Ever hear the the term Rem/Age? It’s a play on the brands Remington and SAVAGE and what a hybrid design offers the shooter. There is a huge aftermarket full of accessories and options available for the Remington 700 action. Unfortunatley, SAVAGE rifles get less aftermarket support. However, one of the features commonly found on a SAVAGE rifle has to do with how the barrel is mounted to the action. Remington barrels have a shoulder that butts up against the action face and when installed and torqued provides proper headspace for the cartridge the Remington rifle is chambered for. SAVAGE uses a nut to secure the barrel to the receiver. The barrel threads into the receiver, headspace is set with gauges, and then the nut is torqued against the SAVAGE action to secure the barrel. The term Rem/Age refers to combining “best of both worlds” by adding modular barrel changes of a SAVAGE to a Remington action!
Northland Shooters Supply is the group usually referenced in this discussion. Specifically Jim Briggs who has been supporting this conversion for a long time. The concept of the Rem/Age is pretty simply, convert the Remington 700 action to use and work with a barrel nut for securing the barrel to the receiver. This allows the shooter, at home and without the support of a Gunsmith’s Shop full of machinery, to swap barrels and calibers on their own. Why would that be an attractive option? For one, there’s no waiting or shipping of parts and materials. There’s no added expense of insuring a firearm or having one damaged during shipping. It allows a user to swap calibers within the same bolt face family, for example 308 –>6.5 Creedmoor–>6.5×47 Lapua–>243 Winchester–>6×47 Lapua–>6mm Creedmoor–>260 Remington and so on and so forth.
A shooter could swap between different calibers in just a few minutes with the right tools, which you will need to purchase to do this properly. Specifically, you need an action wrench to hold and secure the action while the barrel is threaded into place. You will need a wrench for the SAVAGE style barrel nut provided by Northland Shooter Supply. The wrench is used to tighten the nut against the action face after you have the barrel properly headspaced. The reason I opted for doing things this way with this project was I had plans to make this action my new Match Gun. I had already settled on the 6×47 Lapua caliber for the first barrel. I knew going into it that the barrel life on the high performance 6×47 Lapua caliber is diminished by the velocity and performance gained. Basically, I knew I would have to rebarrel the action more often with this caliber, hence the setup for the Rem/Age system!
Rem/Age Conversion Requirements
What do you actually need to make one of these conversions happen? Component wise it comes down to this:
- Remington 700 Action
- NSS Barrel Nut
- Criterion Barrel (There are others that offer barrels for this system)
- Action Wrench
- Barrel Nut Wrench
- Go / No Go Gauges
The only reason I didn’t include the NSS Recoil Lug in the list is because it, in and of itself, is not a required item. Any recoil lug will work, but alignment of the lug can be an issue as you torque the nut if the recoil lug isn’t pinned. Personally, if I did the same project again next week…I would purchase the NSS Recoil lug but I would have it pinned to the action by a Gunsmith. As opposed to having the action notched and lug free to be removed.
I had a shorty 16″ Remington 700 in 308 Winchester that I got as a Christmas present a while back. I did some load development and worked up a custom handload for the gun but the accuracy just wasn’t there. Sometimes you’ll have that, a factory gun with a factory barrel won’t always deliver match grade performance. So I looked at what I wanted in a new match gun and planned out how I wanted to do this build. I had good success with my 6.5 Creedmoor AR10 but had been reading about the flatter shooting 6mm cartridges for a while. I’m wasn’t crazy about the number of cycles I was getting from Hornady brass, so I had ruled a 6mm Creedmoor out.
I had talked to a few local guys at the T3 Matches and even tried a buddy’s 6×47 Lapua out. He had nothing but good things to say about the cartridge and had over 20 cycles on the Lapua brass he was using. Obviously, one requirement here would be a Rem/Age barrel in the caliber I was interested in. I headed over to the Criterion Barrels Rem/Age page to see what my choices were. Suprise! 6×47 Lapua was on the list! I have seen many of the “cut rifled barrels are better than button rifled barrels” debates online. However, I’d also heard great things about Criterion’s barrels. They are a division of Krieger, who make excellent cut rifled barrels.
The first thing I did was order the barrel, recoil lug, barrel nut, and tools from Northland Shooters Supply. When those arrived, I sent the donor Remington 700 out to Phoenix Custom Rifles along with the recoil lug for the modifications necessary to complete the Rem/Age project. When the parts came back, all I had to do was paint them and install the barrel!
Rem/Age Barrel Installation
When it comes to installing a barrel on a Rem/Age system, things couldn’t be easier! Simply thread the Rem/Age barrel in until it makes contact with the bolt in the closed position. Hand tighten the barrel nut and open the bolt up. Drop the NO GO Gauge into the chamber and see if the bolt closes on the gauge. If so, loosen the nut, thread the barrel a smidge deeper into the action and repeat. Eventually the bolt will not close on the NO GO Gauge. Now drop the GO Gauge into the chamber and make sure the bolt does close on the GO Gauge.
