3 Things To Consider Before Buying A Bolt-Action Rifle

Sauer 100 rifle

JWT for TTAG

There are actually a lot of things to consider before buying a bolt-action rifle, but we’re going to hit on a few of the big points so this post doesn’t become novel-length. This is directed more for the beginner than the advanced rifle shooter.

 

What’s the primary use?

Consider what you’re getting the rifle for. Guns are many things, but they are in many instances a tool, and you should consider the task that you are getting it for. You can use a flathead screwdriver as a chisel in a pinch, but you should really use a chisel when you need one.

Are you buying the rifle for target shooting?

Is it for hunting or personal defense?

Hunting rifle hunter orange

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Once you know that, you should be able to start identifying the features that are best-suited to the application as well as caliber.

For just plain ol’ plinking at moderate ranges, a bolt gun in .22 LR or even up to .223 Remington works well. It’s cheap, clean fun, and you can do some small-game hunting, varmint shooting or even cull some coyotes.

rimfire 22LR 22 LR rifle

Bigstock

If serious target shooting and at long range is more your fare, then perhaps a chassis-based rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor, or one of the serious long-range magnums (.300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua, etc.) and a rail for easy mounting of a big tactical scope.

Dan Z for TTAG

If meat in the freezer is more your intended task, then a classic bolt rifle in an appropriate caliber for the game you intend to pursue and at the ranges you intend to pursue it at. You probably don’t need a .30-06 for beanfield hunting in the East.

Out here in the West we need a cartridge with more legs than .300 Blackout or .30-30 for elk, bears, and big-bodied mulie bucks, and shot opportunities might only come at 400 yards…or beyond.

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

Courtesy Blake Hiatt

Granted, we can also get into the past 400 debate, but that’s a topic for another time.

Also, a classic bolt-action for hunting is perfectly capable of benchrest shooting, so you can have the best of both worlds. The sport’s existence owes much to Warren Page, who did a lot of bench shooting (and a lot in the field; he harvested more than 400 head of game on multiple continents) in an era when chassis-based rifles basically didn’t exist. So that Winchester, Remington, Savage, Howa or what have you can actually do it all.

Can you find the gun you want used?

First — and this might not seem as obvious as one might think — can you get the same gun used?

Cabela's gun library used rifle

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

That might seem ludicrous, but give me some rope here.

Bolt-action rifles are usually very durable. Few people will ever “shoot the barrel out” and plenty of folks consign perfectly good rifles to the used rack despite nothing being wrong with the gun.

Sometimes it’s for a good reason, sometimes it’s because it turns out they’d rather shoot a less-powerful caliber that won’t bruise their shoulder. Sometimes it’s because they just want to get a newer gun, or don’t have a use for it any more.

There’s a Cabelas about a mile away from my office. Their Gun Library and used gun racks are always festooned with late-model bolt-action rifles (some scoped, some not) that clearly haven’t been used much.

Usually the chambering is either 7mm Remington Magnum or .300 Winchester Magnum, which would seem to indicate that a lot of people buy too much gun for themselves and then go down in caliber to something like .270 Winchester or 6.5mm Creedmoor.

(AP Photo/Dale Sparks)

There was a pre-64 Model 70 at Cabelas when I was there recently, and it took a lot of resolve not to put it on layaway. I might have regretted it if I had, which is what I’m going to try and tell myself a few dozen more times over the next few weeks.

The point? If you’re buying a bolt-action rifle for a specific purpose, there’s a chance you can get the bolt-action rifle you want, gently used, for a good deal less cash if you buy used. And you probably won’t have to worry about break-in.

Lastly . . .

Optics?

If you’re going to use optics, make sure you do just as much research on picking a good scope for your rifle. Perhaps a 3-9x40mm is perfect for you; perhaps a 2-7x is better, or, for that matter, maybe a 6-24x for long-range target shooting is better suited for your purposes.

Savage Scout Rifle scope

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

The conventional wisdom is to spend as much on the scope as you do on the rifle, if not more. The glass, arguably, matters more.

Back when our grandfathers (or even great-grandfathers) were buying their rifles, you had to spend a bit to get a truly accurate rifle. Or get lucky. Even the vaunted pre-’64 Winchester Model 70 rifles didn’t shoot MOA groups. A few people got one that did, but it was mostly the luck of the draw.

This is the good ‘ol days of guns. There are plenty of budget-friendly bolt action rifles that will shoot MOA groups and can be had for not a whole lot of money. Unless there’s a specific caliber you need or want, or a specific feature (like a chassis stock or a railed receiver) you can actually get all the rifle you need for not a whole lot of cash.

Make sure, then, that you’re getting good glass to mount on yours.

So consider what kind of scope you need and find the best example of the kind that you can responsibly afford. A quality scope on a budget rifle will give you better results than a budget scope on a high quality rifle.

