223 Sniper?


November 15, 2008, 08:43 AM
I know that guys spend MUCH on 'sniper rifles' - $1200 guns, and several hundred on scopes, etc. Then I walk into Dick's and see a Savage camo heavy barreled 223 Varminter from Savage for $500 with Scope. Is that Savage NEAR these other rigs which are likely 2-3 times as much? (Not a criticism on those who can spend more, but just a comparison).

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1911 guy
November 15, 2008, 09:11 AM
The answer is both yes and no. The rifle itself is up to some astounding accuracy. My .308 and .223 bolt rifles are both Savage. When fed a load they like, both are accurate beyond my ability to make full use of it. I've shot the .308 out to 500yd and the rifle was still grouping not much over MOA, about six inch groups. The .223 will do two inch groups at 300yd, I've never shot it farther than that. Obviously, these were shot from a bipod and benchrest.

The things that make a "sniper" rifle are a good rifle, rock solid mounts and rings, a clear and repeatable optic, a stock fitted to the user and a load tailored to make use of the hardware. The skill to use these doesn't come off a gunrack, though. I'm a fair shot with a rifle and don't even come close to the skill of the one actual sniper I've known. He made me look like a six year old with a Red Ryder.

The action and barrel would be the only things worth keeping if you really wanted a "sniper" rifle. You'd be better off buying a wood stocked .308 and going from there. Then I'd expect to pay as much for an aluminum bedded and free floated stock as I did for the rifle, A few hundred getting set up to reload for it, and somewhere around a grand for a durable, clear, repeatable optic with the reticle in the first focal plane. Figure forty bucks for rings and anywhere from fifty to a hundred for a base with at least one MOA elevation. Then you're going to need an inch-pound torque wrench to assemble everything. You've got to torque it so it will repeat when you pull the action for maintenance. A lapping bar to lap the rings true. I'm sure there's more, but it would be way beyond my experience.

November 15, 2008, 09:54 AM

All that would be way over what I 'could use' - unless you are trained very well! Thanks.

Jim Watson
November 15, 2008, 10:03 AM
You 'can use' the best you can get at any level of ability. An inferior rig will leave you wondering if a miss was operator error or just a wide shot from the gun. But you still don't have to spend a lot of money. The Dick's Gun will probably shoot sub MOA with good ammunition. The cheap package scope will probably pick out a target for a couple hundred yards or so.

1911 guy
November 15, 2008, 10:28 AM
You can have a very accurate rifle and not have a "sniper" rifle. Examples would be my deer and varmint rifles, the .308 and .223 I mentioned above. Including rifle, optics and aftermarket stock for the .308, it still came in under $700. A good rifle and scope is a good rifle and scope, even if it isn't the most High Speed, Low Drag option available. Too much is made of all the "tactical" goodies, in my opinion.

In short, if you like the .223 you looked at, get it and shoot it. Savage rifles come with Simmons glass. Not the very best, but entirely serviceable. My .223 has a Simmons Aetec on it, the Simmons that came with my .308 has held up to 12ga recoil for several years now.

P.S. My Savage .223 really likes 68gr bullets, throws 55gr like a shotgun. Pick up a box of 55gr, 62gr and 68gr. See what the rifle likes, then buy more. Or spend the money you saved on a press and reload. Shoot till you can't see straight.

Aww, buy it already! That rifle and scope will probably be enough to get you to the reasonable limit of .223 use right off the shelf. Dang, I like spending other peoples money. :D

November 15, 2008, 12:35 PM
Then there is the LIGHTWEIGHT VARMINTER which Savage makes, but is likely more expensive - looks VERY nice, and one can port it around MUCH better.

Jim Watson
November 15, 2008, 02:36 PM
Repeat, good ammunition.

The worst thing about the .223 is all the surplus, imitation surplus, and economy ammunition. Unless you get real lucky, it is just like any other caliber, it is going to take the high priced spread or handloading with good components. Dick's Special FMJ is not going to get the best out of the gun. (I have read well of the WWB JHP, though.) As 1911guy says, use the money you save to tool up to load for it.

November 15, 2008, 02:54 PM
The 223 round is up to the task, so are most Savage rifles...that scope however, is not going to work for a precision rig.

Steve in PA
November 15, 2008, 04:42 PM
I'm still working on handloads for this rifle, but I found it really likes a 45gr load I was playing around with. I'm still working on a 55 and 62gr load.

Savage 12FV .223 with a Mueller 4-16x 50mm scope and a DuraMaxx stock.


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