How far are you shooting? How many rounds are you shoting? Factory, custom or customized factory?
You might ask this question 6mmBR also.
I have a Sendero 25-06 that is a real tack driver and would make a great target rifle. Barrel life would be a little low for target shooting, but I think you could get 2500 ounds or so from it if you didn't shoot max loads, let the barrel cool and took care of it.
We need to define long distance target shooting just a bit here to give a proper response. If you're talking about 1,000 yard prone shooting, the 6.5/284 rules the roost in that game, hands down. the 1,000 yard bench shooters may go with something bigger, such as one of the various 300 Mags, while more recoil sensitive shooters will go with smaller, high velocity rounds like the 6mm BR, 6mm XC, or similar rounds. If you go with a 6mm, 6.5mm or .30 cal, you'll have a wider variety of true Match bullets available to choose from. A somewhat smaller selection in the 7mm bore, and downright slim pickings in .257", 270" and others which don't see much match use.
To learn and gain experience, you can't go wrong with the .308 Winchester. It has been a time tested, mother approved (or fathers mostly) caliber that has proved its abilities from theaters of war to the benches of 1000yrd competitions. This caliber will teach you all you need to know about how to read wind, loading techniques and choosing the correct bullet. With that said, let's go this direction also.
For convenience of brass, you can use .308 Winny brass for several calibers. Lapua makes top of the line stuff and so does Norma. If a guy wanted to, you could go the direction of these 3 calibers: 7mm-08, 260 Remington, or 243 Winchester. These are all based off the .308 casing. These 3 calibers will also be more forgiving in recoil and offer very good bullets to poke paper with. With target shooting accuracy is the name of the game.
These 3 calibers all offer very High BC (ballistic coefficient) bullets that will help buck the wind. Of the 3 I would go with the 243 (6mm) and the 260(6.5mm). Again these offer some outstanding bullets that are sure to help you achieve your goal with minimal loss of barrel life compared to the 6.5x284. The .308 can offer barrel life up to and beyond 5000+ rnds. Some .308's have been known to shoot accurately out of a well maintained barrel to 10,000rnds. The 243 will be around 3500rnds (faster means more wear) and the 260 I believe falls around that number as well.
I'm with Liltank on this one. There are a lot of great calibers and some of these have been mentioned but if you are just starting out, I don't think you could beat the 308 Win. It is an inherently accurate round, lots of good factory ammo for it, easy to reload for, pleasure to shoot, the list goes on. If you want something to get you started, it would be a great choice. I started with a 300 WM and burned the throat out since I was having so much fun with it. Now I am in the process of spending quite a few bucks on a new barrel. Oh yeah, I finally bought a 308 after reading a post like this one and am having a blast shooting it 1,000 +.
Hey thanks for the suggestions everyone! i would be shooting 1000 yards + off bench I was thinking either a 6.5-284 0r a 300 Remington ultra or a weatherby 30-378. what are your thoughts on these guns? and what would be around the top muzzle velocity of theses three guns?
The GS SP 120 with an ave G1 BC of about .64 to 1000 yds, assuming an MV of 3400 fps which you should be able to get with RL17. This would be a good wind bucker for sure. These bullets are spendy. You could also go with the 140 g Berger's, SMK's etc.
You could get more velocity and BC out of the RUM and Wthby, but they would be more costly to shoot and likely burn barrels a lot quicker, not to mention recoil.
I would probably get a Sub MOA Vanguard SS donor rfile, remove the barrel and sell it. Get a match grade custom barrel, blue print the action, Jewel triger and custom recoil lug and bed the stock. The Vanguard action is made by howa and IMO probably a step up from the Rem 700. The stock is a solid, pillar bedded B&C, great platform This would all run about $2000 or so US.
I would get a NF NXS 5.5-22x50 with EGW base, NF rings and anti-cant top level. This would run about another $2000
For target shooting you could go with something a little cheaper like a Sightron. But a lot of BR guys like the NF scopes. Check out the threads.
Ditto on the last here; the 6.5/284 is far and away the best choice here. The 30/378 would be dead last and has a lot working against it for this type opf shooting. Recoil, barrel wear, reduced accuracy potential (or at least, mch harder to realize decent accuracy with this one, and lack of true Match quality cases, in either of the .30s you mentioned here.
I just read an article in Shooting Times magazine that Savage is coming out with a hunting model 6.5x284. Comes with Accu-Stock, Accu-Trigger, muzzle break you can turn off and on, with a fluted 24" barrel. So far the test shooter said this rifle is spot on. It also will come with an adjustable cheek rest. It was a nice setup and got rave reviews. Should be in the $600 range I think they said. It will be new for 2010.