Saturday, July 08, 2006

second phase of rifle thinking...

Okay, here's where I'm at now. After a week's worth of good hard advice from all of you, I made the jaunt to Bass Pro and was lucky enough to get the salesman who probably knows the most about guns there. Dave is a 68 year old gunsmith with his own shop, who spent more than 25 years doing factory certified warranty repairs for Remington, Weatherby, and other major gun makers.

After gabbing with him for over an hour, he convinced me to reconsider the Remington decision, even though he clearly favors Remington over Ruger, Savage, Winchester, and CZ if those are the only rifles under consideration. In his opinion Remington's quality control is not what it should be, and he believes that it is a 50/50 proposition of getting a great rifle or a great lemon. (Well, if not 50/50 then at least it's a bit of a crap shoot.)

So he thinks that accuracy-wise and materials-wise, the better choices in the "500 dollar bolt action rifle" class are (a) the Weatherby Vanguard, which in synthetic stock with blued barrels is about $440, and (b) the Tikka T3 Lite, which similarly configured would be about $550.

Weatherby Vanguard

Okay, so that's now part of the mix. The Weatherby is a Japanese-made gun (we know THOSE are good shooters) and weighs about 7.5 pounds. The more expensive Tikka is a Finland-made Sako gun marketed by Beretta that weighs 6.25 pounds. In Dave's estimation, the Tikka is a somewhat better made gun, but both should perform similarly. Each comes with a warranty guarantee of 1" groups at 100 yards, right out of the box. He thinks they are the best shooting value in that price range today.

Tikka T3 Lite

Does anyone know more? Anyone want to chip in with more advice? (I know you're all tired of this thread by now, but honest--I'll make it up to you some day.) I guess the real question is should I go with "better" Tikka gun and lighter weight, for more money but also more recoil . . . or should I go with the similarly performing heavier gun and save $100 to put toward better optics? The Tikka comes with scope rings, so actually it would end up being maybe $50-$60 more than the Weatherby.

I think I've probably just answered my own question, but there it is, and I appreciate any more comments that any of you might care to make.

thanks gang.


Ernie said...

Jim, Open your wallet and look in. What do you see in there? Are those Japaneese Yen you are spending or are they good old American greenbacks that you earned here in America? I know this rant has nothing to do with the accuracy of the gun or the type of gun I am just sick and tired of everything "good in life" having to come from the orient. So you have a 50/50 chance of getting a good gun out of the box with Remington,Ruger, Savage, etc. that is what the warrenty is for. Why does the Finland made gun have Japaneeese names attached to it, is it truly made in Finland? Why is Dave working at Bass Pro Shops if he is such a good gunsmith? Does he get a real good commission or is he just a good bullshitter. You can tell I work in the plastic industry with more and more jobs going overseas every day. Thank God we do work here for Crossman Arms, who believes in keeping jobs in America. It's too bad more of corporate America, as well as their shareholders, don't believe in this. Sorry to all of you for having to read my rant, and hopefully someday your job won't be lost to overseas competition.

Jim Tantillo said...

yeah, well... I thought about that.

I don't suppose that if I go ahead and buy the Remington that you'll swap me your Italian-made Benelli shotgun for an American-made autoloading shotgun of your choosing, you know, for the sheer patriotism of it?

heh heh. I didn't think so.

Jim Tantillo said...

well, that probably came out more smart-alecky than I meant it. But I messed around with competitive black powder rifle shooting for ten years, and I know what a pain it is to have to go through long periods of tweaking and retweaking a gun just to get it to shoot straight. Why spend $500 on the Remington and then potentially have to put another $500 worth of gunsmithing into it to achieve what these guns guarantee to do out of the box? For a first rifle, there's something to be said in favor of the KISS principle is all I'm thinking.

but I agree with you that if all else were equal, buying an American-made gun would be a factor to weigh with all the other factors. But I think that that philosophy was itself blinding me to the other rifle-buying options that are out there here and now.

I believe Kleinman has a Weatherby .243, but since he never reads this blog anyway we don't have the luxury of his wisdom on the subject.

And Dave the gunsmith is Dave Klotz who has the shop in Weedsport ... I think Keith has had some work done there? anyway. I'm not looking to waste money, just trying to make as good a decision as I can from a position of relative ignorance, realizing that there's always a possibility I'll make a mistake anyway.

