The Grades of the Model 8 & 81

September 20th, 2011 by admin


  Despite a modest production run of around 127,000 Model 8 & 81’s, there are still a lot of these old “springpoles” around.  Finding an original, untouched and unaltered Model 8 is becoming less common as the years go by.  Sanded and refinished stocks, custom checkering, and re-blued steel are frequent occurrences today, but this is to be expected when most of these rifles were used for the purpose in which they were intended…to work.  So how can you be certain of which grade of rifle you have? In early 1907 Remington announced four additional grades for the Model 8.  With each increasing grade embellishment was slightly more elegant (and expensive!) than the previous grade.  From 1907-1915, the five grades of the Model 8 were designated the #1, #3, #4, #5, and #6.  After 1915, Remington renamed these grades the,

8A – “Standard”

8C – “Special”

8D – “Peerless”

8E – “Expert”

8F – “Premier”

As the Model 8 was phased out in place of the Model 81, Remington kept the same basic arrangement of grades.

81A – “Standard”

81C and 81B – “Special”

81D – “Peerless”

81E – “Expert”

81F – “Premier” 

  The question is often asked, “what grade is my rifle?”  The following information is intended to assist the collector in identifying rifle grade.  This is by no means an exhaustive reference for the Model 8/81 but rather a beginning guide.  Please keep in mind that Remington did have a standard by which the various grades were manufactured, however finding rifles out of the norm, though not frequent, does happen.  There is an example of an “A” grade Model 8 factory fitted with “F” grade wood, “C” grades with a little fancier checkering than most, and “D” grades with fancy, but uncheckered walnut.  Again, occurrences like these are exceptions and as with any collectible firearm a meticulous examination of the rifle in its entirety is a must! *Most photographs throughout this article can be left mouse clicked and opened larger.*    

 

              --------------------THE MODEL 8--------------------

           

          Model 8A (#1, Standard Grade)

 

The majority of Model 8’s are the “A” grade; it is the basic, most common grade found.  The Model 8A came with an ordinary American walnut stock and forearm.  The buttstock could be had in either a straight grip, round knob semi-pistol grip, or flat knob semi-pistol grip (late production rifles).  The metalwork was plain with no engraving on the receiver or barrel jacket.  

MODEL 8A - SEPT. 1925

  The stocks of early Model 8’s were made with what’s called “cheeks” at the wrist.  These cheeks are raised areas of the stock where the wood meets the metal and they essentially make the receiver lines continuous into the wood.  They are purely aesthetic and found on Model 8’s as late as 1918/1919 (though some examples have been found as late as 1922).  Usually only a remnant of these cheeks are still present as over the course of many decades this area fades with wood sanding and refinishing.  The rifle above was manufactured post-WWI and has a later stock without cheeks.  

•   Note the “A” grade could be ordered from the factory with a hand checkered stock and forearm.  The stock material was still American walnut.  Unfortunately the majority of checking found today on Model 8’s is NOT factory.  Pay close attention to the example pattern below which depicts typical factory checkering.  This optional diamond checkering should be 20 lines per inch and single bordered.

  Typical stock and forearm 8A (Standard) grade with optional factory checkering.  At the time this rifle was manufactured (1918), the cost of the checkering was an additional $5.00.  This rifle’s stock set is untouched; retaining nearly all of its original varnish finish.  Notice the stock "cheeks", the raised portion of wood where the stock meets the receiver.    

FACTORY CHECKERED MODEL 8A

                     

               Model 8C (#3, Special Grade)

The Model 8C retained the plain, non-engraved receiver of the 8A, but was supplied with a hand checkered stock and forearm of select English walnut.  On average, the C grade cost about 25% more than an A grade.  The checkering pattern should be single bordered and 20 lines per inch.  Patterns for the 8C are fairly consistent, however a couple examples have been observed with fancier patterns.  To verify authenticity of an 8C, sometimes a “3” or “C” will be stamped into the inside of the forearm and stock along with the serial number.  This is not a rule of thumb as many 8C’s will not have any interior markings whatsoever.   The 8C could be had in a straight grip or semi-pistol grip buttstock.  A grip cap for the semi-pistol grip buttstock was optional.  The 8C can be found with or without stock “cheeks” depending on year of production.    

Click on the thumbnails below to view typical stock and forearm checkering patterns. 

MODEL 8C GRIP CHECKERING

 

MODEL 8C FOREARM CHECKERING

UNCOMMON MODEL 8C GRIP CHECKERING

 

 Generally speaking, Remington did not mark the receiver of 8C’s in any special way, but two very late production 8C’s known are marked "MODEL 8 C".  This was probably something done only on the last of the Model 8's.

