Rkittine, I have always been happy with the barrels that came on my Remington 700 rifles. . .except one. When Remington first introduced the 8mm Mag, I bought one. I was living in Utah at the time and did not have a rifle to reach out for mule deer. I was already reloading at the time and added the dies for the 8mm Mag to my bench. I tried all kinds of recommended powders and bullets. Spent months trying to develop a "good" load. Factory ammo? None shot, and I tried EVERYTHING available, better than 3" groups at 100 yds.
I handloaded bullets ranging 150 gr to 220 gr trying several powders with each. Even cold bore shots would not group. But, it was also clear that three shot groups, (15 seconds between produced a VERY hot barrel) were really bad. The heating of the barrel, a barrel which I felt was too light, would regularly create 5+" groups. I began to think my skills were just not up to the task. And, Yes, I was probably getting gun shy. The sucker kicked like the proverbial mule, bruising my shoulder and shortening my time at the range.
On another trip to the range my buddy handed me his 700 in 300 Win Mag. I shot a 3 shot 1" group. Several times.
I should have sent the 8 mag back to Remington, but I set it in the back of the safe and forgot about it. A few years ago I contemplated re-barreling the rifle to something more enjoyable. And when I went looking I realized that the Rem 8mm Mag had been discontinued. But, someone on Ebay put up 1000 brand new 8mm Mag cases and a bushel basket of every weight and style 8mm bullets for reloading that I'd ever seen. . .for $200 delivered. Switching to another cartridge, such as the 338 Lapua, was likely going to cost me about the same in revamping my loading supply and equipment and components. So I decided to stay with the 8mm and had Douglas install a medium weight (heavy by any factory standard) target barrel (yeah, stainless mat finish with a slight uniform angle taper).
The 8mm Mag was not a light rifle, but I felt that the thin sporterized factory barrel was the culprit in both the lack of accuracy and the PUNISHING kick. I do not remember the original weight. The 8mm came back to me from Douglas weighing 13 pounds 3 oz! First day at the range I fired over 100 rounds with no discomfort at all. Surprisingly, I did discover that virtually all of my previous handloads, which were all midrange powder loads, showed over-pressure signs.
Worked up new loads with several different bullet weights and styles. Spectacularly, no load, powder or bullet weight, flat base of boat-tail, shot any worse than 1.2 MOA groups. The 200g and 220g boat-tails 3 shot groups could be covered with a quarter at 300 yds. with many groups having 2 shots through the same hole. My buddy kept telling me to quit grinning!
Six years later after installing a 25X scope on a 20 moa mount in the wide open spaces of the central western Utah desert I hit a 3ft X 3ft steel gong at 1 mile (Odometer reading on the vehicle) with 4 out of 7 shots. (I'd moved to CA and years before and took the rifle with me on a visit back to UT) Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to ever hunt with that rifle in the 12-15 years since the barrel change. Hope my son can make use of it some day.
After re-reading this a couple of times and making a couple of corrections, I realize I cannot put the time line together correctly. What amazes me is that I have owned this rifle since 1978-1979. ~40 freaking years. Damn I'm getting old!