Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.


Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

I'm watching this story and it looks very much like a tolerance analysis failure.

The Model 700 has a lot of coverage on line for trigger problems.

What is interesting is the length of time this has been a problem and has cost lives, but because there's no gov't regulation of firearm makers, the government has no power to require a recall.

It would be interesting to see a full tolerance analysis backed with manufacturing variation records to see what the underlying cause is.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

My friend Rick visited the Remington factory not too long ago, and got talking with the old timer giving the tour. Rick remembered the serial number from the Remington 700 he'd been issued while in Vietnam many years ago, and the old timer looked it up. Turns out Rick had been talking to the exact same guy who had built his weapon.

... Which brings up a problem related to your suggestion. Firearms are traditionally built with _nominally_ interchangeable parts, which are then custom-fitted by individual craftsmen, who will remove burrs and such, and also may do a little abrasive machining on the sliding surfaces. So any manufacturing variation records, even if they exist, will probably not reflect the exact dimensions of whatever left the factory, even yesterday.

I agree that it would be interesting to do a stackup, especially of weapons that had unintentionally discharged vs. those that had not vs. the factory design documents, but don't hold your breath. Actually, I'd guess that the factory may have already conducted such an exercise, but their lawyers would have advised them to never even acknowledge the activity.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

As problem was known since 1947, I guess they had enough time to do tolerance stack-up. Unless something else got in the way?

"For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"
Arthur C. Clarke Profiles of the future

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

The faulty triggers, while problematic are only one piece of why any life would be lost.

There are multiple safety rules (4, primarily) that one is instructed to always follow, and the four rules in themselves offer multiple layers of redundant prevention of injury. The firearm mechanism being completely separate from that.

Firearms demand more respect than some treat them with, regardless of design.

I don't think "gov't regulation of firearm makers" would really have much to do with it, nor would provide any guarantee of safety. Think about how many firearms there are in the country; how many different models and designs. There have been recalls of operation but I can't think of a single 'common design problem' such as with the 700s.

The only other persistent issue I can think of is when unpacking old firearms that were packed away with heavy cosmoline for preservation. There's one particular Russian autoloader that was well reputed for having the firing pin stick forward (of the bolt face) making it into, essentially, an open bolt machine gun, which would then continue to fire every time the bolt closed on the next cartridge. Being that it's normally semi-automatic, it then keeps firing until the mag was empty. The repair is to clean out all the cosmoline that caused the firing pin to stick in the first place. Nothing to do with design - I just mean to say that in all my dealings with firearms (a not insignificant amount) I've can't personally recall another major incident where a design flaw was common across a product line like that, which caused danger of injury.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Quote (JNieman)


There are multiple safety rules (4, primarily)

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
And I'm one of the anti-gun trolls.


RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Correct on all four.

I've seen several honest-accidents (not results of negligence)and mechanical faults where no one got hurt or even came close to it. -BECAUSE- those rules were followed. In addition to site-specific range rules, you create an environment where injury is impossible.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

In many cases, firearms are extraordinarily dynamic mechanisms. The difference between function and dysfunction can be a seemingly insignificant change in size, angle, surface finish, lubricant, or even the inertia or resonance frequency of a part. The list goes on and on. A tolerance stackup in many of these cases would only scratch the surface of what's going on. You might be better served to make use of a high speed camera.

Also, don't forget that firearms ARE mass produced household consumer goods. I know, cars are too. What I mean to say is that in the grand scheme of things, guns are closer to toasters than cars in terms of the amount of engineering effort involved. This is not a knock against engineers in the firearms industry (I'm one of them, but I don't design guns); this is just the way of the world.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Depends on the company. Some employ quite intelligent and talented engineers that do thorough analysis of the manufacturing processes and product design. Some are 'old fashioned' in a way MikeHalloran explains regarding gunsmiths. Most are somewhere in between.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Some designs are bad, and no amount of QA can change that.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

While it is true that no gun should ever be pointed in an unsafe direction, I would challenge any gun owner to strap a GoPro to the top of a gun and prove that the only places the weapon was pointed were completely safe. Like if it's in a rear window gun rack, the gun is continuously pointing at anything the vehicle drives by.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

To paraphrase Cap'n Barbosa:

The 4 rules are more like "guidelines" than actual rules.


Though many people who've competed in non-stationary firearms competition would happily strap a GoPro to their rifle or helmet or shoulder, and review their performance on a stage, and do. Once the gun is "made safe" (as in, chamber verified empty and hammer down [or equivalent] to verify again the chamber is empty and unable to fire a round) then it becomes a matter of general safe transport. Sometimes, as you note, there are no "safe" directions within practical means.

The mindset it promotes is more important than it being a black/white pass/fail situation.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Did anyone besides Dave actually watch the story. I first saw it a few years ago and then again about 6 months ago. It's why I'll never give another dime to Remington.

