The Ultimate Survival Rifle Build

Apr 17, 2020
109
34
Hi everyone, this is my first post here so I wanted to give myself a quick intro. I am a young adult gun enthusiast who plans on training to be a certified gunsmith so I can make working on guns my full time job! I've actually browsed around here quite a bit and have found you folks to be a great source of info so I'm excited to get involved in conversations and ask questions.

So let's get into it. I am planning my Ultimate Survival Rifle build that I want to make myself. It will likely be at least three years before I can start on this but I figure I'll start doing my research now.

First thing is to define the needs and constrain it to a budget. I think I want to keep the entire build including the cost of an optic within the $4,000 mark. Now this will be designed to be my "keep forever, use for everything" rifle so I am definitely willing to put more money into it than I usually would because it will be my practical "end all" set up.

For me, an Ultimate Survival Rifle needs to be able to handle anything I might need to "survive," whether that be dangerous game, an urban war zone, stranding in the middle of nowhere, or just bordem over a weekend that needs a trip to the range :wink: , and do all this very reliably. What I want is the ability to make a one shot kill on any target the size of a coyote within 300 yards.

As far as rifle type, I believe the reliability of a bolt action makes it preferable over the semi-auto options currently in common circulation. To be honest, I would really love this to be chambered in 30-06, but because the 308 is NATO standard and is more likely to be available, I think 308 is the way to go, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm still debating actions. I started out thinking it should be a Rem 700 since the aftermarket is so huge, but Rem QC scares me a bit. I've started considering the Savage 110 because they seem to make quality stuff (my dad has a 110 Scout) and because I saw someone here say that they can be good project guns; easy to replace barrels. I could use some suggestions on this front. I want something reliable and no-nonsense, and not unnecessarily expensive. I kind of considered CRF actions but I'm not sure if they really provide more reliability than Push Fed nowadays. Opinions? I also have a soft spot for the Tikka T3, but I'm not sure what the aftermarket looks like for these.

I'm pretty sure I want a McMillan stock, probably a Game Scout. Weather impervious, American Made, and according to McMillan, should not require any bedding to get "better than adequate accuracy." Still, I want to know my options well, so if anyone has any suggestions I'd appreciate links to any good stock manufacturer websites.

I want it to be box magazine fed, cause who doesn't want to be able to shoot 10 rounders! AI pattern is best I think so I can shoot high end AI mags when I'm at the range, but stock up on lightweight, inexpensive Magpul mags as well. Not sure what bottom metal is out there currently.

As for a barrel, I'm weighing the advantages of different lengths, but I'm feeling like 20" is the best for this rifle. It is pretty maneuverable at this length but has accuracy gains over a 16". I'm kind of assuming that if I had to shoot indoors at close range I would resort to a side arm anyway since over-penetration is a concern with 308, but I can't assume that I will have that option all the time either, so I think 20" is a good middle ground between min of 16" and full length of around 22". 18" maybe, does anyone make that? I also definitely want it threaded, so I can put a muzzle brake on it if I want (Precision Armament M4-72 Severe Duty 7.62 Compensator) , or hopefully a suppressor one day. 8) I like Silencer Co. from what I've seen.

Barrel brands though... I am not familiar with aftermarket barrels at all. I could really use some website links to good options.

I'm almost equally in the dark when it come to triggers. I know triggers are important, but I'm not super picky about trigger weight, more important to me is quality and consistency. I've even considered leaving the standard trigger on a Savage. Those seem OK to me. But definitely more suggestions and links wanted here as well.

A survival rifle absolutely needs iron sights in my opinion. I want to know that even without a scope, I can still make accurate shots. And as for a scope, I've heard it said that you should spend at least as much as the rifle, more than the rifle, or even twice as much as the rifle, but I've come to feel like this advice is just a failed attempt to make a hard choice easier. I think it is more important to do your research and find out what brands provide quality, and what models are proven. I've done some looking around and feel confident in some conclusions. I don't want Leupold. Something happened to their QC. Three brands stick out to me as providing high quality glass without being $2,000+ dollars, Trijicon, Vortex, and Meopta. Because I like military style MRAD reticles I end up with Trijicon or Vortex. Both have excellent reputations for good glass quality and rugged construction, and are US companies even if their scope aren't 100% US components. From Trijicon the new Credo line with illuminated reticles offers the best options for my "coyote sized targets at 300 yards" requirement, either in the SFP 3-9x version at an MSRP of $799.00, or if I wanted to opt for FFP, it would be the 2-10x for $1,399. The very popular Vortex Viper PST GenII series seems to be one of the best scopes currently offered. FFP, great illuminated reticle, 3-15x, MSRP of $1,199.99. If I wanted to spend less, the Viper HST is very similar minus elaborate illuminated reticle, and SFP instead, and 4-16x, for $849.99. Both cheaper options I mentioned from these two brands could potentially fulfill my requirements but I feel like the extra money would be worth it for a custom rifle build. The one high-end scope that might just be an option is the Nightforce NXS 2.5-10x at $1,600.00. It's a Nightforce so it should be excellent if I am willing to spend the money, but is it worth it? If I am to be more exhaustive, there is also the Nightforce SHV, but their 4-16x I'm afraid is a bit big and heavy, and their 2-10x is only in MOA reticles, which I just simply won't do.

