View Full Version : What's the best bolt action?

11-19-2012, 09:58 PM
What do you think is the best bolt action for a rifle? I've been looking at Dakota Arms & Winchester because I've been wanting a controlled round feed. Does anyone have any preferences as to which one is the best?

11-19-2012, 10:37 PM
While you're at it you might as well ask what the best pick up truck is.

11-19-2012, 10:56 PM
Best :)

CRF? Full house custom Mauser 98 built by Saterlee. A Dakota wouldn't even be in the running compared to a one off hand built Mauser 98 built from scratch by one of the best gunsmiths in the world.

http://www.satterleearms.com/375_length.htm (http://www.satterleearms.com/375_length.htm)

A Granite Mountain Arms actioned Mauser would be 2nd best. http://www.granitemountainarms.com/index.html

If you don't use Saterlee then Joseph Smithson is probably the best custom maker in America.
Check out his mounts! http://www.smithson-gunmaker.com/

Let's put it this way. I am an armorer, I can install barrels, do some stock work, true an action, fairly basic stuff. Smithson and Saterlee are gunmakers. A whole rung above me in the gunsmithing profession as far as knowledge.

If you want a trued M700 with a fiberglass stock call an armorer, if you want a mauser action made from scratch call a gunmaker.

These men are masters.

11-19-2012, 11:00 PM

Look at these mounts on this Smithson rifle, the man is genius!

11-19-2012, 11:02 PM

11-19-2012, 11:04 PM
I know lots of other makers, that are tops in their field.

You can spend more on a factory Mauser 98 from Mauser, but you won't get more than a Smithson or Saterlee.

Some Dakotas are more expensive than rifles built by both men.

And Dakota actions are similarly priced to a Saterlee or GMA.

These guys are so good, that unless things change when I feel I am ready, I won't be building anything but single shot and double rifles.

11-20-2012, 04:30 AM
I got home and am uploading music to my itunes, and I thought I would kick this around a bit more.

I think it is very easy to run amuck on the concept of best.

What is the best American made factory bolt rifle for under $1500? I like to think that you have a lot of options. Ruger Mark II R77's are Controlled Round Feed, so are Kimber 8400/84 rifles, and the new production South Carolina FN Winchester M70s are as well.

The Ruger is solid value for money, is the only CRF factory rifle made in America that offers integral scope mounts, and has a hammer forged barrel built on a Steyr-Mannlicher hammer forge, a lot of the new ones shoot very well.

Kimbers are built to be light. Some shoot some don't, kind of like the Ruger. No integral mounts.

Winchester M70s from FN are fantastic rifles, they also don't have integral mounts but no M70 ever has.

If you want a very nice factory rifle all 3 companies offer that. Winchester has some wonderful new editions like the Alaskan model that I think are very nice. I have not got to play with the Alaska model yet, but as soon as my feet touch America I'll get one to try. I have owned several M70's from the old New Haven plant, most of the non-pre 60 models were crap. Even several CRF supergrades, that I saved long and hard to buy were an incredable dissapointment.

For a long time I wouldn't touch a Winchester M70, and now that FN has them built in the FN plant quality has come back to the name.

There are a very limited number of CRF factory rifles available that are not made in America. This would include the Austrian Company Voere, the Czech company CZ, and the Yugoslavian built rifles who's name has changed several times.

Voere rifles are not imported as they have not bought into the State Departments fee structure for foreign made firearms. There are always Voere rifles on Gunbroker.

CZ has a wonderful reputation in America.

The Yugoslavian rifles have even been imported by Remington as Model 798. They were ok, for what they are.

You could also find a Argentina 1903 mauser and have it rebuilt, or buy a ideally a FN commercial 98 in the form of a J.C. Higgins Sears and Roebuck mauser.

Colorado Cowboy
11-20-2012, 07:15 AM
It's almost impossible to compare 40/50/60's era rifles with what we can get today. Knowledge. engineering and performance are totally different! We also demand more from our firearms that we used to. Rifles have evolved just like todays optics as compared to the same eras I mentioned. Our options for ammunition and components have evolved too. We get and demand performance that was unthought of previously.

