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This question is for DakotaMan and anyone with long range hunting or shooting experience. I just bought another 700 to build ano

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  • This question is for DakotaMan and anyone with long range hunting or shooting experience. I just bought another 700 to build ano

    This question is for DakotaMan and anyone with long range hunting or shooting experience. I just bought another 700 to build another custom gun. Im looking for ideas on everything between caliber, stock, trigger, and barrel. My last rifle has a Macmillan stock, Timney trigger, Krieger barrel in .284 win. I want do do something a little different this time but i still want a light sturdy lang range mountain rifle.

  • #2


    • #3
      Mike, I am sure Dakota will fix you up with something that will shoot to the next zip code. Will be interesting to see what he says - the .284 is no slouch.
      I am curious, is the 700 short or long action? Jim


      • #4
        long it is currently chambered in 7mm mag


        • #5
          Mike, it depends on what you call long range. When I posed this question to the VP of Engineering at Lothar Walther, I framed it as "enough energy to deck an elk at 1000 yards".

          This might be more than you have in mind. If so, you have more choices but I'll try to explain what I learned from him and my experience to date.

          I personally plan for minimums of approximately 1500 foot pounds of energy to deck an elk and 1000 foot pounds to deck a deer. In addition, the cartridge needs the characteristic of exceptional accuracy at that range. The 50 BMG would do the job but a 25 pound rifle is just too hard to carry in the mountains.

          According to him, that left two top long range cartridges they would recommend after decades of testing long range sniper cartridges (then make the sniper barrels for the U.S. and Canadian military)... the .338 Lapua and the .300 Dakota.

          The .338 Lapua works but has a few issues associated with it for the mountain hunter. Because of the exceptional recoil, it requires a heavy rifle. If you stuff it into a carry weight of 12 pounds or less, it can cause shooters to develop a bad flinch. Neither of these attributes contributes very well to mountain hunting unless you are shooting a 16 pound, dampened rifle out the window of your truck. I will note that my brother lost hearing in his right ear this year hunting next to a Rambo type who hunted with his Lapua muzzle brake blasting. With weight, muzzle brake and lots of practice you can maybe control the flinch. So far over the last five years my .300 Dakota has not been beaten in 600 yard accuracy and beyond by a .338 Lapua. I think flinch has a lot to do with that though.

          I went with his recommendation of a .300 Dakota with a 26" Lothar Walther 1:10 stainless barrel in a 12 pound rifle and haven't been disappointed. I could easily shoot it at 10 pounds or less with a muzzle brake but I like to hunt without hearing protection. A muzzle brake is fine for practice but I don't want to blow my (or my buddy's) ears out while hunting. I use a 6.5 pound barrel (his minimum weight suggestion) for maximum long range accuracy using big Berger bullets.

          I know this cartridge is a borderline wildcat and that you have to widen your bolt face & rails but I personally thought it was worth the effort for energy/accuracy. This was easy to do with a Mauser style action too.

          Many ask if the .300 Winny will do. It is very accurate too but it just doesn't have the energy at that long a range. If your range requirements are 800 yards or less, it is a top choice because of its accuracy.

          In lieu of the .300 Dakota, you could also use the .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. It gives you the speed/energy and it is proving to be highly accurate in premium barrels. These two big fat cased .30 calibers are exceeding the long range accuracy of the .300 Wby and the .300 RUM with their narrower cases and taller powder charges.

          I shoot 210g and 215g Berger bullets and this rifle has actually turned in one 3.5" five shot group at 1000 yards (my brother's group) although my personal best is 4" (with 12 mph cross wind). Although I'm not a competitive shooter, I think this rifle is.

          A Krieger barrel should be great if you make sure the chamber is 100% perfectly aligned with the bore. This is CRITICAL for long range accuracy. After about 250 yards a bullet transitions from rotating on the bore's axis to rotating on it own axis. If the bullet is nicked or squashed in any way because of its entry into the rifling, the bullet will wobble, making it hard to hit a dump truck at 1000 yards. You won't notice bullet deformation at 100 yards but you will at 1000 for sure.

          I recommend that you have the manufacturer cut the chamber. Shilen does this and so does Lothar Walther (LW). Others might too. LW has a special steel that they claim is giving them less heat warp for better shot after shot accuracy. I believe them and apparently so does the Department of Defense.

          Plan to shoot the heaviest Berger bullet you can get for high ballistic coefficient, better long range accuracy and energy. Your 7MM is a great long range shooter but will fall short of the .300 Dakota and .30-378 by a few hundred yards.

