Possibly the most remarkable display of marksmanship is pure budget long-range shooting. Reaching out to a target at 1,000 yards or even beyond demands skill, expertise and lots of practice to do it right.
While some may assume it as absurd to hit a target at half a mile, the amount of research that goes into selection of the right rifle, ammunition and optics — along with learning how to read the wind, examine the effects of humidity, elevation, and air pressure are all critical factors for becoming a better shooter in the long run.
Certainly, it is correct that long-range shots can be easily made using typical rifle calibers such as 308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield or 7.62 X 54R, but the truth is, these calibers weren’t designed with extreme ranges in mind.
Read also: 10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made
Here are 4 budget long-range rifles you should consider:
1. 300 Winchester Magnum
Cherished for its capacity as a flat-shooting cartridge, the 300 Winchester Magnum is capable of 3,260 fps and 2,658-foot-pounds of muzzle energy along with a 150-grain bullet, and 3,000 fps and 4,223-foot-pounds of muzzle energy with a 180-grain bullet. Unlike many of the rifle cartridges, his trajectory stays level out to nearly 300 yards.
The maximum effective range is out to 1,200 yards, while the round comes into its own at 800 – 1,000. One of the advantages it has is that it can be loaded in a budget long-range rifle action preferably than a more expensive Magnum receiver.
Almost all of the big-name rifle companies produce a bolt-action, although two of everyone’s favorites are the Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather SS and Savage 110FP with Accutrigger. The Savage retails for below $900 and the Winchester can be owned for closer to $1,100.
For easily putting your way up into long-range shooting, the 300 Winchester Magnum as a solid starting point, especially if you want to step down to a 308 and put those long-range shooting skills to work in a smaller caliber.
2. 338 Lapua Magnum
In what was seemingly the first round designed from the ground up as a long range sniper cartridge, 338 Lapua is a favorite long-range round of many shooters. This round is developed from the 416 Rigby case. His inventors learned that a critical factor in designing ammunition with regard to pressure is the hardness of the brass rather than its relative thickness.
Actually, using this round was achieved the world record for the longest confirmed sniper shot at 2,707 yards (1.5 miles) by the British Army sniper, Corporal Craig Harrison.
3. 408 CheyTac
Designed by John D.Taylor and William Wordman, the 408 CheyTac is specialized specifically for military long-range sniper use. It was
developed specifically for anti-material roles and anti-personnel out to 2,200 yards.
It is based on the 505 Gibbs, which is an old-time rimless African big-game cartridge and petted down to 0.408 inches. The parent case’s web and sidewall were actually beefed up to support high-chamber pressures. Therefore, the 305-grain bullet travels at 3,500 fps, with 8,295-foot-pounds of muzzle energy, while the 419-grain bullet travels at 3,000 fps with 8,373-foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Speaking of the Chey-Tac M200 Intervention, we are speaking about a bolt-action rifle built to handle this round, while firing a group of 3 shots within 16 inches at 2,321 yards.
4. 50 BMG
While the other mentioned rounds may have an advantage in economics, the 50 BMG is still the master of the long-range shooting.
Developed by John Browning for use in his machine gun, this round is a sized up 30-06 cartridge who launches a 660-grain bullet.
There’re a number of manufacturers who support the 50 BMG, so as Barrett Firearms, Serbu Firearms, as well as some small builders throughout the western U.S.
Ammunition prices fluctuate hugely on the 50 BMG; to get the most accuracy out of your long-range rifle, you may want to look into handloading your own. However, be warned that segments, dies, etc., will be more costly than most of the others.
Beyond increasing your range with a rifle in defense of your home, strengthening the skills of a long-range shooter will increase your skill set in some other shooting disciplines as well, from marksmanship and breath control to reloading ammunition. Also, it will give an insight into how your other firearms function and help you realize the concepts of having a free-floated barrel or a match trigger.
So, which budget long-range rifle do you prefer? Do you have any advice to add? Please share your thoughts in the section below.