Some say this is the best-looking rifle Remington has ever offered.
By Bill Krenz
The bull saw me before I saw him, and that meant that four hours of careful still-hunting went right out the window.
What I glimpsed through the vertical maze of lodgepole pines was the bull’s head and antlers coming up, a bit of dried grass hanging from his mouth and his eyes locking onto mine. He was barely 40 yards away. Behind him, other tan bodies shifted and at least two cow elk mewed.
My compact rifle came up quickly, but my eyes searched the trees beyond the bull. No antlers for me this day. In my pocket was a cow elk tag.
The herd was moving. The bull had alerted them. With just a few strides, he was out of sight. Branches popped and additional patches of tawny hide flickered through narrow openings as the cows moved with him. I stood frozen, rifle up and ready, but I knew it was a lost cause. Even before the sounds of the herd’s departure had faded, I was slipping out of my backpack and looking for a dry place to sit. I found it, propped my light, little rifle against a tree and settled in to wait.
There are lots of ways to hunt elk. One of my favorites is still-hunting through the dark timber on steep mountain slopes. Visibility isn’t great, but the elk are there. It’s where they spend the majority of their daylight hours, alternately bedding and feeding. If you go slowly and have the wind in your favor, you can get very close. If you have the right rifle, you can fill your tag in short order.
There are varying schools of thought on elk rifles, with most of the thinking based on the long reach and knockdown power of a big rifle. The typical imagined elk scenario involves a bull standing or slowly walking on an open hillside all the way across a big canyon. In that situation, a rifle with a 26-inch barrel, a heavy stock, a bipod and a cartridge the size of a small cigar can be just the ticket. But in the confines of the dark timber — where stealth is paramount and shots are whitetail short — much of that conventional long-barreled, thundering magnum thinking falls flat. That’s why so many dark-timber elk connoisseurs routinely reach for much lighter, more compact rifles with which to punch their annual elk.
Such specialized elk hunters aren’t the only ones in North America who have come to prefer handier hunting rifles. Most American hunters pursue white-tailed deer, and the vast majority of whitetail hunting is done in very tight cover. The same is true of most black bear hunting. There are plenty of reasons why a short, light rifle is the perfect choice in the whitetail woods, the bear thicket and in a lot of elk country. Such rifles are easier to carry, quicker to get into action, and more rifle just isn’t needed.
With so many North American gun hunters partial to the handling characteristics of compact rifles, it’s no wonder that progressive rifle manufacturers like Remington, Ruger and Kimber are offering an increasing number of shorter, lighter, handier bolt-action rifles.
My elk rifle that day in the Colorado timber was something special. It was a rifle that some have said is the most attractive rifle that Remington has ever offered. It was short and light and it handled nearly as well as a fine shotgun. It was the kind of rifle that’s fun to carry, to shoot and to show off. It was a Model Seven MS from the Remington Custom Shop.
The two major components of any bolt-action rifle are the barreled action and the stock. With most rifles, those components are complementary at best. They harmonize, but they also seem to somehow maintain separate identities, which is why you can change the stock on most bolt-action rifles without severely impacting the rifle’s personality. Such is not the case with the distinctive Remington Model Seven MS.
The Model Seven MS combines its unique full stock with its barreled action in such a seamless manner as to make it appear that the two are irrevocably merged. Straight lines and gentle curves flow uninterrupted from one end of this rifle to the other. That unique joining is so complete that to switch out one thing would mean that the Remington Model Seven MS would cease to exist.
At the heart of that unique, blended design is the rifle’s Mannlicher-style full stock. The gracefully tapered forearm of that stock sweeps all the way to the rifle’s muzzle, where it is crowned by a steel cap. In days gone by, such full stocks were intended to protect the barrel of the rifle and the shooter from barrel heat. Such stocks have long been on battle rifles, fine Austrian sporting rifles and even on Kentucky long rifles. With sporting rifles, the full stock has come to symbolize a gentlemanly elegance that is perhaps a step above the conventional half-stock.
The Remington Custom Shop rolled all of that into its elegant Model Seven MS (Mannlicher Stock) rifle, but it did so with a decidedly modern flair. The stock of the Model Seven MS is constructed with pressure-laminated hardwoods. That dramatically increases stock strength and stability, particularly in adverse weather. The action is no less than Remington’s slim and trim Model Seven, while the barrel is a Custom Shop select grade that measures just 20 inches in length.
The result is a compact, light and unusually stylish hunting rifle.
