Ok it's been several years since I've purchased a new centerfire rifle and I'm looking for opinions on quality, accuracy and dependability of a few brands. I've read some info on each of these rifles but would like to know your thoughts with those who actually owned them. I'm looking for a .308 in a Tikka T3, Rem 700, Browning X-Bolt, Winchester Model 70, Ruger Hawkeye. I've pretty much have ruled out the Weatherby Vanguard but do want one with a synthetic stock. I know I will get several opinions so what would you go with? I'll be using it to deer hunt and for paper punching.
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October 20, 2013, 08:52 PM
I would handle each one. Which one feels the most natural when you through up to your shoulder? Looks like you are looking at quality rifles. The light weight savage is the one I have been looking at. It keeps saying "take me home".
October 20, 2013, 08:55 PM
I bought a new Win M70 last year and cannot be happier. For the money they are tough to beat. See how many you can paw at your lgs and go from there.
October 20, 2013, 09:02 PM
Well my main problem is that my local gun stores don't carry all of those I have on my list so I'd have to drive to 3-4 different stores. I did own a Ruger M77 Varmint in .220 Swift but that was 25 years ago and it was a tack driver. I know nothing about any of the newer brands. Something I do want is a rifle with a free float barrel. Not sure if thats possible with a synthetic stock.
Does anyone know what the warranty is on a Tikka T3? I can't find any info on their website.
October 20, 2013, 09:39 PM
I like the M700, except for the extractor. Good thing they're easy to repair, because I broke several, including while hunting. I also ran into a couple of incidents of the ejection plunger failing, due to the bolt shaving brass off the cartridge. Also happened as I fired the first shot on a deer. Fortunately, that round hit, and dropped the deer. That is all I ever will have to do with the M700! No more for me.
My five (5) M70s are fantastic rifles, and I like the controlled round feed, and blade extractor.
My only Ruger, is the Gunsite Scout...nice rifle.
Good luck, and I agree, handle them to see what "feels" right.
October 21, 2013, 01:03 AM
Tikkas are nice but they don't make a true short action. In .308 you have a long action with a bolt stop.
October 21, 2013, 03:10 AM
I recently bought a new Super Grade M70 in .30-06 and a new Kimber Select Classic stainless in .308.
Although both are very nice, accurate rifles, for my money the Winchester is the better rifle, though heavier, and it's considerably less expensive than the Kimber.
Mat, not doormat
October 21, 2013, 05:05 AM
I found myself looking at most of the rifles you listed, myself, earlier this year. Here's my impressions at the time:
I went to one of the biggest gun shops in the area, and was able to fondle, shoulder, and try the triggers on most of the models I was interested in, or at least their right handed brethren. (Cliff notes version of other thread: I'm left eye dominant, but always shot right handed until earlier this year, I cut off a good chunk of my right trigger finger. Persuaded me to make the switch)
Here are some of the impressions I received:
Tikka T3 Light: This was a very impressive rifle. The trigger was the best of the bunch, the action felt like a precision instrument, and it was very, very light. The safety was easy to reach in the center of the tang. My only qualm was with the stock fit. It didn't feel bad, exactly, but it didn't feel very good, either.
Savage Axis: Even lighter than the Tikka, but I think it's because they forgot to include a rifle. This just felt abysmal in every way.
Savage Lightweight Hunter (long action): I forget the exact model designation, but it's the one with the fluted bolt, lightening cuts in the forearm, and a good deal of metal milled out of the side of the receiver. For all the radical weight reductions, this was still heavier than the Tikka and the Axis. The bolt throw felt smooth, but a very different kind of smooth from the oiled glass of the Tikka. The Accutrigger, well, it would take getting used to. Also, in their quest to make this as light as possible, I think they left two inches or so off the back of the stock. According to the specs, the short action version of this is a half pound lighter. Tikka, of course, doesn't make a short action.
Remington Model 700 SPS: this may have been the blandest rifle I've ever handled. There was nothing I disliked about it, but nothing I especially liked about it, either. Just thoroughly "Meh."