There are, of course, many more factors to consider when buying a bolt-action rifle. What are some other considerations to bear in mind before pulling the trigger, so to speak, that you can think of? Sound off in the comments.

comments

  1. avatar jwm says:

    Ruger American in .243. Redfield 3-9x40mm. scope. For my needs this combo works and works well. I have a bolt action made in Russia and sold under the Winchester brand in .22lr that is an absolute tack driver. Even with cheap glass on it. It loves the 60 grain sub sonics which my 10-22 does not like at all. Those same rounds do a great job in my Ruger single six.

    I used to have 15-20 bolt guns. All mil surps. I cleaned house when they got to be too much work cleaning and maintaining them. And the surplus ammo was not getting cheaper. All I have left of that crowd is my 38 izzy.

    I like bolt guns. I’ve just gotten too lazy to keep a large library of guns, anymore. 6-8 shotguns. 4-6 rifles. A dozen or so handguns. That’s enough for this stage of my life.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      jwm,

      6-8 shotguns. 4-6 rifles. A dozen or so handguns.

      Sounds like a great start!

      Also sounds like I have some catching up to do!

      1. avatar Art out West says:

        That’s plenty of handguns for me, and more than enough shotguns. I do think 4-6 rifles is a bit light. I think it is nice to have several (2-5) rimfire rifles (semiautomatic, lever, bolt action, plus a loaner for a friend or family member). It is nice to have several (2-6) defensive semiautomatic rifles (AR, AK, Mini14, SKS, PCC, FAL, M1A, Tavor, whatever). Finally, it is nice to have a few (maybe 3-4) bolt and/or lever action centerfire rifles (say maybe a .243, a 30-06, and a .357/.44 mag levergun). I almost forgot, but I think you should have at least one old bolt action milsurp rifle (Mauser,Mosin, Enfield, etc).

        A total of 30 firearms would be more than enough for me. Some folks would be thrilled with far less, and some would like to have a lot more.

    2. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      The most fun I’ve ever had with a bolt gun was the American in 300 blackout. Zero recoil, accurate and cheap.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Like the author says. You really can get a very workable and accurate rifle on the cheap these days. I’ve never shot the 300 Blackout. But my .243 is mild in recoil and accurate. More accurate than I’m capable of.

  2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    How much a rifle weighs can be an important factor depending on your application, your physical stature, and your physical fitness.

    If you only plan to use your rifle for target shooting on a bench, how much your rifle weighs is pretty much irrelevant. (Although you might actually want a heavier rifle for added stability and less felt recoil.)

    If you will be walking for miles while hunting, are smaller in stature, and/or on the less physically fit end of the scale, you might want a relatively light rifle.

  3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I agree with damn near everything the author said. Especially about the scope. Don’t pinch pinnies there. As for caliber? It doesn’t really matter. Any decent center fire will do. 30-06 is hard to beat. A medical examiner can’t tell the difference between any modern rifle cartridge. Trust me. I’ve been there for the autopsies. Also shot big game with 7mm Magnum, 30-06, .308. .270, etc. Couldn’t tell any difference in the wound channel. Doubt there’s any difference between 6.5 Creedmoore and 6mm Mauser. Just trying to sell new rifles to guys that don’t know any better.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Gadsden Flag,

      Have you shot any of the “budget” bolt-action rifles manufactured in the last few years? I think you might be shocked at how accurate they are.

      Just over a year ago I purchased a Savage Axis XP bolt-action rifle with an inexpensive factory scope for something like $270 on sale and after factory rebates. Shooting on a proper concrete bench with sandbags and generic factory Winchester SuperX softpoint hunting loads, I was shooting about 0.5 inch groups at 50 yards. Mind you that I am not some super-duper shooter and I might shoot 50 rounds a year out of a rifle.

      As far as I can tell, “budget” bolt-action rifles and “budget” scopes are pretty darned impressive these days. I think the “budget” factor translates into a higher probability of an occasional “lemon” rather than across-the-board poor accuracy/repeatability.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Uncommon, I bought most of my rifles before those budget rifles were available. I’ve bought many rifles since. I hope to soon own a Ruger #1 in 7mmX57, Alex Hendry forearm and Kahles scope. Handled and shot many of those “budget” rifles. Ordinary rifles for ordinary men. No thanks.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Different strokes for different folks.

          I am almost exclusively concerned about utility. As long as something does the job well, that is pretty much all that I care about. While I certainly appreciate beautiful firearms, I don’t value them and I am not interested in paying a premium for them.

          I also tend to purchase less expensive firearms so that I don’t have much to lose if someone steals them or I have to abandon them in an “end of the world” scenario.

        2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Uncommon, I’m not sure what you mean. Most of my firearms are very utilitarian. I say utilitarian most of the rifles are custom built, but I use them like they’re common. Stolen? Except for the ones I keep out for home protection the rest are in a very large safe. A friend once told me, “Every man should own a fine firearm, a fine knife and a fine watch.” Well, I’ve tried to avail myself of more than one of each. You’ll never loose money on any.

        3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          chest thumping conversation ender right there.
          “i’ve seen wounds.”
          “i’ve been heroic.”
          “i buy top tier.”
          “i’ve had amazing adventures.”
          dos equis needs a new spokesman.

