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Buyers looking to purchase a Remington rifle before the fall hunting season will find the selection on the shelves of their favorite gun store a bit more bare than usual right now.

In April the Remington Arms Co. issued a nationwide recall of its Model 700 and Model Seven rifles equipped with the X-Mark Pro trigger saying that some may have “excess bonding agent” that could cause the rifles to accidentally fire. The recall applies to all of the rifles that were manufactured between May 1, 2006, and April 9, 2014. Rifles manufactured after April 9 have already been repaired.

“Remington has determined that some Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with XMP triggers could, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge,” reads a recall notification on the company’s website.

The statement goes on to say, “While Remington has the utmost confidence in the design of the XMP trigger, it is undertaking this recall in the interest of consumer safety to remove any potential excess bonding agent applied in the assembly process.”

Shipped back

Stores carrying the rifles have shipped all of their stock back to Remington to have the trigger mechanisms cleaned. Remington’s website lists more than 40 different Model 700 rifles, calling it the “most diverse rifle line available to today’s hunter and shooter,” adding that the “range of calibers available is unrivaled in the industry.” There are three compact, short-action hunting rifles in the Model Seven line, which debuted in 1983. Prices for the rifles start at about $450 and can climb to more than $2,200.

“We treat it like we always do recalls,” said Chuck McKenzie of Big Bear Sports Center in Great Falls. “We had some in stock and we sent them back. It’s just not a big deal.”

McKenzie said Remington gave him no indication of how long it might take to repair and return the rifles. Some hunters have expressed concern that the rifles would not be fixed before the start of the fall seasons.

Despite any problems, Gallatin Valley hunter and shooting instructor Richard Barber called the recall significant.

“This is important because it signifies that maybe Remington is coming around,” he said. “I support them in this. They shouldn’t be persecuted, they should be commended.”

Barber sued the company claiming a defective Model 700 was responsible for the death of his 9-year-old son, Gus, in 2000. His efforts to have the company take responsibility for what he claims is a defective product led Remington to recall 2.5 million rifles in 2002 to modify a safety on bolt-action rifles made before 1982. Barber said it’s important that the public be notified of the current recall to prevent any injuries.

Smooth means no go

People who own one of the rifles can log on to Remington’s website to see if it is one of the models being recalled. The easiest way to tell is if the trigger is smooth, not grooved. The X-Mark Pro features a smooth trigger.

If your rifle fits the description, Remington warns: “STOP USING YOUR RIFLE. Any unintended discharge has the potential to cause injury or death. Immediately cease use of recalled rifles and return them to Remington free of charge. Rifles will be inspected, specialty cleaned, tested, and returned as soon as possible, at no cost to you. DO NOT attempt to diagnose or repair recalled rifles.”

The X-Mark Pro trigger was introduced by Remington in 2007 to replace its Walker trigger assembly, which had become the focus of several lawsuits.

A 2011 CNBC investigation of Remington found that more than 75 lawsuits had been filed against the company alleging the trigger was prone to fire without being touched. In a 2010 response to CNBC's report, Remington called the Model 700 series one of the most "popular, reliable, accurate and trusted bolt-action rifles in the world," with more than 5 million sold. The company also said its Model 700, "including the trigger mechanism, has been free from any defect since it was first produced..."

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Barber told The Gazette last year that his “lawsuit against Remington led to a promise from the company to redesign” the Walker trigger. He has since urged the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute Remington for criminal fraud, saying the company misled the public and the courts for years about known defects in the rifle’s trigger mechanism.

Phone calls to a Remington representative to learn more about the recall were not returned by press time.

“Remington takes safety extremely seriously,” said Teddy Novin, director of Public Affairs and Communications for Remington, in a statement. “While we have the utmost confidence in the design of the XMP trigger, we are undertaking this recall in the interest of customer safety, to remove any potential excess bonding agent applied in the assembly process. We have established significant safety and technical resources to determine which rifles are affected and to minimize any risks. Our goal is to have every recalled firearm inspected, specialty cleaned, tested and returned as soon as possible.”

More recalls

Recalls of firearms are not unusual. A listing on The Gun Guy website lists more than 30 firearm recalls from a variety of manufacturers for everything from slide malfunctions on pistols to defects in metal used for stainless steel rifle barrels.

Because of the lawsuits and accusations that the Remington 700 has been responsible for more than two dozen deaths and hundreds of serious injuries, according to CNBC, Barber said it’s surprising that Remington’s large recall hasn’t drawn more attention.

“Most of the people don’t know about it,” said one sales clerk at a Billings sporting goods store who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation. “It’s hush hush.”

Other stores referred The Gazette’s questions to management or declined to comment.

Remington, headquartered in Madison, N.C., is the nation's oldest firearms company, founded in 1816. In addition to sporting arms, it also manufactures products for the military and law enforcement.

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Montana Untamed Editor

Montana Untamed editor for the Billings Gazette.