Browning X-Bolt: This one had the second best trigger of the bunch, and that not by much. The Tikka just edged it out. Unfortunately, more has to go. To a great rifle than just a great trigger. The stock was atrociously awful. The grooved forearm felt funky, the pistol grip size and angle felt uncomfortably wrong, and it didn't index the sights naturally at all. Much stock squirming required. People come in all shapes and sizes, so this must have fit someone on American Rifleman's staff better than it did me.
Remington 700 BDL: Wow. The trigger on this one was good, but not stellar. I'd place it third, behind the Tikka and the Browning, but ahead of the rest. The bolt had that oiled glass feeling, like the Tikka. What really won me, though, was the handling. Oh, the handling. The Monte Carlo stock felt more like a fine (though a bit heavy) fitted shotgun, and shouldered more naturally than any other rifle I've tried. The side mounted safety was convenient. Oh, and this one was *pretty,* too.it may be because my dad and granddad both favored Wingmasters and glossy 1100s, but a higher grade Remington like this really speaks to me of what a gun should look like.
Winchester M70: I really wanted to like this one. The cult of the M70 in print had just about convinced me that this was the great American rifle. I was even willing to chase one of the few left handed actions Winchester made, or else have Montana make me one of their lefty clones, if needs be. However, the triggers, (on all four I tried) were the second worst, ranking above only the Axis. The vaunted M70 safety struck me as odd and awkward. The stocks, though none especially bad, didn't fit me especially well either. Controlled round feed might be nice, but it's not like an elk is going to try to eat me. Write on, gentlemen of the press, but I find myself unmoved.
Following that, I tracked down a mid seventies vintage Rem 700 BDL, and promptly had all sorts of troubles with it. Eventually, I added up everything it would cost to tweak it to my liking, and found that it would be cheaper to buy a Tikka, that already had it all. So that's what I did.
Now I've got a Tikka T3 Hunter in .30-06. The Hunter is the wood stock version, and the wood seems a lot friendlier than the synthetic did that day in the shop.
Also, I see that above, I said the Tikka had its safety on the tang. I don't know if that's a production change, or if I was just mistaken, but mine has it on the side of the action, Remington style.
I've got about 300 rounds through it so far, with no failures at all. The single column detachable box mag makes it a sort of hybrid controlled push feed, in that the feed lips don't release the case until its well started into the chamber. Thus, it's never left flopping around loose in the action, Remington style.
Other advantages to the Tikka vs the Remington are that the free floated barrel means that pressure from the shooting sling on the forearm doesn't cause a major shift in point of impact, the bolt handle is easier to grasp, it doesn't throw live rounds on the ground mid cycle, and it's more accurate on average. (I wouldn't put much stock n my claim for the latter, though, as I don't do much bench shooting with it. It may just be that I shoot it better.)
October 21, 2013, 08:18 AM
The new Winchesters are one the best rifles being made right now. Sako might be a a better gun. If you can afford a Kimber, and want a 5 lb rifle, they would rank right with the Winchester. The Tikka will be the lightest of your choices, possbly the most accurate, and a little less expensive than the Winchester. The long action vs short action is a non-issue with this rifle.
The Ruger has all the features of the Winchester, CRF,classic styling, all steel construction etc. but is a little less expensive than Winchester. A little less refined and probably less accurate, but more than accurate enough for hunting.
I have used all of the options you have listed and wouldn't be interested in the Browning or Remington. All of the other choices are solid. It just depends on the features most important to you, and how much you are willing to pay.
October 22, 2013, 01:15 AM
JMO. But I love my M70 CSLT. It is not the synthetic stock though. I find it likes almost every round I feed it. The action is like butter. The trigger is crisp and breaks cleanly with almost no creep. I will gladly and proudly own that rifle till the day I die.
Maybe I got lucky with my rifle. If that's the case, it's fine with me. I know I got a great rifle.
October 22, 2013, 01:22 AM
Did the lgs have a BDL or CDL? That's what I'd look for.
October 22, 2013, 10:50 AM
Thanks for all the info folks. After reading several threads and articles I went with a Ruger Hawkeye Sporter with a laminated stock.