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Torn on rifle platform choice

01 Jan 2021
@ 05:12 pm (GMT)

Josh Jackson

Hi guys. First post on here. Wishing you all a happy new year and success in your pursuits and goals this year.
Congrats Nathan and Steph on creating an amazing resource for us all on here. I own all of Nathan's books (except The Door which I will get very soon) and have to say that they are, by far the best and most informative books I have ever read on these topics - period. Not just about rifles but also about mindset and attitude. I expect there will be more of this is Nathan's new book which I'm looking forward to reading.

However I have a problem. I am torn on which rifle platform to choose and what caliber. After reading the books I have narrowed the search down to two rifle platforms and two calibers. The 7mm Rem Mag in a remington 700 sps action or a Tikka T3 in 7mm-08. I have shot deer with both rifle platforms in both calibers with great precision thanks to Nathan's books. Now I am turning my focus to a dedicated 0-600 yard rifle. 600 yards is the max I can practise at so that is my absolute limit on game.
As a younger married man with two young kids you will already know my dilemma -budget. Time is not an issue with this project as long as I'm still in my 20's once completed haha.
I love how the tikkas are out of the box accurate (I've had one dud bore which tikka replaced) but I have good experience successfully bedding multiple remington 700s. Never had to bother with a Tikka. I'm aware both calibers are capable at 600 yards but love the flatter shooting and more powerful 7mm rem mag for the reds in the ruahines. I hunt sika and reds regularly with good success.
I would opt for the 700 straight away but am well aware of and have fallen victim to dud barrels in them. Close to $1000 straight away to put a new barrel on if it is a dud would be fine but would just slow the project to a crawl for 6 months or so...
Does anybody know if the barrel quality on the sps has increased in the last couple of year and can you please give me some insights or maybe a completely different perspective on thought processes and even potentially calibers here. I have used the 308 extensively and still do but am looking for a change this year, and a new project.
I am open minded and am not leaning towards one or the other at this point and would own both if I could.
The calibers I have owned and or shot are: 243, 25-06, 308, 7mm rem mag, 338 lapua, 30-06, .223, 303, 300wsm.
I know it's long and thanks for taking the time to read. Any responses would be greatly appreciated,
Kind regards, Josh


01 Jan 2021
@ 05:18 pm (GMT)

Joshua Jackson

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Hey guys me again.
Forgot to mention that I will be reloading for whatever caliber and platform I eventually decide on if that's of any use to you. Thanks again, Josh
02 Jan 2021
@ 02:47 pm (GMT)

Blair H

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Hi Josh - first off I'll congratulate you on the gracious way you started your first post! My own first shot on the forums was around the same time and I can only make the dodgiest claim to a saving grace - that it was just a humble reply. I should have made a similar gesture to yours in reference to the massive effort and generosity Nathan and Steph have gifted us all. I didn't know until a day or two ago about Nathan's books but I'll definitely be buying them.

I've had the pleasure of hunting in your general area, Josh - no animals around here at all, right! I remember when the magazines started writing about our sika. Almost overnight we had crowds from all over the place chasing them. They're possibly the most entertaining (and sometimes a bit scary in the riar) deer to hunt.

I can't help but wonder if your fighting an urge to go to the dark side and get a .270???

Probably not, but here's the reasoning behind my stupidity... (fire at will).

The two cartridges you speak of are ballistically quite different, yet both are closer to the .270 than each other - by which I mean if you're not going to get both, the .270 can match the 7/08 and yet can also be made to 'approach' 7mmRemMag numbers. Cost, noise, recoil are all better with the .270 than the magnum - those factors would be your plusses 'for a 7/08 and yet directly apply to the .270.

Going by your question you're not too worried about action length - although I'm guessing you want the most out of the action design you choose. Not only is the .277 the real 7mm (tongue in cheek), the 270 goes very well even with a 22" barrel, so overall rifle length for the bush is better than a 7mmMag.

To be honest your question is actually interesting because of the way it seems to make the.270 argument so strong.

Really, the only point against the .270 is the perennial one regarding the apparent lack of choice in projectiles but providing you can get a 140-150grain high (relatively) BC bullet that shoots really well and performs on Sika and red deer, you're laughing. If you really need .284 choices though, perhaps you should consider a .280?

