Beginners Sniper / Long range rifle advice

Hello, dunno where to start but I’m interested in an entry level long range sniper type bolt action rifle.
Center-fire affordable type of ammo… what’s the smallest caliber and fastest?
It’s a hobby I’ve always wanted to take up but have no idea where to begin, health issues keep me from visiting local gun shops and asking folks that have years of knowledge…
Any tips on where to start? Bullet size, rifle length etc? A real newbie here, there’s an outdoor range here that offers long range targets over 100 yards, covered shooting benches/tables and in the Fall there are many sighting in their rifles for deer hunting season and it’s always interested me.
Thanks for your time, Peace

3 Likes

I would ping @Craig6, our resident long range Rifleman. :us:

7 Likes

@Craig6

1 Like

In my humble opinion I would chose a common caliber and my choice would be .308 Winchester.
The .308/7.62x51 NATO has been proven as a long range/sniper round with many choices in bullet and cartridge
designs.

9 Likes

7x57 Mauser - Prvi Partizan Ammunition 7x57mm Mauser (7mm Mauser) 139 Grain Soft Point
trajectory chart

You need minimal lift and drop out the distances. You are started on the right foot, research and get all the information you can. Then you can make the right choices of gun and ammo to achieve what you need done.

2 Likes

Great question.
For “fast” I think I’d go 270 or 308 but you’ll give up some range.
For “Long” you probable want to be 30 Cal or better.
We have a couple of 200 yd ranges around here, check with your LGS or go to a short range and ask…

2 Likes

I’d say look for a used rifle with a good scope. I’d recommend 6.5 Creedmoor, but the ammo for it has become pretty hard to find at decent prices. Check the pillar and bedding when you buy and make sure it’s solid. I bought a package bolt-action rifle once (scope, bipod, risers, muzzle break, etc.) and it had a crappy polymer stock that ended up with broken supports inside. Also, don’t overspend on your scope, but don’t buy the 29 dollar Tasco either. Good luck.

7 Likes

** Considerations to make

  1. some states require minimum size calibers for deer hunting, IE: my state requires a .243/6mm minimum. So pick a cartridge that you can hunt with and target shoot with. You may want more than one rifle if your hunting and target shooting because a target rifle is too heavy to hunt with. but if your reloading you will only need one set of dies.
  2. if your not reloading stay with a popular over the counter cartridge. Be aware that some cartridges have unpleasant recoil and may not be suitable for a day at the range. Understand how much recoil you can take, everyone is different. IE: 3006 & 300 Win. mag. are still popular over the counter cartridges but have a lot of recoil.
  3. economics. Smaller cartridge = less powder & smaller bullet.
  4. cast bullet rifle shooting is another ball game and will require guidance to get off on the right foot.
  5. good after market iron sits ( peep ) sites are the best choice for long range target shooting. If you want a rifle scope get some help on that before you make a purchase. Take your time and get help.
    @Craig6 is my first choice man for long range stuff.
3 Likes

IMHO if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to know how long “long” range is. 200 - 500 or are you going the distance, no pun, 800 - 2000. That will determine caliber, barrel length, fluting and bedding! Long range shooting is not affordable. To start, I recommend a mat, log book, patience, field manual 23-10, good cleaning supplies and plenty of ammo. There’s an awful lot to learn from from barrel harmonics, ballistics, windage, breathing technique, Mil-dot vs MOA did I mention patience. Read a lot and get to the range at least 4x a week. Start with what you have and let budget dictate distance! Have fun!
There’s a very good reason for the rifleman creed, “ this is my rifle, there are many like it…” long range is a marriage!

3 Likes

By “over 100 yards” how much over are we talking about? I shoot steel at 200 with a Marlin 60 in .22lr, and oftentimes have 100 percent hits.
My precision rifle is a gen 1 Ruger Precision in .308, with a 24x Vortex ffp, and it’s pretty boring though enjoyable at 300 yards on steel even with lots of gusts , and my best day on paper was .4 (point 4) moa at 200 yards, 4x 5 shot groups. At 200, I have fun with a Mossberg MVP in 5.56. Club just went to 300 from 200, still not really long range, but the best I can get.
Howa and Tikka make decent reasonable long range rifles, and Savage does as well…under 600 yards .308 is a good round and is fairly common and reasonable,about a buck a round for match grade these days. Bullet weight makes a huge difference, my M1a Scout is happy doing minute of man with surplus 147 grain, the RPR needs 155 Amax-168 match grade to distinguish itself as a precision gun.

3 Likes

My advise, start with a .22. There are many “precision” .22’s that have a Centerfire counterpart. Work on your technique with the .22. I’ve been told, the target you can hit at 300 yards with a .22, is what you could hit at 1000 yards with a .308. If your set on getting a Centerfire first, go .308. Tons of good Ammo, that is available. Also, .308 barrels last longer than the smaller, faster rounds, or the belted magnums. And .308 Will still reach out and touch the target a long, long way out there.

