One of the most unusual-looking firearms ever made by Remington was the Remington No.7 Target & Sporting Rifle, introduced in 1903. It was made from left-over Model 1871 rolling block pistol receivers, and resulted in a very well balanced rifle for short-range shooting. The initial write-up in the Remington Arms Company 1903-04 Catalogue stated:
Remington Number 7 Target and Sporting Rifle
This rifle is our latest model, and its attractive lines, balance and fine finish will appeal to all interested in target and sporting rifles. It is bored, rifled and chambered with the utmost accuracy, under the most improved scientific methods. Each rifle is carefully sighted and a target sent with it.
This same catalogue said that the selling price of this unique rifle was $24.00, and it was available in .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle or .25-10 [Stevens] rimfire… 24-inch, 26-inch or 28-inch barrel lengths… weighing 5 to 6lbs/4 oz… and “made to order in the same calibers as the Remington No.2 rifle”. Other standard features included a part round/part octagonal barrel; polished, imported walnut stock of special design; checkered pistol-grip and forend; rubber pistol-grip cap and butt plate; Lyman combination rear sight; Beach combination front sight; trigger pull adjusted to 2lbs/4oz; and a checkered trigger. Optional features available at additional cost included a Swiss-style butt plate for off-hand shooting – $2.00; a wind gauge front sight – $2.00; and a wind gauge spirit level – $1.00.
The Remington Arms Company utilized surplus Remington Model 1871 rolling block Army-framed receivers to make up these No.7 rifles, and used other receivers to make up Model 1901 Target Model rolling block pistols. Hence, the presence of the original M1871 military markings on the receiver, such as: P S proof marks, the original serial number on the top grip strap, the original assembly numbers on the left side of the top and bottom tangs, and the company marking on the left face of the receiver:
REMINGTON’S ILION. N.Y. U.S.A.
PAT. MAY 3D. NOV. 15TH 1864 APRIL 17TH 1866
Remington workers took Model 1871 Army pistol frames and re-curved the top tang to fit the new rifle stock.
Examples of this rifle indicate that a great deal of hand finishing was done during fabrication. All moving parts are tight-fitting and well polished. This amount of work led to the relatively high cost of this rifle ($24) compared to the standard Remington No.2 sporting rifle ($12) in 1903. This cost probably led to the low sales volume of the No.7 rifle, and production ceased when the supply of Model 1871 receivers was exhausted.
Features of Remington No.7 Rifles
- These well-balanced rifles feature a checkered, full pistol-grip stock and fore-end of oiled, polished, imported walnut. The sculpted tip of the forend has an ebony insert.
- The molded hard-rubber butt plate is secured to the stock by two wood screws. An intertwined RAC logo is molded onto the checkered pattern on the butt plate.
- A molded hard-rubber grip cap is fixed to the checkered pistol grip by a single wood screw.
- The breech block on smaller caliber No.7 rifles is the same as used in Remington Model 1887, Model 1891 and some of the Model 1901 rolling block pistols. The breech block on larger caliber rifles utilize a rotating firing pin retractor found on the earlier Model 1871 rolling block pistols. Unlike the pistol breech block spur, there is no rear sight on the block used on No.7 rifles. The hammer has not been altered from that of the rolling block pistols. The forged receiver is color case-hardened. Both the steel hammer and breech block are blued.
- The extractor is the straight, sliding type, retained by a transverse screw in the left face of the receiver. In smaller calibers the extractor is operated by the breech block. In larger calibers the extractor is operated by a rotating cam.
- Advertised calibers include .22 Short rimfire, .22 Long Rifle rimfire and .25-10 Stevens rimfire. The only other caliber encountered in our survey was the .32-20 Win centerfire. A No.7 rifle chambered for .22 Short cartridges will not accept .22 Long or .22 Long Rifle ammunition.
- A new six-digit serial number was deeply stamped on the underside of the lower tang in the range starting with 300001. The final three digits were also stamped on the underside of the barrel (hidden with the forend is in place), on the large end of the forend wood, and on the inletted area of the stock. In mid-production the six-digit serial number was preceded by the letter T, such as T300326
- The blued trigger is knurled (just as that on the Model 1901 pistol).
