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Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

 
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Old 08-03-2009, 01:37 AM
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Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

I am somewhat the resident reloader and kitchen gunsmith for my shooting and hunting friends and live within close proximity to a rifle range where I can shoot from 50 to 1000yds. Whenever one of my buddies gets a new rifle or scope etc they drop the rifle off with me for scope mounting, trigger adjustment, custom load development and sometimes glass bedding.

I really enjoy this and it has given me the opportunity to shoot and test alot of rifles from the $400 budget rig to some nice customs. Over the years I have got to experiment with and shoot alot of different rifles for free.

One observation that I have made is some of these budget rifles, fed quaility ammo, given a decent scope and mounts, will flatout shoot. I feel the off the shelf rifle today that won't produce moa groups or better with quality handloads is the exception. Several that I have shot over the last couple years are capable of much more. A few noteworthy examples:

-Weatherby Vanguard 300WSM $399. This rifle came with a factory 3 shot group right at 3/8 inch. First group at the range with factory Winchester Supreme 150 ballistic tips, it shot a 3/8 in group. With tuned handloads it shot some groups in the .2's

-Savage 110 300 RUM approx $465. From a cold bore this monster would consistently put the first two rounds touching and the third less than 1/2 inch from the first two.

-Remington SPS .204 ruger $439. With tuned handloads, a 1/2 inch group from this rifle is a bad day on the range. It shot itty bitty groups.

-Remington 710 30-06 aprox $350. This one was a real sleeper! Adjusted the trigger to 2.5lbs and this Wal-Mart special shot one hole groups with factory Remington core lok ammo. With handloads it just shot smaller holes. I jokingly offered the owner $500 for it and he just smiled at his rifle and said it was the best money he ever spent.

-Howa 1500 7mmRM approx $399. Handloaded some Hornady 162SST'S, took it to the range and the first three rounds went sub 1/2 inch. Done! Loaded up a batch for the owner and said have a nice day.

I'm sure other fellow shooters and hunters have had spectacular results with budget rifles. My point is that if you are sniffing around this web site dreaming of having a rig capable of long range accuracy you don't have to break the bank to get started having some fun at the range or in the hunting fields. Heck, you probably have a rifle in the closet or gun safe right now that is perfectly capable of some fine long range accuracy.

A few helpful tips-

Invest in a decent scope with reliable target turrents. On these sporter weight rifles an 8x24x50mm scope looks stupid and is not needed for accurate shot placement to 1000 yds. A one inch tube, 40mm objective, in anything from 9x-14x will get the job done just fine.

When shooting an off the shelf rifle do not over heat the barrel. If you get alot of heat in the barrel, your groups will generally open up. Most off the shelf rifle barrels are not stress relieved and when they get too hot the pent up stress in the barrel will have you throwing bullets all over the place. Each rifle is different, some are more sensitive to heat than others.

Some of these rifles have decent triggers and most all of them are adjustable. If you are a little mechanically inclined and have a set of instructions, it is not rocket science to safely adjust your trigger pull. If you are not comfortable adjusting your trigger, it is cheap to have it done by a smith. I don't care who you are, it can be difficult to assess the true acurracy of a rifle with a 6lb trigger pull.

You can have good success with factory ammo, but it is expensive. Handloading is a huge advantage and will pay more dividends in accuracy and costs in the long run. With properly prepped brass, quality components, and some experimention with different loads, you can generally cut your group size in half. Bullets such as Hornady A-max and SST, Sierra match king and game king, Nosler ballistic tip and accubond, are all capable of guilt edge long range accuracy with out a lot of fuss. The Berger's are awesome, but sometimes they can require alot of tuning to shoot good in a given rifle.

In closing, beware of that humble old man at the range with the Remington 710 shooting one hole groups with Remington Cor loks. He has sent more than one custom rifle shooter strait from the range to the psychiatrist.
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:03 AM
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Re: Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

Agree, 100%
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:30 AM
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Re: Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

Nice post Big Mo. I agree 100% with what you have said. I know that I have turned my 1.5" mod 7 into a .5" gun with hand loads and taking the time to adjust the trigger and bed the stock. My factory Savages shoot lights out daily and they just have quality optics on them. I would also stress buying good rings and base.

Thanks Mo,
Tank
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Old 08-03-2009, 01:43 PM
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Re: Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

Agree, I love my savages. I use EGW bases, leupold or badger rings, and Nikon or better glass then its look out $2,000 + customs.
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:59 PM
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Re: Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

I agree 110% I'm not exactly wealthy so even semi customs are kinda a long wish list away.

I also love to work up loads for different rifles and over the years friends and family have figured out that if I cant make it shoot with a trigger job and handloads, then something is wrong. I've also got to play with a lot of rifles over the years for free, but they've been mostly all factory rifles. A lot of Rems and Rugers with a few Winchester and Savage thrown in the mix as well.

I say that a good factory rifle, with a trigger job and handloads, with good scope/base/rings at the minimum should do 1" 3 shot at 100 yards. I typically look for 3/4" or better from my personal rifles and really strive for 1/2". All the factory sporters in my room right now will do 1/2" with there preferred loads. I"ve made 1 shot LR kills on deer and elk out to 915 yards with my tuned up factory sporters. I also have access to shoot to as far as I want 10 minutes from my house. Nothing replaces practice.

I've never had a problem getting any Rem, Ruger, or Winchester to do 1" at 100 yards. The only factory rifle I couldn't get to shoot worth a darn was (2) identical savage 270 WSMS my dad and I both bought. I think we got the only 2 lemons they produced that year.

I've only got to play with three customs/semi customs so far and 2 of them have been awesome for accuracy so far. The other one I'm in the process right now, but I know it will be a shooter.

I think a custom rifle will generally just shoot a wide variety of loads better and do it a little more consistently.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:54 AM
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Re: Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

Thanks for the backup fella's!

There you have it new shooters. You have no excuses or cash flow road blocks stopping you from punching that first 500, 700, 800, 900, and 1000 yard target. Give old betsy a tuneup or start shopping for a nice Remington SPS, Savage, Weatherby Vangard etc and get to launching some lead way down range. It will put a smile on your face everytime.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:44 AM
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Re: Beware the budget rifle that can smoke you on the range

I applaud you for the most sensible post I have read in along time. I myself have been saying this for along time and my own rifle pictured in the 'gun photos' section as 'factory factory factory' was definitely a satisfying low buck off the shelf project. COngrats on your post. Beware of the old guys !!!
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