stuck in a caliber dilema...


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SSN Vet
November 5, 2009, 12:44 PM
The family budget will only accommodate me acquiring a new firearm every other year or so, but I've been conspiring to purchase my first (and likely only) bolt action rifle, upon which I will mount a 3-9x40 scope that I already have.

The rifle will serve the following purposes:

1. load development / target practice...
a.) from bags and off hand... 80% of which will be at 100 & 200 yds. (my club) and 20% @ 300 yds (friends club). I'd like to find a place where I can shoot longer.... but that's going to involve traveling and will be infrequent at best.
b.) occasionally knocking down steel plate targets out at 300 yds.
c.) ringing the gong at 200 & 300 yds. ;)

2. Potential for longer range shots at north eastern white tails (mostly hunt with 12 ga. due to regulations, and have a .30-30 for the occasional trip up north)

My preferences...

1.) I'm a blue steel and walnut furniture kind of guy :)
2.) Desire a caliber that has a healthy supply of bullet options in the market.
3.) Desire a cartridge that's not "exotic" to the point that brass, dies, etc... cost me a small fortune or require me to neck up or down to get brass.
3.) Since 90% of this rifles use will be at the range, I don't want a cartridge that will beet me up or induce a flinch (after helping a friend sight in a .300 mag, I have no desire to shoot one again).
4.) I'd like to limit the rifle purchase price to ~$550


I lean toward "classic" "old faithful" cartridges, and had my mind set on .30-06

I've been eying the Savage 114 American Classic for some two years now.

But...

I have recently read up many of the 6.5mm and 7mm cartridges and am thinking that 7mm-08 is a better fit for me.

I'd appreciate any insightful comments or suggestions.

I'm a little concerned that 7mm falls into the "exotic" catagory.....not because their is a lack of options available for bullets and brass, but because it's not "main stream" and therefore no body has inventory.

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lgbloader
November 5, 2009, 12:58 PM
If it were me...

Either of the following in bolt action would be great

1st choice:

308 WIN

2nd Choice:

30-06

3rd choice:

223 REM

LGB

Steve C
November 5, 2009, 01:00 PM
.308 Winchester meets all your criteria. Accurate long and short range target cartridge with large selection of bullets and uses a little less powder than the -06. Suitable for taking any game in the North America except for large Grizzly.

rg1
November 5, 2009, 01:26 PM
Shooters have different sensitivity to recoil but my opinion is that for plinking and bench shooting, that 30-06 is not the caliber I'd choose. It's a great caliber with components available, great hunting caliber for most any North American game, but shooting off the bench it starts to make me put it back in the case after 10-20 rounds. Don't even notice the recoil when shooting at game but on the bench you will. And I shoot a lot of calibers up to .300 Weatherby and 50BMG. For bench and target I'd pick a caliber such as .308 Win, 243, 260Rem, 7mm-08, or a 6.5 you mentioned. Now if you're going after a deer or moose the 30-06 is a great hunting cartridge. Just my opinion.

jjohnson
November 5, 2009, 01:36 PM
I'm with the guys voting .308.

Yep, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the .30-06, and I won't give up mine, either, but the .308 will do all you want and at a bargain price.

Savage is getting even better at being a low price solution on arguably the best "out of box" accuracy available. If you get a Savage with the AccuTrigger, you're already ahead of those of us who have installed a Timney aftermarket trigger to fix the nasty triggers we got with our "stock" or military surplus rifles. If you get one with the AccuStock, too, you just may never need another rifle (well, "need" and "want" are two different things).

You get the availability of cheap brass, common powders and bullets with other .30 calibers, and the convenience of the shorter action. You will find more surplus .308 than you will .30-06 also. The .308 is very close to the .30-06 ballistically and you don't see much of a difference until you get to the top end. Even then the difference is small.

You're on the right track. The 7mm-08 is very nice, but it won't get you the availability of surplus ammo or components.

R.W.Dale
November 5, 2009, 01:41 PM
If you're on a bit of a budget like me you might want to condense your rifles down to 1 or 2 bullet diameters. I've done this and it saves me a fistfull of green because I now order bullets by the K when I run across a great deal. Doing this has cut my bullet expendatures by at least half.