- Blued 26-inch part-round/part-octagonal barrels were standard, but 24-inch and 28-inch barrels were available without additional cost. The top of the flat of the octagonal section of the barrel is stamped:
REMINGTON ARMS CO. ILION, N.Y. U.S.A.
The underside of the barrel (hidden by the forend) was stamped with the abbreviated serial number. The underside of the round portion of the barrel (visible) was the caliber designation, such as 22 S. or 22 L.R. or 32 W At least one extra-heavy part-round/part-octagonal barrel is known (serial number T300343 and chambered for .25-10 rimfire)… obviously a special-order gun.
- The standard front sight is the Beach combination sight. A hooded target sight with spirit level was an extra cost option.
- The standard rear sight was a Lyman combination.
- Each No.7 rifle was sold with a hang tag with a target printed on the reverse which was shot with 5 shots at 25 yards. Each tag was further personalized with the serial number and the caliber. [The grouping observed on surviving hand tag targets is phenomenal.]
- Optional features included a nickeled steel, Swiss-style butt plate, a wind gauge front sight, and a wind gauge spirit level.
The No.7 rifle was last offered in the Remington Arms Company 190x Catalogue, although surviving company records indicate that this rifle continued to be sold through 1910. These same records state that a total of only 350 No.7 rifles were sold between 1903 and 1910. While this could never be considered a successful model for the Remington Company, surviving examples are highly prized by today’s collector.
The following are notes from Jerry Landskron and have yet to be incorporated into our text.:
This is the last and undoubtedly the finest use of the Army-framed pistol receivers. The #7 rifle has excellent lines and was a completely different design from any rifle on the market at the turn of the century. It was a true target rifle, with excellent balance due to its unique pistol grip.
The wood is, as advertised, “polished imported walnut.” It has a finely checkered forearm and stock. The forearm has an inlay at the knob tip on all specimens seen by the author. The hard rubber pistol grip has a cap, a first for Remington rifles.
The first advertisement of the #7 rifle known to the author is found in the Company’s 1903 catalog. The ad indicates a 26-inch barrel is standard and lists three calibers: .22 short, .22 long rifle and .25-10 R.F. However, other calibers are made to order: another fold-up single page flyer on the #7 shows a whole list of calibers, most of which were made in the #2 rifle also.
As with the 1901 Target model pistol, an 1871 military pistol frame is used for the receiver on the #7. All specimens reported have the “PS” proof marks, the standard assembly numbers on the left top and bottom grip straps, the original serial number on the top grip strap, and the sear pin hole that is filled in on the trigger guard. The standard Remington address, as with the 1901 pistols, was retained on the left side receiver. Apparently the 1901 Target model was not selling as well as hoped for, so they turned to their design engineers to find another way to utilize these guns. Remember, M. Hartley Co. in their 1903-04 price list was trying to sell those 1871 pistols for as little as $3.00.
The #7 rifle is a combination of several features of its target pistol predecessors. The breechblock in the small calibers is the same as the 1887, 1891, and some of the 1901s. The larger calibers use the rotating firing pin retractor found on the 1871s. However, the extractor plate has been modified so that just the retractor is useable. The notch on the extractor that removes the shell from the chamber has been ground off: it is not needed because a sliding extractor is used, with its retaining screw on the left side of the receiver. But this sliding extractor operates differently because the original 1871 Army breechblock is used, which was not so in most of the other target pistols. Whereas the small caliber #7 target rifles have a notch milled in the block to pull out the extractor when the block is opened, the large calibers have a notch cut into the extractor plate. When the block is opened, the original rotating extractor catches the sliding extractor and pulls it out. The breechblock does not have a sight on it but has a high spur, common to the 1887 and 1891 Target model pistols.
A feature in common with the 1901 Target is that the #7 has a knurled trigger. The trigger mechanism is also finely tuned: “in adjusting the weight to 2V2 Ibs. the point of sear is ground down upon an oil-stone to insure smoothness and permanency of pull.” The hammer, as with the other target model pistols, has not been altered.
The #7 rifle has the same barrel marking as the 1901 Target model: REMINGTON ARMS CO. ILION, N.Y. U.S.A. The stamp used is not the same letter style, however. The #7 rifle stamp is used only on this model; no other rifle has been located with this stamp.
