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 combined elk and 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 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 here: http://www.chuckhawks.com/1000_hunting_rifle_system.htm) 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. All prices are approximate at the time of publication.

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, Technical Advisor Nathan Rauzon and Technical Advisor Jack Seeling. Here are the Guns and Shooting Online staff selections for a $2000 (approx.) package suitable for hunting Class 2 and Class 3 game.


Chuck Hawks

  • Rifle: Winchester Model 70 Sporter, bolt action, blue/walnut, .30-06 Springfield ($880)
  • Ammunition: Remington Express 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP ($25/box)
  • Riflescope: Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x36mm ($400)
  • Mount base and rings: Leupold STD ($55)
  • Binocular: Leupold BX-3 Mojave 8x32 roof prism ($439)
  • Total Price: $1801 (approx.)

Randy Wakeman

  • Rifle: Browning X-Bolt Medallion, bolt action, blue/walnut, .270 Winchester ($1030)
  • Ammunition: Hornady Superformance 130 grain GMX ($37/box)
  • Riflescope: Leupold VX-R 3-9x40mm ($480)
  • Mount base and rings: Warne X-Bolt bases and Maxima rings ($55)
  • Binocular: Hawke Frontier 8x43 ED ($450)
  • Total Price: $2052 (approx.)

Rocky Hays

  • Rifle: T/C Icon, bolt action, blue/walnut with integral Weaver base, .308 Winchester ($1059)
  • Ammunition: Nosler Trophy Grade 165 grain Partition ($36/box)
  • Riflescope: Leupold VX-R CDS 4-12x40mm ($630)
  • Scope mount base: Integral Weaver-type base on rifle, Leupold QRW rings ($30)
  • Binocular: Leupold BX-2 Acadia 8x32 roof prism ($215)
  • Total Price: $1970 (approx.)

Jim Fleck

  • Rifle: Ruger M77 Hawkeye Sporter, bolt action, stainless/laminated hardwood, .270 Winchester ($959)
  • Ammunition: Remington Express 150 grain Core-Lokt PSP ($25/box)
  • Riflescope: Sightron SIIB Big Sky 3-9x42mm ($402)
  • Mount base and rings: Supplied with rifle
  • Binocular: Leupold BX-3 Mojave 8x32 roof prism ($439)
  • Total Price: $1825 (approx.)

Bob Fleck

  • Rifle: Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Sporter SUB-MOA, bolt action, blue/walnut, .308 Winchester ($849)
  • Ammunition: Hornady Superformance 165 grain InterBond BT ($36/box)
  • Riflescope: Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x36mm ($400)
  • Mount base and rings: Leupold STD ($55)
  • Binocular: Leupold BX-2 Acadia 8x32 roof prism ($215)
  • Rangefinder: Leupold RX600i ($275)
  • Total Price: $1830 (approx.)

Nathan Rauzon

  • Rifle: Remington Model 700 XCR II, bolt action, stainless/synthetic, .30-06 Springfield ($1005)
  • Ammunition: Remington Express 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP ($25/box)
  • Riflescope: Leupold VX-2 4-12x50mm ($480)
  • Mount base and rings: Leupold STD ($55)
  • Binocular: Leupold BX-2 Cascades 10x42 roof prism ($374)
  • Total Price: $1939 (approx.)

Jack Seeling

  • Rifle: Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 SUB-MOA, bolt action, stainless/synthetic, .270 Winchester ($799)
  • Ammunition: Federal Fusion 150 grain SBT ($25/box)
  • Riflescope: Sightron SIIB Big Sky 3-9x42mm ($402)
  • Mount base and rings: Leupold PRW ($55)
  • Binocular: Leupold BX-3 Mojave 8x32 roof prism ($439)
  • Total Price: $1720 (approx.)

These are good, practical hunting systems in the $2000 price range suitable for hunting Class 2 and Class 3 game. They are available from a store or catalog near you. Frankly, any of us could hunt with someone else's choices and not feel seriously handicapped.

Leupold optics and scope mounting hardware proved to be the favorite of the majority of the staff. 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 most big game hunting.

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. A plurality chose standard grade Remington Express ammunition. Remington's Core-Lokt bullets deliver dependable performance on all Class 2 and Class 3 game without muss, fuss, or unnecessary expense.




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