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Old 06-26-2009, 01:31 AM   #1
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.308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

I am looking to get into .308 but am cost conscious. I am dropping a lot of cash right now on handguns, ammo, and training and really can't justify putting more than, say, ~$500 into a rifle at this point. But, at some point, I think I'd like to acquire a decent semi-auto .308 battle rifle. Getting a bolt action is my way to tide myself over at a reasonable cost, and once I acquire a semiauto, the bolt action can be a truck gun or be set up differently. Hence, the desire for .308 compatibility. Durability is a top concern -- I want something that can handle less than optimal conditions and still be reliable. That is steering me towards a mil-surp rifle at this point.

30-06 might be ok, but that limits my future semi auto purchases to pretty much the Garand, which isn't a bad choice by any means, but I've kind of got my sights set on a M1A... :-p

Right now I am thinking of setting it up either as a pseudo-Scout rifle (as far as the scope goes, at least) or as a long range precision rifle.

What are my options for the base rifle, and what are reasonable prices these days?

I've seen info on the Ishapore Enfield, Spanish Mausers, and Israeli Mausers. Am I missing any good mil-surp options? What about commercial options? How does the Winchester 70 or Remington stack up to the mil-surp's in terms of price and ruggedness? The mil-surp seem to run between $150-$300, which would allow me to get one, have a gunsmith look it over, and mount entry-level optics for under $500.

Thanks for any info or pointers you can provide!
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Old 06-26-2009, 03:52 AM   #2
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

Look at the various Savage options. Prices are quite reasonable, and the guns are usually quite accurate, out of the box. The least expensive ones will be those using standard optics locations. Adjustable triggers are standard, wood or synthetic stocks, and mounts are easily obtained. They've been in production for 50+ years, although the Accu-trigger versions are only about 10 years old. Used versions are available for dirt cheap at many Pawn shops, or Gun Shops, even with the Accu-Trigger. Easy to work on, accurate, and durable.

A used, but not abused Savage in .308 was recently at a local Pawn Shop, with a Nikon BuckMaster 3-9x40, for $350.00. Bore was good, bolt face showed regular cleaning, and it was an earlier Accu-Trigger model. That would let you get a start well below your limit. You could have enough left over for a sling, and ammo. The scope would allow for COM hits out to 400 yards.

While they don't carry 10 rounds of ammo, used commercial rifles are a good bet in your case. Then, you can still hunt with them, even after the Super Blaster is purchased.
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Old 06-26-2009, 05:40 AM   #3
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

Thanks for the info on the Savage!

Here's my list thus far:

MIL SURP
ENFIELD ISHAPORE: Seen 'em online for $200-$350 depending on quality.
K98 MAUSER ISRAELI: $170 (http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewIt ... =132401859)
K98 MAUSER CZECH CONVERTED TO .308: <$100! (http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewIt ... =132403199)
N.B. -- looks too good to be true... There's missing some parts like the bolts, and I'm not sure about safety/quality...
SPANISH MAUSER: ~$200 depending on quality.

As I understand it, in a nutshell, the Mauser action is slightly more accurate and rugged. The Enfield is faster. That leads me to think that the Mauser action is better suited to being used as a long range "sniper" target platform, and the Enfield for a "Scout Rifle." Although either one could be used in either way, I assume. Is that accurate?

COMMERCIAL
STEVENS 200: Aka a bare bones Savage 10 with basic trigger. ~$310 new
SAVAGE 11F: ~$500 new
SAVAGE 10FP: ~$600 new
REMINGTON 700: ~$600 on up
WINCHESTER 70: ~$600 on up

I think maybe the best plan is to hit up a local gun show at the end of hunting season. There's likely to be some good deals on commercial rifles, and maybe a beater mil surp or two to choose from. Price is probably similar between the two, the mil surp is cheaper but will require some investment up front to ensure its safe to use. Am I missing anything from my lists here? Any other thoughts on mil surp vs. commercial?


OR... DIRT CHEAP...

I could get a Mosin Nagant and either keep it as is (if in decent shape/matching numbers) or turn it into a scout rifle (if in fair or mediocre condition). They are dirt cheap, very rugged, and fire cheap (but still in production) 7.62x54R.

Mosin Nagant: $600, and cheaper to feed over the long run.
Rifle - $120
1000 rounds of mil-surp ammo for practice - $400
100 rounds of match grade ammo - $75

vs.

