How’s that for an opening statement?
PRS – Precision Rifle Shooting Series – is a relatively new rifle shooting sport that has taken off in the US. The game involves shooting from a variety of position against a variety of shaped and sized targets over a wide range of distances with heavy emphasis on longer distances
Plates, moving targets, hostage style formats, the list is only limited by the ingenuity (or cruelty depending on your view) of the range designer. The goal, to simulate “real world” shooting where rarely are targets known or conditions simple. The sport rewards those who have mastered a wide range of rifle craft and really know how to shoot under time pressure.
From the rifle, it has to be accurate, reliable when dirty, and fast to function. With time constraints and some very demanding shooting positions, the bolt action has to feed smoothly and quickly, and extract/eject with authority.
I bumped into the Rem 783 in Dec 2015 more out of boredom then anything specific. With the whole host of new plastic fantastic hunting rifles littering the shelves, this was the only one I hadn’t spent much time with and a local Canadian Tire was pretty much giving them away. The icing was the rebates Rem was offering as well.
For a winter “hunting” rifle project, I got one in 243. Given the current state of Rem 700s, I was not expecting much. Wow, was I surprised.
CYCLING THE ACTION:
The first thing that grabbed me was how smooth and easy the action was to cycle right out of the box. Outside a handful of custom BR style actions, pretty much everything has a heavy initial bolt lift as you fight to compress the firing pin spring and move the cocking piece up the camming ramp into the cock on opening notch.
The 783 almost felt like a cock on closing bolt in that the initial lift feels sprung…. almost like it has an assist to get that bolt handle moving. Having seen this style of bolt operation from historical bolt rifles, I know this is a feature that really helps speed up the bolt cycle. Some of the fastest operating bolt rifles are cock on closing from WWI.
I cycled the bolt fast and rough to try and cause it to bind. Pushing it in a variety of directions while moving it forward – simple stuff that hang up a range of custom actions and the 783 kept moving smooth and fast. The bolt head has an antibind set up and this one actually works.
The primary and secondary camming surfaces on the bolt and action are well shaped and the bolt handle was properly installed on the bolt body. I have not seen any issues to extract some pretty toasty loads.
BOLT BODY AND BOLT HEAD:
Inspecting the bolt body, it is smooth, lightly bead blast and blued. This texture is near impossible to grab on the receiver walls (unlike the “paint” you find on many SPS 700’s). A light coat of dry or wet lube and the bolt body will slide smoothly.
Yes, you can run with a dry lube… spray teflon lube you can find at industrial suppliers would be the cat’s meow when running in very dusty environments or when crawling through the dirt.
Fluting the bolt body is very popular wrt to looks and the perception it offers clearance for dirt. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way and many spiral fluted bolt bodies actually drag on the receiver especially in the bridge area. A feature I wouldn’t want to have and/or spend extra money to get unless extra care was taken to make sure it was not a negative. Rem 700 based clones do not always respond well to this feature. Nor do Savages.
The 783 uses a floating bolt head which many who have followed my exploits with Savage/Stevens actions, know can lead to a fine shooting machine without alot of fuss. For the most part, this bolt heads looks like something out of a Savage parts bin except Rem has addressed a variety of quirks with the Savage.
The 783 has an angle on the extractor which works with the ejector to toss the cases in an upward angle. The Savage is “flat” to the receiver and ejected cases can hang up. I have cycled alot of dummy rds through the 783 and during firing, I have yet to have a case hang up. I have put the rifle in a variety of positions including port straight up (if you were shooting on your left side), and the case eject the action no problem.
That floating bolt head has a number of positive benefits including maintaining a positive lock up even when the rest of the bolt body has clearance. Will not get into the engineering here except to say, the floating bolt head locks up properly in the front of the receiver allowing the rest of the bolt to move around without affecting the harmonics. This allows clearance through the action raceway and bridge for smooth and easy cycling yet a tight lock up for accurate shooting.
Fired cases show no runout so the bolt face, locking lugs, and chamber are true out of the box. Accuracy from this factory barrel has been surprisingly good.
Update Feb 11, 16 – swapped bolt between the 243 and 308 rifles. They fit and function perfectly and headspace is IDENTICAL. Gotta love modern CNC machining and tolerances. The bolts in my rifles will interchange between rifles. Great to have a spare bolt for little to no cost.
