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Eyeing a 7mm-08 in a budget-friendly format

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by mississippishooter, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    Location: Mostly eastern hardwoods/low lying swamp land, heavily wooded areas (Middle and western Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta lowlands) with occasional field hunts and infrequent western trips to chase mule deer on the Kansas Plains.

    Species: Looking for a versatile cartridge that will work on game from coyote to mulies. Whitetail and shooting steel are where the majority of shooting will occur.

    Why the 7mm-08: I own and shoot a .270 Winchester and a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington. Other than 5.56/.223, I have no other centerfire rifles. I want something flat shooting, appropriate for western game including antelope and mule deer (If it's bigger, I'll go to the .270), in light recoil. I'll be frank: The .270 recoil is manageable, but reasonably unpleasant to me. I love shooting it, but after one box of ammo at the range, I've had enough. When I bought it at my LGS many years ago, I was looking for a .30-06 or a .308 for a versatile cartridge, but in the particular rifle I wanted, all they had was .270 which was my third choice. Now, I'd like something that falls between the .270 Win and the .223/5.56. Plus I want a short action.

    Size: 5'10. Wide shoulders, thick chest. Weigh 220.

    Budget: Sub-$400 to leave room for an optic and ammo. Not because I can't afford more, but I can't justify spending more for occasional use when there's decent stuff below this price point.

    The candidates: I will buy new. I live in a small town and don't want to drive all over hell and half of Georgia to find the right gun in the right condition at the right price. Please hold your comments of, "Well you can get a used (whatever) for the same price!" because, no, I can't. Not here.
    -- Ruger American. Highest priced option I'll consider. Round count is low, but I am not sure it's a problem and the design/firearm has been out a long time. Generally, I am not a huge fan of Ruger centerfire rifles (some experts tell you their tolerances are sloppy and QC has not always been great, particularly on the Mini series rifles), but I've shot one in .308 and the rifle itself fits the bill (recoil on the .308 seemed about the same as my .270, perhaps a tiny bit less in the ammo I was using). Plus, the Ruger comes in a compact model with a 16.5" barrel which appeals to me for long-distance walking in the woods.
    -- Thompson Center Compass. Has really good magazine capacity based on a rotary design, has a three-lug bolt (which I prefer) and is feature rich, though I have no need (at this time) to mount a can, so the threaded barrel is extraneous to me. It takes a few knocks for having a thin, hollow stock that some say gives way to pressure and some claim the bolt fit and tolerances have it feeling slightly low end or unrefined. It is the cheapest on the list and that counts for something, especially considering all-in, it's almost $100 less than the Ruger off the shelf. It does come with a 1-inch MOA at 100 yards guarantee.
    -- Savage Axis II. Checks all the boxes but one: 2 lug design. I own a Mossberg 100 ATR that I bought years ago (that's my .270). I just don't care for the high lift required (90 degrees) on a 2 lug sporting rifle. Some say the Accutrigger on the Axis 2 feels a little weird with the dingus in the middle of the trigger face like it is on some handguns. I have never shot the rifle, so I can't say if it's a problem or not, but it's a highly regarded gun (and the handguns with the dingus don't bother me for the most part). The cheaper version, the Axis, does not have an adjustable trigger and that trigger has been described by some as "awful." So if I go with the Savage, it would be the Axis 2 model.
    -- Mossberg Patriot. This one is more "honorable mention" and starts at the very bottom of my list (which is in no particular order otherwise), but I'd consider it. My ATR has been a fine rifle, shoots accurately and has held up well despite having plastic molded sling mounts and other "cheap" shortcuts. I have a favorable opinion of the company and am a huge fan of the 500 series shotguns... and my ATR does what it should. Still, 2 lug design (90 degree bolt lift). So-so capacity. I have no reason to believe it's not a great gun, but it doesn't excite me.

    Not interested:
    - Remington 700, 770, 783 (what has happened to that company?! Nothing they put their name on gets good reviews anymore). Not saying any one of them are bad, but I am not excited about any of them. I grew up on this brand, so my viewpoint is more a result of high levels of recent customer dissatisfaction than anything else.

    Like, but can't go there:
    - TC Dimension. For the cost, I'd buy two guns, not one with interchangeable barrels.
    - Weatherby Vanguard. Would love one. Don't plan to spend it.
    - Tikka - Again, past what I want to pay.

