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October 27, 2008

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Rebirth of the Remington Custom Shop

At one time every American gun maker with any pretensions to class had a custom shop as part of its factory. These shops offered all sorts of optional engraving, fancy wood, elaborate checkering, barrel lengths—you name it. Remington was no different, but during the middle of the 20th century its Custom Shop in Ilion, NY, was noted not for turning out fancy guns, but for super-accurate rifles. If you showed up at a benchrest shoot with a Remington 40XB-BR, people wet themselves. I owned a 40XB in .222 for a while in the late 1960s, and it made the woodchucks dance for fair.

But over the 70s the trend was to pretty guns, and a typical Remington Custom Shop rifle was likely to be very good looking but otherwise not much different from a production-line gun. Now the pendulum has swung back the other way. The Remington Custom Shop has a new manager, Carlos Martinez, and is getting a major infusion of new CNC machinery with which to build working hunting rifles that are as good as those built by anyone.

The new line of rifles (there are 4) look like run-of-the-mill 700s, but that’s as far as it goes:

  • Each model comes in a choice of 56 calibers.
  • The barrels (choice of 22 to 26 inches, depending on model) are stainless steel, button rifled (not hammer forged) and lapped right there at Ilion.
  • The receivers are stainless steel, and blueprinted. This means that they are trued up so that all the radii are perfect, all the flats are flat, and the barrel screws in perfectly square.
  • The trigger is not standard issue*; it’s a Remington 40-X target trigger, which is set at 3 pounds.
  • The stock is from Bell & Carlson, and has a full-length bedding girder instead of bedding blocks.
  • The aluminum trigger guard and floorplate have been replaced by machined stainless steel.
  • In .30 caliber and below, the rifles are guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA.
  • Depending on model, you can get black TriNyte finish, satin blue, or satin stainless.

I don’t know if the Custom Shop’s barrels can compete with those made by Lilja, Pac-Nor, Schneider, or others at that lofty level, but aside from that, I don’t see any steps that were skipped here. The rifles I looked at were very carefully put together, and I’ll be getting a loaner soon to see how it shoots.

Prices? The four models hover around the $3,000 mark, which is the low end for work like this. Even if you’re not about to order five, it’s nice to see the Custom Shop going in this direction. It’s what they should be doing.

*Remington’s X-Mark Pro trigger, which debuted last year, was better on the drawing board than in real life. The two that I got to pull extensively were, in a word, ghastly—4 1/2 pounds and creepy. Remington has taken note of this replaced it with the X-Mark Pro Adjustable. It’s set at 3 ½ pounds at the factory, and has a 2-pound range of adjustment that can be set by you, the shooter. Remington recommends that you stay above 3 pounds. So do I.

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Comments

Scrap5000

F&S & Remington should hold a contest so readers can win one!

crm3006

Ho-Hum-
3K for sub MOA? And take all the fun out of doing your own free floating, trigger job, micro bedding, etc? I had rather figure out a way to rid the .45-70 Marlin
of that obscene crossbolt safety and equip it with a left hand friendly brass deflector. Now that would be NEAT!!

Chad Love

My 375 H&H came out of the Remington custom shop in 1982 (not for delivery to me as I was in fifth grade at the time...)and it's a pretty plain-jane gun.
It looks more like a current-production CDL than a custom shop item, but I guess pretty is as pretty does.

Jeff4066

I love custom weapons as much as anyone. Maybe it's the wording, or maybe the shop's attitude, I do have one issue here.

On cosmetic things, like custom wood, engraving, gold inlay, diamond front sight post, etc., fine, do it and charge people out the wazoo. However, if they know how to make a slightly better bore, or a better trigger pull, and then don't put it on a rifle in order to sell you the "custom" job, that, sir, is a bad case of marketing.

An item like the better trigger adjuster... how much more would that cost to have it on ALL rifles? How much more is cheapened every year only to be available as "custom enhancements"?

dinfos

Dave,

Sounds good, but educate me on why would one spend $3,000 on a model 700 that can shoot sub MOA, when a working man like myself can spend only $300-500 on a new savage, weatherby vangaurd, or Marlin XL7 that might shoot even better groups??? You tell me.

