The $2000 Hunting Rifle System
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
When Guns and Shooting Online member Ryan Brown suggested that we write a survey article about buying a rifle and optics for the hunter on a fixed $1000 budget, he also requested a similar survey article based on a $2000 budget. Having accomplished Ryan's first request, we turned our attention to the $2000 hunting rifle system. Here, for those readers who have not yet read "The $1000 Hunting Rifle System," are Ryan's words from his e-mail that inspired both articles:
"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.)."
Our decision was to address the $1000 package first and separately, which we have done. (You will find that article on the Rifle Information Page.) Now it is time to address the $2000 package. This is the level of equipment that most of the Guns and Shooting Online staff actually take into the field on a regular basis and most of the choices are the same or similar to items that we actually use in the field. As in the $1000 article, we restricted ourselves to selecting only new equipment at representative MSRP or retail prices.
Participating in the survey this time 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, Technical Advisor Bob Fleck and Technical Advisor Nathan Rauzon. Here are the Guns and Shooting Online staff selections for a $2000 package suitable for CXP2 and CXP3 mixed bag hunts.
These are good, practical hunting systems for less than $2000, available from a store or catalog near you. Frankly, any of us could hunt with someone else's choices and not feel seriously handicapped and most of us own at least two of the basic rifle models listed above. Rifles that deserve an "Honorable Mention" for being seriously considered, although ultimately not selected, include the Ruger No. 1A Light Sporter and Marlin Model 308MXLR, the latter in the relatively new .308 Marlin express caliber. Little would have been lost, or gained, had any or all of these rifles made the final list and various of our respondents also own all of these models.
Bob has gotten good use from his laser rangefinder and he chose to include one in his budget. The other respondents did not feel that a separate rangefinder was a crucial piece of gear for the hypothetical mule deer and elk hunt, although Rocky's Burris LaserScope incorporates an excellent rangefinder.
Worth noting is that all respondents chose mainstream, all-around calibers. .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield ammunition is available practically anywhere and the record of these calibers in the field speaks for itself. Most of us again chose standard grade Remington Express ammunition. Remington's Core-Lokt bullets deliver dependable performance on both deer and elk without muss, fuss, or unnecessary expense.
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