Based on several preceding designs by Remington, the 700 action is the final evolution of a concept that Remington began working with in 1948. What Remington wanted to create was a bolt-action rifle that would give the same reliability as existing models while minimizing the number of parts and machining processes. In the course of this development the 700 also turned out to be more accurate and safer than many existing models, so all the better.
In keeping with the maxim: if it ain’t broke, rename it and sell some more, Remington seems to enjoy giving its rifles different model designations. So far, it has produced the 721, 722, 600 and a few others that are all essentially the 700 action all shooters associate with Remington. As silly as it may sound, it is hard to argue a model that has been working well for over sixty years.
The 700 and its associates all have dual-opposed locking lugs with rotating extractors and are all push feed actions — the first successful ones, actually. This design allows for a fully enclosed bolt face that surrounds the cartridge head when chambered. Originally considered a great safety feature (case head breaches that would turn a modern shooter pale were still a matter of course in the 1940’s), presently the enclosed bolt serves to greatly increase the 700’s strength while allowing it to keep a slim profile. Remington’s “Three Rings of Steel” ad campaign touts this and it really isn’t bull fertilizer – you can get away with things on a Remington 700 action that you likely wouldn’t walk away from with any other rifle.
In the course of its career the 700 has found great favor with sportsmen and target shooters and various branches of our military use slightly modified versions of it as their sniper rifles. There are currently many millions of 700 action-based rifles in circulation and Remington offers a great selection of current production models suited to almost any use. It is hard to imagine anything that will ever cause Remington to cease production of the 700.
The 700 lost a point in the category of Feeding/Extraction because its extractor is considered by some a bit substandard when compared to the rest of the action. The extractor sits inside the enclosed bolt face (many actions compared here are said to have enclosed bolt faces but the 700 is the only one with a completely enclosed bolt face). This gives the action added strength but occasionally proves insufficient for gripping the case head. Most of the time it works great, but it should be borne in mind — especially if something like a dangerous game rifle is a consideration. Two points were also deducted in the category of Versatility because the 700’s design does not necessarily lend itself to conversion to straight-walled cartridges or conversion to cartridges with different head sizes. This is of little to no concern to most shooters, but the prospective buyer should be aware of it going in.