my grandfather is givin me a 243 remington 788 that hasent had a box of bullets fired through it,it is in flawless condition,i have heard how accurate they were,but i ran across this info and i had never heard any of this.
Notes on the Remington 788
Bolt handle breakage
The Good and the Bad
The 788 has a cult following due to its original low cost and accuracy potential. Some even claim that it was discontinued because it was more accurate than the Model 700. While Blue Books list them about $150 less than same-caliber plain Model 700's, gun shows and shops sometimes have them for equivalent prices! Other times, they are screaming bargains on the used racks.
IMHO the best one are the .222's, because of the lower case pressure and smaller case head makes for less bolt thrust. A .222Rem 788 (well cared for) can be shot for a lifetime. The .243Win and .308Win versions can be problematic if consistantly loaded hot. The .223Rem's are okay but (IMHO) should not be used constantly with the hot 5.56mm NATO ammo. While a Remington 700 doesn't care, the hotter military loads in 5.56mm stress the action more.
I was once quite enamoured with 788's but have decided that they are utilitarian guns that have limited lifetimes. They are worth having the bolts fixed, barrel free-floated and glass bedded. They are not worth having expensive work done like: custom stocks, checkering, aftermarket barrels installed, and so on. (Unless... you are doing it yourself as a home project on a gun that you are not afraid to bugger-up. I'd rather butcher a 788 than a 700!)
While reading this, you might feel I am overly critical. After all, the rifle was very accurate, very reasonably priced and it does work. On the other hand, bolt action rifles are a mature technology, and in some cases are relied upon for the utmost in reliability in life and death situations. Given that, and several serious flaws, it is alarming that some enthusiasts seek to propel this model into the Classic category.
My take on the 788 now? If you want a receiver to shoot 3500 rounds through, rebarrel, do it again, repeat, get something else. If you are going across the country or world for the hunt of a lifetime, it is more likely to let you down than a more proven, classic action. If you want something for casual hunts and plinking with, it will do just fine.
The Good and the Bad
Here's my standard list of 788 comments:
Good or great accuracy
Economical (at least when new)
Very fast lock time
60 degree bolt throw
Magazine unloads rifle quickly (still have to unload chamber)
700-style round receiver profile makes bedding and restocking straightforward.
Bolt compression leads to case stretch and eventually excessive headspace, especially on the .473" head, high pressure models (.308Win, 7mm-08Rem, .22-250Rem, .244Rem). Not a rifle for maxed-out handloads. Better suited to the small-head cartridges like the 45K CUP pressure .222Rem cartridge.
Brazed-on straight, hollowed (ugly) bolt handle tends to break off. Can be fixed by a real gunsmith with proper heat sinks, heat control paste and a MIG or TIG welder. Don't let an animal with an arc welder ruin your bolt.
High ejection angle interferes with scope knobs. The only fixes are a 90 degree rotated scope or very high scope rings.
Small ejection port makes it hard to clear when jammed. Combined with the ejection angle's tendency to bounce empty shells off the scope and back into the action, this can be a serous problem when an urgent second shot is required.
The magazine tends to rattle, a problem for hunters.
The trigger is not adjustable, but a pro can do a bit of a trigger job on it. It can be lightened and cleaned up, but only to a point. The only aftermarket trigger is Canjar, very nice but insanely expensive.
The receiver, while rigid, is overly heavy for a short action rifle. The result is a light-barreled, short action rifle that weighs as much (ore more) as most standard rifles.
Not much meat on the barrel, which makes it hard to set-back a turn to correct an excessive headspace condition. Setting back the barrel a quarter turn leaves the sights and marking unusable.
Spaces around the receiver lug hid bluing crystals, the guns were poorly rinsed at the factory, so many 788's have rust, or no bluing left.
Beech stock and stamped metal make for an over-all cheap appearance. It looks like a nice rifle from afar, but a close look reveals it's a cheapie. The stamped bottom metal is particularly plain. The plain white-wood stock is very light. There are no caps on the pistol grip or forend. There is no checkering of any kind available. Sling holders are not quick-detachable.
Magazines are getting scarcer and scarcer but still can be found, but can also be lost.
Single stack magazine limits capacity and spoils lines.
Unsupported bolt has a sloppy feel after unlocking, compared to the piston-like feel of Classics like the Model 70 and Model 700.
Bolt handle breakage
Unlike the Remington 700 bolt, which is high-temperature brazed along the bolt body and very sturdy, the bolt handle of the 788 is low-temperature brazed directly to the side of the bolt body. As a result it can be broken off with sufficient force in trying to extract a stuck case.
If you doubt the bolt-handle really breaks off... read this.
Case one, second try, third try
The achilles heel of the Model 788 is the combination of the rear-locking bolt, brazed-on bolt handle, and high pressure cartridges with standard head sizes. When a fired cartridge gets wedged in the chamber, the bolt handle is leaned on until it breaks off. While this issue affects primarily reloaders, benchresters and other experimenters, a broken bolt in the field can ruin a hunt.
If you have a small head size (.222Rem, .223Rem) 788, or one of the rimmed 788's (.44Mag, .30-30) this issue is less likely to affect you. However, even these rifles are not good choices to explore max reloads with.
The late Gale McMillan
set us rec.gunners straight when he explained how bolt compression and case length growth with high pressure loads doomed the 788 to a short stay at the benchrest line.
The rear locking bolt compresses, allows the case to stretch. This leads to short case life and possible case head seperation (for reloaded cases). Stuart Otteson's The Bolt Action Rifle: A Design Analysis bears this out, calculating a .001" compression per thousand pounds of bolt thrust. Since a full-strength .308 Winchester cartridge has as much as 6,000 pounds of bolt thrust, handloaders can see the problem here.
