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Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

 
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  #1  
Old 03-26-2011, 08:05 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Booneville, Ar
Posts: 290
Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

I am new to the idea of long range hunting. So new that my first one (a project rifle)is in the shop being built.
However I am in no way new to hunting or equipment involved. I have been a life long trapper, grew up running coon hounds in Oklahoma, Ran cat and lion hounds in western Washington for 11years during the late 80's and early 90's and have been an avid predator hunter for the last 14 years.
The one thing that I have learned is do it right the first time regardless of price. There is no telling how many hours, THOUSANDS of dollars, THOUSANDS of truck miles, aggravation and the emotional strain of being in a constant state of pissed off that sorry equipment, marginal equipment or equipment that works most of the time has cost me.
I have never regretted buying the best hunting equipment that I could afford. It has always saved me money in the long run and because I have dealt mostly in furbearing animals in the past has paid for itself time and again.
I could go into a long rant about certain product makers that I wish I had known about and dealt with years ago and even more I had not dealt with at all.
I am not wealthy however, I will spend good money to purchase products that will ABSOLOUTLY WORK THE FIRST TIME EVERY TIME!!!
As a new member to the community of long range enthusiasts I ask that you would please give your advice on the best equipment I can purchase that will PREFORM FLAWLESSLY IN THE FIELD, THE FIRST TIME, EVERYTIME. I am not a range bum 99% of my shooting is in the field and I literally hunt 3-4 days a week from October thru February and would no sooner deal with a piece of equipment that is 99% reliable than I would a wife that is 99% faithful. Please give your thoughts on rifles, actions, scopes, range finders, ammunition ( am looking into reloading but not as of yet) and anything else yal would recommend I.E. Abolute tack driving rifles with consistant p.o.i., range finders that will give a accurate and dependable reading everytime, ammunition that has consistant loading that has dependable and repeatable poi and energy each and every time, scopes that don't change their poa dependening on the magnification setting, etc...
I appreciate yal taking the time to read this and give your advice as it is all important to me to do this right the first time around. Thank's, Brad

Last edited by RangerBrad; 03-26-2011 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 03-26-2011, 08:28 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: McLean, Virginia
Posts: 983
Re: Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

Rifles, actions, and ammunition are very specific to the application. Need some
more detail here; hunting style, distances, round count per year (or how often you plan on rebarreling), do you have other rifles available for practice? Ammunition depends on game type, distance, and desired effect (minimum pelt damage, expansion at long range OR expansion at close range, cut em in half, etc...)

Scopes: the main one for work every time will be Nightforce NXS. If you want a scope you can really trust no matter what, your going to drop $1800 for it. Up fom there I would say schmidt & bender and US Optics. I would stay away from March for field use because of the warrenty (only 5years).

Rangefinder: Swarovski is really the only option really, leica is decent. Unless you want to spend 3x more +. Then a Vectronix.

Rifles: Best bet (IMHO) for a factory rig would be a higher end savage. Then get it
Bedded and recrowned and call it a day. As far as customs, I have only handled work from 3 smiths, Kevin Cram at montour county rifles (PA), Jeff Walker at walker custom rifles, and David Tooley at tooley custom rifles. A rifle from any three will more than get the job done! Tooley's rifle was a gift to me so I have never worked with him, but I have shot groundhogs with Kevin cram and drooled over rifles he's built numerous times. He's a good guy and a damn fine smith, and and a forum sponsor to boot! All my customs have been by Jeff Walker, I am extremely happy with his work and couldn't ask for a better smith or more accurate rifles. Set a LR F-class national record with a rifle he built me last year, and have 2 in progress right now.

Hope this helped!
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  #3  
Old 03-26-2011, 08:54 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Searcy, Arkansas
Posts: 700
Re: Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

RangerBrad,

I am with you on buying the best hunting equipment one can afford...... Buying the best always pays off in the long run, both in terms of cost and more importantly function.

Like you, I am not a bench rest or match shooter..... just a hunter that likes to reach waaaaay out there.

Everyone has an opinion, and you have asked an opinion type question. So here is mine.

Go with a 338 caliber, RUM, Lapua, 338-378, or one of the "improved" versions of those such as the 338 Edge, Lapua improved, 338 Khan, etc. With the the 338 you get to shoot big heavy bullets with great BCs. Lots of downrange energy at very long ranges for larger critters.

