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Maligned Rifles: by Bill McLeod

20/08/2023 9:52 AM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

I read a comment in a promotional magazine purportedly describing the virtues and drawbacks of the Remington Model Seven. The writer asserted that the rifles were known for losing accuracy after the first few shots and “sprayed” shots because of the light barrel. I had seen this same comment made in overseas publications. This comment caused me some concern because it was contrary to my own experience. For quite some years I worked for the importers of Remington rifles. One job I was tasked with was to test fire the rifles that had been returned to the company because they had been thought to be inaccurate by the purchaser. I have described the results of this test firing in a previous article but, in summary, there were three rifles that were inferior out of all the cases I checked. Only one was a Model Seven and that problem had nothing to do with inaccuracy caused by barrel heating.

One element was common in the rifles I test fired. Most were 308 calibre. I got to dread getting another one to test fire. When I could, I would palm off the actual shooting of these rifles to Robbie Walker, a mate from way back and a seriously competent rifle shot. Robbie didn’t seem to mind the recoil of these rifles. I found them challenging to shoot. My use of elephant rifles helped me with the correct technique in shooting them but they were still a handful. Sight picture, trigger control. Sight picture, trigger control. All of the rifles produced acceptable accuracy.

A common assertion by the purchaser was that the accuracy declined after a couple of shots. An observation here. Generally, the more shots you fire the larger the group will be. Three shot groups are often cited because three shot groups are more likely to be smaller than five shots or ten shot groups. I’ve seen a competent statistician's work on enlargement of group size relating to shot count. I would be torturing my memory to recall the exact increase in dispersal but might have been in the order of 1.6 times the size between three and five shots. For my competition rifles I like to shoot 20 shot groups. On Sunday, I saw Jason shooting 10 shot groups through his match rifle. The other comment I could make was if someone told me they got widely displaced shots when evaluating their rifle and this happened with Model Sevens I would certainly believe them. It is very easy to make a mistake with any of the elements necessary to achieve good results with a rifle. If you suggest that the shooter may have been responsible for the wild shots, you would be met with complete denial along with the assertion that the shooter was one of the best in New Zealand despite never showing up at the competitions.

At one time I must have got seriously annoyed by someone making these assertions. The company supplied me with a Model Seven in 223 to use as a demonstration rifle and also to compete with. The rifle I had been using was a Model 700 which was very accurate and which I had been successful with in competition. The Model Seven was noticeably lighter with way less weight on the front hand but I practiced with it till it felt comfortable. The competition I was shooting called for five shots prone, five sitting, then five standing at 100 metres, then, starting at 100, run forward to 60, load your rifle and fire five shots standing in a short time limit. This was repeated for the competition. All this shooting was done back to back so at the end of the series the barrel was burning hot. During one practice session I decided to check the accuracy of the rifle with a burning hot barrel. The group was five shots in an inch at 100 shot prone without a rest. My concern about hot barrel inaccuracy was proved wrong. I did use the rifle successfully in competition. I was distraught when the company took the rifle back to fill an order.

Recently my nephew gave me a Model Seven in 7-08. It is a lovely hunting rifle and is very accurate. Easy to carry and very effective on deer. Using my light handloads I find it comfortable and manageable for a competition at the range. Again, an earlier version, the Mohawk 600 in 243 is accurate and comfortable to shoot at the range.

So forgive me if I look a bit sceptical if someone asserts that a Model Seven sprays bullets after the first couple.

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