2-Gun Action with a Remington Model 8 (Video)

For this month’s 2-Gun Action Challenge Match, I decided to shoot my Remington Model 8 in .300 Savage. It’s a semiauto sporting rifle designed by John Browning, which went into production in 1906. It’s a long-recoil action, and has pretty hefty recoil from the prone position. I incorporated use of my new GoPro and quadcopter – let me know what you think! (and yes, I am working on finding a way to get rid of the ‘copter rotor noise).

The Remington had one malfunction, which appears to have been caused by the barrel takedown screw coming loose – which was easily fixed. Other than that it ran without any trouble. The buckhorn sights were definitely better at close range than long, although my trouble making hits in stage 3 was as much due to trouble seeing the dull-colored target as with the sights.

Recoil was heavier than you would expect, for a couple reasons. The long-recoil action of the Model 8 does seem to transfer more energy to the shooter than most other types of action, for one thing (I have had many people describe the Browning Auto-5 as similarly unpleasant to shoot, and it is a very similar action). In addition, the .300 Savage is a more potent round than many people realize. I used mostly Remington 150 grain softpoints, which have a muzzle velocity of 2630 fps according to Remington. That’s only 50-100 fps below military spec 7.62mm NATO ammo, with 3 grains more bullet weight. The rifle weighs 8.25 pounds, so there isn’t much mass to help dampen the recoil. Still, it is easy enough to shoot offhand; only sitting and prone positions really hammer you.

Loading with stripper clips was pretty reasonable – not the smoothest gun out there and definitely not the worst (and in the sporting role for which it was designed, super-fast reloading is not necessary). Without a clip, it is much more of a hassle, things to the single-column magazine. Once the first round is loaded, the subsequent ones all want to roll off to one side rather than stack into the magazine. It can be done, but it takes some finesse.

The very low profile sights are a benefit to the rifle for practical use, as there are very few situations where the muzzle can fit somewhere that the sights are obscured. You can see this in stage 2, where I was able to shoot normally through a port barely more than 30mm tall. Almost everyone else had to rotate their rifles over 90 degrees to be able to see sights through that obstacle.

Overall, my only real complaint about the rifle is its excessive recoil, and that’s really not a huge problem. The Model 8 was not really cut out to be a military rifle, but it would excel in the woods (and has for more than 100 years now). if I were told that my only rifle was a Model 8, I would feel pretty comfortable taking it into almost any situation.

One last thing I want to comment on is an element of the match itself, rather than the rifle. This is July in southern Arizona, and the temperature was in the low 100s. Shooting under stress and on the timer in that kind of heat has a very real physical and psychological effect that doesn’t emerge in more relaxed settings. In those circumstances, you really do often lose focus, and lose your “edge”. Trigger control suffers, situational awareness fades, and you are much more likely to make mistakes. This hit me worse in this match than in most, and you can see it in places like the beginning of stage 4, where I forgot the stage instructions and started moving after one shot at the beginning (I was supposed to engage all three targets from each cone). Frankly, this performance degradation is part of what I find valuable in this type of competition, because if one is ever going to use a gun in a lie-or-death situation is is sure to involve a huge amount of mental and possibly physical stress. Competing in the desert sun all day is one good way to begin to simulate that type of situation and learn to function effectively in it.

That being said, I will not be sad when October rolls around and the temperatures are lower. šŸ™‚

 

29 Comments

  1. The ballistic resemblance of the .300 Savage to the 7.62 x 51 isn’t surprising, as the .300 Savage case and its loadings was the basis for the U.S. Army ordnance T65 cartridge, which is what we now know as 7.62 NATO.

    BTW, much of the development work on T65 was done by Remington under contract to Ordnance, because they were also doing the R&D on what became the M14 rifle at the time. IIRC it was the first time that a U.S. military rifle and cartridge combination had been developed as a fully integrated “system” from the start.

    Apparently, the reason was that Remington’s engineers concluded that a shorter cartridge case than the .30-06 (7.62 x 63mm) was needed for reliable functioning in a full-automatic action that could fit into the weight parameters Ordnance demanded (not more than 9 pounds less magazine).

    They knew the .300 Savage worked reliably through their own Model 8, so that was what they and Ordnance started with. The rest, as they say, is history.

    cheers

    eon

  2. Holy early-20th century police rifle torture test, Batman!! Wow! Kudos to you, Ian! A very interesting test and match. I’m inclined to think that if the .300 Savage was harsh from prone, what of the .35 Remington?

    Personally, I flat loved shooting clay pigeons with a Browning Auto-5. There was something almost “cartoonish” about the recoiling barrel. Thanks too, eon, for the R&D points. Very interesting.