Kernel
November 5, 2009, 02:22 PM
You’re looking for what I’d call a “bench plinker”. You’re not interested in serious competition, you just want to shoot off a bench at your club, develop handloads, and have fun.

A varmint weight rifle can be a good choice, but they’re no fun to carry if you take it deer hunting. A nine pound rifle is good at mitigating recoil, and a heavy barrel let’s you shoot longer strings. Two pluses for a bench gun.

A sporter weight rifle can be just as accurate as a varmint weight rifle. Easier to carry. They recoil more, due to the fact they weight less, and the thin barrel heats up faster - so you spend more time waiting for it to cool down. You existing scope would sounds perfect for a sporter weight rifle.

2.) Desire a caliber that has a healthy supply of bullet options in the market.
That would favor a .30 cal or a 7mm. A .30 cal would have a wider selection of lead bullets, if you ever desired to develop low velocity (like 900 - 1600 fps) “Gopher Loads”. Choices for 7mm lead bullets are not as robust.

3.) Desire a cartridge that's not "exotic"….
That would favor a cartridge based on the .30-06 or .308.

3.) Since 90% of this rifles use will be at the range, I don't want a cartridge that will beet me up or induce a flinch…
That would favor the 7mm, and eliminate anything with "Magnum" in it's title.

1.) I'm a blue steel and walnut furniture kind of guy
4.) I'd like to limit the rifle purchase price to ~$550.
The Savage American Classic 114 or 14 are chambered in the following cartridges: 22-250 REM, 243 WIN, 7MM-08 REM, 308 WIN, 270 WSM, 300 WSM, 223 Rem, 204 Ruger, 250 Savage, 300 Savage, 270 Win, 30-06 Spfld, 7mm Rem Mag, 300 Win Mag.

It seems to me the .243, 7-08, 308, and .30-06 all meet your stated criteria.

I lean toward "classic" "old faithful" cartridges, and had my mind set on .30-06
Not a bad choice, meets most of your criteria, but can kick kinda hard.

…am thinking that 7mm-08 is a better fit for me.
You answered the question right there. Based on your criteria, it’s the perfect cartridge.

The 260 Rem has a lot going for it. From a benchrest standpoint 6.5mm bullets rule the roost. Lots of good bullets. Wide range of weights. Excellent sectional densities and ballistic coefficients. Less recoil than a 7mm. It’s not exotic, but it does have a certain coolness factor to it.

That said, in a bench plinker, the difference between a 7-08 and a 260 will be undiscernable, and Savage doesn’t catalog the 260 in the American Classic.

Jim Watson
November 5, 2009, 02:33 PM
Except for 1 b. "occasionally knocking down steel plate targets out at 300 yds."
I would go with a .223. That is what I am taking to a midrange match this weekend, but all it has to do is punch paper out to 600 yards.

If that is a real application I would say a .260 or .308 but I would buy it in a heavy target or varmint model. A 7 lb sporter will not be fun at the bench for very many shots.

243winxb
November 5, 2009, 03:47 PM
The 308 win. because of bullet selection from Sierra & Berger + very accurate factory ammo, and its available everwhere. Its a militay round still in use by many. Rifle Savage. Powder IMR 4895.

SSN Vet
November 5, 2009, 04:02 PM
The 260 Rem has a lot going for it.

I was seriously considering this... but found very few rifles chambered for it.

If you're on a bit of a budget like me you might want to condense your rifles down to 1 or 2 bullet diameters.

I like the concept, but think I've already screwed this up... Here's what I'm already reloading for....

30 WCF ... it's 30 cal. but requires FN, RN or LeverEvolution... so it's not sharing with the new bolt gun

7.62x39 ... it's kind of .30 cal... but I'm not sure I want to load .311 bulk FMJ in the bolt gun.

.223 REM ... this is for a AR with and A2 upper... so no optics. A .223 bench gun might fill the ticket... but then again I'm kind of hung up on the Walnut furniture thing.... it's just my strong personal preference (already have enough black plastic guns).

So a .30 cal bolt gun that's hungry for BTHPs isn't going to be sharing...