        4. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          tsbhoa, not a hero. Just did what I was paid to do. Fortunately, a lot of it was interesting. I wouldn’t call my firearms top tier, but they were the best I could afford. I cut corners elsewhere.

        5. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          i agree with you wholeheartedly on your assessment of the scout rifle.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        The likelihood of a lemon is definitely increased in budget guns, but that’s not their most significant downside.
        Most of the budget bolt action rifles significantly reduce the cost of the rifle by providing a very inexpensive plastic stock. On a bench, those stocks perform just fine. But when taken out into the field, the different pressures put on them cause them to flex and bend, significantly changing the impact of the round. They are not very sturdy. High quality bolt guns often last generations of hard use. Budget plastic stocks, not likely.
        You’ll also find budget bolt guns usually have a recoil lug that is an afterthought, which also will degrade accuracy (and safety) over time.
        For the guy that’s going to shoot factory ammunition maybe 50 rounds a year and not more than 200 yards, budget bolt guns are all he’ll need.
        For me, every rifle I buy is for my children and grandchildren.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          while not budget priced, my 10fcm has a stock that, especially in the cheek weld area, is flimsy plastic. i can compress it laterally with hand strength.
          it would undoubtedly last forever; it’s nicely bedded and free floated and i’m satisfied with the trigger and action.
          a boyd’s (or equivalent) laminate would be great, but i fear for the amount of hand fitting required. maybe i can just fill the stock with wax until then.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          jwtaylor,

          Sounds like you just described a sorely needed article at The Truth about Guns.

          I would like to know more about any possible down sides to the “budget” bolt-action rifles available these days.

          I am especially interested in how a plastic stock would be problematic. I would also be interested to know if there was a fairly simple way to rectify any weakness. For example, most/all plastic butt stocks on “budget” rifles are completely hollow as far as I know. Could a solution be as simple as taking one minute to rub the inside of the butt stock with coarse sandpaper and then filling it with two-part epoxy? Or can we purchase an aftermarket laminate stock at a reasonable price and fix it that way? Or do we just spend an extra $120 and get a bolt-action rifle with a durable wood stock and a robust bolt right from the get-go?

        3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          tsbhoa.p.jr

          See my comment above. I am thinking about quickly roughing-up the inside of that plastic butt stock with coarse sandpaper and then filling it with two-part epoxy.

          Important note: if you plan to fill your butt stock with something permanent like two-part epoxy, I strongly recommend first installing a large tube which will enable future access to the screw/bolt which fastens the stock to the receiver. Think of it as placing a large straw inside the butt stock (aligned with the screw/bolt) before pouring in the epoxy.

        4. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Uncommon, it would make for a valuable article, but I have written about it over and over again in some of my reviews, including my most recent budget bolt gun review, the Mossberg Patriot.
          https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/gun-review-mossberg-patriot-predator-rifle-in-6-5-creedmoor/
          From the article:
          “The problem with these stocks isn’t just that they are ugly — and they are — but it’s that they move and flex too much. They tend to perform well enough off the bench, but that performance degrades sharply as the stocks are pressed against, leaned against, and generally put pressure on as you do when you’re actually hunting with them”
          Or from my Mauser M18 article:
          “The stock is, even at this price point, a disappointment. It appears to be a similar weak synthetic stock to the early Remington SPS bolt action rifles. There’s no bedding material, and the recoil “lug” is simply a relatively thin metal bar inserted into the polymer fore-end.
          Like the cheaper American offerings, the barrel is free floated in the stock, but the material is so weak that pressure on the stock at any angle bends the material and allows it to make contact with the barrel. I can hold the stock just in front of the recoil lug with the palm of my support hand and push on the barrel thumb, causing it to flex enough to make contact with the barrel.”

        5. avatar jwtaylor says:

          U_S,

          To answer your questions, filling the stock with epoxy makes the stock heavy, and there are always gaps that collect moisture.
          A quality aftermarket laminate or hardwood stock is a good answer, and I think a better answer than just buying a good one on the gun, if you are willing to do a little filing as well as glass bedding. It’s really very easy and inexpensive, and there are tons of videos online to show you how to do it.

        6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          jwtaylor,

          I am not actually worried about weight when filling a plastic stock with epoxy. I figure the epoxy cannot weigh much different than a solid hardwood or laminate stock. In fact the added weight might even be an advantage to reduce recoil or even improve balance: I actually filled the hollow plastic butt stock of a youth rifle with sand for one of my young children.

          And I imagine any trapped moisture would not matter either since the plastic stock and epoxy are impervious to moisture.

          I would be totally on-board for fitting a laminate stock and fiberglass bedding the barrel. I am very good at precision stuff like that. Case in point: I recently had to remove about 0.010 inches of material from the hammer on a break-action rifle. (The hammer was hitting the receiver and failing to push the firing pin far enough for reliable primer detonation.) I hand filed that hammer, deburred the edges, polished it with a stone, and reblued it. It looks perfect and observers cannot tell that I altered it. And the best part is that I get reliable primer detonation now!

