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Bolt action .223 for me? Or......?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by matto6, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. matto6

    matto6 Member

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    I'm relatively new to firearms, with my two rifles being a Ruger 10/22 and a Ruger PC Carbine (9mm). I like them both and they seem perfect for plinking and hooliganry.

    However the only place I have to shoot is a range, and one with strict rules. There is no "rapid fire", and no loading of magazines with more than 5 rounds. Paper can be retrieved and replaced every 30 mins.

    I'm starting to think I'd be better off with a bolt-action rifle for a range like this. I don't mind investing in a nice gun, maybe something nice like a Tikka tx3. The question is, what caliber? This range has 50, 100, 200, and 300 distances available. My only other range has a max of 50 yards.

    I'm currently leaning toward .223? It's enough for those distances, has minimal recoil for a newb like me, and I could share ammo with future purchases of a semi auto (AR or Mini-14). I do not hunt.

    But those 17 HMR guys sure do seem to love their caliber. And so do the 308 crowd.

    Advice welcome.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
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  2. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    The .223 is a great choice for this application I have a tikka t3 lite in .308 and I love it!


    I think you’ve made a wise choice sir


    Also welcome to THR!
     
  3. matto6

    matto6 Member

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    Thanks horsemen!

    If I'm just shooting at a range is there any reason to get the 6 lbs t3 lite? I might as well get the big girl 8 lbs version? (stainless varmint)?

    Or is there there no point to the extra weight for 223?
     
  4. climbnjump

    climbnjump Member

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    Welcome to the High Road!

    Yes, some .17 HRM guys do love them. I have one, but have never bonded with it. I have used it to introduce nieces and nephews to shooting though as it does a good job of exploding apples and oranges and keeping the kids interested.

    However, I think a .223 bolt gun would be a good choice for you for the reasons you mentioned.
     
  5. billtool

    billtool Member

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    Welcome! I too think a .223 is a good choice for you if its paper only you're punching. Check out Savage. Very accurate and very reasonably priced. So what state do you live where the range only allows 5 rounds in a loaded mag? Sounds arbitrary.
     
  6. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    Yes, the extra 2 lbs let's you spot your shot ;) for all seriousness, unless you're planning on walking alot with this gun, heavier is better, but it will spoil you, in the grand scheme, I buy rifles now based on rate of twist, in .223, 7 or 8 is definitely better, even to 300 yds unless there will never be wind I suppose...9 is a compromise, and 12 hurts.
     
  7. rayatphonix

    rayatphonix Member

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    223 would be an excellent choice and there are a tremendous amount of good rifles available in that cartridge. I’m partial to CZ because I’m old school. Tikka and Savage are both great choices. There are so many good rifles these days it’s hard to go wrong.
     
  8. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    The 223 is "enough" for ranges of 300 yards and even over if you're talking target shooting. I'm with horsey300 in recommending a fast twist. What I shoot the most in 223 are 77 grain match bullets.

    The 308 Winchester is a fine cartridge but will be more expensive to feed than a 223. For target shooting, it will be better in wind. It has significantly more recoil than a 223 but it's something that doesn't bother me at all now.

    The 17 HMR is what I use most on pests up to the size of raccoon but it's definitely not a 300 yard or even a 200 yard target gun. It's more like an 80 to 100 yard gun.
     
  9. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    .223s a good default "first high-power" rifle chambering. Bolt gun is a good option as well.
    I'll third the fast twist .223 suggestions.
    I'd probably opt for a varmint weight gun, and the Tikka t3x varmints a good choice.
    My choice tho would be a Howa mini heavy barrel, or a Ruger American Predator.
     
  10. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    I like .223, have a bolt action and an AR in the caliber (technically the AR is 5.56, but potato/potato). In normal times, its probably one of the cheapest and most available rifle calibers where you're getting beyond rimfire power levels. Recoil is super manageable for obvious reasons and there are lots of loads out there to try. It should do everything you'd want it to out to 300 yards.