I have heard three versions as to why the 788 was discontinued.
It was more accurate than a 700, and therefore an embarassment to the company.
They lost a huge lawsuit concerning the saftey mechanism and discontinued it for liability reasons. (I recall an excellent rec.guns post on this about a decade ago, which I cannot find.)
It costs more than the 700 to make.
The last is supported by Otteson's book The Bolt Action Rifle, which explains how some misguided management design goals and complicated tooling made the 788 an expensive rifle to produce.
In addition I have my own theory:
1. They ran Mossberg out of the low-end centerfire rifle business (Mossberg 800) and Savage dropped their one-lug (Model 340) model, so they succeeded in dominating that segment of the market, dropped it and made more money selling more expensive Model 700's.
If I recall correctly, the last production of the 788 were all the carbine version, which had a very short barrel. The muzzle blast is very high, especially on the 243 version. (I'm not a big fan of short barreled .243's!)
This is the production history, as far as I can piece it together. I am working from multiple sources but I have no way of verifying any of this information.
1967 Production Begins. The Remington 788 competes against other economy bolt actions: Savage Model 340 (Short action .222, 30-30), Savage 110E bolt actions (Long action .30-06, .243Win), Mossberg 800 (Short action, 60 degree bolt .222, .22-250Rem, .243Win and .308Win) and Winchester Model 770 (.222Rem, .22-250Rem, .243Win, .308Win, .270Win, .30-06).
Some initial debate about the accuracy potential of a rear-locking action rifle fades as actual reports of accuracy come in.
1970 (or before) Left Hand models available in 6mmRem and .308Win.
1972 O.F. Mossberg discontinues the Model 800 rifle.
1975 Bolt-lock function of safety is discontinued. The new rifles can be unloaded with the safety engaged.
197? Production normalization reduces number of available receiver lengths.
1979 O.F. Mossberg & Sons discontinues the Model 810 rifle, getting out of the centerfire rifle business.
1980 Stock contour changes slightly, and is now inletted for bottom metal to be mounted flush.
1980 The 7mm-08 Remington chambering introduced.
1980 The 243Win, 7mm-08Rem and .308Win models now only available in 18.5 inch length. The .223Rem and .22-250Rem have 24" barrels. All other chamberings obsolete.
1983 Last year of production.
Complete bolts have long been out of stock. However, if the bolt body is retained, a new bolt handle can be MIG or TIG welded on by any competant gunsmith. (Don't let an eager beaver with an arc welder or torch ruin your irreplacable bolt; it will anneal the rear lugs). Wisner's has made an exciting promise to make a reproduction bolt, but availability is not yet known.
Wolff Blitzschnell springs in 22 lbs (factory is 20 lbs) can be bought from gunsprings.com. Stock 788's have a plenty-fast lock time, but it is nice to know that some kind of commercial replacement is out there.
Magazines show up in old gun shops and gun shows on a regular basis, and vary in price from $15 to $30. CDNN has good prices and selections. Remember the 222 and 223 mags are interchangable, as are the 243 with the 7mm-08 and the .308.
Besides magazines, extractors and their rivets can be had from Brownell's. Despite buying Remington's old parts stock, they have no Remington bolts available.
Magazines are interchangable in similar sizes. The .222Rem and .223Rem can be interchanged, likewise the 7mm-08Rem with the .308Win. The most difficult magazines to find are the .44Mag and the .30-30WCF.
Here's another source for magazines, including .22-250.
Wisner's has bolt stops.
Ramline made a synthetic stock for the 788. While out of production for a while, it is still stocked at many vendors. Semi-inletted wood stocks are available from the usual sources, like Richards MicroFit and Wenig.
Canjar has a limited stock of 788 benchrest triggers. Last I checked, the price is over $300. Timney has finally introduced its long-awaited 788 trigger.
I've heard word that Remington had a silent recall on the Remington 788. I've heard two reports that if you sent one in for repair, you got a coupon back for $99 against a Remington 700 and a thank-you. Since then I've heard of repairs being done. This might reflect the curious nature of our tort law. Manufacturers settle on liabilities with clauses that there is a time limitation on remediation. After that they have discharged their duties.
Nowadays Remington uses Factory Authorized Service Centers, so I don't think this is the case anymore.
If anyone can clarify this, I'd appreciate it.
In March 2002 I noticed that some 700's had a recall due to the bolt lock. The Remington 788 was mentioned on the web site, for the first time (as far as I know) ever.
I am reproducing the text on the 788 verbatim, as a public service. The link, if it is still there by the time you read this, is:
Remington Model 788 bolt-action rifles are not included in the safety modification program.
Model 788 rifles were manufactured from 1967 until 1983. Model 788 rifles made before 1975 were equipped with a bolt-lock mechanism. IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE: If you have a Model 788 rifle with a bolt-lock mechanism, the manual safety must be placed in the .F. or .Off or Fire. position to lift the bolt and begin the process of unloading the rifle. Be sure the rifle is pointing in a safe direction anytime you move the manual safety to the .F. or .Off or Fire. position. After you have lifted the bolt, slide the bolt rearward and then immediately put the manual safety back in the .S. or .On safe. position and then continue the unloading process.
Regardless of whether your Model 788 rifle has a bolt-lock mechanism you must always follow the 10 Commandments of Firearm Safety. Special care must be taken during the loading and unloading process. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Always unload your rifle when not actually in use. Every firearm should be unloaded as soon as you are finished shooting . before taking it into your car, camp or house. Remington wants you to enjoy the shooting sports - safely!
Should you desire service on any of your Remington firearms please feel free to call us on our toll free service line (800) 243.9700 or visit the Remington Authorized Repair Center nearest you.
©2002 Remington Arms Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.www.remington.com