The $1000 Hunting Rifle System
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Guns and Shooting Online member Ryan Brown suggested that we write an article about buying a rifle and optics for the hunter on a fixed budget. Here, in Ryan's words from his e-mail, is the way he put it:
"What equipment would you purchase given a certain budget? For instance, let's say you are buying equipment for a Western Colorado combined elk and mule deer hunt. I would love to see what you would purchase given a budget of $1000 and $2000. I would limit the equipment to rifle, scope (with mounting hardware), binoculars, one box of shells and a rangefinder (if desired). Go with these assumptions: Price of new rifles at market rate, price of scope and hardware at a known site such as Midway USA or similar source. Assume that all ammunition will shoot a sufficient MOA (1.5" at 100 yards). Remember that this is a combined hunt, so you will need to find a load that can cleanly take both Mule Deer and Elk at a variety of ranges. For the binoculars and range finders, find the prices in any outdoor store or catalog (Cabela's, Midway USA, etc.)."
We do our best to honor member requests, which have previously resulted in a number of Guns and Shooting Online articles. At a "shooters coffee" staff meeting held the same day that we received Ryan's e-mail, we decided that Ryan's suggestion had merit and was worth a staff survey article.
Our decision was to address the $1000 and $2000 packages in separate articles. Participating in this $1000 survey were Guns and Shooting Online Owner and Managing Editor Chuck Hawks, Senior Editor Randy Wakeman, Gunsmithing Editor Rocky Hays, Chief Executive Technical Advisor Jim Fleck and Technical Advisor Bob Fleck. Prices are MSRP or discount retail rounded off to the nearest dollar. Here are the Guns and Shooting Online staff selections for a $1000 package suitable for CXP2 and CXP3 mixed bag hunts.
There you have it, five practical hunting systems for less than $1000 in a store or catalog near you. No one felt that a rangefinder was a crucial piece of gear for the hypothetical budget mule deer and elk hunt. Zero your rifle/cartridge combination for its MPBR (+/- 3") and it is unlikely that you will need to worry about the exact distance to your quarry.
Likewise, nobody chose a package deal that included a rifle, mount and scope, although most of these rifles are available in such packages. We all have our individual preferences in scopes and mounts and are perfectly willing (actually prefer) to do our own scope mounting and bore sighting.
Bolt action rifles were the unanimous choice, mostly because Ruger No. 1 falling block and Marlin MXLR lever action rifles were excluded by the low total price allowed. Both Chuck and Jim considered such choices, but simply could not make them fit within the allotted budget.
Also worth comment is the fact that all respondents chose mainstream, all-around calibers. It is hard to quibble with the likes of the .270 Winchester, 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield for general CXP2/CXP3 big game hunting and ammunition is available practically anywhere. Surprisingly, four of us chose standard grade Remington Express ammunition. The timeless Core-Lokt bullet has delivered dependably deadly performance on both deer and elk for as long as we can remember.
Copyright 2008, 2012 by chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.