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March 28, 2007

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A Pithy Bit Of Rifleshooting Heresy

It occurred to me the other day that the Remington Model 700 is a better rifle than the Winchester Model 70. I haven’t been so upset since I found out the government gave guns to sailors, but anyway, here’s my reasoning:

Remington designed the 700 (originally, the 721 and 722) after World War II when it became apparent that rifles would have to be made cheaply or their makers would go out of business. (Winchester never quite grasped that point and has pretty much gone out of business.) Because of this, the 700 was always the “cheap” gun while the 70 was the “fine” gun. Sticks and stones were hurled at the 700 for its cheesy-looking safety, pot metal trigger guard and floorplate, tiny, non-rotating extractor, and push-feed operation.

Granted, the safety, which requires a gaping slot in the stock, is horrible, as is the pot metal trigger guard. However, the extractor, in my experience, is as good as that of the Model 70 and maybe better. (I’ve seen Model 70 and Mauser extractors fail, but never a 700). As for push feed as opposed to controlled feed, who cares? It works. The rifle I have shot the most, a .30/06 Model 700, has never failed to feed, despite over 3,000 rounds through it.

As for quality, Model 70s have varied wildly. Some of them are great, but there was a period of years prior to 1964 when they were awful, and the ones made in the years prior to the last gasp of the Model 70 were as bad as anything I’ve seen. Remington, however, has always maintained a pretty even keel.

But the deciding factor is this: If you were to test 1,000 Model 70s of all calibers and the same number of 700s, I think the latter would outshoot the former by an embarrassing margin. The 700 is stiffer, and simpler, and easier to make into an accurate rifle. Gunsmiths who go for accuracy above aesthetics go for Remington actions over Winchester just about every time. And accuracy, when all the sentimental b.s. is done with, is what a rifle is about.


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"Only accurate rifles are interesting." I've forgotten who said that Dave; probably one of your earlier contemporaries. Forgetting this axiom, I traded a Tikka T3 6.5x55 that was one of the most accurate rifles I've owned simply because I didn't like the composite magazine, triggerguard, and bolt shroud. A Baikal combo 12ga. over 7x57 rimmed I have will consistently put three Sellier&Bellot 173gr. factory rounds into one cloverleaf hole at 50 yds.with the factory iron sights and my 50 plus year old eyes. Pretty? no. Accurate and deadly? Hell yes. I plan on replacing the Tikka with a CZ 550 mannlicher in 6.5x55. What do you think, Dave?


Well Dave you have nailed it again. I had a real bad experience with a Model 70 XTR chambered in 300 Win mag.

I was hunting in Kodiak for Bear, (At the I was a Sailor....USCG)…. I came across a good bear (solo hunting). I got so excited I pushed the safety off and broke the damn safety lever; needless to say I was unable to take a shot at a bear only 40 yards away. I sat there and almost cried watching this bear just walk away (while unarmed)......

I sold the gun the week after Winchester closed it doors for a premium. I did not understand why there was a buying frenzy for these guns. Did anybody go out and buy Yugo's when the disappeared???? They went out of business for a reason.

Dave Petzal

To Michael: That is very fancy shooting. Let me know how the CZ does.



The Mannlicher will stay hotter longer, I have a .308 Sako with the Mannlicher stock and on the 3rd shot if I do not let it cool it will throw the shot.

It opens the group up to 1". If I let it cool (3 minutes betweeen shots) it will hold a 3/8" group.. Just FYI.


!!! That is using Match .308 Ammo.


Once you move into discussions of better or best, the debate defaults more to emotion than reason.

The Model 70 was the first rifle I ever bought new, manufactured in 1977. It was as reliable as anvil, accurate as I’d ever need it, and fulfilled everything real and imagine I required of it. I didn’t buy it because it was better that anything else. I bought it because Winchesters were what I grew up with as a boy in Arizona (I never even heard of a Remington 700 until I was thirteen).

Whether or not the Remington 700 is better than a Winchester Model 700 is a matter of opinion. People seldom buy guns because they’ve done an exhaustive and analytical research and built a spreadsheet to justify their purchase. People buy guns based on things like tangibles like finances or intangibles like emotions.

