Best bolt gun for western hunting?

45Badger

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A friend is going to be hunting pronghorn and mule deer with his son. He wants to buy two rifles. They will be doing a bit of walking and glassing so weight is a factor.

My first inclination is to tell him to get a Remington 700 BDL in .30-06, slap a Leupy VX3 on it and blast away.

Money not an issue aside from his insanely frugal nature.

Who makes the most accurate and reliable big game hunting rifles these days?
 

Mesatchornug

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Because it happens I just watched Steve Rinella's chat about this:

TL;DR: in Season 10, Episode 1, he took a Weatherby Mark V topped with a Vortex Razor HD LHT on a Wyoming hunt for pronghorn. Seemed to work pretty well for him.
 
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Really depends on how advanced of a shooter the two are and how far they'll be shooting. The most modern "out west" hunting bolt guns are usually in a 6.5mm or 7mm cartridge like 6.5CM or 6.5PRC, have a threaded barrel for either a can or a brake (I would go can), and have more advanced scopes.

However, if someone's "insanely frugal", they likely won't be willing to spend the cash on a can or nice scope.

If weight is a factor, I wouldn't pick anything bigger than 7mm-08 or 7x57. Especially if the gun doesn't have some sort of recoil dampening like a can. Bigger bullets and more powder means more recoil and lighter guns mean less weight to absorb the recoil. If this is an especially expensive trip and going to be a big deal, then I'd be damned sure to practice a lot with whatever setup I had.

Will they be using a bipod?

If it were my cash, and I wasn't able to build a rifle the way I wanted, I would probably get this:

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I won't weigh in regarding scopes because I like Austrian and German glass.
 
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I'm a big fan of 308 and 30-06, but honestly if I were buying a new rifle for western hunting I'd probably be looking at 6.5 creedmoore. Flatter shooter, and less recoil which is nice for a lighter platform that you would want to hike around all day with. I don't see any reason to choose a legacy cartridge over a 6.5 creedmoor for that style hunting.

For out of the box accuracy, Bergara if I could afford it, and Savage if I couldn't.
 

alcestwo

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Bergara B14 Hunter B-14 Hunter Rifle - Bergara Rifles USA .30-06
Tikka T3x tikka t3x .260 Remington

The composite stock on the Bergara is slightly "soft". I don't know how to describe it but it's easy to grip and doesn't make that plastic noise if you bang it.
The Tikka is made in the Sako factory and the bolt is the smoothest I've operated.

I've topped both with slightly different Leupold scopes just for going out west. But then Covid happened but it's still on my radar. Good luck.
 

paul73

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A friend is going to be hunting pronghorn and mule deer with his son. He wants to buy two rifles. They will be doing a bit of walking and glassing so weight is a factor.

My first inclination is to tell him to get a Remington 700 BDL in .30-06, slap a Leupy VX3 on it and blast away.

Money not an issue aside from his insanely frugal nature.

Who makes the most accurate and reliable big game hunting rifles these days?
No budget given- so not sure. Easiest option - 6.5lbs savage axis.
 

Ref1968

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I have this in .308 and it is a spike driver. Go see Steve at Northeast Arms in Peabody MA. He liked it it so much when he ordered mine, he got one for himself.

 

groundscrapers

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a large action caliber is going to be overkill on a pronghorn. I shot mine with a 300wm at 300yds and it was way more than I needed. Even on a muley at close to 600 it was too much. I ended up building a clone of the gun in 6.5 creedmoor but I think that or a 6.5 prc would be a great choice. The ultralite savage is a great pick but the stock leaves something to be desired. Im a big proponent of building a gun and starting with something like a bighorn origin and a proof barrel at 18". Tikka also makes a great action if you want to start with something production.
 

paul73

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During this time, I’d buy 200 rounds of hunting ammo of your choice first , then buy the rifle.
if they do not reload, then a cheap .308 will be a total decision making factor. 6.5CM ammo now costs silly money.
 
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if they do not reload, then a cheap .308 will be a total decision making factor. 6.5CM ammo now costs silly money.

You're right that 308 is cheaper, but most hunters probably only put a handful of rounds on average through their hunting rifle each year. Mine get sighted in and thats it. Maybe I get a shot on a deer. Most years I don't (I suck at hunting). But I think that for hunters that don't plan on doing a lot of target shooting with their hunting rifle, the real cost difference between 6.5 and 308 is going to be irrelevant.
 

Bodhisattva

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I’m not a fan of SA, but these are incredible rifles. Not cheap, but for big brand out of the box rifle, these are impressive.


And absolute gem of an optic. Really impressed with this one.


On top of that a quality sling, bipod and the best ammo available, you’re ready to hit the range. Spending a significant time at the range is going to be the most important component to all of it.
 
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F2386

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Bergara b14 HMR is a damn good rifle for sub $1000. Really any production rifle will do. Quality glass is probably what money should go towards. You can easily spend more for an optic than the rifle and anyone who knows wouldn't bat an eye at it.

6.5CM ammo is costly but not bank breaking at $2 to $3 a round for the good stuff. If you can't afford a couple hundred rounds of it then you're probably not going to afford a hunting trip out West.
 
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paul73

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Bergara b14 HMR is a damn good rifle for sub $1000. Really any production rifle will do. Quality glass is probably what money should go towards. You can easily spend more for an optic than the rifle and anyone who knows wouldn't bat an eye at it.

6.5CM ammo is costly but not bank breaking at $2 to $3 a round for the good stuff. If you can't afford a couple hundred rounds of it then you're probably not going to afford a hunting trip out West.
this is a good rifle, but this rifle alone, no scope - is at 9.5lbs. it is not something one would ever want to carry, and a 1/2moa accuracy is much les critical there compared to a 1 moa or 3/4moa a much lighter savage can do.

to me my 6.5cm loads cost under 50c for materials only, i shot around 50 of them today. that`s the only way now, really, especially when match ammo all at $3+ per round. it is insane.
 

Docpk

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Christensen Ridgeline in 6.5CM or 280 AI. Both good flat shooting choices. Top with a Swarovski or Nightforce. Swarovski significant lighter and great glass. NF more durable.
 

GM-GUY

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Nothing beats a 300 Weatherby for killing big stuff - far, far away. Just stick a really good scope (think Swarovski or Ziess) on it or with steel rings or you'll have problems. I've got a Caribou from 167yds out and a ~925lb moose from 145yds out trotting quartering away to prove it.
 

groundscrapers

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Nothing beats a 300 Weatherby for killing big stuff - far, far away. Just stick a really good scope (think Swarovski or Ziess) on it or with steel rings or you'll have problems. I've got a Caribou from 167yds out and a ~925lb moose from 145yds out trotting quartering away to prove it.
pronghorn and muleys aren't super big out there
 
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