Remington has gone retro. The highlight of Big Green’s lineup for 2012 is the M700 BDL 50th Anniversary Edition. The BDL, for “B-grade Deluxe,” is one of the designations Remington rolled out in 1962, when it introduced the radical 700, which quickly gained a following among riflemen, who were smitten with its sleek round action and the elegant lines of its stock.
The companion to the BDL in ’62 was the ADL–the other production model the 700 was offered in that first year, though the Remington Custom Shop had a Safari Grade available too. Ah, those were the days–just three 700s to keep track of. Compare that to the 40 models in the 700 line today.
That’s just one minor indication of the 700’s enduring success. Here’s another: Remington has chambered the 700 in 47 cartridges over the last five decades, everything from the .17 Rem. to the .458 Win. Mag.–and if you include the cartridges other gunmakers have done in the 700, well, good luck adding them all up.
The fact is, no centerfire bolt-action is more popular in the U.S.–more than five million have been made over the years–and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
The BDL Anniversary Edition turns the clock back with its looks. It sports white plastic spacers between the walnut stock and the grip cap and forend tip–both of which are made of ebony. There’s also a white spacer between the stock and butt pad, which has some old-school triangle-shaped vents in keeping with the vintage theme.
The original 1962 BDL had a checkering pattern that incorporated fleurs-de-lis in its design, and the 50th Anniversary edition does as well. Unlike the 1962 version, this checkering is cut by lasers instead of by hand.
The wood on my sample had a lovely tiger-stripe figure that glowed with an oil finish and was nicely inletted to snug around the action and barrel.
All the external metal on the rifle is done in a satin-blue finish that has the barest hint of sheen. The rifle also comes equipped with iron sights, though I removed the adjustable rear sight on my sample in order to make room for a Bushnell 6500 Elite 2.5-16×42 scope.
As with every 700, the heart of the rifle is the round action, with its two locking lugs, recessed bolt face, plunger ejector, and C-clip extractor. The simplicity of this design–round is easy to machine–made the 700 economical to manufacture, but also contributed to its strength and accuracy, which over the years has become the stuff of legend.
One thing different on this rifle is the trigger. The newer version’s can be adjusted by a single screw and without the need to remove the action from the stock. That said, mine came from the factory with a 5 ½-pound pull, and I was able to turn it down to a crisp 3 pounds.
The rifle, appropriately, is chambered in 7mm Rem. Mag.–the cartridge that debuted with the Model 700 back in 1962 and has become America’s favorite metric rifle caliber. The 7mm Rem., with its belted case and blistering velocity, was hot stuff back then and still holds its own among the latest magnums.
The accuracy on my sample was adequate–the average five-shot group size was 1.910 inches–but it served me well enough last fall, when I used it to kill an excellent sagebrush mule deer in Colorado.
The rifle is pure 700–the bolt runs smoothly in the action, the two-position safety is intuitive and positive, and the lines of the rifle are as ergonomic as they are easy on the eye.
Even in middle age, the timeless 700 has the looks and appeal to outclass the younger competition.
Caliber: 7mm Rem. Mag.
Weight: 9 lb. 7 oz. (scoped)
Barrel Length: 24 in.
Rate of Twist: 1 in 9 ¼ in.
Overall Length: 44 ½ in.
Trigger Pull: 3 lb. 2 oz.
Suggested Retail: $1,399
Accuracy: 1.910 in. (avg.)*/1.602 in. (smallest)**
*Ten 5-shot groups @ 100 yards. **Remington 140-gr. PSP Core-Lokt
Verdict: The anniversary edition of the Remington 700 is a fitting tribute to America’s most popular bolt action.
Click here for a gallery of the most important Remington 700 developments.
From the May 2012 issue of Outdoor Life magazine.
Photo by Plamen Petkov