With what to replace my Savage in .243


December 26, 2011, 10:07 AM
Here's the dilemma:

I have a Savage Model 14 America classic chambered in .243 Win. The gun is a tack driver, has a great trigger which is very safe for the woods, a nice looking stock, and balances well for offhand shooting. There are three things I don't like about it though. First, the bolt (on the uplift) is not smooth, by any definition of the word. You really need to muscle it when chambering that second round. Second, the pistol grip of the stock really doesn't fit my hand. My hand always feels like it's sliding off. Finally, the gun is chambered in .243 Win. While this is a great round for southeastern whitetails and coyotes, it is not preferable for western muleys or elk, which is something that I plan to do come next fall.

I've thought about a two-gun solution, but I want to use one rifle and be good with it. I don't need a .243 really, since I have a .223 for varmints. I'm thinking a .308/.30-06 class gun. Now, I've thought about rebarreling the savage to .308 and having the bolt smoothed out, but I'm still stuck with the stock. Furthermore, I could change out the stock, but by that time I could have bought another gun. So, I think I'm just going to trade this one out.

So, in pursuance of having my cake and eat it too, what are some good rifle choices to replace this gun? The requirements are :

1. .308/.30-06 (leaning towards the Springfield)
2. buttery smooth bolt action (i want to be able to cycle the bolt without touching the stock)
3. 1" moa or better
4. prefer a wood stock, but am open to nice synthetics (kevlar, hogue, etc)
5. 7-9 lb weight, empty, no-scope
6. prefer a 24" barrel, but 22" will do
7. finally, the grip of the stock needs to have some curve in it, unlike the slight angle of the Savage model 14

Fire away guys!
7. price below $1,500

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December 26, 2011, 10:19 AM
When I think buttery smooth bolt I either think Tikka or Browning. I think you can meet your other requirements with one of them as well. My Tikka T3 with a synthetic stock won't meet anyone's definition of pretty but is sure is a slick little setup! And one of these days I'll pick up a Browning A bolt in left hand because they are such slick guns.

I agree with your choice of 06 as well. It's very true that the 308 can do most of what a 06 can, but if you ever find yourself wanting to launch >180 grain bullets for elk or the like then the 06 still has more horsepower to get it done.

December 26, 2011, 10:26 AM
You might want to consider a 7mm as well. The 7mm-08 might be on the light side, but a 7mm mag would be ideal for your purposes.

A Browning A-Bolt or X-Bolt would suit. My 7mm mag A-Bolt action is the slickest I've ever used.

Art Eatman
December 26, 2011, 10:28 AM
I'd make the rounds of gun shows, or check out a gun store with a wide selection of brands. Feel and fondle until you find The One that suits you. :) After that, you can then decide on the cartridge.

As a handloader, I prefer the '06 over the .308. In most rifles, today, with the common 22" barrels, there's no practical difference between them for factory ammo in 150- or 165-grain bullets. The '06 doesn't really start to shine until you get on out to 24" or 26".

As a walking hunter, I really like my 700 Ti. The stock fits about as well as I'd ever want, and the recoil pad is excellent, dealing nicely with the uber-light weight--6.5 pounds, ready to hunt.

December 26, 2011, 10:41 AM
Yes, I am leaning towards the .30-06 precisely because I am a handloader. I need a big, heavy bullet to get through the thickets here in Mid Tenn. The idea of having a big, slow 220 grain RN excites me.

I have shot the A-bolt and liked it quite a bit. Unfortunately, both it and the X-bolt are 22" barrels. Anybody know if browning makes a 24" .30-06 Browning?

T Bran
December 26, 2011, 10:48 AM
If a buttery smoothe action is high on the list go handle a few models that fit your grip requirements. After you find a couple that you like inquire once again as to the quality of the actions on those specific models. Unfortunately the action will feel different when chambering a round than when just cycling it empty.
Im in the Springfield camp if you will be launching the heavyweights but as long as you stay in the upper end of the 30 cal cartridges you should be fine.

December 26, 2011, 11:01 AM
I need a big, heavy bullet to get through the thickets here in Mid Tenn. The idea of having a big, slow 220 grain RN excites me.

I have shot the A-bolt and liked it quite a bit. Unfortunately, both it and the X-bolt are 22" barrels. Anybody know if browning makes a 24" .30-06 Browning?

