Change Of Plan: Boomershoot ULD Rifle

Well, the best laid plans etc. etc.

Everyone should now be aware that this year’s Boomershoot rifle was obtained, I decided on the Savage Apex Predator in .308 Win:

So it arrived, and I collected it from my local Merchant Of Death.  Which is where things started to go sideways.

Guys, look:  if you’ve handled and fired enough rifles — in the many hundreds — you get to where you can get a “feel” for a rifle as you take it out of the box.  And when I took this Savage out of the box, it didn’t feel right.  I know that my preference for wooden stocks is well known, but then again I’ve handled (and owned) scores of plastic-stocked rifles as well;  and this one felt flimsy.  It felt more flimsy than my Marlin SSQ .22 rifle, to be frank.  The barrel also looked a little on the thin side — 20″ is marginal in term of length, and it was fluted.  Had the rifle been chambered in .223 Rem or even .243 Win, I’d probably not have worried too much;  but in .308 Win?  I had a bad feeling about it.

Anyway, I took it to the range, and after giving it a light oiling, I set to ranging it in.

And met with utter failure.  Let’s start with the easy stuff, first.

The rifle would not shoot consistently.  I would get two rounds into a single hole or a keyhole-touching “Mastercard” hole, and then the third would go off into the wild blue yonder, 2″ or even 4″ away.  This pattern repeated itself over the next twenty or so rounds, whereupon I quit because the barrel was super-hot (and I was not shooting quickly);  but worse, I quit because my right hand was getting a fat bruise from working the bolt handle.

The fired cartridges were binding in the chamber.  I mean, really binding.  People joke about needing a mallet to pull a Mosin-Nagant’s bolt back, right?  I would have killed for a mallet.  In fact, at about round #25 I gave up.  The only reason I persisted as long as I did was because I originally thought it was just “new rifle” syndrome or something, but it actually got worse as I went along.

Broken.  So I took it back to the gun store, and asked what to do next:  would they send it back to Bud’s Gun Shop?  No.  I would have to do this all by myself.  (Had I bought the gun at the Merchant Of Death, it would have been different;  but as they were just the conduit, so to speak, they weren’t interested, and probably justifiably so.)

So I contacted Bud’s Gun Shop to see how I could get it back to them, and get a refund — I wasn’t interested in getting a replacement — only to hear from Bud’s that because the rifle is still under manufacturer’s warranty, I’d have to send it back to Savage.  (I won’t go any further into detail about this, as it’s ongoing.  My problem is that I didn’t pay Savage for the gun;  I paid Bud’s, and this may get nasty.)

Anyway, there I was, stuck with a non-working gun, and moreover, a gun that I wasn’t comfortable with in the first place.  And, of course, time is ticking away because I have to leave for Boomershoot on April 27th — three weeks’ time.

Clearly, this called for a change of plan, so here it is:

It’s the CZ 557 Varmint, with a 26″ heavy barrel and a proper bench-type stock.  When I was complaining to the guys at the MoD, I happened to see this on the rack — not too difficult, they only had a few rifles on the rack anyway — and I was expecting to find it in some other caliber;  but no, there it was in .308 Win.  So into the car it went.

It came without a scope, but I’d already got a Vortex 6-24x50mm (to replace the inadequate “package” 4-12x44mm scope which came with the Savage), so I popped that on the CZ.   Except, of course, all my boresighting gear is buried somewhere under the our furniture stacked in my garage, waiting for the flooded apartment’s rehab to be finished.

But what the hell:  I sorta-lined the thing up with the barrel (Warne CZ High rings), and took it to the range yesterday morning.  I put up a large blank paper target with a 1″ orange target dot in the middle, sent it out to 50 yards, and touched off three rounds:

To say I felt relieved would be a huge understatement.  Also, the CZ’s trigger is not a “set” trigger like I’m used to with the brand, but a single-stage number which got smoother and smoother the more I fired it.  Here’s the final target, consisting of three 3-round strings, with scope adjustments between each.  (The overshooting between the point of aim — the orange dot below the diamond — and the point of strike is because I’ll be shooting 8″ boomers at 500-600 yards distance.)

