Dream Setup

jrb CO

Nov 21, 2004
Hello. I just found this site.

I am looking to get back into rifle hunting (I have only bowhunted for the last 12 years). I did a lot of benchrest and long range shooting years ago, but things sure seem to have changed.

I would like to put together the ultimate western long range shooting combination. There are many new custom gun makers and cartridges out there from when I was last into this.

I know there is no "perfect" western big game rifle, but I would love to hear your opinions on rifles, chambers, scopes, gun makers, etc.... Lets assume money is not a factor (although we all know that it is).

Thanks in advance for everyone's input.
Hello jrb CO, welcome. Glad that you could finally make it here. What took ya so long?

Before we can give you an answer here, we're gonna need to know a lot more information from you.

First off what are ya gonna be shootin at? Prarie dogs require a completely different firearm setup then elk.

Second off, what kinda price range are you considering? I know that you say money is no object, but realistically that just isn't a practical consideration. Everybody has a fixed budget for their shooting needs. Increasing accuracy and increasing ruggedness and reliability come with increasing prices.

Third off what kinda of a rifle are you considering? Is this gonna be a bench shooting type of rifle where you're gonna drive on up to a shooting bench, or is this gonna be a rifle that you're gonna carry all over hell and gone while chasing elk every which-way for miles on end: weight is one of the key questions here. Also what kind of reliability are you looking for? A rifle driven to a shooting site, that will never see rain, dirt or snow or get dropped, will be totally different from one that's gonna get exposed to the elements.

Additionally what kinda ranges are you gonna be shooting at? This feeds into all kinds of other questions such as weight and what you're shooting at and so on.

Sorry I can't just give you a quick and dirty answer here, but there are just so very many choices to be made here that you have to narrow it down somewhat. Asking what the best rifle system in the world is is kinda like asking what the most beautiful painting in the world is. In beauty, as in firearms, the consideration is largely in the eye of the beholder.
jrb CO,

I would have to agree, give us a little more information such as how you will hunt, what you will hunt and things like that. Then we can all give our opinion about what we think would be the ultimate rifle for your needs.

Good Shooting!!!

Kirby Allen(50)
Thanks! I guess it would help to know what I am hunting. I have done a fair amount of traveling to hunt with my bow, but I am pretty much locked into mule deer and elk these days. Maybe the occassional antelope. Most of my hunting is done on foot, so weight is of some consideration.

As far as budget, I do not think I want to spend over $15,000 for everything. My setup over a decade ago ran about $5-6000, but I have no idea what things cost today.
Jrb CO,

Well I will tell you that my rifles would come in well under the $5000 level you paid before, in fact youcould get an dedicated elk and deer rifle for that amount.

As far as what to use, I am a fan of the big 30's and 338's for elk and they work great on deer as well with the new controlled expansion bullets.

I am designing a family or extreme performance big game rounds right now but the three I am working on are mainly aimed at deer and pronghorn hunters as they are in 257, 6.5 and 270 calibers.

For elk I would recommend going to a 300 or 338 for best performance, espacially if your paying for hunts.

I would recommend a fully accurized Rem 700 action. I would then fit a Lilja or Pac-Nor Super-Match stainless barrel blank to the action.

A Holland Comp Recoil Lug would be fitted as well.

Barrel length would be a combination of your personal prefference and the type of terrain you would be hunting.

I like longer barrels personally in open country. I like the way they feel and balance.

A 26" long #5 contour barrel would be as light as I would recommend for a big 338 magnum and in 300, a #4 is as light as I would go to maintain good barrel rigidity but still be portable.

For a personal rifle of mine I would fit a 28" #6 contour for either caliber and flute it with heavy .312" wide flutes. In this barrel length, you will cut off 3/4 lb off the barrel weight alone without loosing any barrel stiffness or rigidity which is a key with these heavy bullets driven to high speeds. They produce alot of barrel torque so the barrels need this stiffness for consistant accuracy.

A barrel like this will weigh in the 3 3/4 lb range.

