Typical hunting rifles can be good shooters too. Take for instance my friend Jim McBride, who has been hunting for approximately 55+ years. He owns a Model 70 Winchester that was built and purchased in 1949 by his father. It is chambered in .270 and shoots .25 MOA at 100 yards with factory Winchester ammunition. However, when he first showed me his rifle, it didn’t shoot that well, with 2”+ being the normal group size. To make a long story short, I told him that his scope was bad and to replace it with a Night Force. He felt that the Night Force was a little more than he wanted to spend, and so he purchased a scope made by IOR Valdada that had a Miliradian “MP8” reticle in it. Once installed on his model 70, his groups tightened up to approximately -˝ inch at 100 yards. Jim was ecstatic, and we then took it on an antelope hunt where he did indeed shoot one at about 260 yards. This year he shot one at 387 yards, resting the rifle on top of a Stony Point shooting stick. He has developed an interest in long range hunting and now utilizes NF Ballistic Targeting Software and some other technical tools. Jim is also proof that you really can teach an old dog new tricks.
Jim McBride with his "handed down" 1949 Winchester Mod 70
These distances may appear to be long shots, and to most hunters they are. Although once the hunter has his rifle dialed in, and owns professional equipment, it is only a matter of time before their confidence and skill level rises. With the realization that math is math, and science is science, their shots (your shots) will be made at longer distances.
Jim shot this antelope at 387 yards.
His Winchester Model 70 is a good example of an off the shelf shooter, that shoots. However, most off the shelf rifles do not have the technical specifications that lend them to shoot well. Most do not have bedded actions, or stress relieved well made barrels, or lighter, crisp triggers. Barring certain rifle manufacturers, these types of rifles are for the hunter that will not shoot further than 200 – 300 yards. However, to the new generation of hunters, those who have incorporated Pocket PC’s loaded with Night Force Ballistic Targeting Software onto them, Kestrel hand held pocket weather stations and laser range finders, the need for a professional, “Custom” built rifle has become an object of strong desire.
Custom built rifles are something to look at very carefully. This is because there are many gunsmiths who are merely parts assemblers who claim to be rifle makers.
So, when it came time for me to purchase a “hunting rifle,” I wanted it to be a “Custom.” Not one with fancy engraving or gold inlay, but a rifle that would fill the bill of being able to take punishment and that was also typically tactical. Hence I approached a gun smith, and after some discussion, he told me that he knew exactly what to build me and not to worry. Four months later, my new “Tactical Hunter” arrived.
When it arrived, I was very pleased. The stock is manufactured by McMillan and is their HTG Edge model. The bottom metal and detachable five round magazine is manufactured by Badger Ordnance.
The bottom metal/trigger guard is large, and supplies ample room for any gloved finger. This trigger also happens to be a Jewel, and the action is manufactured by Phoenix Machine, located in Montana.
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