Sooooooo.....

.308 .... availability of surplus ammo or components.

I don't think I'll be feeding the new bolt gun mil. surp ammo., but cheap brass IS appealing...

Which brings up another topic... necking down brass. I mentioned in my OP that I didn't want to do it. But that's because I don't know how it's done and for me it has a mental assoication with Wildcat cartridges.... which sounds a little out of my league.

Is it difficult to neck down .308 WIN brass into 7mm-08 brass? Or are we just talking about putting a .308 case in a 7mm-08 full length sizing die and standing on the handle?

As much as I've always wanted an '06, I think that is pretty much out of the running. I want a gun that's fun to put 20 - 30 rounds through without having to pop motrin. :o

So my finalist are...

1.) .308 WIN

2.) 7mm-08

and one more I'm just now adding to the list....

3.) 300 Savage

Any recoil comments will be much appreciated.

I understand that if you load for the same BC bullet (which will be lighter for 7mm) you're not going to need as much pressure/powder, and so you'll have a lighter kicking load... but how much difference are we talking about?

I've heard comments that .308 and .30-06 kick about the same. If that's so, then I don't think .308 is what I'm looking for.

And finally (sorry for the novel) my budget and preference is driving me towards a sporter.... so I think a bull barrel varmit will be out of reach.

A 7 lb sporter will not be fun at the bench for very many shots.

Please elaborate. Do you mean that the barrel heating will open up my groups and spoil the fun? What if I go slow and cool down in between shots?


what I’d call a “bench plinker”.
That pretty well sums it up...

Thanks for the insightfull replies. This is exactly the kind of discussion I'm looking for. If I posted on the rifle country board, I'd have 20 responses telling me to get an AK :D

cougar1717
November 5, 2009, 04:26 PM
I really don't think you can go wrong with the smaller part of the 308 family. 243, 260, 7-08, and 308 - all good cartridges. Recoil depends on bullet weight and velocity. Here's a relative recoil chart for comparison: http://www.chuckhawks.com/recoil_table.htm

Jim Watson
November 5, 2009, 04:46 PM
A 7 lb sporter will not be fun at the bench for very many shots.

Please elaborate. Do you mean that the barrel heating will open up my groups and spoil the fun? What if I go slow and cool down in between shots


I mean a 7 lb rifle in almost any caliber above .22 centerfire will have unpleasant recoil shot any amount from a bench. Heck, I don't like shooting a .30-30 from a braced position like that.

Barrel heating will be a problem if you can stand more than about five shots in a row.

.300 Savage is pretty well obsolete and a non-starter for what you say you want.

If you are on a tight budget, forget about target shooting with a centerfire and get a GOOD .22 lr. The CZs are quite good. You will find shooting a .22 at 100 yards is demanding and shooting a .22 at 200 yards is about like a .308 at 1000. But a lot cheaper.

Arkansas Paul
November 5, 2009, 04:48 PM
Weatherby Vangaurd. You can get it in a wide variety of calibers and they have a guarantee of 1 1/2" MOA. I'm not sure how much the wood stocked ones go for though. The synthetics are about $400 new. I'm sure the wood is a little higher.

Galil5.56
November 5, 2009, 05:07 PM
Since you are willing to go a little exotic, maybe 7x57 (7mm Mauser)? Only problem will be finding a new rifle under $550, but I'm sure nice used ones can be found for that price. It will do everything you want, and there are a ton of bullets from all the makers to handload to your hearts content.

Something like this:

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=139652932

If not, then there is nothing wrong with 7mm-08, .270, .280 Rem, 308, 30/06...

NCsmitty
November 5, 2009, 08:59 PM
The 7mm-08 is really a great cartridge, and many of the popular rifles are chambered for it. It has an amazing plethora of ballistically superior bullets available for reloading.
The 7mm-08 is capable of surpassing the 308 beyond 300yds because of the high ballistic coefficient of the 7mm bullets, and extends that advantage on out and shoots flatter doing it. Check the ballistic charts and you'll see what I'm talking about.

www.shootingtimes.com/ballistics/ballistic-tables/

The real decision that you must make is selecting the rifle that feels right to you.
Any of the cartridges that were mentioned will do the job that you set as the criteria for purchasing.
You need to like the rifle that you bring home.


