My brother and I both shot our first deer with my dad’s old Remington Model 8. We both admired it, but he and my dad could tell I’d become absolutely enamored with it. It just felt right. I loved everything from the trigger to the sights. The way it effortlessly nestled into my shoulder when I brought it to bear. The way I could ease off the safety without making even the subtlest snick when the woods were silent. I was ecstatic when they decided I should have it.
I’ve since added several rifles to my collection, and I’ve hunted with many more, but I’m convinced that, when it comes to hunting whitetail deer in the big woods, the Remington Model 8 knows no equal. Here’s why.
1. It was designed by a legend.
The Model 8, despite being produced by Remington, was actually designed in 1905 by the grandaddy of firearm invention himself, the creator of such icons as the Winchester Model 1894 and the Colt M1911: the illustrious and inimitable John Moses Browning. Throughout the lifetime of its production, approximately 80,000 of these five-shot semi-autos were produced before the subsequent iteration—the Model 81 Woodsmaster—replaced it.
2. It’s well balanced and points naturally.
The Model 8 is remarkably quick handling. It’s an ideal woods gun: You can carry it all day without it being a burden, yet have it brought to your shoulder, safety off, sights aligned, in the span of a heartbeat.
3. The controls are simple and the trigger excellent.
It features a large charging handle, easily gripped and manipulated even if the user’s wearing heavy gloves. The safety lever, which looks like it inspired Mikhail Kalashnikov when he was designing the AK-47, is easy to engage and disengage, and it remains clearly visible to the shooter at all times. The trigger is a delight: light and crisp, absent of any creep.
4. It’s easy on the shoulder.
The Model 8 came available in four different calibers: .25, .30, .32, and .35 Remington—all rimless rifle cartridges. Only the .35 is still in production today, which is ballistically similar to the .30-30 Winchester. It’s not an especially punishing round and the long-stroke recoil-operated action seems to soak up much of the recoil, making this an ideal rifle for new and recoil-sensitive shooters.
5. It’s a lightweight and compact rifle.
Weighing in at eight pounds and measuring 41 inches long, the Model 8 is easy to transport and carry. It also breaks down easily—the barrel and receiver separating without any tools—simply by using the lug under the barrel.
6. It’s had a long time to prove its efficacy and reliability.
These rifles are among the first commercially sold semi-automatic rifles in the world. They come with stories from the dawn of the last century. The fact that you can still find reliably working models today is a testament to their durability and the quality of their design. Although Model 8s were expensive compared to other rifles of the era, those with the wherewithal to purchase one found in it a reliable and accurate rifle worth every dime.
7. A Model 8 killed Bonnie and Clyde.
It’s pretty tough to beat this on the cool spectrum. Louisiana Deputy Sheriff Prentis Oakley borrowed a Model 8 from a friend when he learned he was to be part of the posse setting up the ambush that ultimately took out the two outlaws. Oakley had previously borrowed the rifle for hunting and was a crack shot with it. It’s believed he pulled the trigger before anyone else on his team was ready because he had a clear shot on Clyde’s head. A couple of 200-grain bullets speeding along at 2,100 FPS put an end to the famed duo’s murderous run. At least two Model 8s were involved in the shootout, including one with a 15-round magazine that belonged to famous Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.
8. The aesthetics are pure sex.
As pragmatic as hunters can be, it’s difficult to ignore this gun’s beautiful design. From the classic straight walnut stock to the deep, rich bluing and the iconic humped receiver that evokes the design of the Browning A5, the Model 8 screams elegance and old-world craftsmanship. It’s likely you’ll be the only one to have one in your deer camp, and your buddies are certain to be envious.