I’ve been enjoying this thread quite a bit.
For the last couple months I’ve been collecting parts for the exact same sort of concept. The big difference is that I’m dealing with East coast creatures which aren’t really in the same ballpark size wise. 200lb animals are about the largest I expect to find, and mostly it will be a varmint/coyote and probably deer tag filling blaster. I struggled with caliber for a bit and opted to stick with .223/5.56. As a reloader I can make ammo for these purposes, such as Nosler ballistic tips for coyotes or groundhogs. Barnes copper slugs for deer, hogs or whatever. Basically, something that can put down most anything in the East with good shot placement. My goal was to just keep the gun on the lighter side of things, but not go overly crazy with weight reduction. Being taller than average, I don’t mind a little extra barrel length if it means more velocity to get the most out of the round. I ended up with this.
Basically normal stuff with 13” ALG rail and a 17.7” Hanson profile Ballistic Advantage barrel in mid length with a VG6 comp. This made for a very light and handy combo. With 55gr ballistic tips and 75gr Hornady match I was pretty much under 1.5” groups with a big Leupold scope on it without really trying. The length makes it easy to point but for my height it doesn’t feel excessively long, the comp and mid length gas system made for a boring minimal recoil pulse. I can easily attach a light or bipod on it if needed. QD sling points on the ALG rail are nice too.
Where I’m stuck is optic choice, as I want magnification. Im not really wanting/needing a big heavy optic, nor am I wanting a lower powered variable that has a mediocre high range. I’m leaning torwards something like a duplex reticle with a 3-4 power low range and a 9-14 high end that doesn’t weigh a ton and isn’t too bulky to keep the package handy. I’ll probably go with something like a normal hunting scope in one of the lower weight fixed style mounts. It isn’t intended as a hard use gun, more of a good shooter at moderate round counts that is easy to field.
After really considering the different calibers, I just had a hard time justifying something other than .223/5.56 for Eastern US. .300 isn’t bad, but for varmint loads I want the speed and soft core light jacket exploding style bullets. Out west the 6.8 being essentially a lower velocity .270Win would be a great choice, especially with some Barnes copper bullets going fast.