The 783 Jackaroo - it won’t let you down

When Remington introduced the Model 783 bolt action rifle in 2013 it raised concerns in some quarters about the direction the Remington brand was heading. Long used to the iconic Model 700 as a benchmark firearm, some saw the introduction of the 783 as a sell-out of Remington’s traditional values, perhaps conveniently ignoring the fact that firearms technology and construction methods were moving on to meet growing consumer demands for more budget-friendly models.  Five years down the track the Model 783 is well on the way to becoming a Remington mainstay with acceptance of the marque continuing to grow in a market place where ‘budget priced’ no longer equates to cheap and nasty.

 

The Remington 783 Jackaroo

In September I received a Model 783 Jackaroo chambered in .308 Winchester for review. As it comes from the box it’s a very short rifle but its stubby appearance belies the way it handles and mounts - important considerations that can’t be empirically measured or compared but nevertheless make a significant contribution to how any given firearm feels in the hands. First impressions of any new product are important as they inevitably influence the work that follows.

The 783 borrows a number of design features from other manufacturers that contribute to a somewhat different take on the Remington rifles we grew up with. Their incorporation into the rifle is tacit acknowledgement that a good idea is a good idea, even when it comes from somewhere else. In real terms they help make the 783 the practical and affordable rifle it is.

In case anyone is wondering, the 783 designation for the rifle comes from three sources. The 7 is a nod to the tried and proven but increasingly expensive model 700. The 8 comes from the model 788 that was introduced in 1967 and the 3 is the last digit of the year the 783 was introduced - 2013.

 

The receiver

Made from high carbon steel, the receiver is a simple cylinder with thick walls and a small ejection port that gives the appearance of a solid and rigid unit. The top is drilled and tapped to accept screw-on bases and the review rifle was fitted with a Weaver-style rail slightly longer than the receiver itself.

The bottom of the receiver is ported to allow cartridges to feed from the magazine as well as being drilled and tapped to accept the action screws - one engaging the receiver ring, the other screwing into the back of the tang. A simple plate-style recoil lug is sandwiched between the face of the receiver ring and barrel.

 

The barrel

Like the receiver the barrel is made from high carbon steel, button rifled with a 1:10 twist for the .308 cartridge in the review rifle. The review rifle had a medium weight barrel with a length of 16.5^ (41cm). The muzzle is recessed, externally threaded and fitted with a protective cap. A longer 24^ (61cm) barrel will also be available in future. No sights are fitted.

The barrel screws into the receiver and is locked in place by a contoured nut, a system that has been successfully used by Savage for many years and allows the barrel to be precisely head spaced quickly and easily, helping cut manufacturing costs. It might not have the smooth lines of a traditionally fitted barrel but no-one can say it doesn’t work. Both the barrel and the receiver have a nice deep blue-black finish, as does the bolt.

 

The bolt

The bolt is push feed with a recessed face, a plunger ejector and two opposed locking lugs that give it a lift of 90 degrees. A Sako-style hook extractor is located in the right locking lug. An oversize bolt handle is attached to the rear right hand side of the bolt body and the bolt head is described as floating - attached to the bolt body with a transverse retaining pin.

The bolt plug and firing pin assembly are housed inside the bolt body, the latter easily removed for cleaning. When the bolt is cocked an indicator pin is visible and can be felt at the rear of the bolt plug.

The bolt is retained in the receiver by a lever on the left side of the trigger group that must be depressed for bolt removal. Once removed the bolt is easily disassembled into its main components for cleaning as explained in the owner’s manual.

 

Trigger and safety catch

The Jackaroo is fitted with Remington’s CrossFire trigger system, a variation on the AccuTrigger design introduced by Savage. The trigger has a centre lever that must be fully depressed before the rifle can be fired. The trigger is user adjustable with instructions in the manual.

The trigger group - called a fire control assembly in the manual - incorporates a two-position manual safety lever on the right side behind the bolt. The safe position is indicated by the letter ‘S’ stamped into the tang, the fire position by the ‘F’ directly behind the bolt turn down slot. When engaged the safety blocks trigger movement but still allows the bolt to be cycled.

 

The magazine

According to a letter that came with the rifle and ammunition, the rifle will be supplied with two detachable magazines - a standard four-round as well as a Lucky Thirteen that holds 10 rounds in a single column. The review rifle only came with the latter.

