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Thread: Help with first rifle for F Open?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    4

    Help with first rifle for F Open?

    I been attending some matches locally for the last few months and talking to folks and I'm ready to jump in. I have a few rifles that would require heavy modification to work well enough so I've been looking for off the shelf (or close to it) solutions for now.

    I got 3 recommendations from most of the local guys - Ruger Precision Rifle, Savage 12F and Bergara BMP or HMR. The Savage and Bergaras are both really close in price but the stock difference and caliber difference have me hung up on those. The RPR seems like it would be more fitting for F T/R.

    Bergara only comes in 308 and 6.5CM. In that case I'm leaning towards the 6.5 CM. The Savage is 6 Norma BR and 6.5 x 284 Norma. I've never shot or reloaded for either of those. I am very experienced with reloading and I enjoy I a lot so I'm not worried about factory ammunition.

    The Bergara has adjustable cheek pads and LOP while the Savage has neither. From what I understand barrel changes on both are very easy. The barrel on the Bergara is only 24" which I'm not sure is enough for this.

    I also have a Remington 700 in .270 that I was looking at getting an F Class stock for but the BC of the .270 doesn't seem as good for the distance (I've only shot it out to 300 yards) and I frankly don't find the .270 very enjoyable to shoot.

    Any advice or guidance would be appreciated. I'm basically trying to find the best way into the game for $1200-$1300 that won't have me clamoring to make expensive changes immediately.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    17
    I will try to help.

    First, in case you haven't already found it, this website... http://www.accurateshooter.com/ is more orientated to F-Class interests.

    Are you wanting to shoot casually at a local range or are you wanting to pursue long-range competition shooting? Since you specifically referenced a F-Open rifle, I'm assuming you want to shoot competitively.

    If so, then I will frankly advise you that the F-Open game is not consistent with a budget of "...$1200-$1300 that won't have me clamoring to make expensive changes immediately". It's an expensive hobby.

    Rather than a factory rifle, I would steer you towards a used rifle built on a custom action and already mounted in a suitable stock. $2000 would be typical but you might find a deal around $1500 if you are patient. If you're lucky, the barrel may have some remaining life but more likely you'll need to re-barrel fairly soon at a cost of about $600. The rifle probably won't come with optics. If you're shooting long range, you need good glass. Figure $800 to $1200 to get started but $2300 to $3000 is not uncommon for the best glass.

    Then you need a front rest and a rear bag. Front rests run from a few hundred dollars to as much as $1200 for a SEB Neo. A rear bag will run $150.

    IMO, caliber is probably the least critical decision to make in getting started. So many good options. The Winchester .284s and their offspring currently rule in long range F-Class. But the 6 and 6.5mm variants can be competitive if conditions are not extreme. Many F-Open competitors are now exploring the heavy .308 bullets. And in the F-T/R class, the .308 Winchester is best option.

    You mention discomfort (I'm assuming recoil) with your .270. There's a big felt-recoil difference between firing a modest weight hunting-style rifle and a 22# F-Open rifle in a front rest and rear bag. Try your friend's guns before ruling something out. That said, there's nothing wrong in starting with something like a 6BR or a 6.5 CM/6.5X47 Lapua. Develop the solid fundamentals without the recoil complication.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    4
    Thank you! You are correct that I want to do competitive shooting. I don't expect to make any big splashes but just get my feet wet with this rifle for a year or so. Part of the reason my budget is so low on the rifle is that I've set aside some money to get good glass in the meantime (likely a NF). I chose in this order based on the advice some local folks since they say I will definitely trade up the rifle whereas I can find good glass now and move it to my next rifle (if this is bad advice in your opinion let me know!). I also have budgeted for a good front rest and rear bag which is another reason the rifle budget is so low. But I can definitely extend it for a used custom if I can grow into it. I just don' want to spend so much on a dedicated rifle that will only see the inside of a safe when I move on to another rifle quickly.

    I appreciate your advice and I'll be checking out the accurate shooter website too!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    17
    I think you are on the right path and I'm glad to hear that you are budgeting for the key accessories you will need for F-Open competition.

    I concur that good glass is a must. My first scope, which I still use, was a Nightforce 12-42X56 BR. Excellent scope and a great value. But the adjustable objective is a little more difficult to use shooting prone which is why so many (and I ) use the NF 15-55X52 Competition scope. Glass is unmatched. But there is some current controversy about the erectors in that series possibly not holding zero so make sure you do your homework and that you understand the situation.