NOTE: CONFIRM PROPER FIT AND HEADSPACe BEFORE USING ANY OTHER PART FROM ANY OTHER RIFLE. THIS MAY BE AN ISOLATED CASE. SAFETY FIRST.
FIRING PIN ASSEMBLY:
When I tried to take the bolt apart to look inside, to my surprise, I found this bolt doesn’t use the traditional Rem 700 style of threaded bolt shroud. In fact, the 783 uses a quick detach format… with the cocking piece moved back, 1/2 a twist and the whole assembly can be extracted.
That’s cool! And will make cleaning so much easier.
A full firing pin, full firing spring spring.. well machined and nice strong looking parts. Current trends to reduce costs in entry level hunting rifles has led to a “dumbing” down of this critical area… not a good thing and certainly not designed for longevity. The 783 has the traditional style and looks like it will give very long service. I didn’t strip it down further as I can do all the maintenance on the assembly as is.
An alum shroud does a very good job of giving some positive lines to the back of the bolt and also covers the internals from dirt. If some were to get in, there is plenty of room to shake or blow it out. I feel this assembly is going to do just fine in field conditions.
COCKING PIECE AND TRIGGER SEAR:
While inspecting the firing pin assembly, I was surprised at the shape and size of the cocking piece. It is a substantial block of metal. Looking into the receiver, the trigger sear is also a big square block sticking well into the raceway. The last time I saw this type of set up was in WWI actions including the P Series Enfields.
It is a very strong and positive set up where you are not going to cause the cocking piece to skip over the trigger sear no matter how hard you slam the bolt closed. An all too common problem with Rem 700 actions and some triggers when trigger pull weights are greatly reduced.
I have slammed the 783 bolt shut very hard, much harder then I am likely to ever need while shooting it and it has yet to miss a beat. Inspecting the cocking piece and trigger sear after some use, you can see the amount of contact is also huge by modern standards. This is a confidence inspiring set up as I just can’t see how this contact could fail in use… maybe if the trigger completely broke apart??
Unlike those WWI actions that use a two stage trigger to pull the sear lower on the cocking piece to reduce creep in the trigger pull, the new 783 Crossfire trigger breaks surprisingly cleanly as a single stage. So you get a modern trigger pull WITH the massive sear contact of old… Nice.
When you look at the trigger, the first thing you think of is Savage Accutrigger. It shares the safety tab in the middle of the trigger shoe which must be depressed to allow the trigger to move and fire… and that is where the similarity ends.
The Crossfire address a real problem of the accutrigger, which can be made to trip if the trigger is moved without the safety tab moved back. Now the action has to be partially cycled to engage the sear. With a loaded rd in the chamber, this is of course not ideal gun handling.
The Crossfire trigger will not move until the safety tab is moved.
This is a big deal if you are crawling around and something snags on the trigger causing the Accutrigger to trip…. now you are wasting time solving a problem you may not realise you have until you squeeze the trigger with no positive result.
With a need to get a shot off quickly, this can range from infuriating to dangerous.
The trigger pull weight is easily user adjustable and worlds better then current Rem 700 X Mark Pro. You can actually reach the full range of pull weights and the pull stays very consistent. Overtravel is not adjustable but minimal in the 2 rifles I have.
In my 243, there is a bit of creep before a crisp break. Not every pull but it is there. The other trigger I have breaks cleanly so this is likely a QC issue that can be resolved but polishing the working parts and getting rid of whatever is hanging the parts up. I will get to it eventually but for the application used it works great and I am not crying out for a replacement. This can’t be said for the vast majority of current hunting triggers.
A very pleasant surprise was seeing that the trigger housing is BOLTED to the action. This is HUGE and a feature many are adding at big expense to their custom actions. No more cross pins. No more needing 6 hands to hold all the little bits and pieces together while working on the action.
The entire housing AND bolt release drop out of the action as a unit. If something goes wrong, a spare can be put into service way faster then traditional trigger installs. With the amount of sear/cocking piece engagement, I suspect a very low risk of mismatched parts leading to sear skipping.