Either the .270 or the.280 can be improved. (I have not really studied this option, but if the numbers worked then you would just need the chamber modified for a bit more hp (not forgetting barrel length considerations and maybe talking that into account in your initial purchase).

Good luck with it mate. What sort of scope are you thinking?

I wish I was young enough to be worried about not being twenty any more. I'm not sure if it's easier being broke when you're young, or when you''re old and peacefully resigned to it, hahaha!

03 Jan 2021
@ 12:00 am (GMT)

Magnus Vassbotn

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Hi Josh, and welcome!

Just wanna throw in one factor that could be of relevance. It is possible to change the bottom "metal" and magazines of the tikka, so that the rifle will accept longer rounds. I have not looked closely at it, so I do not know specific measurements or price, or potential hazzles. But from what I hear, long handloads in 7 mm rem mag, 270, 280 etc will fit. A factory tikka in 7 mm rem mag (or 270) with this solution is worth a look, if price is ok.

03 Jan 2021
@ 09:57 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Hi. As Josh said, the 7mm RM would be preferable for shooting reds at 600 yards. Also, the odds of getting an out-the-box shooter may be better with a Tikka. The data needed to evaluate a Tikka in a 7mm RM are all available in the LR Rifles book. The mag length is 85mm. It can be altered, coupled with a bolt-stop alteration. But whether that’s necessary depends on what bullet you plan to use and the exact chamber length of the individual gun. Were it me, and I lived in NZ, I’d contact Nathan for an estimate, and compare the cost to re-barreling a 700, neither of which may be necessary, of course.
03 Jan 2021
@ 10:53 am (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice

FWIW, I'm in Blair's camp where he suggested the .280 Rem "option." Not saying I disagree with Scott though on the 7mm RM...because he's right. Hard indeed to argue with that cartridge.

My .280 is Ackley Improved. Slightly better ballistics than the standard .280...with (for me) noticeably less recoil than the 7 RM. Just one reason I chose the 280 AI instead.

A lot of good people here to discuss this with Josh. You're on the right track.

Welcome...and all the best.


03 Jan 2021
@ 11:52 am (GMT)

Hamish Gibbs

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Should probably add new trigger to your cons list on the rem 700 option if you're looking at the xmark.
Have you put a pros/cons list together on paper for both pathways? Was thinking about it this morning and have a feeling it will become more clear as you put it down on paper?
About the only con of the the tikka 7 08 would be not quite the legs/wind bucking/terminal performance of the rem mag? Could you live with that? For out of the box accuracy, practice efficiency, trigger and portability it's an obvious choice if budget is of concern.
Now what I would investigate, getting the cheapest LA boltfaced old t3 with a clapped out barrel(possibly a good stock?) that I could find and put a .284 win trueflite barrel on it in 1/9 twist. Dud barrel problem goes out the window, around 150 more fps with 162 eldm than the 7 08? Possible contender for the 180 eldm? All in a more portable platform that's going to be cheaper to shoot than the rem mag. What's unknown to me is what's involved in mag and boltface work/cost but it is a fairly common conversion on the t3 but that's why I would investigate.
As an aside is the .280 available as factory in the tikka? Asked at a shop the other day and they weren't 100%?
03 Jan 2021
@ 12:31 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Hi Josh, thank you very much for your kind words. I found the easiest way to answer your question was via video response. I hope it covers your questions and helps you out.

Here is the link:

All the best,
03 Jan 2021
@ 02:33 pm (GMT)

Jake Carey

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Based on what I've read in Nathan's books and elsewhere I think under 600 yards you've possibly got more options with the baby 7 vs the big one. There isn't any bullet I've seen mentioned that will suffer failure at 7-08 speeds, and at 600 even the tougher long range bullets are still going fast enough to perform well. That's how I've interpreted things. I got the book set a month ago myself and haven't come up for air very often. Here in the US the 7mag is notorious for meat waste and spotty performance, but that's mostly a function of bad shooting and the mystifying use of 120-140 grain bullets. Obviously not enough ammo manufacturers and hunters have bought Nate's books. There's a lot of allure to a 7 rem mag when it's doing everything right though.

