A 700 Journey


Oct 29, 2013
After moving to Alaska permanently in 2004 from the East Coast, and borrowing friends rifles for a couple of years, in 2006 I decided it was time for my own. A 30-'06 had always been my want so I set about deciding which one. Settling on a Model 700 XCR I ordered one from a local gun shop.
A couple months later I got a call that she was in and I headed right down. I had a Leupold VX3 3.5-10 I had ordered in the interim with me and had the smith mount and bore sight it for me while I was there. Picked up a couple different boxes of ammo for her before I left and it's off to the range.
Dang I was excited! This was my first centerfire rifle of my own. Bow/Shotgun/Muzzleloader only where I grew up. So I'm stoked at the moment. I get to the range, get my station all set up with my ammo and cleaning supplies with plans to "break in" the barrel over the next couple hours. Here we go...
First shot, where'd that go? (I'm shooting at 100 here.) Hmm...ok. Clean and repeat. Whelp, so much for that bore sight I guess. Clean again move the target in to 25. Sight down the bore, adjust the scope etc. Ok 3rd shot, we're on paper at 25. At least we'vegot that solved. Clean and back to 100. Shoot 4 and 5 cleaning between. Those holes aren't very close together. Hmm. Proceed to shoot 3 groups of 3, cleaning between, and am realizing this is not the load for this rifle. No worries, they were just some less expensive rounds I had gotten specifically for the break in and wasn't overly concerned about the "groups". Finished with a 6 shot string and a final cleaning and called it a day. She was all broken in, oiled up and ready to be put in service. I'd be back with the good stuff...
I shall spare you the horrid and gory details. Suffice it to say though that after spending a lot of money on ammo, trying an honest 8-10 options, the rifle wouldn't shoot anything well. I finally had to settle on a 165gr Partition load, I forget by whom, that would give me just under 2" if I was really on my game. I was not happy. By this point I'm all in roughly $1500 on this rifle/scope/ammo setup. Being a bum trout/salmon guide and line cook at the time in my 20's that was A LOT of money to me.
Knowing I'd have to keep my shots pretty close, I was able to stalk within about 50 yards of a blackie in a blueberry patch up the mountain that fall. Even with all the trials so far, she and I both did our part and came home with some meat. I was stoked! First animal with my own rifle.
We made a good looking couple😍
So we traveled around together for a while, trying new things along the way. Never could really find anything any better than that Partition load for a couple years though. Then one day I'm in the gun shop and see a box of Winchester Supreme 180gr Accubonds. Hmm, haven't tried those yet, why not? So I pick some up and head to the range sometime shortly thereafter. We'll that's an improvement. Just under 1.5" if I'm doing my part. Ok then, I can get behind this a bit more.
So her and I go walkabout a few more times and run into some things along the way. Me a few donuts and her a couple cans of spray paint....img_1_1662940856266.jpg
So we keep doing our thing but I'm running into a problem. My girl only likes to eat at one restaurant and it seems to have shut down all of a sudden. I can't find these Accubonds anywhere. I'm down to less than two boxes and am starting to sweat it. She needs to eat but I can't feed her. What to do?
Why not spend a TON of money, and just make my own? I'm a pretty good cook, can't be much different right...little of this little of that and poof, loaded ammo.
So that sets me on the Journey. I dig around, do some research, buy some stuff etc. I "meet" a bunch of great guys on this forum that I could never thank enough, whether they knew they were helping me or not. I get my feet wet and eventually take the dive as most of us do.
I tinker with the 180 Accubonds and get the best I can. She'd shoot them about 1.25" and I kind of figured that was the best I was going to get from her. She just wasn't a tack driver. No worries, still brings home the meat.
So we go down that patch for awhile until about the last year or so. There are "others" now that have been added along the way so she doesn't get all the attention anymore. I always took her out for a date a few time a year though and started to notice something. She wasn't really shooting better, still the same 180 load that I hadn't tweaked for years, but she felt better. Smoother somehow. I'm fairly consistent in keeping track of round count in my rifles and it was right around 300 that I noticed. So what to do? Why not tinker?
Well as usual with me when I "tinker" I go pretty well full bore. Cerakote, that sounds cool. Ouch, pricey, oh well. Magpul, they sound cool, let's do it. No gunsmith work, just a drop in but a definite upgrade from the stock.....stock. Small improvement group wise with the old load but nothing special. Time for a rework.
One of the biggest issues with this rifle, and every other 700 I have, is the super long throat and short box. My original AccuBond load at max box length was jumping .175" to the lands. With the bottom metal and detachable mag on the Magpul I'm able to load all the way out to them if I want.
Decided to go back to the 165's for the time being. I've got others I shoot the 180's out of now. So I grab some Ballistic Tips and 4350 off the shelf and get to work. Do my ladder and find the node. Getting consistent results at 58.7gr so let's load some up. 3.060" (with comparator) puts me .010" off the lands. Dang, that's long. Well, the boys say these BT's like it fairly close so let's see. Whoa. That looks great. Let's load up a few more. Yup, done with that one.
Well, I've got some 165 Accubonds too. May as well try it out for a pure hunting load. They like a bit more jump but let's start at the beginning....
To wrap up a long story like I said before, I can't thank all of you that have helped me over the years enough. The forthcoming and helpful attitude on this forum is a testament to the core group of guys on it. Whether it's been direct or not the knowledge I've gained, and continue to gain, here is precious to me. So, thank you all for helping a newbie out all along the way. I'll continue to lurk in the background now and steal tidbits from you all.

