Bolt Action .223, 5.56, or 7.62x39


February 19, 2012, 12:56 AM
Looking for something rather inexpensive, bolt action, but not cheap.
Any recommendations for these calibers? I don't have my hopes up since I've been unable to find anything under $400 and don't expect to do so, but would like to see the possibility.
Not even sure if there are any factory bolt guns that are chambered in 5.56 anyways :P
I'd prefer 7.62x39, but .223 will work just the same.

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February 19, 2012, 01:58 AM
Savage makes a "Scout Rifle" in 7.62x39, CZ USA Makes a carbine in 7.62x39, you'd be hard pressed to find a 5.56 bolt gun and .223 is the same cartridge in every way that matters. I'd go 7.62x39 for hunting .223 for paper punching (accurate ammo for .223 is cheaper, despite steel case Russian 7.62x39 being cheaper in general) My Stevens 200 in .223 was $314 as Cabela's with a scope! It is accurate and all that needs to be swapped to make it fell like a quality rifle is the stock. I'm also having a 1 in 7 twist barrel with a Wylde chamber installed for my Stevens 200, it allows the use of .223 and 5.56 with no issues or loss of accuracy. The main reason for that is because aside from being a target rifle, this Stevens 200 is one of my go to disaster scenario guns (for defending a structure not for moving around, the AR15 SBR is for that), and I don't want to have to ignore perfectly good 5.56, especially since it used by so many state and federal agencies. Not to mention, with our wars drawing down and all, I expect quite a bit of quality 5.56 surplus to hit the market soon.

Here is 75 yard group with my Stevens 200, Winchester 45 Grain CXP1 HP. Not modified in any way, bean bag rest.
The barrel is a sporter profile, as it heats up the groups open up quick! Not bad for the price though.

chris in va
February 19, 2012, 03:12 AM
I have the CZ in x39. Great gun but not cheap.

IIRC Rossi makes a single shot in that caliber, and NEF does the same in 223. They are a third what mine cost.

February 19, 2012, 05:14 PM
That Savage Scout Rifle looks to be $600+ unfortunately :(

Yeah, I was looking at the single shots, but would prefer to have a bolt action. Looks like I'll just have to spend a bit more.

451 Detonics
February 19, 2012, 05:30 PM
The new Mossberg MVP is chambered for the 5.56/.223 and uses AR magazines, expect to pay about $500-525.

Imperial Guardsman
February 19, 2012, 07:04 PM
When you say you want something inexpensive are you refering to the round as well? That is, have you mentioned 7.62x39, .223, etc. because you know that they are cheaper rounds or do you just want to shoot a smaller round. If you want a dirt cheap full rifle round you could look into the Mosin Nagant with its venerable 7.62x54r. About $200 will get you a rifle and 440 rounds of surplus ammunition.

February 19, 2012, 07:05 PM
I have the CZ527M in 7.62x39mm, and with handloads it is quite accurate for me. I highly recommend it. :)

February 19, 2012, 07:29 PM
Why don't you just get a Savage AXIS rifle in .223? You can find better (accurate) ammo in .223 anyway.

February 19, 2012, 07:40 PM
Savage Axis in 223, they have one for sale at my local Wal-Mart for $289, I have owned six Savages, five of them bolt action 110s ALL were top notch shooters. I HIGHLY recomend them for shooters/hunters on a budget, heck I can afford high dollar rifles, but I find it hard to spend more when a cheap A$$ Savage will perform so darn well. My new Savage 06 is not even broke in yet and has shot two sub-moa groups during my first load development session.
I would perfer the 7.62x39 for hunting, but you will find the .223 to be more accurate in genral for range work.

February 20, 2012, 12:46 AM
Greenlion and Kachok, thank you very much. This is exactly what I was looking for!
Looks like get a scope, rings, and it's good to go and from the reviews I read accurate. The downside looks like any kind of aftermarket support. Stevens 200 looks promising as well.

February 20, 2012, 02:45 AM
It won't have much of an aftermarket yet, it is a new rifle, but give it a few years any it will have more aftermarket parts then a small block chevy, Savages always do. You cannot go wrong with the Stevens either. Good luck with your new rifle :)

February 20, 2012, 07:02 AM
I'm picking up this Stevens 200 .223 with a Tasco World Class 6x24, Leupold mounts and bipod. It also has a professionally bedded stock and trigger job for ~$400 in a trade deal.

February 20, 2012, 07:52 AM
Ruger's 77MkII Hawkeye is available in 223 Win, and can be had in Compact, Lightweight Compact, and Sporter forms. They run a 1:9" twist. I also have owned several MkIIs chambered in 7.62x39 and they were fine shooters. New versions of any Hawkeye will be knocking on the $600 door (if not over six bills), but I have bought several NIB for less than $500 off GunBroker and clean/lightly used ones for $400 locally.

The CZ is the traditional recommendation, but you'll have to seach GunBroker for used copies to come in under six bills these days. CZ used to run a 1:12" twist in their 223 barrels, which kept me from being too interested in them. I do not know what they use now.

You can get a Savage/Stevens 200, but my quarrel with them is the uber-cheap stock. Once you put a decent stock back on it, you're starting to lose some of the economy of the thing... I believe that Savage uses a 1:9" twist in their 223 barrels.

