Ok. So it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I’m sorry about that. I’ve been busy as all get out. That’s what happens when you’re a college student working your way through college. I’m not going to apologize for it. It’s time to broach a subject that I’ve been putting off writing about for a few months now. Months ago I talked with Rich here about writing a piece on getting into long range shooting without breaking the bank.
Like I said I’m a college student working to put myself through college. I’m doing that by working at a certain big box, large chain sporting goods retailer, as well as for a very well respected local gunsmith. Guns are my passion though, and engineering relating to guns is why I’m going to school. I gave myself a budget of under $2,000 for everything to get started, and I also wanted to be as out of the box as possible. That’s right, no buying a cheap Remington 700 action and letting my gunsmith boss go to town on it. Not everyone has access to that so it truly isn’t fair to write an article on getting into long range shooting out of the box and then doing custom work.
Have a Budget!
The first step you have to take is identify your budget. Having a budget in mind will help you in finding what fits you. It’s definitely nice to dream about some of the multi-thousand dollar guns, but let’s face it not all of us can reasonably afford them. Does your budget also include the glass? A long range rifle is useless without a scope.
I started out by doing a lot of research. First thing I did was talk calibers. There are many out there to choose from, and just as many opinions as there are calibers. Rich was a great help with that as I could bounce information off him and he’d give me wisdom gained through experience. I knew I wanted to go with a 6.5mm cartridge. In the field of ballistics not all calibers are equal and while I’ve got a lot of respect for .308 Winchester, I knew it couldn’t compete with the 6.5mms when it came to ballistics. Not only that but I didn’t want anything that would be a barrel burner either. Really I found myself with only 2 choices at the moment with either .260 Remington or 6.5 Creedmoor.
Well okay so I didn’t really decide calibers right away. I’ll be honest at this point since I had at least 2 cartridges narrowed down I figured I could start looking at rifle options within those choices, and find something I liked. Like I said earlier the goal was to essentially kick the door down into long range shooting and be as out of the box as I could. When looking into models of gun that will fit me I found that some things are more patently obvious than others. Like the fact that a lot of the stuff coming out of Freedom Group for a while now have been suboptimal in terms of quality.
Another important factor to consider is how are you going to feed this rifle? Are you going to use factory ammo pretty much exclusively? Or are you going to take the plunge into reloading too that you probably should as well. I’m lucky, I’m already there so reloading was a natural choice for me.
Pick Your Equipment
Well I’ll just cut to the chase and say I found what I wanted. Savage Arms actually came to the rescue with their Model 12 Long Range Precision. Well sort of. It uses Savage’s Model 12 action in conjunction with their target series Accu-trigger which can be adjusted between 6 ounces and 2.5 pounds. It comes with an HS Precision stock with aluminum bedding block, and a fluted heavy barrel made in house by Savage. It’s available in 3 calibers, and two of those that I was interested in were the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .260 Remington. Because they are 6.5mm cartridges and in that kind of sweet spot they should be great for dipping my toes into the waters of long range shooting.
That actually wasn’t too bad from my perspective. It’s decent equipment that isn’t getting into custom work territory/cost. Finding one wasn’t an extremely big pain either. There were several I could buy on gunbroker. Because of my job working for certain big box store that shall remain nameless I have a unique amount of insight in being able to find what I want even though it might not be in the same state. Well I found one in a location much to my south. But then again I’m in Minnesota so most of the United States is to my south. Regardless when all was said and done I was parted with $800 of my hard earned dollars and came away with a rifle. Awesome.
Optics. Jesus what have I stepped into? What I really wanted to do was whip out the credit card and put myself horribly into debt and buy the best I could because I’m like that. Well that wasn’t going to fly. Back to the internet where everyone has an opinion. Well sort of. I pestered Rich a crapload I’m sure, once again voraciously read everything he’d written, and bounced a number of ideas off him for his opinion. The dust settled and I ended up with a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm scope. The reticle appealed to me, and the fact that it was a first focal plane and had a standard range of magnification helped a lot. I got a couple into my hands from work, but didn’t end up buying it because of the cost. Instead I dug it up on Optics Planet during one of their sales. I also had a coupon code of theirs that knocked it down to $700 when all was said and done.
Putting it All Together
So to recap: I have my rifle, and I have my scope. All together I’ve spent $1500 of my $2000 budget. I’m feeling pretty good at that. I still had at least two more things to buy, rings and a bipod. I knew that skimping and putting some mediocre rings on this gun wouldn’t do me any good. About this time Rich had come out with his article on the SPHUR. I wanted it. I pestered him. I listened once again to his words of wisdom. I ended up going with some Seekins Precision medium rings. This set me back about $125 when all was said and done. Good call Rich. The bipod was fairly easy. I managed to find a Harris at work for about $75. That’s retail mind you, not the wonderful employee discount. I am playing by some rules here.
This brought my total to $1700 of $2000. I took my time putting all this together. Patience was definitely key. All in all I would say it paid off. How often do you hear of government projects coming in under budget by a whopping 15%? I’ll be honest and say that I used that remaining money to buy my materials to cook up some rounds on my own. No way in hell I was going to go through all that just to use some Remington Core Lokt.
Since I started writing this article in April the Ruger Precision Rifle has come out and completely changed the game. Not only that but I’ve pretty obviously had some time to live with my choices. Currently though winter is making it’s presence known here in Minnesota, so now is the time of year when I really get to working on different projects that I’ve put off for one reason or another. In part two I’m going to talk about what it was like to live with what I ended up choosing. It’s going to be an interesting story to say the least.
Don is a Minnesota college student working his way through school as a firearms coatings specialist. An avid shooter with a love for just about all things gun related, gladly sharing his somewhat unique experiences with anyone who will listen. If you have any questions for me, email us!