Re: need advice on rifle selection...plz help!
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Shoot what you can afford to shoot alot of. Trigger time, trigger time, trigger time.
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+1 on that statement. That being said the 308 (your original choice) is one rifle you can shoot a lot and not break the bank, or your shoulders. Because you can afford to shoot it alot you will be VERY profficient with it. Once you learn all there is to know about it and how to use it the barrel will still have alot of life left. So many others burn up so fast that once you get to know it, its done.
If you can afford the "M40" with a 1/2" promise the choice would be clear to me. Otherwise some of the heavy Rem 700's in 308 would serve you very well.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.