Best LRH caliber to start with?

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by JPaul17, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. JPaul17

    JPaul17 Active Member

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    Ok so I've pretty talked myself into my first true long range build and have all my specs picked out except for one pretty big detail.....the caliber. So far I've got three great guns that could be contenders for a build but I'm looking to do a whole new gun for this. As of now I have a 243, mid range lightweight walking varmit gun, a 270 thats a mid weight mid range gopher and deer gun, and a 308 that is my all purpose lightweight deer gun. I live in western Pa so mid range I'm going to say is about 300 yards. Have had room for longer shots on gophers but hardly ever on deer and most of the guns are easily under 9 pounds with a scope and all completely factory with 22 inch sporter barrels. What I'm looking for in my next gun is something I can shoot out to 600 and possibly further since I've just found some areas that allow practice at that range. The gun must be able to take anything from a deer to an elk at that distance since after graduation im planning on moving out west granted I have sucess in finding a job (environmental science major with wildlife bio minor). All of the guns that I own shoot great and have me leaning towards using them for the next gun, more so the 270 and 308. Im hoping for a gun that has great ammo selection and is also some what on the cheaper side to shoot, since I haven't done a ton of long ranging, Im sure I'll be practicing alot and would like to not have the barrel shot out before I even get to hunt with it.
    My idea is a build on a savage action staying around ten pounds with a 24-25 inch medium to heavy weight barrel possibly 25-26 fluted and a traditional synthetic stock (no adjustable cheek pieces or folding tactical stocks) more than likely a new trigger and bedded. For now im not worried about a scope since you cant shoot a scope without a gun. I'm leaning on the side of the 308 since it seems to be a good basic beginner gun but any one who has any better suggestions can feel free for input. Also anyone who has done a build with a 308 similar to this specs of your gun and how you went about achieving it would greatly be appreciated.

    Sorry for the rambling but theres almost too many possibilities.
     
  2. HARPERC

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

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    There are too many possibilities, but you have sorted through them pretty well the 308 is good start. Look through the sponsors/gunsmiths here, find one close and tell them what you want. Also click the Long Range Rifles icon at the top of the page, some good ideas there, and lead times tough to beat, and an accuracy guarantee as well. About the only thing I mildly disagree with is putting off a quality scope, as it can go on what you have, until you take delivery of your rifle. Lead times can be high.
     

  3. wbm

    wbm Well-Known Member

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    The .308 has the wide range of ammunition you are wanting and out to 600 it will take deer and elk. It is efficient, accurate, has a very long barrel life and is "relatively" cheap to shoot. If you go with a Savage action, you can switch barrels easily and change calibers to suit what you want at any given time.
     
  4. Greyfox

    Greyfox Well-Known Member

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    The 308 is a good caliber to meat your requirements and one of the few that you can acquire factory ammo that approaches the precision of reloaded ammo, certainly for 600 yard work. I began my long range hunting with a 308 Milpec and had good success with this caliber. My only recommendation would be to make provisions for a magazine length longer than the typical 2.8"OAL, go with a 1:10, or 11.25 twist for handling high BC bullets, and throated to handle the same. My personal preference is 24" of barrel length, in something close to a Remington varmint taper or slightly smaller. The two inch difference doesn't sound like much, but the small velocity trade off to length keeps the rifle from feeling like you are toting a crowbar around the field and still provides a stable and manageable shooting platform for long range hunting. Ive seen too many LR 308's that are unneccessariy heavy and long. Of course, personally preference varies among shooters. IMHO.
     
  5. emn83

    emn83 Well-Known Member

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    Another vote for the .308. I'm new to LR also, and a .308 is my choice in gun, I love the caliber. It will get you out to 600 yards with the enough power to kill deer, but isn't a killer on the shoulder. I have a 26in heavy sporter barrel on my rifle, and it doesn't seem heavy to me. you can get .308 match grade ammo for very reasonable prices, so it isn't going to break the bank to shoot it
     
  6. JPaul17

    JPaul17 Active Member

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    It's funny you mention not waiting on the the scope because while on midway today I found a special run on a Nikon prostaff 4-12x40 mil dot for 180. Have 2 prostaffs already and really like them so I think it should be a good start-me-out scope.
    For some reason I woke up this morning thinking in a different direction considering another 270 or 280 in favor of a little more speed but after thinking about it it still seems hard to beat the 308 when you look at all that it can do. How would I go about getting the extra magazine space? would I need to buy the initial action in a caliber that has a longer oal then make the switch with barrel and bolt face?
     
