The breadth of the Remington Model 700 rifle line has become staggering in recent years, and this from a company that has been bought and sold a couple of times during the past decade. New ownership often comes at some cost to personnel and product, but any great purge that may have been realized has certainly not hurt Remington’s Model 700 product line. Having been in constant production since the mid-1960s; however, the Model 700 has felt growing pains. The conspicuous disappearance of the favorite old ADL variant to make room for the SPS series, for example, or the introduction of new calibers specifically for the 700 platform that never gained public acceptance.
On the other hand, Model 700s chambered for the behemoth Ultra Mag cartridges have become commonplace in elk camps across the West, and the streamlined look and feel of the Classic Deluxe (CDL) rifle has made its mark on the shooting public.
The CDL actually appeared in 2003 as perhaps the most aesthetically appealing 700 ever produced. Up to then the Model 700 had been available in nearly 50 different variations, the most successful of which is a near identical version of the original 700 BDL.
To my taste the BDL has always seemed a little awkward, if not unfinished. It features a raised cheekpiece and comb, a black fore-end tip and grip cap both with white-line spacers, and barrel-mounted iron sights. To their credit, BDLs tend to shoot very well straight off the shelf, and riflemen have always been fond of them for that. Other attributes include a rock-solid receiver and lock-up design that is as good today as it was when first introduced. These are fine and important accolades, but for some reason the BDLs I have owned always ended up as “projects” set aside for some manipulation of part or whole.
Several stainless and/or Remington Custom Shop 700s have been more to my liking, and the 700 Classic, available in limited editions and assorted calibers each year starting in the early 1980s before going the way of the ADL earlier this decade, is close to exactly what I’ve always preferred. The Classic was built on a very straight-combed stock and without iron sights. In form and function, the Classic was top-notch. In looks, blued steel set ordinary walnut, not so much.
The Model 700 CDL, on the other hand, is both pleasing to the hand and to the eye. All metal, with the exception of the jeweled bolt shank, is finished in your choice of matte black or a high-polished blue (limited calibers). The stock is made of dark American walnut with a very straight comb and features a raised cheekpiece. It’s also very slender in the fore-end (unlike the BDL), and features tasteful laser-cut checkering and a black synthetic grip cap and fore-end tip. Add to this a satin finish and Remington’s cushy Supercell recoil pad and the end result is a perfectly executed classy and classic big-game rifle.
Eleven calibers are available: .223, .243, .25-06, 270, 7mm-08, 7mm Rem. Mag., 7mm Ultra Mag, .30-06, .300 Win. Mag., .300 Ultra Mag and .35 Whelen. Short-action versions weigh 73/8 pounds; magnums weigh 75/8 pounds. Left-hand rifles are available in six popular calibers.
There is another version of the CDL that features the same traditional styling and stock design but with stainless steel receiver and fluted barrel. This is certainly a flashier version of the rifle that may not attract as many admirers, but it is a very fine example of the Remington 700 nonetheless. Available calibers include .257 Roberts, .257 Weatherby Magnum, .270, .270 WSM, 7mm-08, 7mm Rem. Mag., .30-06 and .300 WSM.
When the 700 CDL was introduced Remington was still using its standard trigger assembly. Though it was adjustable by experienced riflesmiths and ultimately made to break consistently at an acceptable pull weight, it did a great deal to impede accuracy as it came from the factory. The .300 Win. Mag. CDL that I shot for review had a seven-pound trigger pull—twice that accepted as reasonable for top hunting-rifle accuracy. That’s all changed now that Remington has made great strides in trigger competence with the introduction of its X-Mark Pro trigger. I’ve had limited experience with this new trigger system, but I can tell you that they do come out of the box with an acceptable pull weight-3 ½ pounds, according to Remington literature.
If this new trigger system is as easily adjustable as it was intended to be, the X-Mark Pro will be around a long time and it will make the Model 700 CDL worth every penny. If you don’t agree, there are more than a dozen other Model 700s to choose from currently, including the tried-and-true BDL.