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How do the basic bolt action rifle makers rank?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by breakingcontact, Apr 15, 2013.

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  1. breakingcontact

    breakingcontact Member

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    By rank, I'm referring to overall quality. I'm looking at common makers, nothing super high dollar or custom.

    I keep hearing Remington isn't what they were and is having QA issues. This is unfortunate as I really like to buy whatever the "standard" is in guns and I thought the Remington 700 was it.

    Savage, I've always heard how accurate they are, but then I hear they've been having bolt issues.

    Ruger?

    Winchester?
     
  2. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

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    IMO Winchester is at the top of the heap of the big 3. And by a substantial margin. There floated barrels are a big plus. The workmanship has been really good on the ones I have handled, as have been the triggers and safety movement. The actions have been admirably slick - maybe not in the Tikka / Sako league, but still very nice. The CRF on my Sporter is flawless, and the magazine top loads very easily.

    My personal experience with Remington has been good, but I have only owned 4 of them and the newest one was bought probably at least 5 years ago. No problems of any kind. Nice triggers and smooth actions. I don't care too much for a bolt gun without a floated barrel though.

    However I have a friend who bought a M700 recently and it just went back for warranty work after it fired upon pushing the safety off. And there seems to be a lot of negative reports on the boards the last couple of years.

    I have owned and handled numerous Ruger Hawkeyes over the years. I bought at least 6 in the last 5 years or so. To say Ruger has had QC problems would be an understatement. From the problems I have seen, I am convinced they must put guns out the door without any meaningful form of final inspection or test firing.

    Depending on the stock, you most likely get a non-floated barrel. The LC6 triggers I have owned and tried normally have had noticeable creep in them. I have seen several safety levers that were so tight you couldn't even move flick them off without releasing your shooting grip and grabbing the lever with a thumb and finger to shove it over.

    The scope mount system is excellent IMO, except the rings frequently need a moderate and sometimes severe lapping as they just can't be relied on to sit on the receiver very true.

    I ordered an Alaskan an the barrel was as horribly clocked as any rifle I have seen. It was ridiculous. I rejected it and had my dealer send it back for a replacement.

    I have had a couple Hawkeyes that would pop their rounds up out of the magazine lips ahead of the extractor. So no CRF operation on them.

    My .416 would jamb the bullet of the top round in the magazine into the square sharp edge on the back of the chamber either tying up the gun or dinging the bullet up. And that is supposed to be a dangerous game rifle.

    And the Hawkeye bolt movement is frequently quite cobby compared to say... well just about anything else.... M700, M70, Sako/Tikka, etc.

    But they are cheap and IF you find a copy that wasn't fouled up in production they can be a great value.
     
  3. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Assuming we are talking hunting rifles, not target rifles this is the way I see it.

    Sako Winchester and Kimber are the best of the bunch. I simply prefer Winchester or Kimber's design, but honestly the Sako might be the best made rifle.

    The Tikka is a darn good rifle, really just a budget gun produced by Sako which tells you a lot.

    I think Ruger is building the most rugged, dependable rifle made. They can be a little coarse, but are tough as nails and accurate enough for a hunting rifle. Not terribly priced for what you get either.

    I'm not a huge fan of Remington, but feel the internet hype over quality issues are overstated. The rifles listed above have design features I prefer over the Remington, but I have owned Remingtons in the past, still own 1 model 700 and a couple of 870's. They have always worked. If I were only interested in pure accuracy, and not interested in durability or toughness Remington is the place I'd start.

    I've owned a few Savage rifles, shot a few more. The internet hype about amazing accuracy has not proven accurate for me. I've found them to be as accurate as other guns costing more, but not any more accurate. They have some design features that eliminate them from my consideration. But I don't think they are a bad gun. Especially their less expensive versions. They are going to be just as accurate as guns costing more. I cannot see spending money on their top end guns though. They are in the same price range as a Winchester and no more accurate. If someone is going to pay that much money they might as well get a much nicer, more refined gun.

    It is hard to go horribly wrong with any of the major brands. All are pretty good. Some offer features not offered by others and picking the features most important to you will make your decsion.
     
