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Old March 7, 2020, 07:56 AM   #1
FranklinTN
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Western Hunt- Which Gun/Scope Combo?

I've never hunted out west. Going on a West TX mule deer hunt this fall and Aoudad is possible. Guide says it's a lot of hiking, glassing across canyons, etc. The guys I have talked to all utilize scopes w/ turrets. They shoot anything from 6.5 Creedmoor to 30 Nosler. I'd like to know what combo you'd use from the list below, particularly which optic you'd go with. Here are my “long range” options:

-Custom Model 70- 300 Win Mag- 9 lbs w/o optics
-Custom Model 70- 7mm-08 A.I.- 8 lbs w/o optics
-Custom Model 700- 7mm Rem Mag- 10 lbs w/o optics
-Custom Model 700- 300 Win Mag- 9 lbs w/o optics

-Swarovski Z5 5-25 w/ BRX reticle- 1.1 lbs (no turrets)
-Nightforce SHV 5-20 w/ MOAR reticle- 1.9 lbs

I’d like to pick a combo this month to begin load development and practice, practice, practice!
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Old March 7, 2020, 10:18 AM   #2
reynolds357
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FranklinTN View Post
I've never hunted out west. Going on a West TX mule deer hunt this fall and Aoudad is possible. Guide says it's a lot of hiking, glassing across canyons, etc. The guys I have talked to all utilize scopes w/ turrets. They shoot anything from 6.5 Creedmoor to 30 Nosler. I'd like to know what combo you'd use from the list below, particularly which optic you'd go with. Here are my “long range” options:

-Custom Model 70- 300 Win Mag- 9 lbs w/o optics
-Custom Model 70- 7mm-08 A.I.- 8 lbs w/o optics
-Custom Model 700- 7mm Rem Mag- 10 lbs w/o optics
-Custom Model 700- 300 Win Mag- 9 lbs w/o optics

-Swarovski Z5 5-25 w/ BRX reticle- 1.1 lbs (no turrets)
-Nightforce SHV 5-20 w/ MOAR reticle- 1.9 lbs

I’d like to pick a combo this month to begin load development and practice, practice, practice!
I personally would not go 7-08 Ai. 280 AI maybe.
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Old March 7, 2020, 10:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FranklinTN
Guide says it's a lot of hiking, glassing across canyons, etc.
None of the above! Simply because it is going to between carrying a 10-13 lbs rifle, so I'll pass. By the time you add rings, ammo, and sling your lightest rifle and scope will still be very close to 10 lbs. When I'm chasing elk and mule deer in the mountains here in Colorado I prefer a rifle that is all up between 7-8 lbs and never more than 8.5 lbs, but at least you won't be dealing with the same elevation changes I do. All up means scope, rings, ammo in the magazine, sling, and bipod if used plus the weight of the rifle. I'm not telling you to go get a light rifle, just what you need to be prepared for. Plus you need to consider how much other stuff you're going to be carrying for weight food, water, knives, binoculars, and anything else you feel you need on your hunt.

Second I'd forget the worrying about the long range options, you're on a guided hunt. If the guide is a good one he'll work with your capabilities and put you in position to make the shot you're comfortable with. You don't need any special cartridge or scope to make a 400 +/- yard shot, which should be a range that should be easy to get to. I'd just take the rifle and scope combination that you are most comfortable with and shooting the best. However, that doesn't mean you can't be prepared for longer shots.

So in other words put together the lightest package you can.
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Old March 7, 2020, 01:53 PM   #4
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I have a savage in 260 remington that will knock down deer and antelope all day long. It has a 3-9 scope on it. It weighs about 8 lbs. Using that as my yard stick, I say go with a 6.5 Creedmore.
That said, I also blundered into a 308 Savage 99 lever gun with a 4x Leupold scope and I might have found my next elk gun.
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Old March 7, 2020, 03:52 PM   #5
reynolds357
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I have a savage in 260 remington that will knock down deer and antelope all day long. It has a 3-9 scope on it. It weighs about 8 lbs. Using that as my yard stick, I say go with a 6.5 Creedmore.
That said, I also blundered into a 308 Savage 99 lever gun with a 4x Leupold scope and I might have found my next elk gun.
My .22-250 will knock down deer and antelope all day long. I sure wouldnt use it for my mule deer/elk rifle.
My advice to O.P. is use what you like. My Elk Rifle is a 338 Lapua I built on a Mark 5 340 Wby. Why? Because my buddy brought the reamer over and I just wanted to cut something, the rifle was just fine as 340. I have hiked up mountains with physically fit hunters who drug Remington Sendaro rifles up the mountain. I have also hunted with locals who used Rem 700 .25-06 mountain rifles. My furst guide swore .25-06 was ideal Elk medicine. Take what you like.

