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Old July 13, 2020, 05:27 PM   #1
jman841
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Inexpensive Target Rifle in .223

Looking for recommendations for an inexpensive rifle to use at the range for shooting out to 500 yards (Longest range we have around here).

I plan to hand-load for .223 (I already do for .308, but I enjoy shooting .223 more).

Looking for a 20" barrel max and something under $500 or below (Tons of sales from what I can see).

What make/model is the go to for accurate and fun to shoot rifles these days? My .308 is a Remington 700 SPS with a heavy 26" barrel and it's a pain to lug around.
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Old July 13, 2020, 05:58 PM   #2
jmr40
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It has a 22" barrel, but I paid $389 OT for my Ruger Predator. I went with the one that takes AR magazines. It shoots well under MOA with good ammo. In fact I have Predators in 223, 6.5 CM and 308. Every one of them are shooters.

https://ruger.com/products/americanR...ets/26944.html

I only weighs 6.6 lbs naked. Mine is about 7 3/4 lbs with a heavy target scope on it. It won't be hard to lug around.

Whatever you pick watch the barrel twist. Some have very slow twist rates that don't do so well with longer target bullets. The Ruger is twisted right for them at 1:8. Some are still 1:12.
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Old July 13, 2020, 08:23 PM   #3
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+1 on the RARP. It shoots sub-MOA at 300yd for me with a varied selection of my reloads. It still amazes me how well it shoots.
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Old July 13, 2020, 08:51 PM   #4
Don Fischer
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Unless your considering competation, doesn't sound like it, Don't worry about it but rather if you like the gun or not. I've had two 223's, 788 Rem and L461 Sako. Remington always outshot the Sako. But, the Sako never lost by much with both going just under 3/4". If it were me I'd go with a 243. Have two right now and love them but don't hunt big game with them, have better choices. One 243 shoot's 70gr SMK's right at 1/2", it's a Mossberg Patriot. Then other shoot's 75gr Hornady v-max also right at 1/2" and it's a Rem 700 ADL. What I read on the internet anymore leads me to believe it would be very hard to find a 223 rifle that won't satisfy you in the accuracy dept. One I would really consider looking at would be one of the Savages based solely on their reputation, never owned one other than a Mod 24J. I got my Mossberg Patriot for no other reason than to see if it would shoot and liked the looks with the wood stock! It was $299 with a plastic stock which I replaced but it shot great with the plastic stock. That one is a winner for me. Buy what you can afford!
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Old July 13, 2020, 09:59 PM   #5
Scorch
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I love my 223 for just range time sitting and shooting. Remington 700 and a Model 7, both shoot great.
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Old July 14, 2020, 09:10 AM   #6
jman841
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Very cool, the Ruger looks awesome.

I do have an un-built AR-15 lower I could turn into a 20" target gun as well, but for the cost to do so, I can spend 1/3rd the price and get a bolt action that will perform just as well.

My .308 Rem 700 is a tack driver and has produced 1/4" groups at 100 yards with hand loads, but it's got a decent kick and is extremely heavy. a 7 lb or less rifle with a 20 or even 22" barrel sounds like a dream.
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Old July 14, 2020, 11:19 AM   #7
aarondhgraham
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I don't know much about the rifle as I've only fired my friends on two occasions,,,
But he hits a 24" gong every shot at our clubs 500 yard range.

He's always raving about his Savage Axis.

Aarond

.
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Old July 14, 2020, 02:27 PM   #8
Double K
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Impressive Aaron, that's 5 moa!

Quality control being what it is today{poor} your unlikely to find a inexpensive rifle that they shot for accuracy before it left the factory so it's a roll of the dice on accuracy.
Internet forums like this one are full of anecdotes about new rifles with issues, I own mostly Remington 700's so you might think that's what I would recommend but most of mine are bought and rebarreled, triggers either worked on or replaced and pillar bedded. Even today I believe they're the best action for reasonably priced gun projects.
That being said if I had to buy a 223 rifle and shoot it as is I'd get a Tikka t3x, killer trigger, accurate and stock that's easily customized with factory add-ons {LOP spacers, pistol grip, forearms}.
https://www.gunbroker.com/item/873336015

Last edited by Double K; July 15, 2020 at 12:07 AM.
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Old July 14, 2020, 08:48 PM   #9
Panfisher
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Gentlemen thank you very much, this is information that I have been wanting too. I am in the process of severely downsizing rifles and shotguns, short version why, cancer eating bone, right shoulder now made of titanium and plastic. So any rifle with much kick at all is getting sold or traded away. However that opens up space for some new low recoil items, and as I like accurate ones the Ruger American Ranch or Predator seems to be a nice option, I also have plenty of AR mags around so the AR mag version also seems a good fit. Some of the reviews complain about pot accuracy, and while not a target shooter since college I do like a rifle to put them where I am aiming assuming I do my part. This rifle will be what I describe as a knockabout gun, back seat of truck, over door maybe in a tractor, walking around woods or on occasion maybe even in my wifes deer stand. Since my AR has had no problem dropping deer at the relatively short ranges available from her stand, (Nosler partitions and Barnes XBT bullets). And since I have lots of brass, bullets etc for .223 it all sems to work out. My question is what am missing, usually its.something obvious. Accuracy, low recoil, ?
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Old July 15, 2020, 04:31 AM   #10
Bfglowkey
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I will toss out the T/C Compass in 223. Lightweight, inexpensive, 1 MOA guarantee, threaded barrel. A impressive list of pros that can be purchased for as low as $289 ( I seen them at Academy Sports on sale all the time for that)
The bolt handle is small but action feels smooth enough and for the price....well you cant complain. I have seen them in 6.5 CM and they shoot real solid with factory ammo offerings. 22" barrel though but it is light.
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Old July 15, 2020, 08:08 AM   #11
jman841
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panfisher View Post
Gentlemen thank you very much, this is information that I have been wanting too. I am in the process of severely downsizing rifles and shotguns, short version why, cancer eating bone, right shoulder now made of titanium and plastic. So any rifle with much kick at all is getting sold or traded away. However that opens up space for some new low recoil items, and as I like accurate ones the Ruger American Ranch or Predator seems to be a nice option, I also have plenty of AR mags around so the AR mag version also seems a good fit. Some of the reviews complain about pot accuracy, and while not a target shooter since college I do like a rifle to put them where I am aiming assuming I do my part. This rifle will be what I describe as a knockabout gun, back seat of truck, over door maybe in a tractor, walking around woods or on occasion maybe even in my wifes deer stand. Since my AR has had no problem dropping deer at the relatively short ranges available from her stand, (Nosler partitions and Barnes XBT bullets). And since I have lots of brass, bullets etc for .223 it all sems to work out. My question is what am missing, usually its.something obvious. Accuracy, low recoil, ?
I don't think you're missing much.

