Replacement Options – .308 Win

(For those who missed the earlier post on this topic, go here first — and read the comments too.)

The general consensus, both in Comments and by email, suggests that 1.) I should wait for a CZ 557 Varmint to become available, and 2.) if not that, stick to the .308 Win chambering but in a rifle of similar quality to the 557.  I have no problem with any of that.  I’ll talk to my Merchant of Death and see if they’ll even take an order for the 557 (remember, that’s where I lucked upon its predecessor);  and if so, I’ll go ahead and order one.

Assuming that no FFL might be willing to commit to that action, or that the wait could be close to a year (!!!), let’s take a look at some of the options that are available right now (with all the usual caveats).  Before I go on, I should point out that none of the guns that follow have wood stocks;  the CZ 557 seems to be an outlier in this regard.  Here are some interesting .308 Win choices, culled from various online outlets and ranked from low- to high price (rounded).

Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range (Cabela’s, $1,100)
I was frankly amazed to find this rifle as cheap as listed (Browning is not known for inexpensive rifles, and Cabela’s ditto for its low prices).  I like it, Longtime Friend and Rifleman Combat Controller swears by his, and Browning is seldom a bad choice, whether handguns, rifles or shotguns.  Here’s the Ewww Choob video.)

Howa 1500 HS Precision (Bud’s, $1,100)
I love Howa (a.k.a “the Japanese Sako”) rifles, have shot several and been impressed with all of them).  I’m pretty sure that this would be a MOA/all day gun.  My only reservation is that this is more a hunting rifle than a bench rifle — or perhaps that’s a feature, not a bug…

T/C Performance Center LRR (SWFA, $1,200)
This is one of those “chassis” stocks (which I’m not especially partial to, but they do work for bench-type shooting).  The gun is actually a collaboration between the “performance centers” of T/C and S&W, so it’s going to be a good ‘un (I think — here’s a Ewww Choob test).

Christensen Arms Mesa Black (Sportsman’s Warehouse, $1,300)

I’m not that familiar with Christensen rifles, but a lot of the cool kids like ’em, especially their triggers.  Here’s the Ewww Choob review.

Those four rifles, assuming a scope costing around $750, will push us right up to the $2,000 budget, but I don’t think that any one of them would be a bad buy, at all.

If I get a rush of blood to the wallet — it’s been known to happen — here are a couple more (pricier) options:

Savage 110 Precision (Cabela’s, $1,400)
My earlier problems with the cheaper Savage Axis notwithstanding, I would have no problem picking this rifle because it’s a different breed from Savage’s budget lines.  Like the T/C LRR, it has a chassis stock.  Here’s Ewww Choob.

Finally, there’s the Sako S20 Precision (Sportsman’s Warehouse, $1,700)
Its price would put me waaaayyy over budget, but hey… it’s a Sako.  Here’s a long Ewww Choob review.

So there you have it.  If no vendor/FFL is prepared to commit to a CZ 557 Varmint order, these are the options available today (unless one of them sells out over the next couple hours grrr grrrr grrrrrr….).

Your thoughts are welcome.

Afterthought:   although not set in stone, I’ll most likely be looking at the Meopta 3-18×50 Optika6 FFP:

That is, unless I end up with one of the “cheaper” guns above, in which case I’ll step up a little, say to the Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20×50:

But it’s early days, yet.

Replacement Options

After the Great Gun Robbery, and following a very pleasant discussion with our insurance claims person, it appears that I will be getting full (i.e. replacement value) payout for both the (raffled) Boomershoot CZ 557 Varmint .308 Win rig (including scope) and my own CZ 550 (ditto), but this discussion will ignore the latter, as it’s my personal gun (whereas the Boomershoot gun belongs to someone else, so to speak).  The payout will come soon after the insurance company receives the police report, so figure on a week or two from today’s date.

Replacement cost for the Boomershoot rig looks like about $1,000 for the rifle, $725 for the Vortex scope and $200 for the hard case (which I added, for shipping to the eventual lucky winner).  If we can all agree to leaving off the case — shipping it in the manufacturer’s box — then we’re looking at about $2,000 for the rig in total.

Here’s where the discussion begins, and I’m going to need the input of the ticket holders here.

I am perfectly willing to get a “straight” replacement rig — CZ557 Varmint .308 Win + Vortex Viper 6-24x50mm, and if the general consensus seems to favor that package I will do so. Here’s what it looks like:

Remember, it’s a monster and I was getting sub-MOA groups with relative ease.  The only problem — and please correct me if I’m wrong — is that the damn 557 is out of stock pretty much everywhere I look, which means I’d have to order the thing and wait, and wait, and wait.  (The scope is not a problem — it’s available pretty much everywhere.)

If we (and I mean we) decide to get a substitute rifle of similar appearance, ability and cost but immediately available, a couple of options present themselves.

Here’s the first:  do we stick with .308 Win, or go for a different chambering, e.g. 6.5 Creedmoor ?  Here’s one such gun, from Europtic:

(They also have the S20 in .308 Win and some others, for a couple hundred bucks more, btw.)

I don’t know about y’all, but that Sako turns my crank, big time.  (They also have the “Hunter” version, which has a thumbhole stock, in several calibers, for about the same price):

Nothing wrong with that, either.  Add a similarly-priced scope to the Vortex, and we’d be right at the $2,000 budget.

