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What is the best load for a .308 @ 1,000 yards

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*SAVAGE 10FP*
By: Festus
09 November 2005

Disclaimer: my grandfather did a lot of gunsmith work on the side. He taught me the skills and confidence to perform my own work as far as headspace and sear engagement are concerned. If you DO NOT know what you are doing, DO NOT perform your own gunsmith work!!! You will end up in dire straits either legally or in a survival situation. If you do have the skills then by all means proceed, but do so at your own risk.

I own possibly the ugliest rifle this side of the Mighty Mississippi! Yes it is the Savage model 10FP. I was able to get one while I was stationed in Alaska in the Military at the PX for $420.00. It is a bull barreled, bolt action, Federal and Police tactical rifle chambered in 7.62 NATO or .308 WINCHESTER. The goal was to build a tactical bolt-action rifle with scope for less than $1,000.00.


The first thing I purchased after the rifle was the scope. A good rule of thumb is that your glass should cost about the same as your gun. My scope only cost $214.00 (shipping and handling included) from MIDWAY USA as a clearance item. This scope retails for $384.00 MSRP. It is a MILLETT 6-25 x 56mm adjustable objective with a Mil Dot Reticle.

For a Tactical rifle, hunting rings and bases are not strong enough. The standard twist in type rings are fine for a rifle that will only be used a couple times a year but not for a rifle that will be dragged through hell. For this reason I chose WARNE MAXIMA rings and bases ($57.00 for the whole set). These use torx type fasteners and are tough as nails. These are the only civilian rings and bases I will recommend. They have served me well and are very exact in initial zero. The screws for the bases are torqued to 25 inch pounds and the rings to 13 inch pounds. This is rock solid with steel-to-steel contact at all points.

The last thing added was the stock. I used a CHOATE ULTIMATE SNIPER stock. I picked this up at a Las Vegas gun show for $160.00. The bolts attaching the action to the stock are torqued to 60 inch pounds. It is heavy and green and ugly! Perfect for my rifle. The space in the pistol grip is perfect for an OTIS cleaning kit. The accessory rail is home to a HARRIS M1A bipod ($68.00 at WALMART). All of this equals one very accurate rifle.

The sling is a $5.00 dollar nylon clearance item from a local sporting goods store.

There are a couple of non-standard modifications to this rifle. The first was to break loose the barrel nut and crush the headspace to SAAMI minimum. An excellent set of instructions is available on the SAVAGE SHOOTERS home page (www.savageshooters.com). The second was to take two 5-inch sunshades and bond them together using a polymer adhesive (JB WELD). This serves a two-fold purpose. The first is to reduce sun-flare and scope glint to an absolute minimum. The second benefit is the reduction of heat mirage for long range shooting. The final tweak was to adjust the trigger to 3.2 pounds. This is not an ACCU-TRIGGER rifle and this took some doing to get the trigger where I wanted it. Instructions for this are available on the SNIPER COUNTRY website (www.snipercountry.com).

My first chore was to break-in/shoot-in the barrel. This was accomplished by a good cleaning and shooting 20 rounds. Between each shot was a good cleaning. I used surplus ball ammo during break-in. This was to keep costs low as break-in is not about accuracy. This will extend barrel life and increase accuracy by as much as .125 MOA.

This rifle is happiest with 180grain SIERRA MATCHKING bullets launched by 43.0 grains of IMR 4064

using a new WINCHESTER cases and CCI 200 primers. It regularly shoots less than ½ MOA with this load. They come out of the pointy end of this rig at 2,555 FPS. The full load data for this is available at the RELOADERS NEST website (www.reloadersnest.com).

I used this rifle to shoot a score of 171 out of a possible 200 during the UTAH STATE RIFLE and PISTOL ASSOCIATION 1,000 yard match at Wendover Utah this year. There was during a pretty good wind storm (10-15 knots steady from 3-9 o’clock with some wicked good gusts pushing a thunderstorm towards us).

Cost was a major consideration during this build. I was able to stay well below the $1,000.00 limit I had set and build a very capable ugly rifle.