          This sounds like a fun winter project: fitting a laminate stock. When I get around to it, I will take photos and document the project for an article at TTaG.

          As always, thank you for your sage words of wisdom and advice.

        7. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          when i pulled the recoil pad off of the savage “stock” i found that they had placed a rectangular block of, oh, i don’t know, fibrous oil impregnated packing material or something. not sized to any dimension beyond being short enough to fit inside.
          tossing that out and replacing with wax (probablt start melting in the sun), dense foam (i briefly considered “rgs”) or caulk/ silicone might work. epoxy sounds even better. that gray stuff they seal concrete cracks with.
          maybe i’ll ladle some chili in there.

      3. avatar Mark H says:

        A standard “upgrade” to the flexible stock problem is to dremell out a channel in the foregrip area of the stock, and epoxy in a length of “drill rod”.

        It’s really only flexibility on the forend that is the issue, since this can cause unintentional contact with the barrel.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Mark H.,

          Oh, that sounds interesting. And that would certainly stiffen the foregrip.

  4. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

    I don’t have one. Never shot one.
    Question: If you’re hunting, isn’t the bolt-action a distraction? You move your eyes and body when moving the bolt. If you have a semi or double barrel, you can keep your eye on the target for the follow-up shot.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Victoria, a matter of technique. You should never let the stock leave your shoulder while you throw the the bolt. I’ve delivered more than one follow-up shot on moving big game with a bolt gun. I’ve killed big game with lever actions, semi autos, and especially bolt actions. Bolt actions are the way to go. Especially scout rifles.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I’ve used semis and bolts in hunting. Each has their pluses and minuses but both balance out. I’ve done multiple target engagements with using a clip (not magazine) to reload my M48 Yugoslav Mauser scout rifle (in 8mm Mauser). I found the bolt action and 2.5x scout scope not to be impediments when hunting. 7 dead pigs plus another 2 probable in one engagement speak for themselves. I did practice with that rifle in service competition before the hunt so I knew instinctively how to use and operate the rifle under stress.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Southern, not only is not an impediment. It’s a complement. Only the uninitiated (uneducated) don’t appreciate the scout rifle concept. It is the ultimate general purpose rifle. Yeah, I have other more specialized rifles. But that’s just it. They’re specialized.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          The Ruger Scout is my favorite bolt gun…….and probably #2 favorite rifle.

          #1 is my Marlin 357 levergun.

          I have pretty plebian tastes.

    3. avatar Xaun Loc says:

      “follow up shot”? What’s that? Why would you want to shoot again at an animal you already killed with a properly placed shot?

      Needing a semiauto to make a quick “follow up shot” is for people whose first shot was taken too fast, too far, or both.

      1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

        Because even if you hit the game animal in the heart it can still run 200 yards. A lot of game animals don’t know they are dead until they completely run out of blood. A 2nd shot may prevent that game animal from going onto the neighbors land, running into thicker brush/ deep water, or if hunting for dangerous game keep you alive.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        The notion that a follow-up shot should never be necessary is the sure sign of an inexperienced hunter.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          jwtaylor,

          Just days ago I was deer hunting on a very small piece of private property with my rifle chambered in .44 Magnum (yes, the revolver cartridge). I am 98% certain that I shot a doe at 70 yards. The .44 Magnum cartridge is amazingly quiet when you shoot it out of a 22-inch barrel and I swear that I heard the bullet whistle through the air and end with a distinct “thud” that had to be the sound of the bullet impacting that deer.

          She took off like a rocket to the west. I could only search about 100 yards in that direction before a neighbor’s property and a substantial stream prohibited me from going any further. I was not able to recover that deer. In that case a follow-up shot might have enabled me to recover it. (Although I want to meet the person who can put a shot on a deer running full speed at right angles to you at 80 yards distance!)

          And during the previous season, using the same rifle chambered in .44 Magnum, I placed a nice double-lung shot on a huge buck quartering away at 70 yards. That beast ran at least 130 yards before falling over dead. Needless to say, a softpoint 240 grain, .43 caliber bullet impacting at 1,450 fps makes a HUGE hole in a white-tailed deer. And yet they still run distances that boggle the mind.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          U_C, I have no doubt. I keep a collection of photos from deer than ran a considerable distance after good hits. It’s photos of their hearts, absolutely cut up and blown up from a bullet passing through them. I have photos of deer with the entire upper chambers separated that still ran over 100 yards.

      3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Xaun, if it’s still on its feet shoot again. I once shot a nice 8 pt at about 50 yards. .308 168 grain Winchester ballistic silver tip. Just behind the right shoulder. He didn’t even flinch. Just turned and ran for the creek head behind me. As I’m throwing the bolt I thought, “I can’t believe I missed that deer!” He was passing on my left when I hit him again. I saw blood spray that time, but he was still up and running. Not wanting to drag him out of that swamp I threw the bolt and hit him again high in the hind quarter to break him down. When I climbed down and got to him he was dead as a hammer. First shot hit him exactly where I was aiming. Shoot them until they fall. But hey Xaun, why don’t you go hunting with only one round on your person?

