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Old September 2, 2014, 01:44 PM   #1
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Searching for new rifle

Hi folks, first post here on The Firing Line.

I've recently taken up hunting and as a result I'm finding myself immersed in the world of firearms. As the title implies, I'm going to be buying a new rifle soon but I'm having trouble finding the right one.

I intend to use this rifle for hunting (mostly deer, black bears and moose) and possibly target shooting. So far I've come up with this:

• Bolt-action or lever-action
• Regarding calibers, I was recommended to choose between .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield
• Stainless steel/aluminum alloy/titanium (not many guns around with titanium as far as I know, still worth mentioning I suppose), no carbon steel
• For the stock, I'd prefer laminated wood but I'll still consider synthetic as well (as much as I admire the beauty of wood I worry it about its durability in my weather)
• All-around simple; I tend to avoid proprietary designs (especially when gimmicky) if they make it more difficult to maintain or repair the gun
• Quality is of the utmost importance
• New (as opposed to used)

I'm giving myself a $1500 budget for this purchase. If I spend less, whatever's left will go toward a new scope (in addition to the $750 I'm already willing to spend on optics). All in all, I'm looking for something that I'll be able to cherish for a lifetime.

Any recommendations are appreciated.

Last edited by Kavanaughty; September 2, 2014 at 02:22 PM.
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Old September 2, 2014, 03:11 PM   #2
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Pretty wide range of options there, but let's focus on your biggest animal. Either caliber will easily kill a moose, but if you want some margin when the angle isn't perfect, you'd like a bigger bullet. The .308 vs. 30-06 debate will go on forever, but most would agree the '06 has an advantage when shooting heavier bullets. I would load a high quality 180 for Bullwinkle. So caliber '06. Do you really like lever actions? If so, you are going to be limited to, say a Browning BLR. Excellent rifle, but I'm not sure they make an "all weather" version. But turnbolts will give you many choices, and most major makers sell a stainless synthetic version of their rifle. The new FN Winchester Model 70 has quite a following. I have an older "New Haven" Classic Featherweight in walnut and blued steel, and it is a great, accurate rifle. The only "all weather" rifle I own is a Savage 116 "Weather Warrior". You can buy two for your $1,500 (even Canadian), so you could get both calibers! But seriously, it's an ugly beast, but rock solid and a great shooter. Mine is a .338 Win Mag, which will really put the hurt on your critters, but it's more than you need. Good rifle, though. Browning makes good bolt actions also. Remington has been taking their lumps lately. I do have a '60's vintage 700 that is excellent, but I'm not sure I'd go there now. Bottom line: Go buy a Winchester Model 70 all weather 30-06. Put a good Leupold 2-7 (yes, 2-7...folks go with too much magnification on hunting rifles these days) on it, and you're good to go. Put the money you have left over into ammo, and practice much. Good hunting!
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Old September 2, 2014, 05:24 PM   #3
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The real-world differences between .30-06 and .308 are essentially zero.

Folks can (and have) argued until they're blue but the differences are academic at best. Until you get to very heavy bullets, there's often no difference whatsoever. Check some load data for both cartridges, you'll see such over-lap that in most cases you could never guess which one was which.

If you can't decide, roll dice or throw darts. For me , when all else is equal I'd rather have a short-action, which means .308Win (although neither would be my first (or second) choice).

It'd be hard to go wrong with a Browning X-bolt White Gold, although the stock is real (unlaminated) wood. Their composite 3D Bird's Eye Maple is cool too.

The X-Bolt is an excellent firearm and would serve you and your descendants well for generations.
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Old September 2, 2014, 06:02 PM   #4
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A Tikka T3 Laminated Stainless, perhaps? Tikka T3 are excellent rifles, and ought to be well within your budget.

A little pricier and at the top of your price range, but a bit more refined is the T3's cousin, the Sako 85 Laminated Stainless:
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Old September 2, 2014, 06:55 PM   #5
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Four words: Ruger Hawkeye Compact Laminate
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Old September 2, 2014, 09:36 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum Kava.

You have good ideas. Get a rifle with a good three position safety like the M70's or Rugers. Leupold scopes are a standard. A 2-7X is just fine.

Don't worry about making a choice and then it's the only one for a lifetime!

