February 2008

.270 Bolt Actions: Weatherby Vanguard Wins Accuracy Battle

Three popular hunting rifles by Remington, Savage, and Weatherby, all less than $750, were put to accuracy and handling tests to find what we would call a “good shooter.”

Hunting rifles fall into an interesting category among the firearms crowd, with more shooters having more opinions about the long guns than any other smoke pole. The likes and dislikes range from composite versus wood; short barrel versus long barrel; and don’t even try to argue about the perfect caliber.

We selected three top-selling models for a test of good hunting tools and settled on what the late Jack O’Connor considered the perfect caliber for North American game. In his classic The Rifle Book, he states: "Hunters using the .270 discovered that with it they could hit game at longer ranges than with anything else, and that when they hit they got a higher percentage of one-shot kills."

With the argument about the perfect caliber finally put to rest (just kidding), we picked the Remington Model 700 SPS; the Savage 114 Classic; and the Weatherby Stainless Vanguard for our test of hunting tools. All three of the long guns have seen quite a bit of field and target range time as hunters across the country seek out their perfect deer rifle. We found few faults in the handling and functioning ability of the rifles and were generally pleased with the overall performance of all of the firearms in handling factory ammunition.

Although our Weatherby came equipped with the manufacturer’s custom Accubrake recoil reducer, we removed the device for velocity tests. Recoil from all of the rifles was considered in the easily handled range, even after extensive time punching holes in targets. We noted that the out-of-the-box trigger pulls on all three rifles, ranging from 4 pounds for the Remington to 2.5 pounds for the Savage, were satisfactory to excellent for hunting.

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