Remington to settle lawsuits on Model 700 rifles, possibly recall as many as five million guns
According to a statement from Remington, the largest producer of bolt-action rifles in the country, the company last week settled a lawsuit brought against it over its legacy Model 700 rifles. Although the final guidelines of the settlement haven't been agreed to, it could lead to the recall of as many as five million of these classic guns made over the past half-decade.
(The Remington 700 was introduced in the 1960s as an update to the Remington 721 and 722 series of rifles, which had been introduced in 1948.)
The lawsuit comes as a result of the Joint Notice of Settlement filed earlier this month in the case of Pollard v. Remington Arms Company (pdf) in the Missouri Western District U.S. Court. This 2013 case, resulting from Pollard having his Model 700 fire accidentally on numerous occasions, was settled along with others.
Among the best known of these is the 2000 death of 9-year-old Gus Barber, accidentally killed when a round from a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle fired as his mother, holding the gun, was adjusting the safety.
That resulting case, Barber v. Remington Arms (Case No. 2:12-cv-00043 for you legal buffs out there), has been winding its way through the U.S. District Court for Montana since 2012. However, Barber's legal team was able to successfully unseal other cases that, according to some, claim that Remington knew about the defects in its earlier 700-series guns going back to the 1940s.
(Since 1963, more than 5-million 700's have been sold)
An earlier lawsuit against Remington, according to the Montana Standard, was settled after the company promised to redesign the faulty trigger system.
"Our goal is to try to have those rifles recalled and the firing control or trigger mechanism replaced with a safe mechanism, so it won't fire without the trigger being pulled," Richard Ramler, an attorney responsible representing the suit against Remington said. "We're trying to provide notice to the public because these guns are dangerous.
"This isn't about an individual injury ... this is about a defective rifle."
According to the group behind the now-successful class action lawsuit:
"The defect in these types of guns deals directly with the trigger and safety system, known as the "Walker" fire control, a reference to the principal design engineer. This fire control is unique because it incorporates a "trigger connector" as an extra part. This part is not attached to the trigger body and is 'free-floating,' or 'resiliently' mounted.
As the result of the way in which the trigger connecter is mounted, the rifle can fire without the trigger being pulled. The rifle may misfire or inadvertently fire when the connector fails to fully reposition itself under the sear. Unfortunately, for consumers, this means that the rifle may misfire or accidentally discharge without a trigger pull. The rifles typically discharge when the safety is released, or when the bolt is being opened or closed."
The Walker Fire Control group, standard since 1948 on many of Remington's models, was replaced in 2006 by a more modern design. However, that fire control system, the X-Mark Pro ("XMP") has also been recalled by Remington on rifles made from 2006 until April 2014.
(The Remington 700 serves as the basis for the U.S. military's M-40 sniper rifle, popular with troops for decades)
Attorneys contend that as many as two dozen deaths and a number of injuries have been tied to the Model 700 in recent years. For years both Remington and the shooting media have contended that the whole alleged misfire controversy was just that.
Currently Remington's website is mum on any recall or replacement program other than on the XMP-version of the M700, but they have until October 30 to submit a plan to satisfy the courts.
Watch this space for updates as we get them, and always pay close attention to all of the standard firearms safety rules to include proper muzzle control at all times.
Have you experienced problems with your M700 over the years or on the other hand found it problem free? Drop us a comment in the space below.