While I still have the M70 I bought new in 1957 I shoot and hunt with many other rifles.
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Old September 2, 2014, 11:33 PM   #7
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Another vote for the Tikka T3 Laminated Stainless.
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Old September 3, 2014, 06:08 AM   #8
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Howa stainless fluted 1500, laminate thumbhole stock, ten shot mag kit, leupold 3-12 power vx6. Will all come in under your budget, or if going to be a one rifle man try Burris eliminator range finding scope. I rate howa got three of them now and perform flawlessly. Paired with thumb hole laminate they perform and look great!! In a .308 or if like me I'd prefer .270 but .308 proven and I've got both

Last edited by Bennyfatsack; September 3, 2014 at 06:51 AM. Reason: Forgot cal.
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Old September 3, 2014, 07:27 AM   #9
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The real-world differences between .30-06 and .308 are essentially zero.
Close, but not zero, and with other factors thrown in I'd still pick 308. While the performance does in fact overlap, and original 308 loads were designed to equal WW-2 era 30-06 loads, with the BEST loads the 30-06 is 100-150 fps faster with 150 gr bullets. As bullet weight goes up, the gap gets wider.

308 is still my pick, even after using 30-06 for 40 years. The 308 does it in smaller more compact rifle, with about 25% less recoil. Accuracy is a tad better, probably because less recoil makes more accurate shooters. With today's better bullets there is far less real need for the heavy bullets. In a nutshell there is nothing I'd hunt with a 30-06, I'd not hunt with a 308. The lighter recoil and more compact rifle are more important to me than 100 fps. If I want more power, I also have a near identical rifle in 300 WSM, that will beat 30-06 by 300-400 fps.

While not one of your criteria a CRF action is high on my list for a do anything, dead nuts relable rifle. I chose a Winchester 70 Extreme Weather in 308 for my go to rifle. I did replace the factory stock with a McMillan Edge to lose 1/2 lb and just too look better. It weighs 7.25 lbs as it sets, shoots around .75 MOA with my hand loads and I'd use it on anything in North America except the large Alaskan Coastal Brown bears.

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Old September 3, 2014, 10:27 AM   #10
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• Bolt-action or lever-action
Either is good, but I'd go turnbolt in a tie, for sure. Easier to clean, more positive extraction in dirty conditions, slightly lighter typically.

• Regarding calibers, I was recommended to choose between .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield
Almost a wash, but I'd go (and have and do) .30-'06.... ammo is cheaper and more plentiful. And a little more oomph. But doesn't really matter - pick what appeals to you. Shorter bolt throw on .308. I don't buy that recoil is "25% less" - with same bullet, more like 10% less.

• Stainless steel/aluminum alloy/titanium (not many guns around with titanium as far as I know, still worth mentioning I suppose), no carbon steel
Sure, why not.

• For the stock, I'd prefer laminated wood but I'll still consider synthetic as well (as much as I admire the beauty of wood I worry it about its durability in my weather)
Wood, definitely. Or a composite of various materials including fiberglass, aramid fiber, carbon fiber, and graphite. Down with ordinary polymers. See sig.

• All-around simple; I tend to avoid proprietary designs (especially when gimmicky) if they make it more difficult to maintain or repair the gun
Good call, but all turnbolts are proprietary in the strict sense, exept perhaps the 98 Mauser and other old designs in the public domain.

• Quality is of the utmost importance
Yes. Think Weatherby Mark V, Browning A-Bolt, Winchester 70, Steyr, Sako 85, Blaser (straight pull), or even a Mauser M12 or M3. Or if you can find it, a NIB (discontinued) T/C Icon Classic. Rem 700 and Ruger 77 are OK as well, particularly a high-end Remington 700. With this parameter, why get a Tikka when you can get its higher-quality big brother, a Sako?

Go for the Blaser R8 or R93 if you want the utmost quality, as you said:
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Old September 3, 2014, 10:52 AM   #11
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Just a few comments. A 30-06 will take the game you want although I might go with a little bit more for large Moose. A synthetic stock while not as appealing as wood, will not warp and your gun will get wet eventually. I love the look of wood but my working long guns all had synthetic stocks.

I like bolt action as I have pinched myself too many times with a lever action plus it is a pain to unload versus a bolt action with a magazine. A lever action requires you to eject all the unspent rounds to empty and not quick to reload either. My choice would be a bolt action with a magazine.

