I have been lurking around for a while, and reading lots of posts. I have a rem 700 in 7mm-08 with a wooden stock. The gun is probably 10 years old with a low round count. The accuracy with factory ammo is around 1 1/2" and it is good enough for closer range game as is. I would like to build/buy a gun I can shoot deer size game out to extended distances max would be 600-700 yards.
question 1: Should I build this gun up or buy a different gun?
question 2: If I build something off of this action should i leave it 7mm-08 or rebarrel to 308? I am not a big fan of a lot of recoil so i would like to stay away from the 300rum, 7mm mag, etc. I am not too concerned with rifle weight, and was thinking new stock, barrel, scope, bedding, trigger is good. (thinking of bushnell elite scope) Would like to get the most bang for my buck.
option 2: buy a rifle for at or less than $1200 with scope.
Well I suppose it depends on what you want to spend. Since you since you already have a rem 700 I would stick with that. If you really want to start the build off with a new action I would look at a savage. So using the 700 action I would take it to a smith and have him true the action, this is different than blueprinting, you can have it blue printed for lots more $$$ if you want. Then I would have a new recoil lug installed and a custom barrel. The 7-08 is a wonderfull round better than the 308 ballistically. Im a really big fan of the 260 Rem and would go that route but the 7-08 has wonderful ballistics and bullet availability, so you cant go wrong with either. As far as the stock goes if you dont mind spending a little more money you could pick up an HS precision for around 300 or so and they are drop in, I would have it bedded as well but its not necessary you could always shoot it and if you not happy have it bedded. I would buy a composite stock but for less $$$ you could have your wood stock bedded, if you keep the wood stock this is probably a must. An after market trigger is up to you a competent smith can adjust you trigger but with all the controversy over these trigger one could make the argument to get an aftermarket. Since the action is at the smith you could have him pin your scope mounts on for very little. Then spend the money on a quality scope with proper magnification better than 3-9. If cost is a factor I believe nikon as a monarch in 4-16 that is very adequate. So for the 1200 you talked about you could have your rifle accurized and a scope, maybe even a bipod and dies. Well thats my opinon anyway, good luck and have fun. By the way I have a bushnell elite 4200 and Im not that impressed with it, plus nikon has the online computer software so you can figure out exactely what all the dots on your reticle are for your load and at all the different zoom levels.
I would use a BERGARA drop in bbl and do it myself in .308. I've built 4 rifles for myself using BERGARA, and all are bug hole shooters, and I've sold several to others with the same results (accurate!) The stock remington trigger is fine for a hunting trigger with proper adjustment, stock is up to your preference.
Your current caliber is capable of what you want to accomplish. With some hand loading or experimenting with different factory loads, you may be able to get the accuracy level higher. For 600 yards, I would want to be able to shoot a 1 MOA group from a prone field rest as a benchmark. That gives you a decent chance at 9" (1.5 MOA) group at 600 when you figure in imperfect wind calls and some nerves when hunting.
Your 700 is a great platform to build on and you can free float the barrel, bed the action, or upgrade the trigger on your own or at a reasonable cost at a gunsmith.
You may find there's quite a bit of accuracy waiting to be found in your current rifle. You will also learn quite a bit as you work on it.
If you do start swapping major parts, you have many great calibers to choose from on a short action with that bolt face.
I agree with all current suggestions. Rebarrel to a 24 or 26" 7mm-08 with a 1:9 twist. Start using 162 A-max, 160 Accubond, 175 SGK, and 168 Berger make great bullet choices. If your not a reloader, take some of your build money and buy a starter set. This will increase your ability to shoot more accurately and in the long run make shooting more affordable. So those are my suggestions. A new stock will go a long way and re-using the current action is very affordable. Sticking with what you know eliminates some of the learning curve.
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Kind of a dumb thought while reading your post. The 7MM-08 is a good cartridge. Sounds like you would like to have a .308 win which is not a heavy recoiling cartridge at all unless your putting it into a very very light rifle. Why not spend the money to buy a Rem 700 VSSFII in .308 Win and build on it. Or a 700 SPS SS 700 in the same caliber. I seen one of those on sale for $509 yesterday and that was brand new.
Shooting long range with either of them is not that hard as they both shoot very well and then get some real good optics and put on it. Probably won't cost as much as a custom build in the end and you end up with two rifles rather than one.