KGT said...

Wow! Ernie came in strong from the top rope with that comment! YEAH BOY! That was fun just for the sheer combativeness of it.

My two cents as follows.

1.) Don't but anything from anyone that you can't shoot first. (learned the hard way, and don't give me any *%@#!)

2.) Plunck money down on stuff you like to shoot, and don't bet on what others SAY you'll like to shoot, or industry rags, or salesmen in bigbox stores, etc.

3.) Use enough gun.

Thats it.

As far as country of origin, though I understand the argument Ernie makes, I don't subscribe to "Buy American" because I know Scotch is best from Scotland, Port is best from Portugal, beer is best from Milwaukee or St. Louis, Bourdeaux is best from...well you get the point. If a british gun is best for irish woodcock, forget "Buy American" and get what you like from wherever.

If a british company makes their african hunting rifle in japan, and you like how the gun shoots, fits, feels, and trust the name brand to make good purchasing decisions, buy Weatherby.

For perspective, keep in mind that the following is a list of countries known to have made the venerable .30-06:

China (Comm)
China (Nat.)
Dominican Rep.
Finland France
New Zealand
Norway Pakistan
Rep. South Africa
Saudi Arabia
S. Vietnam

Now, I must say that I am not trying to convince any of you chaps as far as hunting aesthetics are concerned. My view of hunting is much infomed by notions of TERROIR ( and SENSE OF PLACE, extraploated to how I enjoy hunting. Hence my insistence of use of a side by side shotgun, made in Fulton NY, to be shot in a nearby marsh in NY, harkening back to nostalgic days of "leaving it to beaver," etc. Or my insistance that I hunt deer here with a converted WWI German rifle(now slug gun) used by the farmer who was born in this house and has just turned 100. I could buy new guns, street sweepers, plastic guns, with camo patterns, but I would enjoy my hunting less, despite the superior tools.

I say all of this to encourage an intellectual laxative for Dr. Tantillo. I am grateful for the intangibles I picked up from my first forrays into the woods with dog and gun for grouse, in Maine, with Dr. T. He had a "feel" for the game, a "sense" of the dog work, and an aesthetic manifested in the "right" gun, "right" dog, etc. I resonated with that then, and perhaps have taken it further.

To a point, the analysis is good, about loads, chokes, which guns, but at the end of the day, when it is time to squeeze triggers and not banter ballistics, it will all be about "feel" and about "instinct" in my humble opinion. I would encourage the buyer to make sure and give that part of the yin and yang a fair shake.

Thats all for now.

Ernie said...

Jim, I took no offence to your comments about my "camo covered street sweeper", as Keith calls it, that was made in Italy. In fact others that share space in the double black would be greatfull if I traded it in on the new Remington auto loader with the bottom eject. Not to be a whimp but as we may recall I was looking for buting the Ithaca Waterfouler model when my wife stepped up to the plate for the extra money for the Benelli. She did that because while looking at guns together I stated that I liked the feel and fit of the Benelli so much better. Oh good grief! I just gave credability to Keiths comment aout trying it out first while hidding behind my wifes apron with that lame excuse for buying foreign! See what happens when you buy foreign products, you have to keep defending your actions. In all seriousness did you try out the fit and feel of both of these yet? If so which one, of all the guns you tried, married into you best. That is the one to go with despite what everyone else thinks. As far as price is concerned $50 -$100 either way means nothing over the lifetime you will own this new gun so do what feels best for you.

Joshua said...

I had good experiences with a Sako carbine chambered in 375 H&H Magnum.

Interesting thing about Japanese and Finnish, they share a common Ural-Altaic language root. Ya shure, you betchya.

Jim Tantillo said...

Ernie, you're exactly right--gun fit is key, price at that level is not the issue. My question now is how do I know when a rifle fits? these things don't have scopes on them yet, and I'm not sure how they're supposed to feel. When I shot black powder the guns weighed ten pounds and gun fit was not an issue.

I'll have to go back and heft them again when I get closer to making the decision, but I'd have to say the Tikka was probably more comfortable to hold just based on the stock.

And Josh--where/when'd you shoot the Sako? details?

Joshua said...

Before getting dropped off at a field camp on the Taku River in SE Alaska, me and the other biologists were given bear training. One of the required readings was a government-sponsored study looking at the most effective bear guns.

