Remington 710

When Remington introduced the Model 710 bolt rifle back in 2000, the company was in no way prepared for the electronic storm of criticism that followed. All it had set out to do was design and manufacture a big-game hunting rifle that could be sold at the lowest possible price. This was a challenge for Remington's Kentucky-based engineering staff, who were no doubt eager to escape the traditional confines of gun design with innovations they could rightfully call their own. In this sense they succeeded rather spectacularly, and the price was right. But with hindsight it's easy to see that these innovations, advanced though they were, were too many in one place at one time. (Gun folk tend to prefer such improvements in small doses.)

The criticisms that have dogged the 710 since its debut might have been fewer and less extreme if its designers had made a few concessions to traditional gun concepts and contours, a strategy brilliantly employed by Bill Ruger even as he was revolutionizing firearms manufacture. Then again, perhaps not, because when just the barest descriptions of Remington's new rifle began circulating in gun shops and on the Internet, the reaction was almost totally negative. I confess I was somewhat bemused by it all, seeing that the rifle was not yet in circulation and very few of its critics could have seen or handled one, much less actually fired it.

MISGUIDED CRITICISM

Though there were certain cosmetic and stylistic features of the 710 that deserved fair criticism, these areas were ignored by a host of detractors, simply because they had yet to inspect the actual gun. Also ignored, and worthy of praise, were the 710's button-rifled barrel (a process used by Douglas, Hart, Shilen and other barrel makers known for the accuracy of their barrels); its trigger mechanism, which adjusts as easily as Remington's highly regarded Model 700 trigger; and the very innovative "floating" bolt head, which lets the three locking lugs seat uniformly in their recesses when under pressure, automatically achieving the unstressed alignment sought in gunsmith "blueprinted" actions and expensive benchrest actions.

Almost all of the initial criticisms were focused on the 710's "plastic receiver," with the more extremely misguided opinions being that plastic cannot withstand high cartridge pressure and was thus bound to be unsafe. (Actually, the locking lugs of the 710 lock directly into the barrel, so the strength of the receiver itself is essentially a nonissue.)

As it turned out, the polymer receiver insert was indeed just cause for criticism, not because of any imagined strength issues but because it fit rather tightly around the bolt, giving a sluggish drag to the bolt operation. Some time after the rifle's inital introduction I visited the factory in Kentucky where 710's were being made (and was much impressed by the Remington employees' pride in their products, by the way) and was shown a revised version of the polymer receiver insert that let the bolt move muchmore freely.

NOD TO TRADITION

Even so, the receiver remained the curse of the 710, so this year Remington fitted the rifle with an all-steel receiver. Its bolt now had the steel-on-steel feel with which we've so long been familiar. Accuracy testing was done with the 3-9X Bushnell Sharpshooter, which comes mounted and bore-sighted on the 710. Bore-sighted does not mean the rifle is properly sighted-in, but only close enough to point of aim to hit somewhere on the target paper. So be sure to check the zero of a new 710 before taking it hunting.

BY THE NUMBERS

Manufacturer: Remington

Model: 710

Type: Bolt-action rifle

Caliber: .30/06

Mag. Capacity: 4

Weight: 7 lb. 3 oz.

Finish: Blue

Stock: Synthetic

Barrel Length: 22 in.

Rate of Twist: 1 in 10 in.

Overall Length: 42 in.

Length of Pull: 3â¿¿ in.

Drop at Heel: 1â¿¿ in.

Drop at Comb: 1â¿¿ in.

Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 2 oz.

Bore Finish: 3 (out of 5)

Retail: $426

How It Shot

Rifle: Remington 710

Average Group Size: 2.289 inches*

Ammo Used: Federal 165-grain Ballistic Tip

*5 five-shot groups at 100 yd.