Discover how this budget-priced rifle held up during a meaty management hunt.
By Brian McCombie
My rangefinder put the whitetail deer at 311 yards. A small doe, she fed beneath a huge oak tree across a field on the Mellon Creek Ranch near Refugio in South Texas. I felt the rifle/scope/ammunition combo was up to the job. But the shooter (aka me)? That was the wild card.
“We can try to get closer,” my hunting guide, Roy Lawrence, advised. “Maybe slide around the road on the left side, see if she’ll hold still?
“She’ll split if we do that,” I responded, watching her through my Trijicon AccuPoint riflescope. She kept glancing in our direction and surely knew we were there. But at three football fields away, she wasn’t worried about us standing alongside a gravel road. She also presented a clear broadside shot, and the light behind her etched out a near perfect outline.
I think I can do this.
I took a standing shot using shooting sticks. Figuring the drop of the 180-grain Remington Core-Lokt .30-06 bullet must be around 10 inches at that range, I placed the first mil dot below the AccuPoint’s crosshair atop her shoulder, eased out my breath and squeezed the trigger on the Remington Model 783 rifle.
The doe made one of those spastic jumps that animals do when a bullet hits home, her back arching for a split second like an inch worm, and then fled behind the tree. I looked at Roy, who was all grins. “You tagged her hard,” he said. “Let’s go get her!”
Another exciting day of hunting with Remington’s new rifle was in store for me at Mellon Creek. But with that shot, I had pretty much proved to myself that the folks at Big Green hit a home run with this fresh addition to their centerfire lineup. With a price tag of $400 or less, it’s a hell of a rifle—accurate, dependable and a lot of fun to shoot.
True, the 783 will win no beauty contests. It sports a black barrel, black receiver, black injection-molded synthetic stock and even a black recoil pad. You’re almost tempted to slap a colored sticker on the side just to lighten the mood! But, man, the 783 can shoot.
At Mellon Creek, I was part of a management or “cull” hunt. No trophy hunt—we were there to knock down the local deer population, and Texas Parks and Wildlife had allotted the ranch 500 (yes, 500!) deer tags. We were directed to shoot does, spike bucks, any deer that appeared lame or sickly, and old bucks that had seen better days. Plus, we could take any and all feral hogs, another abundant species on this free-range, 110,000-acre working ranch.
On The Range, In The Field
My first date with the 783 began at the shooting range, making sure the rifle and scope were working together, and to get a feel for the rig. After a number of rounds later, with a half-dollar-size grouping at 100 yards to show for it with the last four shots, we headed out with the Remington 783 for 2 days of rather intense field testing.
I used the rifle from shooting sticks, off-hand, braced against trees and fence posts and the mirror of our pickup truck. Shots taken ranged from the long of 311 yards to a 20-yard shot at a running hog we bumped off a mud hole, plus many, many shots in the 100- to 200-yard range. When it was all said and done, I took 13 deer and three hogs with the Remington 783. (All the deer, by the way, were donated to a local church-sponsored food bank. The hogs were gladly claimed by others in our hunting group.)
One deer escaped the path of a bullet—a picture-perfect broadside shot at 90 yards … that I pulled high. The only animal I shot twice was the mud-hole hog, my first shot taking him from behind and through his ribs, which put him down but didn’t kill him, so a follow-up shot was required.
My time with the 783 was not exactly a “torture test.” However, I shot the heck out of it for 2 days in the South-Texas wind, dust and heat (mid-90s by noon). I performed no cleaning on the rifle, and I never experienced a jam or an ejection problem.
The Nuts And Bolts
You’ll find a 22-inch barrel on the 783s chambered in .270 Win., .30-06 and .308 Win. The 7mm Rem. Mag. version has a 24-inch barrel. The carbon-steel barrels are contoured and button-rifled. The barrel is free floating. For rigidity, the stock contains a high nylon-fiber content, plus the fore piece of the stock is pillar bedded with two aluminum inserts.
This rifle has a stout cylindrical bolt that’s 0.695 inches in diameter. The ejection port looks a bit strange compared to the ports on other bolt actions I’ve used; it’s decidedly more narrow than most. That design is on purpose, as a narrower port means more steel has been left in the receiver for improved rigidity. I was concerned that the narrower port might catch ejected brass and result in a hang-up or two. Never happened. All brass was flung out true and easy.
There are no open sights on the Model 783, but it’s drilled and tapped for mounting optics. Remington Accessories offers a dedicated 783 scope mount system, or two Model 700 front scope bases will also work.
The 783 features a steel detachable magazine with a steel latch. The magazine on my rifle snapped in and popped out easily, on command. Cartridges slid into the magazine without a hitch. Standard calibers have a four-round capacity, while the 7mm Rem. Mag. holds three rounds.
A CrossFire trigger on the Model 783 is factory set at 3 1/2 pounds and user-adjustable from 2 1/2-5 pounds. It has a center lever that has to be depressed before the trigger can be pulled. It looks a lot like the AccuTrigger found on Savage rifles. But it’s not.
“The way the two triggers work is very different,” explained John Fink, Remington’s senior product manager for centerfire rifles. “The CrossFire trigger blocks primary trigger movement until the inset trigger is depressed. However, the AccuTrigger is a sear-block trigger, which will allow you to pull the primary trigger but blocks the sear. If this happens, the bolt has to be re-cocked in order to fire the rifle.”
Topnotch Rifle For The Money
The bolt on my 783 worked stiffly at first, but it was essentially a new-in-the-box rifle. I put a drop of Rem Oil on the bolt lugs, worked the bolt back and forth several times, and the action loosened up nicely.
The 783’s synthetic stock took a good banging around on mesquite, brush and a wooden fence post or two. Some dirt got ground into the surface of the stock, but it washed off with a splash of water and a quick wipe. The use resulted in no major marks on the stock and just a couple of minor scratches, which I had to really look for to even detect.
It weighs-in at 7.2 pounds (7.3 pounds in the 7mm Rem. Mag.), and with a scope, sling, and ammo it’s easy to carry for a day’s hunting.
What might I change? I’m not a big fan of the flat-sided bolt handle. I never had a problem with it—it just felt strange to me. And while I’m a fan of the black and synthetic, some color would be nice … maybe some highlights in the stock or some markings on the receiver for contrast.
The suggested retail on the Model 783 is $451. Where I live in north-central Wisconsin, I found the rifle in local big box stores starting at $350-380. One store even had it on sale for $330.
To me, Remington’s no-frills Model 783 is a solid rifle choice for three bills and some change. And it will be getting better: For 2014, Remington will add the .243 Win. and .300 Win. Mag. calibers, along with .243 Win. and .308 Win. compact versions with 20-inch barrels.