Last edited by reynolds357; March 7, 2020 at 04:00 PM.
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Old March 7, 2020, 06:04 PM   #6
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In the flat relatively low elevations of West TX I might tolerate a 9 or 10 lb rifle including optics. Get into the mountains at 10,000'+ elevations and I'd like to see my rig between 7-8 lbs scoped.

And you don't need nearly that much magnification. You can make do with 1X for each 100 yards and certainly don't need more than 2X for each 100 yards. Something with 9X on the upper end is plenty for 400-500 yard shots.

But if I had to choose between your options I'd take the 7-08 and put the 1 lb scope on it with Talley Lightweight mounts.
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Old March 7, 2020, 08:31 PM   #7
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In the flat relatively low elevations of West
Hill country in TX isn't exactly flat, especially where the Aoudad really like to hang out.
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Old March 7, 2020, 09:13 PM   #8
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I think your guns are fine, the optics seem a bit more than needed though.

I hunt antelope with a 7mm Rem Mag with a Nikon Monarch 3X9. It's enough scope and shooting 300 yards with it isn't an issue.

I'd say take the gun you shoot the best with and maybe save a bit of weight with a smaller scope.
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Old March 7, 2020, 09:59 PM   #9
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5-25 seems a bit much to me for a hunting rifle. Personally if I was in your situation something in the 4-12 range would be my choice. Although either of those optics would do great. Between the two you listed I would choose the lighter one.
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Old March 7, 2020, 10:05 PM   #10
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Personally, none of the above. Just the weight alone would not make the hunt pleasant. I actually just finished up a 700 in .243win that’s barely under 7lbs with a VX-2 on top and I love it. I’m also super comfortable with the .243 cartridge. Might want to talk to the guides and see what they are using or recommend or even can loan you.
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Old March 7, 2020, 10:56 PM   #11
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I think your guns are fine, the optics seem a bit more than needed though.

I hunt antelope with a 7mm Rem Mag with a Nikon Monarch 3X9. It's enough scope and shooting 300 yards with it isn't an issue.

I'd say take the gun you shoot the best with and maybe save a bit of weight with a smaller scope.
I pretty much agree with the above.

They'll all do the job. Pick the one you're most comfortable and experienced with.
Don't go crazy with the optic.

I have plenty of magnification available on my hunting rifles. Yet, the vast majority of long range kills (on Pronghorn, in particular), were done at 3x to 4x. My longest shot, a called shot to the left eye, at 650 yards, was done with a .270 Win and 2.5x magnification. ( no, I would not do it again, but... )
Out of everything beyond 400 yards, I can only recall turning the magnification up twice - once to 9x, and once to 10x (same rifle, different scopes, 10 years apart).

Magnification is a crutch for most people. If you can't shoot without it, you won't shoot with it, either.
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Old March 8, 2020, 03:02 AM   #12
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"Western hunt" encompasses a lot more than many easterners can envision. So you need a rifle that can be used in any environment. Not too heavy, and capable. My bet (from the options suggested) would be the Model 70 in 7-08 AI with the Swarovski scope. Enough power to take just about anything you are going to go after, but not too heavy. That would be my suggestion based on what you already have.
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Old March 8, 2020, 08:58 AM   #13
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Seems like a common theme is that I may have too much magnification in mind. I have other more standard options. VX-3i 4.5-14. Trijicon 3-9. Burris 4-14. The rifle choices are what they are.. I don’t have a deer rifle that weighs less than 8 lbs. While the 7-08 AI is plenty capable of killing a mule deer at 500 yards, I do wonder if trading 1 pound of weight would be worth the extra knock down power. Theoretically it should not matter—a well placed shot trumps all. BUT, I have plenty of real life experience that says knockdown power is a real thing and can be valuable in certain situations. Thoughts? Trade a pound of weight for true magnum performance?
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Old March 8, 2020, 09:19 AM   #14
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My current western deer rifle is a Ruger African 6.5x55 with a Vortex Viper 4-16x44 sfp bdc on it. It is fine, I killed a deer this year at 350 yds with it.

