The Remington Model 8 is a rifle with many good features and a timeless quality.
Modern bolt-action and lever-action rifles would be instantly
recognizable to anyone living 100 years ago. Self-loading rifles, on the
other hand, have undergone change. The appearance of turn of the
(previous) century examples is quaint to modern shooters. As for myself,
I enjoy Remington Model 8 and Winchester 1907 rifles. Some enjoy the
period look; others find it odd. I appreciate the rifles and their
By far the most practical of early self-loaders for modern use is the
Remington Model 8, a product of John Moses Browning, who took the basic
operating principles of the recoil-operated Browning Auto 5 shotgun and
applied them to a light rifle. The design features recoil action; there
is no complication from a gas system. Its innovative bolt with two
locking lugs locks securely
The tang-mounted aperture sight supplied with the rifle is appropriate for the intended use.
into the rear of the barrel. During the
firing cycle, the bolt, bolt carrier and barrel all recoil together. The
action remains locked until the bullet exits the barrel. With pressure
abated, the bolt remains to the rear while strong springs force the
barrel forward. Next, the bolt runs forward, stripping a cartridge from
the magazine. A sheet-metal cover extends over the operating parts in
much the same manner as the Russian AK-47 rifle. There is a long wing
safety on the side of the receiver that locks both the trigger and the
bolt. The sheet-metal cover and the safety design are so similar to the
AK, I cannot help but think Kalishnikov must have been influenced by the
Remington design. The Remington is fed from a five-round fixed magazine
and uses a stripper clip for speed loading, just the same as the
bolt-action military rifles of the day. An 8mm Mauser stripper clip
works just fine.
The rifle was offered with a variety of options during its production
and evolved into the similar Model 81. It came in .25, .30, .32 and .35
Remington calibers. Only the most powerful, the .35 Remington, has
survived and was chambered most commonly in Marlin lever actions. The
.30 Remington is basically a rimless .30-30 WCF. The Remington rifle was
intended to compete with the Winchester Model 94 and other light, handy
sporting guns, but the lever action was simply too entrenched in
America for a newfangled self-loader to offer stiff competition. Still,
the Model 8 sold well enough.
When the Remington was introduced, transportation was much more
difficult. Travel by horseback and buggy were common. A light, handy
rifle was an advantage. When high-velocity cartridges began overtaking
the .45-70 in popularity, few were offered with long, heavy barrels for
this reason. The Model 8 was competitive with lever-action rifles in
this regard. A popular feature in rifles of the day was a takedown
option. All Remington Model 8s were takedown rifles. The forend screw
simply twists out. It is captive and cannot be lost. A lever under the
barrel is twisted to allow the rifle to be taken down. This lever would
apparently also take up slack if the action became well worn and loose.
The rifle is 41 inches overall, and when broken down the stock and
action are 19 inches long and the barrel assembly is 22 inches, making
for a compact package.
This is the Remington rifle broken down. A takedown rifle can be handy when traveling
My Model 8 is a .35 Remington, a respected cartridge that has a
reputation for power beyond its paper energy. A 200-grain bullet at over
2,000 fps is effective against light-skinned game including deer and
wild boar. In its heyday, it was praised for its effect on black bear as
well, but the rifle’s fast-handling characteristics were its strong
suite. It was very popular with lawmen and prison guards, and quite a
few rifles were modified with extended magazines. Gilt-edged accuracy is
not in the cards, but the rifle will put all its shots into one ragged
hole at typical combat ranges, often delivering about 4 MOA for three
shots at 100 yards. I prefer the Remington to any AK-47, but the
comparison is striking.
Three factory loads were tried (left to right): Remington 150-grain JSP, Hornady 200-grain LEVERevolution and the Remington 200-grain JSP.
To load the Model 8, begin with the bolt locked to the rear. Without a
stripper clip, it is a simple matter to load the magazine one cartridge
at a time by hand while holding the bolt back. After loading the
magazine, allow the bolt to run forward and load the chamber. There is a
bolt release on the left-hand side of the receiver that will manually
release the bolt when it is pulled downward. Never load a round in the
chamber and then drop the bolt. The Remington is designed to strip
rounds from the magazine. In common with the M1 Garand and other
self-loading designs, the Remington Model 8 is subject to a slam-fire if
the bolt is dropped on a loaded chamber. The floating firing pin may
take a run forward, hitting the primer. I do not like to force the
extractor over the cartridge rim in this manner either but prefer to
allow the bolt to run forward and load the rifle in the proper manner.