February 20, 2012, 02:56 PM
Yeah the Savages and Stevens have cheezy molded injection stocks (as do Rugers/Remintons) but it has never seemed to hurt accuracy in any of them I have owned. The Barrel is free floated so the flexability of the forend won't effect your zero (unlike the synthetic Ruger/Remingtons)
If you want a budget rifle with a high quality synthetic stock, GET A TIKKA!!! Theirs is a top notch fiber/matrix stock, and in case you don't know the difference think Tonka truck (mold-injection construction) vs Ferrari (Fiber/Matrix construction). You have to get into semi-custom Kevlar stocks to get better then the Tikka IMHO. Oh and as an added bonus you get the smootest action available at any price, a PERFECT trigger, a friction bedded action, a free floated barrel, and sub-moa grouping (they give it to you in wrighting)
I am looking forward to the new Ruger American though, they addopted the accuracy adding tweeks that Tikka and Savage have used for years.

February 20, 2012, 03:09 PM
If you want a budget rifle with a high quality synthetic stock, GET A TIKKA!!! That is a fact.

I forgot to mention the T3; I have a Varmint (1-8") that shoots dang near any surplus into amazing groups. I have debated for quite some time about getting a T3 Lite in 223, and the only thing keeping me from doing so is my inability to get scope rings that fit me (or a replacement stock that fits me). If I could get extra-low rings for the T3, it would be 'The Bestest Rifle Evar' in my book.

You can get the T3 Lite in blued finish for around six bills, and with a 1:8" twist barrel you can shoo almost any ammo that you can find.

February 20, 2012, 03:26 PM
I guess I am weird, I don't have any issue with the factory Tikka rings, everyone loves to gripe about them but they hold a zero very well, and I never once though it was uncomfortable to shoot. As much as I love my Savages my T3 is my go to gun for hunting. I have been real impressed with it, in 6.5x55 I consider it the perfect deer rifle. The guys in my hunt camp cannot beleive the damage an old 6.5 sweed can do loaded with modern ballistic tips.

March 10, 2012, 06:09 PM
+1 for the T3. Mine will shoot under 1/2 MOA. Just get it.

March 11, 2012, 01:30 AM
Another shout out for the Stevens 200. They are great rifles for the price.

Tikka's are cool, but are expensive in my neck of the woods and have little aftermarket support. Mags are expensive. On the plus side they are very accurate and high quality.

The Stevens if good quality, accurate and most folks can afford to buy one. I would spend the extra dollars on the Stevens over the Axis only because the Stevens has so many parts that are common with the Savage 10/110 action.

March 11, 2012, 04:05 AM
Look around at the local pawn shops for a used Savage in .223 with the Accutrigger. Unfortunately Walmart didn't include the .223 as a chambering in the line of Model 10s that Savage makes exclusively for them, otherwise it would be certainly worth the extra $100 to get a full up Savage with the Accutrigger over the Axis, not that there's anything wrong with the Axis.

.223 is the cartridge you want regardless of the rifle you decide on. While there is tons of cheap steel cased 7.62x39 ammo out there, I've never seen what I would call match ammo made for the Russian cartridge. .223 is a totally different story. You could fill pages with the different factory offerings in that cartridge, from cheap surplus to match ammo to varmint loads to medium game loads.

March 11, 2012, 12:09 PM
The Tikka is a great rifle but not inexpensive. They start at around $575. The Savage Axis is a great budget rifle for $290.

March 11, 2012, 08:29 PM
Consider a Weatherby Vanguard. I bought one in 25-06 about a half year ago and have been pleased. Same as a Howa 1500 as far as action is concerned, stock is synthetic but solid feeling. Cost me around $425 with tax, I imagine the short action 223 should be in the same price range.

March 11, 2012, 09:04 PM
It's not what you asked, but maybe the following unsolicited advice will be helpful:

JMO, but there is a reason that there aren't many 7.62x39 bolt action rifles. The cost to make a 308 is exactly the cost to make a 7.62x39. The 308 can be loaded down to x39 levels, but you can't do the reverse. If you handload, a 308 is going to be a much more useful rifle for you, doing all the x39 chores and many more.

You might want to take a stroll through the rifle ads at It will give you a good idea what is available on the used market.

March 12, 2012, 10:09 AM
My dad's got a couple of Savage Axis, a 223 and a 243. Sports Authority had the 223, all black with bushnell scope for 329.00. Dicks had the same 223 only with camo stock for 379.00. Seems to be a decent rifle. The 243 came with the same bushnell scope, I already zeroed that scope and it would shoot about an inch group 4 shots with relatively cheap ammo.

Either I've got some really bad 223 ammo (federal american eagle) that is giving me problems zeroing in the 223, or the scope's reticle moves around a bit. Haven't had a lot of time with it, but so far 3 shot groups have been around 3"

March 12, 2012, 11:39 AM
IIRC Rossi makes a single shot in that caliber

I have one (Chris, didn't I buy it from you?). Unfortunately, it won't reliably ignite even US factory 7.62x39mm ammunition. :(

March 12, 2012, 12:36 PM
Ruger makes the M77 Hawkeye African in .223. I picked one up when Davidson's had them on sale. Look and feel of an African Dangerous Game rifle without the wallet crushing ammo prices or recoil. 62gr - 70gr TSX works very well according to those that use them. Barrel twist is the only issue for the heavier/longer .223 rounds.

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