This Old Gun

Firearm Auction News: the “Benefit Gun”

Besides firearms auctions that cater to private gun collectors and vintage gun aficionados, there are other firearms auctions happening regularly around the country. They are sponsored by sportsmen conservation groups  and guns are sometimes auctioned off as a fund raising tool. There is a new twist on that and it’s the concept of the “benefit gun.” In an article in the La Crosse Tribune, reporter Chris Hubbach tells the story of a a bolt-action Remington 721 that has raised $40,00. It works like this: get the winning bid on the gun and then later donate back to another auction when someone is in need. Since 2005, the gun has been auctioned numerous times, twelve plaques accompany the gun and the temporary owners record their history of acquiring the rifle. It’s a positive story about firearms and this auction fund raising model could be used to support any good cause. Read the complete story here.

The 721 was introduced in 1948 and discontinued in 1962 with approximately 118,000 manufactured. It was offered in the following calibers: .264, .270, .280, .30-06 and 300 H&H. According to the Standard Catalog of Rifles and Shotguns  the 721 is valued at $450 for one in excellent condition and $125 for one in poor condition.

Merle (Mike) Walker, the designer of the Remington 721

In the 1982 edition of the Gun Digest annual, author Stuart Otteson reviews the pros and cons of the gun in “Remington’s 721–722: THE STORY OF A SUCCESS.”

It seems like the gun was a hit in its day and was the forerunner to the great Model 700:

“An opportune juxtaposition of a good rifle, low retail price, and booming post-war demand for high power hunting rifles brought an acceptance and sales volume that took even Remington by surprise. Favorable articles and evaluations began pouring in so fast that the Marketing Department compiled a 23-page booklet entitled “What The Experts Say About the New Remington Models 721 & 722 Big Game Rifles.” It contained twenty write-ups, which appeared in print during the first four months of 1948, ranging all the way from a brief announcement in the New York Times, to an exhaustive dual evaluation in The American Rifleman by the esteemed team of Julian Hatcher and Al Barr.”

“The first full year’s production (1949) was approximately 42,000 rifles, and that was more a manufacturing limitation than anything else, because for the first couple years the factory was working day and night and Remington was selling everything they could ship from Ilion. Sales in 1950 topped 50,000.

But the rifle’s engineering virtues could sustain this level of sales only so long. Very plain and unexciting lines limited its ultimate sales potential.

While it certainly wasn’t ugly, neither could anyone ever accuse it of winning any beauty contests against the Model 70, or even the many custom-built Mausers, Springfields, and Enfields, for that matter. In 1951 sales began to cool off, thereafter settling down into the 30,000 range, although there were one or two more 50,000-rifle years.

In 1962 the Remington Model 700 came into being, superseding the 721 and 722. At the same time sales began to take off, climbing back into the 50,000 to 60,000 category in the first year of production. They have been on the rise ever since, eventually surpassing 100,000 per year and making the Model 700 (which is really still just a prettied up 721/722) easily the best bolt-action seller in the world, today pursued seriously only by Ruger’s Model 77.”

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