I have several gun safes full of all types of big game rifles. Most are still older stuff that still shoot well and satisfy my requirements. I suppose if I wanted to consistantly kill animals at over 500 yards, I might need to spend some $$$ and get one of the new state of the art rifles. The closest I come is a rebarreled, restocked commercial Mauser in .300 Wby that will do a great job (moa) out to 600 yards, which is the furthest I've ever shot it. Everyone has their own requirements for what they plan on doing with their rifle. Mine all do what I want them to do.

11-20-2012, 09:42 AM
There are lots of custom and semi-custom gun makers, and most claim they are best at what they do. Some make 20 pound varmint rifles, while others focus on 5 pound mountain rifles, and other yet believe in fancy engraving and extravagant wood.
You really need to define some parameters. To this open ended question I might choose a Holland and Holland double rifle for about $150K+, but I won't plan to take it sheep hunting anytime soon.

Kimber makes quality production rifles at a cost far less than Dakota. Nothing wrong with Dakota, but the great wood and finish doesn't make them kill better, or any more accurate. Most brands produce rifles capable of accuracy less than 1", but many hunters can't perform this well themselves repeatedly.

Decide what purpose you envision for the gun, whether it is investment, target practice, or specific type of hunting. Plan your purpose with the goal in mind, and don't get hung up in endless debates about best.

11-20-2012, 03:32 PM

I think Dakotas have very average wood for the price they charge. Things are better now that Dakota is owned by Remington, but not much.

11-20-2012, 08:25 PM
Thanks for the info guys! What I'm thinking about is making a semi custom 300 mag. I was looking at taking apart a Winchester extreme weather because I don't really like the stock. But I've also been looking at the Dakota as I think I could put a stock on a barreled action for not too much more than the Winchester with a new stock. Edellweis, are any of those actions you mentioned stainless?

To clarify my question, I am looking to work on a stainless controlled round feed with a nice synthetic stock.

11-20-2012, 08:37 PM
DCannon, what are you looking to spend and I can give you some good options.

And what options do you want on it?

Bitterroot Bulls
11-20-2012, 08:49 PM
Check out these:


They also have "production" models that are pretty nice, and are a little over a grand.

11-20-2012, 10:14 PM
Edelweiss, I was thinking around $2500, maybe a little more. I would probably go with a #3 taper barrel, & a brown precision stock if he still does elephant hide on them. Maybe a teflon coat too, not sure about that though. Also, do all actions with a mauser claw need a both in the barrel, or is it only Winchester?

I have looked at the MRC rifles, & they just don't feel very good to me. It was very rough & just seemed overly heavy.

Bitterroot Bulls
11-20-2012, 10:33 PM
I have looked at the MRC rifles, & they just don't feel very good to me. It was very rough & just seemed overly heavy.

Was that a "production" MRC or a high country custom?

The high country guns are pretty light, IMO. They also have a tiny 5 lb. ultralight.

Even the production guns seem to smooth out after a little breaking in.

Just another option to look at for controlled round feed.

11-21-2012, 04:10 PM
Here's a price out

A Dakota 76 is about $2200 for the action from Brownells, you might find a cheaper one by looking around.

A 2nd hand FN Winchester M70 long action can be had for somewhere between 650-800. You could use a 2nd hand New Haven or even a pre-64, but less quality from both of those.

Barrel blank from Krieger, Lilja, Hart, Schneider about $300-400.

Talley Lightweight 2-Piece Scope Mounts with Integral Rings $45.99

Might as well change out the firing pin and spring $59.99

Jewell Rifle Trigger $240

Brown stock $900

Cerakote $250-400

True action, face receiver, replace firing pin, chamber and fit barrel, springs and lap lugs for contact. $800

I think you could probably have what you wanted for somewhere between $3000-5000.

You could save quite a bit by getting a 2nd hand Winchester action and sending it to Hart to true and install one of their barrels.

Hart charges $1015, to true, lap lugs, fit and chamber one of their barrels, including the barrel for a CM barrel. That's an outstanding buy.

Bedding a stock is stupid easy, and you could buy a stock from someone else and bed it way cheaper than giving Brown $900 for his.