I’m having built a custom to do it a bit better, especially with elk. It is a Winchester 70 classic; McMillan stock; Brux #3 barrel; 300 Sherman; with a Bushnell Nitro 4-16x44 dev-mil ffp reticle.

I shoot with the reticle. I prefer the options using a ffp.

I would use your 7-08 AI because only deer are on the menu. Why mess with the added recoil? I’m guessing your getting...2800fps with a Nosler Accubond LR ?? that would be an excellent load!

I don’t know your optics, but I would pick something light, ffp and with a good Xmas tree reticle.
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Old March 8, 2020, 11:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by FranklinTN View Post
Seems like a common theme is that I may have too much magnification in mind. I have other more standard options. VX-3i 4.5-14. Trijicon 3-9. Burris 4-14. The rifle choices are what they are.. I don’t have a deer rifle that weighs less than 8 lbs. While the 7-08 AI is plenty capable of killing a mule deer at 500 yards, I do wonder if trading 1 pound of weight would be worth the extra knock down power. Theoretically it should not matter—a well placed shot trumps all. BUT, I have plenty of real life experience that says knockdown power is a real thing and can be valuable in certain situations. Thoughts? Trade a pound of weight for true magnum performance?
I agree most of the time about having the extra energy even at the expense of more recoil and more powder burned. Hence the reason I purchased a 6.5 PRC even though I already have a 6.5 creedmoor.

That Leupold you listed would be an excellent option IMO. Good glass, good magnification range and it only weighs like 14 oz. Less than half what the Nightforce you listed weighs.

Personally, If you are set on a .284 bore I would buy a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in 280 REM or 7mm remington magnum along with that Leupold scope.
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Old March 8, 2020, 01:18 PM   #16
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"...it's a lot of hiking..." He say anything about the thin air? Start exercising, now.
You should rethink both scopes. The Swarovski Z5 5-25 has a FOV of 4.5 feet at 100 yards at 25X. The Nightforce SHV 5-20 FOV is 5.6 feet at 100 yards. You do not require high magnification for hunting.
If those are you only options, I'd go with the 7mm-08 with 150 plus grain bullets, but not with a high magnification scope. There is no game in North America that needs a magnum of any kind to kill.
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Old March 10, 2020, 07:46 AM   #17
FranklinTN
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It's funny--a guy I heard about this past season went on a western muley hunt-- he spent thousands on a Gunwerks rifle and another chunk on a Nightforce, and he and the guy he went with both ended up shooting their bucks at 100 yards.

One thing that could be nice with the high magnification is that I can use it as a spotting scope since I don't have a spotting scope.
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Old March 10, 2020, 09:01 AM   #18
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I'd go with the 7-08AI and one of the lighter optics you have. Everything you listed is more than enough.
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Old March 10, 2020, 10:40 AM   #19
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My personal preference would be for the 7-08 / M70 combination.
But if a little more juice is necessary or desired, I'd step up to the .300 WM / M70.
(I prefer wing safeties and locking bolts.)

If I was unwilling or unable to buy another scope, I'd put the lighter one on the rifle of choice.


Quote:
It's funny--a guy I heard about this past season went on a western muley hunt-- he spent thousands on a Gunwerks rifle and another chunk on a Nightforce, and he and the guy he went with both ended up shooting their bucks at 100 yards.
It's even more funny to those of us that live out west.
We KNOW that the average shot is well under 200 yards, and have tried telling the rest of the country that for decades.
But, people still find it entertaining to open their wallets and throw cash into the wind...


