I'm gearing up to buy my first bolt gun. Well, my first center-fire bolt gun, anyway - I have a few .22LR bolts in the safe. For reference, I've had professional instruction in handgun a half dozen times and I shoot AR and shotgun regularly, but the precision world is a whole new ocean for me.
I think it's helpful to lay out my goals. The primary purpose of the rifle will be deer hunting. I've been a few times over the past few years, but I've always had to borrow a rifle - and a borrowed rifle really undercuts my confidence in making a humane kill shot. This year, I want to field my own rifle (with my own dope) so that I can be a lot more confident in my shots. I also want to use this rifle as an introduction to long(er) range shooting as I slowly push my comfort zone with it and learn the fundamentals; I don't think I've even shot more than 10-15 rounds with a magnified optic.
I've pretty much settled on .308, based on availability and price of ammo as well as flexibility. This is a soft "decided," but I can put way more rounds down range with a .308 gun than I can with some of the "sexy" calibers, and I think the volume of practice will benefit me more than an upgraded caliber.
Needs / Wants: The feedback that I have from other hunters at the lease is that I will benefit from a stainless / weatherproof finish on the rifle. Most of the hunters at our lease started off with blued or other finishes and are regretting it now as they deal with rust or upgrade their rifles to weatherproof finishes. I'm inclined to take the advice and list this as a need. My other "need" item is budget - I want the whole project to come in under $1000, and will be much happier at under $800. That's gun, glass, ammo, and any accessories (my only planned additions are a sling and possibly a bipod, though I'm open to other options). My wants include an adjustable trigger, detachable magazine, and threaded barrel - in that order, I think.
For reference, I started with a read through an awesome thread here targeted at a first-time bolt gun buyer, but the original poster was starting off with a bit of a larger budget, and the thread was circa 2005. The market has shifted a bit since then.
I've identified a few primary candidates. The two front runners are the Remington 700 ADL with factory scope (https://www.remington.com/rifl...less-synthetic-scope) and a Savage AXIS II XR Stainless (https://www.savagearms.com/con..._summary&s=57104). Both are available in packaged deals with a low-grade, factory bore-sighted scope, which seems like an appealing option due to the immediately accessibility, despite the lower quality optics.
Remington 700 ADL
24" barrel, 1/10 twist, MSRP $640 ($530 at Academy); Pros: Remington 700 action, availability of aftermarket parts; Cons: I can't even find what manufacture makes the scope, or the size, magnification, etc, which fails to inspire confidence in the quality of the product
Savage AXIS II XR Stainless
22" barrel, 1/10 twist, MSRP $589 ($430 at Academy); Pros: Accutrigger, detachable magazine; Con: less aftermarket parts availability (Bushnell Banner 3-9x40 scope included)
Right now, I'm leaning towards the Savage. I've heard a lot of good things about the Accutrigger system, and the one that I have fired was quite nice. At least I know the included scope will be a Bushnell as opposed to a Chinese knockoff something. Plus, it's $100 cheaper, which I can put towards upgrading that scope in the future.
Are there other, more attractive options that meet my needs better than these two rifles that I've overlooked? Is there anything about these two rifles that isn't as it appears, or that I need to know before I buy? I'm certainly open to the idea of buying a rifle and scope separately, but I'm less confident about my ability to get something fielded within my budget going that way, especially when you add in rings, mounting and bore-sighting, and whatever else I need that's not included.
I know very little about .308 ammunition. Any opinion on what's the best thing to look for in practice ammo? I intend to order 500-1000 rounds to start and invest in my skill more heavily than the equipment, but I don't want to be fighting the equipment. I'm also open to opinions on slings and bipods as well.