RARE MODEL 8C MARKING

                   

             Model 8D (#4, Peerless Grade)

 

 

The Model 8’s receiver is a vast area of flat and semi curved surfaces, an ideal canvas for the Remington engraver.  The “D” grade is the first entry into the gorgeously engraved Model 8’s.  Remington marketed the work as, “a rich scroll hand engraving”.  Indeed the engraving on these higher grade Model 8’s is a work of art.  A combination of rarity, individual uniqueness, labor involved, and artistic ability is what commands the high prices of these extraordinary custom rifles.

Approximately one quarter of the receiver is covered in scroll work.  Engraving can also be found on the base of the magazine with little to none on the sides of the magazine.  There is a modest amount of scroll work at the rear of the barrel jacket.  An engraved barrel jacket head is frequently witnessed in Remington’s period advertisements, but most 8D’s will have no engraving on the barrel jacket head whatsoever.  According to Remington’s Pre-WWI catalogs, the Model 8 D, E, and F grades had “all working parts hand polished”.  

MODEL 8D

  Specifications for the 8D stock and forearm were the same as the 8C but with a higher grade of English walnut.  The checkering patterns were also a little more elaborate cut to 22 lines-per-inch.  

Click on the thumbnails below to view typical stock and forearm checkering patterns. 

MODEL 8D GRIP CHECKERING

MODEL 8D FOREARM CHECKERING

                   

                Model 8E (#5, Expert Grade)

 

  

  With each increasing grade after the “D”, the degree of scroll engraving coverage and checkering increases exponentially.  The 8E went beyond the D grade with significantly more scroll work, the addition of a game scene on the left side of the receiver, a silver nameplate inlaid in the underside of the stock, and the finest grade of English walnut with checkering cut to 22 lines-per-inch. A quick look at the magazine box will often distinguish an E grade from a D grade.  For the most part D grade magazines are almost bare, whereas the E grades have a generous amount of scroll work on the sides.  The left side of the receiver is also a giveaway, as the D is absent of a game scene.  

MODEL 8E

  Of the 15 "E" grade rifles observed during this study the following observations were made, • Only 2 rifles had engraved barrel jacket heads. • From 14 studied receiver game scenes, 10 were deer, 3 were bear, 1 was a lynx. • 9 were straight grip stocks, 6 were round knob pistol grip stocks. • 1 rifle had engraved receiver screws.   As with any high grade 8/81, checkering can vary but listed below are the 3 patterns observed during this study.    

MODEL 8E GRIP CHECKERING VARIATIONS

MODEL 8E STRAIGHT GRIP CHECKERING

Click on the thumbnail below to view a typical  forearm checkering pattern.

MODEL 8E FOREARM CHECKERING

Below is the most unique 8E seen during this study.  Not only does it have more scroll coverage than most 8E's, it also has a forearm checkering pattern consistent with 8F's.  Another testament to Remington's willingness to go above and beyond for a special customer.

A VERY ORNATE MODEL 8E

             

               

 

Model 8F (#6, Premier Grade)

 

 

 

  The “F” grade represents the finest craftsmanship Remington had to offer.  These were the most ornately decorated Model 8's money could buy.  Without a doubt many, many hours of labor were involved creating these works of art and each rifle is distinctively different. Factory specifications for the Premier grade read,  

 “stock and fore-arm of the finest Circassian walnut inlaid with gold name plate and finished with delicate but elaborate checkering.  The engraving on this rifle is equal to that on the ‘Premier’ grade Auto shotgun (A5), and is all that could be desired by the most exacting sportsman.  Owner’s initials engraved on name plate if so desired.” 

These rifles included a game scene on each side of the receiver and on top of the receiver an animal motif surrounded by scroll engraving.  Apart from a small area on the magazine, there is nearly 100% coverage of scroll work on these rifles.  The diamond-shaped hand cut checkering is an astounding 24 lines-per-inch and most often is found with a rounded pattern on the forearms.  According to the 1936 price list, when Model 8 production ceased, one 8F could purchase five 8A's and over 600 rounds of factory ammunition!  

A GORGEOUS MODEL 8F

    As was customary of Remington, rifles could be ordered just about any way your wallet could handle.  Stock dimensions could be made to order and a couple rifles have been observed with factory gold inlay.  The majority of 8F's were manufactured before WWI.  

Click on the thumbnails below to view typical stock and forearm checkering patterns.

MODEL 8F GRIP CHECKERING

 

MODEL 8F FOREARM CHECKERING

    The "F" grade below is one of the more embellished Model 8's known.  It's complete with factory gold inlay, a gold plated trigger, and  remarkable checkering patterns on both the stock and forearm.  Even the stock "cheeks" are checkered.  Caliber is 25-35REM (25 Remington).  