I lean toward the higher priced Trijicon or Vortex, or the Nightforce NXS, but from Euro-Optic I can get the two latter scopes for a good amount below MSRP, while I would have to pay full price for the Nightforce. Between Trijicon and Vortex, Trijicon has a great history of producing tough scopes for Law Enforcement and Military, while Vortex's reputation has soared lately and provides a outstanding warranty. I think the Viper is slightly better featured than the Credo, and is likely to have slightly better glass as well, but when it comes to toughness, I lean toward Trijicon out of instinct. Both should be totally adequate I believe. The Nightforce quite simply would beat them both in every respect, but by how much I would have a hard time saying. I've not ever handled any of these though, any experiences with above scopes, or advice?

I know just how important it is to have good rings. It seems to me that Seekins or Badger Ord. rings would be great picks, leaning toward Badger. I did have a question about rings though. Is their any reason to use a unitized ring set on a bolt gun? It's honestly a weird thing for me not to know, and I've never heard of anyone using a one piece ring set on a bolt gun, but I thought I'd ask.

Scope base, I'm not really sure yet, but maybe also Badger. Need to look around more. Might depend on my rifle action.

If I wanted a bipod, it really seems like the Atlas trumps all else.

Also I had a question about bolt fluting. What are the proposed advantages and is it something worthwhile?

And finally, although not a necessity, it would be great to get a Burnt Bronze Cerekote finish applied to the barrel and possibly the outside of the action to match.

And I think... that covers the entire build. A bit long I know, but I wanted to share all my thoughts so I can get feedback. Let me know what you think.
 

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,865
80
I think your going to be disappointed in trying to make a one gun to rule them all. There are simply too many compromises.

In my opinion your describing a classic scout rifle. I would shy away from the gamescout. It’s a great stock but too long range and precision dedicated.

There are several chassis options out there but you might be hard pressed to beat the manners. Remember you still want to be able to use those iron sights. A high comb stock will render them useless.
f6eddca6a022e42e79ed4483266b737a.jpg



What ever Remington clone action you prefer. Preferably something with a rail built in to the action and Ar15 style extractor.

18” medium contour bartlien barrel in 1-10 twist.

As for sights I would get a good set of barrel mounted sights. NECG full moon rear and banded front with fiber optic bead

I think your choice of nightforce is a good one. Something on the 2-10x42 Nxs. Don’t worry about FFP, a low power variable doesn’t work great as a FFP. Either too thick at higher power or virtually invisible at low power. Also don’t worry about MOA VS MIL. You won’t be dialing enough at the ranges you mentioned to matter.










Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Apr 17, 2020
109
34
Thanks for the feedback. Comb height is a very good point. If you wouldn't mind could you give me links to the websites for the products you mentioned.
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,377
498
Out of curiosity, have you read up on Cooper's Scout Rifle research?

Might be just what you seek... Parameters are similar - though you may be going for more precision that Lt Col Cooper specified. There are modern versions available without going custom. I know Ruger builds a good one, and Savage has in the past. Not sure that they do now.

Link to the Ruger: https://ruger.com/products/scoutRifle/models.html

Regards, Guy
 

gbflyer

Handloader
Mar 28, 2017
877
29
Guy Miner":vxxpt6zf said:
Out of curiosity, have you read up on Cooper's Scout Rifle research?

Might be just what you seek... Parameters are similar - though you may be going for more precision that Lt Col Cooper specified. There are modern versions available without going custom. I know Ruger builds a good one, and Savage has in the past. Not sure that they do now.

Link to the Ruger: https://ruger.com/products/scoutRifle/models.html

Regards, Guy
Right here, Guy is offering good advice. Coyotes to 300 you say? .223 and a 69gr bullet is plenty. Cheaper shooting and no recoil. Get a good quality set and forget variable scope on the lighter, lower power size. Invest the remainder of your budget in blue chips.
 
Apr 17, 2020
109
34
I actually am somewhat familiar with the Ruger Scout, and my dad owns a Savage Scout. They are pretty close to what I want, yes. Part of why I want it custom built is actually just because I want to build a rifle, but also because I have a few fine grained complaints about any Scout I've ever encountered. The Savage only allows for a forward mounted scope, but I prefer the traditional mount location. You can mount a scope in the usual place on a Ruger, but only if you remove the rear iron sight. Although now that I'm thinking there is an aftermarket rail ghost-ring sight combo made by XS that solves that. I was a bit scared of buying extra Ruger mags too because I've seen reviews where people said that they bought extras from Ruger that didn't work. My only other complaint is that I would like to push a little more precision out of the rifle.