    4. avatar jwtaylor says:

      With practice, the bolt will not be a distraction. With practice, you probably won’t know you chambered another round, and as long as recoil is not too stout, there is no reason your eye need to leave the target.

      But as far as maintaining a perfect cheek/stock/shoulder weld, the semi autos do have an advantage. With the bolt gun, you have to move at least your shoulder a little, and definitely your hand. With the semi auto, there is no reason for either to move.

  5. avatar frank speak says:

    a .270 with 130 grain didn’t work too well on muleys….took more than one shot…never needed more than that on whitetails….

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      frank speak,

      If you are hunting mule deer with .270 Winchester, I would definitely step up to 150 grain bullets for increased penetration, which I believe would increase your probability of one-shot stops.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      I agree, the issue is bullet choice. An old boss of mine has been going to Montana for is annual elk hunting trip with the same .270 and a high end scope that cost much more than the rifle. He said he has only failed to bring back meat on one occasion, when he was hunting with a bunch of yahoos. As is the case with much Western hunting in the mountains, shots are 300+ yards.

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    I’m in the “do I really need a bolt gun” ?group. Why not especially if they ban my AR and I go underground. I got lots of 223. I’m also in the cheap Savage is OK by me. And I do have fond memories shooting my dad’s bolt action 22…

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      This is where I am. I want one, but I’m one of those people who want to buy the best possible (within reason, I know GOOD bolt guns are more than my truck), and it’s money I can’t justify spending at this point. Ideally, I just want a moderately nice 308/6.5 with some good glass, and the whole thing to be durable as hell.

      1. avatar PTM says:

        More than your truck? What kind of crappy truck do you drive? 🙂

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          texas rancher: “it takes me four days to inspect the perimeter of my fenced estate.”
          vermont rancher: “i had a truck like that once.”

    2. avatar Ironhead says:

      The Savage Axis is a pretty good cheap rifle, I have 2.
      The only suggestion I would make would be to not bother buying it with the rifle/scope combo. The scopes are junk, about as sturdy as a soda can.

  7. avatar GS650G says:

    Savage axis 11 with scope for 438 dollars. Real tough to beat that deal and it makes one hole with 3 shots at 100 yards.
    It has a Bushnell 3 x 12 it came with that works well enough.
    A 2000 dollar rifle and 2000 dollar scope is probably better by a mile but I’ve got other things to buy.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      GS650G,

      Did you see my comment above about my inexpensive Savage Axis XP rifle with factory scope and inexpensive Winchester SuperX softpoint hunting loads? I shot 0.5 inch groups at 50 yards. That is pretty impressive accuracy as far as I am concerned, especially at the price point.

      I have been hearing for at least 20 years that Savage seems to make impressively accurate rifles, even on their budget end of the scale. I have no idea how they do it or what, if anything, they do differently from other manufacturers. All I know is that I would be hard-pressed to purchase any other manufacturer at this point.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        I’ve decided any new bolt gun I buy will be a savage.

  8. avatar PROUD chicano says:

    Just buy a ruger or savage if value us your thing.

    1. avatar miforest says:

      NO! buy a compass from T/c . crazy accurate .

  9. avatar Southern Cross says:

    My primary concern is usually ammunition availability. No point buying a rifle that has very little available ammunition or is very expensive if and when it is available. There’s a reason why 7mm Weatherby Magnums are often for sale at low prices. The ammunition is expensive compared to the more common 7mm Remington Magnum.

    I’ve done a lot of shooting with oddball calibers, but nothing too obscure to need custom made brass in a 10 step process. I used 6 5×55 before it was really popular. I’ve used 8mm Mauser in hunts. With the latter I knew I could not buy ammo at the nearest general store so I brought along 300 rounds just to make sure I wouldn’t run out before then end of the trip. And I have reloading dies for every caliber I use.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Southern Cross,

      My primary concern is usually ammunition availability. No point buying a rifle that has very little available ammunition or is very expensive if and when it is available.

      Excellent point.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Uncommon and Southern, ammunition has always been a primary concern. I have a H&K 91(308) and a Galil ARM (223). Most of my primary rifles are in the same calibers. Well, there is an ’03A3 and a Remington 700 in 30-06. 10,000 rounds each .308 an ..223. 1000 rds ’06. 1000 Federal .45 ACP hollowpoints. 10.000 of thounds of .22 LR. Hundreds of .357 .44, 9mm, etc. Never mind the number of firearms you own. Stock up on ammunition.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Gadsden Flag,

          I am embarrassed to admit that I do not have a rifle chambered in .308 Winchester which is probably the most widely available rifle ammunition.

          I do have rifles chambered in other common calibers.

          I go back-and-forth in my mind. On the one hand, if all of my rifles where chambered in .308 Winchester, I would only have to stock one caliber of ammunition which is normally available everywhere. On the other hand, having rifles in other calibers is a huge plus when an unprecedented ammunition shortage happens, such as the Great Ammunition Drought that we all recently experienced.

