The cheapest of the cheap. What to buy?

Jan 8, 2011
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#1
I am just getting into reloading and I would like to pick up a 6.5cm to start learning the load development process with before I invest in a nicer rifle. I am currently leaning towards the ruger American but am open to anything in the sub $500 range.
 

308pirate

Gunny Sergeant
Apr 25, 2017
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#2
I don't see your point. Buy the rifle that you really want and feed it factory ammo as you learn to reload.
 
Jun 29, 2017
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#3
Most people here will likely scoff at this suggestion. But the Cabela's special savage 12fv gets pretty good reviews. They are currently $419.00. They occasionally go on sale and savage periodically offers a $100 dollar rebate. People have reported getting them for under $300.

Alternatively you could do a Howa barreled action from brownels and throw it in a cheap stock. Then down the line switch to a better stock/chassis. That route might avoid buying a new rifle.
 
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308pirate

Gunny Sergeant
Apr 25, 2017
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#6
The point is the rifle I want is not in the budget.
That's not how your first question came across.

A better way to ask is: I have $XXX to spend on a hunting/varmint/target/whatever 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, what are some recommendations.
 

Marksman10x

Sergeant of the Hide
Mar 24, 2017
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#7
Jesus Guys, give the guy a break. Sometimes I'm shocked people still come here and ask questions with all the bitching and moaning. To the OP, any REAL shooter will tell you to just get behind any gun you can and shoot it--that's how you gain skill, knowledge, and wisdom. It doesn't have to be a tactical or precision rifle--whatever those terms mean--just an accurate rifle.

I've been shooting since age six or seven and have pretty much been able to shoot as much and as often as I want my entire life. I spent most of my younger days shooting pistols with my Dad, but in college I got interested in rifles (couldn't legally own a pistol yet) and brought my hunting rifle over to school with me. I shot the crap out of the rifle, learning so much. But, eventually, I reached its limitations and sought something more. So I bought a used 5R for $600 with a cheap 9x scope. It didn't track correctly at all, like each click was like 2-3x more than it was supposed to be. But, I figured it out and soon put a little bit better scope on, that did track correctly.

It would be years later that I got my first custom/semi-custom rifles.

And I feel I am a much better shooter for having to grow into the rifles I have now. Shooting is about refinement of core fundamentals; learn those fundamentals and you will be a shooter!!
 
Jan 8, 2011
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#8
Sorry guys, I figured asking for a recommendation of a cheap gun would be a bit more straight forward than what its becoming.

First off I "could" afford pretty much whatever I want, however I choose to budget myself how I see fit. Second I currently own and shoot several firearms. What I shoot normally is my Centurion arms MK12 barreled ar that I recently put a DMR2 on to replace the pst gen 1 I had been shooting. Its my varmint rifle and shoots sub moa to 700 yards which is as far as I have taken it. I have a 700 in 30-06 and a 700 sps tac in 308, Just sold a Larue PredatOBR and own a bunch of other older rifles with a fairly extensive pistol collection. I don't get real involved in ultimate precision, don't compete, don't shoot extreme ranges or conditions. More of just a sportsman that would like to competently make humane kills out past a few hundred yards.

I primarily shoot factory ammo, but as of the beginning of the year its very difficult to get ammo shipped into California and most local shops don't carry what I want. So I decided to buy some reloading equipment, a magnaspeed and start learning that side of the hobby. I lost interest in my .308, my dad shoots the -06 most times we are out and I would just like to play with a 6.5cm. If I like it maybe I'll pick up a nice rifle. I was kicking around the Bergara hmr, but having a spare beater 6.5 around sounds nice too, as I can then let friends and family shoot it and be able to give them decent dope etc etc and so on.

The way I see justifying MY budget is that I would rather risk $400 on a rifle I may or may not end up shooting much after the first few months.

hope that helps make things more clear since "what should I buy under $500" was far too complicated.
 

m6z

Private
Mar 2, 2013
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#9
The Savage or Howa mentioned above will be a decent start, just make sure you're OK with the limited stock options.
 
Feb 13, 2017
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#10
I think the Ruger American predator would be good and you could throw it in a Magpul Hunter stock. Only downside really is the 22” barrel. To me that’s a little short for a CM. The Savage 12FV is also a heavy barrel but it’s a 26” and more appropriate for the CM but it’s not threaded.
 
Jun 13, 2008
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#12
I would rather buy something cheap and afford to shoot it rather than buy something more expensive and not be able to shoot it.
Damm Steve. Sure would be good if more guys had that kind of clarity.