The practical difference between most guns, custom or factory, Model 700 vs. Model 70, is all but lost for 99% of the hunters out there. As far as accuracy being what a rifle is all about, that's a rather hollow statement unless you're taking strictly about match shooting. For the average shooter, accuracy is effected more by mental errors, training, practice, physical condition, experience, weather, comfort zone, ammunition, quality of sight/scope, and a host of other things long before the inherent accuracy of the rifle itself comes into play.

Good guns are where you find them. So are good guns that shoot well.

John B.

Dammit Dave, I could have told you that years ago!

Freak in the Woods

There maybe some snipers that used Model 70's that would call you out on the carpet on this one Petzal.


I think most snipers are using 700's or Sako Actions not model 70's.......

rudy reinholz

i've shot 70' 700' and a lot of oyhers the 70s in my favorit calibre the 270 shot groups of 1 3/4 groips while the 700 rem. shot 11/4 to 1 1/2 groups both sometimes closer with win. shells or rem. shells now the savages always shot better always 1inch or less also jack oconners got me going like back in the 50s had to have a 70 in the 270 glad of the savages rudy

John May

Dave, how can you say that? When Win made the 70 the right way there was no comparison. The 700 was meant to be and always will be a cheaper alternative to the 70. Winchester went out of business b/c people weren't willing to pay the price for quality often enough. Granted, towards the end, the 70 was shoddy and poorly put together, but you can't put every 70 into that group.


OK Dave, next lets hear about the Savage 110 line. They are ugly, cheap, simple and as common as dirt. But as far as out of the box accuracy goes, they can't be beat. I suggest spending $400 on a Savage 110, $600 on a scope and $150 on ammo for practice.


Ditto on the Savage, PbHead. Don't mean to change the subject Mr. Petzal, but just for grins last year I bought a Stevens 200 in .223 (as most know a savage 110 for all purposes) for $250. It is by far the cheapest, and most accurate, factory rifle that I own.


OK, as a died in the wool pre-64 guy (I have a 2 transition models) I'll give you those points. Well argued.

However, for me the pre-64 mdl 70 always wins aesthetically (sp?) and they've all been more accurate than me (sub-minute of deer,elk,moose).

The challenge for you is to look at the same 1000 70's and 700's and evaluate the relative look, feel and lines. You'll be hard pressed to find a nice used 700 without some tacky Remington white line spacer, cheesy checkering and even tackier Remington factory stock finish. On the other hand, the 70's will almost certainly be something you'll be as happy to hunt with as you will to place in the front row of your case at home.

point, counterpoint, see you at the pot belly stove and buy you a cup of joe while we argue this one till opening day.



I recently bought a Winchester 94 AE in .44 mag graded "excellent" ( 98%) . Then I got an 1873 Colt in .44 mag so I could pack a single ammo.My first goal was to have something to keep bears at bay. I'm having a lot of trouble getting any info on shooting characteristics. There are no forums. Hornady does not make a new flat-trajectory .44 rifle round . Winchester seems to have the best ballistics with 1362/988 at 100 yds. I'm taking the guns in May to a wild hog hunt at Tejon Ranch. I have ordered scope mounts from Cabela's to see how those fit up.
1. I'm shooting the mags in both pistol and rifle. Can I really use the same rounds in both guns with good effect ?
2. Will these guns stop a bear ? A wild hog ?
3. What is the highest ballistic ratio ammo I can get for these guns?
4. This 94 is accurate. I feel the scope can only improve this . What do you guys think?


to george
scrap the 94, get a savage. better trigger, better accuracy, better value.(IMO) winchester should have taken some cues from savage when corporate sunk all they had into one gun to save the downward spiral down the ter-let.



Here's my 2 cents. Buy what shoots best for the rifle. Then use those bullets for the bear protection. In most instances bears shot in self defense are done at really close range (10 yards or less). Personally I like a pump 12 gauge for Bear protection (alternating 00 buck and slug 10 round Mossbergs). That is also what the Fish & Game in Alaska uses. Not sure where you are packing for Bear Protection (for fishing??). My very close friend and Guide in Alaska always said never put your rifle/shotgun down to shoot a bear with a pistol...... Good Luck.

I think a properly mounted scope will always out-perform open sights..... Good Luck.

Bill Acord


I have 10 pre-64 Model 70 rifles, about 3 Remington Model 700 rifles, and 2 Savage bolt actions.

The Savage rifles will outshoot all of my other rifles. What Savage has going for it is that their President, Ron Coburn, is both a businessman and a hunter.