  7. toddc

    toddc Well-Known Member

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    I dont agree on the 308. Since elk were thrown into the mix + a move out west I think you probly will wanna throw the 308 off a hill the first time a nice critter is at 750 with a 20 mph wind. I live out west and thats better be a chip shot or your givin up a ton of opportunities.
    Where I live its not even a poke till 880. This isnt 308 country. Will it work?Yep....but not like a high BC high velocity combo will. Here are my reasons.
    #1 Everyone says they are good to learn on. BS Learn on what is forgiving and easy to use.
    A real LR round will FORGIVE a bad wind call. A 308 wont.
    #2 Availability of ammo.HUH? Are you even considering not reloading? LR without reloading is a JOKE! Learning to reload a STW isnt any more difficult than a 308. If you reload for LR you will be good at it which will make reloading for anything a breeze.
    #3 600 isnt LR. Not out here anyway. We killed 50 deer in 08 with an avg dist of 748. Considering 6 were bowkills and 3 with a 357 this will give you a concept of the capabilities needed. Pick a gun that will do the job with about a 50% power reserve for when a target moves or shot is bad. 308 ISNT IT.
    #4 308 doesnt kick! Uhhhh try a lightweight cheapo stock one with 210gr bullets. Get a real caliber and then get a BRAKE! Edges dont kick with gun weight and a brake. Brakes are tooooo loud. EARMUFFS!
    #5 Its military pedigree! See (MILITARY INTELLIGENCE)
    SOLUTION
    Parts list
    Savage LA action. ????? kEEP IT CHEAP.
    Prefit barrel using 7mm stw as a MINIMUM. Yes you need a longer barrel. $300+-
    Large muzzlebreak $200
    trued recoil lug $30
    tune stock trigger (yes it can be done)(yes by anyone with a brain) FREE!
    Good stock $100-1000
    DONE
    If you keep the stock $$ reasonable then this is under 1k and will be a hammer.
    Caliber Id probly lean to a 7mil of some sort to learn on.
    Remember buy once cry once. Learning wheels are for 3 yr olds on bicycles.
    Learn on an effective round and learn to use that 1 round. Why would anyone practice or learn on something they wont wanna use when its the real deal.
     
  8. JPaul17

    JPaul17 Active Member

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    toddc, I do reload so I know its easy to make any round fit your needs and hunting style but I already have tons of brass and good bullet selections since I already have one figuring it would make the transition simple and easy but I'm with you on the 7mm. They are a very efficient and capable round. The one thing I was worried about with some of the 7mms is barrel lenght. Most guys seem to use a 26 in barrel and break which adds to the weight. Are there some 7mm mag rounds that dont require a long tube or break? Like I said a post or two ago the 280 came to mind and even a 284. Other concern is what kind of barrel life are guys getting from something like a 7mm stw? open to all new ideas so keep em coming.
     
  9. toddc

    toddc Well-Known Member

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    If ya wanna play in the west its easier to have a tad longer tube and 150 yds more effective range than worry about 2-3" of barrel. Barrels are consumable. LR is not cheap any way you see it. Practicing and gettin used to a 308 in the long run will mean you then have to get used to a REAL GUN so it really costs more. Yes the nonmag 7s would be vastly preferable to a 308 but horsepower you can handle is nice. 2-3" of barrel doesnt weigh that much and trust me when I tell you that lightweight and LR are an oxymoron.
    A 7 shortmag would let you save some weight but learning to shoot is so easy with a lil heavier gun.
    I have a 32lb 338 I have had dozens of people kill deer over 750 with the 1st time they shoot it. Guys talk about how hard this stuff is...with the right tools and a monkey to pull the trigger this is easy. Wrong tools=a real biatch for anyone.
     
  10. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    If your just after a 600 or 800 yard deer or elk all around rifle you can easily start reloading the 270 win with some good bullet and you can shoot it a lot. The 300 win mag has some good factory fodder if you have to stay that route, it just give you more than the 308 with the heavy weight bullets. Just remember if you just want a general hunting rifle with an extended range do not build something that you can not go into the timber with, with a little pressure you'll have to go in after elk and a dedicated LR rifle will SUCK!
     
  11. D.ID

    D.ID Well-Known Member

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    For the most part I think toddc has many good points. I can't say I agree with the 7 but that's a minor issue. Savage action means you do not need a gunsmith, save your money. You can run any cartridge all the way up to the 338 edge. If your current guns are good shooters don't mess with them, just start a new one. Since you reload your options are limitless. When you start talking about 600 it means 800 is not far off and if you set up a gun for long range, practice it, learn it, love it.............you're going to want more. Then you see some of the terrain out here in the west and that monster bull just beyond you reach at dusk.........you'll be thinking you need more. New brass prepped for long range consistency from the start is a worthy investment and insignificant cost relative to the cost of this process. I like more barrel life than the sevens but thats just me. A 300 mag with or without a brake depending on how heavy you set this up is what I would do. Barrel length required will vary on cartridge selection but you do not need a 30". My favorite rifle is a 338 edge on a 116 savage, used as a single shot, with a 24" barrel I am 50fps behind the guys packing around 30" barrels, and they usually are using more powder to get that measly 50fps. Spend some money on your scope. You do not need to spent insane money but 500-1k will get you a real nice lr scope. Your optics will make or break a long range project. Research everything carefully and thoroughly as there is a lot of misinformation out there, We are on the internet after all............. When someone suggests for a 600+ yard elk rifle that you buy a rem 700sps 308 and pay them to fix it for you.....run away.
     
  12. toddc

    toddc Well-Known Member

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    Im with you. A 7 STW is just like a BARE MINIMUM. Yes smaller will work but there is no replacement for displacement. Im an edge man myself though the big 30s have a place also. The 7 stw would be a nice STARTER GUN for LR. Recoil stays sane with a brake and the torque isnt like on a 300gr slug. But im cool with stw on up.
    Regardless anything makes more sense than a 308.
     
  13. Rem700

    Rem700 Well-Known Member

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    Imo, 600yds with a 308 is really pushing it on wapiti. Elk run like the wind and don't stop for anything when hit. So you got to anchor them. If it was me i would go with a least a 7mm rem mag and a 168gr berger. Yes, it can be done with smaller rounds but i don't want to chase them too far.
     
  14. JeffP40

    JeffP40 Well-Known Member

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    Nothing like going to the extreme. A 32# hunting rig? I don't think so. Like BnG sad, you have a decent start with the 270, but for a better, but not goofy round, the 7mag is hard to beat. Relatively easy to shoot and load, has enough punch to do the job, and it doesn't need to be 32#. The 7s are hard to beat.