Dakota Arms Predator Varminter
I just had an opportunity to shoot some new varminters made by Dakota Arms and it was a fine experience. Based on a Nesika action, this little varminter simply reeks of quality - you might immediately say "and dollars...", but the basic composite stocked model is reasonably priced at just under 2000 dollars.
That is a lot of money and some people will never justify that much for any rifle. But there are a lot of shooters who put that much money (or significantly more) into rebuilding a factory rifle by the time they get the action trued and modified, a custom barrel installed, pillar bedded, custom stock etc.
Incredibly well made, this rifle will shoot well under 1/2 inch five shot groups right out of the box. I shot a walnut stocked model (serial #00048) for two days and it handled beautifully in the field, shot superb groups on the bench and exterminated a significant number of Montana prairie dogs.
The stock has a slightly widened fore-end for sandbags, perfectly fitting pistol grip for a big hand. The Nesika designed and built action is slippery it is so smooth, has to be felt to be appreciated, the tolerances were incredible yet it was silky smooth. Adjustable trigger that broke as good as any custom trigger, stout stock bolts with aluminum pillar bedding, barrel weight is not too heavy, 22" long and perfect for a carrying rifle.
I had a 4-16 Swarovski varmint scope on good old #48, setup in Talley mounts. This made for a deadly outfit - shot some great groups and killed a bunch of p-dogs. This rifle was chambered for .223 Rem. and I shot Nosler ballistic tips as loaded by Black Hills Ammo. I seriously doubt that I could reload as accurately as this ammo shot - one hole group with three shots was common.
The stock fit me perfectly, nice high comb and the fore-end is not too wide. There is also a sporter stock available for this rifle but we did not have any at the recent shoot. Calibers range from .17's, .20's, .223 family and the benchrest 6mm's. Everyone who shot these rifles was impressed with their accuracy, quality and handling qualities.
The way I see it, this rifle is about two to three times the dollars of a M-700, M-70, M-77 or Savage varminter. Considering that it is a custom built rifle, with an incredible action and match grade barrel I believe the difference is very reasonable. There is no messing around getting the bedding right, the trigger adjusted away from the factory lawyer-proof setting or wondering if you happened to get a good shooting barrel. Out of the box the Predator will shoot bugholes.
This rifle might not be for everybody, but if you are interested in a varmint rifle to be very pround of, and that will shoot as good as you can hold, the Dakota Predator would be an ideal candidate.