If they would only offer a takedown kit with extra barrels.

Then I would like to see them join with Pine Tree Castings and bring back the Model 99.



I have owned and use A model 700 in .308 for 25+ years. I bought the ADL because I'm not really fond of any thing under the stock (floor plate). I load my own ammo (150gr. Sierra SP./ IMR 3031 powder) and have never had any problems with this Rifle. I don't believe I would ever buy anything else.


Dave, do snipers really use the model 70??? Being retired Army, I've never seen any sniper use anything but 700s or M-14s in .308, maybe a.50 cal, but mostly the700. Must be something here....

John N Schoen

My Remington 700/243 was the reason I gave up woodchuck hunting. The rifle was so accurate as to be scary; three shots at 100 yards could be covered with a dime. Any chuck out to 300+ yards was a dead chuck. Basically it was no longer a challenge! Handloads were used---IMR3030/Zippedo HP(Nosler?). Does anyone out there remenber using these bullets?
Also I agree with the comments on the Savage 110. I have the base model in 30-06. Not as accurate as the Remington but out of the box with factory ammo MOA groups. Good enough for my aging eyes!


I have a Remington 700 in .30-06 and a Winchester model 70 in 7MM and they both fill a nitch. I have to say I get better groups with my Remington 700 over the model 70 at 100 yards. So I have to agree, but I would rather not have to take a 300+ yard shot with the .30-06 just due to the caliber.


Good thread Dave. Could you expound on which rifle actions require the most "skilled" hand assembly? My guess would be the Remington and Savage bolt actions require the least, Winchester the most and Ruger some where in the middle. I do not know enough about the Browning A-Bolt or the Weatherbys to comment.



The United States Marine Corps used the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 bolt-action rifles as their standard-issue sniper rifle from the 1950's, until they were replaced by the Remington Model 700 series bolt-action rifles in the mid-1960's in which the Remington Model 700 became the basis for the M40 series sniper rifle that is in current U.S. Marine Corps service today.

One of the reasons why the U.S. Marine Corps replaced their Winchester Model 70s was that the post-1964 variants of the Model 70 did not meet up to the U.S. Marines' standards, thus they were replaced. Despite the introduction of the Remington Model 700 rifle, the pre '64 Winchester Model 70 were still used by the US Marine Corps' scout/sniper teams during the Vietnam War alongside the Remington Model 700 rifles. The original wood stocks were found to be warping in both rifles after a few years of service, and were given fiberglass stocks to remedy the problem. Existing Model 70s still in service have had their stocks replaced with a McMillan fiberglass stock, such as that found on the Custom Extreme Weather variant [5].

One of the best known U.S. Marine Corps snipers who used the Winchester Model 70 as their preferred sniper rifle during the Vietnam War was Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock who used a Winchester Model 70 sniper rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield as his sniper rifle of choice (The Winchester Model 70s the U.S. Marine Corps used before adopting the Remington Model 700 were chambered in .308 WINCHESTER).

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_Model_70

Dick Gunlogson

I have quite a few of both 70s and 700s in cal from .222 to 458. I bought an 70(the Alaskan,.338) in '59 and added it to my other assorted belongings and headed for AK. Been here ever since. After becoming an active Big Game Guide that was my personal backup gun for polar, brown and grizzly hunts, using the original factory .300 gr bullet. It has, probably, been in attendance at more bear kills than most any gun (ner) I know of today. I bought a 700 .222 in early 60's and with it killed upward to a thousand hair seals when there was a bounty as well as a valuable hide. Out of the box sub MOA gun. Surprising, however, how your concentration improves when every shot is for MONEY. I also have a 700-7mag which was set into a very early Chet Brown kevlar stock. It has taken a Grand Slam with 5 shots total. Two were 1" apart in the Rocky ram. When I planned my Marco Polo hunt, due to much talk of 500yd + shots, I had my friend at Rem. (Tim McCormick) send me a 700 in .300UM which was out of the box MOA. Turned out my 7M would have been fine as I killed the ram at a ranged 385yds. In my fifty years in the field (near 45 guiding) reliability of either has not been problem. In this forum I would gather there is more than an abundance of capable shooters. However, as a guide, I would say a good percentage of the clients would benefit more from practice than from seeking the 'ultimate' weapon.

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