When unloading the chamber, occasionally there will be a slight dimple
in the primer caused by the firing pin running forward. This is not a
defect, simply a mark of the firing pin typical of the design. Similar
results will be had with the M1 Garand, M14 and even the AR-15. Once the
Model 8 is loaded, the safety may be applied.
The Remington Model 81 featured a heavier pistol grip and a fancier
forend and was available in fancy grades I have never seen. My rifle is
equipped with a tang sight. The sight is pulled into position and
features a lock to hold it in place. The design is excellent for the
intended purpose. The rifle is accurate enough for woods hunting and has
proven particularly popular in the dense northeastern woods.
While I consider the Remington a link with the past, it is more than
capable of performing well today. Ammunition is available in quantity
but limited in choice. The 180- and 200-grain loads are most common.
There is also a moderately faster 150-grain load, but the most common
loads on dealer’s shelves are 200-grain roundnose types. Hornady offers a
200-grain LEVERevolution load that is among the most accurate and
should give hunters an edge. Not only is the bullet shape and design
efficient, but the .35 Remington Hornady load is also considerably
faster than most 200-grain loads. While there are no restrictions to use
roundnose bullets, pointed bullets for the .35 Remington are not
common. Since lever-action rifles use the same basic tube magazine and
helical spring as the Winchester 66, the bullet nose presses against the
primer in front of the next round in the magazine. The soft, synthetic
LEVERevolution rounds change this picture. While the Remington does not
need to adhere to this standard of safety in cartridge placement, a
rifle of this age with a recoil-operated action is not the place to be
hot-rodding the .35 Remington.
Several realistic goals were set for handloads. Economy is always a
consideration. The demands in quantity for the .35
Most shooters do not realize the Remington Model 8 feeds from a stripper clip. This makes for handy use and rapid reloading.
were less than for an AR, but a goodly amount of ammunition was
prepared. I also decided loads should be as accurate as factory loads –
about 4 inches at 100 yards – but I would take more accuracy if I could
get it. While these goals may seem pedestrian, they are relative to the
task at hand. Striving for a whisker's difference in accuracy was not a
profitable course with this rifle. Battering was a concern, and a good,
functional load that was less powerful than the factory load would be
ideal for practice.
Since this is a self-loader, all cases were lubed and full-length
resized. Case life seems to be long with this cartridge, and the action
doesn’t work the cartridge noticeably more than a lever-action rifle. A
caution applies, however. If the load is not powerful enough to cycle
the action, quite often the cartridge case will not eject fully and be
caught between the bolt and the chamber. This ruins the case as the case
mouth is often driven between the chamber and bolt.
Another consideration was sticking to factory specifications, and my
rifle had a narrow pressure curve to work with. Also, be certain to
crimp the bullets properly to keep them seated during the feed cycle.
This autoloader is demanding of a good crimp. Just the same, the feed
seemed straight into the chamber, and cartridges removed during handling
did not exhibit a particularly beat-up nose at all.
The cartridge at left illustrates the proper overall length for the .35 Remington just before crimping.
Powder combinations would lean toward faster-burning powder, since
this is a self-loader, but since the Model 8 is not gas-operated, the
restrictions applying to the M1 Garand and powder choices for
gas-operated rifles were not necessarily valid. A gas tube and fouling
were a non-issue. I contacted Chris Hodgdon of Hodgdon Powder Company
for his recommendations, and his suggestions included Varget powder. I
used both Varget and H-4895 and a smaller sampling of what was on hand.
Results were consistent and there were few bad loads, although there
were a few starting loads that did not reliably work the action. Little
difference was found in pressure signs between the 180- and 200-grain
bullets, and I was able to achieve practically the same velocity with
either with safe functional loads. My goal of 2,000 fps was met with a
number of loads, although the accuracy load was slightly slower.
The highest relative velocity I achieved was with the Hornady
180-grain, roundnose load and H-4198; 2,150 fps isn’t sizzling but
pretty fast for this old rifle. I am not certain I achieved everything
in accuracy potential from this rifle, but any advantage in accuracy
over my loads would be slight. This article was used by permission LoadData.com.