Posted on: 2011-05-15 20:29:00 -0400

Taking a rifle class with a knowledgable instructor like provides an opportunity to chat with someone who has used a wide range of equipment and can give the straight dope on how it performs. I’m kicking around options for a .308 precision rifle, and the following summarizes my notes and recollections of discussions after my second class.

Remington: A good option involves starting with a 700 Milspec 5R and installing a Karsten Alpha adjustable cheekpiece and perhaps epoxying some lead shot into the stock. Then, take it to the range and see how well it shoots before worrying about bedding the action or having a gunsmith re-crown the barrel and mill the locking lugs ($100), as some 5Rs will shoot 0.5 MOA out of the box. Bedding won’t hurt, but it won’t always help. Other worthwhile upgrades to consider include a Rifle Basix trigger and detachable bottom metal that allows the use of Accuracy International magazines. If the factory stock doesn’t fit, sell it online and put the money toward a McMillan A5 or Manners TCS-2A. Advantages to starting with a Remington include the option to build up the rifle as funds permit, the ease of buying and selling used parts, the ability to tailor it to fit perfectly, and the huge ecosystem of aftermarket parts and gunsmithing talent.

Desert Tactical Arms SRS: This rifle makes a lot of sense if you intend to use the switch-barrel feature. Otherwise, you can get the same level of performance for a lot less money. The design makes for a very easy to clean rifle, particularly getting at the locking lugs. The ergonomics seem odd at first but only take a couple of minutes to get used to. The main downside is the trigger, which lags behind other offerings. The compact design makes it very easy to transport. A DTA with a suppressor is about the same length as a traditional rifle having the same barrel length but without the suppressor.

Sako TRG-22: These rifles are ready to go out of the box. The rifle itself is a good value, but the accessories such as the bipod, magazines, and scope base/rings cost an exorbitant amount. Third-party manufacturers are fortunately starting to pick up the slack. Warne makes an excellent 20 MOA base for the TRG-22. The big question on this rifle is whether the design, stock, and overall ergonomics work for you. If so, buy it with confidence. The folding stock locks up solidly but won’t be worth $1.5k extra to most people.

Accuracy International AE: Like the Sako, this rifle ready to go out of the box, but you’re not getting AI’s best. It’s pricier than the Sako and noticeably heavier, and the stock and ergonomics are slightly different. You’ll likely find one or the other a good fit. It’s also available with a folding stock. Again, if it works for you, buy with confidence.

Accuracy International AW: The AW offers some additional customization options, ruggedness, and features over the AE. However, they may not be worth the extra $2k to most people.

Savage: Their rifles shoot great and don’t require much in the way of tuning due to the design, but they don’t exude quality or inspire pride in ownership. Cycling the bolt tends to feel rough.

Whatever the case, buy the rings last. Once you get in the rifle, scope, and base, stack pennies on the base to get the rifle at the perfect height. Then measure the height of the pennies with a micrometer and order rings at that height. Or hope that the adjustable cheekpiece will do the trick. Good makers include , McCann, TPS, and, if you’re okay with aluminum, Seekins.