Never had a bolt rifle before. Where do I start?


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Rmeju
October 13, 2012, 11:54 AM
I'm thinking about getting a bolt rifle. I like precision shooting, but it doesn't necessarily need to be competition legal. I'm not new to rifles, but everything I have right now is a military semi-auto (M1, M1A, AR, AK). I reload all my calibers, so cost of ammo is less of an issue, though good brass availability is a plus

- I'd like to go with a relatively larger caliber. I'm thinking 300 win mag, or maybe even 338 lapua. I'd take suggestions, with an eye toward accuracy.
- I'd strongly prefer a model with left-handed availability. I could go righty, but lefty is a big plus for me.
- I'm not any kind of phenomenal precision shooter. I'm getting about 4/5 within 1MOA at 100yds with my M1A national match lately (Millet 4-16x50), so I don't probably need the very, very best. A good value that will outshoot me, would be fine.
- A good trigger is a must.

Remington 700 seems like the standard by which others are measured. I'm sure I wouldn't go wrong with one, but are there any strong competitors in the $300-$600 range? Does the 700 have issues? Are there other brands/models I should be taking a hard look at?

Thanks in advance!

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MistWolf
October 13, 2012, 12:44 PM
I've liked all the Remington 700s my family has ever owned. It's a good place to start. Best way to choose a rifle is the way we did it back in the Dark Ages before Al Gore invented the internet- go shoot until we found something we liked

BCRider
October 13, 2012, 01:01 PM
In my own looking around it seems like .308 bullets are available in a larger variety than some others. From there you just need to ask yourself what size of brass you'd stick them into.... :D

On that count I would suggest that you want to consider what amount of recoil you will be happy to live with for a longer day of shooting. It's one thing to "man up" and shoot a few heavy hitters and then go home. It's another if the rifle and cartridge combo is to be shot 25 or 30 times or even more in a day and your arm gets a little shocky half or two thirds of the way through the course of the day. Or would you be looking at a big heavy bench rifle sort of project?

beatledog7
October 13, 2012, 01:21 PM
If I were starting over from zero bolt guns, I'd start with a .22LR.

But since you said you want something .30 caliber or more, a .308 or a 30-06 would be the most versatile choices. The only reason I don't own either is I started with a 7mm RM. It'll do pretty much anything those .30-cal rifles will do, so until I can justify owning something like a .338 or bigger, it will be my large game rifle.

Some of the major makers (Savage, Marlin, Mossberg, maybe Ruger) have offerings in the $300-600 range, but the deals on bolt guns are in the used market. It seems a lot of guys buy middle and larger caliber bolt action rifles for that dream hunt then decide to sell them after scoping them and firing just a few rounds. I've acquired all of my centerfire rifles from private sellers or via consignment.

Halal Pork
October 13, 2012, 01:21 PM
As a reloader looking for a new range toy, what about something like this?

Savage 11 Long Range 6.5 Creedmoor (http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=310072759)

I have no personal experience with it, but it is intriguing.

meanmrmustard
October 13, 2012, 02:50 PM
As a reloader looking for a new range toy, what about something like this?

Savage 11 Long Range 6.5 Creedmoor (http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=310072759)

I have no personal experience with it, but it is intriguing.
Then...what about a Ruger in .260 Rem?

Centurian22
October 13, 2012, 03:31 PM
I would highly recomend looking at some different savage models in addition to the rem 700. As for caliber what is your driving reason for wanting the heavy hitters like 300 or 338? In my opinion you can do alot more and shoot alot more (both due to cost and recoil) with a .308 or 30-06 (.308 being my choice). Is this just for paper punching or would you possibly hunt with it?

Rmeju
October 13, 2012, 06:15 PM
Hi guys, thanks for the responses!

I think I'm fairly set on a larger caliber. It doesn't need to be the biggest caliber that ever was, but I'd like it to be bigger than 30-06. It's really a new caliber that I want to get into. I suppose using a caliber that I've already got, but in a bolt-action platform could be a little bit of the difference that I'm looking for. I probably would never hunt with it. I don't need it for power. I just want it for power. :D So long as it's an accurate round/rifle combo, I would consider it.