Lots'a times the nicest rifle at the tailgate expo has nary a scratch from use, and the user doesn't have any sweat-stained shirts or torn up elbows from learning to shoot it.
 

Marksman10x

Sergeant of the Hide
Mar 24, 2017
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#14
@ssteve

Have you considered putting a nice 6.5 Bartlein, Krieger, etc. barrel on that .308 R700? Even without truing the action, it should shoot very, very well. Would be about $400 for a barrel to your door and $150-350 to chamber in 6.5 Creedmoor (or any caliber), depends who does the work.
 
Jun 8, 2010
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#15
My .02 save a little more money and pick up a tikka ctr or howa hcr/bravo.those rifles are all around very capable and you won't have to upgrade for a very very long time. The only issue I see with the Ruger American would be the skinny barely and any amount or repeated fire.

But I have seen some of those Ruger Americans put out some great groups. I. The end it's up to you, just get out and shoot!
 

spife7980

Full Member
Feb 10, 2017
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#16
I really like the ruger American for the money, if you’re going to be shooting it a bunch get the predator so it has a threaded barrel. Mount a brake and save your shoulder some abuse because they are pretty light. Each one I’ve seen has been an moa rifle, not much better than that but also not over it. The stock sucks and the actions rough at first but a bit of dry firing and running the action and it smooths right up. And on sale they can be had for 359-400.
Sounds like you know what you want and I have no problem seconding your thought on it.
 
Likes: MarkCO

mi223

Full Member
Feb 14, 2017
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#17
That's not how your first question came across.

A better way to ask is: I have $XXX to spend on a hunting/varmint/target/whatever 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, what are some recommendations.
It is a good thing the authoritys of how to ask a proper question are here...


Anyway i will give another vote for a savage 12fv. You just missed the sale and rebate. I just got mine for 220 after rebate. Mine is 22-250 and i am really liking it. I will admit out of the box it was a little rough. But after roughly 50 rounds and probably 500 or more dryfires is is smoothing up nicely. They do offer it in 6.5 creedmoor. All the reviews i have read sound good.
 
Feb 19, 2017
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#18
Don't laugh. I said Don't. Thompson Compass. $275 w/$75 rebate. I was looking for a rifle for my wife during x-mas time. Watch some video's on youtube. I saw a few guys the were shooting under 1 moa closer to 1/2.

Put an Athlon scope in whatever flavor you can afford on top, buy a couple boxes of different ammo and see what it likes.
 

GGK

Private
Oct 6, 2013
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#19
Don't laugh. I said Don't. Thompson Compass. $275 w/$75 rebate. I was looking for a rifle for my wife during x-mas time. Watch some video's on youtube. I saw a few guys the were shooting under 1 moa closer to 1/2.

Put an Athlon scope in whatever flavor you can afford on top, buy a couple boxes of different ammo and see what it likes.

Have one that prints ~.5 moa groups with hornady american gunner. Trigger is terrible till you take the jam nut off the spring side of the trigger mech.
 
Jan 8, 2011
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#20
Hearing good things about the Thompson Center Compass. Check out Johnny’s Reloading Bench on YouTube.

That's actually what got me thinking of buying a cheap beater. I would like to do something similar, I am just not totally sold on the TC yet.
 
Jan 8, 2011
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#21
My other option is that I have a newly cerakoted ar10 stripped upper and lower. If I was to go outside my budget I could slap that thing together and flop the dmr2 onto it. I just figured it might be better off for a new reloader to reload for a bolt gun compared to a gas gun, but it is an option.
 
Feb 20, 2017
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#23
I actually already had a Ruger American Predator in 6.5 creedmoor and had accuracy issues. Specifically, my accuracy was not very consistent at all. I tried multiple different boxes of ammo. I believe there were two times where I put 2 rounds in one hole but never again. I feel for the money, it is a decent rifle. I didn't like the Tupperware stock but it was just a budget rifle. Some other people do get great accuracy from them, I simply didn't. If I could recommend you something, it would probably be a Howa barreled action with a stock of your preference. Maybe you could also wait and try to get that savage others have mentioned for around 300 bucks. Whatever you do, good luck and have fun.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
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#24
I agree with your reasoning, and suggest the Cabela's special Savage 12FV as a decent choice. Down the road, look into the Choate/Savage Tactical stocks to remedy the rifle's only real drawback. I have the 4.4" D/M version on my two 11VTs and I like them.

