In September 1970, Sports Afield magazine ran a special cover story that would change the face of American hunting culture forever. It was a picture of a man staring down the peep sight of a Remington Model 742 rifle with the caption, “Larry Benoit—Is He The Best Deer Hunter In America?” Until that point in hunting culture, whitetail hunting wasn’t too big of a thing. That article changed the game, made Larry Benoit a hunting celebrity, and shaped a whole new generation of hunters who wished to emulate him. I first discovered the Benoit family at the tender age of 16. Until then, I had been a more traditional hunter, having shot at a few deer from stands and blinds, but hunting remained difficult for me. I just couldn’t sit still, and it wasn’t until I found the Benoits’ way of tracking and still hunting that I realized you could hunt and move at the same time. I tried to mimic everything the Benoits did, and that meant getting a Remington 742 of my own. However, by that time the rifles had gone off the market and I had to go with the closest thing I could find. I ended up with a Remington 7600, and my hunting game changed forever.
Chambered in nearly every big game caliber from .223 to .270, .30-06 and even .35 Whelen, the Remington 7600 is a handy pump-action carbine. The rifle first came into being in 1981, a year after Larry’s faithful 742 went off the market and the same year that the Benoit family’s iconic 760 followed suit. Remington designed this gun as a fast-firing pump-action rifle, modeled on the same size receiver as a Remington 20 gauge 870 pump-action shotgun, their most popular shotgun. Like the 760, the 7600 was designed with a free-floating barrel that attaches to the receiver with a ¼-inch UNF bolt screw for enhanced accuracy. This accuracy, combined with its pump action, enabled the rifle to be fired quickly and repeatedly with precision, as the shooter doesn’t have to take their eye off the target to chamber another round.
The Benoits, R.G. Bernier, and other eastern whitetail hunters applied this action to great effect, using the rifle in close quarters. Loaded with a 180-grain round that could punch through thick brush without diverting its course, the rifle proved to be the perfect tool for use in the thick forests of Vermont, New York, and Maine, where often all hunters see of a buck is the brown spot of a shoulder moving quickly through the hemlocks.
As a hunter who prefers to still hunt and track, I like to stay on my feet and be mobile. My goal is stalking as close as I can to game as opposed to taking longer shots from a stand. The Remington 7600 proved to be a revelation for me. It’s a gun perfectly designed for hunters who like to move while they hunt, shooting quickly when they get the opportunity. When I moved west, I brought the rifle with me. It was more out of sentiment than anything else, feeling that, with everything I had read and seen on TV, the rifle would be badly suited for the more open country of the Rockies. I would need a different rifle that I could take longer shots with, perhaps with a tripod or shooting sticks. However, that proved not to be the case.
With a lighter load and the addition of the scope, the rifle proved more than capable of accurate shots outside of 300 yards. What was more, I also found I didn’t need to take shots at those distances. Soon enough, I found myself carrying the Remington 7600 while still hunting elk and mule deer in thick stands of aspens in the high mountains, tracking whitetail among the creek bottoms, and even crawling among depressions in the open prairie for antelope. The rifle proved to be more than capable of each task. Like the commandos of WWII whose close-quarter missions led them to prefer the lighter, more nimble M1A1 carbine over the more popular—but much heavier—M1 Garand, the 7600’s light weight and short barrel is perfect for my preferred method of hunting.
A sign of a truly good rifle is its adaptability. Although there is no hunting rifle that can do it all, the Remington 7600 is the perfect rifle for a variety of big-game animals. Chambered in .30-06 or larger, the rifle has more than enough power to take any game in North America. With a classic look and a storied history, the Remington 7600 is the perfect rifle for hunters who prefer to be mobile, relying on their woodsmanship and stalking skills to get up close and personal in the hunt.