As hard as it might be to imagine today, Remington treated the commercial .223 Remington cartridge as something of a red-headed stepchild for many years, much like their more recent attitude towards the 6.8mm Remington SPC.  They ignored it for their bolt-action rifles, where they already offered the .222 Remington and .222 Remington Magnum. Instead, it was first introduced in their Model 760 pump-action!  The only other .223 Remington rifles on the market were Colt’s AR-15 Sporter and bolt-action Coltsman (based on a Sako action). 

It took until 1967 for Remington to offer a bolt-action in .223 Remington, the M700 Varmint Special.  The Model 40XB could also be special ordered for the .223.  As the years went by, Remington added the .223 as an option for other Model 40 variants like International Free Rifle and Bench Rest models.  By the end of the 1960s, the Remington 760 was discontinued in .223, as was the entire line of the Colt Coltsman.  The only other .223 Remington rifles were the H&R Model 317 Ultra Wildcat (another Sako-based bolt-action like the Coltsman), the Sako L461 Vixen, the Steyr-Mannlicher Model SL, and the ArmaLite AR-180.  Remington didn’t introduce the .223 as a factory chambering for the Model 788 bolt-action until 1975, even though the rifle had been available for years in odd chamberings like .44 Magnum and .30-30 Winchester. 

Gunwriters established the conventional wisdom that although the 5.56mm was the US military standard, the .223 Remington couldn’t possibly be as accurate as the .222 Remington, nor offer any ballistic advantages over the .222 Remington Magnum.  While .223 semi-autos had already saturated the market, it took until the mid-1980s for any other major introductions of .223 bolt-actions.  Winchester finally relented in 1984 with the Model 70 Lightweight and Model 70 XTR Featherweight.  Remington also introduced a .223 version of the Model 7 in 1984, a year after the introduction of the rifle in .222 Remington.  The rise of the .223 Remington was clear when Remington discontinued the .222 Model 7 in 1985.

5 Comments

  1. Shawn says:

    Hell, even into the early to mid 90s, I recall gun writers claiming the only reason the .223 was more popular than the triple deuce was because of the amount of once fired military 5.56 brass. Meanwhile, the new match M16s were dominating at Camp Perry with the new heavier Sierra bullets.
    The writers in the slick gun rags always have been slow witted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John M. says:

      If Remington had said .223 was the new hotness, you’d better believe all the gun writers would have agreed.

      Like

    2. Tom Stone says:

      The writers for the slick gun rags know where their paychecks come from.

      Like

  2. When you had the .22-250 since the early 60’s being chambered in bolt-action rifles, and it shared a 0.473″ case head diameter with the prevailing cartridges in the American gun market, and it pushed bullets faster than the .223, why would anyone bother with a .223 in a bolt gun?

    Like

    1. Shawn says:

      less powder used, longer barrel life, less muzzle blast. etc.

      Like

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