My favorite was a 7mm magnum. It was controllable and made such a noise that guys would come over to the rifle range to see what I was shooting. Definitely a double ear protection gun.

Although inexpensive, check out the Ruger American Rifles. Great price and from what I have read, pretty accurate and durable. Plus they are so inexpensive that you can buy two. One for deer and one for Moose Black Bear. Around here, they take Blackies and deer with 30-30 but I would prefer a 30-06.
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Old September 20, 2014, 12:56 PM   #12
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Sorry for the late reply fellas. An overwhelming amount of feedback here. I'm truly grateful.

I'll start off by stating that I'm sold on going for a bolt-action. As much as I love lever-actions such as the Browning BLR (which, as ligonierbill pointed out, would be one of my few options, if not my only option), bolt-actions give me the breathing space I'm looking for.

As for calibers, .308 and .30-06 seem so similar that I'd be comfortable with either of the two. Many of you suggest that .30-06 will have a slight edge when it comes to larger game though, so I'll take that into consideration.

Are synthetic stocks that much more durable than laminated wood? I have no qualms with synthetic but I'm having trouble getting over the aesthetic appeal of laminated. I suppose there's always aftermarket stocks if a particular model doesn't come with what I'm after.

I forgot to mention magazines in my original post as well. The only type of magazine I'm looking to avoid is a blind magazine (personal preference). My first choice would be a reliable hinged floorplate magazine which doesn't open under recoil. I'd be content with the right detachable box magazine too (my only concern would be damaging or losing one in the far future and not being able to find a replacement).

Out of all the rifles suggested in this thread, the top contender would have to be the Sako 85 Laminated Stainless (despite being over my budget). Another favorite would be the Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather Stainless and the Browning X-Bolt Stainless models are marvelous as well (though I can't say I'm a fan of the polymer detachable box magazine as I prefer metal).

All in all, I want to thank everybody for the invaluable advice and invite you to continue adding to the discussion if you so desire.
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Old September 20, 2014, 01:15 PM   #13
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With synthetic stocks there are two main classes.... your crummy injection molded stocks included on a lot of lower end to mid range factory rifles. Then you're nicer stuff like B&C, HS Precision, Mcmillan etc that come with a bigger price tag but as far as durability can't be beat. You really can't compare the 2 different types.

For me the hierarchy goes
Nicer synthetics as mentioned above
Injection molded synthetic.

Most bolt guns are going to have a blind mag or hinged floorplate, and unless you get a lemon from the factory none of them should be opening up from the recoil.

I'm a big model 70/Mauser 98 fan myself and always recommend them especially with a budget likes yours.

I'm not sure of any rifles made from aluminum or titanium though... (except i know some sig rifles use an aluminum receiver with a steel extension) Best to just look for a stainless model.

You could pick up a stainless model 70 with a synthetic stock, or a Ruger stainless laminate and have plenty left over for a good scope and accessories.
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Old September 20, 2014, 04:41 PM   #14
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Wow, I can't believe no one has suggested the CZ lineup...

And with the wood stock thing- c'mon guys, they have been working well enough for a couple of centuries now. Perfect? No. But, do you think the hunting and shooting greats of years past all babied their rifles and ran for cover at the first hint of rain, fog, snow, or high humidity?

The OP wants a classic looking hunting rifle that can be cherished for a lifetime, I may even be reading "heirloom" in there between the lines. Easy-cheesey... take care of whatever you get. Don't expect your hunting rifle to be a 1000yd Benchrest F-Class rifle. And, don't be affraid to get familiar with Johnson's Paste Wax for the stock and a good rust preventative oil for the wood.
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Old September 20, 2014, 07:35 PM   #15
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Get the 30-06 just enough horsepower for moose hunting and does the job on deer too. I dont think you can go wrong with a Savage 110 or 111 . Accutrigger is nice , very accurate out the box. Can find both for less than 500$. Boyds gunstocks makes a good laminated wood stock for 100$. @ 600$ total for the rifle that leaves you plenty of extra cash for optics and ammo.
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Old September 20, 2014, 09:03 PM   #16
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Seeing how you're located up north, I would find something stainless and synthetic stock (nicer versions). Wood has its advantages: looks, feel, preference. But it also has its draw back: swelling when wet for long periods of time, damaged looks after being carried in the woods for a couple seasons. I mainly hunt in the southeastern regions and with the high humidity levels all year, thats why I usually carry synthetics but prefer to have wood. Can you get tougher wood stocks? Sure. Boyds is one that pops in my mind instantly. I've got one on a Remington 788 .308 and love it. Now as for the stainless, its just plain and simple more corrosion resistant. Now as for rifles, I do like the Remington 700 a lot. Especially since you can customize it any way you want. Now the all weather Ruger M77 are also very nice and I really do like the 3 position safety when compared to the 700.
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Old September 21, 2014, 07:22 AM   #17
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Savage Freak