The front sight is the Beach combination found on many of the target pistols, only here it is standard and advertised as such. The rear sight is a special creation of the Lyman combination sight. Different sight options were available, such as a spirit level or a wind gauge front sight, but none of the specimens reported were equipped with either of these options. One specimen does have the barrel inletted for a mid-barrel sight or a spirit level but a Lyman “A” blank fills the slot. It is understandable that not many options were added to this rifle, as the price of $24.00 was very expensive in 1903, over twice the price of Remington’s #2 rifle. The high price, a direct outgrowth of a large amount of hand finishing, appears to be one of the primary reasons for small production of this model.
One of the most intriguing specimens to show up in the survey is what the author believes to be a factory pre-production prototype or experimental pistol that played a part in the evolution from the pistol to the #7 rifle. This specimen has the correct receiver, a breechblock that contains the modified rotating extractor, a sliding extractor to handle the .44 S&W Russian cartridge. The trigger is knurled; the gun has the modified Lyman combination rear sight, and a hammer that has no alterations. The barrel is 16 inches in length and does not have an address stamp on top. However, under the forearm, a large capital ‘A’ is stamped in the same place most #7’s have a ‘G’ stamped. These stamps are unidentified, but believed to be sub-inspector’s marks. The forearm is from a #2 Remington rifle, tipped with the correct iron end. It has no numbers stamped or penciled on it, unlike the regular #2 forearm which generally has the serial number stamped on
the inside. The 16-inch barrel has Marble’s #9 front sight and the mid-barrel slot found on some #7’s (for a spirit level?) and a dovetail for a sight on the receiver top. No Remington production or factory special order is known to have a dovetailed sight across the receiver in this fashion (however several “gunsmith” conversions favor a sight here). It is possible that various sight configurations were being tried.
One #7 rifle was found with the small lettering stamp shown on page 219: it is serial number 300262. The grip is checkered in the normal pattern usually found on a 1901 target pistol. It was then cut and a detachable stock base was placed on the bottom, a type not usually seen on any arm by either Remington or Stevens. Remington pistols that have a detachable stock generally trend toward a Stevens or Wesson type with a V-slot in the butt plate. The back strap on this pistol/rifle has holes drilled and tapped for a second point of attachment (at least one of them); this would give a solid hook-up of the stock. Unfortunately, the stock is no longer with the gun.
Due to the identical parts in and on the receiver, this gun must have played some part in the development or design of the #7 rifles. Fortunately, the detachable stock was discarded in favor of the bent gripstrap method of attaching the butt stock to the U7s. The detachable stock has never been accepted by the shooting public, although the Stevens Arms Company had at least limited success with them. Several other Remington attempts, and other detachable-stock pistols are described in Chapter 22.
Although none of the other Remington remanufactured pistols have a new or additional serial number, the #7 rifle did (individual pistols are known to be exceptions). The #7 rifle has the normal grip strap numbers found on its predecessor 1871 Army’s (random selection again), but these numbers were disregarded and a new serial number was stamped on many of the parts. The complete serial number is always stamped on the outside lower grip strap. It is always prefixed by a 300, as an example 300068 or 300125, etc. The barrel is stamped with an abbreviated
number beneath the forearm, such as 68 or 125. The forearm is usually stamped on the end with the corresponding number and also penciled on the inside; the stock has the same treatment. The lowest number recorded is 300001 and the highest 300339. It is believed that the numbering started with 300001 and may go as high as 300350, for an obvious total of 350. This small quantity could hardly be considered a successful model, but remember surplus parts were used for the receiver. The high price of $24.00 (in 1903) was attributable to the amount of hand finishing and undoubtedly restricted sales more than the availability of 1871 Army receivers.
The author considers the #7 to be among the finest rifles ever made on the rolling block action; unquestionably it is one of the scarcest of all Remington production rifles. Ponder the fact that several million “Remington System” rifles were manufactured and this model comprises of only 350 of them!
NO. 7 TARGET AND SPORTING RIFLES
Quantities of various barrel lengths recorded in the survey43
|.22 long rifle||4||2||2||8|
|.32 Win centerfire||3||1||1||5|
*Two rifles were recorded that did not have factory original barrels or were altered to another caliber. These are not included in the totals for this table.