The Model Seven MS is available in 12 calibers. My preference is the .350 Remington Magnum, the largest offered, because I use my Model Seven MS primarily for elk and bears. My rifle measures just 39.5 inches in length and weighs a lovely to carry 7 pounds, 4 ounces with sturdy Conetrol mounts and a Leupold Vari-X III 1.75-6x scope. It comes up like a well-balanced bird gun and wallops game like the hammer of Thor.
In putting this rifle package together and preparing it for the field, I discovered a number of things.
To begin with, I found that I enjoyed working with the Remington Custom Shop. This division of the nation’s oldest gunmaker is made up of uniquely skilled craftsman who hand-assemble select Remington firearms. Those guns are described in the Remington catalog and on the company’s website (www.remington.com).
Customers like you and me can order Remington Custom Shop guns through official Remington dealers. We can even specify some personal touches.
For example, I wanted my Model Seven MS without the standard iron sights, and I ordered it that way. I rarely use iron sights on bolt-action rifles anymore, and I wanted to accentuate the rifle’s clean lines. Six months after I placed my order with my local dealer, my customized Remington Model Seven MS arrived. It quickly proved to be all that I had hoped.
Specifically, I discovered that my short, light made-to-order rifle balanced unusually well, something that’s not always the case with compact rifles. Sometimes, rifle manufacturers simply bob the barrel of an otherwise standard gun to deliver a compact configuration. That can result in a butt-heavy rifle that handles about as well as a barbell with too many weights on one end. The Remington Model Seven MS is different. It features a lightweight action designed expressly for short-action cartridges, and a laminated Mannlicher-style stock that carries extra weight all the way out to the end of the rifle’s barrel. That combination of light action and forward-weighted full stock delivers improved balance and handling. And its overall light weight makes it a joy to carry anywhere.
Right out of the box, the trigger on my Remington Model Seven MS broke at a pleasing 3.2 pounds, so I decided to leave it right there.
At the bench, my Remington Model Seven MS, even in its potent .350 Rem Mag chambering, proved easy to shoot. I mostly fed the rifle a steady diet of Remington factory 200-grain Pointed Soft Point Core-Lokt ammunition and found recoil quite manageable. I believe that’s due to the rifle’s straight, forward-weighted stock, broad rollover cheekpiece and hefty 1-inch recoil pad. In milder short-action chamberings like .260 Remington or .308 Winchester, I would expect the Model Seven MS to be an absolute pussycat to shoot.
Accuracy with Remington factory fodder proved quite good, with average 100-yard three-shot groups hovering between 1 and 2 inches. I also tried Nosler factory ammunition with 225-grain Partition bullets, and that ammo diminished my average group size by another half inch. Careful experimentation with reloads undoubtedly would have improved on those groups, but any deer, bear or elk within 200 yards was in serious trouble when I was packing my Model Seven MS with standard factory ammo.
And pack it I did, straight into the elk mountains of central Colorado. The herd I had jumped moved off slowly, largely because I didn’t immediately pursue them. Instead, I sat down, ate a sandwich and an apple, drank some Gatorade, read a bit from a paperback book I fished out of my backpack, and took a nap. That’s a heck of a way to hunt elk, but I needed to let the herd settle down. If I had immediately pursued them in the heavy timber, it’s likely that I would have run them right out of the canyon.
Four hours later, I took up their trail. The hoof marks were clear in the soft loam below the scraggly pines. I’d barely gone 500 yards when I saw the first elk. It was a cow, and she was up and feeding.
Six more elk materialized in the timber as I watched. They were moving slowly up a slope to my left. I picked a narrow shooting lane that was ahead of the group and waited. The shot would be about 80 yards, and I’d have to take it offhand. I dared not move to take a rest.
When the first cow entered the lane, I let her pass just to get a feel for how fast she was walking. I did the same with the second cow. When the third cow stepped into my shooting lane, I was ready. My light, responsive Model Seven MS boomed when the scope’s crosshairs settled on her shoulder. She stumbled at the shot, then crashed off with the rest of the herd. I found her less than 60 yards away, down and out where she had fallen. The Remington 200-grain Core-Lokt had smashed both shoulders and exited.
There are times when a big, heavy rifle is desirable, but hunting in thick cover is not one of them. A relatively light and short rifle is a better choice. And if you want to add a bit of class to that choice, consider a distinctive Remington Model Seven MS. It’s a compact, modern beauty with old world styling and new world punch.
Reprinted from the July 2007 issue of Buckmasters GunHunter Magazine. Subscribe today to have GunHunter delivered to your home.