Handloading sounds like a good solution to the onerous California gun owner harassment; but seriously, I really don't think it'll be very long before they go after the handloaders next. I went through a bunch of bowing and scraping in NY before I finally read the handwriting on the wall and bailed for Arizona.

The way Cali is going, I think the entire state (along with WA) is headed for an epic fail as the cities drag the rest of the ship under just like they are doing in NY.

Rats are survivors and we rats pretty much usually know when to leave a sinking ship. Gun ownership and California are increasingly becoming a marriage made in Hell, and I honestly believe it's time to leave them to their hand basket and bid them Adios.

Greg
 
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Dec 16, 2017
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#26
I love my Ruger American. It shoots great and the price was right. As others have said though, once it starts to heat up, accuracy can suffer a bit. If you take your time while shooting your tests, I wouldn't think it would be an issue. Don't have experience with the other rifles people are recommending so can't comment on them. My .02. Good luck!
 
Likes: Codiekfx400
Feb 19, 2017
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#27
I agree that buying cheap costs twice as much. Every time.
I agree with you 100% when it comes to rings or glass. If your intended use is hunting than the first and second shot count the most. I can't think of a factory rifle the comes with a heavy enough barrel for extended strings of fire for under $500. I'm personally disappointed with my Tikka T3x 6.5 24" SS, It starts to walk sooner than I'd like to say.

I would say that I think the Savage 10 T from Cabela's is the closet thing to a $500+ rifle that is competition ready? Maybe not the magazine, so much.
 
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Gooldylocks

New Hide Member
Jan 22, 2018
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#28
I agree that buying cheap costs twice as much. Every time.
Disagree. Buying a 400 dollar rifle doesn't make it cost twice as much, when the other rifles you are looking at are like $2k+. 2400=/=4000. I haven't done it with rifles but have definitely done it with handguns. Buying an $1100 dollar limited gun doesn't automatically make it cost twice as much when/if you decide to go to a full custom that is like 3500+. Also, you can generally resell the first one and make at least some of your money back, so then your 1100 dollar limited gun actually only cost you 200 when you go to buy the one you "really want."

My 0.02.

As far as the other rifles, that Cabela's 12FV definitely has my interest. What kind of groups do people get with them in the factory stock?
 
Mar 27, 2012
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#29
I agree with your reasoning, and suggest the Cabela's special Savage 12FV as a decent choice. Down the road, look into the Choate/Savage Tactical stocks to remedy the rifle's only real drawback.

Greg
This would be my recommendation also. Later down the road if you need/want a better barrel you can twist one on yourself. If you want to play with a different caliber then you can twist one on and change bolt head if required. I really like the accu triggers. Stock would be the first upgrade if you decide to keep it.
 
Sep 3, 2009
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#30
I have a Ruger American Predator in 6.5cm that is very accurate, a solid sub-moa gun with Hornady and Prime ammo. I got it for $390. If you research it you will find that the vast majority of people have achieved very good accuracy with their RAP.
 
Likes: MarkCO
Apr 17, 2010
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#31
@ssteve

Have you considered putting a nice 6.5 Bartlein, Krieger, etc. barrel on that .308 R700? Even without truing the action, it should shoot very, very well. Would be about $400 for a barrel to your door and $150-350 to chamber in 6.5 Creedmoor (or any caliber), depends who does the work.
This is good advice. I would modify it slightly by suggesting a Criterion barrel with a barrel nut. Keep perfect records, which you have to do doing load development, and if you don't find reloading rewarding put the original barrel back on. Sell the Criterion and nut and you will recover about 80% of the investment. When you put it together take it out and shoot Prime and Hornady Match so you have a baseline. If the 700 with a Criterion barrel won't shoot in at least the 7s or 8s my suggestion stinks. I did not suggest you by the tools to mount the barrel because we're trying to keep costs down. If you know somebody that can do it great and if you don't take it to a decent smith. The cost should be marginal.
 
Likes: Marksman10x

steve123

Lt. Colonel
Mar 16, 2008
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#32
Later...

A guy I know bought a savage 12FV slated to be his beater truck gun. He paid like $300 by the time he got his rebate in. I usually dislike the brand due to bad past experiences but this rifle exceeded my expectations by actually working and being accurate with factory ammo. Even still, I wouldn't put money into a savage after the purchase and a capital S isn't coming from me yet.

I've been mostly pleased with the Ruger Americans. They worked and were decently accurate. I still wouldn't build off one at a later time in the future.

The Howa I would build off of later. This action has some good features and the aftermarket is catching up. There could be a mini Howa in my future.

