Best factory production rifle for regional matches

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cbshtr posted this 22 May 2023

I will soon be receiving some inheritance money and would like to buy a quality production rifle to start competing in local matches after a 20 year absence. My budget is no more than $1500 for rifle and scope. I have an old Tasco 36X scope that I may be able to use, leaving more money for the rifle. I'm looking at heavy barreled guns to help with recoil.

The models I have been looking at are the Savage 110 Magpul Hunter, Savage 110 Tactical, Bergara B14 HMR and the Tikka T3X CTR. The two Savage rifles are supposed to come with factory blueprinted actions from what I've read. All of these have good reviews and accuracy reports with the Savages being less expensive. I have no experience with any of these and know of no one who has one. I'm more interested in the shorter barreled tactical style rifles over the long barreled varmint/ bench rest style guns. Of the guns mentioned which would be the best competitive option. I'm open to other suggestions as well within the parameters mentioned.

I'm leaning towards a .308 Win caliber only because I'm already set up with everything 30 caliber. All the rage today is the 6.5 Creedmoor but with the 8" twist I would seem to think it would be difficult to get competitive accuracy. Please correct me if I'm wrong but looking at match reports they rarely show up. I've seen a few .243's and .223's but mostly .308's. I'm open to suggestions.

Any information and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Robert Homan

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Tom Acheson posted this 22 May 2023

Historically, since 1999, our local matches for CBA Production entries, have been dominated by .308 Winch. chamberings. Easy to load for, lots of production and custom molds, many die choices, lots of load data available for the round. Many twist rates are between 10 and 12. Variations of Remington 700’s and Savages are quite common. Of course, there are others. Just need the completed rifle to weigh less than 12-pounds. The wrong scope and mounts might push you too close to the weight limit. One concern is the shape of the underside of the forearm, as it relates to fitting the front sand bag. If too round it can be difficult to manage.

Have to add the occurrence of .223 chamberings are being seen more recently.

Tom

 

 

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cbshtr posted this 22 May 2023

I have been looking at the underside of the forearm, only selecting those a little wider with a flat bottom. The .223 does interest me, but not sure if I want to go that route yet. Something worth looking into tho.

Robert Homan

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Lucky1 posted this 22 May 2023

I'll second Tom's advice as you are well on your way with the 308 choice. I've dabbled with 6.5 Creedmoor and have had limited success. I've had better luck with my 1916 Swede and they are known to be finicky and there are certainly less choices in bullet molds. Your choices of rifles are all quality ones and can most likely be made competitive with proper workup. The 36x scope is also a great start and helps the budget. It'll come down to which rifle makes you happy and trips your trigger.

Scott Ingle

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John Alexander posted this 22 May 2023

I have two skinny barreled, 6 pound Tikkas and both will shoot strings of five shot groups that average .75" with JB at 100 yards. Not that you want a skinny barrel but it demonstrates the quality. One rifle has done well in CBA competition. Both with 8 inch twists. The downside of faster than needed twists is more theoretical than real -- unless you cast really terrible bullets.

Your 36X Tasco scope should do fine and if it's optics are as good as mine they will be better than most of the competition.

The 308 is boring but the logical choice to start with.

John

 

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 22 May 2023

golly, eat my heart out here ... you are going to have so much fun ...  

a couple weeks ago there was a decent discussion on competition and I thought it was most interesting as to what a person's goal is to want to compete ...  fun, glory, the challenge, finding out how really good you are ... etc. etc. ...oh, and all above !! ...

if for fun, I would go with a Savage class rig and compete against myself and see how good I could get with the equipment and talent I bring to matches as I progress ...  there is lots of luck in factory rifles, so it could be fun achieving a level above your prognosticated stature ... and with the cheaper Savage, you might try a few different screw-in legal * production * barrels ... after all, production classes are somewhat of an equipment testing excercise.

if " competing " is actually spelled " Winning thru Obsession " in your view of things, I would have to go with the Tikka ... just because statistically that gives you the best chance of a great rig.  ( ok, I have 2 of 308 Tikka , the old Tikka 55 ...  deer rifles, but they live in smileyville with me  ...  1 pound triggers, straight actions, tight chambers ... dang ! .. ) ...

above is without consideration of the rules ...  are those guns legal in production ?? ...