I have not used the 783 unit in very dirty conditions so can’t confirm how it will survive but right now, it looks well designed with enough openings to let gunk out and/or to flush if needed. It is pretty protected so certainly no worst then the rest of the triggers using a housing on the market.
An entire section dedicated to this? Not a biggie until you need to remove the bolt fast to solve a function problem. Then you find that the silly little tab in the trigger on the Rem is hanging up or the stock doesn’t have enough clearance for the side bolt release or you need to juggle trigger and release at the same time all while under stress and likely, not in a comfy position.
The 783 is blessed with what I feel is a fantastic bolt release. Very positive but light and simple to operate. A big tab that is not in the way of bolt cycling but easy to access when needed. Simply depressing the tab allows the bolt to come out without fuss. Something not likely to be affected by dirt either. The moving bits are simple, straightforward and mounted to that trigger housing.
I have been in competition where you needed to get that bolt out of the action in a hurry and you quickly see how some set ups aren’t ideal under stress. Anything can be learnt but simple seems to always work better when the brain is racing on other problems.
BARREL NUT AND RECOIL LUG:
Like the Savage and others, the 783 uses a barrel nut to headspace the barrel – same Savage wrench can be used to take off the nut. I love this set up especially when you want to swap a variety of barrels AND save overall weight. I have been bugging a few barrel makers to see if they will tool up for the 783. The only real difference is the larger thread vs a standard Savage or Rem… it is smaller then the large shank Savage. This should be a no brainer to do so I hope we will see quality match prefits shortly. That will drop costs and speed up installs.
The receiver uses a standard recoil lug like the Rem 700. I am not a fan of lugs in the stock as there are just too many places for a loose fit and bedding is a PITA…. a very real risk of putting a load on the action bolts… BAD IDEA.
Unlike the Savage, the 783 lug is not pinned. This I will change when I do my barrel swap. Makes swapping barrels easier as you don’t have to worry about fitting back into the bedding of your stock.
Been asked a few times, the 783 is a new stand alone action with little similarity to the Rem 700. Made from a single piece of Chrome Moly steel, it is very nicely finished and certainly looks to take advantage of modern CNC manf. The quality of material is excellent and I fully expect years and thousands of rds of useage without undue wear.
Many of the entry level actions are not built for longevity either in design or material. The 783 uses material every bit as good as the Rem 700… and better made.
The top has the same contour as the front of the Rem 700 so you can use two front bases. I will be getting some 1pc 20 MOA picantinny bases from EGW to aid in scope set up.
The receiver would be considered a closed top with a small ejection port which will help keep dirt and grime out of the action and does improve on action flex. Not a big deal in a tactical type rifle but it is a positive.
“But what if I need to clear something from inside the action? I can’t get my fingers into the action easily”.
Just pull the mag and anything in the action is falling out. The opening in the action bottom is HUGE. And pulling the mag is worlds faster then trying to pick out or shake out a problem.
But what got me really excited was the port length. If you look at the side profile of the action port and AICS mag, you can clearly see why I am so pumped.
Yes, the port is long enough to allow an OAL at max AICS lengths to eject. I have tried rds up to 3.15” and it will eject. Try that with other custom or factory SHORT actions – sorry, cutting notches here and there to make it work is not what I mean.
Although called a Short action, the 783 is actually a MID LENGTH action allowing it to handle longer ammo vs the Rem 700 and clones(heck, pretty much every short action on the market). Some actions use mags that allow a longer length but will not let you eject that loaded rd without first taking out the bolt.
Given the move to long high BC bullets, being able to feed and cycle ammo over 2.80” is HUGE. Why? Because if you have a rd not fire, you can just eject it and get another rd into the action without having to worry about removing the bolt. Massive time saver and might just save a stage if there is a bad rd.
This is something a few custom action makers are finally taking note on solving but these actions will be pricey and accessory support is not well defined.
The 783 handles this easily for a dirt cheap entry price AND the ejection/extractors will handle a very heavy bullet loaded into that round….. far heavier then will be commonly used for AICS mag feeding.