The conclusion was that the .375 H&H Mag hit the sweet spot between stopping power and manageable recoil. The .460 Weatherby was also tested, but after the first shot the recoil made for massive-flinching by the shooter. The other firearm recommended were 12 gauge riot guns loaded with a mix of 3.5 inch slugs and buckshot.

So we were assigned two carbines and two shotguns to carry to camp. After a few practice sessions, I gravitated to the carbine and kept it close for three months.

The carbines were Sako. I found them so nice to shoot and so handy, I paid for my own supply of ammo to shoot for fun when time allowed (which was quite rare).

So that's why I hold Sako rifles with such affection - that carbine was handy, had a good action and instilled trust.

Thankfully we never had any face to face time with brownies.

Yeoman said...

I missed the first part of this discussion, being a recent participant, and not too frequent of particpant, here.

FWIW, background wise, in addition to being a lawyer, and a rancher, I've also built rifles as a hobby for some time.

I think you ought to reconsider the whole thing, and go with the CZ. CZ's are excellent, and better than either of the choices you are currently considering, in my opinion. They have excellent Mauser 98 derived features, and bring them nicely up to date in their current line.

I'll babble further late, and best return to my vocation, or avocation, and get some work done.

KGT said...

Huh...? CZ's?

Inquiring minds NEED to know...

Don't they also make some double barrel rifles?

I'm wide awake now...

Yeoman, you always add a new twist to things. Glad you are staying with this mob.

The gang will be needing an intro post from you presently. Something gamey and masculine, you know, a huntin' story, preferably one that you and your dog or gun or both are the hero of...

Anonymous said...

This is great! Ernie had me feeling all red, white and blue about my ruger 77 purchase (and checking to confirm that my Toyota was built in U.S. of A.), and KGT added to the warm feeling w/ his "gun fit" observation (the ruger is sweet to shoot). But Jim's info on the Tikka 3 has me thinking it might be the gun for my future big game hunting career in AK... perhaps as Eric suggests, in 7mm mag...
- PW

Jim Tantillo said...

I want to thank the Yeoman for the input--I had looked at the CZ shotguns not too long ago (see archives) and thought they looked like a pretty good value for the money. I'm pretty well set on synthetic stock, though--all those years of shooting finicky ten pound Civil War guns makes me eager to reduce the total number of things that can go wrong, and wood stocks are one of those things. For whatever reason, I feel differently about shotguns, and especially shotguns for grouse and woodcock, where I really enjoy the beauty of the gun. Here, it's just a tool--kind of like a labrador.

heh heh

But I also know that Superior Shooter has a lefty CZ American that he's been wanting to show me, so now this doubles my interest in taking a look at that rifle. Around here no one seems to have a CZ rifle in stock (Bass had exactly one, and it was an elephant gun), but if I make the drive to Syracuse I may be able to see them at Gander Mountain.

Two more weeks and my inheritance comes in: the Josh Winchell Memorial Hunter Ethics Dog and Pony Show at the Woodmont Club in Maryland. :-) or Josh's Legacy as we old-timers like to call it. Too bad he sold his soul and now works for that pathetic outpost of the indifference and anglocentrism, the US Dept. of Interior. sheesh fer frigginchrissakes as Rich would say

Yeoman said...


The CZ shotguns (or at least the s/s), if I recall correctly, are not actually a CZ. That is, they are not made at the CZ plant in Brno, or anywhere else, in Czechoslovakia. Rather, if I recall correctly, they're a Turkish made gun which CZ imports.

They're still a nice s/s. I recently looked at one and I'm now kicking myself for not buying it. I passed on it, and of course now the price has gone up.

I'll spare everyone my sad tale about how, 17 years ago, I passed on a new Baretta Onyx s/s which was priced at $300.00. I will, however, go cry later, now that I've recalled the story.

The CZ rifle is an excellent rifle. It's based on on the Mauser 98 action, which in my view is the best all around bolt action, action. And, in my view, the 98 is hands down the winner for a field gun. Arguments can always be made against it, by arguing that some other rifle is more accurate on a tiny basis, but in terms of field accuracy, the difference is irrelevant.

CZ has taken the 98 and made some modifications to update it. However, it still retains the controlled feed claw extractor that guarantees extraction. Who knows, we might find ourselves outdoors after an all day sloppy wet snowstorm, to be followed by freezing weather, and need that extra extraction. And the CZ retains the very safe gas handling features of the 98. Having once suffered a pretty severe case seperation while antelope hunting, I like that.