A used Remmy I'd build off of, an old standby. Had a mostly stock 260 that shot well and customs that shot like a benchrest rifle with custom action.

For a little more money the T3 is a great choice and it's a good one to build off of later. No need to replace the trigger so that saves money, prefits available, etc.

As far as reloading for stock rifles there can be improvement in accuracy, and usually is, but if you lose the factory rifle lottery and get a crappy barrel to begin with.... it's mostly the barrel that gives the accuracy so attempting load work in this scenario can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. What to do -throw some more money at it and get a new barrel, do some bedding, etc, so much for the budget.
 
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demolitionman

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 26, 2013
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#33
Savages with heavy barrels will most likely shoot tiny itty bitty groups. Do not doubt their accuracy potential. Unfortunately trying to run the bolt quickly and having smooth feeding and ejecting is often a problem in my experience. Nothing pisses me off more than a gun that doesn't feed and eject reliably. And as such I'm likely soon to start transitioning from Savages to more reliable performing actions. I do have a savage that feeds and ejects great but have two others that don't.
 
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flyfisher117

Professional Milk Jug Hunter
Sep 25, 2010
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#36
Most people here will likely scoff at this suggestion. But the Cabela's special savage 12fv gets pretty good reviews. They are currently $419.00. They occasionally go on sale and savage periodically offers a $100 dollar rebate. People have reported getting them for under $300.

Alternatively you could do a Howa barreled action from brownels and throw it in a cheap stock. Then down the line switch to a better stock/chassis. That route might avoid buying a new rifle.
Just FYI I saw in an email that Cabela's is dropping the price of these here real soon. After the sale and $100 rebate it will be sub $300 if I did my math correct

Slow wifi. Guy above me posted the sale flyer I saw before my post went through!
 
Jun 29, 2017
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#37
Just FYI I saw in an email that Cabela's is dropping the price of these here real soon. After the sale and $100 rebate it will be sub $300 if I did my math correct

Slow wifi. Guy above me posted the sale flyer I saw before my post went through!
This forum is terrible for my wallet. If these go under $300 I will probable end up picking one up. Only issue is caliber choice but that's another thread.
 

ez510

New Hide Member
Jan 26, 2018
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#38
This forum is terrible for my wallet. If these go under $300 I will probable end up picking one up. Only issue is caliber choice but that's another thread.
I'm picking up one in .223 and one in 6.5CM haha. You're completely right.
 
Feb 16, 2017
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#39
I would vote Rugar Predator 6.5, but thats not from first hand experience, my friend has one and loves it, and it fits under the 500 price tag. Plus MDT makes neat chassis for it if you ever want to change that out later. He regularly joins me and makes easy hits out to 700 yards using a cheap ol' Primary Arms scope. Havent tried further.

After that id say Savage, and if you are able to save up, Tikka. May be able to score a used one here for at/under $500
 

trob_205

Bumblebeetuna
Jul 11, 2013
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#40
Ruger American Predator has my vote. And for later on down the road Criterion is spinning American Barrels if you wanted to put money into it. chassis and stock options are slowly opening up. Savage is still another great option as others have suggested.
 
Feb 25, 2017
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#41
I'm with demolitionman. I have several savages because they are easy to get to shoot small groups, especially with a quality prefit barrel and they are cheap, but they typically don't have the smoothest or the most reliable actions.

Someone asked how the factory barrels shoot. My experience with that is from 10 + years ago, but they were pretty good. The first one I every bought would hold sub half moa for THREE shots(I know it's not a "real" group, but I didn't know any better then)most of the time and sub 3/4 moa almost all the time, again only 3 shot groups. That barrel was replaced with a factory stainless take off barrel from NSS that would shoot sub half moa with noslers and around quarter moa with Bergers. Again, I was ignorant and shot 3 shot groups;-). Now I use Criterion prefits most of the time.

I bought 2 12fv for $250 after rebate from Cabela's and used the actions for a builds. The accutrigger is usually okay, but both of the two that I bought that day had creep. The warranty department sent me two new triggers which were much better.

I have recently started shooting some local matches. On the clock, savages do not run well, usually. To get mine to run well I had to do a bunch of polishing/recontouring of all of the surfaces that interact when cocking the bolt. I also had to adjust the location of the cocking pin so the firing pin fall was a quarter of an inch. It feels pretty nice now but was a pain.

