There is little question that many of this column's readers hunt deer with a rifle during the respective seasons. In all likelihood, the majority of rifles used by column readers are Remington Model 700 bolt-action high power rifles. This makes today's column highly relevant.
On Oct. 20, CNBC attempted to demonize the firearms industry, and Remington Arms in particular, with the TV airing of "Remington Under Fire." CNBC supposedly "documented" the unintentional firing of Remington Model 700 bolt-action high power rifles, and attributed the misfiring to Remington's Walker trigger.
The Remington Model 700 is the most popular high power bolt-action rifle ever made. More than five million have been marketed since the rifle's beginning in 1962. Other than hunters and target shooters, the Model 700 is our military's rifle of choice when it comes to sniper rifles. With regard to the CNBC documentary, Remington supplied CNBC with a written statement. That statement can be viewed by going to www.remington700.tv.
Accidental firings of any rifle, including the Remington Model 700, can and do kill people. CNBC used the tragic death of 9-year-old Gus Barber to dramatize the TV documentary. Gus was killed by his mother while she was unloading a Model 700 by cranking live rounds through the action with the gun's safety in the fire position. While this tragedy is horrible, and words cannot describe this woman's grief, Gus' mother is solely to blame as she was pointing the rifle at her son.
In every case where a Model 700 Remington allegedly misfired, rigorous lab testing has not been able to make the Model 700 in question fire when the safety was in the "safe" position. In all cases where a Model 700 allegedly misfired while the bolt was worked with the safety in the "fire" position, the safeties had been altered after the rifle left the Remington factory.
Mark A. Keefe, IV, editor in chief of American Rifleman, had this to say in his article "CNBC's 'Remington Under Fire'" in the January 2011 American Hunter. "I have firsthand experience with just one Model 700 trigger that malfunctioned as described on the show, and its connector was filed down so that less than a quarter of its original contact surface actually engaged the front face of the sear. Forcefully closing the bolt would allow the sear to move out of engagement, thus allowing the firing pin to move forward. Of the dozens of Model 700s I have fired in the course of a 20-year career of testing guns for a living, never has a discharge occurred from an unmodified rifle."
The first time I went to the Remington website to see what Remington was saying about the Model 700 safety, Remington said that all misfire cases involved a doctored trigger. Remington also said that even though the triggers were doctored, all faulty modified Model 700s were made prior to 1982. Remington offered its pre-1982 Model 700 customers, for the price of shipping ($20), to install a post 1982 trigger.
I have a personal involvement in this Model 700 business. Before I made my last African hunt, I purchased a new Model 700 Remington in .375 H&H Magnum caliber from Gary's Gun Shop in Sioux Falls. I had the Gary's gunsmith modify the trigger to a three-pound pull. Though I have since sold the rifle, I did tell the buyer about the trigger job. What do I tell him today? Gary's gunsmith is very competent. The gun is a post 1982 model. Don't concern yourself with this most excellent trigger.
What is my personal recommendation to Model 700 owners?
1. Never point any gun, loaded or unloaded, at anyone!
2. If you are going to load or unload your rifle by cranking live ammo through the action, do it outside with the muzzle pointed at the ground. Why not inside? Someone may be on the lower level.
3. If the trigger of your Model 700 rifle is unmodified, don't worry about it. If you are in doubt, take it to a competent gunsmith. He will be able to tell.
4. If your Model 700 was made prior to 1982, take Remington up on its new trigger offer.
Why did CNBC choose to demonize or vilify Remington Arms? NBC, CNBC's affiliate network, is very liberal in its reporting. Liberal viewpoints such as NBC's promote an anti-gun, pro-gun control, anti-hunting agenda. You might recall that years ago NBC did an anti-hunting documentary called "The Guns of Autumn." Why are some networks so liberal? I don't know. I can tell you that I am not equating the terms liberal and Democrat although some people do. I have no desire to alienate Democrat friends.
Unless I change my mind, I am going to tell you about a horrible decision I made while deer hunting last fall. See you then.