    Sorry so long. Thanks for the input. Yes, ridiculously low post count. Been a member for a long time, but I usually find the answer I seek without posting.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  2. saiga308

    saiga308 Member

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    trucker long hauling everywhere LOL
    why not have it threaded for a muzzle break
     
  3. saiga308

    saiga308 Member

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    trucker long hauling everywhere LOL
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  4. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    Chuck Hawks' conclusion is to power down and avoid using muzzle brakes for several reasons he outlines (noise, jurisdictional laws, etc.), which was my conclusion when selecting a 7mm-08. I find that my thought process seems to often align with his. He just knows a hell of a lot more.

    Here is his conclusion if you don't want to read the whole article:

    "The best answer to the muzzle brake question is simply to avoid calibers that generate more recoil than you can comfortably tolerate. Then you will never need a muzzle brake. Try this. Instead of a .264 Win. Mag., buy a rifle in .260 Rem. or 6.5x55. Instead of a .270 WSM or a .270 Wby. Mag., buy a .270 Winchester. Instead of a 7mm short magnum, buy a 7mm-08. Instead of a standard length 7mm Magnum, buy a .280 Remington. Instead of a .300 short magnum, buy a .308 Winchester. Instead of a standard length .300 Magnum, buy a .30-06. And so on. See, it's easy. You can hunt the same animals and avoid having to make a choice between being kicked out from under your hat or being deafened."
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  5. saiga308

    saiga308 Member

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    trucker long hauling everywhere LOL
    btw if u go with the t/c compass for 16$ a cheap kit will give u a reduction of half a trigger pull on it check this out
    go to video time 8:20
    see the pull after the spring was replace
     
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  6. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I've shot the savage with the adjustable trigger and was impressed, I would also look at the Howa, on sale they get in your price range, check gun.deals.
    If your interested there is Alexanders in north GA and Dahlonega gold and pawn that has very competitive prices and makes for good weekend getaways.
     
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  7. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    Used to live in Dawsonville, GA, near Dahlonega (less than 15 miles). Would be fun to ride that way, catch up with some old friends. Good tip on the Howa. I am a relentless gun.deals checker.

    I am not in Georgia now... in Tennessee... my comment about driving all over hell and half of Georgia is an expression in these parts (like saying I don't want to go on a wild goose chase).
     
  8. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    I'd lean TC Compass personally. I think you're looking at similar features and abilities among the ones you listed, and right now you can get the Compass the cheapest ($249). At that price, you could buy a Boyd's laminate stock and still be under $400 or a few dollars over depending on the stock and remedy the main drawback to it if you so desired. The MOA gurantee at $249 is a pretty good deal.

    Re: the Savage trigger, I personally love them. I have two Savages with them and they are far and away my favorite triggers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  9. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    Sounds to me like a coin toss is in order. Of your listed choices I think you will be happy with any of them.
     
  10. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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  11. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I have 2 Howa 1500s in 30-06, they are both accurate and I take them hunting more than any of my others, I don't mind proping it against a tree for support.
     
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  12. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    I like the Howa 1500... I never really looked at it before and now I see why... It's running above what I want to pay, but guns.com has a decent price on one already scoped at $430. So I'm going to read some reviews and look at the breakdown and consider adding it to the list. Surprised no one has so far said Ruger American. The Compass is my favorite on features and setup, but the stock concerns and a nagging "How can they sell this for $250" feeling hits me when looking at it alongside the rock-solid (by most reports) Ruger. But there really is no risk at the price. And it seems a lot of gun for the money. Finding the right firearm is certainly a case of deciding what compromises you're willing to make, as no gun is all things to all people for an every-man-can-afford-it price.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  13. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I saw them a couple of months back for 369 or 389, I purchased both mine for 300$ with Leopold 3x9s, I purchased one in 308 for 250 with vortex scope and swapped scopes and sold it for 300, I put a Bushnell on it.
    I saw the compass in LGS and was impressed for the money and would have bought a 223 or valkyrie if they had one.
     
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  14. LNF150

    LNF150 Member

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    The gun that fits you and your lop is the best one. I always wanted to try a marlin x7 in 7mm-08. looks like an inexpensive no frills truck gun.

    I've shot a .270 winchester before and it's not really my cup of tea. I'll stick to my 30-06 for kicks. I hunt/shoot mostly with my 7mm-08 these days, but both of those guns are on your, you won't buy list. Tikka these days, but I didn't pay what they are going for these days either. Before that was a Remington 700 sps and it was an excellent shooter. My ex wanted it in the split, I just wanted out of the marriage. I do miss that gun.
     
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  15. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    @mississippishooter - chuck hawks is exceptionally biased in many ways. The opinion you disclosed regarding muzzle brakes is one of them.

    Consider a muzzle brake like power steering in your truck. You don’t really need it, but it sure makes things much more manageable.
     