          For example, during our recent shortage, I could not find .308 Winchester ammunition anywhere. And yet I had no trouble at all finding .270 Winchester or .30-30 Winchester. Of course the answer to that problem is to purchase ample supplies before an unprecedented shortage happens.

          And then what do you do when you come across an outstanding deal on a gently used rifle in yet another common caliber?

  10. avatar Klaus says:

    I know there will be incoming for this but….. why is the kid in blaze orange flagging that silver minivan in the parking lot with bolt closed and no idea where his muzzle pointed?

    1. avatar Randy says:

      I was concerned about the same thing when I first saw that photo — seems dangerous to me.

    2. avatar PTM says:

      Sieg Heil to the Safety Nazis.

      1. avatar Randy says:

        … do this at any range and see how quickly you get escorted out.

        When handling any firearm anywhere you need to follow the basic safety precautions to prevent you from instinctively developing bad habits. You can ‘joke’ about this topic, and I hope that is what you are doing here.

        1. avatar PTM says:

          Yes, yes….it’s all right.

  11. avatar balais says:

    Tikka and/or CZ or bust.

    1. avatar Prndll says:

      My Tikka T3X in .308 is an excellent shooter. I think it’s versatile enough to put holes in paper at 100+, hit steel at 500-600, and take down 4 legged moving targets. I have no complaints.

      Semi-auto and bolt are currently my only interest. Lever action is there but low on the list and would be strictly for nostalgia. I haven’t tried 300 yet but it looks interesting. Rifles in 223/556, 308/762, 243, and 270 should be in everyone’s collection. But then, so should 1911’s and SAA revolvers. I’m working on it. Granted, not everyone will have the space, money, desire, or use for all that. Having a good set of tools is important.

  12. avatar MLee says:

    My brother has a bolt rifle that’s chambered in .264 win mag. I guess it’s for reaching out and touching…..something. It’s a Browning A bolt with a non-stainless receiver with a 30″ stainless barrel that’s had the cryogenic treatment. The number point to about 4000′ fps
    I think it’s a safe queen though.

  13. avatar Nate in CA says:

    I started with a borrowed 7mm Magnum.
    Bought myself a .30-06 for a great price and finally found a lightweight .243 with a 6x scope – honestly I haven’t ever had a shot that the .243 couldn’t have handled or a deer that would have needed a larger gun.

    1. avatar SouthAl says:

      Same for me with the .243. Most deer opportunities for me are 100yds or less. Only ever had a couple of opportunities out 250-300yds, and it was plenty to take care of those. I’ve never had any complaints or problems with that cartridge given my needs. Mine is a 700 BDL with a Japanese made Tasco 4-12x, got them both new in 1980. I hear the Tasco scopes suck these days, mine’s great.

  14. avatar tdiinva says:

    While I own an AR and enjoy shooting it I am primarily a bolt gun guy. I have everything from an inexpensive Ruger American Ranch to a $2k Winchester Model 70/300 Win Mag and scope setup. I highly recommend the post 2000 Model 70 as it has returned to the Mauser action design. Model Model 70/.243 is my favorite general purpose rifle.

  15. avatar strych9 says:

    All about the application. Realistically for most long-range target shooting you don’t need to jump up to the big *hunting* calibers. .243 Win will give you reliable feedback on if you hit the target out to and past 1000 yards. Combined with the relatively flat shooting nature of the round you’ve got a bullet that’s popular in long range competitions.

    The most expensive bolt gun I own is built around that cartridge and for this exact purpose. I wouldn’t trust it to take down an animal at approaching it’s max range but it’ll ring steel or punch paper and that’s what I built that rifle for.

  16. avatar Keyword Spam` says:

    Weight is something else to consider as well. If you’re going to be schlepping in and out of the middle of nowhere looking to fill your freezer (or your trophy wall), you’re probably going to want something that’s not too heavy. The farther you have to hike it, the heavier it’s going to feel.

  17. avatar Billb says:

    Good article. I’ve been shooting centerfire bolt guns since I was 12. First was a sporterized Springfield 1903 30.06. Was my dads and I still have it. I tend to like military rifles and have a good selection to pick from in 30.06, .303, 7.62x54R, 308 FR8 Spanish (This one I really like), Argentine Mauser and Swedish Mauser. In commercial bolts I prefer .308 and 30.06. Recoil has never been a problem even with 7mm Ultra Mag. I have a 783 Remington in 30.06 that groups very well. It has a pretty good Nikon scope on it. It’s the only light weight “hunting type rifle” I have. I do have a Howa 1500 in 308 that’s a one hole shooter at 200 yds but it’s a little heavy to drag around in the woods. If I HAD to pick one in commercial/hunting styles it would be Savage Hog Hunter in .308. Military would be either the Spanish FR or Enfield #5 Jungle Carbine (IF I could only have one it would be tough). The Enfield is pretty accurate to 300 yds then will open up a bit (but still hit center mass on large man size targets. Only problem would be my eyes. At my age now I’m coming to depend on a scope for really accurate shooting.

