January 29, 2008
On Cheap Rifles, Part II
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
"Cheap" refers not only to price. A great many pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters were cheaply made but still carried hefty price tags. It was so pervasive that in the mid-1960s the Gun Digest ran an article by Bob Hagel entitled "How to Fix Your Model 70 and Learn Ballroom Dancing at Home." The triggers were lamentable, the inletting appeared to have been done with an adze, and the checking was executed with a rooster claw.
Remington used to build the Model 788 bolt-action, which was cheap but not a bad gun at all. It was so simple that there was not much opportunity to screw it up. It had a rear-lugged bolt, an uncheckered stock, and a pretty fair trigger. The 788s that I got my hands on shot very well.
The Tikka T3 at $700 is not cheap at all, but considering the fit and finish and accuracy, it is cheap. T3s are very, very nicely put together, and for what you get for your money, it is a cheap gun.
But the best cheap guns of all are used guns. Lunatics like me sell wonderful firearms for all sorts of inane reasons, and you can profit from our folly. I recently put a rifle on the market for $500 which would cost nearly $3,000 if you bought it new today. It's 20 years old and has had serious usage, but it's still a $3,000 rifle for one-sixth the price. And, oh yes, it's been sold.