As for the third string:  the flyer was the second shot, and it was operator error, because I paused to take a breath or two after the first shot, and when I exhaled and got into position, Stupid Kim’s finger was on the trigger while I was moving the rifle into position.  So:  unintended discharge (I know, I know) — but the third shot was right back to where it should be.

It’s an absolute beauty, and therein lies our problem.

While the Savage was a budget rifle (around $700 landed at the MoD), the CZ ended up costing just over $950;  and I used the Boomershoot travel fund to pay for it.  In other words, I need y’all to buy a dozen or more tickets to cover the difference.  (Only the difference:  I’ll get the money back for the Savage, never fear — it might just take a while, and the time is ticking away.)

Just so we’re all clear on the topic, though:  this CZ 557 is an excellent rifle, and in the hands of a better shooter will be capable of doing one-hole groups all day.  This is not a budget rifle, as I’d originally planned:  it can hold its own against rifles that cost twice as much, and nobody will ever sneer when you take it out of its case.  So for those of you who held back on getting a ticket because of the “budget” rifle thing:  this is a whole ‘nother ball game, and if ever there was a rig which calls out “serious shooter”, this is it.

Please help me out.


Lessons learned:  if I do this again for next year’s Boomershoot, I’m going to buy the rifle in January, and most probably in 6.5mm Creed, which will give me a chance to get the whole rig settled in properly.

My only regret, now, is that I didn’t get the Zeiss / Meopta / Minox glass as I did last year — but the Vortex seems to be doing just fine.

23 comments

  1. I lost all interest when I saw the Savage. Yes, I know the guys are building them into absolute snipers… but they do that by taking them apart and throwing everything away but the action and replace with top tier parts. These econo-guns are no bargain at all, IMHO.

    The CZ is a step up… but there might be a few minor tweaks required there too before it becomes a one-holer.

    1. If there are, I couldn’t see any. The trigger is as good as any — super-expensive drop-ins excepted — and I’m pretty sure that the rifle shoots more accurately than 99.9% of the people who will ever own one.

      1. We would have to define our terms.

        For my personal experience, serious, repeatable ‘one hole rifles’ will consistently group their shots into .3″ of an inch or less, day in, day out, all day long. To get that kind of repeatable accuracy usually involves a precision built precision rifle… and they typically start at $8500.00 and go up from there.

        There is an idiot on YouTube that drives me nuts. The goof will buy an econo-gun, put a cheapy bargain basement optic on it, and fire steel cased surplus crap through it – and fluke off a sub-MOA group. Then he’ll loudly proclaim that you don’t have to spend any money in this sport for accuracy.

        He’s the expert, I suppose. We can now refer all those F-Class poseurs to him, and they can trade in their precision rifles for cheap econo-guns and finally get in the game. 😉

    2. I have its brother the 527 Euro Varmint in 223 scoped with a Nightforce SHV 4-14×50 F1 , and love it!
      The only nits I noticed are:
      1. The stock to action fit is a little loose. It’s possible to reinstall the action/barrel assy in the stock and get the magazine bound against the wood. As soon as I find some round tuits I’ll glass bed the thing.
      2. The magazine feels a bit cheezy for such a nice rifle and mine scratches the daylights out of my brass.
      Otherwise, it’s a helluva bargain for what you get – a rifle that I still can’t live up to its potential.

  2. Kim,
    Kim, the CZ seems a fine choice. A buddy of mine bought the .223 Rem version of the CZ MTR (Modern Target Rifle) last year. His intent is to travel out west and use it for popping prairie dogs, etc. I got behind it and touched off 3 rounds of target-grade ammo … it was almost effortless to make a 3-leaf clover at 100 yards. In fact, I think running his rig at 100 yards is an insult to the rifle. Good thing my club is constructing some 200 yard shooting lanes, but I suspect even that won’t be enough to “challenge” his rig.

  3. Kim,
    Good choice. With luck, it’ll be my first boltie.
    In for four! I feel like a Grenville.
    I hope I did the Paypal correctly, if not please let me know so I can make it right.

  4. I’m in for $50 via PayPal. Sorry you had such a hassle with the Savage. I hope returning it won’t be a PITA. Best of luck & enjoy Boomershoot!

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