Need advice on a new stalking rig!

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by jwsrolltide, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. jwsrolltide

    jwsrolltide New Member

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    Hi Everyone,
    Long time listener, first time caller here... and in need of your advice/expertise.
    I am ready to purchase a new Mule Deer/Aoudad/Elk rifle. I do the majority of my hunting in the mountains of southwest Texas and Montana. Days consist of a lot of steep climbs and constantly being on the move so I am looking to keep it light. Shots can be anywhere from 50-600 yards. Could potentially go longer but i don't feel that competent yet, I wont pull the trigger and just "hope" it makes contact.
    All in (gun, scope, bipod etc..) I would like to keep it at $4,000 and under.

    Here are my questions:
    Should I go with an upgraded production rifle or custom rifle?
    7mm Rem Mag or 300 Win Mag?
    I don't know anything about Short mags like 300wsm. How do they compare?
    If I went custom where should I look?
    For production: I do like the Sako Finnlight in .300 Win Mag, I could upgrade that gun with a McMillan stock.
    For scopes: Zeiss, Nightforce, Meopta or Swarovski

    Honestly, I have really enjoyed the learning process researching this gun but I am ready to make a decision. I could read various articles and review forever.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

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    First off, do you reload or not?

    IMO, which some will disagree with, :) There is nothing wrong with either the 7 Rem Mag, 300 Win Mag or 300 WSM for what you want in either custom or factory.

    All three are easy to buy factory ammo for and to reload for.

    I would tell you to find a good used custom rig in one of those calibers or go with the Tikka T3 lite. Nothing wrong with T3, and all it might need is another stock. I am not a fan of the factory 700s in magnums, especially with the riveted extractor. see the link below on my carry gun and why I say that, plus you can set your carry gun up similar with any ballistic reticle scope or the Huskemaw.

    http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f17/no-click-lr-carry-gun-48155/

    The other gun I would tell you to look at is the Forbes rifle. No it is not the ULA or NULA but another rifle Melvin Forbes is building and at a great price around $1400 and would be a perfect rifle for what you want and is custom. I believe he is coming out with the magnums in 2014.

    Forbes Rifle LLC - Home Page

    Colt made a "Colt Light Rifle" years ago that was a spinoff of Melvin Forbes ULAs. They are still around NIB in 7mm and 300 Win mags for around $600-750. You can send them to Melvin, and for around another $600-700 he will put his stock on, Timney trigger and new barrel. That will be in the 6.5 lb range without scope and a shooter.

    Good luck
     

  3. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    First, I will never buy another Beretta product again. I bought a SAKO M85 Finnlight in 300 WSM expecting it to be a tack driver with a some carefully crafted handloaded ammo. It would not shoot handloaded or factory ammo worth a darn. It averages 2-4 MOA in inconsistant groups. The recoil lug system is a joke and recoil lugs are a critical part of a good shooting rifle. Beretta gave me the run around after sending the rifle in twice. They would not stand behind their product and told me I would be charged if the rifle was sent in again. Told me I didn't know how to clean a rifle.

    Next, since this is LR hunting, I assume you are asking for advice on a rifle that will give you LR precision. My advise is get the heaviest barreled rifle you think you can live with. You're the best judge of that. My Long range carry rifles weigh 13 1/2 lbs with NF scope and Harris bipod, empty. 14 lbs loaded. That's a 27" #5 non-fluted tube, .750 @ muzzle.

    Also, if it's in the budget, get a custom rifle for about $3000 and put a $1000 starter scope (including base and rings) on it and save up for a NF or equivalent to mount later. Another option is to buy a Cooper for about $2000 and top it with a NF. I would opt for #1.

    The 300 WSM will allow you to use a shorter barrel with good efficiency. That will save you a little weight and more maneuverable. If you go with a WSM, do it on a long action. Some custom actions makers make a WSM action. That is a compromise between a short and long action.

    If you don't reload, all this precision equipment (custom rifle, top end scope) is being wasted. So figure that in to your thinking.