In my previous reply, I mentioned some 'long range shots'. What I didn't bring up in that reply was that, even for Pronghorn - a species universally and incorrectly known to "require" long shots - my personal average is about 205 yards. The majority were at closer range. But the handful of long shots stretch the average to a bit over 200.
And that is in the flats - not in hilly, rolling, or rough terrain, where it's even easier to get a close shot.

It's a Bell Curve. People fixate on the extremes and forget about all the meat in the middle.

It seems like a lot of people don't even try to get closer, if they've heard that long shots are the norm for a species or hunting area. I see it as an excuse for laziness, more than anything else.
"Whelp... I dun got in to four hundred yards with my foh-wheeler. Better take the shot, even though there's a raveeen in fron'a me that'd give cover to get ta one-fifty or better, on foot. Bob, at my work, said ya only get long shots here. I better take this shot..."


But, I am probably part of the problem with that, as much as any of the rest of us on the interwebs. I don't tell many stories about the 'meat' of my bell curve. I tell stories about the extremes.

There isn't much of interest to say about knowing an area and the animals' movement patterns, spotting a speed goat a mile out, watching it for 20-30 minutes, figuring out which water hole it is heading toward, walking out across the flats to set up an ambush, and waiting 30 minutes for it to walk in close, before a single double-lung shot fills the tag.

But people do find it interesting when the antelope is so close that you actually sling your rifle and draw a pistol (my brother's story, not mine); when a herd of elk nearly tramples you to death and the healthy 5x5 that you drop was "the little one"; or when you have witnesses to a called shot into the left eye of a pronghorn at 650 yards.

The middle of the curve is boring. The extremes make better stories...
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Old March 10, 2020, 11:43 AM   #20
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Personally, i'd carry the lightest rifle i had, and a 4-12 optic.
Your not going to be "undergunned" with the 7mm-08AI. And your Leupold or Burris would be fine.

Being an Easterner, and having gone to Colorado, when i got a chance at a used Forbes 24B in 280 Rem, i jumped at it! Wearing a Sightron 4-12X40 scope, and sling i'm right at 7lb.
It is now my most grabbed rifle i own when hunting.
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Old March 10, 2020, 08:20 PM   #21
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The middle of the curve is boring. The extremes make better stories...
My great grandfather always said, "Don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good story"
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Old March 10, 2020, 10:20 PM   #22
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Lots of hiking? Use the lightest gun.
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Old March 10, 2020, 10:58 PM   #23
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Young man I took on a mulie hunt here in Colorado shot a fairly big buck at maybe 150 yards. He was using 300 Win Mag. I nailed a big fat mulie in Nebraska at about the same range. Long shots are usually, as Frankenmauser so ably stated, are pretty unusual. The 7mm-08AI would be plenty of gun.
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Old March 11, 2020, 03:53 PM   #24
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Yeah, I'm a little grumpy today. I'm getting on up there, being born during the Truman administration. So I ask the forums indulgence, while I go on a mild rant.

What have we come to, when the advice is, buy a new rifle to save one pound of weight? I don't know if anyone asked the OP how fit he was.

I have hunted and hiked in the Beartooth-Absorka wilderness. If anyone is interested, this contains the largest plateau over 10,000 ft. in North America, and is truly God's country. I know how tough it can get.

Look at our fathers and grandfathers generations. I know some of them were grateful to even have a rifle or shotgun to hunt with. I could tell stories here, but this is a mild rant, so I will get to the point.

Do I need to take two midols and change my pad, or doe's anyone else think it preposterous to buy a new rifle to save a pound of weight.

I don't hunt anymore, but when I did I carried a 300WBY, and they are heavy, because that's what I had. None of my excursions killed me, although halfway through the haul out, I may have wished I was dead instead.

Ok, I have my coffee now. Rant over.

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Old March 11, 2020, 05:47 PM   #25
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In my younger days, I carried milsurp rifles in the order of 10-11 lbs. Mostly an '03 and a 98k cause that's all I had. 55 years later, I don't think I could climb the hills so I don't worry about it any more....well, I never worried about it in the first place. I just did it. So, I wouldn't buy a new rifle just to save a pound. I would buy a new (to me) rifle either because it was a good deal or I wanted it, but to save a pound was never a reason.
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