I've found that I have a pretty high tolerance for recoil, but I'm mindful that I only own semi-autos now, which have inherently less felt recoil. I don't mind taking my M1 out all day long. Due to time constraints on my reloading these days, I expect to shoot a round count in the 50-100 range. If the recoil is a problem, I could always take a break or shoot a little less. Is 300WM in a boltgun going to be so terrible (I don't ask this rhetorically, if the answer is yes, by all means say so). Could I take the edge off with a recoil pad or muzzle break? Or are those accessories not as helpful as advertised?

I've been poking around the Savage section on Bud's, since they're all about to go on sale, but I don't want to buy a lemon of a rifle if they're no good. I'm also not opposed to buying used, but as I'm new to bolt-actions, I don't know what to look for in terms of not buying something that turns out to be a junk gun.

Anyway, hopefully that answers some of the questions so far.

firesky101
October 13, 2012, 06:35 PM
Since you reload, and are looking for accuracy. I would recommend a .300wsm. It can be had in lots of different rifles from not too bad priced to full custom rigs that cost more than my car is worth. Ammo availability is a concern with the WSM's, but since you are reloading once you get brass you will be good to go. Hard to beat the versatility of .308 bullets as well.

Ash
October 13, 2012, 07:01 PM
The Savage action is ideal for the guy who might like changing out his own barrels. I did it once on my 110 before I settled on 1960's Mossberg centerfire rifles and it was easy. Also, the same method can be used to tailor head space to an exact load and allow for ultra-consistent load-to-rifle matching.

doc2rn
October 13, 2012, 07:09 PM
Barret M-997 would be my pick, but it is on the pricey side, of the .50 cal crowd. For the economics your looking for, used is the place to be.

1-1 Banger
October 13, 2012, 07:16 PM
My first bolt action, and heck, my first rifle for that matter was a Savage 10 in 243 that my step dad handed down to me when I was 8 or 9 after I killd my first buck. Savage and an older Remington would be my picks for a 300

GlockNation
October 13, 2012, 09:05 PM
I'd like it to be bigger than 30-06

You're in for a shock my friend. Or maybe I should say jolt...Bolts don't have recoil reducing springs in the butt stock, except for a few of the Howa models. Check out the Howa Talon Thumbhole bolt rifle, you can get in a 300 Win Mag or the lesser recoiling 30-06 and 308: http://www.legacysports.com/flash/flashcatalog/lsi_2012_catalog.html

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=311137187

Chuck hawks once wrote a great article about starting small and working your way up.

I recommend the 6.5 caliber if you want to target shoot. I shoot a 6.5 x 55 Swede and you can shoot all day without tearing up you shoulder. I am told the bench rest guys like the 6.5 x 284. More recoil than the Swede but greater reach.

What you should probably do is go to a range that rents rifles and try a few out before you buy.

BCRider
October 13, 2012, 10:10 PM
...I don't need it for power. I just want it for power.....:D....

....I've found that I have a pretty high tolerance for recoil, but I'm mindful that I only own semi-autos now, which have inherently less felt recoil....

If you enjoy a good thump to the shoulder then go for it.... :D

However, as pointed out a semi auto action soaks up a LOT of the kick of these big pounders. It's not "spread out" over a longer time thanks to a recoil spring. So if you find that you figure that what you have now is fine you may find that in a bolt rifle what you're shooting now will have a WHOLE new personality.

If you're already reloading for the M1A then a long range bolt action in .308 sure seems like a natural to me. Or go with a little more powder volume as in the .30-06 which WILL hit a lot harder than your M1A for sure.

303tom
October 13, 2012, 11:26 PM
I would say start with a old Military Bolt Action.............

Centurian22
October 14, 2012, 01:07 AM
On the mention of military bolt guns you could always pick up a Mosin Nagant for the same cost as just a couple boxes of .338 lapua ammo. Great, simple, inexpensive( $99 - $150 on average though some are more up to 250 or 300), accuracy depends on model and condition, and it will give you a taste of what I would call 'moderate recoil' given your potential choices.

Just a possibility to consider.

TAKtical
October 14, 2012, 11:15 AM
You should definitely get a mosin. Not as a precision rifle but just because I think everyone should have at least one. You should have no trouble finding one for $100 or less. Pick up a piece of history, you wont regret it.

Reloadron
October 14, 2012, 11:53 AM
Years ago I had a very nice niche in buying and selling left handed rifles, I still own a nice Ruger 77 in 7mm Remington Magnum in a left hand configuration.

