As the long-range rifle debate rages on, it can be hard to decide what gear to invest in. There are ways you can modify a rifle you already own to shoot further, but what if you’re yearning to get a new rifle, but can’t quite justify investing in a custom-made rifle yet?
Here’s how to get a decent mid-range rifle without breaking the bank. But we’ll warn you now: if you start getting accuracy beyond 500 yards, you’re likely to want to go custom. Call it the natural order.
Time to read up. Research is critical to find the right caliber for your needs. Of course, what you plan to hunt will be the biggest driver of your choices. Do you need a Winchester .308 or .300? Or maybe a Magnum .270 or .284 or a lighter offering? Talk to your fellow hunters, try out different models and find what feels right to you. If you hunt a range of animals, a diverse caliber gun that can handle 140 to 200 grain bullets might be best. Larger animals will need more power, but remember that can come from the load itself.
Remember too that hunters have lots of strong opinions, and for good reason. So while one hunter might recommend a Remington 700 action for great out-of-the-box accuracy, another hunter will have equally passionate feelings about a Winchester or Mauser action. There are also deeply held beliefs about buying a gun new or used, in person or online, but we will skip it here.
If you have a choice of stock, go with fiberglass over wood — it won’t change shape in humidity. With longer-range firearms, the key is to make your shot as consistent as possible, so the fewer variables possible, the better. A stock that changes shape can contact the barrel and completely change the harmonics (the flex and whip of the barrel at the shot), and thus destroy accuracy.
A heavy trigger is often the culprit for an inaccurate rifle. The more pressure applied to the trigger pull, the more movement you may add to your shot. Although this seems like something minimal, it can actually have a large impact on the shot. Many factory triggers are capable of adjustment and will work fine. It may be better to install an aftermarket trigger with a consistent, crisp pull than to use an inconsistent factory offering.
Reticals become incredibly important when shooting longer ranges. A bold retical will cover the entire animal when magnified, so choose the finest MOA dot or crosshair possible.
Higher magnification is also necessary if you plan to get a CDS (custom dial system) cut for your rifle. Our rule of thumb is to not bother with getting a CDS or turret cut for any optic with less than 9X magnification.
Once you have the necessary modifications done, it is important to select a consistent load and practice your shooting — a lot. Like anything else in life, you will become better with practice. Shoot at different distances and positions to create confidence in the field.
Looking for more ways to modify a rifle for long-distance shooting? Add your own in the comments below.