    That being said, right now is not a great time to be trying to buy .223 ammo. "Cheap" brass cased FMJ is going for 50 cents a round BEFORE shipping right now, which is not far behind .308 prices (around 60 cents a round pre-shipping). I expect prices to come back down to somewhat reasonable levels eventually, but the cost effectiveness of .223 isn't really there in the short term. I am fortunate enough to have stocked up (in relative terms) before the current run on ammo so I'm good for a little while. I just sold some to my father-in-law at 30 cents a round because he can't find any and wanted something to be able to load his AR with and that's what I paid for it back when I bought it. I'm not bringing this up to deter you, just giving you a heads up as far as ammo availability and cost in the short term.

    .17 HMR is a really fun caliber, and if you're staying within 100 yards I'd give it a long look. It's more cost effective than .223 in good times and even moreso right now (less than half the price per round at current rates). If you don't reload, the fact that it is rimfire isn't a big deal either, but if you do reload that does tilt the calculus toward .223. It also isn't as prone to runs on it because while it is definitely established it is not as widely used as 223 or even 22lr or 22 WMR among it's rimfire brethren. That being said, if you're really wanting to go to the 200 or 300 yard ranges, it definitely isn't the round for that.

    One wildcard caliber would be .22 TCM. It could probably stretch out to the ranges you are wanting, I've seen people claiming to reach out to 300 yards on prairie dogs with it though I think that's really stretching it. It's going for 30 cents a round at the moment. It's kind of a niche round so you won't find it much in stores, and the only rifle chambered in it that I'm aware of is the M22 from Rock Island Armory, but it is definitely an interesting round. RIA actually makes 1911s chambered in the cartridge that have interchangeable 9mm barrels, so you could surprisingly share ammo with a pistol as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  11. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I have a Mossberg MVP that I am very happy with. It uses AR mags, so the short (and cheap)10 and 20 round P mags are an excellent add-on.Also, from what you posted, I would be looking for a new range, if there is another choice. I believe in safety, but when the rules get to the point that it becomes nearly impossible to use your guns to train in a realistic manner, it has become a test-fire facility.
     
  12. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    It may sound silly, but I’d suggest you really decide what you want to do. I know you said target. I understand that. What are your expectations? When some guys shoot, they just want to turn money into noise. Hitting within an inch of the bullseye is cause for celebrating.

    When I target shoot, I expect itty bitty groups. Any rifle that doesn’t produce at least close to or 1/2” is gone. Thing is, if you’re getting a .223 because it’s cheap then you’re not going to get super groups. You can step up to target grade if that’s your goal.

    My S-I-L has a heavy barrel Savage in 6br. Ultra accurate and virtually zero recoil. Long barrel life. Capable (but not optimum) for up to 1k if desired later.

    That said, for starters I’d go .223 for simplicity’s sake
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
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  13. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    Between the two calibers I'd go with .223.

    I routinely shoot .223 out to 547 yds with 69grn MKs and TMKs in a 1:9 twist (back deck to steel swinger). .223 in either a bolt gun or an AR15 (set up for precision) is an excellent platform to practice/train with.

    Yesterday a three of use set up a CoF on steel out to 448yds (two 700s and a MVP). We ran it a couple times dialing in, then just using reticles. With the 4-7mph wind it was a little challenging and a heck of a lot of fun.

    A friend with his MVP, shooting off my "mobile position platform" (5x8 trailer that keeps us out of the ticks and chiggers)

    H9f3cZAh.jpg

    I've got another friend coming out this morning to chrono and run the same course with a new .223 setup (M700), so maybe the precision .223 gun are catching on.:D
     
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  14. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

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    My only comment pick a rifle with a small reciever,some companies Ruger and Remington come to mind use a mid size receiver with a block in the mag well to make it 223 compatable. I have 5 CZs and a Howa that use a small or mini reciever. You wouldn't think that extra inch of reciever would make a difference but it does.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  15. DairyVet

    DairyVet Member

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    Another vote for .223. Plenty for your range, and probably the cheapest centerfire to shoot.

    I’m very happy with my CZ 527 American.
     
