We all know that more money equals top quality. And top quality guarantees top performance. But you don’t want to risk bankruptcy. And you can’t settle for a rickety straight out-from-the-box $350 hunting rifle. Given they lack or don’t share enough features with top models such as the AXMC .308 Winchester or the MacMillan CS5 Alias.
The best option is to assemble your own top-performing sniper rifle and attach a long-range rifle scope. I’m going to show you how to do just that while maintaining a tight budget ($1000 – $1300). By the end of this article, you should craft your very own budget beast and build an affordable sniper rifle.
Features and Parts to Consider
Here’s a summary of the basic parts and features for making a precise sniper rifle:
- Proper rifle (action and barrel)
- Trigger mechanism
- Base and rings
- Other accessories
The rifle should be the first part to start with because it consists of important features: the barrel and the action. It’s also in charge of gun stability after recoil. Personally, I recommend the Remington 700 long-range model. It has a strong and reliable action which is why it’s the basic build for thousands of bench rest rifles.
Also, it has a heavy barrel that takes longer to overheat, thus making it superior to the regular thin-barreled hunting rifle that ends up firing inaccurate rounds after your 5th or 6th shot.
The final check to the list is the stability it provides. This is due to its aluminum bedding block, which fastens the receiver and the stock tightly. Enough to prevent inaccurate shots or discomfort. A bonus feature of the Remington 700 is the availability of excess aftermarket parts that you can augment into it.
Note: apart from the Remington 700, you can also choose the Howa 1500 or Remington mag. You can get a used rem 700 rifle at a low price of $400. A strawman sale could hit $700.
Irrespective of the rifle’s default parts, you should add the best trigger mechanism for your shots. Why? Because it impacts your accuracy a lot. So you have to find the trigger pull weight that works for you.
- Soft Trigger: If a soft trigger pull suits your style of shooting, the weight pull range between 0.5lbs to 0.9lbs should suffice. You could even go below 0.5lbs. But there must be a safety lock to come with such a low-weight pull range.
- Medium Trigger: A little bit of resistance could be just what you need for making a well-timed shot. Then you should select a weight pull within the range of 1.0 -1.4lbs.
- Hard Trigger: Twitchy trigger finger? If you’re looking for more mechanical resistance for each of your shots, then go for 1.5lbs or higher.
Note: you can purchase aftermarket triggers from companies like Jewell, Triggertech Diamond, Timney, & Bix’n Andy Trigger. It’s best to spend more, and its highest price is about $300.
This is where most of your budget should go. Given it’s the main part that makes the firearm a long-range rifle in the first place. It’s also the most complicated part, so take note carefully. When choosing a scope, there are certain features and factors to consider:
- Magnification power: The power of the scope determines how far a sniper rifle can shoot. If its magnification power value is 10X, then the rifle can takedown targets over 1000 yards away.
- Elevation & windage turrets: They allow impact adjustment relative to wind and elevation. So you can land a clean long-range shot despite unfavorable conditions.
- Parallax Turret: It helps to prevent the reticle from appearing to follow the target.
- Type of Reticle: If you want all-day visibility (night and day), then you need a reticle that can be illuminated. For better accuracy, the reticle can have duplex crosshairs with or without a red-dot. Or a bullet-drop compensation.
- Multi-coated Lens: It helps to gather enough light to view your target clearer at the scope’s highest magnification power.
- Position of the Reticle: Here’s how it works: if the reticle is on the second focal plane, then it remains the same size throughout the scope’s power adjustment. If it’s on the first focal plane, then the reticle changes size due to a change in magnification.
Note: Low power scopes are great for large targets. High power scopes are great for smaller and farther targets. You can get a great scope between $200 – $450.
Base and Rings
Now that you’ve got your rifle’s scope, the next item on the list is the base and ring system. It’s the part that holds the scope and the gun together. If not properly fitted onto your rifle, you could risk wasting your ammo and even missing a target.
Ring and base systems to choose from:
- One-piece system: If you’re not in for making too many adjustments, the single piece is for you. It’s the most rigid system. Great for long-range rifles but not bolted-action ones. Why? It sits too far above the action of such rifles, thus making it hard to reload.
- Two-piece system: This is a great choice if you desire to have more control over adjustments, making it ideal for bolt-action rifles.
- Weaver system: This system can easily attach and detach a scope because there are slots cut into its bases. Sadly, it’s not compatible with most rifles.
Note: the highest you can spend on a mounting system is about $200.
This part of the gun acts as a balance for the whole system — a vital component for accuracy and comfort. Like most rifles, it would have the default aluminum bedding block within, which might not be stable enough. You can get more stability with glass bedding. That is, as long as the stock is good. If the stock happens to be bad, then you should purchase an aftermarket stock.
Note: A gunsmith could charge between $80 – $150 for glass bedding.
Right before you start target practice, you need to find that ammo that suits you. If you’re a first-timer, then you should get yourself factory bullets before you try out any other specials. That way, you save the most money. If it’s just not doing it for you, then go for great options that are compatible with the Remington 700 .308 rifle, like these:
- Hornady 168 AMAX
- Fed 168s
- Black Hills 168
Note: the best bullets for long-range targets are heavier ones — especially if you’re going above 500 yards. Choose within the range of 175 – 178s.
There are lots of accessories that’ll go great with your sniper build, but you need to focus on improving precision and comfort whilst maintaining the budget. Important accessories:
- A cheap bipod that can cost as low as $15.
- Shooting bag
- Ear protection
Build Your Affordable Sniper Rifle Now!
It’s not just fancy tacti-cool gear that gives you the best. Sometimes, you can get excellent quality from a much cheaper and basic gear set up consisting of:
- A proper rifle
- Consistent trigger mechanism
- Top-end scopes (connected to the gun with compatible rings and base)
- A stable stock
- And the perfect rounds
All of which is enough to craft a precise top-performing affordable sniper rifle. Once you complete the setup, buy enough bullets, load your gun, and practice!