          Your Timney trigger will be fine although the Jewell is the top of the line. Take the action of your choice but I favor flat bottomed receivers with integral lugs (less torque than round bar stock receivers). That means receivers like the Mauser style or the Howa style. A Rem 700 works just fine though and actually has a nice lock time that helps.

          The critical thing with stocks is that they be well glass/pillar bedded and the barrel floated. I contend that a 2x4 will be just as accurate as a McMillan if it is properly bedded and it is carved to fit your cheek weld. I carved a chuck of walnut for mine. A synthetic stock will be lighter and you will like that in the mountains.
          Bell & Carlson makes some nice looking stocks that include aluminum bedding blocks for around $200. You can go up from there for the look you want. Just make sure to skim bed them all because none will be made for your specific rifle.

          Use an 11 degree target crown. You need to disperse gas very uniformly so you don't upset those big boat tailed bullets any more than you have to as they leave the muzzle.

          Finally, get a good scope. Not all scopes are created equally. You need to be able to see your target, avoid mirage and above all be ACCURATE. I shot great 1000 yard groups with a 15 year old Leupold VXIII 6.5-20x40. I can clearly place my cross hair in the middle of a 3 inch dot at 1000 yards. I'm now testing a Vortex Viper PST for comparison but I still have testing to do on that. NightForce scopes are the gold standard and several more expensive scopes are even better.

          I know everyone has their own opinions on this subject and we are still learning from technology advancements that are emerging rapidly. The top barrel manufacturers are all producing barrels that are air gauged to the same phenomenal specs so they are all good to one extent or another. The barrel and perfectly aligned chamber will be about 95% of your accuracy.

          I am now very interested in pursuing a .375 H&H barrel with a 1:10 twist to shoot the highly accurate and heavy new VLD bullets becoming available in that caliber. The recoil is more of a push and you don't have to get the bullets going very fast to deck an elk at 1000 yards. Initial testing of the accuracy of those bullets has been great. Most hunting bullets available in that caliber assumed a maximum range of about 50 yards so accuracy was never a concern. Times are a changing though and I think the new VLDs will make that great old cartridge last another 100 years easily.

          Best of luck... I hope this gives you some ideas.


          • #6
            Im here in arizona so I don't have the need to drop elk at 1000 but would love to have the energy to do it out to 700-800 or farther. My .284 is great and has shot sub 1/2 moa. The issue is not the building of the rifle I have done this with a 700 action twice before in bot .284 and .280 Ack Imp and both are extremely reliable and accurate. The country I hunt in for coues deer and mulies is stereotypical southwest steep, dry, hot, and hard. where everything is trying to stab you. In this country +500 yard shots happen to someone in my hunting group every year with +700 happening about every 3 years. I have shot F class and F class unlimited since I was in high school so the shooting is not really an issue.
            now back to the gun. Im hoping to get the gun sub 12pounds the lighter the better. I have no want to keep it in 7mm mag. I was looking at the .300 dakota, .30-378, .338-378, .338 rum or possibly .300 rum leaning to the first 4. I have also never thought of the .375H&H but I can see the potential. I also loath muzzle breaks especially range queens with them.
            When it comes to stocks I start with a blank stock and do my own sanding, milling, bedding, and floating. I have never had a problem getting the guns to shoot very reliably out to 1000 even if I always can't. I had a bell and carlson on my .284 and upgraded to a mcmillian. When it comes to the action I like the 700 because it is easier to blueprint and chalk up on the lathe if needed then flat bottom or square actions such as a Mauser or Model 70.
            I will probably run a jewell trigger, Kriger barrel and Swarovski scope but I also love vortex and their Guarantee is amazing. so please keep me updated on how the scope does. Though I would look into the razor and the viper lines. (I'm not much of a niteforce fan. sorry I grew up in the industry and the people at Swarovski and vortex have been good to me)
            As alway Dakota thank you for your time and knowledge


            • #7
              Sub-12 pounds? A lightweight mountain rifle by loose definition is something under 7 pounds or so. A 9 1/2 pound .300 Weatherby or .200 RUM or similar will be all the recoil you'll likely want to handle. Anything over 8 or 9 pounds certainly isn't a lightweight mountain rifle.


              • #8
                Geez, Dakota,
                You are not going to give us a test on all of this are you? Just teasing, enjoy the info.