To get it to eject reliably I had to replace the extractor detent ball with a larger one and file on the extractor a bit. I also had to have a gunsmith machine the bolt head to install a second ejector plunger. It is now very close to 100% and is pretty smooth cycling, but it was a frustrating road to get it there. If I had it to do over I would start with a Tikka, Howa, or maybe Ruger American action.

For $250 or so the 12fv is a nice place to start. If you are willing to go through the headache, you can end up with a fairly nice gun for around $1000. You can also find a deal on a Tikka ctr and put it in a KRG Bravo for a little over $1200 with a lot less headache. It depends if you want something cheap now to upgrade over time or if you want to take the shortest route to a decent match gun.
 
Likes: mrvideostore

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
4,997
404
83
Arizona, good place for me...
#42
If you have access to Field and Stream store, the Savage 11VT is on sale for $419.99.

I have two, as mentioned above (.223 and .308) and made the stock swap I mentioned above. I shot the .223 in last year's Berger SW LR Nationals with no further mods. I first shot a Savage 10FP 260 in National Comp back in 2002, and it's still shooting great. The only major issues I ever had with any of them was ejector failure from damage that was caused when overly hot handloads blew their primers. The original rifle has since been upgraded with a Lothar-Walther 28" drop-in Barrel, and a McMillan factory pillar bedded A3 Tactical stock. Now eligible as a custom, it shoots accordingly, but it also did a 197/200 at 1000yd at Whittington with the factory 24" barrel. The new barrel was later proven at Bodines/Williamsport in a couple of seasons of 1000yd F Open Comp.

I can understand issues that have to do with appearance and smooth bolt operation from a rifle which is marketed as a loss leader.

But that same rifle I started with back in 2001 was taken down and spec'd intending to blueprint, and was found to be so true that such work was deemed unnecessary. The same with the other rifles that were purchased with it as a lot direct from Savage for the 2001 SH Ghost Dancer .260 Rifle Project. To rule out manipulation; another rifle, purchased separately, was also spec'd and the same adherence to spec was found. The ones I've had contact with have been good rifles, not lemons in any way. Our gunsmith, doing due diligence, went ahead and blueprinted the rifles anyway; he's that kind of a smith; and is the only person besides myself who has ever worked on my guns.

If one wants a rifle to look and feel like a custom rifle, there is a thriving market and industry providing such rifles. A factory Savage should not be held to such standards.

Greg
 
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Dec 14, 2017
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#43
I vote savage 12fv. Don’t forget you have to put a scope on it to. You will be looking at $400 more if you go budget. I have a 6.5 in that gun and will tell you it is a cheap gun but I would buy another one.
 
Likes: mrvideostore
Sep 16, 2009
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#44
Do your homework like this and look at net prices, Cruse the pawn shops and used shops, papers etc, see what becomes available in your area of interest. Lot of good stuff in the low price range will be hitting the shelves soon. IME buying new cheap stuff is never a bargain. Now a 400 -600 dollar rifle with some dings at 175-200 is not going to hurt much. It will always be worth the price. Don't worry about the shine, the box or the exact caliber or features, get a bargain and make it work while you gauge your interest. Good plan, good luck.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
4,997
404
83
Arizona, good place for me...
#45
That is also good reasoning. I figure the Savage rifle will lend itself easier to a homemade barrel replacement. The hardest part is getting that barrel nut off the first time from the factory. At that point, it's like, maybe better than, a new rifle.

Vise, barrel nut wrenches, barrel blocks. Once you have this setup, you can understand why I prefer Savage rifles.

After the barrel nut is loose from the factory, it does not need to be torqued back down anywhere near as tight as original. Once I've dismounted the barrel the first time for myself, I can get by without the barrel blocks for mounting and dismounting, and simply use these on the vise jaws. I tighten and remove my self mounted barrels using a strap wrench.

Once I had managed my first couple of Savage barrel swaps, I found new courage, and built my first AR Upper.

Greg
 
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MarkCO

Full Member
Dec 21, 2010
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www.CarbonArms.us
#49
I like, and own, and would recommend the Ruger American Predator. I dropped mine in an AT-One stock for $200 and it is a shooter. I am going to take off the XTRII 2-10 and put a 4.5-14 on it. A little lighter and a little less money I think fits it well.
 
Feb 20, 2004
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#50
ok, what's the dirty secret with these Cabelas Savage 12FV? I mean, when does the other shoe drop, what's the bad thing that no one's talking about?

for the price this seems too good to be true. I know these have internal magazine but that can be fixed with a stock and bottom metal, right?

is that it?..
 
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