How much older are we talking here? Does it have an after market trigger? Has the trigger pull weight or take up/slack been adjusted? by you? a smith?
One problem could be the sear lugs on the bolt or trigger rounded or worn down. (Can be seen on the under side of the bolt, and the top of the action above the trigger, should be squared on the contact sides...the front of the bolt and the back of the trigger), and can be caused by A LOT of shooting or poor maintenance.
The Walker trigger is the one that Remington was having "issues" with. The Walker trigger has grooves in the trigger face, the X-Mark is smooth. But if you don't know if there is an after market trigger installed that might not help. And from what I understand the pre-1980 Rem. 700s with the Walker trigger were the ones with the "issues". The supposed problem was caused by a wire running from the trigger to the sear, and the wire was not as sturdy as maybe it should have been. If that wire is bent it might not be engaging the sears at all.
I would make sure that everything is clean first, as SemperFi said, but if the problem occurs when clean, it might be the other items. If the problem is worn sears, the trigger, bolt part or both can be replaced. If it is the Walker trigger that is thought to be causing the problem it can be replaced.
These are not the only things that could be causing the problem, but as far as I know these are the most likely ones.
Thanks for the info.. I will take it apart and investigate the trigger a bit to see if its been fooled with. Just looking at the trigger it looks if there is some old grese or congeiled oil that may be gumming up things. Again thanks for the to all
Your trigger is either dirty or improperly adjusted or, most likely, both.
I usually take old triggers all apart to clean them but you can do a pretty good job with them still in one piece.
Remove the trigger from the action and spray it with brake cleaner to get the old gunk out of it. Be sure to do it outside some place and do it a couple of times. Do not oil it. Triggers don't need any oil.
Once you get the trigger installed back on the action it needs to be properly adjusted.
I'm new to the form and not an expert, but my 700 30-06 was doing the exact same thing. I took it to a gun smith who said this was not an uncommon problem with older Reminton 700's . I left it with him and he repaired it, but I don't know specifically what he did. It was too dangerous of a problem for me to mess around with and I'm glad I had an expert do the repair. Incidentally, I have a serial number with no letters. 376XXX six numbers and that's it. Other wise just says Remington 700, has some patent numbers on the barrel and 30-06 spng or something like that near the patent numbers. Any idea what I have?
Happened on my 700 ONCE. When I was decreasing trigger pull weight. Found that the firing pin followed the cocking piece as I closed the bolt. I don't slam my bolts closed like an Englishman shooting a "Mad Minute" with an Enfield (15 hits onto a 12" round target at 300 yd within one minute). I just push forward firmly then close easily. Easy to see if the firing pin is released prematurely.
Clean the trigger assy and add a couple ounces at a time of trigger pull until the problem ceases. If the final pull weight is too much, just replace the trigger assy with a Timney. Better triggers than the Remmy's for not a ton of money.