6 Likes

Second that .22. A lot of competition in that caliber, though generally 50 yard at my club. Guys show up with 30 pound sleds, $900 dollar optics on $2000 dollar guns, and nail 1/4" squares repeatedly.
At longer (200 plus) it’s a fun round for even a plinker like me, as the round is so slow I can see my hits, and misses as well, so adjustment is easy. My Marlin just lucked out as a 200 yard gun as, zeroed at 100, my 200 zero is where my reticle goes fat…pure luck, but zero clicks given :wink:. Windage generally 18" on a typical day, again, slow enough to see and adjust.
I’ve got a Savage in .22lr as well, oddly a tack driver at 50, lost at 100. Still, a great training, focus and Zen rifle.
Knowing the actual distance OP will be shooting will help with the advice I’m sure. Over 100 is pushing the precision side of .22lr ime. A good 5.56 gun can go moa at 200, and is another caliber with enough variety in ammo weights to find what is right for your rifle. Been toying with the idea of a 6.5 grendel upper for an AR-15 lower, but seems it’s either steel case or $1.65 a round to feed it.

A little rant…we pro 2a folks love giving ammo to the control freaks.
Not a sniper rifle… precision rifle
Not an assault rifle…sporting rifle
Not high capacity magazines…normal capacity

3 Likes

There are going to be a lot of different ideas and suggestions that you will read. Everyone is different and their own experiences will bring them to different suggestions. At the end of the day, it’s important to know that to be accurate, YOU need to be the best shooter you can be. The round and rifle you use won’t make a difference if you aren’t consistent in your shooting. Before buying anything, I HIGHLY suggest reading “Long Range Shooting Handbook: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Precision Rifle Shooting” by Ryan Cleckner. It’s helpful to anyone of any skill level but he really wrote it for new shooters and I have learned so much from his book. Check it out here: Long Range Shooting Handbook: The Complete Beginner's Guide to Precision Rifle Shooting: Cleckner, Ryan M: 9781518654725: Amazon.com: Books

With all of that being said, the best round for long-range shooting right now is the 6.5 Creedmoor. I’m not saying that it is the only great round, but it’s the most popular long-range target round for a reason.

Some great guns to check out would be the Ruger American or Savage Axis. They aren’t the highest quality platform, but they are affordable and great to start learning on. Please don’t feel like you need to spend tons of money on a rifle platform to be a great shooter.

The one area that I would suggest spending more money on will be your optic. The scope you put on your rifle will have a far bigger effect on your shooting than the platform of your rifle. Do you have a rough idea of your overall budget and I would also ask, is there a specific reason you are looking for the smallest and fastest round?

2 Likes

Answering the “smallest fastest” Which we’ve gotten away from, I’d go CZ 527 in 22 hornet.

2 Likes

Not centerfire but as suggested more than once already:

https://ruger.com/products/precisionRimfire/models.html

2 Likes

Thanks for the link to the book. My budget is $500 max. Very interested in becoming a precision shooter. I’ve always loved a lever action 30-30, wife’s grandfather let me use his on my first deer hunt, none of us got any deer but I liked the setup and I’ve seen some 6.5 Creedmoor Savage rifles for $399 - out of stock of course lol but it’s something to plan on. Thanks everyone for your advice & time

3 Likes

You might be able to find a nice inexpensive Savage or Ruger for $500 but then you need a good scope and ammo which can easily end up costing you another $500 in the long range calibers. As others have suggested a decent .22lr might be the way to go. Lots of fun and the ammo is cheap. My base model Ruger 10/22 has definitely made me a better shooter. They are a great way to build skills without spending a fortune.

3 Likes

222 swift

2 Likes

Price the ammo before buying the gun, especially on your budget. I’ve been noticing “normal” bolt guns being significantly less expensive in 6.5 CM than other chambering lately.
6.5 CM reminds me of the old Gillette commercial, “give them the razor, sell them the blades.”
I’m sticking with .22lr, 5.56 and .308 win as I stocked up when the ammo was 1/4 to 1/2 today’s prices.
Realize you want to avoid the stores, but sometimes you can find something used that will just pop out at you. My RPR did that. I went to buy a Glock 43, saw it in stock, then headed over to the used rifle rack. Gun was there 45 minutes…I did get the G43…3 years later :laughing:

$500 budget, going used means possibly having a scope already. My Savage mk 2 with a bull barrel cost me around $200 and had a decent scope included. The scope is $200 by itself new.
My RPR had a titanium bolt shroud upgrade, no scope, little use, and was $500 under list. That $500 went into the scope. Had to add a brake(not cheap) and bipod, then $1000 in ammo, which would be about $3000 today.

3 Likes

@Bruno You rang?

First, straight out of the gate I’m going to tell you two things.

  1. Precision long range shooting is more addictive than Heroin.
  2. Precision long range shooting is EXPENSIVE $$$$$

Second, you need to reload to be anywhere near precision.
Third, good guns can be had cheap(er) but not cheap.
Fourth, there is no room for substandard optics and good optics are worth 2X the cost of the rifle (to start).

You need to define “long rage” are you looking for “out to 500 yards”, “1K and in” or “1K plus”, “Mile and in” “Mile plus”?

IMHO 500 yards is where things begin to get “interesting” anything inside of that is doggone near pistol range. If you want to get your feet wet get a Savage 110 in 308 with a heavy tube, they are one of the few mfg’s that twist their tubes 10 which is the PERFECT twist for 30 cal it covers from 125 to 210 grain pills. Optics, I am seriously considering an Arken just to see if it’s worth a crap. I have scopes that range from $1K to $4K on rifles that range from $1K to $6K (The $4K scope is on a $500 .22LR that I shoot out to 300 yards. The $1K scope is on my $6K rifle that I shoot out to more than … lets just say, a bit)

Determine what you want to do. Check your check book. I promise you will sell stuff to fund this addiction if it bites you.

Cheers,

Craig6

6 Likes