AN INCREDIBLE MODEL 8F

                   

                   --------------------THE MODEL 81--------------------

             Model 81A (Standard Grade)

 

  The Model 81 was basically a facelifted Model 8.  Most  internal components are interchangeable with late production Model 8's.   The Model 81A had a stock and forearm of plain American walnut and a plain receiver.  Like the Model 8A, the Standard grade Model 81 could be ordered with optional checkering but this was seldom.  The majority of checkering seen today is not factory.  

MODEL 81A - FEB. 1945

  The Model 81 was manufactured with two different forearms.  The first 5 years of production found the Model 81 stocked with the "semi-beavertail" style which was far wider and longer than the Model 8's.  In mid-late 1940 the "semi-beavertail" forearm was dropped in favor of the new "flat-side" style.  The "flat-side" is shorter and more narrow than its predecessor.  Factory paperwork tell us that the reason behind the forearm change was a decrease in labor cost going to the "flat-side" style.  

MODEL 81 FOREARM STYLES

                     

        Model 81C and 81B (Special Grade)

EARLY PRODUCTION MODEL 81C

LATE PRODUCTION MODEL 81B

  The 81C was only available for the first 4 years of Model 81 production and being that it had a shorter production run, is far more scarce than the 81B.  The specifications were the same as the 8C; a hand checkered stock and forearm of English walnut.  The receivers are marked “81-C”.  Most of these 81’s will have the earlier semi-beavertail forearm.  What’s unusual about them is that Remington decided to cut the 81C stock with wrist “cheeks”, possibly as a cosmetic throwback to the Pre-WWI Model 8 days. During the onset of WWII, Remington must have had difficulty acquiring English walnut from Europe because by 1940 the Model 81C was redubbed the Model 81B.  This change meant the Special Grade was now delivered with a 20 lines-per-inch hand checkered stock and forearm of select American walnut, the new “flat-side” forearm, and a stock without wrist “cheeks”.  In addition, Remington began marking the left side of the receiver “81-B”.  Because these rifles were built to order; Remington did not use any special receivers.  The “B” marking was hand stamped so it will be a different point size than the receiver’s roll stampings.  It may be slightly crooked, it may look out of place, but that’s just the way they were done.   On average the 81C and 81B cost 12.5% more than an "A" grade. * The changes between the Model 81C and the Model 81B were transitional.  The 81C was phased out around the 7500-8500 serial number range.  Model 81B #89XX has a stock with cheeks and a semi-beavertail forearm.  Another Model 81B #103XX has a stock with cheeks, optional pistol grip cap, and the later flatside forearm.  Most all other 81B’s have stocks without cheeks and flatside forearms. Just like the Model 8C, the 81C may have a “C” or a “3” hand stamped on the inside of the forearm and stock.  The earlier 81C's had checkering that was squared at the base of the pistol grip; later rifles had the curved pattern most often seen in the 81B's.  Some 81B's have been seen with this squared style grip panel.      

REMINGTON MODEL 81C

 

MODEL 81C MARKING

 

MODEL 81C GRIP CHECKERING VARIATIONS

           

REMINGTON MODEL 81B

MODEL 81B MARKING

 

About 1/3rd of the 81B's studied did not have a border around the bottom portion of the grip checkering, only on the top and sides.  The rifle below is bordered around the entire grip panel.

   

MODEL 81B GRIP PATTERN (MOST COMMON)

   

MODEL 81B FOREARM PATTERN (MOST COMMON)

VARIATIONS FROM THE NORM

One 81B, with a repair code from Aug. 1953, has the “-B” stamped beside the serial number instead of beside the model marking.  One collector believes the rifle may have been shipped as an A grade and during the trip back to Remington was upgraded with better wood and subsequently “B” stamped in a different location.  Interestingly the repair code is 3 years after Remington ended the Model 81.  The lines per inch on the forearm and stock do not match but are of the period pattern.  The forearm’s interior is marked with a “3”.  

UNUSUAL MODEL 81B MARKING

    Another Model 81B, manufactured in 1946 has an unusual forearm checkering pattern.  The stock checkering panel is of the earlier 81C style squared by the pistol grip which is consistent with Remington's work.  More than one 81B like this has been reported.  

