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Remington Model 8: popular among whitetail hunters, the Remington Model 8 was the first successful semiautomatic sporting rifle.


If you scrutinize old photographs of whitetail deer hunters, particularly those taken in the Northeast, you'll find that a large percentage of them include at least one hunter armed with a semiautomatic Remington Model 8 mixed in among the lever-action Winchester 94s and Savage 99s. Although only around 80,000 Model 8s were manufactured, those rifles typically found their way into the hands of savvy hunters and lawmen with an appreciation for innovation, and as a result they saw a lot of use.


John M. Browning designed the rifle and sold the patent to Remington. It has been manufactured in .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Remington. Toward the end of its life, a few were allegedly chambered in .300 Savage.


The Model 8 rifle is reminiscent of Browning's legendary humpback Auto 5 shotgun because the operating systems are very similar. Uniquely, the Model 8 uses a shrouded, reciprocating barrel with a recoil spring housed inside between the barrel and the shroud. It's a fairly strong action, utilizing a rotating-lug lockup. And it's a gas-free, inertia-operated system.

When the rifle is fired, recoil forces drive the entire barrel and bolt group rearward inside the receiver. With the bolt lugs still locked, the assembly moves about 1.7 inches rearward, where the barrel and bolt stop moving. Inertia causes the bolt carrier to continue rearward, and as it does it cams the rotating locking lugs a quarter-turn to the unlocked position. The carrier and bolt momentarily lock in the rearward position, and the compressed recoil spring inside the barrel shroud sends the barrel/breech forward again, literally drawing the barrel off the empty cartridge case that is held firmly in the face of the bolt by a massive 0.285-inch-wide claw-type extractor at 12 o'clock in the boltface. As the breech clears the case mouth, a plunger-type ejector at 6 o'clock in the boltface boosts the empty case skyward. As the barrel/breech lands in its home position, it releases the bolt catch, and the carrier spring slams the bolt assembly forward, picking up and chambering a fresh cartridge.

Five cartridges fit in the vertical box-type magazine, which is not removable even though at first glance it appears to be. The bolt is operated via a large charging knob attached at the forward right side of the bolt carrier, and the bolt catch is a small, unobtrusive tab just at the top front left side of the trigger guard. The safety is a large, positive lever on the right side of the action. When in the upward "engaged" position, the safety not only blocks the trigger, but also locks the bolt in the closed position.

As far as I'm aware, all Model 8s are of takedown design. In addition, the Model 8 has the distinction of being the only sporting semiauto ever manufactured with a stripper clip guide machined integral to the action.


I convinced a fine old gentleman friend to trade me the .25 Rem. Model 8 I used for this report. It had resided, unfired, in his gun safe for the several decades I've known him, and it's in about as nice condition as you'll find. According to the letter codes stamped on the left rear of the barrel hood, the sleek little rifle was manufactured in October 1927, the same month and year that Ford's Model A was first produced.


Although my .25-caliber Model 8's box magazine is safe for use with pointed bullets previous experience has taught me that the Model 8 has a profound dislike for anything but the roundnose bullets with which the cartridge was originally loaded. My favorite loads for this little rifle are a hard-cast 112-grain gas-checked RNFP over IMR4320 powder and Hornady's 117-grain jacketed RN pushed by the same powder.

With these loads, my 80-year-old semiauto Model 8 clusters bullets exactly at point of aim and produces pretty decent groups. Mind you, the results are for shooting with the rifle's factory-original open sights.

On the day I did the shooting for this column, function with the jacketed RN handload was stellar without a single hiccup. With the cast-bullet load accuracy was good, but reliability suffered. The lighter powder charge just didn't have enough oomph to fully function the action every time.

I'm a fan of slender, straight-grip stocks, and to me the Model 8 has always mounted and pointed like a fine vintage shotgun. Courtesy of its 8-pound, 5-ounce weight, it balances beautifully and steadily, making fast field-type shots easy. The trigger is a bit spongy, but it breaks without grittiness at 3 pounds, 12 ounces. Like every Model 8, the massive back-and-forward movement of the barrel, bolt, and carrier produces an odd double-recoil sensation that's noticeable but not unfriendly.


Thirty years after its introduction, the Model 8 was replaced by the Model 81, which featured a firing pin return spring, a pistol-grip buttstock, and bulkier forearm. While the firing pin return spring may add a trace of safety when using super-soft primers, in my opinion, the clunkier Model 81 lost much of the sleek appeal of the Model 8. The Model 8 is a beautifully made rifle that is fun to shoot and is surprisingly viable in the field. I'd love to take mine to the big woods of the Northeast on a traditional whitetail deer hunt.

MANUFACTURER        Remington
TYPE                Inertia-driven autoloader
CALIBER             .25 Remington
BARREL              22 in.
OVERALL LENGTH      41 in.
WEIGHT              8.3 lbs.
STOCK               Walnut
FINISH              Blued barrel and action, oil-finished stock
LENGTH OF PULL      13.75 in.
SIGHTS              Brass bead front, U-notch adjustable rear
TRIGGER             3.75-lb. pull (as tested)
SAFETY              Side lever


                             POWDER                              50-YD.
                                         VEL.    E.S.    S.D.     ACC.
BULLET                (TYPE)    (GRS.)   (FPS)   (FPS)   (FPS)   (IN.)

                     .25 Remington

Hard-cast G/C        IMR 4320   22.6     2005    70      24      1.34
  112-gr. RNFP
Hornady 117-gr. RN   IMR 4320   28.0     2356    48      17      1.45

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, three-shot groups fired
from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of nine rounds
measured 12 feet from the gun's muzzle.

All load data should be used with caution. Always start with
reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your
guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since
Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components,
guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various
firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility
for the use of this data.
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Article Details
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Author:Von Benedikt, Joseph
Publication:Shooting Times
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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