    • “Iā€™m inclined to think that if the .300 Savage was harsh from prone, what of the .35 Remington?”
      The momentum of .300 Savage bullet (180gr * 2350fps = 423’000) is minimal larger than .35 Remington bullet (200gr * 2071fps = 414’200) so the recoil should be similar, as the guns can’t break Newton’s action = reaction law (i.e. the momentum of gun is equal to momentum of bullet)

  3. Has your Model 8 been re-chambered from .30 Rem to 300 Savage? Thought only the M81 was made in 300?? Could not see if your rifle has a pistol grip (M81) or the straight grip of the Model 8.

    What type stripper clips did you use?? IIRC, the 8&81 had unique clips, peculiar to those rifles.

    Great video! Love my 81, and would enjoy getting it out for a similar event–but not with all the “exercise” they put you through!

    • You are correct that the .300 Savage chambering was introduced only with the Model 81. However, you could send your Model 8 back to Remington at the time and they would rebarrel it in .300 for a fee, and that’s what a previous owner did with mine. So it is a straight-stock Model 8, but in .30 Savage.

      The Remingtons did have their own clips, but I found that M14 clips worked fine, so that’s what I used. The Remington specific ones are about $50 each at this point, when you can find them.

  4. very nice footage! i liked the gopro view gives a nice perspective as the shooter sees it. Also, the editing was well done, not to “jumpy” between shots! The gives a unsafe perspective šŸ™‚ The microphone on the hand held camera seems to need a bit bigger mounting thingy, as it shows sometimes.

    i like the look of the fat barrel/mechanism of the Remington Model 8

  5. A buddy of mine is an Audio Engineer, and I’ve done some work with him, he takes and I believe it’s 100decibellz, and he removes everything below that level, he does it because the human voice never goes below that level, but most background noise is under that, don’t know if that helps, if you want I can get him to look at the video and tell you what he’d do with it

  6. Great to see a Model 8 in action. I really like my .35. It’s been in my family for 3 generations and has taken a lot of deer and black bear since my grandfather bought it back in the 1920s. As for military use, I recall reading that a small number of Model 8s in .35 Remington with extended “police” magazines were issued to some Marine Corps units on Guadalcanal, but were subsequently withdrawn and “disposed of.” I have yet to find any corroborating evidence of this, however. I know there were military trials models built, and some have turned up with Ordnance marks and cartouches (at least one is an obvious fake). Anyway, I’ll keep digging for info. I would love to find a Police Model to add to the collection. BTW, cool video work with the quadcopter. Looks like y’all had a good time.

    • The one nice thing about the Rem 8s and 81s is you dont have to worry about getting one that some Homer shortened the barrel on,I’ve never seen one with an ugly bore and I’ve never seen one where the take down part of the action was shot loose.Old John Moses got these guns right the first time.

  7. Interesting that the Model 8, a sporting rifle, was equipped to use stripper clips. Was that part of the original design or introduced later? One would think the Model 8 with the extended magazine would have been a good weapon for trench raids in the Great War.

    • The magazine was non-removable, thus stripper guides made some sense. Later on some companies made detachable box magazines and would retrofit a rifle to use them, that included the 15 shot police models (e.g., most of the law enforcement officers that shot Bonnie and Clyde were using police model Remington 8’s).

      I’m not the expert on this rifle, but pretty sure that the stripper guides were there from the start. A stripper clip made sense, given that it was not a detachable magazine, in the days before scopes were common and when people (with military service, ROTC, etc.) had been exposed to them when training on 03’s, etc. This was the first commercially successful self-loading rifle, and really, the industry, consumers, etc., were still figuring out what worked and what did not. Tell someone back then that there would be a day when bolt action sporting rifles would have detachable magazines and they would have thought you were crazy, for a sporting arm back then a detachable magazine would have been seen as something to lose with no real benefit.

      Others who know more can pitch in on the WWI application of it. I think though, that the difficulty in field stripping it to clean out the mud and grime would have been an issue.

      • I think Charles’s point was that it was surprising to have any kind of quick loading device in a sporting rifle back then. When hunting you usually do not need to reload quickly and single loading cartridges is usually fast enough. Ian’s experience in loading the magazine one by one shows that the rifle really wasn’t designed for that at all.

        Interesting point about the Bonnie and Clyde shooters. I think that I have heard that before, but images from multiple movies and TV are strongly imprinted in my memory and in those they always use Thompsons and sometimes BARs. I recently watched the 2013 miniseries version of the Bonnie and Clyde story and yet again that was what the LEOs used. It did correctly show the BAR as Clyde’s favorite weapon instead of the Thompson, which Warren Beatty carried around in Arthur Penn’s movie version.

        • According to the book Guns and the Gunfighters (Petersen, 1975), which has a chapter on Barrow and Parker, the participants in the 23 May 1934 ambush in Bienville Parish, LA, and their armaments were;

          1. Frank Hamer, Captain, Texas Rangers; Remington Model 8 self-loading rifle, cal. 35 Rem., S/N 10045, with 20-shot fixed magazine fitted by Peace officer equipment Co., St. Louis, MO. his sidearm was a Colt M1911A1 .45 pistol.