    But just as sound as the advise is to "cry once" about the optics, I will make the case it also applies to the action and stock as well. If you have a solid action like a BAT, Kelbly Panda, Barnard, or Borden (there are others but these are probably the best of the best in the F-Class world) properly bedded in a well-made stock (PR&T, Masterclass, Shehane, Shurely Bros, Cerus, etc), you're set. You can swap out barrels and change calibers very very easily and nothing is lost. Even if you migrate to a magnum like the 300WSM all you will need is a new bolt.

    I've never owned a Savage action but I do know of at least 1 Nationally-ranked shooter who uses one. But if you scan the used rifle classifieds on websites like AccurateShooter, you will find 10 Savages for every BAT for sale. Just something to keep in mind. I promise you we all have rifles sitting the safe that don't get as much love as they once did.

    But overall, it sounds like you have a good idea of how you want to get from A to Z. Good luck and enjoy the journey.
    Last edited by TX_Oilman; 07-31-2017 at 12:58 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    4
    Thank you very much for the advice. I'm browsing the classifieds now. I think I may end up going that route and saving a bit more. I've been watching others compete for a while now and the urge to jump in is just too great haha

    I've had some experience with AO optics so the NF BR doesn't concern. That's the one I've had my eye on. I'd also been looking at the Leupold VX-6 as I've always had really good luck with their products but from what I've read they're not in the same league when it comes to the long distance f class use. The NF is also about $500 cheaper.

    Thanks again for all the advice. I've still got lots of reading to do.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    17
    Just got notice from friends in Midland that a member out there is selling a Barnard action with stock for $900. Might be a deal for you. Barnards are well-respected actions. I have one. (grin) E-mail Bryan directly for details.

    bryan_chatwell@yahoo.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    4
    Thanks! Email sent.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    101
    The "cry once" argument is appropriate in some instances, but I would argue it doesn't apply here. Take a look at the equipment in use at a top match. There are several brands of actions, barrels, stocks, and optics. There are lots of reasons for this, but it's safe to say that there isn't one obviously "best" recipe when it comes to putting together a high end F-Class rifle. People use what the like and/or what they can afford.

    It doesn't matter if you're aiming to be the best F-class shooter in the world or just a competitive guy at the local range. If you're just starting out, chances are you don't know exactly what you need, what you like, or even what you would like to have for your dream gun.

    So why not start with something good enough to be competitive in local matches but not too expensive to begin with? I recently put together a pretty nice F-Open rig by doing this:

    I bought a used-but-never-fired Savage 12 LRP in 243 Win. I removed the barrel and stock and sold them recovering all but $350. I now had a target action with Accutriger for $350. I put on a Shilen Select Match barrel in 6mm BR Norma for another $350 or so. I bedded the barreled action into a $119 Boyd's stock. I added a new bolt face, a scope base, etc. and ended up with a pretty darn accurate sub $1000 rifle. I found a new-in-box used scope for $850 and I was ready to shoot for well under two grand with brand new equipment in the caliber I wanted.

    This simple rig isn't the most expensive on the line, but in our local matches I regularly place in the top three in both 600 yd F-Class and 600 yd BR matches at the local level.

    Of course, my equipment would be out of place at a high-end match 'cause EVERYONE at championship matches has a pile of equipment costing as much as a good car. But for me it's all I expect to need in the foreseeable future. However, if I wanted to move up the equipment food-chain, I now have enough experience in mid range F-class and BR shooting to enable me to make a wise decision on my "dream" gun, should that day ever arrive.

    None of this stuff is rocket science. Anyone could assemble a reasonably priced brand new gun this way on the cheap. Or, as others have suggested, you might find a used competition rifle for two grand or so. But I'm a fan of new equipment so I don't have to wonder if I spend a wad of money on something a guy was getting rid of because it didn't shoot very well or was simply worn out. Plus, if you put together the gun yourself, you get to select exactly the barrel you want and the stock you like.

    No matter how you approach it, starting out simple and not too expensive until you gain more depth of knowledge of this particular branch of the sport seems wise.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    4,533
    Very often "dream rifles" won't shoot good enough to win......just sayin'. Oilman and Mozella has given some really good advice here...perhaps all you need for now.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    25
    In my opinion, your best option for getting into F-Class assuming you don't want to build a custom from scratch, is to buy a used turn-key rifle. There are tons of them for sale. If for no other reason than if you decide F-Class isn't for you, you'll likely get most of your money back out of selling it.

    With something like an off-the-shelf Savage (or even a modded up Savage) or what have you, you'll likely either be upgrading really fast as the bug hits you, or you'll be trying to sell it off and not getting a lot back out of it.

    Skip the fad 6.5CM - go with a .308 (FTR) or a 6MM variant (Dasher, XC, BRA, etc...) for Open.
    Last edited by jaychris; 08-18-2017 at 02:56 PM.

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