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Old July 21, 2014, 01:30 AM   #1
bricz75
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Durability of budget bolt-action rifles

A year ago I asked about the durability of bolt-action rifles. Eventually this thread was closed due to the discussion getting completely off topic, otherwise I would have revived that same thread. That thread is below:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=527693


The first post has been copied here and colored blue:

In recent times a number of budget bolt-action rifles have come to the market-place. Articles and posts will typically comment on the accuracy, trigger, and ergonomics. How about durability? Which one of two of the below rifles are least likely to need gunsmith repair? Which one or two can be knocked around and manipulated without breaking?

Savage Axis
Ruger American
Marlin X7
Stevens 200
Any others in this price range



Has anyone heard anything new within the past 13 months?


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Old July 21, 2014, 05:55 AM   #2
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Nothing new that I have looked at. I do want to mention that the Savage does come with accu trigger now.
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Old July 21, 2014, 06:14 AM   #3
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The stevens 200 is everything a savage 110 is but with a cheaper finish and stock. Built a 110 and stevens 200 side by side and can attest to there being the exact same parts. Another cheap rifle to add to your list is the remington 770, not near as upgradable as the 200 but still a descent rifle for the price. A friend of mine has a rem 770 in 308 and keeps it sub moa all day with handloads and is so basic there really isnt much to break.
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Old July 21, 2014, 06:47 AM   #4
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I own a couple of Ruger American's and consider them the best of the lot. I have no illusions that they will be as durable long term as a Ruger Hawkeye or Winchester 70.

But I bought 2 for less than 1 of the others cost and they are plenty accurate. I wouldn't want to have any of the budget guns in my hand if my life depended on it working though. I bought them to keep in the truck or ATV. If one gets stolen or falls off the ATV I won't worry about losing or damaging a $1,000 rifle.

13 months is way too soon to make any judgements as to durability. Get back with us in 13 years and we'll have some idea then.
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Old July 21, 2014, 10:17 AM   #5
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Seems to me that "Minimalist" rifles are fine for those who sight in, go kill a couple of deer and then put the gun in the closet until next season. Probably not all that durable from the standpoint of being used as a regular "range toy" and lots of shooting. Okay for those for whom "It's just a deer rifle" and they aren't really concerned about the aesthetics of fit and finish.
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:54 PM   #6
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Accuracy, trigger and ergonomics are definitely a known quantity. I can only speak directly to the Savage and RA.
My RA (223) has made the trip back to its home town 3 times now. Still has issues. TBH I'm on the second rifle now. I gave up on Ruger actually correcting the problem until they redesign the mag. I'm note holding my breath for that one. It's very durable all the same. You could through this rifle under a Mack truck doing 80 mph and the rifle would be fine.... But, the mag would still cause problems.
Savage Axis gets my vote for flimsiest stock of the bunch. You could run over it with a Mack truck with little effect Because it feels like a sponge. I don't think it would break.
Now if one of these were to break, depending on the repair, I would likely forego a repair and simply buy another rifle.
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Old July 21, 2014, 10:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Probably not all that durable from the standpoint of being used as a regular "range toy" and lots of shooting.
A fellow either on here or THR claims he has 17,000 rounds through his Savage Axis. I don't know what kind of maintenance/repairs were required, if any.


Quote:
I gave up on Ruger actually correcting the problem until they redesign the mag. I'm note holding my breath for that one.
I acquired the impression the mag on the Ruger was flawed. I don't know about the Savage one. The Marlin and Stevens are blind box.
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Old July 21, 2014, 10:27 PM   #8
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Surplus bolt actions, especially mosin nagants, are nigh indestructible. They can usually be found pretty cheap as well.
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Old July 24, 2014, 07:14 PM   #9
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The T/C Venture and Howa 1500/Weatherby Vanguard should be added to your list as well. The T/C has had recall issues but that seems to be all cleared up now.

The Howa/Vanguard is a time-tested durable and accurate design that is roughly in the same price range as the rest of the rifles mentioned by the OP.

This "budget rifle" horse has been beat to death but to be honest I think they are all decent rifles for the money.
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Old July 25, 2014, 12:51 PM   #10
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I have the equivalent of those rifles from the 1970s, the Remington 788, and it is still going strong.