Rifle; Get a custom rifle built by a reputable smith or company. There are several on this site. I have personal experience with Kirby Allen (Allen Precision Shooting) and Shawn Carlock (Defensive Edge), both build great rifles and I would highly recommend either. (keep an eye on the items for sale threads, occasionally one of their rifles come up for sale) There are other good smiths out there, but those are the ones I have personal experience with. Why a custom? You know starting out you have a rifle capable of 1/2 moa accuracy or better (usually better with those guys). With a factory rifle you can get a good one, or chase your tail trying to get it to shoot...... back to your idea of "buy the best". Rem 700 actions are great, or any number of custom actions, I have experience with Nesika, BAT and accurized rem 700's, talk to the smith about those.

Optics. I am a Night Force fan. A 5.5-22X50 NXS is hard to beat. Use a Badger or NF 20 moa rail and NF or Leupold MK4 rings to mount it up. Install a scope level (I like the clamp on the scope tube one from US Optics) and an angle co-sine indicator.

You will also need a spotting scope, I have owned both Swarovski and Zeiss scopes, both are great. There are other good ones out there, I just don't have any field experience with them.

The Swarovski rangefinder is the best there is in consumer grade equipment, so unless you want to spend $5,000 for a Vectronix the swaro is it.

I don't have much to say on factory ammunition. If you are going to shoot at long range (to me that is 500 to 1500 yards) you NEED to handload. There is some pretty good premium ammunition out there, but you will go broke shooting it and you will be unable to chose what bullet you want to shoot or fine tune a load. On top of that, what happens when you spend all that time and ammo getting a dialed in, and next season they quit making that specific load???

None of the stuff I have recommended is cheap (or inexpensive), but it is stuff I have experience with and will "ABSOLUTLY WORK THE FIRST TIME EVERY TIME!!!"
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Old 03-26-2011, 10:44 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Booneville, Ar
Posts: 290
Re: Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

Thank you gentlemen, That is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I was also considering the Night Force NXS. As for the swaro range finder what makes it more accurate and dependable than the leica? I know the g7 range finder is not out yet but I have a few months to find out if they are all their supposed to be. If they are , I would think they would be the cats meow for long range hunting. I also have access to a Leica and lepold rf till I decide. As for rifles I am having one built now (25-06) by Don Mongold of Bullseye Precision Tools of Fort Smith Ar. Who has built several sniper rifles and long range rifles for government hunters in Africa. He assures me this rifle will be well inside 1/2" at 100yds. Probably next year will purchase a custom in stock or build rifle in 300 win mag or greater.
I will be using the 25-06 this year for large game and moving onto the larger round the next year and return the 25-06 to it's task of killing yotes and such.
My hunting style will vary greatly. Deer season in Arkansas, I'll be hiking and glassing bug kill areas on opposing mountains. Oklahoma will find me driving and glassing open ranch land with short stalks to get into position. Out west could be any combination. During march and throughout the year as the feeling comes over me I'm simply watching large fields for pigs to come out in the evenings.
The long range equipment will be used for deer and larger game(we plan on elk and have been discussing caribou) and pigs occasionally. Range on these can vary greatly but, feel shots could be held to 1200yds or less. Far less in most cases as deer can be found in the 600-700yd range commonly on the ranches near where I grew up in Oklahoma. With this in mind would a 338 be best or would the 300 win mag fit the bill? I aapreciate yals replies. This is exactly the kind of input I'm looking for. Brad
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Old 03-26-2011, 11:03 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 8,064
Re: Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

Here's my thoughts after thinking about it awhile.

Unless you're a young man with time to wait on your hands, I'd look for something already built. I thought I'd save some time, and most probably did, by purchasing components from folks on this forum. Ended up with a Kirby Allen built 375 Allen Magnum. Time to get on the build list is a large consideration.

Its way more rifle than I actually need but it sure put the craving for something bigger to rest.

If you have any inclination for a "big bore" that's up and ready to go there is a fella on here (do a search on "jedlowe" that has just the ticket. A Kirby Allen built 375 RUM. Take a peek at it.

As for the scope, do your home work. You very own personal eyes are the best judge of which glass is good for you.