  18. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    There are only two bolt guns I ever trusted not to let me down when the going got rough and that is the Pre-64 Winchester Model 70 and the iconic German 98 Mauser Sporter. The more reliable and safe was the 98 Mauser with its superior ignition system and its safely designed gas escape system.

    With either rifle you will never get a double feed and the bolt handles being integral with the bolt body will never fall off.

    Both rifles you can change out the extractors or firing pins or disassembly the bolt with little trouble when out in the field. Try doing that with todays trash rifles.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Since we have a great number of people here who are apparently incapable of ignoring you I’m going to give you something that you most certainly don’t deserve. A soundtrack. Henceforth, when I see your posts I’m going to give people something more worth their time to bother with: [generally] decent music to listen to (or maybe something ironic in terms of what you’ve said, the overall thread or the post).

      They can either skip your posts or they can listen to it while they read your idiocy. Music will vary enormously as I try to fit in a little something for everyone. At least something with a modicum of usefulness will come from your bullshit.

      So, without further ado, I’ll kick this shindig off with a track from nearly a quarter century ago. Topping out at #2 on the UK charts in 1998, it’s the electronic homage to KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1975 #1 US hit Get Down Tonight. This is Bamboogie by Bamboo with it’s original music video crafted from old cartoons.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        So you are among the many…….lol.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          No point in just letting him rile people up. It’s not like I’m going to read any more of his drivel than I normally do.

          As I said, something better than what he presents might as well come out of his presence. Lemons, lemonade and all that.

      2. avatar AD says:

        Takes me right to “Pulp Fiction.”

        1. avatar AD says:

          Dammit. Shouldve listened. Was thinking of Jungle Boogie.

      3. avatar jwm says:

        If you ignore a festering boil it can lead to other problems. Fascism is a festering boil that cannot be ignored.

        But thank you for the sound track.

        1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

          Hey Jwm I am going to be riding your hillbilly ass all the way to the election of the next Democratic President. Its going to be a fun ride when I dig in the spurs to your fat slob backside.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          The next democratic president? He hasn’t been born yet. But enjoy the ride as we run your fascist ass out of our country.

      4. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

        Strychnine if you had a brain you would be dangerous instead of just laughable. Never listened to your trash. Just got done listening to Ayumi Hamasaki if you hillbillies eve know who that is.

        I am surprised you did not put up some video like Waylon Jennings or Box Car Willie. Its more your speed.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          That is some next-level comedy right there. The best part is that you don’t even know you’re doing it.

      5. avatar Dave G. says:

        I had an 8mm Mauser many moons ago. It had La Coruna and 1946 stamped on the receiver. Bought it at K Mart for about $30 in the early 1970s if memory serves. “Sporterized” the stock and glass bedded the barrel, and it was fairly accurate when I got done with it even though the barrel was pitted. Vlad’s comment about the Mauser bolt resonates with me because of that experience. Three-position safety, Mauser long extractor, integral straight bolt handle, and easy bolt disassembly. It’s been gone a long time, but I still remember it fondly.

        1. avatar hawkeye says:

          I have one of those Mausers that was brought back from the war by one of my forebears. He had it sporterized, and I had a nice, gentle load worked up for it. But a black sheep in-law relative got hold of it and somehow split the walnut stock through the tang. I secured possession, and one of these days, I’ll repair/replace the stock, for my daughter. It was a nice shooter at one time, and 8×57 is still respectable.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Vlad the Fudd is here today.

  19. avatar Specialist38 says:

    As accurate as many inexpensive bolt guns are today ( there are many), most will do just as well with a rifle from yesteryear.

    You really dont need MOA accuracy to bag game or our fathers and grandfathers would attest.

    So buy a Ruger American or Savage Axis and revel in its sub MOA ability. Or…..buy a Sears version of a Winchester or FN and appreciate a time when even cheap guns were pretty and decently finished.

    As for myself, I have never spent more than 80 dollars for a scope (I swap or buy used). I have used Kahles, Swarovski, etc and may have shot a smaller group at 200 yards. But all the rounds would have been effective.

    Growing up in South Mississippi, I never owned a scope as 75 yards was a long shot in the piney wood thickets and swamps.

    Precision shooting may be a different matter but not my baliwick.

    If you want a rifle, there are plenty to scratch your itch. This a grand time for gun technology.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      the $80 svarowski has eluded me so far.
      i remain skeptical, but hopeful.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        LOL….didnt get one of those for 80 but did take a rifle on trade that had one.

        A friend of mine saw the rifle on my table with the scope and had to have it….never got to shoot that one.

        They are nice, but I am not worthy to see their merits on target.

    2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Specialist 38, what part of S. Mississippi are you from? My dad’s family is from Waynesboro. Although, I have family scattered from Merdian to Hattiesburg and beyond.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Meridian. Damn spell check.

      2. avatar Specialist38 says:

        North of Vancleave. Waynesboro was wayyyyyy up there. Ha.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          And my Mom was born LA but lived in Eastabutchie, Nachez, and Vicksburg.

