Without being repetitive, is the .223 case what you want to stay with for cost reasons or would you want any other caliber? If you re-barrel, you can have almost ANY caliber you want regardless of case head size for about 45 bucks additional in changing the bolt head. Savage/Stevens have a huge advantage in caliber changes.
I went to the .223 a couple years ago. I used to coyote hunt with a Ruger M77 .243 shooting 70gn Nosler BT. One day while out on a new farm I shot a bobcat at a lazered 378 yards, that bullet blew a softball sized hole it the cat. I went to the .223 to try and prevent this in the future. It's looking like if I want to shoot long, I may have to just deal with a little fur loss. I'm not gonna give up yet though. I still have a few other bullets to try first.