Review: Montana Rifles American Vantage Rifle

As I've pointed out on other occasions, building a rifle for a heavy cartridge is not a matter of screwing a large-caliber barrel into whatever action you have on hand. Everything about the gun from weight to sights has to be re-thought. By the time you're done, the rifle you're putting on the market is in the upper echelons as far as cost goes. The least-expensive heavy rifle I know of that is really superior is the new Winchester Model 70, and that retails for around $1,400.

Montana has its own entry in the field, the Dangerous Game Rifle, which is a textbook example of what such a firearm should be, but it carries a price tag of $2,300. Seeing a hole in the market, Montana has come up with a far less costly heavy gun called the American Vantage Rifle. I'm a bit unclear what Vantage is supposed to imply, but it's a very, very good rifle, and it sells for $1,280.

The AVR comes in blue steel or all stainless, in a field-grade black walnut stock that's glass bedded. It's available in right- or left-hand (!) versions and is based on the company's refined version of the Model 70 action with the original Model 70 trigger, which has never been bettered. The pull on this rifle was 3 ½ pounds, and dead clean. Barrels are 24 inches, and the weight of the .375 H&H I was sent, with Leupold scope, was 9 ½ pounds, which is just about right for a gun of this caliber. The iron sights are a big white bead up front and a wide V rear.

Unlike the Model 70, which comes chambered for only a few cartridges, the AVR can be had in .35 Whelen, .375 (H&H and Ruger), .416 (Remington and Ruger), and .458 (Winchester and Lott). The .35 Whelen is an unconventional choice, but it makes sense, throwing, as it does, heavy bullets with comparatively low recoil. It's roughly analogous to the .404 Jeffrey in that respect.

My accuracy testing was confined to Federal 300-grain Trophy Bonded ammo. This was because a) I'm not exactly rolling in .375 H&H ammo, and b) after a while I can feel my brain sloshing around in my skull. But in any event, the damned rifle shot groups that averaged .840, with some hovering down near the half-minute mark, which makes the AVR, I believe, the most accurate .375 H&H I've ever tested.

It's not perfect. The checkering is pretty scant and the wood to metal fit doesn't look like what comes out of D'Arcy Echols' or Jerry Fisher's shops. But so what? This is an affordable, correctly designed, completely reliable, dead-accurate gun that will do whatever you want it to. And if old nyati gets a horn up your fundament, it won't be the rifle's fault. Montanarifles.com