Based on your initial post I would give some thought to an older Remington 700 series, Ruger 77 series or a Savage rifle left handed in a 300 Winchester Magnum chambering. Before graduating to a Winchester Model 70 pre 64 rifle my brother-in-law shot plenty of matches and did well with a Savage in 300 Winchester Magnum.

Granted the 300 Winchester Magnum can be punishing to shoot. The guys shooting matches run 50 rounds wearing a good padded shooting jacket. However, if punching paper with 15 or 20 rounds is what you are after lesser padding will work fine. I do not recommend 20 rounds wearing a T-Shirt though. :) Recoil and maybe a bruise is just the nature of the beast.

The 300 Winchester Magnum is a popular round with no shortage of loadings or bullets available making it a good choice.

I would start by looking for a good used rifle. Most rifles in this chambering have not been fired all that much. Looking left handed while a little difficult can be done. Just a matter of patience as good things come to those who wait.

Just My Take
Ron

Pilot
October 14, 2012, 11:59 AM
If you start off with those large calibers, or magnums you are going to HATE shooting it, and it will sit and collect dust. I'd start with a .223, and then get a .308, .30-06, 7MM-08, .270, etc. Trust me your shoulder will thank you. If you scope it, be careful of the dreaded scope scare.

Kachok
October 14, 2012, 12:23 PM
+1 6.5x55 is my favorite by far, though my 30 cals are easier to find brass for. I'll take Savage, Winchester or Tikka over Remington any day.

BearGriz
October 14, 2012, 12:52 PM
I'm going to start my bolt-action collection with a 7.62x39 CZ 527 sometime within the next year.

I understand that it is an accurate weapon (about 1.5 MOA), even with steel-cased Russian ammo. I already have a few 7.62x39 semi-auto rifles, so I like the idea of using the same cartridge.

Also, as some have mentioned, recoil is something to consider if you plan to shoot it a lot. The 7.62x39 cartridge is a nice medium round that has a lighter recoil but can still bring down a deer, and apparently still has a fair amount of energy at 200 yards.

Some day I will probably get a .308 rifle or some other more powerful cartridge. However, I have shot a Mosin before, and I am not embarrassed to say that it had too much kick for my taste. So I don't know if I will really like a higher-powered rifle like a .308.

elwoodm
October 14, 2012, 01:10 PM
i agree with taktical just went to the range with my 6th mosin a 1931 tula 91/30. can shoot clays at a 100yrds no problems. not bad for 81 year old rifle and this one has a great trigger 1/8 inch take up and less than 4lbs on the break. cant go wrong with a mosin.:D

Il Duca
October 14, 2012, 01:20 PM
Another vote for 6.5x55. Maybe in a Savage or Tikka. Very accurate and not as much recoil as, say a .30-06 or something. .338 Lapua or something like that will make the price explode. Nothing like paying for a magnum length action.

wlewisiii
October 15, 2012, 01:25 AM
Mauser. K98 & your favorite chambering are your search keywords. You'll want to find a pre-WWII up to about 1942 rifle that has already been sporterized. That will give you the best yet cheapest entry into really good bolt action rifles that is possible. I'd stick to iron sights & I prefer 7x57 over 7.92x57 but that's me. One that's been rebarreled in any of .243, .308 or .30-06 will do very well, indeed.

Now there are lots of cheap assed modern bolt actions out there. I've owned the Marlin XS version & it's good enough. That said, I'd still tell you to get a good sported war surplus rifle instead. You can find exquisite ones at little gun shows for stupid little money. Last show I was at I saw one of the most beautiful rifles of my life. Still in 7.92 Mauser but some unknown smith did a master's job on it. Yet it was only $125. That would do you better than _any_ of the cheap new production rifles.

Good luck.

mljdeckard
October 15, 2012, 01:27 AM
I always start with a Remington 700. I usually end there too.

GWARGHOUL
October 15, 2012, 02:01 AM
Yeah.. Remington 700 or Weatherby Vanguard.

as for caliber.. .30-06 will do just about anything ya need without killing your shoulder and budget.

stubbicatt
October 15, 2012, 09:41 AM
As far as bolt actioned rifles go, I think you would regret not at least looking at the CZ line of rifles. There will be one that works for you in their lineup, and they are definitely a quality product.

