by Adam Heggenstaller - Tuesday, April 26, 2016
I’m willing to bet that most hunters who have carried the same rifle in the field for more than five years have at some point considered changing at least one aspect of the gun’s stock. Maybe it’s because the piece of walnut that once looked so good sitting in the gun rack at camp lost its luster to a few unappreciative rocks and rainstorms. Or if the length of pull was just a half-inch shorter, you wouldn’t waste a critical split-second sliding your cheek forward to find a fleeing buck in the scope. Or perhaps a bedding job would turn your “good enough” gun into something to brag about at the range.
There are lots of reasons to put a new stock on your old rifle, but cost, time and skill required to do the job prevent most of us from getting around to it. Magpul leaves us with no more excuses now that the company has introduced its Hunter 700 stock. It’s tough, adjustable, easy to install and has a built-in aluminum bedding block—all for about $250.
Magpul has throngs of bushy-faced fanatics in the self-defense and tactical world who speak mainly in abbreviations such as MOE and PMAG, MBUS and M-LOK. The following the company has built in the past decade among real-deal operators and those who aspire to be is both remarkable and well deserved. Magpul has a knack for developing firearm accessories that solve problems, improve their host guns, and thanks to the use of polymer in their construction, are affordable. It’s not mere coincidence that Magpul’s work force includes many employees with military and law enforcement backgrounds who intimately understand firearms and their manipulation. Turns out a good deal of them like to hunt, too, hence the Hunter 700 and the benefits it brings to a big-game or varmint rifle.
If you haven’t made the connection by now, the “700” in the stock’s name refers to the Remington action with the same designation. Currently, Magpul makes the Hunter centerfire rifle stock to fit only the short-action Remington Model 700. A long-action 700 version will be available this summer, and a similar stock called the Hunter X-22 fits the Ruger 10/22 rimfire. You can’t blame Magpul for hitting the popular ones first; between the three versions there’s a Magpul stock that fits upwards of 10 million rifles. Of course that’s little consolation if you don’t own a 700 or 10/22, but it’s not a stretch to envision a Hunter 70 or Hunter 110 stock in the future.
Magpul owes much of its success to its use of high-quality, reinforced polymer because the material is both durable and inexpensive. The Hunter 700 follows suit, as the majority of the stock is made of injection-molded polymer. However, the company’s design engineers also recognize places where plastic simply won’t do. In the case of the Hunter 700, a block of hard-anodized, cast A380 aluminum serves as the bedding interface for the action. The dogleg-shaped V-block starts at the recoil lug, runs along the entire receiver to the tang and includes a cutout for the bolt handle, and extends into the wrist of the buttstock. Four cross-bolts in the receiver area lock the block to the polymer shell. When the two are mated the receiver contacts the stock only at the aluminum bedding block, which promotes repeatable accuracy.
Installing the stock requires no inletting or special hardware. It’s sized to accept the Model 700’s factory recoil lug, magazine well, bottom metal and action bolts. The fore-end’s barrel channel is wide enough to free-float any Remington factory barrel, along with aftermarket barrels having contours up to a medium Palma profile. Simply swap your existing stock for the Hunter 700, a process that takes 10 minutes at most.
The Hunter 700 is also compatible with Magpul’s Bolt Action Magazine Well, which replaces the rifle's factory bottom metal/floorplate assembly with a one-piece unit that includes the trigger guard and a magazine well that accepts Magpul PMAG 7.62 AC and AICS-pattern detachable box magazines. (The PMAG 7.62 AC is designed for the .308 Win. family of cartridges but will work with most short-action cartridges having a case-head diameter of around .470 inch, such as the .22-250 Rem.) Note that if your Model 700 has a blind magazine, you’ll need either the Bolt Action Magazine Well or a floorplate assembly, as the belly of the Hunter 700 stock is open.
There’s little doubt the Hunter 700 is a tougher, more consistent and weather-resistant stock than a wooden one, but it offers other benefits as well. Length of pull is adjustable from 13-15 inches in .5-inch increments with a set of four spacers that slide onto the T-shaped buttpad assembly ahead of the thick rubber recoil pad. Interchangeable cheek risers (sold separately) boost comb height from the standard .25-inch insert included with the stock to .50 or .75 inch.
The Hunter 700 also provides a means for mounting accessories like a bipod via the M-LOK slots in the fore-end. The oval-shaped cutouts of Magpul's patent-pending M-LOK system accept camming T-nuts that lock to the fore-end when tightened for the direct attachment of accessories or corresponding sections of Picatinny rail.
Although the stock does not come with sling swivels, dimpled points allow you to add them. In addition, the Hunter 700 offers other ways for attaching a sling, such as cups on both sides of the buttstock that accommodate quick-disconnect inserts and a pair of footman’s loops. Several sling-attachment options are also available as M-LOK accessories for the fore-end.
One thing the Hunter 700 adds that may not be viewed as a benefit by some hunters is weight. At 3 pounds, the stock weighs about a half-pound more than the wooden, factory alternative. If you’re looking for a lightweight replacement this isn’t it, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another stock that offers the adjustability and repeatable precision of the Hunter 700 for a similar price.
Those factors, plus ease of installment, led me to choose the Hunter 700 for a recent project. I had a Model 700 in .22-250 Rem. with a cracked stock. The history of the rifle was unclear, although its serial number, blind magazine and other features pointed to a manufacture date in the late 1960s. Someone had tried to bed the action, which may have caused the deep cracks running toward the fore-end on either side of the trigger guard. In any case, the rifle was useless as a varmint rig.
The Hunter 700 stock and Bolt Action Magazine Well fit the barreled action like a glove; it took me longer to mount a scope than attach the Magpul components. At the range, the new-old rifle stunned me by turning in an average of .71 inch for five, five-shot groups with Hornady Superformance 50-grain V-Max loads. Two of those groups came awful close to .5 inch, and had it not been for a gusty wind, I believe I could call the rifle a half-inch gun. Eleven, five-shot groups with three brands of ammo loaded with three different bullets weighing 35-55 grains averaged .97 inch, so the rifle is at the very least a solid sub-MOA shooter.
More important to me as a varmint hunter, I shot the rifle well from kneeling and sitting with it supported by a Champion bipod, which is how I take most of my shots at coyotes and groundhogs. Thanks to the Hunter 700’s adjustable length of pull and comb height, I was able to make the stock fit me perfectly and keep the rifle steady under natural point of aim. Some hunters may not like the sharp, 60-degree angle of the grip or the wide fore-end for offhand snap-shooting, but I found both features to be effective and comfortable for shooting from field positions.
If your Remington Model 700 needs a new stock, quit procrastinating and do something about it. Upgrading to the Magpul Hunter 700 will be one of the easiest DIY projects you’ve tried—and it may be one of the most successful.
• Type: aftermarket stock
• Fit: Remington Model 700 short action, RH only (long action available this summer)
• Construction: reinforced polymer; A380 aluminum bedding block
• Dimensions: adjustable LOP 13-15"; adjustable comb height .25-.75"; weight 3 lbs.
• Finish: black (tested), flat dark earth, stealth gray, olive-drab green
• MSRP: $259.95
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