I'd go with the 116 Weather Warrior, they are super accurate right out of the box and you will have money left to buy quality bases,rings, and glass.
Check em out before you buy dude.
Thanks for coming!
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Old September 21, 2014, 08:06 AM   #18
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Welcome to the forum.
Have a look at the Savage 114 in 30/06.
If you're gonna get old you better be tough;Gettin' old ain't for sissies!!
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Old September 21, 2014, 08:32 AM   #19
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I would second the idea of considering a look at CZ, they make some wonderfully beautiful and high quality rifles at prices often lower than lesser quality guns..

I understand your set on stainless and while there are a few 'slight' advantages, a plain steel firearm will be just as durable, last just as long, and open up your options a ton. We have some hard use rifles on our ranch that have been passed down for generations that still operate perfectly and look beautiful.

Given your points though, I would check out some of Rugers offerings as there are a number that fit them....
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Old September 22, 2014, 12:14 AM   #20
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Another vote for the Winchester model 70. Choice of caliber out of the two, well I vote 30-'06. The only other consideration would be 270 Winchester. I say, forget the 308.
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Old September 23, 2014, 06:27 AM   #21
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You will never regret getting the SAKO Grey Wolf! You have chosen wisely,best out of the box, in terms of accuracy and quality, production rifle avalible.
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Old September 23, 2014, 08:56 AM   #22
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My father has a Sako in .270 win and it is an extremely nice hunting rifle. Don't see how you could go wrong there. I have a few Savages and they are extremely accurate but there is no comparison In overall fit, finish and quality of the smaller metal parts (trigger guard, safety, etc.) I am quite partial to my Weatherby Vanguard VGX as well. Others will point out the weight which is substantial but I've had no issues carrying her for 20 plus years.

I would not go under a 30-06 with the game you listed, especially with projectiles over 150 grains. It is always nice to have a little insurance.
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Old September 24, 2014, 07:21 PM   #23
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Proving to be a difficult decision. Thus far, these are the models I'm considering (ranked from most to least favorable):

• Winchester Model 70; either Extreme Weather SS or Ultimate Shadow SS (I prefer the stock on the Extreme Weather SS but I'd rather the non-fluted barrel of the Ultimate Shadow SS

• Sako 85; Hunter Laminated Stainless, Varmint Laminated Stainless or Synthetic Stainless (though the price is stretching it and I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with the detachable box magazine)

• Ruger M77 Hawkeye; Predator, Varmint Target, Laminate Compact or All-Weather

• A high-end stainless steel Remington 700 (no idea which models are considered high-end though)

• Zastava M70 PSS (if I could find one here in Canada)

A couple of questions:

1. Can a detachable box magazine be converted to a hinged floorplate magazine and vice versa?

2. In general, is installing an aftermarket stock a difficult process?

Again, thank you all for the input. I'm definitely getting closer.
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Old September 24, 2014, 07:56 PM   #24
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The box mag conversion really depends on the rifle...

That being said there is bottom metal out there to allow most hinged floor plates or blind mags to be converted to use the AICS mags which while great quality are quite expensive.

Stock installation usually isn't a big deal. most inlets are pretty good especially if you get something with a bedding block. Or just take it to your smith for pillar and glass bedding.

I like the Winchester the most out of your choices. I like ruger's but they just feel less refined to me compared to the Winchester. I've only handled a Sako and not much so I can't speak much on that one.
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Old September 25, 2014, 08:26 AM   #25
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Having a Winchester EW in my safe, my best suggestion is to go handle one before you buy. I wound up replacing the stock on the EW as soon as I could. Unless you have large hands the EW is going to feel awful thick and clubby through the wrist and forearm. If you ask some people they actually prefer the ultimate shadow stock over the EW.
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