  4. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    Out of the box performance I give the nod to Winchester. These guns are in the $700 range. If you can find an older Remington 700 then I put them in the same category with Winchester and maybe the newer 700s are good but I am scared to buy one.
    For more "budget" friendly guns I think Savage is the best rifle out there. Ruger American seems to be a fine rifle but I don't own one. I have shot one a few times and it was adequate. Mossberg and Remington are far below the others in the budget department and by "budget" I am generally referring to the rifles you can buy for -$400 at any of the big box retailers.

    I am not a target shooter nor do I need 400 yard accuracy since I hunt whitetails in Alabama with my rifles mostly. Heck for what I need I just expect decent accuracy out to 200 yards and pretty much any rifle will do that.
     
  5. dvdcrr

    dvdcrr member

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    Out of the half dozen brands I have owned, my favorite is the Kimber 8400 in 270 wsm. Ther is no dimension on the rifle which is larger than it needs to be. Next is my stainless vanguard in 257 weatherby. After that the REM, Ruger, savages all kind of lump together. The Kimber is 7.6 lbs loaded with scope and 24" barrel, and strangely in 270wsm has very manageable recoil , which you would not expect since you have near 7 mag power coming out the other end. The kimber has slightly shorter LOP. After I got used to it the Kimber is like a T-bird or vintage 'vette, and the others are buicks.
     
  6. breakingcontact

    breakingcontact Member

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    The Winchester Model 70 is a classic right? Still made? Also, who makes Winchesters now, thought they got bought up?
     
  7. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    I think any OOB bolt action rifle of any make is probably as accurate as 99% of the shooters will ever be able to leverage, and as reliable as 99% will ever need.

    If your quality criteria are other than accuracy and reliability, YMMV. It comes down to personal preference.
     
  8. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    Winchester Model 70s are made by FN in South Carolina

    FN owns Winchester
     
  9. osteodoc08

    osteodoc08 Member

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    Out of the box, I feel the Kimber guns are considerably underrated. I love my 22-250 and it easily my most accurate when compared to my rugers, savages, Remington's and browning. No Winchester to compare to, but I imagine it'd still be the same
     
  10. mnhntr

    mnhntr Member

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    Obviousy there is no corect answer to this question, but since you asked, I will do like everyone else and give you my opinion based on my experience. This is my list in order of good to bad based on accuracy, fit & finish, configuration of offerings, and value.
    1) Savage
    2) Howa
    3) Weatherby
    4) Remington
    5) Winchester
    6) Tikka
    7) Ruger
    8) Browning
     
  11. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Member

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    CZ. You can pay more money for a gun but you won't get more gun for your money.
     
  12. dvdcrr

    dvdcrr member

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    Mnhunter have you seen the new savages with their plastic mag latches? I don't know how they could be #1 on anybody's list but to each their own.
     
  13. mnhntr

    mnhntr Member

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    Which models would those be? I have 3 savages, 1 is brand new and the others are 2-3 yrs old. No plastic mag latches on mine. I would imagine the low end Axis maybe does but it is still 200% better that that Rem770 POS. I have never shot any Remington that was a factory rifle that shot better than my Savages. The worst shooting rifles I have ever owned were Rugers. Remington and a few of the other companies put out decently accurate rifles but have poor configurations such as twist rate, triggers, and stocks. I really like the Tikka but the all the ones I have seen for under $800 had short action calibers in long actions. I love the accu triggers and if all I have to do is buy a $500 Savage and maybe put a new stock on it that to me is a good deal. I have shot a few Weatherby rifles and Howa rifles and they are good shooters but they do not have as many offerings. The Winchesters I have shot are all pre 64 94s and an older model 70 so I cannot say anything about the newer stuff.
     
  14. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    I bought a new Savage Axis in December and it does have a plastic mag and mag release. I dont have a problem with that as it is a low end gun but shoots extremely well.
     
  15. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    I don't know anything about them other than the promo video I saw, but I don't think there is any more basic or classic name in bolt guns other than Mauser, and they have this new rifle called the m12 that looks pretty slick.
     
