Hunters can be very nostalgic and passionate about our sport and the equipment and tools we use when we tramp the wild places. We may latch on to and defend our favorite boots or an old hunting coat, but what guns we carry and shoot is where we really shine.
Most of you may know Remington declared bankruptcy in 2020 and was broken down by various departments and sold piecemeal, the ammunition division made separate from the side that makes guns.
(A quick note of emphasis: the gunmaking side of Remington and the ammunition side are separate now, OK? Two different companies. So when you get on Facebook and gripe about there not being any Remington ammo on the shelf or wonder where the new Remington firearms are, they are two different things.)
Back in April, gun writer Richard Mann did a piece for Field & Stream talking about the advice he would give to the people who acquired Remington Arms, the side of Remington that makes guns. It was headlined Dear Remington: Make the Model 700 Rifle Great Again.
Mann, being a rifle guy, laid out what he thought Remington should do to successfully get back into the gun market. His plan was simple and well thought out: He advised Remington to make its flagship Model 700 rifles, make them well — without cutting corners — and forget about most everything else. He went into the Model Seven rifle a little and the need for a good .22 rifle as well, but he kept it simple. Mann will tell you he is not big on shotguns, so he left it to Field & Stream's shotgun editor, Phil Bourjaily, to comment about the new owners at Remington making shotguns.
Yes, you could say I have stolen the story idea from these guys, but I have wanted to comment on this situation for a long time. Go to fieldandstream.com, see what Mr. Mann and Mr. Bourjaily said about this, read my take on it and then we can all fight about it at the barber shop. OK? Here we go.
In my not so humble opinion, Remington has been as American as Mom, apple pie and baseball since about 1816, when Eliphalet Remington (no, I don't know how his first name is pronounced) started making rife barrels in his home shop. As Bourjaily pointed out, the word iconic has been used so much that it has lost much of its meaning, but if ever a firearms company made some iconic guns, Remington certainly did.
On the shotgun side, the Remington Model 870 pump action is possibly the best-selling shotgun ever made (more than 11 million); the Model 1100 semi-automatic shotgun, one of the sweetest shooters ever, also comes to mind. These and a few others are what many of us out there in the hunting and shooting world think of when we think of Remington.
I told myself I would keep it simple here and not mention a bunch of different guns, but I have to say something about the V3 shotgun and its daddy, the VersaMax. I am a fan of these shotguns, especially the V3. It is a soft shooter in the tradition of the Model 1100 and very dependable. I don't think I have ever had a V3 fail to go bang when I pull the trigger, and it handles and mounts well. I just like it.
So, I have said all of this to say this: Dear Remington, first things first. If you are up there in Ilion, New York, gearing up and starting to produce firearms again, think about this. Maybe you need to go in baby steps. Project No. 1 is to make the 870 shotgun again. Make it right, don't cut any corners and don't worry if it costs a little more than all of the other shotguns out there right now. Your loyal followers are out here, they are waiting and they want what you can produce. We have kind of been in limbo since we first heard of the bankruptcy and breakup more than a year ago.
Make a bombproof 870 and get it out there. You can make a pretty 870 Wingmaster model like back in the day and make a less expensive Express model as well — just don't scrimp on quality control on the Express shotguns simply because they are cheaper. Again, your followers are out there, they are waiting, they have Granddad's old 1100 and Dad's 870 in the closet and are waiting for the day they can buy a new one for their sons and daughters.
Well, as usual I have a lot more to say, but I will leave it there for now. We can talk about V3 shotguns and Model 700 rifles once we get a little further down the road.
I don't really have any inside information on all this. I hear maybe Remington is back to making guns at the Ilion plant, and maybe they are doing what I am saying here by making 870 shotguns first, but I don't know any details. By the way, Remington ammunition production is evidently running 24/7, and we are starting to see some Big Green ammo on the shelf. I'm glad.
So Remington, maybe you will hear what I have said and consider it. And before I forget, my apologies to Mr. Mann and Mr. Bourjaily.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at email@example.com.