Interested in shooting competition? Didn't like the idea of a $2500 - $4500 match rifle and maybe you don't have a real match-quality riflesmith in your area to build it anyway?
Say thanks to Savage! They've made it incredibly easy to get into F-class competition with a choice of two factory built, very competitive, match rifles.
This is the .308 version, and sells for just under a grand at our local gunshop. They also make a 6.5-284 version for those who want a flatter trajectory and less wind drift. The grand doesn't include the scope or bipod of course... Sheesh... I borrowed the photo from Savage, hope they don't mind.
Introduced just this year, these things are making waves at regional matches already and Team Savage will have them on the line at the Nationals, in Raton New Mexico. These rifles are competitive, at 1000 yards, with custom rifles costing three times as much, or more. They represent an awesome deal for anyone who's interested in F-class competition.
What's F-class? In a nutshell, it's prone competition out to 1000 yards, run by the NRA. It's a subset of NRA Highpower competition, and in my opinion it's the easiest of all competitions for a basic rifleman to enter. Get your rifle, get some good loads, put it on a bipod, dial in your scope and blaze away. A typical match is three strings of twenty, with a couple of sighters before each string of fire. F class is further split into "open" and "F/TR". Only .308 and .223 rifles are allowed in F/TR. In "open" you will see pretty much anything short of a .338 Lapua mag! The match winner at our Washington State 600 yard championships yesterday was shooting a 6 Dasher - an awesomely accurate small-bore wildcat.
These Savage match rifles have been producing some incredible groups.
Which one is for you? Depends. For an entry level shooter, I recommend the .308 version. A .308 is very easy to load for, factory loaded match ammo is readily available if you don't want to roll your own. And, barrels last a long time. I generally get 4000 - 6000 rounds of accurate barrel life from my match .308 barrels. Many 6.5-284 competitors trash their barrels in 1000 - 1500 rounds. I don't know how these Savage barrels will hold up yet, but I'd imagine they will do fine.
The other good thing the Savage has going for it is that it is very friendly to home gunsmithing. With my Winchester & Remington precision rifles I have to take the rifle to a smith and have him chamber, thread and fit a new barrel every time I wear one out. With the Savage, a fellow can order pre-chambered match grade barrels from Pac Nor, Shilen and other sources and put 'em on in his own home/garage shop! It's easy!
So there ya go. Give it some thought. I have absolutely no connection with Savage Firearms, and frankly I don't even own one. My entry into match shooting was a long time ago. I have however been very, very impressed with what I've seen. Savage is trying very hard to field a factory built rifle that will be truly competitive, and they've succeeded. To me, this means it's easier than ever for more guys to get into competition shooting, and that's a good thing for all of us.
Strongly suspect that one of these rifles, in either .308 or 6.5-284 is a reasonable option to consider for someone getting into long range/precision hunting too...