I don't know enough about Remington's quality or either 7mm to comment from my own experience, but what I do know is that here in the western US 2 things are true:

1. people are skeptical in general about late-model remingtons right now because of the risk you've described. there are a lot of bad experiences scattered throughout their price range compounded by the bankruptcy/buyout drama. We even have the luxury of many prefit "remage" makers (savage-style barrel nut, DIY headspacing) and people still tend to step around remingtons from the last ten years. Recently made, stock remingtons often sit in the classifieds for a very long time compared to other makers no matter what price range you're looking at. The risk you've isolated seems to be a real one. I think a lot of people who are buying them do so because of the aftermarket options and they just plan on upgrading them. I would honestly worry more about having a crooked action than a bad barrel, but that might not be lucid. At the time of Nathan's book he was still pretty positive about them, hopefully he can say something about it. Maybe hating remington is just another fad.

2. People here are practically dumping their belted magnums and WSMs right now. I assume they are replacing them with fad 6.5s, which is a separate issue. What's relevant is that almost nobody is selling their 7mm-08. You almost can't buy one new or used at any price. Even the youth stocked ones sell quickly. It's true there are fewer of them and their market share has been killed by the creedmoor, but it's also true that people just like them very, very much. Even here in the desert many people are keeping the little 7 over the omnipotent 270 winchester.

That's a long answer, perhaps not helpful, but I've been mulling over a similar puzzle myself. I also think the used market is informative and I have a giant population around me for that type of feedback. Even here in the desert there are as many people within a few hours of me as you have in all of NZ. If I had your options and were hunting windy gulleys in the ruahines I'd probably risk the remington, but my experience reading the breeze on a kill shot is nil. Best of luck.
03 Jan 2021
@ 03:36 pm (GMT)

Joshua Jackson

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Gidday all.
Wow what awesome responses.
Thanks a lot for all your input and advice. Thanks Blair, Scott, Magnus, Jake, Hamish and Daniel You have all given me some things to ponder over the next little while.

Nathan - thanks heaps for taking some time out of your busy schedule to make that video- I'm very grateful. Was really insightful and has definitely helped me out. Glad you mentioned why it was between the 7mm08 in tikka and Remington 700 in 7mm Rem Mag. I forgot to mention my reasoning for that, for the benefit of other readers. I will definitely be looking at begara to. As you said, chrome moly won't be much of an issue for me as I carry a small maintenance kit (like the one in your book) in my pack and give all my rifles a clean and oil at the hut / tent if necessary. The "curve ball" you threw in at the end in 30-06 now has me looking down that avenue as well haha! Awesome stuff.

I will post an update when I've made a decision and chuck up some updates on the project / build for anyone who is curious.

Thanks again,

03 Jan 2021
@ 04:10 pm (GMT)

Hamish Gibbs

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Everyone loves an update Josh!
Another great video Nathan, love the background porn, somehow knew 30 06 was coming before you said it.
Hope the new year finds everyone well.
03 Jan 2021
@ 06:26 pm (GMT)

Blair H

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
This is pretty cool. I have been away from shooting for one or two boring as hell reasons and I'm glad I'm back. I really enjoy dscussions around cartridges.

Nathan - a description of our neighbourhood scrub for our foreign friends wouldn't be complete without a reference to spaniard. For them: spaniard is a spear grass that hides in amongst all the lovely benign stuff (like leatherwood, hahaha!) and if you're not being careful it's well capable of whacking a spike straight through an arm or leg or butt. Josh knows what I mean.

The .3006 is a cool idea. And your reasoning for it Nathan was sort of along the same lines as my .270 one. They're both old school cases that have possibly been a bit left behind (probably more so the '06, in NZ anyway) but have unrealised potential due to new tech powders anc better bullets etc. You've fair got me with that - now I want to read up on it with new eyes. l'm just rattling this out off the cuff but I'm pretty sure .30 cal sectional densities leave .270 way behind, even if the .270 competes during flight.

One thing I picked up on - no mention(??) whether Josh shoots strictly factory loads or if he has access to handloading?