Steel is still steel, the finish isn't as pretty, but I can't imagine any of them not lasting as long as higher priced rifles.
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Old July 26, 2014, 06:41 PM   #11
bricz75
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Quote:
This "budget rifle" horse has been beat to death but to be honest I think they are all decent rifles for the money.
I haven't seen too many forum posts out there claiming to have many rounds through them, except for the one fellow claiming 17,000 rounds through his Axis. I'd enjoy reading about that kind of round count (or even one-third as many) through the other budget models.


Quote:
I have the equivalent of those rifles from the 1970s, the Remington 788, and it is still going strong.

Steel is still steel, the finish isn't as pretty, but I can't imagine any of them not lasting as long as higher priced rifles.
How many rounds through yours?

I'm not sure if the newer budget rifles would last as long as the ones from decades ago. Now there's MIM parts in them.
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Old July 27, 2014, 08:25 AM   #12
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As far as the barreled action, durability is likely okay. I think that plastic parts of whatever sort (trigger guard, e.g.) can be a problem. Same for a low-cost wood stock which might distort with changes in humidity.

Some people can break anvils; some people have no problems with delicate crystal...
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Old July 27, 2014, 10:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bricz75
How many rounds through yours?
No idea, I would expect 1000 plus. My father in Law deer hunted with it for 20 years or so, before I got it, and I have shot it quite a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bricz75
I'm not sure if the newer budget rifles would last as long as the ones from decades ago. Now there's MIM parts in them.
The metal I would expect to last as long or longer. Metallurgy and manufacturing have advanced a bit since then.
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Old July 27, 2014, 10:13 AM   #14
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With the exception of the Remington 770, which had a terrible reputation, the budget bolt actions are more than adequate for their intended purpose. I have a Mossberg .243. It is my light deer and coyote rifle. I put less than 100 rounds per year through it. At that rate, it should last me the rest of my life. Serious competative shooters, who put 1000s of rounds through their rifles each year, are probably not shopping in the $300-$400 price range.
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Old July 27, 2014, 11:43 AM   #15
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Any of these guns should be rugged enough to survive reasonable use. A Savage Axis is not going to be less rugged than a 110 in the same configuration.

Corners were cut on all these rifles, but in truth that sometimes makes them simpler and less delicate.

With reasonable care typical hunting and shooting scenarios is not going to wear a modern firearm out.
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Old July 27, 2014, 02:28 PM   #16
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Another way to judge/communicate opinions of durability is to compare these budget models with more expensive models like the Rem. 700, similarly priced Savage models, and Ruger Hawkeye.
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Old July 27, 2014, 02:41 PM   #17
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Budget bolt-action rifles are the same as their higher priced cousins but have lower cost stocks and finishes. A Rem SPS M700, for example, is an entry level M700 with a lower end synthetic stock. Still an M700.
You can expect to hand your budget rifle down just like you do a higher priced rifle.
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Old July 27, 2014, 08:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Another way to judge/communicate opinions of durability is to compare these budget models with more expensive models like the Rem. 700, similarly priced Savage models, and Ruger Hawkeye.
What are you thinking is going to wear out/break?
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Old July 28, 2014, 12:57 PM   #19
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Stevens 200 would be my choice from the list as most durable. My choice is not on your list, TC Venture.
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Old July 28, 2014, 05:57 PM   #20
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There aren't really that many parts that give a lot of trouble on bolt action rifles compared to other rifle designs.

Barrels, firing pins, various springs, extractors, ejectors, detachable magazines (if applicable), and maybe a few other wear parts are all you should ever have to worry about on most rifles, and most people never use a rifle enough to wear these parts out.

A barrel will wear out regardless of how much you paid for the rifle. The shooters cleaning routine (or lack thereof) and the cartridge the barrel is chambered for, will determine how many rounds you get out of a barrel. As for the parts in the bolt assembly and trigger, they are designed to be cleaned and maintained, then eventually replaced after a certain number of rounds, much like recommended service intervals on a car. The action and bolt body should pretty much last forever, as long as the shooter doesn't do anything really stupid. Keep in mind, the budget rifles have to be proof tested just like any other rifle.

The plastic detachable box mags that some of these rifles are coming with, yeah, they are probably going to get brittle over time and break, but they are cheap to replace, and readily available, for now at least.
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Old July 29, 2014, 10:52 PM   #21
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Quote:
A fellow either on here or THR claims he has 17,000 rounds through his Savage Axis. I don't know what kind of maintenance/repairs were required, if any.
That guy must be rich.

Even at .20 a round, he has wasted enough money to buy three high quality rifles and then some.
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Old July 30, 2014, 09:40 PM   #22
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17000 rounds? Maybe shooting powdercoated cast.
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