*********************

i have to mention, again if winning is a must, i would look for a great trigger, a well made action and a great barrel ... Tikka statistically has these.  need to do a bedding job, but i think that is legal.

next, I actually would go for a lighter bullet than a 180 gr 308 ...... probably 6mm or 6.5mm ... to reduce recoil on the bench ...next I would look at which stock will be stable in the bags ...  

in big matches, the nasty 200 yard targets are a big deal ... your longer bullets which need faster twists are a real big deal ...  I would concentrate on my 200 yards shooting most of all.  check out in the match reports here how many national shooters wipe out at 200 after they are in the running at 100. 

boring as it might be, the 6.5 creedmore looks pretty good for the 200 yard game.  you are probably in for some custom molds anyway ... and you don't need exotic loading equipment for excellent match ammo ... $50 of Lee dies will get you in the top flight ...

just some thoughts, enjoy the trip and keep us posted ... ken

 

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Lee Guthrie posted this 22 May 2023

My observations on Savage rifles.  Some people express almost mystical adoration for Savage.  Me, no way.  Maybe it's just bad luck following me, but .....

I bought two different new Savage Model 12s (a BVSS and an F class), both in .308, that were advertised to be tack driving demons.  I've had lever action Marlins shoot as good.  We tried everything to get them to shoot.  Tried all kinds of loads with both jacketed and cast.  Tried letting a couple other shooters use them (two who went through Army sniper school and one who competes internationally).  Did everything except replace barrels and do machine work.  Nope.  Still wouldn't shoot.  On the same day several friends and I were range testing -- BEST group from the Model 12 that was supposed to be F class competition was 5 shots into 1 3/8 inches at 100 yards, using same ammo that I shot through a friends 40x with a 5 shot .41 inch group on the same day.  When I sent it back to Savage it was returned with the notation that it shot within factory specs.

Your mileage may vary, but I will probably never buy a new in the box Savage again.  If you find a used proven Savage maybe.

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lotech posted this 22 May 2023

Savage offered heavy barrel synthetic stock rifles some years back in .308 and .30-06. I bought one of each and they shot cast bullets well, though not quite as well as a Remington heavy barrel 700 VS that I already had. Some years later, I got two new stainless sporters (don't recall the model) in .250 Savage and .30-06. Never tried cast in either one, but their accuracy with jacketed bullets was mediocre. Hawkeye borescope exam showed a good bit of bore roughness. 

I've read where Savage has a good reputation for accuracy; maybe I just got some that weren't among the better ones.    

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Wm Cook posted this 22 May 2023

Robert, I'm in about the same position as you.  I might a bit further along since I have the rifle,scope part sorted out.  I went with a Savage 10F.  To be honest I can't remember if I went that way because of the cost or the weight of the Model 12.  Probably the cost and not the weight since the 12 is being shot in Production class competition.  I'm using a 36x Sightron scope. 

The Savage10 and I'm sure the Model 12 ride the bags real well with their wide forearms and flat/minimum taper bag friendly stock. That flatter profile rear stock is an advantage when you return to battery coming back from recoil.  My rig's chambered in .308 and with the Sightron it comes in at about 11 1/2 lbs.  Both the 10 and 12 have adjustable triggers with the 12 being able to go below a pound.

I'd consider the following:

  • Rifle -  I can't find specs on the Mapul Hunter you mentioned so no comment there.  I did find a 110 FCP HS Precision that looks like the old Model 10 but there's no specs that I can find.  It may be discontinued?  The 110 tactical looks to be wearing an Apex stock and I'm not sure if the action on the 110 is the same as the Apex.  If it's a viable option I'd lean toward the flatter stock like the old 10F's or the Model 12's.  Sorry but I can't comment on the Tikka or the Bergara but I remember that before I went with the Savage they were in the top three that I was looking at.
  • Scope - A good budget scope would be the Sightron, or if you could find one used maybe a Weaver 36x.  I've had three or four Sightron 36 and about as many Weaver's and they all held the POA/POI. I had one Sightron boosted to 50x years ago.  First choice would be a Leupold but that's costly. I have had a number of them and they have great glass quality.  Mirage can cause some real head scratcher groups and I had myself talked into believing the Leupold was better at reading through soup than the Weaver's. I'd be hesitant to count on the Tasco, but maybe that's and unfair opinion.  
  • Cartridge - Sticking with the same cartridge you're already set to reload is an advantage. What pushed it as my first choice was the large number of 30cal molds that are available.  Bullet weights range from 160 to 230 grains and come in spitzer, tapered and freebore design.  Not asked but I would offer the opinion that you might want to start out with a custom mold.  First get a good chamber/throat cast to determine freebore dimension and a real real solid dimension for the barrel bore.  A borerider bullet from a custom mold with a nose that fits your bore would leap frog you months over the learning curve I waded through. 

Looking at CBA results are valuable.  I know they are not the end all for information but they are from a registered match and you can get a feel for what the benchmark is for accuracy.  

Below you'll see the Production class equipment list from both the 21 and 22 Nationals.  That'll give you an idea whats being used. 

If you go with the .308 and if your freebore length and bore diameter are close to what I have I can send you some samples if you think that'll help.  If there's anything else I can do let me know.  Good luck, Bill Cook.

My addiction to gambling starts and ends with me spending $ to try a powder I’ve never shot before.

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John Alexander posted this 22 May 2023

i have not had good luck with 223 Savage varmint rifles. Had four all had long loose spot in mid half of barrel.  I have never heard that claimed for the 30 cal.

However, at least 7 of the thirteen current CBA national records were shot with Savage rifles and Savage rifles have won the production class nationals more than any other rifle for the last 25 years and several overall nationals.  I would still buy a Tikka.

John

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Lucky1 posted this 22 May 2023

The piece of advice that can be gleaned from the previous discussions is.....it's a crapshoot if you get a good one or not. John is a stellar shooter with his Tikka but I know another Tikka 223 shooter that is really frustrated getting his 223 to shoot well. So basically get something you like, work on the loads and get better, and if it really isn't working you can always try something different. The good thing is there are a bunch of people to help and you can have a great time trying out new loads and techniques.

Scott Ingle

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Hornet posted this 22 May 2023

I see that Remington is listing the 700SPS Varmint as available in .308. Has anybody tried one of their newer rifles to see if they fixed all their self-induced quality problems? I was pretty happy with my ancient 700VS ( finally had to set the barrel back 3/16 after burning out the throat).

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longhunter posted this 23 May 2023

I have just gotten a Begara B-14 in 308.  it is showing great promise. I will keep you posted!

I have one in 22lr also.  I run a Extream Long Range 22 match.  1" steel targets up to 26 " steel out to 400 yards.  If you are interested i can break it down more.

They both shoot well.

I am thinking this will be my last 308!

Jon

 

Jon Welda CW5 USA Ret.

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OU812 posted this 23 May 2023

The 223 has less recoil, uses less powder and lead. I would take Johns advice and buy the Tika. He might point you in the right direction concerning mould and powder choices.

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Tom Acheson posted this 23 May 2023

My experience with a Savage Model 12  Varminter Low Profile in .308 is different than others have experienced. Not sure if it is a BVSS. The twist rate is 1:10, with a 26” barrel.

 

I bought mine new in 2007. The decision was based on that model’s track record in the CBA Production Rifle category in our matches. Odd that I picked it up the day the Minneapolis bridge collapsed. 

 

Various loads were tried. I eventually settled on 27.0-grains VV N-135. The bullet was an LBT 312-185, 50/50 lino/mono, sized 0.311” and “bumped”. The best 100-yard match result was produced 25 August 2011. The small 10-round group was 0.649” and the 10-round aggregate was 0.947” and the score was 198-5X. I haven’t checked lately but those numbers might still be Minnesota State CBA records.

 

If I bump the bullets and use VV powder, the rifle does very well. Varget powder also did fairly well. Have to add that my Weaver T-36 scope works really well with this rifle.

