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Bolt Action Rifles Tactical

APA Paragon Rifle Review

by Tom Beckstrand   |  February 21st, 2014 0

APA ParagonIt’s hard not to love the .338 Lapua Magnum. With a ballistic coefficient (BC) of .767 in Lapua’s 300-grain Scenar load and a muzzle velocity of 2,750 feet per second (fps), it’s every long-range shooter’s dream. That is until we realize that we have a rifle chambered for $5 bills and one that’ll eventually beat the hell out of you after 50 rounds.

The .338 Lapua is an awesome cartridge, and it generates superb external ballistics. However, the rifle platform is often costly, it’s very expensive to feed, and the recoil and muzzle blast are spectacular. I think everybody needs to own a .338 Lapua Magnum at some point, but before purchasing the Big Dog, I recommend looking at today’s .300 Winchester Magnum.

The .300 Win. Mag. languished for a lot of years as a marginal selection for the long-range enthusiast. This was no fault of the caliber itself; it stemmed from the fact that the best bullets available lacked the BCs needed to make the round viable. Sierra had the best offerings, and they only had BCs of .523 for the 190-grain MatchKing (available loaded in Federal Gold Medal Match) and a .607 BC for thee 220-grain MatchKing, which I’ve never seen loaded for sale in any round. We often hear that the best bullets and loads in 6.5mm/.260 will match anything the .300 Win. Mag. can come up with in external ballistics without the recoil, expense and blast. Provided that we stick to the anemic 190-grain MatchKing, this statement is true. Once we look at today’s bullets for the .300 Win. Mag., the 6.5mm/.260 argument becomes laughable.

Today, there are much better bullets available for the .300 Win. Mag. I spent a large part of this year playing with Hornady’s 208-grain A-MAX, which is an amazing bullet and one that I will use for years to come. The 208 A-MAX has a BC of .633, so it beats Sierra’s best offering and is also lighter so we can push it at higher velocities. The secant ogive of the 208 A-MAX gives the bullet a great BC, but it will require some manipulation of the seating depth to get it to shoot accurately. That’s the problem with secant ogives. They have great BCs, but they are finicky. For the 208 A-MAX, the effort is worth the performance.

Another bullet that shows great promise is Berger’s new 230-grain hybrid. The hybrid line tries to use properties of both the secant and tangent ogives to provide a high BC (thanks to the secant shape) while being more forgiving with the seating depth (thanks to the tangent, or more rounded, ogive). Berger’s target bullet has a BC of .743, and the tactical bullet has a BC of .714. Now we’re in territory that previously was limited to only the big .338. Suddenly, the .300 Win. Mag. just got much more attractive.

To help me spearhead a .300 Win. Mag. project, I consulted with Jered Joplin, owner of American Precision Arms. I first met Jered years ago when I was still in the Army. I was serving as a sniper team leader and thought it would be a good idea to get a custom rifle built as a “getting out of the Army” present for myself. I asked teammates and instructors who they knew built a good product, and their responses kept pointing to Jered.

My first rifle-building experience with Jered was painless, and the product was superb, so I’ve been a repeat customer for years. During this time I’ve learned to give Jered some general guidelines, then let him do his thing. His solutions are always better than mine.

My guidance for Jered on the .300 Win. Mag. project was that I wanted a rifle capable of extreme long-range shooting, yet that was still portable. I see a lot of monster rifles built that ride the bags or sit well on the bench, but God help the man shooting it if he needs to carry it very far. I wanted as light a contour of barrel as possible without a substantial degradation of accuracy, a muzzlebrake, an action that could double as a family heirloom, detachable box magazines and, if possible, a side-folding stock. Jered and I argued a little on the barrel length and contour, but the product you see here is what he recommended. I think it’s perfect.

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