Help with long range caliber and rifle please

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by MJU, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. MJU

    MJU Active Member

    Mar 31, 2012
    Hello. I am hoping to obtain some knowledge and opinions from people having a better understanding and experience with ballistics, various bullets and long range hunting.

    I am going to provide some detail as to help facilitate some enlightening information back to me. In advance I would like to thank everyone who takes the time to help me out.

    What I want: I am considering a lightweight long range hunting rifle. I am mainly looking for input on a caliber, but open to suggestions on a rifle as well. Regarding the rifle, I am on a budget and intend on a quality scope, so price is a factor. With that said though, I am looking for that 1 rifle to be happy with for a long time, so I will save up to get what I need to get. My goal for a rifle alone would be under 1K. I hunt in the Southwest and have hikes in the 3-10 mile range in rough country each day. That is why weight is an issue to me.
    My main game hunted is deer, both mule deer and coues deer. Although I would like to shoot them all as close as possible, I would like to be able to shoot to 800 yards and be lethal. A bonus to me would be able to kill black bear and large bull elk with this caliber/rifle as well. Another issue to throw into it would be the ability for my wife to use it on her occasional elk hunt as well, so recoil becomes an issue. I am not a fan of muzzle breaks, but would consider it if I had to for this purpose.

    What I already have: I do have a few rifles already, but don’t feel they fit the bill for me. Here is a list –
    Remington 700 ADL 243. This rifle was given to me by my parents about 20 years ago. I consider it more of a keepsake than hunting rifle and is what my wife uses for deer in the past.

    Remington 700 LSS 7mm mag. Awesome gun that shoots well but it is really heavy! I haven’t shot it past 350 yards, but am sure it would be a good long range rifle. Again the problem is the weight and I get worn out with it after a few days. It also kicks too much for my wife and I am worried the accuracy would change if I had the local gunsmith put a break on it. Recoil is ok to me but on the upper limit of being something I want to shoot at the range much.

    Browning A Bolt 308. Pretty gun and decent weight. It has a short barrel, maybe 21 or 22”. It has the BOSS system and traded for it years ago for my wife to hunt elk with. For some reason I am just not a fan of this set up and am thinking of selling to help finance the new set up.

    Remington 700 SPS 257 Weatherby magnum w/ 26” barrel. This is my primary rifle now and I am learning the art of long range shooting with this. I really like it but have countless people advise me that the 115 grain bullet I shoot is too light for the winds of the southwest (too much drift)as well as questionable energy and killing power at longer ranges, especially for bigger game animals. This gun is a bit on the heavy side. I believe the stock rifle according to factory info was 7.75 lbs.

    I don’t reload, so ammo availability is somewhat of an issue but not a real deciding factor for me. I can plan appropriately and stock up and it also seems like there are some custom ammo makers out there that could develop a load for me and I could order what I need. Again I would like to go fairly lightweight with manageable recoil (I know this is a combination of opposites)but be able have confidence that once I can be confident of my bullet placement, it will do the job even at ranges that I actually hope I will never have to do other than the range for practice!
  2. trebark

    trebark Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    To kill elk at long range you're going to have to go with one of the magnums. So think 7saum, 7stw, 300winmag, 300rum etc. they will also require a fairly heavy bullet (the 180grain berger hybrid in the 7's are awesome!) but this also means fairly heavy recoil, so you're going to want a muzzle brake.

    In terms of the rest of your build, consider this one as a model:
  3. Joe King

    Joe King Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2012
    I was going to recommend 7mag till I saw it on your list, the only other thing I can think of is 284-6.5, or rebarrel your 7mag and have a something like a painkiller brake installed, I understand their pretty good to the shooter. bigngreen found a style of break he says is friendly as far as others around you are concerned. By rebarreling you can dictate weight and still get a really good barrel that'll give you the accuracy you want. just an option:)

    never to late to start reloading, you'll find more help and knowledge here than you'd ever ask for
  4. Dr. Vette

    Dr. Vette Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2009
    I'd use your 257 for deer, and I think you'll do fine at almost any range. In addition, many people use a 25-06 or 257 Wby for elk though I'd personally be a bit hesitant at loooong range with it (i.e. over your 800 yards suggested) for anything. I bought a 257 Wby early this year as my long range deer rifle and it's a great rifle!

    For elk I'd use your 7mm Rem Mag, think about a brake, and if you want less weight consider changing the stock to a lighter Bell & Carlson:
    Bell & Carlson Alaskan Wilderness / Mountain Rifle Remington Model 700 / Model Seven (7) Stock - Right & Left Hand Available - NEW Models!
    Adding a brake does not change accuracy unless your local gunsmith is completely worthless and screws it up, but it will change the point of impact due to altering the barrel harmonics. Many on this site use a 7mm Rem Mag so there is plenty of information here on this caliber.

    With those two that you already own you can do a lot of shooting and training for long range, and have a lot less than $1000 spent. You could even upgrade the 257 to a lighter/stiffer B&C stock and likely see a benefit.
  5. Scot E

    Scot E Well-Known Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    A couple thoughts.

    You have a bit of a tough task ahead of you IMO. Like you mentioned light weight and low recoil are polar opposites. Also, in some ways light weight and LR shooting are competing concepts too. Thirdly, even if you get a good LR rifle you may not be able to find off the shelf ammo that allows you to get the kind of accuracy you need for the LR shots you are talking about.

    I think you are going to have to embrace the concept of a brake. It really is about the only way to reduce recoil like you need to and still have enough performance for elk at LR. And IMO you have to plan around elk even if it is overkill for everything else just to be sure you get the job done on those magnificent and tough creatures!

    It sounds like your 7mm is too heavy and kicks too much. Have you thought about having it worked on by a good smith and turn it into exactly what you want? The concern I have for you buying something new is that you don't have any assurance of getting a good shooter and with a limited budget and needing to shoot factory ammo you are already behind a bit there anyway. Sell your 308, and have him make exactly what you want.

    As far as cartridge choice and assuming you are going to brake it to help with recoil, :) I really think you need a 300 Win Mag type cartridge for your purposes although the 7mm would work too out to 800 yards. If you are going to go the semi custom route you could do some research and choose what factory load you want to shoot and then have your smith throat it for that specific load. This would help in trying to ensure you get the accuracy you need. I personally wouldn't go VLD though as they are too picky with seating depth.

    Just one more thought. Think a lot about reducing weight in other areas like your pack or yourself perhaps and keep enough weight in the gun to help with the accuracy you need. Also, think hard about finding a reloading buddy that can work up an accurate load for you then make you a bunch of them. I think you will way ahead if you can go that route.

    Good Luck!

    Scot E.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    You have lots of good advice already. But you are asking more than I think your going to be able to get. Here is what I would do in your situation.

    Hit the gym, I have a lot of time in the terrain you described and your rifles are not heavy as is.

    Embrace the muzzle brake it really is your only option as you want a lighter rifle. As rifle weight goes down felt recoil is going to increase.

    Take your 7mm and send it to Kevin Cram at montoure county rifles. Have him add a muzzle brake and flute your barrel(maybe make it shorter). Have Kevin suggest and add a lighter stock to your rifle. Invest all remaining funds into HIGHEND OPTICS!