          2. Henderson Jordan, Bienville Parish Sheriff. Self-loading shotgun (probably a Remington Model 11 or Browning Automatic-5). Sidearm unknown.

          3. Bryan Oakley, Bienville Parish Deputy. Stated as self-loading shotgun drawn from sheriff’s office, but see below. Sidearm unknown.

          4. B. M. “Manny” Gault, Texas Ranger. Remington Model 11 self-loading shotgun borrowed from Hamer; sidearm unknown.

          5. Robert Alcorn, Dallas Co. Deputy Sheriff. Self-loading shotgun, sidearm unknown.

          6. Ted Hinton, Dallas Co. Deputy Sheriff. BAR, .30-06 (may have been the Colt “Monitor” police variant); sidearm unknown. (Hinton was stationed down the road as a backup, and apparently never fired his weapon during the 20-second long engagement.)

          Note that Oakley’s armament is unconfirmed. Other sources state that he was armed with a Winchester lever-action in .44-40 WCF. It is notable that the History Channel “Man, Moment, and Machine” episode concerning the BAR and Bonnie & Clyde states that the autopsy report on the two cited COD as .44 caliber head-shots, one apiece. If so, it is entirely possible that either (a) Oakley or whoever had the Winchester ended the engagement even before Hamer & Co. cut loose with a single, aimed shot to each target, or (b) more ominously, each was the recipient of a coup de grace’ shot while dying from multiple GSWs.

          I incline to the former theory. Two shots from a single, experienced marksman who kept his cool, while everyone else got buck fever. Armed with a “low-firepower” weapon compared to the rest, but one always noted for its accuracy. Also, with the targets in the Ford sedan, head shots would be about the only practical ones, due to coachwork, engine, etc.

          I don’t insist on it, but it is interesting to think about.

          BTW, when the car was searched after the fact, besides the 10-gauge Winchester Model 1887 lever-action shotgun Barrow attempted to raise when told to “stop and raise hands”, and the 20-gauge Remington Model 11 Parker did likewise with (both were sawn off at both ends), the car was found to contain;

          -Three BARs stolen from the Beaumont, TX National Guard armory

          -Nine M1911 .45 automatics apparently acquired the same way (Barrow was sitting on two of them, one under each thigh)

          -One Colt New Service .45 double-action revolver

          -Two Colt M1903 automatic pistols, one in .32 ACP and the other in .380 ACP(in the glove box)

          -Plus 100 loaded 20-round BAR magazines and approximately 3000 rounds of various calibers of ammunition.

          (One can only assume the car’s rear suspension was down on the lower stops, as most of this was no doubt in the trunk.)

          Obviously, if the two had not been neutralized as quickly as they were, and had escaped to fort up somewhere, the resulting firefight would have been at least as horrendous as their previous ones at South Joplin and Platte City, MO.

          I think we can agree that the force used was not excessive, given the circumstances.

          cheers

          eon

          • I had incorrectly thought that there was more than one model 8 involved in the shootout, however, there it is disputed by model 8 collectors if the model 8 that was there held 15 or 20 rounds:

            http://thegreatmodel8.remingtonsociety.com/?page_id=434

            The main objection to a 20 round magazine being that collectors have apparently not found any in existence. Does not rule it out, but not likely.

          • Did some more poking around on the Remington 8 collector’s site, and deputy Alcorn later sent a letter to a Remington sales rep that stated he was sending in his model 8, that he used to “apprehend” Bonnie and Clyde, to be converted to a police model. Instead of being armed with a shotgun, he may have had a model 8 as well that day. If so it does clear up a small mystery, there is a photo of some long guns on top of the death car, consisting of at least some of the arms used by law enforcement that day. There was one model 8, the magazine area was not visible in detail but the hand guard was not that of a police model conversion—that would make sense if it was Alcron’s pre-conversion rifle laying there instead of Hamer’s police model.

  8. Ian, I know what you mean about heat fatigue. We’re only in the ’90s down here, but throw in 90-100% humidity and it gets real interesting. I’ve been trying to avoid any mid-day range trips lately (or fishing trips for that matter)! It does have a detrimental effect on one’s shooting ability. It makes one appreciate what those desert and jungle fighters have to contend with besides the obvious dangers.

  9. Actually, this would not have been a bad military rifle as the recoil seem to be manageable (based on given cartridge). The complexity of take down is definitely a problem, but then, there is no gas system to clean.