Mark-1

I saw a couple of XB-40’s in the flesh and saw them shot. They are different from the M-700's.

These rifles were customized and tinkered to be extremely accurate with beaucoup de care. Remington didn't lie about these 40-XB's.

One of these rifles was in 220 Swift and must have been the most accurate and stable rifle I’ve ever seen.

BTW the 2nd most accurate rifle I’ve seen was a 220 Swift in Ruger 77V I owned. :-)

Jim in Mo

The most accurate rifles I've shot or seen shot have been button rifled. It must be a longer process or more manufacturers would do it.

Jim in Mo

I'm sure these will be very fine rifles but you know, Ed Brown will build you one hell of a rifle with Shilen barrel for $2800.

YooperJack

I dunno. I just can't see custom rifles. I would much rather a nice rifle that anyone else (even right handers) could buy if they liked what I had. I can't tell you how many times I've admired someone's rifle, gone to a web site and found that it's available in right-hand only. Besides, if I had a custom rifle, I'd probably fall down or fall off my horse.
YooperJack

YooperJack

I just can't see custom rifles. I'd rather have something that; if someone else liked (even right handers) they could buy one. I can't tell you how many times I've admired someone's rifle, went to a web site, and found it was right-hand only.
Besides, if I bought a custom rifle, I'd probably fall down or go out west and fall off of my horse.
YooperJack

YooperJack

Sorry for the double post.
YooperJack

Jim in Mo

Oh, Oh, Ole Ed changed his prices too. Now $3900. Must be gas prices.

Jim in Mo

Yoop, you sound like me. I love a nice rifle (or shotgun) but I'm a practical man. I'll look at them but the other guy can buy it, I'll just take a fall and ruin it.
Besides the factory rifles are so good that who can complain? If I have a problem, for $40 dollars here or there its perfect for a hunter.

crm3006

Yoop-
Your reasons are exactly why I play with the good looking guns and grab Old Ugly when it's time to go kill something.

O Garcia

As far as pretty rifles go, Remington should turn its attention on those 798 Mausers. I'm sure they'd "prettify" very well. The Remington M700 just doesn't have the same "lines" as a Mauser or Model70.

Personally, I'd prefer if Remington gave more caliber options in the custom shop, even for cartridges that Remington doesn't normally chamber.

Gritz

I recently purchased my first "new in box" rifle. It was a Rem. 700CDL. I love this gun. I am not sure if it was 1,000 worth of gun but I love it. I was surprised, after buying it, to learn how soft and fragile the floor plate and trigger guard were. I could scratch the paint off with my fingernail and the hinges rubbed off black paint. I could not believe that something that was a thousand dollars could have something so cheap put on it. Why not add 12 bucks to the price and make the floor plate stainless steel in the first place? Don't get me wrong. I love this gun. And I can NOT imagine that an extra 2 thousand dollars would make it 3 times the rifle. It would make it the same rifle that I would have to baby much more. I couldn't beat the groups I get now with anything and a custom shop for me would only be a place where I could go to burn all of those thousand dollar bills that I have laying around.

Shaky

I own a M700 in .338 Win.that was a product of their custom shop in 1992. This rifle was fitted with the most beautiful stock I have ever seen, and the fit to metal was flawless. I bought a VX111 scope and a Hogue stock at the same time, but I shot it in the factory stock first. Once sighted in, it shot a .75-3shot group and the next 2 opened it up to7/8". I have had this rifle a year and have shot it extensively,(I bought it used),the pretty stock is stored and I will leave it that way, but I know the rifle will shoot well in it if I should put it back on.
BTW, David, this rifle has a Rem. muzzle brake, and shoots to the same point of aim at 200yds. with or without the brake. I admit it is the only one I have ever seen do that, But it will.
I would never spend 3000 bucks for any rifle, and this one cost less than 1/3 that amount and I am thoroughly satisfied with it. But I say buy/shoot what you are happy with. I, myself, can only enjoy a firearm by shooting it. Often.

wgp

A custom rifle would be neat to have, but all of my guns get used and scratching up a $3K rifle would be hard on me. I went to the range yesterday and shot a 1/4" 100 yard group with a .25-06 Sendero,a 1" group with a similar out-of-the-box Sendero (cut down to 20") in .308 and my old 700 Classic in .30-06 shot its usual 1" group. All are out-of-the-box rifles with factory triggers and handloads they (obviously) like. Good enough for me.