    Cheers and welcome to LRH
     
  4. soundwaves

    soundwaves Well-Known Member

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    buy a blaser r8 or a SAUER 202 MOUNTA─░N in 300 win mag and put a nightforce or zeiss scope on it. use quality. if you are a rich person buy cheep stuff because you will be buying alot of it as cheep stuff dont last long :)
     
  5. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    The one priority you provided was you wanted a lighter gun since you're packing around in the mountains. And you stated you're focusing on 600 yd as the long end of yardage.

    My primary comment is that lots of rifles, even factory rifles straight out of the box, are going to be able to provide the accuracy required to be competent 600 yd slayers of big game. My hunting is almost solely comprised of backpack hunting in mountains also. I refuse to carry an outfitted rifle that weighs more than 11 lbs. I prefer no more than 10 lbs. I don't use a bipod because I haven't found them necessary out to 800 yds, but primarily I'm unwilling to carry the extra weight and grappling hook hanging off my stock when walking thru brushy terrain. I don't use NightForce scopes because I'm unwilling to carry the weight, and there are other options that are perfectly suited out to 800 yds that cost much less, and weigh much less. My scopes weight about 22 oz, and I wish they didn't. But that's better than 28-36 oz. There are scopes that weigh substantially less than 22 oz that would be even better options out to 600 yds. Now NightForce and and bipods are both terrific, as are 12 plus lb rifles in many hunting situations. But if your hunting is largely backpacking and you're going to keep your rifle at 10 or less pounds fully decked out, then you have to go without some of these items that result in the heavy rifles commonly discussed, used, and preferred by the majority of dedicated LRHs on this Forum.

    I own two Tikka T3s in 7mm Rem Mag and they are both plenty accurate for 700 yds. They're light, they have an excellent factory trigger which becomes important for accurate shot placement at long range, and they are almost always accurate straight from the factory. They aren't expensive either. I too would recommend a better stock than the factory plastic stock, and I'm about to put a lightweight Manners aftermarket stock on one of mine. We have harvested game out to 850 yds with these factory rifles. They're available in 7mm RM, 300 WM, or 300 WSM. Their magazine boxes may restrict your overall cartridge length, but for longer shots, they can be loaded single shot style, so that magazine length is no longer an issue.

    If you're prepared to spend $4000, you have many, many options available, including a custom action and a thrifty class custom rifle. So don't get hung up on Tikka T3s if they don't impress you for some reason, even though they've performed very well for me.

    If you want to focus on 800 yd and farther shots, then there are some advantages to the heavier contoured barrels and heavier weight rifles. They're easier to pilot for accuracy at extended ranges. Their barrels don't heat up as quickly, and they seem to be less finicky as to the ammunition they will shoot accurately. But I believe you placed emphasis on light weight and a packing rifle.
     
  6. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Roll Tide!

    And I just had a new lightweight whitetail rig built for next season, and the end of this season, by my gunsmith. If you're in Alabama I might can set you up with him if you are interested in having one built. I recommend 7mm RemMag as the most versatile whitetail caliber there is.

    Here's the specs of my build:

    Remington 700 stainless action, fully trued.
    Remington 26" stainless sporter 7mm RemMag barrel, trued threads, shoulder, hand-lapped bore, target crown.
    B&C Medalist stock
    Fully bedded
    free-floated barrel
    tuned trigger (old style Remington trigger)
    DNZ Gamereaper 1-piece medium base
    Kahles Helia KX 3.5-10x50 1" tube (one of the best hunting scopes ever).

    And I'm thinking about having him put a brake on the end of it, and have it cerakoted black before next year, just because. :D

    Here's a few pics of it...


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  7. Varberger757

    Varberger757 Well-Known Member

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    Hunting in rough terrain especially mountains demands light equipment! You should in any case take a close look to European single shot break action rifles (awfull long name). lightbulb A SSBA without scope weighs ca. 6 - 7lbs and they were originally constructed for mountain hunting. Use a suitable calibre like 280 Rem, 7x64 Brenneke or even a 7 RM if nescessary. Use a scope of best quality and low weight like Zeiss, Swaro or Leupold with a 42mm maximum opening of the objective. The whole rig will give you ca. 9,5 - 10 lbs on your shoulders. :) You'll find top used ones already for 2000.- dollares and those are made by premium manufacturers like Krieghoff, Heym, Blaser etc. Good luck with your choice!
     