I do not hunt and only target shoot up to 500 yards. No local ranges I know of near me have a rifle range over 500 yards.

With this constraint, I found myself asking why I was shooting .308 or why I would want any of the extremely expensive "new" rounds when .223 is extremely capable out to 500 yards with the longer bullets.

.223 is enjoyable to shoot, I have an AR-15 already which is great, but is no 500 yard target gun (16" barrel) and low recoil means I don't go home with a sore shoulder after 40 rounds.

I can understand the desire for the fancy new rounds if you're trying to shoot out to 1000 yards and beyond (6.5 CM, 6mm ARC, .300 win mag, etc.) or if you want a .30 cal bullet for deer hunting (.308 Win, .30-06, etc).

But, for my application, .223 seems like an excellent choice (Inexpensive, low recoil, easy to reload for, tons of optics designed for .223 ballistics, very forgiving on barrel wear) even if everyone loves to hate on it.
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Old July 18, 2020, 10:45 AM   #12
Panfisher
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Well I stopped by a local gun shop to see what was on the rack and somehow a Ruger American Ranch in .223/5.56 latched onto to me and wouldn't let go, so I had to take it home. It is the AR mag style one. It is currently awaiting the installation of a Leupold 3x9 scope and test firing. Sadly it will be a while yet before I have range of motion enough in my new titanium and plastic shoulder to be able to play with it much. But dang it is a cute handy looking little thing. Anybody mounted a scope on one yet? Any need for more or less than medium rings?
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Old July 18, 2020, 11:45 AM   #13
ms6852
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You could also consider buying a used rifle that ordinarily is beyond your max budget if it were knew but falls within your parameters as a used one.
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Old July 21, 2020, 06:40 AM   #14
Bfglowkey
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The Vblock design Ruger is using has netted some very nice results in their budget friendly rifles. Basically a inexpensive way to mass pillar bed. I want a Ruger ranch in 450 Bushmaster....
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Old August 3, 2020, 12:52 AM   #15
bamaranger
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Savage Hog

The Ruger Predator came to mind, and another in about the same price range would be the Savage Hog rifle. The drawback to the the Hog is that it (well, mine anyway) has the integral box, and with a solid scope base, is a pain to load. NOt a lot of room, and the mag feed lips for the .223 cartridge are close enough that snicking a cartridge in there for me, is a pain. The .308 version is much easier to load. But volume of fire is not an issue and I can live with it.

Accurate, twisted 1-9" I shoot 68 gr slugs with no issues. What little shooting I have done to 600 has been acceptable. The Accu trigger can go to a lower poundage let off than I can hardly believe.
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Old September 1, 2020, 05:35 PM   #16
Picher
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Inexpensive Target Rifle in .223

I just bought a custom stock for my Rem 700 ADL, short-action .223 Rem, so have a well-bedded, free-floated barrel, factory ADL stock available from the rifle that shot 1/2 MOA or better with handloads.

If anyone is interested I'd sell the factory, self-modified, bedded stock for a reasonable price. The interior isn't pretty, but very functional, including epoxy-stiffened/floated forend. Condition is just about perfect. The rifle shot about 1/2 minute with handloads, sometimes better.

Price is negotiable. Return the stock unmodified for full refund if it doesn't fit or shoot well. I've been bedding rifles for about 60 years and they have all been great shooters. The only reason I'm selling this one is that I weakened and bought an expensive after-market stock that has a wider forend and longer buttstock. (I also had some money burning a hole in my pocket.)
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Old September 2, 2020, 07:32 AM   #17
ilmonster
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I too have a Rem 700 in .223 that shoots 1/2 MOA out to 300 yds (the furthest range I have). I took that inexpensive R700 SPS (20" heavy barrel, bought on sale at Cabela's with a Remington rebate) and put it in a KRG Bravo stock, put on a Timney trigger and a Vortex scope and have a great rifle.

I started out shooting Hornady Match ammo, and now handload for it. With its 1:9 twist barrel, it shoots Hornady 68gr. and 75gr. BTHP's really well (not the ELD bullets, just regular BTHP's). I too only shoot paper and steel and really like it. Cheap to shoot and virtually no recoil.

You really couldn't go wrong with the Rem. 700, but the Ruger, a new or used Tikka, Bergara, etc. certainly suit the bill too. Let us know what you decide!
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