SETTING UP FOR AICS MAGS:
It is like the designer wanted desparately to use AICS mags in the action cause the entire opening in the action is set up perfectly for AICS style mags – MDT or AI or Accurate mags fit perfectly. I have done absolutely NOTHING to make it work… no mods to the feed ramp, no releaving of the action, no mods to the mags… nothing.
If fact, I did my testing by holding the mag in one hand and cycling the action… it fed!
The only DBM currently made for the 783 is by PTG. I have not seen this unit but read on and you will see why I will not use it.
Instead I modified a CDI DBM for the Savage Axis to work. Surprisingly, the dimensions of the action bolt location and mag box opening is identical. I just had to change the depths of the DBM here and there to fit into the Boyds Pro Varmint stock. Trial and error mods but it all went together and looks like it was meant to be there.
No this is not a drop in fit and lots of inletting/fitting is needed BUT it will work. If there is interest, CDI will make DBM… I have already asked.
A happy consequence is the way the mag release latch works. Typical DBM have the latch integrated into the trigger guard someway. This creates a very long and awkward reach to move the latch while holding onto the mag with one hand. Those with Gorilla paws don’t see this as a problem but many do.
I even started to push the latch with the trigger finger/hand and pull the mag out with the other. A two handed operation – awkward and slow.
With the set up used in the Axis DBM, thumb on the latch, fingers on front of mag, squeeze and it drops free. Fast, secure, easy with one hand – ANY size hand….. YES!!!
Maybe this is a coincidence but look at the shape of the 783 factory trigger guard… A very goofy sloped front right????
Now look at that slope vs that latch… PERFECT. The slopes are almost parallel and you just run your thumb along the trigger guard and you will find the latch. I don’t need to look to find anything… it is intuitive and there is a dead reliable reference to go by.
Big deal???… Well, if it saves me a second or two on a mag change, that is a big deal. And it will make any action clearing very fast and easy.
I will be adding bevels to the entrance of the CDI DBM to speed up mag entry.
UGLY, BAD AND GOOD:
So far, you can tell I am super pumped on this action. Many positive and innovative features BUT it is not without a glaring problem…. the bolt knob.
Well, the engineers had to give up something to the marketers and this bolt knob with that big “R” is it. Yep, I consider it one of the UGLIEST bolt knobs on any rifle today. Umm, don’t think the consumer will remember who made this rifle? They certainly will each and every time they move that bolt.
It certainly is one of the worst for feel and I bet many hunters have put the rifle back in the rack after trying to cycle this uncomfortable BAD lump of steel. I can’t see how any rifle shooting person can say this is a positive shape for cycling a bolt?
The GOOD part is that it can be easily removed and a proper bolt knob installed. Although it is a goofy shape, there is enough material to machine the desired 5/16X24 thread for a better knob and life is all good.
I put an EGW bolt knob with 3 lines/grooves. I have this on all my rifles and find it to fit my hand and comfy to operate. But there no shortage of shapes that will fit.
Another happy consequence when that knob was put on, the location is just above the trigger in perfect alignment. I just extend the trigger finger, slide up and the knob is right there. Flip the knob easily up and pull backwards to eject the fired case. Slam it forward and close on another rd. I am now right on the trigger and ready to send another shot.
Minimal movement, minimal effort, maximum speed. Take a look at competition receivers in various sports and you will find this geometry and when you cycle an action set up like this, it is simply a joy, smooth…. and FAST!
If this was a custom action with all these features at a higher cost, I would strongly consider it cause it works. The fact that anyone can find one locally, likely still on sale from December AND maybe even get a factory rebate, a smoking good deal.
So good, I rushed back to get my 2nd rifle.. this one in a 308. And by the way, the button rifled 243 barrel actually shoots pretty darn well. Twist is too slow for anything over 95gr but it will be fun for practise and long term testing. Contour and length as also ideal for balance and heat resistance. No, I see no point in a heavy varmint contour in this type of competition.
When prefits are available, I will get a 6XC or 6.5 Creedmoor or whatever I feel like.
I would love to meet the engineer(s) someday and see what they were really thinking when they designed the 783. The barreled action is just so good for mag fed operation, it makes me feel that they wanted to solve a wide range of operation problems plaguing many modern actions.
Like they took the positives from the Rem 700 and Savage and made a “baby”.
Have a look. I bet you will be impressed.