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Montana X-treme
Rifle Magazine
November - December 2001
Volume 33, Number 6
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 198
On the cover...
This issue is only available on CD-ROM.The Holehan Long Range Hunter Winchester Model 70 features a custom laminated stock, return-to-zero square bridge scope mounts and a Kahles 3-12x Special Ediditon Scope. Whitetail deer photo by John R. Ford Purchase the CD-ROM here
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Product Tests
Remington Model 700 Titanium

Remington’s new Model 700 Titanium is the answer to a mountain hunter’s prayer - or those of anyone else who objects to packing heavy hunting rifles afield, for that matter. Sure, numbers of sporting rifles have been designated featherweights in the past, but few were worthy of the title. Most weighed around 7 1/2 pounds right out of the box. Once a scope and sling were added, they usually tipped the scales closer to 9 pounds.

Remington’s lightweight takes its name from the metal used to make its receiver: titanium. Although it’s considered a space age material, titanium was discovered way back in 1790. It wasn’t purified until 1910, though, and none was produced commercially until the 1950s.

It’s expensive because it’s never found in a pure form. It has to be   extracted from other compounds. Then too, special tools are required to work it, and because it work- hardens easily, it must be annealed frequently in an oxygen-free atmosphere. All that extra time, equipment and facilities add up to money, lots of it. Currently, titanium powder costs about $100 a pound.

In addition, it has been alloyed with small percentages of aluminum and vanadium, which makes it even stronger. As a result, titanium is durable, light and corrosion-resistant. It’s being used to make tubing for aircraft frames, the space industries, as well as tennis racquets, golf club shafts and heads, wheelchairs, pool cues, ski poles and racing bicycle frames.

Looking at the way the rifle was made, it’s obvious Remington engineers took advantage of every opportunity to shave weight, no matter how slight the savings might be. Look at what they did: no metallic sights, a skeleton bolt handle with a hollowed knob, a wispy barrel (only .6 inch at the muzzle) and an almost weightless, synthetic stock featuring a box magazine, eliminating the need for a floorplate. They even cut spiral grooves in the steel bolt. Considered individually, none of the short cuts amounted to very much. Together, however, they peeled several ounces off the rifle’s total heft - and every ounce counts, especially at the end of a hunter’s day.

Is the 700-T truly a lightweight? You bet! The test rifle weighed a total of 6 1/4 pounds on a household scale after a Swarovski 3-9x variable was mounted on its receiver. Out of curiosity, an aging Winchester Model 94 carbine was placed on the same scales: 6 1/4 pounds. A scoped ‘06 as light as a .30-30 carbine? Not bad.

A word about the test scope seems in order here. Light, compact, with a broad adjustment range and brilliant optics, the Swarovski variable was set on 5x for the range tests. Once zeroed, the point of impact never changed as long as the same loads were fired. Even on cloudy days - and two were particularly overcast and threatening - the scope’s image remained bright and clear. It was an excellent choice for such a light, powerful rifle. Despite the jolting it must have endured when the rifle was fired, it functioned perfectly during the range tests. What few adjustments had to be made were accomplished quickly and with minimal effort. The scope never moved in its mounts either.

During the range tests, the 700-T was fed a diet of factory rounds and handloads. Since ambient temperatures ranged from the mid-80s to the high 90s, initial strings were limited to four rounds. That left the barrel too hot to touch with bare hands and required almost half an hour to cool. Consequently, it seemed more practical to fire three-round strings. The barrel was allowed 15 minutes between strings to cool.

Not unexpectedly, the 700-T proved a lively performer on the bench. Since it is muzzle-light, it reared up as well as backward under recoil. My solution was to grip the forend as firmly as possible with my left hand. Unfortunately, every now and then, the forend got away from me and a called, group-opener smacked the target a tad higher than it should have. Nevertheless, few strings grouped larger than 1 1/2 inches, and the majority cut that magic inch. Were I a bigger, stronger (younger?) man and could exercise better control of that lightweight on the bags, I’m confident MOA groups would have been more common than they were.

Remington’s Express 180-grain Core-Lokt softpoints proved to be the most accurate factory ammunition fired. Clocking 2,680 fps 15 feet from the muzzle, three-round strings punched out one MOA group after another.

Swift’s Scirocco 165-grain softnoses backed by 61.0 grains of Reloder 22 averaged 2,746 fps 15 feet from the muzzle. Out at the 100-yard line, three-shot strings ran 1.0, 1.2, 1.2, 1.0 and 1.1 inches. That combination was sparked by Winchester Large Rifle primers. Other handloads were slightly more accurate, but none offered the power and flat trajectory of that mix. It would be my choice for the 700-T’s big game load.

At the range, several other shooters were given a chance to handle and shoot the lightweight. All were pleased with its balance, responsiveness and light weight. Only one complained of its recoil at the bench. None of the others were bothered  by it.

Although I’m not particularly recoil-sensitive, it seemed to me the 700-T’s kick is abrupt rather than painful. Thanks to that straight stock, the rifle comes directly backward when fired offhand or from the kneel. As noted, the muzzle tried to leap skyward when recoiling at the bench, but the test rifle’s back thrust wasn’t at all painful, even there.

After 160 rounds went downrange, the bolt is still stiff when opening or closing. When they slide back and forth on the rails, the bolt lugs drag noticeably, even though all surfaces have been lubricated generously. Apparently, it will take a lot more use for the titanium to wear smooth - a cheap price to pay for a 6 1/4-pound .30-06.

Trigger pull was heavier than anticipated. There was no play, no lost motion, though. When the sear released, it was a clean break.

To sum up: The Model 700 Titanium is everything Remington claims it to be, and then some – 6 1/2 pounds scoped and loaded, capable of MOA accuracy, weather-resistant and built to last. In my book, it rates high marks all around. - Al Miller

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