Remington has agreed to replace the triggers on its 700 series rifles manufactured prior to 2006 as well as on numerous other models that employed the same trigger. This is as part of a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit that asserted the triggers were unsafe and could cause a rifle to discharge without the trigger being pulled.
This issue garnered widespread attention in 2010 following a documentary that aired on CNBC called, “Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation.” The thesis of the documentary is that the 700 trigger had a design flaw that the company had covered up for decades, and which lead to the deaths and injuries of numerous people.
Personally, I think the allegations in the documentary are flimsy. It seems clear to me what happened in these instances: at some point along the line, someone fiddled with the trigger on the rifles in question—most likely in order to lower the trigger pull weight—and created the unsafe conditions documented in the report.
The reporters never bothered to ask that fundamental question—was the trigger altered—either out of ignorance or a concern that such information would ruin the narrative painting Remington as the bad guy, but had they done so (and had elicited honest responses) I’m certain this would be the case.
I’ve lost count of how many 700s I’ve shot, owned, and worked on over the years. I’ve altered the triggers on these rifles dozens of times. It isn’t a difficult job, but do it wrong and the rifle can go off when the bolt is closed or the safety is moved from “safe” to “fire” or when the rifle is jarred.
If Remington were shipping improperly set triggers from the factory that would be one thing. But if the fault of the rifles is due to someone messing around with the trigger, I don’t see how one can hold Remington responsible for that.
No matter the merits of the case, lawsuits and settlements are a fact of life for all gun makers, and Remington is taking a hit, one it should have perhaps consented to doing years ago when the cost would have been less onerous.
One thing these unintended accidents illuminate clearly however is the importance of proper firearm handling, particularly the rule that states never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.