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Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

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Unread 05-05-2011, 02:22 AM
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Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 11
Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

Hello, new member here with an idea I’d like everyone’s input on. If you would like, you can read my new member introduction here: New from Oregon

To start, my expectations and intended uses for this rifle. I am mostly a coyote hunter, and am in an entry level position that will hopefully get me into full time permanent employment with my agency (Wildlife Services, a federal agency that deals with animal damage control) in a mostly coyote control oriented county. I already have an excellent .223 which covers the short calling ranges well, out to 400 yards or so. I want to put something together for the occasional times when a longer shot is appropriate (mostly “drive-by’s” or when I can glass fields for coyotes. My idea here is 400-700 yards.). So this will be an all business, “working” rifle. However, I do have a few rifle big game hunts on the bucket list for the next few years if the controlled hunt gods smile on me (though I’m mostly a bow hunter), and I want this rifle to double down well for those as well at similar ranges. Those hunts will be for Mule Deer, possibly Antelope, and hopefully eventually a Sheep hunt. I’m a western open country hunter (think Eastern Oregon and Nevada), so long walks/stalks over some fairly rough terrain are the norm. So weight is pretty important, this won’t be just a truck gun. If I can keep the weight down enough, this will be the “work” calling rifle for coyotes as well, since pelt damage isn’t a concern with ADC work. If I can use this rifle for everything it’ll be impossible to not be super familiar with its capabilities when crunch time comes on a big buck, ram, or bad killer coyote...the "Beware the one rifle man" concept.

These uses present a challenge to put together a good rifle that will work well for all of them, and I’m not sure I can get everything I want out of it. But I’ll present my basic idea and you all can shoot holes in it for me so I can adjust fire

First of course is caliber choice. While I’m not recoil sensitive in a girly way, I’ve mostly shot the .22 and .24 center fires. I don’t particularly care for more recoil in a standard weight rifle than my .308 Model 70. Since I want as light a rifle as I can pack the required features/accuracy into, I can’t go with the 7mm which would be one of my first choices for a longer range cartridge. I don’t always have the ability to handload (seasonal employment living conditions in this field means a travel trailer) so I want a caliber that good factory ammunition can be ordered in if I have to (which nixes the .257 Weatherby Mag. or the many wildcat’s and oddballs that would be appropriate). So right now I’m leaning towards…the .25-06 Remington. I like what I’ve seen of Berger Bullets, and as of now anyway they offer in quarterbore a 115 grain hunting bullet that I think would work well for my big game hunting needs. And there are several reputable factory loads with a 115 Nosler Partition and similar bullets if I can’t get the handloading done or if the rifle doesn’t like the Bergers. As far as the coyote side, with the high velocities possible with the various 85 grainers I think the .25-06 will be great since I don’t have to worry about pelt damage.

Next, the rifle itself. With my job (basically a paid hunter and trapper), the powers that be know it isn’t neccessary to pay us a ton to keep guys grinning doing something we do for fun on our own time. So at this point I can’t afford a full blown custom rifle, nor am I sure I would want one for work…it will be used daily with the accompanying wear and tear. So the first choice would be an accurized factory rifle. The problem: The .25-06 is at its best with 24 or more inches of barrel to work with, and the light factory rifles that I can find seem to end at 22. Not such a big deal for typical sportsman use so I totally understand the manufacturer’s choice on this. But I’m not a typical sportsman, and want the extra benefits that come with that longer barrel…unless someone has a recommendation here? (more on barrel later)

So my next option is a rebarrel/build/lower end custom gun. At this point, I’m leaning towards a build with a Savage or Stevens action, trying to keep the cost similar to or not much over a good factory rifle. Keep in mind, the rifle/optics will get camo’d at the end, probably at first with a rattle can and if it’s everything I hope it will be a professional camo finish of some type later. So the idea of a frankengun doesn’t bother me. Again, work gun.

Back to the barrel. Since the finished rifle will probably have between a 24 and 26 inch barrel, we’ll say 25” for the sake of discussion here. My intended use of this rifle does NOT include any type of rapid fire. At 400-700 yards, a running coyote after a miss is likely a safe coyote from me (and most others I suppose). Same goes for big game. So I don’t think heat dissipation should be a factor in the decision. However, how stiff a barrel is it going to take to get “minute of coyote” at 700 yards? Joking aside, MOA is the goal and I’m hoping for closer to half MOA mechanical accuracy, leaving me no excuses. But on the other hand I want a rifle I’m not afraid to pack up a mountain after a cougar or ram, the lighter the better. Because of the weight considerations, if I could I’d go with a No. 1 contour. The 2 things I don’t know: Is a No. 1 contour in a modern barrel going to be accurate enough to do what I want? And are No 1. contours available in 24-26” lengths? If anyone has experience or a recommendation here I would appreciate it. Or if it won’t work, what’s the best compromise? Please don’t say “A Christensen’s Carbon Fiber”…If I could afford it I would, so that would just be cruel

Optics: I’m still pretty much in the air on this one, but something that can be custom turreted is what I’m thinking now. Probably a Leupold of some sort, unless research/comments shows something different to be a better option and in keeping with the budget for the rifle. I know good glass costs, and if I can keep the rifle reasonably priced I will be able to spend more on it.

