Light/medium longer range rifle question


February 10, 2008, 11:49 AM
I'm thinking about a light medium general purpose rifle that would also work for longer range shooting. It will be a carry gun in the hills when not in prime grizzly country. I have shot longer range with 308, 30-06, and 338 in the past, but due to a shoulder injury, I'm looking at smaller calibers that will still have some deer, antelope and various larger varmint utility and longer range capabilties. After looking at various rounds between the 257 Roberts to 7-08 and 7mm Mauser, and reading Zaks writing about long range shooting, it's looking like the 260 would be one of the better mild mannered but capable rounds due to the availabilty of very high BC bullets.

Some other considerations are, a short action is lighter, and this gun would be carried nearly daily when walking with my dogs in the hills. I want more range and power than the 22 centefires, and the other light medium rounds don't have the very high BC bullets available. I like shooting longer range. We have steel plates at 300 and 600 yards, and I'd like to put a couple more out at 900 or 1000 yards, and one at around 1200 yards. I'm not going to do any formal match or competition, but would like to be able to realistically shoot at these ranges, hence the desire for a round that has very high BC bullets without going to ultra-high velocity(and attendant shorter barrel life, noise and recoil) to get good range.

I'm pretty traditional, blued steel and walnut is in the picture. I'm leaning towards an earlier Ruger 77 short action with tang safety that locks the bolt, decent wood well bedded, and probably a good barrel, as I don't think there were many 260's made in the earlier M-77's. It will likely have Leupold glass, in a 3-9 or 4-12 power range with long range or mil-dot reticle, but I haven't looked hard at the available options yet. My thoughts are that this will be primarily a lighter general purpose rifle with longer range capabilities.

Any thoughts on this? Am I missing anything?

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Zak Smith
February 10, 2008, 09:13 PM
If you can live with a muzzle brake, it will reduce recoil considerably, which may help that shoulder injury. The 243, 260 and 7-08 would be good choices in a short action. If you can step to the "x57" size actions (you mentioned 257 Roberts), you have some more options.

Assuming you can coax the Ruger to shoot approx 1 MOA with bullets that are halfway appropriate for LR shooting, the main differentiator in the rifle set up compared to a regular 0-250 yard deer rifle will be the optics-- get something that has the appropriate dials, repeatability, and reticle for long range and you should be set.

From Leupold, for this application, I recommend the Mark 4 scopes with M1, M2, or M3 dials. The 3.5-10x40mm would be a good choice, or the 3-9 M/RT if you can find one (I think they were discontinued for the 2.5-8 model).

February 10, 2008, 10:00 PM
I don't have one myself, but I hear good things about Savage. I'm thinking of getting one in 243.
You can load 243 with heavier match bullets for long range target work, and there are lots of great varmint and deer loads available in factory ammo. It's supposed to be quite light in recoil as well.

February 10, 2008, 10:02 PM
just remembered this article on using 243 for long range applications:

February 10, 2008, 10:23 PM

There are several choices, and you've stated most of them. However, you seem to have neglected the one I've made. Get a Tikka or a CZ in 6.5 Swede & don't look back.

Northwest Wyoming? I'm NCHS class of 65. Not exactly N.W. but I do know the territory. Currently I'm in central Montana & am in hot pursuit of obtaining a 6.5 Swede LHB. You want a trial to test yer soul, try to find one. The Swede with a better 140 grain bullet will put it through a brick wall at 100 yards. The round has also won 1000 yard matches. The recoil is moderate, and the accuracy phenominal.

I first got into the 6.5 Swedes when I bought my then 16 year old son his first center-fire hunting rifle for his birthday. The local dealer couldn't convince the citizenry in Casper to buy the Rem 700 classic in its year of production, so moved it to me at a discount the next year. The boy's now in his second visit to the sandbox & I strongly suggest you don't try to tell him he has to sell the gun to you upon his return. It could get ugly.

You could do worse than to go with the Swede, and it'd be damn hard to do better.


February 10, 2008, 10:35 PM
Any .26 caliber in a lightweight bolt gun that can hit past 600 yards is going to have a fair amount of kick to it. As for barrel life, I wouldn't fret over that too much. This doesn't sound like a rifle you will be shooting thousands of rounds per year.

February 10, 2008, 10:53 PM
personally, I like anything in 6.5, that includes swede, carcano, Arisaka, Grendel.
Right now, the 6.5 swede rounds can be found everywhere, and the Grendel goes for about 12 bucks a box from wolf. I think the 260 may be a bit too stout for you. I even enjoy the 243, and that, in a sporter may be a good way to go. But the others can be found in a sporter as well, and for cheap. But the one with the lightest recoil of all, maybe a 243 or Grendel, in an ar platform; they are typically under 7 lbs, without all the toys, and the semiauto really eats up recoil. If not this, then look for an old remington semi auto in 243.

