My Weatherby Vanguard Accuguard 6.5-300 Magnum rifle is ready for duty. I love opening a box with a brand-new rifle in it! It is a beautiful sight full of hunting expectations. The 6.5-300 Accuguard has a 26-inch, fluted, #3-contour barrel and weighs 8 pounds. I prefer a rifle with a little bit of weight on it and I normally shoot from shooting sticks or a rest of some kind. This is a high-quality rifle with a smooth bolt and durable stock.
Getting the new rifle is just the beginning; what comes next is the work. The work of outfitting your rifle with a scope and choosing the perfect ammunition. For my Weatherby 6.5-300, the ammunition part came easy. Introduced in 2016, the 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum is the fastest production 6.5mm there is. It shoots faster, flatter, and harder than other 6.5 mm loads. These amazing attributes get me excited about the long-range capabilities of this load. I choose the 140 grain VLD hunting round from Weatherby, as I plan to elk hunt with this rifle.
Choosing a scope was next in the set-up process. This was a no brainer, I chose a Leupold VX5 HD 3- 15 x 44 mm CDS -ZL2. This scope has the versatility I need for all kinds of hunting scenarios. My goal for this gun is to be able to shoot within 100 yards and out to 500+ yards. Once I had the scope on and the ammunition ready, I began the break in process and dialed in the scope. These things take time. I recommend purchasing a rifle at least a month or even two months before you plan to use it to hunt. Give yourself plenty of time to get to know it and dial it in. I cannot stress enough the importance of putting in the practice time at the range before you take a rifle hunting.
The range I use (Dead Zero Shooting Park) has an electronic feedback target at 100 yards, steel plates at 200 and 300 yards and another electronic feedback target at 600 yards. No one is allowed down range to check a target. For this reason, I started on the 100 yards target. Using a ballistic chart, I calculated the placement on the 100 yards target for a 200 yard zero. Once I was center on the 100 and the correct inches high for my shot, I let the barrel cool before my next shot at 200 yards. Cooled and ready I fired at the 200 yards steel. The ping sound on the target really builds confidence. Once at 200 and center I gave the barrel another few minutes to cool down and set my scope for 300 yards. That second Ping really got my heart going, I could do that all day. At this point I reset the dial to zero stop at 300 yards. From there I used my chart to dial MOA to 600 yards. And bam, just like that I was hitting targets at 600 yards in a kill zone. Three times for good groups. I was impressed with my grouping and the ability to accurately move from one range to another without issues. I had one bad shot the entire time and I knew I pulled and raised my head quick. I called that one operator error and took a break. The reason I chose the 300 yard zero is the shear speed of the 6.5-300 magnum. The muzzle velocity is 3315 fps and ballistic coefficient is 0.600 for my 140 grain VLD hunting bullet. With that fast a shot I need a longer zero for accuracy.
At this point I have two choices: make a chart for my gun, and use it hunting or order the custom dial. I have my dial set for zero at 300 yards and my next range visit I will be adding the CDS (custom dial system) from Leupold. I have been using the Leupold custom dials on my rifles for a few years now and I find it very convenient. The zero stop will be 300 and the dial can be set for accurate temperature and elevation in yards. I am also in the habit of dialing back to zero stop after every hunt to ensure If I move quickly on a spot and stalk I always know I am starting from zero and don’t forget to dial my yardage. It has become second nature for me to range, dial and shoot in that order. I will say that I feel spoiled by the custom dial, and I must work harder to study the ballistics of my loads. The ease of use of the Leupold dial system is a game changer for anyone wanting to learn to shoot farther and be accurate. It just takes the work done at the range to make it perfect.
I am looking forward to this season hunting trips and taking my Weatherby Accuguard 6.5-300 afield. In the meantime, you will find me at the range practicing and enjoying the sound of PING on steel. Now that the work is done, I have a reliable, accurate total hunting system.