MODEL 81B WITH UNUSUAL FOREARM PATTERN

                 

              

               Model 81D (Peerless Grade)

The Model 81D is almost a direct carry over from the Model 8D.  It has comparable hand scroll engraving and select English walnut (American walnut for post 1940 rifles).  The hand checkering of the 81D is more elaborate than the 81C or B and was cut to 22 lines-per-inch.  The receivers of these rifles were pulled from production before roll markings were applies, hence the Model 81D’s receiver lacks any of the standard trademark, model, or serial number markings.  The serial number can be found on the bottom of the receiver just ahead of the magazine box.  The serial number was also inscribed on the bottom tang of the trigger plate.   According to an article by Gene Myszkowski, published in the 4th quarter 2008 Remington Society Journal (RSA), there are 10 recorded 81D’s in private collections.  Remington engraver Robert "Bob" Runge (employed 1937-1979) worked on an assortment of Remington models and noted that it took an average of 10 hours to do the engraving alone on a "D" grade.    

MODEL 81D

  The 81D’s stock was cut with cheeks at the wrist (very similar to Pre-WWI Model 8’s) and was equipped with a black pistol grip cap.  The 81D can be found with semi-beavertail or flatside forearms.  A number of internal components were hand polished just like the higher grade Model 8’s.  

Click on the thumbnails below to view typical stock and forearm checkering patterns.

MODEL 81D GRIP CHECKERING

 

MODEL 81D FOREARM CHECKERING

                     

    Model 81E (Expert Grade)

MODEL 81E - 1938 REMINGTON CATALOG

  A advertisement from a 1938 Remington catalog above shows the "Expert" Grade of the Model 81.  The 81E pictured above is not a photograph but a lithograph.  The original painting or drawing was likely made from an actual rifle. After many years of research, only one example of an 81E has been documented by TheGreatModel8.net.  Serial number 325xx was sold in the summer of 2015 by Rock Island Auction. MOB609-Z-CU1-L   Factory specifications are:  

-    A stock and forearm of the finest English walnut (American walnut for post 1940 rifles) hand checkered to 24 lines-per-inch. 

-    More elaborate scroll engraving with the addition of a game scene on the left side of the receiver and a silver name plate inlaid in the bottom of the stock.

Inspection of any assumed 81E should include a serial number on the bottom side of the receiver and tang, checkering/engraving consistent with Remington’s work and possibly a “5” stamped inside the forearm and stock.  In 1950 as the Model 81's production ceased, as did the "E" grade option from all current production Remington firearms.  Only the "D" and "F" grades would be available from then on.                      

                 Model 81F (Premier Grade)

The Model 81F is one of the rarest versions of all Model 8’s or 81’s.  Finding an 8F is hard enough, but finding an 81F is nearly impossible.  According to the Remington Society, only three 81F serial numbers have been recorded among collectors today.  Remington engraver Robert "Bob" Runge estimated that it took an average of 40 hours do to the engraving alone on an "F" grade.  In 1941 the price of one 81F could purchase 4 Model 81A's, 7 boxes of ammunition, and change to spare! With the rising costs of production and the waning interest in long recoil rifles, the Model 81F truly represents the end of an era. Factory specifications include: -    A stock and forearm of Circassian walnut (American walnut for post-1940 rifles) hand checkered to 24 lines-per-inch.  -    More elaborate scroll engraving with a game scene on each side of the receiver, an animal motif on the top of the receiver, and a gold name plate inlaid in the bottom of the stock.     Of the two examples pictured below the following observations were made,   • One rifle has cheeks at the wrist of the stock the other does not. • One rifle is marked “GRADE F” above the serial number, the other just has the serial number. • They both have different checkering patterns on the stocks and forearms. • One rifle’s barrel assembly is not engraved but it is still serial numbered to the gun. • One rifle’s stock has an inlayed name plate, the other does not. • The rifles are about 4 thousand serial numbers apart.  

ONE OF THREE KNOWN MODEL 81F'S

SCOPED MODEL 81F

   

VARIATIONS IN MODEL 81F GRIP CHECKERING

             

Final Points: Remington Custom Work

 

During the Model 8 & 81’s production, Remington would make a stock to just about any specification the customer wanted.  This included changes in length, drop, or even added cheek pieces.  Pictured below are two examples of such work with stocks serial numbered to each rifle.  As previously stated, a careful examination is necessary when considering any high grade Model 8 or 81.  These rifles are uncommon, as they were made for someone specific the chances that they were not altered by a subsequent owner over the decades is slim.

MODEL 81B WITH FACTORY LENGHTENED STOCK AND STEEP DROP

 

MODEL 81D WITH FACTORY LENGTHENED STOCK

   

The Great Model 8 would like to to thank Corey Creamer for sharing his incredible knowledge of the Model 8 with us and for his many photographic contributions.

Thank you also Jack Ahlberg and Tom Ramsey for helping us put this together with photographs and information.  It would not have been possible without all your help, thank y'all sincerely!

For questions or comments please contact Cam Woodall @ cat9x@hotmail.com