Remington's answer to all this is just what I'm seeing here. They make it all about firearm safety. While I get that safety is job 1 of all firearms owners, does that absolve Remington of responsibility when their rifles fire when they're not supposed to? If you're clearing your rifle and it goes off, does the fact that you had it pointed in a safe direction make it okay?

Google it on youtube and watch it.

John Acosta, GDTP Senior Level
Manufacturing Engineering Tech

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Quote (JNieman)

Depends on the company. Some employ quite intelligent and talented engineers that do thorough analysis of the manufacturing processes and product design. Some are 'old fashioned' in a way MikeHalloran explains regarding gunsmiths. Most are somewhere in between.

No doubt, there's a spectrum. I see prints from many of them, though. To be sure, I am a GD&T amateur, but I assure you, the GD&T I usually see would never fly in a more demanding application.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

There was a different story 2 years ago on CNBC, which was a followup to a story they did 4 years before (2010). ***

I think the CBS followup is due to the apparent down-playing of the situation.

Probably unclear language - "There is a minor defect which may be noticed ..." vs "Loaded gun may discharge at any time without using trigger. Checking gun for round may fire unexpectedly. "

It's just interesting to me in comparison to other engineering problems, such as hand-grenade triggers and the GM key-switch. It seems like consistent manufacture and assembly of the parts would be a high priority, as would retrieving and analyzing the affected items, such as Samsung did.

Of the key-switch, I have come to believe it was the change to make the mechanism cheaper by eliminating the 'wings' that in earlier versions would be used to provide leverage to the steering unlocking mechanism. By making the keys larger and stronger to take the turning force they also made the key-slot in the head longer, which allows greater leverage to the key ring, allowing the key ring weight to apply torque. I note that the original 'fix' was a key slot insert that limited the movement of the key ring. It isn't clear to me that key (pun) individuals in GM understood that this would allow shutting off the protection systems at critical times, but that exposing the nuisance turn-offs** would mean a costly warranty recall.

Prior to the key-head size change they would not have had related nuisance shut-offs, so there would be no obvious need to test for them.

Short GM version - a string of design decisions that each seemed OK at the time. Remington - ???

**OTOH nuisance turn-offs aren't new with the keys. In my GM car I had the engine drop dead at highway speeds in rush-hour traffic because GM didn't account for corrosion and put dissimilar metals into the grounding path of an ignition module. I'm glad I wasn't killed, but GM never issued a recall.

***the CNBC investigation revealed that even before the gun went on the market, Walker himself had discovered a potential problem with the trigger he designed. In a 1946 memo, he warned of a "theoretical unsafe condition" involving the gun's safety—the mechanism that's supposed to keep the rifle from firing accidentally. From

Walkers analysis results

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Yes, I've watched it before.
I've also worked in firearm manufacturing.

I'm not relieving them of responsibility. I'm simply saying that anyone injured by the firearms has someone else who should be sharing responsibility.

No comment on the design - I haven't really analyzed it. I have, myself, owned guns where the firing pin would release if a sharp 'thump' was administered to the buttstock. Any used rifle I buy gets a rough treatment to check for hammer fall / firing pin release before it ever sees a cartridge, and even then, I start with dummies. Just a random 'aside' - not saying everyone should have to do that with a gun they buy. In a perfect world, it's unnecessary.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Some years ago , I was temporarily disqualified at a rifle shooting competition because the trigger pull on my rifle was too light. All it took was one swipe with an oilstone across the trigger sear to bring the pull back up to the required 3.5lbs. Now tolerance stack ups and individual hand fitting can change performance dramatically. Is this what we are dealing with here ? Or is this lack of maintenance after it leaves the factory?

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

Personally, I think that accusing 'victims' (for lack of a better word) of problems with Remington 700 rifles of violating the rules of firearm safety and thus being fully responsible for injuries or deaths is, at best, short sighted.

Yes, it is of vital, life-critical importance that the rules of gun safety are always followed- but any manufacturer of firearms also has a duty to design, manufacture, and sell firearms that behave as intended.

If there was a defect with the R700 action that lead to severe injuries due to failed cases (as has happened with weapons from other manufacturers) there would be no discussion about firearm safety rules.

The trigger problem on the 700 series is due to bad design, pure and simple. Remington not only knew this- they covered it up and have issued multiple lame attempts to remedy the symptoms without fixing the actual root cause. The modification that allows a 700 bolt to be opened with the safety on was the direct result of this problem- the discharges were often happening when a shooter disengaged the safety not to fire a round, but so that the bolt could be opened and the weapon unloaded.

In my opinion, it is on the shooter to make sure that safety rules are followed, but it is also on the manufacturer to make sure that the weapon functions exactly within the bounds of the design intent, every single time.

Remington bears full responsibility.

RE: Remington 700 self-triggering story on 60 minutes

I couldn't agree more with jgKRI.

John Acosta, GDTP Senior Level
Manufacturing Engineering Tech

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members!


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close