Need advice-LR mountain rifle for multiple species- semi-custom or factory?

Aug 18, 2003
I'm looking for a faily lightweight LEFT-HAND, long-range rifle. Probably 9 pounds max -fully equiped (Scope, sling, bipod, loaded). Ideally, a lighter rifle is better (about 7.5-8 pounds)but I'm concerned about locking on target after heavy breathing climbing up a mountain...and I always thought that for long-range, you needed a heavy barrel...Probably a 26" barrel(not longer, and preferably 24" if you think it is still good for LR) and in .300wsm or .300 WM.(which cartridge is better for me?)

I would use it for sheep, elk, bear and mulies. Max range would be 600 yards. I would prefer it to shoot two loads. 1. a ballistic tip or bonded bullet in 165-180gr. for long range sheep, black bear, mulies 2. a 180gr-200gr. for elk, moose, possibly Grizzly

I've looked at HS PRECISION any comments? Remember need left-hand...But also thought a good Savage Weather Warrior factory with excellent scope might do it for less money and be a good intro rifle??

THank you for helping me- I appreciate it!
I don't think you'll have much trouble filling those requirements.

You mention mountains but not the hunting elevation(s)... high altitiude (6,000' ASL and up I'd say) is a real bonus for LR shooting and hunting (if you're prepared and have the trajectory and wind data).

I've shot plenty of 24" barreled rifles to 600 problem. Remember, the bullet has no trouble getting to 600 yards (or even much further) it's the shooter that needs to understand and correct for trajectory and wind.

300 Magnum (traditional or short) would be a good pick. If the Short Magnums will fit in a short action you'll save a bit of weight. Left hand might be a problem in a Short Mag but you should be able to find a 300 Win Mag in left handed somewhere.

I'd definately have a bipod on that rifle (or one pack available to attach).

Long range does NOT require a heavy barrel (IMHO), it requires an accurate rifle and good marksman. You'll probably only need one shot once the critter is spotted and there's no need for a heavy barrel when shooting a one (or two) shot string.

Get good equipment... a few knocks and bangs on the rifle and scope should NEVER alter your zero...what good is a rifle system that can't be trusted to hold zero in the outdoors environment. Get a scope with target (or Mark 4 type) turrets or calibrated reticle (Horus, Mil, MOA)...stay away from the preset game type reticles (Shephard, Springfield Armory, etc).

I've had two custom HS Precision rifles (2000 LA), both were the heavy model. The 300 Win Mag was probably one of the best shooters I've ever had but the second one was a ***...I won't buy any more of their rifles!

You don't need custom rifles to be good for 600 yards...custom rifles (IMHO once again) are great for confidence builders...You might go through a dozen factory rifles before getting one that's a keeper but a custom built by a trusted smith is a sure one-time deal.

I'd say get the Savage (can't believe I said that
) and practice/evaluate. 600 yards is fairly close shooting once you have a good grasp of the basic ballistics and techniques.
If I am going to spend the cost of HS Precision, and wanting a lightweight rifle. That leaves one in my opinion, the new ultra light arms out of West Virginia. The model 20 is short action but long enough mag to long seat the 284 bullets and weighs 4.5 lbs, with 22" barrel at $2400, the model 22 is long action, model 24 is magnum (24" barrel) and model 26 is WSMs. Melvin Forbes is owner and will do other size cutom barrels. Custom triggers, 1lb kevlar stock etc.

I have owned two model 20s in 7mm 08 and both would do .5 moa with good hand loads. Absolute dream to carry.

Good luck.

For me, rifle weight will be very important especially if climbing steep terrain is in order. I would look for something around 7lbs to 7 1/2lbs. I would definitely want a synthetic stock both for weather and durability. A lam stock would also work if you are willing to cut out a lot of the extra wood.

For the ranges you are looking at almost any cartridge from 270 to the 30mags will work. I would look at the 280rem/AI, 30-06 or Gibbs before going to a fat mag. Simply because I like mag capacity. The fat mag only have a 3 shot capacity. The '06 can be up to 5.

I would also look at detachable mags since you are concerned about grizzlies. I would have one mag stoked with 200gr round noses and the other(s) with my hunting loads. Personally, I am a big fan of '06 and the 165gr SST. Will do everything you are looking to do in a package that will not remove your teeth when you shoot it.

All you need is something that can hit a milk jug at max range.

You do not need a heavy barrel, just an accurate barrel. A 22 to 23" barrel of normal contour will work just fine. If light is really important, flute the barrel for more weight saving.

I would suggest you look at the new Tikka T3, Brownings, Savages and Rem 700 Dmag. All will shoot accurately enough to do what you want. In fact the new Rem 710 may just be perfect, if available in left kidding.

Custom is great but for hunting, I have not seen any that did anything better but cost a whole bunch more. For BR or LR hunting from a bench, you need all the tricks you can get. For a hunting rifle, function is much more important and the compromises to make a rifle work usually make it a 1/2 MOA shooter. Most modern commerical rifles can be made to shoot 1/2 to 3/4 MOA with a little tuning and proper load development.

Good luck..

Thanks guys-very informative. I've posted this in optics too, but it carries from my original post.

I just decided on a long range starter rifle (semi-custom rifle to purchase at later date). It is the Model 16 Savage, Stainless steel, composite stock Weather Warrior, 24" barrel, weight 6.75 pounds in .300WSM.

I will use it to hunt (% of time):
Deer (mulies/WT):40%
Black Bear:15%
Bighorn Sheep: 10%
Caribou: 10%
Moose: 10%

Summary: Short range to long range animals across wide variety of terrain and hunting conditions.

Max range for my hunting (% of time):
0-300 yards: 75%
300-400 yards: 20%
400-600 yards: 5% (less than 2%>500 yards)

Summary: 95% of shots inside 400 yards, with occassional long shots up to MAX. 600 yards (under ideal conditions etc...)

Need rugged, preferrably silver and light weight (for 'mountain rifle'), scope, with W/E adjustments allowing for shots out to max. 600 yards (I think for all scopes below, W/E adj. get there, or holding very slightly higher on animal)

Which scope should I mount (out of list of 4 below)given:$budget$, my rifle, animals hunted and range:

1.Leopold Compact 3-9X 33mm Silver(Duplex)64"E/adj. (lightest, with most elevtion adj.)
2.VX-II 3-9X 40mm Tactical Matte(Duplex)56"E/adj.
3.VX-II 3-9X 40mm Silver (Duplex) 56"E/adj.
4.VX-II 3-9X 50mm Matte (Duplex) 56"E/adj.

Would you change your minds from list above if I were to add in (max. end of $budget$)?:
1.Vari-X III 2.5-8X 36mm Silver (Duplex)56"E/adj.
2.Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40 Silver Finish, Plex Reticle 64"E/adj. also heaviest at 15 ounces

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I appreciate it. I will consider all of your opinions.
Of the four Luppies, I would suggest the tactical or the equivalent and a set of Stoney Point adj knobs. You will not need more then one revolution to get to 600yds if sighted for 250yd point blank.

Personally, I like the Bausch and Lomb 4200 2.5X10, but knobs are getting hard to find. Burris Fullfield w/ bal plex would also work well if the dots match up with your trajectory.

Any of the three will give you excellent service.


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