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  16. AMraider

    AMraider Member

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    I have a Thompson Center Dimension in 223. Different looking rifle but shoots much better than I can. I bought it for it's caliber changing options from 204 Ruger to 300 Win Mag. Just swap barrels and bolt groups with provided tools. They are discontinued but can still be found at reasonable prices.

    DSC00624.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
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  17. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    I going to be an enabler and say get the bolt action 223 and make it the heavier one. That said I sold my bolt action 223. I shoot an AR off the bench using a five round mag and a Contender G2. The Contender shoots tiny little groups out to two hundred yards which is as far as my range goes. The AR doesn't do quite as well but is sub-minute of angle. Of course this is using handloads I've worked up.

    Check out the Thompson Center Compass (I think that is what the dealer called it). I just handled one yesterday afternoon and it's a nice rifle.
     
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  18. KsSkaEnthusiast

    KsSkaEnthusiast Member

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    Savage 12 fv in .223 is 420 at cabellas Or bass pro If theres one near you. It’s got a bull barrel and for the price of a tikka you can have that, put a good target stock on it, and get a scope. With the extra heat dissipation that rifle should last thousands as thousands of rounds along with be plenty accurate for 300 yards. You hit the nail on the head as for caliber. This will also have the weight of a bench rifle and doesn’t blow a budget.
     
  19. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I have not shot one but if a Thompson/Center Compass is what you want, Cabela's has them on sale for less than $200.

    https://www.cabelas.com/shop/en/thompson-center-compass-centerfire-bolt-action-rifle
     
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  20. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    If it were me I’d get the varmint model!
     
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  21. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    I like my target rifles heavy.
    This one is seventeen pounds. With the bipod it is still under eighteen.
    A single shot means no magazine at all.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It’s a Savage 12 F/TR.
    It is also a .223.
    My second favorite rifle.:)
     
  22. matto6

    matto6 Member

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    Thanks everyone. Appreciate the input.

    Nearly unanimous support for 223 and fast twist. Wow, I didn't know it was possible for people to agree in an internet forum. :)

    I'm in NY. Despite 10 round mags being legal, this range limits to 5. Not sure why. I'm continuing to look for more places to shoot, but it's mostly private clubs that don't let you in without knowing someone. Pfft.

    That was actually the original idea. And part of me says, if going with 223 for medium distances, just build an AR15. It would have to be featureless though (NY state) which is annoying. Hence I was thinking simple, elegant bolt-action... and if want more self defense toys, buy a mini-14 after the price gouging is over.

    Not silly at all. I'm still learning what I like and don't, so I'm a bit all over the place. But hearing people's experiences helps.
     
  23. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    If you'e shooting from a bench or similar decent rest, get the varmint barrel, IME. I have standard and varmint versions of 22 LR, 22 Magnum, .223, and .308 (same brands and actions, just the Varmint models vs. lighter weight models). In every example, the varmint version will out shoot the lighter weight model by a bit. They are a little more accurate with their favorite ammo, will shoot a wider variety of ammo a little better, and are a little more consistent. I think that's why they make the Varmint type models, so it stands to reason. :)
     
  24. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I like a 223 bolt gun. Ammo is dirt cheap, even quality target loads and recoil is almost non existant. My brother and I have shot them out to 600 yards so the long range potential is there. Tikka would be a great choice as long as you get one of the newer rifles. They used to be twisted pretty slow, but changed over to 8 twist a couple of years ago. Make sure of the twist rate before you buy if you want to be able to use the longer, heavier target bullets.

    If looking to save a few bucks The Ruger Predators have proven to be just as accurate as the Tikka and are almost 1/2 the cost.
     
  25. matto6

    matto6 Member

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    I'm also cross dominant - right handed but I shoot lefty. So I guess the tradeoffs are:

    Righty gun: allows using my dominant hand to work the bolt, and this seems fine (even preferred) by folks for bench: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com...tion-the-benefits-of-weakside-bolt-placement/

    Lefty gun: Forces me to use my weak hand to work the bolt, but would allow me not to be a complete mess if I ever wanted to do it standing up.
     
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