February 10, 2008, 11:07 PM
If you aren't "leaning toward a Ruger M77" too much I would suggest consideration, at least, of one of the Remington 700 or Savage 10 models.

Would also add that Zak's comment about optics being a big part of the equation passed 300 yds. is well worth re-reading several times.

You are facing at least a little bit of "trade-off" here. Rifles that are ultralight Joys to carry over Hill and Dale are often less than stellar performers at really long distances (especially from field positions). And the scope you'll want is not going to be as light as the Proverbial feather either. There is at least a chance you could end up with an expensive rig that is neither fun to carry nor of particularly commendable long-range accuracy. Personally, I'd be tempted to think about getting two rifles.

Local opinion may vary. :cool:

February 10, 2008, 11:57 PM
I am not sure of your budget but a Steyr SBS stainless Mountain Rifle in 6.5x55 would be perfect. There is no hope of getting one used. CDNN had SBS Stainless Camo in 260 Rem at discount. The 260 has a slow twist and the 6.5X55 has a fast twist in these rifles. Optics would are a must at 300 yds for most people.

February 11, 2008, 12:04 AM
Thanks for the input guys.

Zak, I've been looking at the articles you've written about the various guns, gear and rounds being used for longer range shooting, and also trying to learn some from other sources. Not having shot either a 260 or a 7-08, I don't know if either will bother my shoulder. I'm thinking the 260 would be a little milder, and it looks like a pretty good long range round with proper bullets. If I can avoid a muzzle brake I will, since I have hearing damage already, and don't want to do any more damage if I can avoid it.

The factory ammo situation isn't too much of an issue with me, most of my guns have never seen a round of factory ammo unless it was affordable surplus. That situation has changed, so if I'm going to reload, why not load something that will do what I want it to. Mild mannered with some reach potential. I have several rifles that I've shot several thousand rounds a year thru if it was something that I liked and used much. If this project pans out, it may well get shot quite a bit, particularly since I haven't been shooting the '06's and 308 recently.

I don't know if I've been lucky, but I've had several earlier Ruger 77's, and they all shot pretty well, even the 308 with ball ammo. It would do a little under 1 1/2" @ 100 yards with SA I believe. I like the safety, and large extractor. The ones I've had had pretty good trigger actions and were adjustable. If I can find a decent earlier Ruger 77, it will probably get a decent barrel, as I don't think Ruger made any 260's in the tang safety models. I'm wanting to have a finished gun that's in the 7 1/2 to 8 lb range so it isn't a beast to carry, we'll have to see how the glass ads up in that equation.

I'm new on the glass for long range shooting, but have been trying to learn about that aspect as well.

Anyone have a link to a recoil calculator?

Zak Smith
February 11, 2008, 12:16 AM
Well, a 260 shooting a max load with the 140's should have approx 32% less recoil than 308 shooting a max load with the 175's.

As for the brake situation, they make a dramatic difference for recoil. For hunting where you can't wear earpro, you might have to remove it. Otherwise, try some electronic muffs in that situation (if legal), or obviousl regular earpro for shooting.

A sound suppressor would also help both recoil and report. Some people have compared a heavy 260 shooting through a "can" to .22LR recoil levels.

Silencers are legal in WY and I know a local company near Cheyenne. ;)

February 11, 2008, 12:25 AM
Thanks Zak.

I've thought about the brake, and being able to remove it. If I can handle the recoil without it, I'll go without, Guess that's just a bridge I'll have to cross when I get there.

I doubt I'd ever go thru the paperwork to get a can. I couldn't even get excited about getting a ccw.

Zak Smith
February 11, 2008, 12:28 AM
Paperwork on a can is not that bad, and is considerably easier if you take the Trust/LLC route.


Art Eatman
February 11, 2008, 12:32 AM
I've not messed around with long range with a .243, not beyond 300 yards on prairie dogs. Some articles I've read say that some guys are achieving what seems like really incredible results "way out there".

Rifleman 173
February 14, 2008, 01:02 AM
You might want to consider shooting or getting a Swedish Mauser in 6.5 X 55. Swedish Mausers are known for their exceptional accuracy and for being kind on old bones like mine. Instead of slamming against you with recoil, the Swedish Mausers are supposed to gently push the rifle back into your shoulder. Because they're an old military rifle, the SMs are known to be rugged and reliable. According to one report I saw, the SMs are supposed to be very accurate, minute of bad guy, out to about 600 meters. Imagine what you can do if you mount a scope on one of them...

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