Enjoy whatever you get. There are chamberings in the calibers you indicated.

Reloadron
October 16, 2012, 10:47 AM
You want a bolt rifle? You mention Left Hand Bolt? You mention 300 Winchester Magnum?

Read this thread. (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=674099)

As I mentioned earlier I have a Ruger Model 77 left hand bolt in 7mm Rem Mag and it is a great shooting rifle. Here is one that should be exactly what you mentioned.

Ron

Rmeju
October 20, 2012, 12:31 PM
Ha!

I did read that thread... sadly he won't ship and I'm on the other side of the country. Seems like a hell of a deal though.

shastaboat
October 20, 2012, 12:55 PM
I think that you would be satisfied with your choice of a LH Rem 700 in 300 Win Mag caliber.

Ignition Override
October 21, 2012, 02:27 AM
If moderate recoil is ok, and knowing that you reload, how about an Enfield #4/Mk.1 or the straight-pull Swiss K-31?
I have seen both types at gun shows, and bought some Enfields.

A very seasoned gun friend who has about thirty excellent milsurp rifles (many unfired) has not yet used his #4/Mk. 2 (post-war), as it is still soaked in cosmo, in the paper bag.
He has used his K-31 and was surprised by the iron sight accuracy. They are reported to use any regular .308 bullets, and a Swiss guy told his Italian friend on another website that the Swiss govt. still has vast quantities of GP-11 ammo. Maybe the very independent Swiss will ignore the UN Small Arms Treaty.

justice06rr
October 22, 2012, 01:58 AM
I would second the suggestion to try out a Mosin Nagant. For around ~$200 ($100 for the rifle and $90 for a case of ammo) you can try out the recoil and see how you like it. Just for kicks [pun intended] get the M44 version :D

Otherwise if you'd like just to get a refined rifle, the Remington 700 in .308 is a good place to start. Unless you really want to burn money then get a the .338 Lapua Magnum and blast away!

GLOOB
October 22, 2012, 04:10 AM
I reload all my calibers, so cost of ammo is less of an issue, though good brass availability is a plus
The only reloadable brass cases I ever find laying around (besides the common as grass 223) are 90% 243 and 10% .270 and 30-06. As common as 308 would seem to be, the only times I've found any, it was Berdan primed! But if you want to buy new or used brass, 308 is commonly available. Now if you went with a "middle child" 260 Rem or a 7mm-08, you could easily reform any of the most popular 308 based cases, particularly those relatively common 243 cases. But if you want a regular supply of cheap, pulled projectiles, .224 or .308 calibers are the only way to go.

Remington 700 seems like the standard by which others are measured. I'm sure I wouldn't go wrong with one, but are there any strong competitors in the $300-$600 range?
Depends what it is you like about the 700. If you plan to get a particular aftermarket stock and/or a DBM, a 700 package might come out on top for value. But there are lots of good alternatives. The Howa 1500/Vanguard and Savage M10/110 come to mind.

rduchateau2954
October 22, 2012, 04:20 AM
One mention for Tikka? I absolutely love mine. Guaranteed 1/2 MOA at 100yrds or something like that. My T3 Stainless Lite is considerable lighter than a rem 700 and just about every model is available in lefty. Standard trigger pull on my rifle is something like 3.5 lbs.

http://www.tikka.fi/t3rifles.php

Also, isn't there an issue with the new vs old rem 700's? Also stay far far far away from the Rem 770.

Kachok
October 22, 2012, 02:10 PM
^ +1 again. For featherweight rifles Tikka is unmatched, now if you are OK with an 8-10lbs rifle there are other supurbly accurate rifles that are not picky about what you feed them and have a great factory trigger, but for 6-7lbs Tikka has it hands down. Lets break this down.

Action: Tikka wins without a doubt, smoother then black ice, I cannot feel it picking up the next round. Second place goes to my FN Winchester 70, not as smooth but ejects brass like no other.

Handiness: Tikka take a very very close second to my Browning A-Bolt, and only because my Borwning has a short 13.5" LOP and it is a short action. The Tikka is a touch lighter though (6.25lbs vs 6.5lbs)

Accuracy: Tikka for the win again, while I can shoot remarkably small groups with my Savages as well, the Tikka does it with a wider variety of loads. Even the cheapest factory fodder available shoots .75" or better at 100yd.