ishawooa

A local gun shop has had a couple Remington M-700's from the custom shop for about two years. One is a 7 Rem Mag and the other a .375 H & H. They appear to be well made but extraordinarilary plain in appearance. This fact makes me believe that most prospective buyers simply feel that they are not getting their money's worth. Sooo they sit on the rack gathering dust. Too bad. I like the 7 but own a couple and have no use for the .375 as I consider it either not big enough or too large for my purposes. Maybe someday a knowing buyer will take them both. What they do sell a lot of are Kimbers in various calibers. Everyone seems to think that they are the best for the few hundred dollars they command over a Remington, at least in a hunting rifle, maybe not at the bench.
It appears that few good bulls were killed in the general elk season in NW Wyoming. The kid and I did not see a single one that we thought needed to take a bullet. Now it's on to the search for big bucks. Yep one will be probably shot at very very long range with the 7 mm custom superduper megamag a##buster just for fun. Don't be too concerned as it will be a one shot kill. If you listen closely on Saturday you might hear the shot. I sure hope I don't forget my earplugs when the kid pulls the trigger.

CPT Brad

Gentlemen! Gentlemen, It is quite obvious that we are not up to Dave's pinky finger in the air super elite bunch that would buy and own such guns as the Customs and the Lazeronis and the like. It is OK, I assure you, to be working class. As I have said before and I think Dave said something to the same effect these are guns to dream about, lust after, whatever.

I'd much rather have the 500 dollar Remington 700 (that I sold) in 7mm that would shoot .5 inch groups, with factory ammo, at 100 than a stack of custom guns. Maybe it’s just me being a hunter and not a collector that values such traits in a rifle?? I'm a black stock toting knuckle dragging cretin i guess, but I'll tell you, MY guns stay well oiled and well used. They are not rack queens to look at or necessarily things of beauty but they WORK.
By the way since I'm on my rant about working class guns and such, I like the lines and engraving on the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight myself. I also like the Manlicher stock on the Ruger Model 77 International...
If there are any other average Joes in here I'd love to hear about some bargain guns you owned and the fun you had with em! Or any kind of tuning that you did to get your average Joe gun to be a one hole wonder. That's what I'd like to read. Dave if you read this please take note.

If this seems offensive then I apologize I’d just rather read about guns that people of normal income could own. I’d rather read about what the dog ate, and pooped than a 3,000 dollar gun.

Thanks!

CPT Brad

high plains hunter

Amen CPT Brad. I'll bet the're more plain hunters read this than pinky finger wavers.

Mike

If you want a nice looking rifle that shoots sub MOA then get a Tikka T3. Like the Weatherby, they do not leave the factory unless it will shoot sub MOA and they are very reasonable for synthetic or wood stock.

I think the are a number of gun makers that sell sub MAO tack drivers for $1000, or less. But I still like the idea of a custom shop. It's not just about MAO and price- they'll make whatever gun you want.

What's a good 308 bolt for under $1000. People are telling me to look at Savage, but i thought the action was kind of rough and the new Marlin XL7 only has 30 06 and 270. Anyone shoot a Weatherby in 308?

WA Mtnhunter

Every rifle I own (except my Savage 99 .358 Winchester with iron sights) will shoot 1 inch groups at 100 yards with one load or another. The most expensive among them is a Weatherby Mark V that I paid less than $1,100 for new. The rest are used rifles that I have picked up for between $225 and $450 dollars over the past several years.

How many other rifles have I owned? Lots. These "keepers" were the result of buying used rifles in good condition, cleaning them, mounting a reliable scope, and shooting them with good factory ammo and handloads until their accuracy potential was determined. The ones which did not pass muster were sold, always at a profit, with no claims of accuracy. None of the ones I sold were terrible shooters, just not real good ones.

Al

For the 308 question, I really like the Kimber Montana in 308. However, my favorite is an old Ithaca LSA-55 - no longer made. I like to just grab a few different guns at a nice gun store and see what fits best when I bring up to my shoulder. Good luck




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