Should I replace my rifle, or just the barrel?
PUBLISHED: 16:40 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:40 12 November 2018
I need some advice on changing my gun! I’m not sure whether I need a new rifle or just having a proper match barrel fitted... Chris Parkin replies
Q: I have a Sako model 591 with a standard heavy barrel in 1 in 12” twist, and I was looking at either having a proper match barrel fitted to the Sako action or getting a new rifle such as the Savage LRPV in .22-250 – is there any more info you can let me know about this rifle? I am also contemplating the option of getting a custom-built rifle in .22-250 since I like the calibre. Or perhaps there are some alternative .224 calibres you could advise me on?! Any information you can let me have will be much appreciated.
Chris Parkin replies: I reviewed a Savage LRPV several years ago in 6mm BR and found it to be a superbly accurate rifle with interesting right bolt/left port ergonomics to assist the single shot reloading varminter. The gun was a great performer out to 600 yards in that calibre, and if you chose one in .22-250 it would be similarly effective, although with only a 1 in 12” twist rate it won’t shoot the heavy, high BC bullets that would make it a great long-range performer. It is also a long, heavy, bulky rifle more suited to benchrested or stationary prone shooting.
I myself started out with a .22-250 and in your situation I think you might be better served by rebarrelling your current rifle in the same calibre but with a faster twist rate barrel, perhaps a 1 in 8” to get the most out of the cartridge’s capacity to lengthen the legs of it with 75-77gr bullets. I have owned and shot .222/.223 and .22-250 over the years, all showing their benefits, and generally speaking the more performance you want, the less barrel life you can expect (.22-250 is the only rifle I have truly burnt out). Calibres like .220 Swift, the new .224 Valkyrie and real belters like the .22-243 Middlestead will offer more alternate capabilities and character.
I had my .22-250 Sako 75 rebarrelled in .22 BR, and I hated it. It shot very accurately and consistently, but the short fat cases didn’t feed well in the rifle and it became a single shot tool. So, if you want to keep a magazine feed, I’d stick with longer, slimmer case designs.
I currently own just a single .223 and, to be fair, on foxes at distances out to 250m, which is quite far, they have all done what was needed. For longer ranges, and specifically as a varminter with low shot count, the .22-250 is still one of the best pocket rockets ever wildcatted and then formalised in my opinion. But I would be tempted these days to look at, although not necessarily choose, the .224 Valkyrie if ammunition components remain easily available.