Trigger: Again Tikka rules all, every bit as crisp and adjustable as the Accutrigger and it does it all without that flimsy feeling inner trigger.

Feel: Tikka comes in second, nothing I have shot to date has a better feel in the hands then my 70 Featherweight, no synthetic stock will ever feel as good as walnut not even a really good one like the Tikka has.

Extras: While the Tikka has a great detachable mag, the Browning flip down is way cooler.

Recoil pad: This is the only area where the Tikka takes last place, mine is hard as a mud tire fortunately in a 6.5x55 you don't need any kind of recoil aid because it is a true sissy kicker, 1st place is a tie between my Winchester and my Savage 110 both are fantastic.

rduchateau2954
October 22, 2012, 02:49 PM
^ I 100% agree about the stock. I am not a huge fan of the synthetic stock. There is nothing wrong with it but it doesn't have the character of a wood stock.

I bought the synthetic because I didn't want to be crying in the woods when I bumped it against a tree for the first time.

I found a limbsaver pad on sale when I was wandering scheels the other day, it gives it the "stickiness" that it was missing.

LuvMyGuns
October 22, 2012, 04:24 PM
I just came back for the store trying to keep under $600 - Tried Tikka's, Weatherby's, Savages, Remingtons, Ruger's, and the Thompson Venture, Browning A bolt


Tikka has the smoothest bolt and very light with a nice feel, however I found the stock to be cheap and easily scratched this gun will be a mule in w mag and the replacement mags are expensive

The Weatherby had a nice smooth bolt good fit and finish seemed to be a good quality gun built to last and also has a sub moa gauruntee

The Ruger american I tried I was surprised at the quality of this gun again very smooth Bolt and pillar bedded from the factory was well balanced buyt the stock was so cheesy it should of said Playschool on the side although I like the drop out magazine

The Remington's bolt was not so great feeling compared to the others but nothing wrong with it, felt well balanced but overall nothing special

The Savage bolt was stiff and the stock again felt poor again nothing special about it other then low cost

Then I tried the TC Venture again a sub moa gauruntee very nice, very nice bolt not as nice as Tikka but very nice. The stock was satisfactory but nothing special. The gun balanced very well and has a removable magazine and a lifetime warrantee

The browning was a syn stock that was a low qaulity but again very smooth bolt and very good balance but did not stand out amongst the crowd

I know I will be going with a TC Venture second choice wold be a Tikka then Weatherby

rduchateau2954
October 23, 2012, 06:47 AM
Did you check out the Tikka with a wood stock?

Picher
October 23, 2012, 07:14 AM
I probably would never hunt with it. I don't need it for power. I just want it for power.

Okay, here's a bit of reality. There are more almost new magnums in second-hand racks than, say .270 Win, or 30-06. In some areas, used magnums don't sell well, but used left-handed magnum rifles are the worst sellers, so you may buy a "pig in a poke".

Go buy a .308 Win or .30-06 and if you don't like it, you can probably trade/sell more readily than any other caliber.

If you want a bolt rifle that has adequate power, is very accurate, and fairly cheap to shoot, it's hard to beat a .223 Rem. A .243 Win gets it done pretty well too. A .308 is probably the best range rifle with adequate power, bullet flexiblity, relatively low cost ammo, ammo availability, and resale value. It will make an adequate BANG without whacking your shoulder and causing irreparable flinching.

rduchateau2954
October 23, 2012, 07:18 AM
Okay, here's a bit of reality. There are more almost new magnums in second-hand racks than, say .270 Win, or 30-06. In some areas, used magnums don't sell well, but used left-handed magnum rifles are the worst sellers, so you may buy a "pig in a poke".

Go buy a .308 Win or .30-06 and if you don't like it, you can probably trade/sell more readily than any other caliber.

If you want a bolt rifle that has adequate power, is very accurate, and fairly cheap to shoot, it's hard to beat a .223 Rem. A .243 Win gets it done pretty well too. A .308 is probably the best range rifle with adequate power, bullet flexiblity, relatively low cost ammo, ammo availability, and resale value. It will make an adequate BANG without whacking your shoulder and causing irreparable flinching.
x2 on the used WSM guns. Lots of them sitting in the racks around here.

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