300 Winchester Magnum Project: Practical Long Range Hunter
This is the introduction to a series covering my latest long range hunting build: A 300 Winchester Magnum.
This series will serve as a platform to share with you the techniques that I use for successful long range hunting. In it, I’ll chronicle the entire process; from choosing the components of the rifle to using it to fill tags. We’ll look at load development, trajectory validation, and realistic field practice. This first installment will cover why I chose a 300 Winchester Magnum and some of the build details of the rifle.
Why a 300 Winchester Magnum when there are more powerful, more efficient long range chamberings available?
I consider the 300 Winchester Magnum to be a middle-of-the-road long range hunting round. It lacks the horsepower of the big 338s, but brings more to the table than my favorite 6.5 MM. With a heavy barrel and efficient muzzle brake, recoil should be light. This is a major consideration, as I plan to use this rifle for my 11-year-old son’s formal long range training.
During the planning phase, I found myself oscillating between the popular 7 Rem Mag and the 300 Win Mag, but opted for the .30 caliber due to the heavier bullets available. All other things being equal, bigger is better for long range hunting. With bullets in the 200-grain class and a projected 2800 to 2900 fps muzzle velocity, they should work well in the 300 to 800 yard bracket I find myself hunting in most frequently. Components such as brass and bullets are generally available and plentiful.
Long barrel life seems to be a winning trait of the 300 Winchester Magnum. That’s an important factor when considering the volume of fire I have planned for it.
The rifle is built on a Remington 700 action. Originally chambered in 300 Weatherby Magnum, it came from Remington’s Custom Shop as an Alaskan Wilderness Rifle.
The receiver was square and the bolt fit well. Other than pinning a Holland’s recoil lug to it and cleaning up the bolt lugs, we left the action alone. I added a Jewell trigger and set it to break at 1 ½ pounds.
I used a Broughton 1-10” twist barrel with a “Heavy Varmint Sporter” contour.I couldn’t decide between the portability of a 26” barrel and the velocity advantage of a 28”, so I split the difference and finished it at 27”. At just under six pounds, this barrel contour keeps the weight of the rifle balanced and helps manage recoil. I don’t know much about the reamer we used, other than a friend of mine had a barrel chambered with it that shot very well. Initial testing shows that at least one popular long range bullet won’t be able to reach the lands if loaded to magazine length. We threaded the barrel for a Jim See Blast Tamer muzzle brake.
One of my goals for this build was to copy the aesthetics and handling characteristics of my favorite 260 Remington.
To accomplish that, I ordered a McMillan A-3 stock, inletted for Surgeon’s DBM bottom metal. The marble swirl finish color is 40% olive, 30% tan, and 30% black. Because this rifle will be used by a few different sized shooters, the stock needed to be adjustable. McMillan added their adjustable butt plate spacer system, setting it up for a 12” to 13 ½” length of pull. It also has their clamp bar adjustable cheek piece, which adjusts for height, as well as cant. I really like this set up so far, and will probably order another one like it for my competition rifle build this summer. After making sure the bottom metal and barreled action fit perfectly in the A-3, it was bedded with Marine-Tex.
Riding on top is the new Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56 Enhanced.
Mounted in Nightforce’s six-screw Ultralight rings on top of a 40 MOA rail, this combination allows 102 MOA of up travel from zero. That’s more than enough to reach the end of the 300 Winchester Magnum’s effective range. The ATACR has a second focal plane MOAR-T reticle. To keep everything on the level and ambidextrous, a Defensive Edge ring cap ACD rounds out the package. ***UPDATE*** For my review on the Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56 Enhanced, click HERE.
Stay tuned for more on this build, with initial load development strategies and techniques coming up next.