As far as stocks go, I like laminated wood simply for its stability, looks and also because it is alot warmer on the face then composite stocks when its real cold out.

Other then that I would recommend either a McMillan for the top end stock choice or an H-S for a more economical choice without any performance loss after they are bedded properly.

Triggers come pretty good from the factory on the Rem 700 rifles. Most can be tuned safely and consistantly down to the 2.5 lb range but I prefer to keep a factory trigger in the 2 3/4 to 3 lb range on a big game rifle.

An after market trigger can be fitted to lower the weight but I still do not recommend a trigger much under 2.5 lbs on a big game rifle. A properly tuned trigger with a release weight of 2.5 lbs feels much lighter then that and is much safer then a lighter trigger pull if that big bull happens to walk out of the bruch unexpected and you need to shoot quick. You actually need to pull this trigger weight a little which I feel is a good thing.

I like to pillar bed my laminated stock rifles as well as the McMillan stocks. The H-S stocks do not need to be pillared as they have the full length bedding block but I do recommend a bedding job which they say is not needed for 1/2 moa shooting.

I like my rifles to shoot a little better then 1/2 moa and these stocks do perform better with a bedding job.

Scope mounts are also a personal thing, I use Burris one piece bases simply to stiffen up the action a bit by bridging the large ejection port on the bolt rifles.

I also use Burris Signature rings which I feel are the best rings on the market for gripping a scope securely and for the money they are impossible to beat in performance.

For my big game rifles, I highly recommend the Weaver 4.5-14 Tactical scope. They are very high quality, most of my customers comment that they are noticalby brighter and clearer then their top end Leupold scopes and the best feature is that the mil-dot reticle is positioned on the first focal plane so it stays consistant through out the entire power range in relation to the target. This is an extremely useful feature and one I wish more US scopes would use.

A rifle lik ethis will weight in at around 9 lbs with the laminated stock and heavy fluted barrel. With a composite stock your looking at around 8.5 lbs.

As far as calibers go, I like the 300 RUM and 338 RUM or better yet the 338-300 RUM wildcat. Do not let the wildcat designation spook you on the 338-300 as factory 338 RUM dies can be used to load this round and 300 RUM brass is cheap and easy to neck up for the better(in my opinion) full length 338-300 RUM.

Of the two, for elk hunting I would go with the 338-300 loaed with 225 gr Accubonds. This makes a very dramatic long range hammer and accuracy of this bullet is near match grade in a properly built rifle.

One last feature I would recommend is to fit a Holland QD brake to a rifle like this, especially in the 338 RUM or 338-300 RUM.

They can easily be used with full effect without a brake but they do generate respectible amounts of recoil in rifles inthe 8.5 to 9 lb range.

Fitting a Holland QD will tame them to the recoil levels felt with rounds in the 30-06 class, very comfortable.

So there you have it, this is what I would build myself for the style of hunting you talked about.

Now for hunting in dark timber, this of course would not be the perfect weapon to use but it would in a pinch withthe scope turned down to 4.5x.

If hunting in heavy timber is possible, going with a 26" barrel would be worth considering.

If your interested in pricing drop me an e-mail at:

[email protected]

Good Shooting!!

Kirby Allen(50)
.277 minimum and .284 max. I'm just partial to my my two guns. Nothing including buffalo in the lower 48 can't be taken with either of these.

I'm also partial to big cases, longer barrels, and bigger scopes. The nightforce 5.5 X 22 is what I have on my 7mm STW.

The Ultra mags and on this forum the Allen magnums are also nice

I would agree with your comments 100%. But for hunters coming out west on expensive guided hunts I like to recommend a little more gun then is needed just in case everything does not go well.

As we all know sometimes things do not turn out how we plan all the time

Maybe just for me

Good Shooting!!