          Sharecroppers.

  20. avatar The Rookie says:

    A while back, one of my LGS had a really nice Browning A-Bolt for sale at a very fair price. I don’t hunt, and I live in the city, so there wasn’t really a practical reason for me to buy it. It was really sharp looking though, so I went back and forth on buying it. “Hey, it could be my first rifle, and I could learn stuff from it, and stuff.”

    I was doing a fair job of convincing myself I “needed” this rifle, right up until I noticed it was chambered in .375 H&H Magnum.

    Yeah, probably not the best choice for a rifle noob. 🙂

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      It would have taught you many things. Many!

      1. avatar The Rookie says:

        The joys of a separated shoulder chief among them, I suspect. 😀

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          And how getting too close to a scope can leave a crescent moon in your forehead or nose.

        2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          shot one twice. same day. i deliberated after the first.

  21. avatar PTM says:

    Everyone should have the joy of spending substantial shooting time with a high-end, finely tuned, bolt action precision rifle. The best one I have ever had the opportunity to use was an Accuracy International in .308 with a monster optic on it, a feather-light weight trigger, the best match grade ammo (matched to the rifle), and a high-end bipod. And then, oh yes, a high end Kestrel hand held weather station, linked to an iPad, and a high-end laser range finder… and on and on and on and …. kaching, kaching, kaching.

    Once I had it all tuned and zeroed, putting rounds through nearly the same hole at 100 yards, in a small clover shaped single hole, with five round groups, at 100, was par for the course. Dinging steel at 1,000 yards a relatively easy matter. 800 yards was the real sweet spot, etc.

    It is however a significant investment to reach the pinnacle of bolt-actions and of course, you can move into larger caliber (I had an AI in 338 Lapua for a while too).

    It’s an obsession, like everything else.

    Now I stick with my semi-auto LMT LWS in .308 and am pleased with the .37 MOA groups it is consistently giving me with match ammo. Good enough.

    For now. 🙂

    1. avatar jwm says:

      You must have a very profitable ministry where you preach at, reverend Paul.

      1. avatar PTM says:

        Would you send me a list of what I can and can’t buy and how much I’m allowed to spend? I’d appreciate it.

        1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

          Nice come back you really told JWM where to stick it.

  22. avatar Officer Possum Malloy says:

    A bolt action makes a better spear than an AR.

  23. avatar ATTAGReader says:

    I don’t have a bolt action. I don’t hunt. Only target shoot. But with the crazy legislation going on (fortunately not where I live, but would be if the Democrats ever got hold of the legislature) it may make sense to look at bolt guns in the same calibers as one’s semiautos.

  24. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I don’t own a large caliber bolt action gun. And I don’t hunt. I’ve thought about paying for a hunt and gun rental. Just to see what it’s like.
    I know the nation needs more hunters.
    Conservation and animal population control depend on a thriving national hunting culture.

    Teaching grades K -12 their 2A hearitage and responsibilities would really help.

  25. avatar SoCalJack says:

    Still working on building up for long range percision target shooting with the intent of seeing if its something I will like. So far I have a Ruger American Hunter, $200 Votrex scope $50 bipods, $30 shooting bags, various 6.5 CM ammo. Still waiting on rings, a torque screw driver, a longer drag bag, and spotting scope. This is all really adding up for a first timer. Will take a class this summer.

  26. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    With all the used sportsitized military guns on the market and used older quality guns it does not make much sense to buy modern made garbage guns. Any military caliber is just fine and there is nothing the 3006 cannot do when hunting big game.

  27. avatar PTM says:

    An often overlooked key component to a great bolt action PR is a bipod. People go out and spend thousands on their set up and then use a cheapo Harris bipod. Invest the money in a great bipod system and you will see the results (assuming you do your part).

    Watch this:

  28. avatar Bemused Berseker says:

    I don’t hunt anymore, due to changes in my health, not because I’m against hunting. I still have my mid 60’s Harrington & Richardson Ultra in .300 Win Mag. H&R’s used FN actions and Douglas barrels, stocks were made by Fajen(? I may not be spelling that right). They switched to Sako actions in the mid 70’s I believe. I also have my pre 64 Winchester model 94 in .30 WCF, as well as a couple of .22’s (Marlin 60 and a Remington Nylon 66). For AR platforms, a 5.56 x 45, a .300 Blackout and a 6.5 Creedmore. Several revolvers and auto-loaders of various manufacturers.
    My son recently bought a Winchester XPR in .338 Win Mag, and I was impressed when we took it out, at its accuracy and its handling. For a $400 Rifle it made a really good impression.

  29. avatar jason says:

    Ran into the same question a while back, so we reviewed and wrote about the best scopes in the market for ruger precisions only here – https://trendytactical.com/best-scope-for-ruger-precision-rifle/

  30. avatar NCO says:

    I haven’t bought a bolt action rifle in a long time. However, I am considering onr as my next deer hunting rifle. I am way more tuned to “one shot” than I was in my youth.

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