  16. Goosey

    Goosey Member

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    Another option to throw in there, the Winchester XPR is also going for ~$400.
     
  17. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    There isn't much difference at all between your current 270 and 7-08. They both are suitable for the same game and at the same ranges. The 270 shoots similar bullet weights a little faster at the muzzle, but the more aerodynamic 7mm bullets will come close, if not catch up, at some point down range. Generally speaking a 7-08 will be more accurate, be lighter and have about 25% less recoil. But unless you hand load 7-08 ammo is going to be harder to find and cost more.

    The 308 is a ballistic twin to 7-08. The 7-08 was an attempt to get a little more performance from 308 with a little less recoil. On paper it succeeded, but by such a small margin that no one will ever notice any difference, including recoil. But 308 ammo is everywhere and cheaper.

    Another thing to consider, most of the rifles you are considering are among the lightest. Even low recoiling rifles have more kick from lightweight rifles.

    Ruger 77 rifles made prior to 1992 used barrels Ruger bought from outside vendors. They earned a reputation for poor accuracy. Ruger has been producing their own barrels since 1992 and they are much better. But the Ruger 77 was never designed as a tack driving target rifle. It is however one of the most rugged reliable designs made. It would be my top pick if hunting something that could kill me. The new Ruger American rifles are probably the most accurate sub $800 rifle on the market. I witnessed my nieces husband shoot a 4" 600 yard group just yesterday with one of these in 6.5 Creedmoor. Not bad for a $350 rifle with a $200 scope on it firing $13/box ammo.

    https://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog...6/ruger+american+308+win+black+synthetic+6903

    https://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/84841/ruger+amer-c+7mm-08+18+mtblk

    And since I mentioned 6.5 CM, that is the round I'd pick. Recoil is about 1/2 way between 308/7-08 and 243. It'll kill anything 308, 7-08 or 270 will kill and ammo is everywhere and cheap.
     
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  18. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Even though I’m not a fan of muzzle brakes, what Varminterror says about Chuck Hawks is true.
     
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  19. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    As I have stated before I do not like rifles with tiny loading/ejection ports and DBM’s. So for me it would be a Vanguard, 1500 or Patriot, even if I had to go over budget.

    I also agree there’s not much difference in recoil between a 7mm-08 and .270.
     
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  20. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    Get a reloading setup and download the 270. I’ve always had a 270 and I found the recoil unpleasant so I never loved the round rarely shot it. After I found a reduced load using H4895 that shoots amazing groups, I’ve fallen back in love with the 270. I’m getting recoil just a hair above 243 recoil using 130gr Sierra Gameking bullets.
     
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  21. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Another way of stating this:

    Reload 270 to make it so inefficient that it uses 50grn of powder to do the same thing 7-08 would have achieved with 40grns.

    Or worse....

    Reload 270 to spend a lot of time making it so inefficient that it’s only achieves what can be done with 7-08 ammo readily bought from a shelf...
     
  22. stillquietvoice

    stillquietvoice Member

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    I'm not sure where the information on the axis 1 trigger came from but I know first hand that is not true. Both axis models use the ar trigger spring threaded into the trigger. I've done several trigger mods on both models and for about $5.00 and some of your time you can get a pretty good pull with no creep or overtravel in the 2.5 lb range.

    On the axis II the trigger safety blade only has a small bit of spring pressure and completely slides into the trigger shoe so during firing it's like any other trigger.

    I had an opportunity this past weekend to shoot a tc compass 308 win with a muzzle brake attached while it was a bit louder than my rem 700 in 7mm08 it was quite accurate and the recoil was more in the 243 win class than standard 408 or 7mm08. Just saying don't write off an accessory you haven't tried or have first hand experience with.
     
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  23. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    This was one source. I get that just because it says it on the Interwebs doesn't make it so.
    https://www.rokslide.com/forums/threads/savage-axis-trigger.124412/
     
  24. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    I confirm that he's biased, often stubbornly so, but I usually like his bias, so... Seriously, I get it and agree. No one is right all the time. I just like to keep things simple and downsizing seems simple enough.
     
  25. mississippishooter

    mississippishooter Member

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    I have shot off-the-shelf ammo in both and found the '08 to be much softer. As noted above it could have been weight, or maybe my friend had a better recoil pad. I know I was shooting 150 grain white box in .270. Not sure what my friend had loaded. So maybe it was ammo, or all three (gun, ammo, pad). But I felt like the '08 kicked about like my .35 Rem but lighter and snappier at the same time. Agreed that other variables besides caliber were in play.
     
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