There seems to be some basic FACTS about what equipment is "best" for Long Range shooting and hunting that might be somewhat miss-leading or even intimidating to new shooters. Like a lot of guys on this site I have developed some opinions over the years and I do not necessarily go along with some of the above mentioned "Facts".
First - I do not believe that Remington M-700's are the "best" or premiere action for Long Range rifles - or for any type of rifle for that matter. From a numbers view-point they dominate - from a user's and technical view-point they are really not as good as they should be. I use M-700's but they are not the Holy Grail.
New shooters can do very well with any rifle that delivers MOA or less - Win. M-70's, Savage 110's, Sakos and whatever will work just fine if they are properly prepared.
Second - the .308 Winchester will do just fine for most Long Range shooting - particularly when someone is starting out. I am not talking Extreme Range hunting, I am talking about someone who wants to explore the challenges of hitting a relatively small target out past 4 or 500 yards. The .308 is accurate, relatively easy on the shooter and in-expensive to shoot. You don't need a magnum to shoot long.
Third - optics are a key to accuracy and the new shooter should invest in a good long range scope as soon as he can afford one. Magnification is not as important as clarity, brightness, ruggedness and repeatability of the turrets. 30mm tubes are pretty well a necessity for distances out to 1000 yards as they enable the degree of reticle adjustment nequired.
Fourth - scope mounts can be the weak link in a Long Range system. Like optics, good mounts cost money. For those who are not aware, there are basically two mount designs, the Redfield and the Weaver. Despite their popularity the "Redfield Design" dovetailing mounts (as sold by Redfield, Leupold, Burris, Millett and others) and even the dual dovetails are not nearly as reliable and strong as the simplistic "Weaver" style system. Proof in point - all the tactical mounts are Weaver style - no metal-grinding Redfield designs. Just look at how much metal is actually holding the rings to the bases with Redfield dovetails - there is not much at the narrowest part of the dovetail.
Fifth point - if you are really serious about becoming a Long Range shooter and hunter, try to find someone who will share his experience and knowledge, try to enroll in a long range shooting school, and get out there and shoot as much as possible. Realize that the wind is going to be your biggest challenge.
Last - hitting far-off targets consistently is a great challenge and a hell of a lot of fun. Hitting is what it is all about, missing is part of the game but only valuable if you learn from your misses. Long Range places demands that are unique in shooting - one of them is the necessity to keep notes and a data book. You will not be successful unless you keep records and notes - period.
Your skill and involvement will grow as much as you want it to. Dollars spent on gear do not assure hitting, but you must have good gear to get into the game. Like many other challenges, the more time, effort and ammo expended the greater the rewards.
The above are only my opinions but perhaps they will be of interest to anyone interested in getting into this game.
what you say is correct all i would like to add is that there is no substitute for practice and notes on wind and weather conditions from past shoots.but you cant expect to just go and shoot 1000 yards you need to work up to it.most people have trouble at 500 yards and less.as for 308w it is good for targets at long range and also for learning wind and bullet drop but lacks the power needed for live targets beyond 500 yards
I have two hobbies. Shooting and reloading. The more I do of one the more I can do of the other.
I finally got registered here--this looks like a great site!
I fall into your second category of "long range" hunters. A guy who would really prefer to shoot animals at close ranges, but who also doesn't want to have to pass on a shot just because it is over 300 yds.
I agree that any rifle that can consistently maintain moa will moa will work for long range shooting. I also agree that a new shooter shouldn't necessarily run out and buy something new if he already has a rifle that works.
Now if and when he is going to buy a rifle dedicated for long range hunting the Rem 700 is hard to beat. It is the Chevy 350 of rifle actions. It is, extremely strong, very accurate, easy to make even more accurate, and there are lots of parts available. That is why it dominates most rifle competitions where they use factory actions. Because of its popluarity, ease of accurizing, and availability of parts, it is inexpensive to work on.
You can have a decent gunsmith build you a tack driving 700 that fits you well, with the stock and barrel you want, for $1100-$1600 (includes cost of "donor" rifle). This is less than many "premium" factory rifles. If you want to spend even less, there is always the Sendero/Varmint Special. Last year, Precision Shooting reported where a Sendero with a stock barrel placed very high in 1000 yd competition, competing against those 30-40 lb purpose built 1000 yd guns. Crud, there are many plain-jane BDLs out there that shoot well.
I have nothing against the Savages, M-70s, Rugers, or other rifles out there. They will all do the job to varying degrees. A shooter/hunter should use what he/she is the most comfortable with.
I also agree there is no substitue for practice. To that end, I am getting set up to compete in Highpower. I will also be able to take my hunting rifles out and shoot them out to 1000 yds. I know it took intense practice (300 rounds the month prior) before I was able confidently make a shot over 300 yds. A 400 yd shot will take even more practice, and Highpower gives a guy lots of practice at shooting at longer ranges.
Ditto on the redfield vs. weaver. I htought the redfield was king until I tried to mount a 30 mm scope on 1" rings. Someone once told me that you twist those dovetail rings onto the base about twice and you throw them away because they won't stay tight after that. Think I'm going to Leupold Weaver-style bases w/ Burris Signature Zee Rings. I like the idea of the plastic inserts to protect the scopes finish, also you can buy offset inserts to correct any misalignment.
Leupold Weaver Style bases with Burris Signature rings are what I have on my 338 Ultra. They seem to be doing just fine. I "shot" loose a Leupold dovetail type mount on my 340 a while back. I now also use cross slot style rings for everything. My 416 Rem wears Warne Maxima bases with Leupold QRW (quick-release, Weaver style) rings. I haven't removed them and checked repeatability, but they have held strong and secure, allowing me to average under .7 moa with this gun and occasionally get under 1/2 moa.