.
These carbine rifles are perfectly suited not only to shooting in thick cover by virtue of their compact length, but they are also very light, so work for long treks on the hill.
Yet the Model Seven range still delivers the same accuracy potential as its big brother. It?s like a miniaturised Model 700 rifle, shaving nearly 2.1/2in off the length and chambered in some popular deer and fox or vermin rounds.
There is something for everyone in the choice of finish.
In the Model Seven range, the CDL has traditional blued steel and walnut stock with a choice of primarily deer calibres, including the newer .270 and .300 Winchester Short Magnum rounds.
I wanted to test the Predator model, which comes coated in an impervious camouflage layer, making it a practical fox rifle doubly suited by the choice of calibre in the new .17 Fireball.
I like carbines because they are accurate, light and practical, as well as being short enough that when fitted with a moderator they are not unduly long.
Typically Remington action
The Model Seven is a blend of the older Model 600 and the newer Model 700 actions, which also form the basis of the solid receiver XR100 action.
Its one-piece rounded steel construction of 7.6in long by 1.4in wide is typical of Remington, with a separate recoil lug located in front of the receiver ring.
This allows good bedding and a secure locating surface, as do the twin stock screws securing the floorplate to the action.
Instantly recognisable as a Model Seven, rather than a Model 700, is the shorter rear action bridge, which is only 0.75in long and flattened.
Original Model Sevens had only a single drilled and tapped hole for a scope mount on this bridge, but the Predator has two and accepted a one-piece alloy base securely. The bolt has the usual twin opposing locking lugs of generous size, with the bolt?s body retaining a blued finish.
The plunger type ejector is sited in the bolt face, which is recessed 0.15in or so to surround the case head and the small extractor. This is a spring shaped like a horseshoe, sitting around the recessed rim. Both function fine, though some might prefer to install a Sako-type extractor for more positive extraction.
The bolt handle is semi dog-legged with a flattened knob, which is chequered top and bottom. In use it handles well and is quite smooth to operate.
To the rear of the bolt is the shroud, which is flattened to the right side, with a bolt-release latch located at the base of the trigger-group and accessed through the trigger-guard.
In the Predator it rattled annoyingly.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The trigger is the standard issue Remington X-Mark Pro, which is an improvement on earlier triggers. The pull weight may still be a touch heavy at 4lb, but the let-off is precise.
There is a smooth slender trigger-blade, which is single-stage in operation before the sear release and, other than the rattling bolt release latch, it is more than good enough for use in the field.
The safety works fine too. The lever in the back position makes the Predator safe, and in the forward position the rifle is ready to fire: plain, simple and silent.
The magazine is a hinged floorplate design, which holds five rounds, though four fit better. The rounds are held in the forward section of the magazine (because of the .17 Fireball?s short length) by a filler-block fitted to the back of the magazine carrier.
However, it was in this area that I experienced some difficulty feeding the small rounds. Often either the second or fourth round would fail to feed off the follower and wedge the bolt, something I did not experience with the Model 700.
The hinged plate is finished in black crackle paint and is released via a push button on the front edge of the trigger-guard, which is fiddly to operate.
A handy barrel
The Predator sports a 22in barrel, which combines good ballistics with being handy to use in the field. This model was unthreaded for a moderator, but they usually do come threaded for the British market.
The profile was much to my liking, with what Remington calls a magnum contour. It is a short length, making the barrel beefy enough to dampen barrel vibrations, but not too heavy as to make it unwieldy.
There are six flutes cut into the barrel along three-quarters of its length, which reduces the weight further. These should aid in speedier cooling of the barrel if you are taking successive shots at vermin.
It is not free-floating, but rather the front of the fore-end has two opposing moulded-in ?humps? that give the barrel at this point a little upward pressure at the fore-end. Some barrels work better this way.
As befits a carbine rifle, the stock is finished in a similar vein, being a light Sporter configuration. This is both good and bad. Being synthetic, it is impervious to the elements, making it a practical hunting rifle.
However, it feels a little hollow in places. It does come with twin swivel-studs for sling-swivels. The recoil pad is the SuperCell model, which is very tactile ? grippy and squishy ? though on a .17 Fireball there is no recoil to speak of.
The entire stock is dipped in a coating or fi lm after an undercoat of sand-coloured paint, giving the Predator an outer coating of Mossy Oak Brush camouflage.
This is extended to the entire barrel, with the exception of the bolt action and muzzle, giving the Predator a very distinctive look.
This all combines to make it the ideal vermin or fox tool due to its good concealment qualities and relatively tough outer shell, which would repel day-to-day knocks.
The field test
I fitted an Optimate scope and zeroed the Predator at 100 yards, chronographing all the shots as I checked the rifle for accuracy from a bench.
As of now, only Remington makes .17 Fireball ammunition, which comes in one bullet weight, being a 20-grain Accu-Tip. This is the best-balanced weight for the Fireball?s powder charge and burn efficiency.
I also shot some reloads to eke out every last drop of velocity and accuracy from the Predator.
From the off, and with only a 22in barrel, the factory ammunition was shooting 4,105fps, 4,163fps, 4,150fps and 4,109fps, with an average of 4,147fps and 764ft/lb energy.
That?s superb velocity from such a short barrel, in fact better than a 26in barrel I tested recently. This shows that chamber dimensions and barrel tolerances all make a difference to the ammunition?s performance and is why we test each rifle individually.
Accuracy was also great, all shots consistently falling between 0.5in and 0.75in, often with three shots at less than 0.5in. Interestingly, after five boxes of factory ammunition and cleaning the barrel every second box, the velocities actually dropped and stayed lower, indicating to me that the barrel was running itself in – another important lesson to learn.
Figures for the factory ammunition now ran at 3,987fps, 3,951fps, 3,981fps and 3,974fps, with an average of 3,973fps and 701ft/lb energy, still very impressive. I had my work cut out trying to make reloads to better that performance.
Still, I started with my favourite 20-grain Hornady V-Max bullets and several faster burning powders such as 16.5 grains of H4198.
This produced 3,911fps and 19 grains of Benchmark yielded 3,925fps. Accuracy was good, but I wanted that elusive 4,000fps velocity.
I finally achieved it with a load of 17 grains Vit N120 powder and the 20-grain V-Max, achieving 4,107fps and 749ft/lb energy with sub 0.5in accuracy.
That produced a trajectory with a drop of only 0.9in at 200 yards (though it was zeroed to 100 yards) with 378ft/lb energy remaining, and at 300 yards there is drop of 6in and 262ft/lb energy. To me that?s its absolute maximum range.
I love the .17 Fireball calibre and I love the fast-handling, instinctive pointing and lightweight nature of the Predator.
The good accuracy was impressive. However, the magazine feed needs to be looked at to be utterly reliable.
This rifle, with Remington?s detachable magazine, would be hard to beat as a fox shooting rifle. I liked the way the Predator got on with the job and the all-over camouflage coating means there is no fussing with blooded or dirty hands rusting the blued barrel.
As long as they sort the Fireball?s problems out, it?s a rifle that will appeal to full-time pest controllers and keepers alike, or order it in .243 for a deer/ fox rifle combination.