Kirby Allen(50)
jrb co
I have finally reached the position in life (all of the kids raised and on their own) and am in the process of doing just exactly what you are talking about, and money will not be an object! I hunt elk and deer, primarily in Idaho and will be using a .338-416 Rigby wildcat. I have this rifle in an Enfield and have taken elk and moose with it and love it. This rifle will be built on a Nesika action, Lilja 32 inch #7 barrel, Jewell trigger, Sunnyhill bottom Metal, Wyatt center feed magazine box, McMillan stock, and US Optics NP-3 scope in 3.5 - 22 X 58. I do not like light rifles for long range shooting. Heavy rifles are much easier to hold on target, if you are breathing hard, you need every advantage you can get when preparing to shoot. Besides when you touch-off 119 grains of H870, recoil becomes a factor. This outfit will cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000.00 and I don't care that Henry has a model A that cost $500 and out shoots anything else on the range. I have waited all my life to have a gun exactly like I want, no holds barred, and now I'm going to get it!
jrb CO

This guy has the best FPS cases


They are in between the ultra's.

Less cass volume. I was looking at my next gun as .338 lapua with a 34 inch. I have .277 .284 ,and .458 I have used the .416 because certian countries only allow it as a small gun.

The high speed 6mm and 6.5mm are also a fun choice.

I'm a red neck from the old school and don't mind packing a gun with a 29 inch 9 pound barrel. total gun might be just under 20 with a Harris bypod and big scope. I like the fun of hunting with the guys that have the best. I don't care if i fill a tag. It's just getting out there and letting the small ones go.
Well, I'm gonna throw in my $.02. I like a solid (heavy) long range rifle for shooting, but I far prefer a light, accurate 5-8.5 lb rifle for hunting. Melvin Forbes, of New Ultra Light Arms makes rifles in the 5 lb range that he said will shoot around a quarter inch at 100 yds. On the heavier end of things, the 8.5-9 lb rifle fiftydriver suggests sounds much more practical than a 14-20 lb tactical outfit. One other rifle I would suggest is a Jarrett. Kenny Jarrett is known to produce some of the most consistently accurate hunting rifles available. I hunt along the contenental divide in central CO, and use a .300 Jarrett (built by Steve Branum of Bear Arms) built on a trued Rem action using a 24" #4 taper Pac-Nor barrel, with brake, that weighs 8.5 lbs with a 2.5-10 IOR tactical scope. Lately I've been using a 6.5 lb, (with Zeiss 4.5-14 Conquest), Kimber .243 for marmots and 'yotes. As long as I am tossing out my opinion let me add another thought, on caliber. How far do you realisticly expect to be shooting this rifle at game? It is my contention that a .300 mag, shooting 200 gr bullets is comfortably adequate for elk out at 5-600 yds, and maybe a bit farther. I have a 6lb 10 oz Kimber .300 WSM on the way. I think the WSM platform has great promise for the lighter rifles I seem to be moving toward.
Thanks for the input guys, and keep them coming.


It is funny you mention those 2 rifles. When I stopped rifle hunting over a decade ago. I sold my .284 Win Ultra Light Arms and my .300 Jarrett (made by Kenny).

I was always partial to the .284, but that .300 would shoot great groups (for me) at 500 yards. So, I see myself shooting a .284 -.300 bullet, but now there are many more wilcats.

Realistically, I have never shot at any animal over 350 yards, so I do not know what my range is. But I have to admit, watching that guy on "Best of the West" hunting show shooting elk at 700+ yards kind of looks like fun.

With a lot of guys promising .5 MOA with semi custom rifles, is there much improvement with a fully custom rig?

Fiftydriver, I will drop you an email after the holidays as I want to think about this for a bit.

Brassbender, who is making your rifle?
jrb CO
I am having a smith by the name of Shane Thompson, Soda Springs, Idaho built the rifle. Shane's work was featured in Rifle magazine a year or two ago, and he just finished building a 300 RUM for my son-in-law on a Nesika action, Lilja barrel and McMillan stock. Rifle looks great and so far shoots extremely well out to 1,000 yards with factory ammo. We just picked the rifle up in September, and so are still working on load development. Let me know if you need any further info.
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