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Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

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Old 12-13-2013, 03:25 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 64
Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

First off, I want to begin by thanking everyone who makes this forum so amazing! I feel I've come so far over the past few years lurking, reading and learning from all the various threads and reviews. Thanks.

First thing I need help with is figuring out what rifle will suit my needs the best. I will be hunting game the size of coyote up to elk (moose if my name ever gets drawn) and everything in between. I hunt the high country where an 8 mile hike in is the norm and 12-15 miles isn't unheard of. My longest shot to date was measured out to 500 strides on a mule deer. I've been practicing out to 700 yards recently and can consistently put 5 rounds on a 6'' target. My current hunting rifle tips the scales at just under 12 lbs and it's a 308, but I want something bigger with a longer reach.

Originally I planned on building a Savage in some sort of WSM variation, but I get a great deal on factory rifles through my job and figured it'd make sense to take advantage of this opportunity rather than spend a bunch of time and money putting together a semi-custom Savage.

Some of the rifles I'm looking at:
Remington m700 Sendero (heavy for a back packing rifle)
Winchester m70 Extreme Weather SS
Browning A Bolt II LRH (another heavy one)
Winchester m70 Coyote Light
Browning A Bolt Stainless Stalker
Remington m700 CDL SF

I'm also trying to decide whether or not I want a short mag or regular mag rifle. Currently I'm leaning towards a 300WSM, but am also considering a 7mm Rem Mag.

Lastly, at least for now, I need to pick a scope. The two I've got my eye on are Leupold VXRs:
30mm 2-7x33 1/10mil adj
30mm 3-9x40 1/10mil adj.
They weigh in under 1 pound each and the reviews look pretty good. For a hunting rifle, I believe this variable zoom is perfect for the distance I plan to be shooting: >800yards. I also like the illuminated reticle the VXRs come with. Any other lightweight options would be greatly appreciated, I'm just not sure where to look. I'm trying to keep it right at 16 oz if possible and want at least a max magnification of 7. I prefer a 30mm tube and don't want an the objective diameter over 40mm, so I'm able to keep it mounted as low as possible.

Please feel free to rip these choices apart or sing their praises. I want to hear the good, bad and ugly on each of them if you've fired, hunted or looked through them.

Last edited by wilkup; 12-13-2013 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:15 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 168
Re: Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

Take a look at the Tika T3 Light models. Read the reviews as well, as they are highly regarded. These are on my radar for a pack rifle.
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:04 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 33
Re: Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

I have had A-Bolts, CDLs and Senderos and have been able to get great accuracy out of all oft hem. The Sendero was a 7STW and it shot everything great, the others took a little more work. As far as cartridges go, I prefer milder rounds in lighter guns, and like a heavier gun, Sendero type, for larger 7mms and up. I had an A-bolt in .270WSM and loved it, I thought that as a perfect match for weight, recoil and cartridge.
As far as scopes, I like a higher magnification than your asking for, but the Nightforce 2.5x10 is a great option and I love my Swarovski Z5. I think they both have better glass than Leupold, just my opinion.
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:45 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: az
Posts: 2,155
Re: Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

Long range rifles need to be a little bit heavy. a sendero in either 7mm rem, or 7mmrsaum if you can find one. by getting a 1" -6.5-20 leup or 4.5-14, and light weight ringsand bases you can have a goog long range rifle with out being real heavy. the rifle is only 1 pound heavier than regular sporter weight rifles.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:17 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: California Central Cost
Posts: 419
Re: Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

There is no best except the one that works for you 'best'.

IMO: chambering and caliber are the first to decide.

Clearly you parameters indicate 7mm and up with high BC hunting bullets.

WSM, Dakota and RUM if you favor non-belted like me.

The belted in this class are all in your favor. 7RM, 300WM and Weatherby Mags.

IMO up to 700 yards, belted and WSM, beyond that Dakota and RUMs would be my choice with the exception of the 300WM included with the longer reach.

If you want to purchase loaded ammo: 300WSM, 300WM or 300RUM is the way to go.

I recommend including Weatherby in there.

Pick the rifle that turns you on.

Try for a spec weight of 8lb or less. Plus scope of 18oz, bases, rings and sling should bring you in around 9.5lb. More money, less weight.

If it were me for $1000 or less Wby Vanguard in 300WSM. Oh, yeah I'd did that. Over $1000, Wby Mark V in 300WM rechamber to RUM.
Fred Seaman
“Ask, Listen, Learn, Grow”
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:44 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 10
Re: Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

I was in the same boat a few years ago. I bought a Kimber Montana in 300 WM and I couldn't be happier. The first load that I worked up with 180 gr. Nosler Accubonds print into nice little clover leaf shaped groups that average between .5 and .75" shooting off of bags. This is at 100 yards.
I did adjust the factory trigger to a comfortable pull weight before shooting it. Mine has a very nice crisp trigger.
The rifle will kick you like a rented mule, but its a compromise. You're going to have that with any light weight rifle in a caliber that is suited for Elk or Moose. My thoughts on that were that in reality I would spend 99% of the time carrying the rifle and maybe 1% or less actually firing it.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:55 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: West lawn Pa
Posts: 99
Re: Best non-custom rifle setup for long range high country big game hunts?

Tikka T3, no question. I have one in .270wsm. shoots .434 at 100, 2 inch at 400.
It is THE MOST ACCURATE, SMOOTHEST factory action I have ever shot. It is only $499 to boot. My T3 lite weighs in at about 10 lbs, WITH a Vortex 6-24x50 on top.
You will not find a better rifle for the money anywhere. Oh, the trigger is sweet! No travel , crisp and adjustable. have mine at about 2 lbs. Will be getting 2 more, chambered in 7mm-08 for my wife and her daughter.
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