The magazine clips directly into the belly of the stock where it’s retained by a spring-loaded catch that must be pulled back towards the trigger guard for magazine removal.

 

The stock

The green synthetic stock has a high nylon fibre content for rigidity with a slightly rough, non-slip surface finish. The forearm has a shallow groove on either side and like the pistol grip has a stippled, wraparound panel to provide grip when the rifle is shouldered. Connection points for sling swivels are moulded integrally with the stock.

The butt stock is fitted with a Supercell recoil pad that’s claimed to reduce felt recoil by up to 54 per cent. A black kangaroo motif is applied to the right side of the buttstock to give a uniquely Australian feel. Internally the receiver mortice and magazine well are cleanly moulded and finished and there’s no superfluous trim around the well.

A slot for the recoil plate forward of the receiver mortice locates the receiver in the stock. Both action screw holes have aluminium bedding pillars and when the receiver is properly tightened into the stock the barrel floats. The forearm is cross braced for rigidity. A black polymer trigger guard is secured in the stock by a screw behind the magazine well and the rear action screw.

 

Range testing

The rifle was supplied with a GPO (German Precision Optics) Evolve 6i 1-6x24i illuminated reticule scope - a new arrival in Australia I’ll be having a closer look at in a subsequent review. For a rifle like the 783 Jackaroo it was perfect.

Also supplied were 60 rounds of ammunition - 20 rounds each of Remington Hog Hammer with 168gr Barnes TSX HP bullet, Remington Core-Lokt 150gr PSP and Barnes Vortex with 150gr TTSX BT bullet. As requested by Raytrade those were the only loads fired.

Off the bench all delivered three-shot groups ranging from 45-55mm at 100m, pretty much what I expected. Short barrelled rifles or carbines were never noted for high levels of accuracy and it would be ludicrous to expect the 783 Jackaroo to be any different. It was designed to be easy to mount and swing and get into action on game quickly, not deliver tidy little groups on paper even in an inherently accurate cartridge like the .308.

Those with the time and inclination to develop hand loads will almost certainly obtain better results but I doubt the rifle will ever be a consistent MOA shooter - nor does it need to be.

Recoil was no more than you’d expect in a rifle of this size and weight but I reckon the muzzle blast with the short barrel was a tad on the noisy side - certainly loud enough to make hearing protection necessary on the range. The rifle fed flawlessly, the oversize bolt handle easy to grasp and manipulate. As it came from the factory the weight of trigger pull was fine for me.

 

Field testing

With a deadline looming I carried the Jackaroo on four hunts over three days, looking for fallow then sambar deer. The only ones I could have shot were a couple of fallow bucks I managed to sneak within 50m of, both in the early stages of velvet growth. Given the trophy potential of the area I wasn’t prepared to take either of them so no shots were fired.

The following morning the dog found a sambar hind, too far back from the edge of the cleared country to be in any danger from me. My days of carrying heavy loads of venison out of the bush are over and it would have been criminal to shoot the hind and leave her for dingoes and foxes.

For all that, the Jackaroo proved to be a comfortable little rifle to carry about - certainly not heavy, its short dimensions making it ideal for cradle carrying, the Lucky Thirteen magazine sitting comfortably in the crook of the arm where it’s easy to swing up and get into action.

 

Overview

There are some hunters who’ll see the 783 Jackaroo as a handy walkabout hunting rifle, especially those who chase pigs, goats or deer in thick stuff where a short rifle is in a league of its own. It will never be a long range shooter, nor is it meant to be. It will do its best work at 150m or less and there are lots of hunters who’ll be more than happy with that.

To me it would be a great little truck rifle, the sort a farmer or landholder might carry for opportunistic pest animal work. It would also be right at home in a scabbard on a quad, an ATV or even a motorbike.  Wherever it’s used it will give a good account of itself.

SPECIFICATIONS BOX

Manufacturer

Remington

Model

783 Jackaroo

Action

Tubular high carbon steel receiver. Push feed bolt action. Over size bolt handle

Barrel

Button rifled high carbon steel 41cm long

Calibre

.308 (tested), .223 and 6.5 Creedmoor

Sights

None. Weaver-type rail fitted to receiver

Magazine

Four-shot and 10-shot detachable Lucky Thirteen magazines

Stock

Green nylon fibre reinforced synthetic

Overall Length

93cm

Weight

2.55kg bare

Distributor

Raytrade

RRP

$999

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