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Big Changes From the Remington Custom Shop
March 13, 2008.
Remington has made some big changes in it's Custom Shop lineup, dropping one classic model, significantly changing another, and adding a new model. For western hunters that hike, climb, and cover ground to find their game, the changes probably won't be welcome.
Discontinued: The KS Mountain Rifle
Remington has discontinued the Model 700™ Custom KS Mountain Rifle.
With its trim lines and aramid fiber reinforced fiberglass stock, the rifle had weighed in at 6 3/8 pounds for standard long-action chamberings and 6 3/4 pounds for magnums (although Ultra-Mags went all the way up to 7 pounds) — definitely light enough to be worthy of the "Mountain Rifle" claim.
The KS Mountain Rifle was offered in a great variety of chamberings, including classics such as the .270 and .30-06; hard-to-find calibers for the connoisseur such as the 7mm STW, 8mm Remington Magnum, and 35 Whelen; and truly heavy hitters for such a lightweight rifle, including the .338 Winchester Magnum, .338 RUM, and .375 H&H.
Heavier and More Expensive: The Alaska Wilderness Rifle
Significantly changed is the Model 700™ Alaskan Wilderness Rifle, now known as the Model 700™ AWR II.
In its previous incarnation, the AWR had been similar to the KS Mountain Rifle, but with slightly less emphasis on weight and more on weather resistance. The AWR II no longer concerns itself with weight, now coming in at a very unremarkable 7 1/2 pounds, about 1/2 pound chunkier than it's easy-to-carry predecessor. It has also become less price-conscious, with an MSRP of $3,427.
The new emphasis on the AWR II is "blueprinting" — the practice of skilled riflesmith truing the action to allow more precise fitting and alignment of the barrel and cycling of the action. This is a standard feature of any rifle from a "true" custom rifle maker, intended to create the foundation necessary for remarkable accuracy.
Other changes include re-use of features from Remington's standard rifle lineup. There's a Bell and Carlson composite stock, similar to that on the Alaskan Ti model that was introduced last year, but with a full-length aluminum bedding block and a more interesting black on green paint job.
A TriNyte® coating is applied to the stainless metal barrel, action, and trigger assembly, although it's black, unlike the finish on the standard XCR models. The rifle features the new standard Model 40-X adjustable trigger, tuned and set by the Custom Shop at 3 pounds.
Cartridge selection is functional but bland by custom rifle standards. Long action and magnum chamberings are offered with .25-06 at the low end and .375 magnums at the high end, with only the predictable choices in between.
New: The Model 700™ North American Custom
This is basically a nicely-executed but otherwise unremarkable Model 700. It offers a Bell and Carlson stock similar to the AWR II (including a cool black on tan finish, or a more standard gray on black finish) and your choice of stainless or satin blued finish.
It's blueprinted to make it accurate and smooth to cycle, includes a tuned trigger, a fluted barrel, and all that. I'm sure it's very nice and functional, but it's actually not very unique as custom rifles go, to I'm not going to elaborate on it's relatively standard features. You can get the details on this one from Remington at their website (link below).
Caliber selection is functional and covers a fairly wide range, but contains no surprises and a few disappointments (They offer the .257 Weatherby and .35 Whelen in the CDL but not their custom rifles? Where did the .300 Weatherby go?).
The MSRP for this chunky 7 1/2 pound rifle is $3,070 for stainless, $2,856 for blued.
Break Out the Black Arm Bands
Western hunters will probably be disappointed by the trade-off that has been made between light weight, cost, and caliber selection on the one hand, versus blueprinting on the other hand. The classic models from the Custom Shop seemed to offer much more than the new ones, and have a much more "custom" feel.
For now, note that other Custom Shop offerings such as the Model Seven KS, Model Seven AWR, and the "African" series appear unchanged.
If you want to get one of the classic models, you'll need to start hitting the secondary market while you still can. Try gunbroker.com or gunsamerica.com to search for the classics, and check out Remington.com to learn more about the new models.