  16. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    When I was in the market for a new hunting rifle last year I did a good deal of research looking at CZ, Remington, Kimber and Winchester. I quickly eliminated Kimber, not because it is a bad rifle but because they are what I'd consider a boutique gun maker. Meaning they make fine rifles, but you will pay for it.

    Remington was soon out of the running as I could not find one that did not have some kind of issue. Not that I am hyper picky but when I am paying nearly $1200 for a rifle I want to feel like I am getting a good value for my money. So it was down to CZ and Winchester.

    I wanted a 375H&H and of the two the Winchester offered more of what I wanted in a rifle in that caliber. Two recoil lugs and two cross bolts to keep every thing in place under recoil. The action is smooth, getting better as I shoot it, and while not a perfect rifle I did feel I got the best bang for my buck as it were. In the interest of honesty I did have to have it bedded to get it to shoot straight and have the crown touched up as the factory crown was a tad off and the bedded was well terrible. But now she holds very nice groups at 100 out to 400 and I know she can take game at any distance I am able to shoot.

    So I said all that to say this, I vote Winchester!
     
  17. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

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    For me Sako clearly tops any list.

    I have always considered Savage entry level. Good, but plain Jane stuff.

    All of my Winchesters have been fine.

    I have NOT owned Remington rifles. No special reason.

    Howa is OK if you like Japanese. I hada Howa under the Smith and Wesson name. It was a .243. Fine rifle, but lacking the quality of a Sako.
     
  18. Orkan

    Orkan Member

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    Anyone considering a savage needs to put in a call to any of the top precision rifle schools in the country... and ask them if they would recommend a savage to anyone.
     
  19. breakingcontact

    breakingcontact Member

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    I first heard this phrase from a preacher in Louisiana. Big fan. Also, I like the classic look of the Winchester rifles.

    Of course not, they would want their shooters to have the absolute best I'm sure and that would come with a price. What do you propose they would recommend?
     
  20. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    More than likely what ever rifle they are paid to recommend.
     
  21. Orkan

    Orkan Member

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    To say that those top instructors can be bought, is a severe disregard for the pedigree of those instructors. I know some of them personally... and their integrity has no price. Ever.

    I too teach precision rifle courses. Thus far, every class which we've had a savage on the firing line, has led to stoppages of some kind to address equipment failures or ergonomics limitations on those rifles. (bolt lift is indeed... savage)

    I'll simply say that those whom would demand performance from their rifles across a high volume firing schedule are likely to be disappointed by savage. I could not, in good conscience, recommend one of their centerfires after what I've seen. This being based on a good sample size, across a wide range of their centerfire models.
     
  22. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    Well considering the OP asked about basic bolt actions...I don't know exactly what bearing the recommendation of "top precision rifle instructors" would have anyway...
     
  23. Orkan

    Orkan Member

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    I interpreted "Basic" to mean factory rifles that have not been heavily customized. As such, the rifle he described represents over 50% of what shows up to entry level precision rifle classes. Factory rifles completely unmodified, or factory barreled actions that have been bedded in an aftermarket stock or chassis.

    Rifle instructors are exposed to a huge cross-section of rifles. I would have thought their opinion would carry some weight, but I could be wrong, as I often am.
     
  24. Charger442

    Charger442 Member

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    FN SPR is pretty damn good out of the box.

    pre-64 style claw extractor and control round feeding
    Easily adjustable trigger
    detachable mag or hinged floor plate (mag can be converted to a CDI bottom metal to take AICS mags)
    good options for replacement stocks (factory options include McMillan A3 and A5 for additional money)


    to me, seems to be a great set-up right out of the gate. and its not a Remington or Savage, so fit and finish and accuracy are going to be both present, not one without the other.
     
  25. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    I didn't mean to sound as if I were saying they would endorse anything they don't 100% believe in.

    My apologies if I seemed to impugn integrity.

    Very true. Since the OP has not stated the purpose of the rifle, we can not really know what he wants it to do well.

    I am sure precision rifle work is much more demanding than a basic hunting rifle. One should always make their purchase with intent in mind.
     
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