I lean toward .308 because I also want it to be capable of taking deer and bear. Coyote was more of a size reference really.

I've also taken a look at the Steyr Scout, it just lacks being able to shoot high capacity mags, and the Sako 85 Black Bear which has the same issue.

But yes, I am essentially wanting to build my own Scout Rifle, using the same ideology of "the one rifle to own if you could own one." Not that I think it will do everything great, but that it can do a lot well.
 
Apr 17, 2020
109
34
Hmmm. The Ruger Scout uses AI style mags. I hadn't realized that. It does essentially fulfill most of my requirements. Pretty cool gun really. If I get the itch to have scout rifle before I build my own...
 

Thankful Otter

Handloader
Oct 8, 2012
772
52
Thebear_78 said:
I think your going to be disappointed in trying to make a one gun to rule them all. There are simply too many compromises.

Exactly ! This one sentence pretty much says it all.

your initial post lost me, but I am easily "lost"

"Everything I might need to survive" Where ?

Dangerous game but a rifle to kill any animal the size of a coyote ?

Which action, trigger, stock. ??? There are folks here who have owned and built rifles and shotguns for years and if you ask which action some will say Remington, some Pre 64 Win, some Mauser, etc Same with the stock---different stocks for different sized people

You need to buy some and use them and by doing that you will have a better idea of what fits "YOU"
Not the perfect rifle for Josh, Guy, me--which is what we are all going to suggest to you--What WE like

Guy likes the Number 1's and if your looking for "Reliability" that is a good one as it has fewer moving parts. I prefer a lever.

I am tempted to say if I was forced into one true survival gun--for the wilderness---birds, small game, dangerous game. I would get a single shot 30-06 on top and a double 12 gauge --one gun for everything. I am sure it would also work for protection against humans unless there were a lot of them.

Scopes vs Iron sights and which scope. If hunting bear or moose one can get away with using iron sights---if your young enough and your eyes are still good. Goat and Sheep hunting works better with a a scope. Personally if I am going to use a scope then I prefer a fixed power scope---but again when it comes to scopes--which brand, power, fixed, etc--ask ten people get ten different answers

Best of luck
 

Blitsie

Beginner
Jan 5, 2022
1
0
Hi everyone, this is my first post here so I wanted to give myself a quick intro. I am a young adult gun enthusiast who plans on training to be a certified gunsmith so I can make working on guns my full time job! I've actually browsed around here quite a bit and have found you folks to be a great source of info so I'm excited to get involved in conversations and ask questions.

So let's get into it. I am planning my Ultimate Survival Rifle build that I want to make myself. It will likely be at least three years before I can start on this but I figure I'll start doing my research now.

First thing is to define the needs and constrain it to a budget. I think I want to keep the entire build including the cost of an optic within the $4,000 mark. Now this will be designed to be my "keep forever, use for everything" rifle so I am definitely willing to put more money into it than I usually would because it will be my practical "end all" set up.

For me, an Ultimate Survival Rifle needs to be able to handle anything I might need to "survive," whether that be dangerous game, an urban war zone, stranding in the middle of nowhere, or just bordem over a weekend that needs a trip to the range 😉 , and do all this very reliably. What I want is the ability to make a one shot kill on any target the size of a coyote within 300 yards.

As far as rifle type, I believe the reliability of a bolt action makes it preferable over the semi-auto options currently in common circulation. To be honest, I would really love this to be chambered in 30-06, but because the 308 is NATO standard and is more likely to be available, I think 308 is the way to go, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm still debating actions. I started out thinking it should be a Rem 700 since the aftermarket is so huge, but Rem QC scares me a bit. I've started considering the Savage 110 because they seem to make quality stuff (my dad has a 110 Scout) and because I saw someone here say that they can be good project guns; easy to replace barrels. I could use some suggestions on this front. I want something reliable and no-nonsense, and not unnecessarily expensive. I kind of considered CRF actions but I'm not sure if they really provide more reliability than Push Fed nowadays. Opinions? I also have a soft spot for the Tikka T3, but I'm not sure what the aftermarket looks like for these.

I'm pretty sure I want a McMillan stock, probably a Game Scout. Weather impervious, American Made, and according to McMillan, should not require any bedding to get "better than adequate accuracy." Still, I want to know my options well, so if anyone has any suggestions I'd appreciate links to any good stock manufacturer websites.

I want it to be box magazine fed, cause who doesn't want to be able to shoot 10 rounders! AI pattern is best I think so I can shoot high end AI mags when I'm at the range, but stock up on lightweight, inexpensive Magpul mags as well. Not sure what bottom metal is out there currently.

