Weatherby Vanguard package Mk II
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
The Weatherby Vanguard synthetic takes some beating; well built with a guarantee of 1 ½ MOA (minute of angle) @ 100 yards, which I have found to be true if not better, it’s well worth a look. Importers Garlands will sell you it alone for well under £600, or offer you their package deal, which I looked at a few months ago.
This consists of their own-brand, multi-pocket camo gun bag (which is a good un’) padded sling, Zeiss 6x42 scope, mounts and rings, plus the muzzle is threaded (1/2 x 20” UNF) and proofed. All this for £999.99, which is actually very good money given the quality of the glass and there’s the rub… As in my opinion the choice of scope is wrong and won’t attract new shooters looking for a decent and affordable hunting rifle. I have no complaints with its quality or the fact it’s a ‘fixed six’, but in a country where most shooters think variable power, this is very much yesterday’s technology.
Owner Jamie Garland and I disagree on this subject! He feels that a fixed six or eight is all you need for stalking and I would not argue on that one for certain needs. But here we are talking about the more old-style hunters who have been brought up on this sort of technology. Or up in Scotland where shots are taken out on the hill over longer ranges, but times move on; so why not put something more in keeping and familiar on the Vanguard? Something that will appeal to the modern demographic of those looking for a capable rifle, with effective glass at good money.
There’s no doubt the Vanguard is a great rifle with bags of potential for novice and expert alike and the gun bag, sling, threading etc. really add to the package, but what it needs is a variable scope in a far lower price bracket. Let’s face it if you were looking for an off-the-shelf deal with glass, £595 sounds a lot better than £999.99. This is now possible as Weatherby offer such a package and Garlands are bringing it in alongside their own Zeiss-mounted Vanguard deal.
The US package is similar in make up with the black/synthetic Vanguard, with a padded sling and lockable hard case, which is obviously cheap, but tough enough to protect the gun in transit. The barrel is 24” and threaded/proofed as before, the real difference is the Bushnell Banner 3-9 x 40 on top. Bases are two-piece, standard, 1” Weaver-types with recoil slots, rings are vertically split 1”.
In terms of spec the scope is ideal and also very in tune with most people’s idea of practical hunting glass. This quality of optic would not be my first choice, but I would be the first to admit that it works. Experience has shown me over the years that this and similar makes are more than up to the job, as the scoped hunting rifle deal is not a new one and a number of companies are offering something similar. Remington’s Model 710 is a good example and as clunky and unlovely as it is the combo really works at a bargain price too.
With its easy to dial, capped turrets, Dual-X reticule and fast focus eyepiece the Bushnell Banner will get the job done. Even if you don’t like it the bottom line of £595 is bloody amazing and you can save your pennies and buy something better as you wish. If this package does not get them queuing at the door; nothing will…
Back to the Plot
If you missed the article on the Vanguard a few months ago I will recap. The rifle is made for Weatherby to their personal requirements by Howa in Japan and shows some mechanical differences and improvements over their Model 1500.
The layout to my eyes is very much a mix of Remington 700 and Winchester Model 70. Lock up is by a twin lug bolt with plunger-type ejector, with a large extractor claw in a fully supported head. The safety sits rear right of the action and pushes forwards to FIRE and reverses for SAFE, in this condition the action is locked. At the rear under the shroud is a cocked action indicator pin and on the left of the receiver is the bolt release catch.
The magazine is a floor plate system and loads to a capacity of five, and the trigger is easily adjustable, though came from the box at a pleasing 3 lbs with a half decent and readable release. The stock is your classic Weatherby-style with a square/tapered forend with under cut tip and a Monte Carlo type butt with high comb, cheek piece and a generous rubber recoil pad.
The synthetic material is solid and the barrel sits tight in the forend. My example came in 243 Win, which gives in practice a light/medium profile, given its 6mm bore. At 24” the muzzle is threaded the UK standard ½ x 20” UNF and QD sling swivels are fitted fore and aft.
Get It Right
I ran a cross section of ammo through the gun - Hornady 95-grain SST, Remington 100-grain soft point Express and 100-grain SP Prvi Partizan (PPU). This weight is about the heaviest you can get away with in the standard 243 Win, rifling twist rate of 1-10”. Though I personally do not use 243 Win, it’s a great cartridge for the UK as it will do it all from foxes to reds given you use the right bullet weight and type. I say this as you can drop down to as low as 55-grains in a ballistic tip load, which really cracks on for Charlie…
Claiming that a factory rifle will do a certain group size is quite a leap of faith for any manufacturer and though 1 ½ MOA (1 ½” ish) is not that tight it’s good enough… As before Weatherby’s quote proved correct, with none of the three brands stepping out past 1 ½”, with the Remington Express proving best of all at a shade over an inch. The barrel seemed to shoot flat groups with more lateral than horizontal spread. Winding on a BR Tuote T8 (Jackson Rifles) did not improve group size but if anything trued it up a little.
Typically reloading or trying different brands of ammo and bullet would doubtless find something the gun really liked, though it was certainly keen on the Remington fodder. The scope was up for the job and though no Zeiss did the business and you can’t ask any more than that.
Every Single Example
This is the third Vanguard I have looked at since starting the magazine and every single example has pretty much done what I have described here; none has strayed out side 1 ½”, all have shown good triggers and been very shootable. At £595 this new package to my mind represents far better value for money than the Zeiss-equipped option. You might disagree as cheap scopes can loose it after a period of use and with the Zeiss you do have some serious back up and support in the unlikely event of it going wrong. However, I know some American hunters who use the Vanguard/Bushnell package who say they have had no problems even after a few seasons. To be honest the hard case, sling and scope are nice extras, but it’s the rifle that really impresses.
Though owning more expensive guns and glass, most of which will out shoot the Vanguard, at the end of the day they all do the same job and if you’re looking for real value for money and shootability then the new Weatherby Vanguard, package has it in spades and also masses of potential.
• Sensible UK package
• Superb value for money