                • #9
                  264 Win Mag, one of the most overlooked cartridges


                  • #10
                    WAM, you bring up a good point... in long range shooting "lightweight" is a relative term. Compared to a 25 pound 50 BMG, 10 pounds is light. I've carried a 12 pound rifle my whole life so I sure don't notice it (but I DO notice the lack of oxygen in Montana). I have a nice light rifle that weighs in at 5.5 pounds and it is sure easy to lug up and down the canyons but I sure wouldn't try to hunt with it at 1000 yards. I'm also thinking if I can get that weight under 2 pounds I might not actually need to breath and will have a better chance in Montana.

                    Mike... sounds like you are on your way and have a good basis of knowledge to start. Great components on your list too. Not sure if you want to take on the weight/recoil associated with the big .338s on your list. They and the .375 will be great shooters but if you are interested in keeping the weight down, they are a concern. They will however shoot further than the .30s in case that is important to you.

                    I've shot my buddy's .30-378 and it is not nearly as bad on recoil as the .338s. It is a puppy with a muzzle brake and you can take that off for an occasional deer shot. As a matter of fact, it would probably be my first choice on your list. A great cartridge that you could support very well with your setup. It eats a lot more powder but nothing like the .338s.

                    I am still intrigued by the .375... I've been able to get the highly accurate 291g GS Custom VLD bullets up to 2850 fps with little pressure. Had to quit advancing velocity though with a cracked stock. Recoil goes up fast after you cross over 5000 ft/lbs of energy. I need to do a real solid bedding/cross bolt job to continue on that project. I also need a 1:10 twist to stabilize the 350g and larger VLDs. I could go with the .375 Chey Tac for a great extra long range cartridge but I like the concept of shooting a long range .375 H&H. I love that cartridge.

                    Happy... sorry for the volume... as always its good to hear from you.


                    • #11
                      Mike, I'm not adverse to the 700 and have shot some good shooting .300 Winnys in the 700. I think the 700's quick, smooth lock time is an advantage too. Although the round receiver is easier to deal with in the lathe, I believe that it also is easier to torque in the stock than the flat bottomed receivers with large integral recoil lugs. I don't have proof of this but I know that these big bullets going from zero to 250,000 RPM in two feet DO produce torque. I went with an old M98 as an experiment for that reason and it is doing a marvelous job in spite of its cut outs and lock time issues.

                      Just something to think about... I always say, long range is NOT short range and we always have to step back and take a different perspective before we decide. Ask yourself, what is different about long range? BIG bullets, LONG bullets, HIGH speed. More recoil, more torque. More dependence on perfect bullet concentricity. More need for shot-to-shot consistency in the platform.


                      • #12
                        Dakota after what you said yesterday I call up a gun smith I know and picked his brain. He reminded me that the 700 is a very common action to build .458 lott's and .460 weatherby's. He said that there is torque but not like what you would think. It is there but he aquatic it to spinning a flywheel in a shaft to get the wheel to move is relatively light on the shaft but getting the shaft to turn is hard on the wheel. Something to do with inertia. He got into the math and I zoned out. he said after a thousand or so(he could not give me a good estimate) rounds you may loose accuracy. He also pointed out that you probably won't put more then 50-100 round through the gun after the first year because of the expense of shooting and not wanting to give ourself a dead arm.
                        wamhunter I know that 12 pounds for a mountain rifle sound like a lot and my .284 is right at 8 and a quarter with a scope. yet when it comes to a round that is pushing +3200fps with a 200 grain bullet I want the extra weight to steady the shot, lower free recoil and and give me a more solid rest. most rifles in that power group are 14-20 pounds so 12 with a scope is really light. Also I am some day hoping to use this gun to take a few sheep and I want to be able to anchor one at 1000 if needed and be able to not knock it to bits going up the mountain.
                        And clay the .264 win mag is a small steep up from my .284 win but has less bullet options and has poorer BC in what options are there because .284 is the same as 7mm as far as bullets go.
                        Thanks everyone for the input


                        • #13
                          Mike, take a look at the 7mm , 190gr Berger VLD bullet. It has a better G2 B.C. than the 210gr Berger bullet Dakota uses.


                          • #14
                            Every ounce you are carrying whether it be lead in your arse or steel in your rifle contributes to your need for respiration and perspiration!


                            • #15
                              Jhjinbo the 7mm does have a better BC but not the KE I am looking for. and wamtnhunter i know this but the weight is worth it




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