NCsmitty

SSN Vet
November 6, 2009, 09:12 AM
any one else got any words of wisdom on this one...

Specifically, shoothing longer sessions off the bench with 7mm-08 ?

I used to cringe a little bit with warmer loads in the .30-30, but no more since putting a limbsaver on.

sourdough44
November 6, 2009, 10:21 AM
Being a big 308 fan I'd have to say it fits the bill well. As a handloader you can always load it down some with H4895 & a few others. As to the rifle I'm more of a lighter sporting/hunting rifle guy. You could look at some of the heavier ones, as long as they meet any hunting requirements. About the 1st thing I do with a new gun is get the trigger where I like it, usually about 3 lbs for hunting.

twice barrel
November 6, 2009, 10:46 AM
Per your opening post criteria may I suggest:

Ruger M77 in 270 Winchester.

Something more exotic...same rifle but in 257 Roberts.

TB

WNTFW
November 6, 2009, 11:28 AM
Keep in mind I have a .308 not a.223
If you go with a .308 or a .223 you can easliy transition to shooting F-Class TR if you desire. The .223 will almost cut your powder consumption in half but no real savings on bullets. Having done 66 rounds at a time with both .308 & .223 I have to say for targets about the only thing the .223 gives up is recoil. (out to 600 yds.) While the .308 is not exactly punishing the .223 was easier on me.
I have found more range pickup or once fired brass for .223 than .308. Twist rate is more critical on the .223. A lot of the powders are the same for .223 & .308. The .223 may not be legal for deer in some state where a .308 would.

I'd go with a heavy barrel for targets.

Weatherby Vanguard is a good rifle as Arkansa Paul has stated. Savage, Remington, etc. a lot of good rifles to choose from.

I hope you have fun and update us on your choices.

jjohnson
November 6, 2009, 12:36 PM
I'm sticking with the .308 suggestion, since ammo and components are going to be cheaper for you.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with 7mm-08, but your bullets aren't going to weigh much less than the .308 slugs will. You won't save as much on powder as you will spend on 7mm bullets. If you're looking at shooting a lot and are recoil sensitive, the .223 is the better choice for high volume and (sort of) low cost.

Nothing wrong with the Weatherby, either - it's made by Howa (a Howa 1500) and I like mine a lot. They're pretty price competitive. I'd still go Savage though, just 'cause I like the AccuTrigger.

jjohnson
November 6, 2009, 12:44 PM
I'm sticking with the .308 suggestion, since ammo and components are going to be cheaper for you.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with 7mm-08, but your bullets aren't going to weigh much less than the .308 slugs will. You won't save as much on powder as you will spend on 7mm bullets. If you're looking at shooting a lot and are recoil sensitive, the .223 is the better choice for high volume and (sort of) low cost.

SSN Vet
November 8, 2009, 10:52 PM
Going to check out a Savage 14 American Classic in 7mm-08 this Wed.

If I like it, it's coming home with me....

Thanks for all the recommendations. It has helped me double check my thinking.

qajaq59
November 9, 2009, 09:05 AM
.308 will do the job for you. They're easy to load and the brass isn't hard to get.

04JRB
November 9, 2009, 11:11 AM
.308 vote here too. so many options for loading. Very common caliber, so you should find a rifle chambered for .308 that fits your fancy without issue.

Personally, the .308 I shoot the most out of my cabinet is a remy 700 26" blued barrell SPS varmint. It is very accurate and a good bang for the buck rifle.

Im also a savage fan, I have several of those too. I just bought a Savage 12bvss in .22-250 for sout dakota this June, it is a great looking rifle and extremely accurate. And they do have it available chambered for .308 too. As long as you like SS barrell and action.

Winchester mod 70 maybe?

SSN Vet
November 9, 2009, 04:39 PM
more great recommendations....

still need to keep it down into the $550 land

hossfly
November 9, 2009, 04:43 PM
Lots of great choices. Being a handloader, you can deal with recoil issues at the loading bench. In your case I'd go with an '06 or 308 but that's more personal choice than anything else.

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