As for a barrel, I'm weighing the advantages of different lengths, but I'm feeling like 20" is the best for this rifle. It is pretty maneuverable at this length but has accuracy gains over a 16". I'm kind of assuming that if I had to shoot indoors at close range I would resort to a side arm anyway since over-penetration is a concern with 308, but I can't assume that I will have that option all the time either, so I think 20" is a good middle ground between min of 16" and full length of around 22". 18" maybe, does anyone make that? I also definitely want it threaded, so I can put a muzzle brake on it if I want (Precision Armament M4-72 Severe Duty 7.62 Compensator) , or hopefully a suppressor one day. 8) I like Silencer Co. from what I've seen.

Barrel brands though... I am not familiar with aftermarket barrels at all. I could really use some website links to good options.

I'm almost equally in the dark when it come to triggers. I know triggers are important, but I'm not super picky about trigger weight, more important to me is quality and consistency. I've even considered leaving the standard trigger on a Savage. Those seem OK to me. But definitely more suggestions and links wanted here as well.

A survival rifle absolutely needs iron sights in my opinion. I want to know that even without a scope, I can still make accurate shots. And as for a scope, I've heard it said that you should spend at least as much as the rifle, more than the rifle, or even twice as much as the rifle, but I've come to feel like this advice is just a failed attempt to make a hard choice easier. I think it is more important to do your research and find out what brands provide quality, and what models are proven. I've done some looking around and feel confident in some conclusions. I don't want Leupold. Something happened to their QC. Three brands stick out to me as providing high quality glass without being $2,000+ dollars, Trijicon, Vortex, and Meopta. Because I like military style MRAD reticles I end up with Trijicon or Vortex. Both have excellent reputations for good glass quality and rugged construction, and are US companies even if their scope aren't 100% US components. From Trijicon the new Credo line with illuminated reticles offers the best options for my "coyote sized targets at 300 yards" requirement, either in the SFP 3-9x version at an MSRP of $799.00, or if I wanted to opt for FFP, it would be the 2-10x for $1,399. The very popular Vortex Viper PST GenII series seems to be one of the best scopes currently offered. FFP, great illuminated reticle, 3-15x, MSRP of $1,199.99. If I wanted to spend less, the Viper HST is very similar minus elaborate illuminated reticle, and SFP instead, and 4-16x, for $849.99. Both cheaper options I mentioned from these two brands could potentially fulfill my requirements but I feel like the extra money would be worth it for a custom rifle build. The one high-end scope that might just be an option is the Nightforce NXS 2.5-10x at $1,600.00. It's a Nightforce so it should be excellent if I am willing to spend the money, but is it worth it? If I am to be more exhaustive, there is also the Nightforce SHV, but their 4-16x I'm afraid is a bit big and heavy, and their 2-10x is only in MOA reticles, which I just simply won't do.

I lean toward the higher priced Trijicon or Vortex, or the Nightforce NXS, but from Euro-Optic I can get the two latter scopes for a good amount below MSRP, while I would have to pay full price for the Nightforce. Between Trijicon and Vortex, Trijicon has a great history of producing tough scopes for Law Enforcement and Military, while Vortex's reputation has soared lately and provides a outstanding warranty. I think the Viper is slightly better featured than the Credo, and is likely to have slightly better glass as well, but when it comes to toughness, I lean toward Trijicon out of instinct. Both should be totally adequate I believe. The Nightforce quite simply would beat them both in every respect, but by how much I would have a hard time saying. I've not ever handled any of these though, any experiences with above scopes, or advice?

I know just how important it is to have good rings. It seems to me that Seekins or Badger Ord. rings would be great picks, leaning toward Badger. I did have a question about rings though. Is their any reason to use a unitized ring set on a bolt gun? It's honestly a weird thing for me not to know, and I've never heard of anyone using a one piece ring set on a bolt gun, but I thought I'd ask.

Scope base, I'm not really sure yet, but maybe also Badger. Need to look around more. Might depend on my rifle action.

If I wanted a bipod, it really seems like the Atlas trumps all else.

Also I had a question about bolt fluting. What are the proposed advantages and is it something worthwhile?

And finally, although not a necessity, it would be great to get a Burnt Bronze Cerekote finish applied to the barrel and possibly the outside of the action to match.

And I think... that covers the entire build. A bit long I know, but I wanted to share all my thoughts so I can get feedback. Let me know what you think.
I have a Steyr 308 and will never get an thing else. Love it. Ammo will be available anywhere . It shoots easy at 1000 meters. Get a Meopta scope 3-18x50
 

JD338

Range Officer
Staff member
Nov 4, 2004
21,451
423
Well said Cheyenne.
You have many options available to you, and for less than the price point you mentioned.

JD338
 
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