A .308: $950, but interchangeable ammo with a (possible) future semi-auto battle rifle
Rifle - $300
1000 rounds of mil-surp ammo for practice - $550
100 rounds of match grade ammo - $100

Given that I live in a suburb of a major city, don't anticipate a zombie outbreak, and prefer fishing to hunting, maybe the Russian rifle is the way to go... I really just want something that is good for practicing longer range, full power rifle marksmanship with to learn the fundamentals before I dump a ton of money into a semi-auto.
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Old 06-26-2009, 06:04 AM   #4
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

I'd second JR's recommendation for a Savage, used if you can find one to save even more. Best value in a bolt action.

Keep your eyes open in local pawn shops, the local paper, "pennysavers," etc. Times are tough now and I'm seeing a lot of "hunting rifles" going for reasonable prices. Any bolt action with the Remington, Winchester, Ruger, or Savage name on it, at a good price, would be a "buy." I've also seen several sporterized Springfield '03s (.30-06) at $300 and under.

I think you're going to be happier with a commercial bolt action than with a milsurp for your purposes.

Get your cash together and then just keep your eyes open. Don't be in a rush to buy the first thing that comes along, on the other hand don't get "married to" one particular make or model to the exclusion of everything else. Sooner or later a good deal on a good rifle will come along, and if you've got your cash on hand, you'll be ready to pounce.
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:32 PM   #5
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

Battle rifle in 308, bolt action, get an Enfiled 2A, 12 round mag, made for beatin'.
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Old 06-27-2009, 06:57 AM   #6
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

This is a full-size rifle, with weight at 9 pounds, without optic and sling and ammo. While the magazine is nominally detachable, they weren't meant to be swapped like that of an M14 or M16. The design allowed for battlefield replacement in case of damage. Loading was via 5 round stripper clips. Magazines, when you can find a 12 round original, run $50-75 each.

The rifle is 44.5" long, with a 25" barrel. Hardly a scout proportion, adding in that the weight, with sling, ammo, and optics goes above 10 pounds, closer to 11.

Navy Arms, and Gibbs Rifle, a father and son set of companies, used to sell a cut-down 2A, to Jungle Carbine proportions, in .308. That would make for a better arm as a Scout Rifle, but they won't be particularly cheap.

Most truly accurate rifles won't be higher-capacity models, as the magazine hanging down affects accuracy, unless the receiver is designed to compensate. It also compromises positions. There were no 2A sniper rifles that I'm aware of.

There are a number of magazine fed commercial bolt-guns available from Savage and Remington. While not holding 12 rounds (more like 4-5), they will be more accurate than the 2A, easier to place optics on, lighter, shorter, and magazines will cost a fraction of those of the 2A.

The 2A is best when used as a Battle-Rifle, and not as a precision rifle.
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Old 06-27-2009, 11:25 AM   #7
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

+1 on the Savage recommendations. Savage is legendary for great accuracy yet not breaking the bank. I don't own one, but if I were starting out again I'd strongly consider one. Have seen guys at gun club with Savages and all like what they have.

I have two semi autos, both in .30-06, Remington 742 Woodmaster and a Browning "BAR". Have taken deer and elk with both. Other hunting rifle is a Rem 700 in .300 Ultra Mag. Also have some milsurps, RC K98 Mauser, Savage No. 4 Mk 1*, Ishapore 2A, T-99 Arisaka, 91/30 and 91/59, Remington 1903, two 03A3s and a Garand.

You mentioned wanting to bone up on basic marksmanship skills with an iron sighted rifle. Here's a link to a couple outstanding WW II rifle marksmanship training films. If the link doesn't work, the films are in the Rifle Marksmanship with the M1 Garand Rifle 1942 topic in the Screening Room Forum on http://www.milsurps.com website.
http://www.milsurps.com/showthread.php?t=1769

I've watched both several times and learned quite a bit. They feature the M1 Garand, but don't let that distract you. Key in on the fundamentals covered, especially use of the sling to steady the rifle. I will be hunting elk this year during the ML season in CO, and CO does not permit the use of scopes on ML rifles, ergo my interest in "re bluing" my basic skills with iron sights. While on active duty I shot expert every time I had to qualify, but
after watching these films, discovered that I had gotten a tad too sloppy relying on a scoped rifle.

Shooting an iron sighted rifle with peep aparture rear sight is much easier IMO than using a V-notch rear sight like the dinky one on a K 98 Mauser. The Mosin Nagant 91/30 rear sight is a U-notch and easier for my 62 year old eyes. It allows me to see the front sight much better.

Good luck.
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Old 06-28-2009, 05:28 AM   #8
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Re: .308 Bolt Actions on a Budget

Good advice all around -- thanks for the info.

I think a commercial option is likely best -- as has been pointed out with the tough times there should be some folks selling. I'll see what's available after hunting season and keep my eyes open for a deal. I'd prefer to get a commercial or already-sporterized rifle anyways. It just seems... wrong... to tear up an old milsurp rifle.
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