  8. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Hey VB...I haven't put it on a scale, but my rig I just had built weighs under 10 lbs. scope and all. The Kahles Helia scopes are VERY lightweight, and so is that DNZ aluminum mount. I recommend both for a lightweight rig.
     
  9. Varberger757

    Varberger757 Well-Known Member

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    Hey MD...You're the man with the (golden) gun! :) Your gun is great and the Kahles (belongs to the Swaro- group) is also top of the notch. Since I know about the data of your gun I'd choose your's, honestly. gun)
     
  10. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about all that stuff now...The barrel ain't quite settled into a groove yet. Soon she will. I still have some load develpment to finalize, but I did have 2 good groups once it settled in the other day. Had a 3-shot group with Accubonds that was around 1/2" at 100 yards. After it kicked the first 2 shots, shots 3-5 were in a nice little 1/2" group in the bull.

    But I did find another node that is shooting the Berger 168 VLD's very good on cold-bore 3-shot groups, which is where it counts when hunting. :D
     
  11. jwsrolltide

    jwsrolltide New Member

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    Thanks for the info everyone.
    Couple of answers to some of your questions:
    1. I do not hand-load my own ammo (I would buy top end nosler/berger though)
    2. I want a gun to shoot a 1" or less grouping
    3. If i get good at shooting I would love a gun that extend its range with me. going from 600 max to 800 and beyond.

    My new questions:
    1. I am interested in both the Forbes rifles and the NULA rifles. Both are bedded all the way without free floating the barrel. Isn't free floating better for accuracy? My issue with the Forbes currently is that they dont produce magnums yet.
    2. Whats the difference between Sako and Tikka. I know they are made in the same factory but are they different components/actions?
    3. I have seen a lot of great looking 700's, what are their capabilities. Have they fixed the mysterious firing issue yet? I, like most folks, saw the 60 minutes special but haven't seen much follow up.

    You all are awesome for helping.
     
  12. Varberger757

    Varberger757 Well-Known Member

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    1/2" group sounds good to me under breaking in. :) Over here I would mainly use 104gr MJG Lutz Moeller and/or 140gr TTSX in 7RM. Fine alternatives could also be Trophy Bonded Tip and Deep Curl.
     
  13. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    As I said before, if you are interested in consistent a LR precision rifle, go with the heaviest rifle you think you can tote. What's the difference between a 10 lb rifle and a 14 lb rifle? Answer... 4lbs. If 4 lbs is going to make or break anyone in the mountains, maybe they should reconsider hunting in the mountains or shedding weight else where. You can most certainly go with a 10 lb rifle, however, your odds of getting a good consistent precision LR rifle increases as the weight of your rifle, especially your barrel, increases. There is a reason BR shooters don't shoot whippy sporter barrels.

    If you want a 10 lb rifle, by all means get one. Just don't expect the same level of reliable consistent precision performance as you would a heavier rifle. You've got to make your priorities.

    On optics, there are a lot of good scopes to choose form, and the bottom line is you basically get what you pay for. I have a couple of Vortex scopes and a couple of NF scopes. I like the Vortex scopes, but I would not use them on mountain hunting rigs. I have fallen hard, full weight on my first NXS twice in the mountains and I have no doubt that a lesser scope would have been ruined. That NXS is currently mounted on a 300 RUM and performs flawlessly. You can go with a lesser scope and probably get by with it... but if you ever have a wreck like I did twice... your hunt is over at that point, or you are going to be borrowing someone else's thunder stick. IMO, they are worth the $$$$ and the extra few oz's. In fact, I think they are a good deal for the money. There are scopes with better glass, but NF glass is excellent and plenty good... good enough to hunt in last minutes of hunting light and extremely clear to see great detail at long distances. That said, in the constraints of your budget, I would go with a full custom rifle and a lesser priced good scope and upgrade later.

    This is how my 13 1/2 lb mountain rig shoots mounted with the prior mentioned 5.5-22 NXS. I was able to see the .308 caliber bullet holes @ 427 yds. It was a clear day with no mirage.
     

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  14. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

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    My 8 3/4 # custom 338 nm shoots into 1 inch at 400 and 6 at 1000.works great for me taken bit of game past 500 with it with multiple shooters. My heavier rig type rifle shoots same and is just over 11#