Thanks to all for the input.
After looking a little more into plan B - selling the existing guns and getting into something new such as a Tikka3 7RM LSS - I decided to see if I can't make by current 300WM a shooter.
Visited a well recommended local smith today and the first steps will be a Shrewd muzzle brake
and a Timney trigger. Will see how the existing barrell shoots and then make the call on a new barrel, and then a replacement stock.
Next immediate need is new glass. I've looked over quite a few of the previous threads on $500-$700 scopes, and as of now I'm leaning towards a SWFA SS 3x9-42 or a Vortex 2.5-10x44 Viper PST (MOA/MOA), with the SWFA 3-15x42 as a third option. I like the Viper reticles and I'm inclined to go MOA/MOA vs. MIL/MIL as it seems a little more intuitive to me. However, for another $100 I do like the idea of being able to zoom to 15x in a 42mm objective with SWFA 3-15x. I'd go with the Viper 4-16x, but have no interest in a 50mm bell on a hunting rig. Any thoughts or other suggestions on other brands that might be of comparable quality and price in a FFP scope within that price and zoom range?
@ Luke - Hells Canyon hell hole is right. The good thing is we WILL be hunting from the bottom (Snake River) up, so we should be into elk, below the snow line and packing downhill.