Josh, not sure but if you're on the Eastern side you might be fairly local. Not someone who would try and encroach on your patch mate, but if you needed a spotter for testing loads etc... Dont worry, I ordered Nathan's books yesterday so hopefully I'll sound more intelligent shortly.
04 Jan 2021
@ 08:58 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
hi guys
lot of good comments on here and i'm really enjoying the new video answers Nathan is doing.

i tend to read forum lot more then i comment these days and when i first saw the post i did wonder if there would be any merit in using a howa?
some of the barrels are bit short and light but some aren't to bad but all depends on what importer will get their hands on and when.

other option i did wonder while watching nathan's video is something like a tikka varmint in 300wsm.

i enjoy working on rifles but as a father also i can see advantage of a rifle that shoot well out of the box and spending the small amount of spare time hunting.
took me other 8 months to bed a tikka this year i mean last year, that's even with being at home during the lockdown.
part of it is not having lot of confidence in the tikka design when it comes to bedding but work through it slowing using nathan's instructions (tikka vimeo video is massive help).

i look forwards to seeing which direction you go in Josh and happy new year to all the members

11 Jan 2021
@ 10:40 am (GMT)

Jim Beck

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Was just reading another post where the guy mentioned a Howa and after working with a couple hundred of them I would grab a 1500 or Vanguard without a glance at a 700 and that’s after owning a couple as well as 721s & 722s. Saw a Howa on warranty missing the top half of the receiver ring but the bolt stayed put (vigorous load -as in case full -of what looked like 4895 under an old Peters 225 Inner Belt bullet in a 30-06) and the owner walked away. Right now I have 2 - one a stainless 300 Wby in the B&C composite stock that chronos
right with book data tho’ it’s 24” & not freebored. Rainy day rifle that shoots factory 180 TSX as good as I need. The other is a short action that started out a 7mm-08 but I hand reamed it to a 284. It still holds 5 in the mag. Killed 1 black tail at 75yds so it didn’t tell me much. Have a B&C Varmint style stock, Ruger 30 cal barrel blank and a set of 30-284 dies and so want to make a target rifle someday. We also had a way of reworking the Howa trigger that made it light and crisp but still safe...but think most go with the drop in Timneys. Also could mix and match barrels and few needed headspace work. Only saw the Tikkas in the pawn shop & gun magazines. I’m on the West Coast of the US ( CA & WA ) and right now my favorite shops are busy selling handguns so I have been laying low. Good luck. Jim
15 Jan 2021
@ 02:32 pm (GMT)


Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
Hi Josh, thank you very much for your kind words. I found the easiest way to answer your question was via video response. I hope it covers your questions and helps you out.

Here is the link:

All the best,

Nathan - I really appreciate you setting the physical hunting conditions stage/background as the preface for your video response. It really helped put your response (and Josh's inquiry) in a perspective I could understand and at least in part (the bush part with reduced visibility).

As others have stated - really like the Vimeo responses.
Mike (Florida_Cracker
20 Jan 2021
@ 05:43 am (GMT)

David Lenzi

Re: Torn on rifle platform choice
As it happens, I've got a Tikka T3x in 7mm RM that I bought as a project rifle. It will be getting some new bottom metal here for my birthday. Here's how it works out in my rifle:
- my magazine accommodates ~3.3 inches COL
- my Matrix 168 VLD kiss the lands at a COL of ~3.4 inches

That's a 100 thou jump to the lands and relatively little ability to tune it. That also means that the 168/175 (even the 162 to some extent) sit back into the case a little more than ideal. The AICS pattern mags give me a ~3.5" COL to work with and that's a real boon.

Sadly, the US Gov't is giving Matrix a hard time, so I'll likely transition to the ELD-X.

I've also got a .30-06 that turned into a project rifle because the factory barrel didn't shoot (it was a 2 MOA rifle with me behind it). Spent a lot of money on this rifle to get it shooting as well as a factory Tikka, in fact. As you note, the replacement barrel alone cost me more than the Tikka did.

Performance wise, I load the 208 ELD-M at 2670 fps or so (the factory barrel did 2600, which should be pretty obtainable). That's down 4.1 mil to 600 at sea level w/ .9 mil of drift in a 10 mph wind. Running a 162 ELD-X @2950 is 3.2 mils come up and .8 mil of drift by way of comparison. 1870 fps retained for the former, 2100 for the latter.

Of course, you can push 165, 180, 195, 200, etc. out of a .30-06 - really versatile...which I think you can say for both.


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