April 21, 2010
Petzal: How to Buy a Rifle
By David E. Petzal
I got an e-mail last week from a budding gun nut who owns a factory .30/06 in the low medium-price range. He’s dissatisfied with it, not because it doesn’t work, but because like every gun nut he’s an inveterate tinkerer, experimenter, and worshipper of the Great What If. He asked about a replacement stock, a new barrel, and a trigger job, and I pointed out that he was, in effect, throwing out the original purchase price of the rifle because the only thing he was keeping was the action. I used to do this all the time.
There are only three rational courses to pursue when buying a rifle:
1) If all you can afford is a cheap gun, get a good cheap gun, get it a trigger job if it needs one, and let it alone.
2) If you want something classy, but don’t have the $3,000-plus that it takes to buy a true custom working rifle, save up your pennies until you have about half that amount and get a Kimber Model 84, or a Weatherby Mark V, or a Nosler Model 48 Trophy Grade, or a Sako Model 85, or three or four others that I can’t call to mind right now. Are these rifles really worth twice as much as guns that cost, say, $800? Yes. Will you be tempted to “improve” them? Only if you’re brain damaged.
3) If you want to go whole hog and get a rifle from Ed Brown Precision, or New Ultra Light Arms, or the Remington Custom Shop, or Montana Rifles, or anyone in that exalted company, then you will want to think very long and hard before you even start saving, because much of what you are buying is intangible, and we will get into that part of it in a future post.