By Shane Adair
The holidays are over. It’s time we all get back to work planning our next hunting season. Tag deadlines are every month for different states and always seem to creep up on us in the spring. Just like planning and preparing for our hunting season in advance, we need to do the same pre-preparation with our shooting. While we always budget for our hunts, we need to budget for our weapons, ammo, powder, etc. None of these things are cheap.
With that in mind, I’d like to spend some time discussing rifles that you can make work within your budget. How do you know what rifle will work and which ones won’t? That depends on the end result you are looking for. If it’s going to be a bench gun only, then find a heavy barrel rifle. For most, it’s trying to find a happy medium with a hunting rifle that doesn’t weigh a ton yet shoots accurately. Most manufacturers today have the proper barrel contours to fit this bill. Stay away from the penciled down barrels which will affect accuracy. A medium contour will usually be fine for the 500-600-800 yard shooting. If a custom rifle is in your budget then get it ordered now, because they usually take 4-6 months to deliver. These will set you back between $1,800 and $4,000 and are worth it, but most factory rifle manufactures are producing some extremely accurate rifles out of the box. It makes it hard to choose with so many choices.
Deciding to purchase a new rifle or just using one that you already own should be based on how well you can shoot it and how well it fits you. Not everything has to be changed to make it work right now, but you will find that as you start long range shooting not only will you evolve but your weapon and some of the components will evolve. Most of the time, major overhauls aren’t necessary but some small critical ones are. The most common upgrades that make the biggest difference in your shooting are triggers, proper bases, and rings. One very crucial one is the stock. A stock needs to fit the shooter. Most custom rifles will already have all of the proper components needed, but factory rifles can be adapted to fit the bill as well.
The Remington 700 is a great platform that is accurate and very easy to adapt to a shooter. You can find almost any component to make a Remington fit your needs. Winchester model 70s are great; not too heavy and very reliable in all conditions. Ruger and Browning are well built, accurate shooting rifles but a little more complicated to upgrade and don’t have as many upgrade options. This isn’t a problem if the rifle already fits you well. Howa rifles shoot really well. Savage has done a great job with very accurate rifles. Weatherbys shoot great but are a little bit heavy and long in the stock for some hunters. This doesn’t mean a hard to handle rifle. Kimber builds a great precision rifle, but with the light contoured barrels, beyond 500 yards has been hit or miss; but what a joy to pack. Other than a few featherweight rifles from these manufactures, most can be a very good 600-800 yard guns with the proper optics and ammunition.
A gun that beats you up on the bench will not work very well. A muzzle break is a good option and highly recommended. Most important is to shoot what is comfortable for you on the bench. If a gun is beating you up then it’s going to beat itself up as well. Heavy recoil will cause excessive vibration and jumping around. This energy will transfers all over the weapon as well as onto the shooter and most shooters really struggle to shoot accurately with high recoil. How do you know that your rifle will do the job? You need to take a good quality ammo that you can always purchase or reproduce and be able to shoot less than a 2-inch group at 200 yards. One hundred yards will not work. This is crucial. At 200 yards a gun will tell you almost everything you need to know. Rifles will sometimes seem to shoot okay at 100 yards but the bullets have not settled down and taken their true flight path yet. If a rifle will shoot at 200 yards it will shoot at 500 and further. Put the lead sled away, put the front of the rifle on a bi-pod or bag, put the gun in your shoulder and shoot it on the bench. No more sighting it in at 25 yards or 2.5 inches high at 100 yards. It must be zeroed at 200 yards. With a little finesse we can make almost all rifles shoot better than a two inch group at 200 yards. Now with rifle chosen and ammo found you need to have your optic. Optics need to be a minimum power of 14. That’s a great starting place. To shoot well out past 800 yards I would recommend a 20 power or higher. It must have an adjustable turret for elevation or elevation bars in the scope. The holdover days are over. With these three components put together properly you will be amazed at what you can do. This can be a lengthy process and takes many trips to the range, and most ranges are not set up to shoot past 200 yards. If this is too much for you to tackle, this is where Adair Precision can help you out. We have the ability to shoot every rifle out to the desired yardage of the customer and most will be shot out to 800 yards. With access to the best ammo loads on the market and a knowledge of scopes that fit the needs and budgets of the shooter we make this a very simple process for you. Ship the rifle out, UPS, FedEx or US Postal Service and we will set up your rifle package to meet your needs. When done, we give you the option to shoot it with us and then take it home, or we will ship it back ready to hunt. If extending your range and abilities is your goal, we can make it happen for you.