Well, first off, I don't understand the "want something to take hunting .... with friends" part because no one hunts at 800 yards - no one with any ethics, that is, and almost no one period, youtube vids notwithstanding.
Chambering. You can do a lot, LOT better than .308. .308 win is fine of course, but many chambering choices are better past about 600: Take your pick: .260 rem, 6.5x55, 6.5-.284 norma, 7mm WSM, 7mm RSAUM, .280 rem, .280 rem AI, 6.5-'06, 7mm-08...even .270 Win beats the hell out of .308 win in drop and drift, all other things being equal (if you can achieve that, meaning equally accurate rifle build and ammo).
Note that you did say hunting (nevermind that I don't understand the hunting and loooong range statement), so that's why I recommend a 7mm or 6.5mm for hunting - because .30 cals have a better bullet selection for long range (high-BC bullets) for TARGET bullet choices, with 7mm bullets a close 2nd place; whereas in HUNTING bullet selections, the opposite is true: 7mm bullets have a slight edge in the BC dept over .30 cals in properly constructed hunting options. Really I'd go with a 7mm over a 6.5mm for hunting; just a lot more bullet choices for a hunting performer (though granted there are a few in 6.5).
Rifle - this is obviously the most important part, and since we're talking about a budget, we're talking factory. Since we're talking factory, we're excluding custom. Since we're excluding custom, the chambering and rifle choice are all wrapped up together, since we have limited factory options.
That leaves us with a Savage in 6.5-284 Norma. Or a Savage in .260 rem or 6.5 creedmoor perhaps. Or even .243 win, 6mm rem, or 6mm BR.
You did say hunting, so we want to stay light or medium-light if possible, However, it appears that now, the only model offered by Savage in 6.5-284 is the "12 F Class", but that is one heavy dude, way heavier than anything remotely reasonable for hunting. We need to stay at 10.25 lbs bare or less, let's say, to meet your criteria.
I just don't think you can "get there from here" new. You're asking for everything - light weight, low price, and supreme accuracy - can't be done in a new rifle - you can pick any two but not three. About the closest you're going to come to getting what you want is a Savage "12 VLP DBM" in .243 Win. .308 win, or .300 WSM, or a Savage "12 LRPV Left Port" in 6mm BR.
So the answer is go used until you find a steal on a custom - scan Gunbroker - do what I do- Browse for the category "bolt action rifles", then use simply the word "custom" as your search. Check it weekly. Some accurate choices in nice chamberings will come along. There's no guarantees on accuracy, but with the right questions, a little knowlege and insight, and a smidge of luck, you can get what you want, if perhaps not on the first try (never know when you might get a lemon custom off of GB or similar).
Last edited by Unlicensed Dremel; March 4, 2014 at 04:49 PM.