Over at Sportsman’s Warehouse, there’s the same gun I got last year (Ruger Hawkeye Long Distance), also in 6.5 Creed:

…and I think my local Merchant Of Death has it in stock for about the same price.  I have to tell you, I have no problem whatsoever with the Hawkeye — I loved shooting last year’s gun, even in the magnumthumpenblitzenboomer [sic]  .300 Win Mag, and it was as accurate as all hell.

Anyway, that’s the principle of the thing established.  The question remains:  straight copy of the original offer (and wait until the gun gets back into stock), or something slightly different “immediately”?

People who already have stocks of .308 Win ammo, for example, might have a different opinion from whose with 6.5 Creed on hand — or people who might just want to try this new wonder-boolet.   Or, the prospect of that excellent Sako S20 Precision might just be too much to refuse….

I will accept all thoughts, queries and suggestions, as always.  If there’s an overwhelming response for one particular option, then we’ll go with that.  If there’s no real consensus, then I’ll make the decision.  Fair enough?

Well, There’s That

Email from National Treasure Joe Huffman, concerning The Great Gun Robbery:

That really sucks.
I have moved your entry to next year. Same position, etc.
The event will probably be April 29th -> May 1st.

Joe Huffman
Boomershoot Event Director

For me, Boomershoot is becoming like the Jews’ mantra:  “Next year in Jerusalem Orofino.”


Yesterday I went over to our (still-being-rebuilt) apartment.  Not having any room in our tiny hotel room, on Wednesday I’d taken all the Boomershoot stuff and stored it in our (locked) garage, to be loaded into the rental SUV for the trip up to Idaho on Monday (tomorrow).

On Friday night, the garage was burgled and all the guns and related stuff stolen.

Rifle #1:  CZ 557 Varmint (.308 Win)
Scope #1:  Vortex Viper HS-T

Rifle #2:  CZ 550 American (6.5x55mm)
Scope #2:  Meopta Optika6 Illuminated (4.5-30x50mm)

Revolver:  Ruger Single Six (.22LR/.22Mag)

Also, a double-rifle hard case and two range bags.

And, of course, about a thousand rounds of .308 and 6.5x55mm ammo, all helpfully loaded into ammo cans, and a few dozen rounds of .45, .22 and 9mm (in the range bags).  Amazingly, a pair of expensive Steiner binoculars were tossed aside (!).

Total value of the stolen goods:  just under $6,000.

All our brand new replacement furniture, and electronics (TV, computer etc.) and all my tools (!) were untouched.  They were after the guns.  (Thank gawd I’d already moved all my other guns over to Doc Russia’s place, or else I’d be in even more trouble.)

According to the Plano PD (yeah, I have a case # and everything), there were no fingerprints left, which points to a pro job.  There is a pretty substantial group of suspects — this was not a case of a couple guys walking past and deciding that this looked like a likely place to burgle — but I’ll leave that to the cops to figure out.  They have the list.

What this means:

1.)  I’ve had to cancel Boomershoot this year — no point in going, no guns to shoot, no ammo, nada.  I’ve already canceled the rental SUV and hotel accommodation.  So we’re all clear on this:  I am spitting angry, but most of all I am embarrassed because many of you kind folks sent me money, not only for the drawing but to help with the costs of associated purchases for the trip — several items of which have already been bought.  Aaargh.  Nevertheless, if you are one of those people who specified that the money was for expenses, email me and I will refund you your money.  (Almost all the paper records I have were being kept — where else? in one of the missing range bags — so I have no clue what the total amount is;  but I’ll trust in your honesty.)

2.)  When the insurance company reimburses me for the guns (less my $500 co-pay of course), I’ll replace the CZ 557 and scope, and hold the lottery for that rig then.  I don’t know how long it will take for them to do this, most likely a few months.  Please be patient with me while I speak to the insurance company over the next few days.

3.)  I have no idea whether the guns will ever be recovered.


No More A Refugee

Yesterday we got news that our apartment is nearly finished, having had to be rebuilt from the studs up following that burst water main during the Big Freeze back in February.

Yes, we’ve been living in a hotel room since then.  But now, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and we’ll be able to move back into our place over the next week or so…

…which is when I’ll be at Boomershoot.

Think kind thoughts and say a few good words for New Wife, as she struggles to rebuild the nest without me.

But before anyone gets any strange ideas, you have to know this about her:  she lives for this kind of thing, and I don’t.  In fact, I am the worst possible person during a move:  I rage at stuff, I slam fingers in doors, I drop boxes, I kick stuff, I throw things into the pool out of frustration — all that, because of one of my life’s guiding principles:

I refuse to take any shit from inanimate objects.

She, however, is the complete opposite:  nothing makes her happier than organizing stuff.  So she’s going to be puttering around, re-packing kitchen cabinets, hanging clothes, singing happy songs and bossing the movers around — yes, I’ll be arranging for a moving company to move all the heavy stuff from the garage back into the apartment (a distance of a few feet only, but there are doors to wrangle the sofas and beds through — and when they don’t go, that’s precisely when I see red, descend into rage and start to break things).

Had I not invested so much into Boomershoot already, I’d have canceled it — but it’s too late for that at this point, so there it is.

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.