I think that covers my major dilemma’s on the project to this point, should be more than enough to get a good discussion going, and probably earn a few nominations or raised eyebrows for most long winded newcomer of the week. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks,


Last edited by dmr400; 05-05-2011 at 02:43 AM.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 04:15 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Thunder Basin, WY
Posts: 1,788
Re: Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

Hello from a fellow dog hunter.

You might look into a Remington 700 BDL................easily meets the weight requirements, can be had in 25-06 with a 24" barrel.

IMO, this is about the lightest barrel we can get that is still capable of long range minute of coyote. I am not sure of the exact contour, but every barrel maker has their own designations on contours.

Only problem with the rifle that I see (for your purposes) is the pretty shiny gloss finish, but that can be taken care of with some paint.

If you wanted to build one, I'd build it on the basic design of the BDL, keeping the weight and balance about the same.
Aim small = Miss small

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Unread 05-05-2011, 05:26 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: louisiana
Posts: 134
Re: Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

I would consider a howa / weatherby vanguard for a cheap accurate start, or a savage/Stevens.....
"Alas, death is not so neat in the silent places" ~ Capstick

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Unread 05-05-2011, 07:10 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Bloomfield, Iowa
Posts: 150
Re: Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

The Ruger M77 Hawkeye and Remington 700 SPS stainless both come from the factory with a 24" barrel and under 8lbs. I would pick whichever one of these fits you best and go with it. I have sold both in my shop and they have all shot well (1 MOA or better) with at least one factory load (it may not be the load you want to use). The remington has a LOT more aftermarket parts available if you want to customize later but the Ruger has the controlled round feed many people want and there is more aftermarket support for it than many people think. I don't think you will go wrong with either of these. By the way the 100gr Nosler ballistic tip Federal load seems to have the best balance of terminal and long range performance for the one load deer/coyote gun.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 09:10 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Gillette, WY
Posts: 2,995
Re: Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

The Rem 700 SPS is a good place to start as stated above, with one caveat... the factory stock is far less than acceptable (by at least my standards) it allows WAY too much flex. So start with the SPS replace the stock & you are setting pretty good, you will have a good trigger, good action & what is usually an acceptably accurate barrel.

If you want more accuracy (usually) start with a Savage/Stevens action set yourself up with good prefit bbl, rifle basix trigger & your choice of stock. In the accuracy department (if done correctly) I will put my bets here over a factory Remmy, due mostly to the custom bbl & action design.

IMO there is nothing wrong with the 25-06, since you don't reload I think you have a winner, there are some decent BC bullets available (even in factory ammo) & the '06 can create good velocity.

As far as glass, Leupy is fine, Kenton offers custom turrets as well as Leupold. I've been hearing good things about the Vortex Viper PST as well, I do have one Burris XTR which is great but it is a TANK. If it has target turrets you can usually get a custom turret made for it regardless of manufacturer. Keep in mind, IMO your rifle is only as good as your optics, if your optics can't repeat your accurate rifle will be reduced to a roll of the dice for every shot.

Optics is the #1 problem I see in the field, whether it's a buddy or a hunter out on the family ranch. Nobody seem to care about buying a $800-$1000 rifle but you'd think you were insulting their mother when you question their $150 scope..... whew, ok off the soapbox...

keep us posted!

Last edited by Outlaw6.0; 05-05-2011 at 09:14 AM.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 08:56 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,206
Re: Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

I'd just go buy a savage 110 predator hunter in 6.5x284 corbon, norma, nosler, and several others now carry ammo for this cal that isn't to hard to get, then maybe use a 6-18x40 or 5-20x44 nikon and it will be far superior to a 25-06 especially at 700 yrds and it will not cost you a fortune.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 10:06 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 31
Re: Help me plan out a mid range rifle? .25-06 & light barrel experts needed.

I don't see anything wrong with a 25-06 but a 6.5-284 would maybe extend your range a little. What ever you do, buy the best scope you can afford. I had a few rifles that had "starter" scopes on and now i am replacing all of them and realizing i should have just started with a better scope. The best rifle in the world can only shoot as good as the scope that is on it, imho.
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