A friend posted online that he wanted to know what caliber would be good for a budget precision rifle, capable of 1,000 yards. Gun Magazines abound on the subject. Guess what? They exist to sell you stuff, not tell you the truth. Magazines say you can build a precision rifle for $1,000. Maybe, but your scope is going to cost that much, also…and that’s a budget scope. And they leave it at that.
The reality is, you need a caliber that can reach 1,000 yards, reliably. For a budget build, a .308 is a good round….but a 6.5 Creedmor is better in all regards. If you think .338 Lapua is too expensive, then you don’t know just how expensive a precision rifle is. If you think a .50BMG, like the Barrett, is a precision rifle….well…you don’t know precision rifles all that well. If you haven’t thought of .300 Win Mag, you aren’t paying attention to bolt action rifles, which are still the best chassis for a precision rifle.
But for the sake of my friends quest, lets go with an AR-10 build. A budget precision build for an AR-10 is about $1,500, and that’s budget. Now….you have to see the target at a 1,000 yards. That means you need a good – no, very good – scope. With a great reticle. Another $1,500 is the lower end of budget scopes. Now we are at $3,000.
So, where are you going to shoot a target at a 1,000 yards? The only range in the State of Michigan that reaches out to 1,000 yards that is open to civilians is The Marksmanship Training Center in Lake City. So, friend will have to travel 2 hours (4 hours round trip) just to shoot. And a membership costs a minimum of $200. And please don’t think about finding a spot out the woods. You can run into all sorts of legal and safety trouble if you do. $3000+$200/yr+gas money and a lot of time.
Guess what? You can’t see if you hit the target with your fancy scope…you’ll be able to see the target, not the bullet holes passed 100 yards. You’ll need a Spotting Scope to see what you hit to about 300 yards. A good spotting scope, a budget spotting scope costs about $2,000. Not kidding. The Spotting Scope I was issued in the Army costs $6,000 dollars in 2003. Any less and it won’t cut it.
Now to properly use the Spotting Scope and the rifle, you need a spotter. Because further than 300 yards, you won’t see where the bullet impacts. You need a spotter and the spotter watches the vapor trail of the bullet downrange to see where it hits. So, basically, you are at $5200, need to drive hours, bring a friend who knows how to read wind, humidity, altitude, direction of wind, just for you to have a chance at hitting paper at 1,000 yards. And you haven’t even bought ammo yet!
So many worrying about the $1 per round difference between .308 and 6.5 Creedmor is a little silly.
I’ve been able to shoot out to 1,000 yards, and I hit the target every time when I did. But, I had a qualified sniper that had set the scope up and dialed it in with the help of another qualified, trained Sniper. A 1,000 yard shot is not a budget shot, it’s a magazine sales pitch. Don’t waste your time.
Instead, work on a nice, tight shot group at 300 yards, or even 200 yards. You’ll actually have a budget. And a life outside the range.