    • According to the Model 8 website, about 100 of the FN model 1900 (European version of the Model 8) were issued to French Aircrews during WW 1. There was also an Army Trials Model, and martially marked (Ordnance flaming bomb stamps and military stock cartouches)specimens do turn up occasionally, but there are a couple of collectors who have admitted to “cloning” the full-stocked trials rifles. As I stated earlier, there is some anecdotal evidence of a few Model 8s being used by the Marines during the Guadalcanal campaign, but I haven’t been able to find any documentary evidence. I’ll admit that one of these rifles has been a sort of “Holy Grail” of mine, if they ever did exist. The closest I have come was being shown a box of .35 Remington ammunition in U.S. Ordnance Dept. packaging, but the provenance was unknown. I passed on buying it for obvious reasons, but have had some subsequent regrets, if for no other reason, than being able to determine its authenticity. All in all, the Model 8/81 is a fine rifle, especially for a 110 year-old design. It is one of my favorites.

      • I understand your passion Doc. It is really ingenious piece. however, In absence of handling myself, I heard of its ‘liveliness’ on one’s shoulder, many years back. No wonder; the primary mass, being the barrel is substantial and in present format there in not a chance to attenuate all that energy in it.

        • Yes, my .35 does have a pretty good “thump” on the back-end, but it isn’t any worse than many of the bolt-action carbines of the era. Of course, if you need more than one shot while deer hunting, you aren’t doing it right. OTOH, sustained fire in combat could get a bit painful. The Army trials rifles were chambered in .25-30, so may have been a bit tamer. Ian’s .300 Savage Mod. 8 seems like it could be a real bruiser.

  10. Great video Ian, the go pro first person reloads look really cool. It may not have been the best choice for shooting threw the cut outs in the obstacle because of the go-pro’s sight offset. You got some nice quad copter shots too.

  11. It’s been a long time since I’ve fired my 81 in .300 but I recall the recoil being milder than guns of similar weight and power. Made sense to me since the recoil would be spread out over time. Or maybe I just perceived what I expected šŸ˜‰

    • My impression shooting the Auto-5 / Remington 11 is the same, it does not kick harder, rather the kick seems to come in stages. Personally, I prefer it that way and would rather shoot my model 11 instead of my pump gun of the same gauge. It is claimed that recoil is mostly mental and the multi-segment long recoil kick could be perceived differently by different people.

  12. Not sure about the A-5 recoil being harsh. I find it to be easier to shoot fast than a Remignton 1100. I tried to shoot a A-5 in 3-gun for a while, one with a custom 10 shot magazine and later with just a 6 shot tube. It didn’t respond well to the extra weight. But there is nothing like stuffing a round in the magazine and have it get magically chambered. Wish more shotguns had this feature.

  13. Concerning the A5’s recoil: this one gets repeated often. The A5 is one of the softest shooting shotguns one can own. Our Belgian Auto-5 Lightweight is my 120 pound wife’s favorite shotgun. People who complain about the recoil either have the friction ring set up wrong, have lubricated the tube (a no-no), or have worn out springs in a heavily used gun. A properly set up A5 should kick less than most auto loaders.

  14. The easiest way to get rid of copter noise is to have a second source of audio of the same scene. This will probably be another camera recording from a different angle, but could also be an on-body mic or a mic hooked up to a dedicated audio recorder.

    The only catch is you do need a video editing program sophisticated enough to strip out the audio from the drone shots and replace it with the audio from another camera angle/body mic/dedicated audio recorder.

    That type of editing is fairly straightforward, especially once you’ve done it a few times, but the more “basic” your video editor, the less likely it is to support that. For instance, the free editors or basic demo versions don’t always have that feature.

    You would still have the issue that the audio recorded separately wouldn’t sound like it was recorded from the quadcopter. You can fake that a bit by reducing the volume of that input to make it seem like it was recorded from further away than it was.

  15. Its not excessive recoil in the 8s and 81s its just a different feeling recoil,the duel spring setup in the barrel shroud actually takes the sharpness out of the recoil but makes it last longer and if you’re not used to it it will trick you into thinking its worse,I have one in 32 and another in 35 Rem and the 35 has stiffer springs in the barrel than the 32.I use leverlution 200gn Hornadys in the 35 and its a sledge hammer capable of taking anything that walks the continent.I can shoot my 300 Win mag one handed off the bench but the thirty five you have to use both hands due to the longer duration of commotion that goes on during the recoil cycle,just shake it off because its never going to leave a mark on your shoulder like a 300 mag will.My model 8s are probably the best all around hunting rifles I have ever used after I made my peace with the odd recoil thing.The simple takedown feature makes these guns just that much more practical to carry and to clean and I have never heard of one ever shooting loose no matter how used and abused they are.The 35 is the best one to get because you can buy them over the counter but the 25,30 and 32 have a smaller dia case so you have to roll your own on these three but Buffalo arms in Idaho has brass for them so there is no reason not to turn your back on them if you find a good deal.

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