This is my first post to any discussion board EVER...so I hope I am doing it right. I recently finished my build that has been a year in the making and it sounds like choosing your gun/caliber/bullet has created more questions than answers (much like it did me). I am not a pro and by no means an expert but I did find out a lot along the way. I found that in the end that is why there are hundreds of caliber in a reloading manual because one round will do something the other can't. Some calibers do things very closely, and if like myself you wanted something to an all around good job at everything you have to decide what you want it to be. Anyways I say all of that to say I set out some things that were a must when I started building my rifle.
1. I wanted to build on a Savage action so I could install/chang the barrel.
2. I wanted a gun that I could grow to learn to accurately shoot out to 1000+ yards
3. I wanted a caliber that would pretty much cover game from ground hogs to bear.
4. I wanted it to double as a target rifle for punching paper and steel
5. My bullet had to have good down range energy (1000ft/lbs@1K) and provide wind kicking B.C's
6. Easy to reload/find components for and easy to make accurate
7. I wanted a budget build under $1500 (Custom and under $1500 do not work!!!)
8. Moderate recoil that is fun to shoot all day
9. Good barrel life
As I started searching around I found this was a tall order and was much harder than I had originally thought. In the past I had been shooting a .308 with some handloads that was very accurate but I wanted something flatter and faster. I shot at medium ranges of 4-600 yards( a chip shot for the pro's) quite a bit and became addicted when I started ringing steel at 500 consistently.
Long story short after finally deciding 15 times over again I purchased a barrel chambered in .280 rem. I had a savage 110 cheapo that I had picked up for $250. I went with a McGowen 30" barrel, 18 oz trigger job, XLR stock, crazy scope, muzzle brake, cosine ind, level, etc. My budget was completely blown, but at the end of the day you could not pry this rifle from me. I say all of that to say make an informed decision on something you will love and get ALOT of trigger time. I have seen many times a very accurate gun that was inaccurate due to its trigger actuator!.
I returned from the range with a grin from ear to ear, I shot several .3 inch groups while working up ladder loads and found the sweet spot. I was amazed when my chrony gave me a M.V. of 3090fps avg. I am loading 162 AMAX's and H1000, 10 thousandths off the lands. The C.O.L. is a lot longer than the book. I know this is fast but all loads were carefully worked up to and there were no pressure signs (not even close). I guess all the times I had read that a 280 can nip at the heels of 7 mag can be true.
Long first post I know but in the end get what you want, find what will do the best as close as you can get it to and have fun with your new gun whatever it is. In three shooting sessions with my gun I have already had questions/comments like, why that caliber and not this one, I have this and it shoots good, I don't like that round, my dad told me this, if you think that is good you should try this caliber etc. I have also recieved a plethora of questions and a lot of nods of approval lol
Here's a pic (hopefully)