Cost breakdown is as follows:

Savage 10FP $420.00

Millett scope $214.00

Warne rings $ 57.00

Choate stock $160.00

Harris bipod $ 68.00

Sling $ 5.00

TOTAL $924.00

Not bad for a tactical rifle on a shoestring budget. It shoots as good or better than most custom guns costing several times as much. In my opinion SAVAGE is the way to go especially with the new ACCU-TRIGGER. it is user adjustable (unlike my ugly gun)

Here is the link to the article I wrote for alpharubicon
http://www.alpharubicon.com/leo/savagefestus.htm
 

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Intresting project. I hope the rifle serves you well.

If you've got the skills to do the rifle, I would reccomend blueprinting the action. True the face, recut the threads perfectly concentric to the bore and ream out the I.D. of the reciever, then bush the bolt for just a few thousanths clearance. Reface the lug locking area and take a skim cut on the bolt lugs. Of course, you'll need a lathe to do it with a few special fixtures to expedite the matter.

It appears that your rifle is doing pretty good already. Doing the above will shrink your groups even more, but to be honest with you, blueprinting for anything less than 600 yards is kindof a moot point.

Even so, sometimes the 1000 yards matches are sometimes won by very small margins.

Im my experiences, the heavier the bullet you can shoot well the better off you are when you playing the wind.

Are you loading your own ? I load mine to within .005 of the lands. Longloading seems to show the biggest increase in accuracy of just about all the little reloading tricks there are.

BTW, thats a great article on your rifle. :hand10:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You don't need to blueprint the action on a Savage! The floating head takes care of that. I did check the runout and true the threads but that is because I am way picky about quality control. My headspacing is .001 over minimum SAAMI standards.

I do load my own. That is the only way I can get what I want for matches. I load .005 off the lands as well but can't seem to bring myself to soft seat (bullets touching the lands) due to safety concerns over the pressure spike.
 

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Not a fan of the .308 (I like its kid, the 7mm-08) but I voted 168gr OTM. Works for US snipers, why not for 1Ky comps?
 

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The problem with the 168 grain load is that it runs out of energy between 910-940 yards. This means that the bullet slows down due to drag and the shockwave passes the bullet. Often this will cause the bullet to tip sideways and cause a very noticeable decrease in accuracy. The 168 is the standard for LEO sniper work and most agencies in the US. The 175 grain is the military round as of about 4 years ago. They switched from a 173 grain FMJ to that due to accuracy and energy retention. They are very hard to come by either as loaded or unloaded ammo due to Govt contracts for the Sierra 175MatchKing. The 180 grain bullets serve my purpose well and the 190's cause a lot of barrel pressure to get them up to speed.
 

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Many of the .308's dont like the 190 grain bullet because its right at the ragged edge of stabilizing in the standard twist. Its also long enough that it reduces the powder capacity in the case.

I voted for the 180, which is really at the limit of the .308. It bucks the wind better than the 168 grain bullet.

The 168 is a great bullet and very accurate...but as Festus noted, its pretty well done at 1000 yards.
 

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The 175SMK bullet is the bullet of choice for 1000yds. in the .308! The 168SMK suffers from a steeper angle boattail that gives it some stability problems above approx. 800yds. The 190SMK really needs a 1/10 twist, which many .308's don't have, and does a heck of a lot better at higher velocities than can be reached out of a .308 with a normal length barrel (up to, say, 26") in a true Tactical rifle. The 155SMK is pretty much a Palma affair and really needs a specialized barrel and loading. Not exactly "Tactical". The 155 Scenar driven to 2900+ is an up and coming 1000yd. Tactical load and shows lots of promise. The 180 grain bullets from MOST manufacturers were designed quite a while ago and are presently behind the learning curve in bullet design for 1000yd. shooting.

BTDT,
ALAN
 

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When I was on my ship's rifle / pistol team back in the '80s we were firing vintage Garands with open sights at 1000 yds. I did it for 5 years, and got better each year.
 

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The poll is showing 2400fps for the 190 SMK's. I'm getting 2650fps using 42.5 grains of Varget out of a 1 in 10" twist 27" Broughton 5C bbl. Most of the others I shoot with are using 42 grains of Varget with the 190's out of 1 in 11.25" Rock 5R bbls and they are getting approx. 2600fps. That 2400 seems a bit low. You can get that with Berger 210's.

jc
 
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