1) If that's what you want, and you reload, then why not go all the way and get a 35 Whelen? How's a 35 caliber bullet that weighs 250 grains sound to you?

2) 22" vs 24" isn't much of a difference in velocity until you start getting up into the overbore magnum rounds, but it can feel like a foot when dragging the longer barrels through a thicket. Are you really sure you want to exclude a particular model just because of two inches difference in the barrel?

December 26, 2011, 11:01 AM
why dont u build your savage to fit your needs? new barrel, stock, bolt lift kit? you can get what you want and smooth the action up alot.

December 26, 2011, 11:14 AM
Elkins, the reason I like the .30-06 is because I can do the heavy round nose bullets, but I can also load it with some slick, far-flying 180's for Nebraska. The 35 Whelen is a nice round, but not for me.

Chaser, I have considered that, but in the end after I get the parts and put them together, I could have already bought another gun and started practicing with it.

Ultimately, I want to be a one-rifle man, and be competent with that one rifle so I will be ready for any situation whether it be whitetails, coyotes, big muleys, pigs, or elk.

December 26, 2011, 11:15 AM
Browning X-bolt in 30-06...that's all you need...

December 26, 2011, 11:17 AM
I agree that the 35 Whelen is a great option. A 24" barrel is not needed on either a 30-06 or a 35 Whelen.

If it was me, the X-Bolt in 30-06 would be the ticket.

December 26, 2011, 11:26 AM
I would suggest you stay with Savage, but if you want say a .30-06 try one in the Weather Warrior Series they are all together different, now that is just my 0.02.......

December 26, 2011, 12:34 PM
I would stick with Savage if I liked the bolt. I just hate how stiff it is.

December 26, 2011, 02:25 PM
My savage bolt is no harder to lift they any of my other bolt guns, its a bit grittier as havent yet gotten around to polishing the contact surfaces. As a note short throw bolt guns will generally have a stiffer initial lift then a longer 90* gun. Ive shot abolts, and tikkas, and find that the bolt lift is actually a bit heavier then on my other rifles. They are also usually a bit smoother, or have been in my experiance, so they often feel better. A polished 90* lift, as on my 700s, can generally be opened and closed with one finger.

December 26, 2011, 08:41 PM
Sounds like you need t look at a Sako M75 or 85. The grip has a nice right handed palm swell.


December 27, 2011, 03:13 PM
jcollins -

The answer to your troubles is a Tikka T3 in either 7mm-08 or 30-06. I have two of them and the bolt is smooth as silk. Coming from Sako pedigree, this isn't terribly shocking. Nevermind the fact that they produce groups that rival any custom gun costing many times more...

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless in .30-06, 3-shots @ 100 yards

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless in .243 Win, 3-shots @ 100 yards

If you feel the need to move up in caliber, I can attest to the fact that a 7mm-08 will EASILY drop game in the 600 lb.+ class. I banked an entire trip to Africa on that fact and had no trouble putting down the large palins game that runs around there. Video of a kudu dropped with my 7mm-08 handloads using a 140 gr. Nosler AccuBond (the gun is a Savage Weather Warrior in this case):


In fact, my personal opinion is that if the biggest you're gonna go is western mulies, you'd be just fine with another .243 Win, but it won't hurt anything to move up a bit.

December 27, 2011, 03:46 PM

I'll throw yet another vote to Tikka/.30-06. I have Tikka's, Tikka's in .30-06 and other calibers too. Fine guns, with the sole exception of Beretta's customer service, warranty claims, etc..

Just to throw another iron into the fire, there's the Tikka in 6.5X55mm Swedish Mauser. I do hunt elk with the 6.5X55 & don't feel under-gunned at all. It'll drive a 140 grain bullet through a brick wall at a hundred yards.


December 27, 2011, 05:02 PM
I'll join the wagon train of Tikka. It was designed around the the 06 from the get go - the action is the right length. The bolt is as smooth as you will find anywhere. They have a good rep. I'd be getting the Hunter with wood stock, unless you really need to save weight?

The Brownings are excellent and there might be a used Hi-Power in good shape in your neck of the woods if you look. That would be a keeper and a family pass-down.

I also agree with Art - go fondle a LOT of rifles until you find the stock that makes you happy - then get the rifle :)

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