You may have to back the barrel up out of the action a pinch until you find the happy in between point where both gauges work. What you are doing here is setting the headspace for the chamber. You want the bolt to close on the GO, you do not want it to close on the NO GO. When you have it where it needs to be, open the bolt, torque the nut to between 40ft/lbs and 50ft/lbs. I just set my wrench to 45ft/lbs. When finished, check the chamber with the gauges again to make sure nothing moved on you and if not, congratulations! The barrel is installed and ready to go with proper headspace!
In addition to the Rem/Age barrel conversion I had Phoenix Custom Rifles add a few other features to the Remington 700 action I was using for this project. Here you can see the bolt knob conversion and bolt shroud modification performed by Phoenix Custom Rifles. All the work the guys at PCR did was excellent. There are no complaints to be had about their work and their communication and turn around times are excellent. If you need a competent smith to do some work, give Brad and Keith at Phoenix Custom Rifles a call!
This video shows the Remington 700 receiver after the truing work was completed. The face of the receiver was cut square with the threads. The threads themselves were cleaned up, but not altered. This is critical! Typically during the course of truing a receiver the thread pattern can be enlarged or cut deeper to allow the Gunsmith to make sure the threads are square and cut properly. If the thread pattern is altered, the Rem/Age barrels will not work with the action. The action has to retain the original Remington thread pitch of 1 1/16-16. The Rem/Age barrels produced by Criterion and ordered/supplied by Northland Shooter Supply use that specific thread pitch.
You can also see the notch in the action face for the NSS Recoil lug. The lug has a pin on it and this allows you to slip the recoil lug over the barrel, and have it in place with the pin in the action notch where it can’t move or rotate as you tighten the nut. In hindsight, and for future projects, I would probably just have the recoil lug pinned to the action. By making the recoil lug and action one unit you accomplish the same thing and it’s probably a less complex modification to make. Likewise, custom actions that have integral lugs or pinned lugs from the factory can be made to work the same way. I know for a fact that the new American Rifle Company Mausingfield actions can be fit with SAVAGE small shank barrels and nuts. Other actions that share the Remington thread pitch can also be made to work the same way!
In this next video you can see the side bolt stop and release that were added to the Remington 700 action by Phoenix Custom Rifles! This is a modification I highly recommend. It’s so much easier to swap triggers or work on the gun in general when you don’t have to mess with the traditional Remington bolt stop and spring. My next action will likely be a custom action, and most of those already include this feature. Having had the benefit of a side bolt release for a while now, I’ve begun to see why it’s standard on custom actions. It’s just a better setup all around! Phoenix Custom Rifles uses Defiance bolt stop hardware for this modification.
So how does it shoot? That’s what everybody really wants to know, right? It’s the most accurate gun I own. No joke, no exaggeration. This gun is a solid 1/4 Minute gun. It repeatedly shoots at or under 1/4″ at 100 yards with minimum effort. The long range accuracy is equally impressive. There are lots of people that make claims like this absent any proof or substance. I don’t want to be labeled as a “tall tale” writer. I’m going to post pictures of groups that I’ve shot, most of which were after two or three confirmation rounds when zeroing. I figured, what the hell, toss two more down range and see what the 5 round group looks like. I’m stunned, and quite proud to say that any time I’ve shot a string of five and measured, they have all been excellent.
Only in load development did I see any groups larger than 0.5″ appear, and even then, only in the .6s! Every group since load development has been sub half minute and most are at or just a tick over a quarter minute. With results like this, I’m hard pressed to look elsewhere for any options other than what I already have in front of me that’s proven to be exceedingly accurate! I fully expected this to be an accurate rifle, but I had no idea the Rem/Age was to become my MOST accurate rifle I’ve yet put my hands on. I attribute the results to the outstanding barrels produced by Criterion Barrels and the flawless gunsmithing work from Phoenix Custom Rifles!
Wrapping Up the Rem/Age Project
So in closing I can honestly say this was a fun little project. I took a factory Remington 700 that wasn’t living up to my accuracy expectations, even after custom load development, and transformed a substandard rifle into the most accurate rifle in my house! If only every project would turn out that successfully! I’ve since shot this rifle in a couple matches and turned in some of my best scores yet. The 6×47 Lapua is an incredible cartridge. It really is the cutting edge of performance when you pair it up with quality handloaded cartridge components and an accurate rifle to fire them through. The barrel life won’t be as good as my 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 Winchester but installing a new barrel won’t take me 20 minutes when the time comes.
In the meantime, this last photo illustrates what has become the rule of accuracy for this gun, rather than the exception! Its a reliable rifle that consistently performs better than I could have hoped for. The old adage is true, garbage in->garbage out! I used quality components and a reputable Gunsmith for this Rem/Age project and the result was the most accurate rifle I own. In fact, its the most accurate rifle I’ve fired in my life. If you have an older Remington 700 that needs a barrel, or even a new one that isn’t performing to your expectations…consider converting it to a Rem/Age! If you’ve built one, or have any experience with Criterion barrels, leave us a comment below!
Just an update here, NSS has released a recoil lug alignment attachment for their action wrench. This negates having to modify the action in order to install the new barrel. You also no longer need to notch your stock!