Thanks again,
09/11/01-'22 Never Forget
Well, it's not stealing if it is given freely. And those who post here on a regular basis are generous with their experience and their insight. Great write-up. Thanks for taking the time. That is an encouragement to many of us, without a doubt.
Great write up. You got her shooting now, although according to the above photos it didn't matter when it didn't shoot that well. Nothing but a big improvement since then so you'll have the confidence to tackle any difficult shot you might run into. Congrats on your successes.
Interesting journey you've had with that rifle, and some successes along the way. I'd imagine now that its a solid performer, there'll be plenty more success stories to share. Thanks for read.
Nice write up.
I feel your pain , my 30-06 has been a thorn in my side from day one. I finally screwed on a different barrel to see if it makes a difference.
Ben, I like that name, same as my son. Thank you for sharing your journey and pictures with us. Even though you weren't getting good groups you were able to tag the game. Good for you sticking with it, trying different things and finding what works best. Hope you have many more years of success with it. Dan.
Good read Ben. Glad you made some friends here and got yourself on the right track.

Glad you found a load that you are happier with.
Another option you could do, should you decide you need to shoot 180 or heavier bullets in this rifle, would be to have a gunsmith remove the barrel, remove a thread from the action end, and rechamber the barrel with a shorter throat. It may improve your rifle's performance with all bullet weights.

Had to do this with my Sako I had rebarreled to 338 Federal; it wouldn't shoot better at first (2-5" groups with the various factory ammunition offerings from 180-210 gr bullets). Now it will shot 1" groups or better with all bullet weights. Turns out that most 338 Federal reamers have the longer throat, and the gunsmith performed this task giving it a shorter throat that tightened up the groups considerably. A worthwhile investment in my case.
Thanks for all the kind words gentleman. I'm very happy with how she has come around. The next, and probably final, iteration will most likely be to bring her to my smith and have her pillared and bedded in a more traditional hunting stock. Then also have him fit the Magpul bottom metal to it. It will keep my ability to load the rounds long, and I also kind of like the detachable mag.
Kind of puts me in a conundrum at the moment. I leave for moose camp day after tomorrow and have been planning on bringing my 700 Classic in 350 Rem Mag out as I'd really like to take a moose with it. With the weather forecast (rain followed by rain with a sprinkling of rain on top), and how well the '06 is shooting, I'm having 2nd thoughts....
Well, the 350 RM is one heckuva fine round for moose (or about anything else you might meet in the Alaskan wilds). It was one of my favourite cartridges, until I sold it this past fall. I may have to break down and buy another rifled chambered in that round.
You're absolutely right Doc. I'm most likely still bringing the 350. I have a woodstove in the tent so can dry everything out each day so I'm not too worried about the weather. She also shoots great so it's no loss there either.