For structural toughness I went with a Nightforce for the big gun mounted in two sets of rings. Get in touch with BJ Bailey at 3rd Generation Shooters Supply. (A sponsor here)

I shoot a 338 RUM REM 200 sporter as a carry gun. With 300 SMKs she's plenty for the 1200 yard mark.
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  #6  
Old 03-27-2011, 08:27 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Searcy, Arkansas
Posts: 700
Re: Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

The thing that makes the Swaro rangefinder the "best" is that it will actually range as far as it advertises. It is a 1500 yard rangefinder, and I have many times ranged rocks and cedar trees at 2000+ yards, and have ranged elk at over 1400 yards. The only problem is at the long ranges the beam width gets a little large and it is hard to range small targets (game animals) on flatter ground at long ranges. As far as I know the only solution to this is the Vectronix. I have not had a G7 in my hand, lots of great sounding hype out there about it. Will it beat the swaro?? We shall see.....

A 300 win mag will get to 1000 but not with authority IMHO. Already said I was a big fan of 338's. I would go with a Lapua or RUM.

By the way, the invite still stands to drive down to central AR and do some shooting with me on my 1200 yard range.

Rick
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Old 03-27-2011, 11:51 AM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 5,954
Re: Lessons learned. Now your advice on equipment.

The NF NXS is the way to go period. If you're planning on 1200 yds, I would recommend the 5-5-22x5 which is what I have. I could not be happier. I have slammed my full body weight on it twice now in the field and it operates perfectly.

The range finder is going to be your short straw. The Swaroand and Leica 1600 both have mixed reviews with some very happy with each and some not so happy. I have both the 1200 and 1600 Leica's and they are spotty rangers. The 1600 is better than the 1200 and it gives you angle of shot (meaning you don't have to buy and mount an angle indicator) and, temp and pressure which means you don't have to buy and carry a weather station. Short side... they work best in low light conditons such as early morning and early evening to dusk. During the day, it's tough to get 1000 yd readings from the 1600, especially on animals. If you want real reliability, then the Vectronics for $3K is your best bet. On the G7, I would sat that's a big if for right now, but if it does what is claimed, it would be great. Right now, they are only planning to put the yardage version out for sure and "maybe" the MOA version. The yardage version is useless to me, so I will wait until they or someone else puts out an MOA/Mil version.

For 1200 yd shooting, the 300 WM is just not enough. You're better off with a 338 which will deliver a big and destructive payload down range. I am planning on doing a 338 LM Imp sometime in the future.

That being said, I am getting a 300-338 Ultra made for my primary hunting. I've jumped around from 300-375 Ruger, 300 Dakota and 300-338 ULtra, and I'm settling on the later. I have given this build a lot of thought and I'm going to take advantage of every LR enhancement I can. Starting with a Brought 5C barrel which many have reported better velocity with and only about 3-4 months lead time. My primary hunting bullet will be GS HV 177's which are a driveband, bore riding monometal that produce velocities about 100 fps faster than other bullets of same weight. On top of that, they are precision turned on CNC lathes with almost zero deviation in form or weight. You just can't beat that for shot to shot consistency. They have an advertised BC of .6 plus from 3300 fps to 1600 fps and their minimum opening velocity is 1600 fps vs 1800 fps of most other bullets. I will be pushing these bullets with RL17 and based on my experiences with this powder in other rifles, should produce excellent velocities. I fully expect to see 3500-3600 fps with these bullets in this chambering, possibly more, which will increase the bullets G1 BC. One other thing I will do is to get the barrel nitrided which will greatly increase it's life and also increase velocity.

The GS 177's @ 3600 fps @ 1200 yds @ 5000' elevation will have...

2017 vel, 1600 ftlbs KE, 243"/19.4 MOA drop, 59" wind drift/10mph

Compared to the 300 Hybrid out of an EDGE @ 2850 fps...

1798 vel, 2152 ftlbs KE, 360"/28.6 MOA drop, 58" wind drift/10mph,

The 300 Hybrid has more KE but is at the end of it's minimum velocity effective range. Theoretically, the GS 177's max effective range in this scenario is 1600 yds. I used a lot of space here to emphasize using a good strategy for your LR goals.

I am going to build my rifle on a Vanguard/Howa action or Rem 700, because I have them and am doing a budget build. If there is an extended mag box available for the Howa that will hold the cartridge, I'll go with the Howa. For custom actions, my first two choices are Defiance and Borden. There a lot of good ones out there. For a 338 build, I would definitely go with a custom action and use Lapua brass (read 338 LM or LM Imp).

-Mark
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