I think this may be the most famous gun advertisement in the world. “Do or Die,” as a huge grizzly bears down on a cowboy, armed with not with a lever-action carbine, but a semi-auto rifle, the Remington Model 8.
As you might gather for “Do or Die,” the Remington Model 8 was the first mass-produced semi-automatic rifle, chambered in a round more powerful than the most popular hunting cartridge of the day, the .30-30. Said hunting guide, John Goff in numerous Remington ads for the Model 8, “It loads itself, it is solid breech hammerless, and it is big enough for the biggest game.”
Like so many other landmark guns, the Remington Model 8 came from the fertile mind of John Moses Browning. In fact, the Model 8 was something of an afterthought. Browning was working on his hugely successful Auto-5 Shotgun, when he realized the same system could be used for powerful rifle cartridges.
In 1911 the Model 8 took to the skies. Lieut. Jacob Fickel, who had pioneered shooting the Springfield 1903 bolt-action, from the flimsy bi-planes of the time, changed to a Model 8 in .25 Remington. His after action report noted that the auto-loader was the only practical gun for use under such circumstances.
The most famous use of a Remington Model 8 was not in the game fields. Rather, it was in the hands of legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, on the day when he and his men settled Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s hash, once and for all. Hamer used the Model 8 in .35 Remington, modified to use as special police-only detachable magazine, holding 15 rounds.
An updated version of the Model 8 appeared just before WWII. The Model 81, or Woodsmaster, was a Model 8 with mostly cosmetic changes. The more powerful .300 Savage round was added to the lineup as well. The Model 8 really was a powerhouse rifle. Remington created four new calibers for the new rifle: .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Remington. The only surviving cartridge from that lineup is the .35 Remington, which still offers a substantial increase in performance over the .30-30, and is considered an excellent round for deer, elk, and black bear.
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