CZ makes a nice variety of rifles, and I'm sure that anyone can find one that suits their tastes. Out here, in Wyoming, they're now routinely stocked in sporting goods stores and are competively priced. The metal and wood work (if a person goes with a wood stock) is first rate, and better than comparable rifles of the same approximate value.

The CZ American is expressly made for the American market, and reflects that in stock style. It's a nice rifle. I've been very tempted by the CZ rifle made with a Mannlicher style stock, chambered in 6.5x55, which the local sporting good store has. I have a couple of 6.5s, but not one in that configuration, which I was thinking of trying to build. It's nicer, however, than one I could build, so it's really a temptation.

In recent years I've tended to use rifles I've built myself, all built on 98, 03 or 1917 Enfield actions (although I don't always use one I've built myself). But, if I were to buy an all around hunting rifle today off the rack, I'd buy a CZ.

Keith, I'll try to think of a good hunting story. I'll try to throw in a dog, and heroism, but right now the only good stories I can think of involving dogs don't involve heroism on my part, or even on the dogs part.

Superior Shooter said...

Yep - the cz is a very nice rifle, I just wished they made it in a lefty!!!!! So why Yeoman, whay not the Rem 798?

Superior Shooter said...

Just a few more thoughts with a few more moments of time I just had on my hands…
Let American capitalism rule here and get the best gun for the best money, foreign or domestic. If you want a project gun get a Remington or a Winchester and plan to spend 2x the cost to get it running but then expect great things. If you want the best possible gun, go with a Gentry custom 98. If you want a shooter outa the box get a Sako, Weatherby, or anything made in Japan. Ruger – we’ll they are close to hitting the mark, when they promise sub MOA outa the box I’ll think about it. Savage tester is on the way, will report in on that someday, sub MOA expected without anything more than an at-home trigger tweak. JT – whatever you do get a wood stock – those synthetics are cold in your hands while a sitting in the deer blind - this aint that sweaty grouse hunting thing you’re used to ya know……For my money the 2 rifle closet has a Sako and a Savage.

BTW, speaking of QA/QC – bought two different Remington Wingmaster barrels to upgrade my shotgun and sent them both back; one had a scratch INSIDE the barrel and the other had the detent bearing in the tube yoke missing and an unpolished (almost black) choke tube. Now how can you send off barrels with such defects??? QA/ QC, what QA/QC? To the folks at Remington: pick it up a little, don’t become like the 2003 Ithaca Gun Company. BTY, I cant wait to see the NEW Ithaca Gun Co.’s stuff from Ohio – I’m expecting great things this August!

Yeoman said...

There's nothing at all wrong with the Remington 798. Of course, the 798 is really Zastava's Mauser Mark X, which they've been making for a long time. The same rifle was previously marketed in the US as Charles Daly's rifle, and also sold by Interarms at one time as their "Churchill" line of rifles.

The Mauser Mark X is a good buy, in that it's a true 98 with decent features. Their actions have always been a good option for those wanting to build a custom rifle, but the attractiveness of that has declined slightly since all the surplus 98s became available. Still, they're a good choice.

Be that as it may, the CZ is simply a better made rifle.

The interesting thing here is to note how the Mauser 98 type action has come roaring back. After Remington came out postwar with the 721, there was a slow decline in US hunting rifles with Mauser features. The most famous aspect of this was when Winchester discontued the old Model 70 action in 1964. The Model 70 was really a product improved version of the 54, which was a modified variant, in some ways, of the 03 Springfield, which itself was Springfield Armory's adaptation of 93, and perhaps some 98, Mauser features.

Ruger's M77, in spite of the subtle disapproval of it here, sort of started the return process, as it incorporated some Mauser features fairly prominently. But now lots of 98 Mauser variants or versions are available.

Yeoman said...

As Jim mentioned this old thread (and is disappointed with how things turned out) I thought I'd note it by commenting on it again, so it's easy to find.

Darn it all, I'm really disappointed by Jim's report. In the future, I think I'll hold my tongue where I can't go out on the range with my victims, so that I can participate directly.

Rats, liking CZs so much, it's a bummer to hear of an instance where one didn't measure up.