 

But full disclosure. After the last time the rifle was used in a match (August 2021) it sat until last weekend and I did poorly. But it was the first time I used 4198 powder, the bullets were not bumped and I learned the cases need to be full length sized. Not a rifle problem.

 

I spend most of my match energy trying to get an XP-100 to shoot and ignore my rifles. However, I do enjoy shooting my Remington Rolling Block in .38-55 with an old Unertl 24X scope.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Tom

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Tom Acheson posted this 23 May 2023

Short footnote……

The OP said Regional matches. Regional matches are usually a once a year thing. I hope when the word Regional was used it could have said Local matches. All of us would like to see you out shooting your new rifle frequently, not just once a year!

Tom

 

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OU812 posted this 24 May 2023

"Bumped" sounds so vague. Was that hard alloy difficult to bump?

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Bud Hyett posted this 24 May 2023

I feel I've shot enough Production Class with various rifles to state there are no absolutes. Trends "Yes", but absolutes "No!" I took the above table and tried to graph the detail to find an absolute, it did not come out. You must buy a rifle and then make it work. There is a wealth of information here on the Forum and many experienced people willing to help. 

Were I to start today, I'd get the Savage Low Profile Varminter in .308 Winchester with at least a 30X scope. The .308 diameter bullet will touch the next scoring ring when the .224 bullet will not. I've shot a 7mm-08 and several times lost a point when the .024 smaller bullet did not touch a ring. There was a shooter at Windhill who shot a .358 Winchester in part to gain the larger diameter. 

Higher straight power scopes are not being manufactured today, You'll need to get a variable if purchasing new. A 30X is easily good for two hundred yards. There often are used 36X scopes on websites such as www.benchrest.com from shooters who have upgraded. 

Bullet (mold) selection trends toward 200 or more grains in .30 caliber. The two exceptions are the RCBS 30-18-SP and the SAECO #315 that are very competitive. More important then weight is bullet fit in the chamber leade and the barrel.  The heavier bullets have greater wind resistance. But be careful of mold selection, e.g., there are two versions of the RCBS 30-200-SIL bullet mold, the later manufacture has a larger diameter nose and shoots far better. 

 Powder selection currently is what you can find. Powder Valley and Natchez Shooters Supplies are two websites with large stock and keep refreshed. Powders from Alliant 2400 to VV N-135 and IMR 4895 are the common choices. (I stay way from WW 296 and IMR 4227 in bottleneck cases having seen several rifles damaged beyond repair from Secondary Explosion Effect.) 

Large Rifle Primers are premium. And Large Pistol Primers do not easily substitute due to the difference in deck height. This may force me to shoot Plain Base since I have a larger supply of Small Rifle Primers and will have to save my few Large Rifle Primers for Military Rifle competition.

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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cbshtr posted this 24 May 2023

Since starting this thread I just remembered that I ordered a 30 caliber gas check maker almost 2 months ago. I forgot all about it. Ship date keeps being pushed back. So it looks like I made the choice of caliber. I do have several molds including a Eagan MX3.30BR, Saeco 301 and 315, Lyman 314299, Ideal 31141 and 311413. I'm figuring at least one of these should show promise.

Robert Homan

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cbshtr posted this 24 May 2023

I should mention that the Tasco World Class 36X scope I have is from the nineties and has Japanese glass with 1/8" movement. From what I remember it was pretty clear and accurate adjustments.

Robert Homan

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 24 May 2023

while talking about 308 shooting, i believe that in my stash I have some 308 brass with small rifle primer pockets.  back when I was serious about small cast groups I made some into 243 brass ...  at the 1 moa level I couldn't tell any difference ...

if anybody is interested, i will dig through the pile to see what is down there ... pm me please

sorry to back into this thread, but I will otherwise forget about these again five minutes later.

i need to make a FS list of stuff I don't need ... and maybe my phone number and home address ... hah ...

ken

oh, i have an extra B&L 36x scope from about 1999 ...  i preferred my Weaver T20 for ARA 22 at 50 yards.

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