Bain of foxes everywhere, Mike Powell writes a regular fox control article for Sporting Rifle Magazine and is one of the UK's foremost sporting rifle experts
I was looking forward to seeing the Weatherby “in the flesh” as this was a make of rifle that when I was young, and avidly read American and Canadian shooting magazines, ranked alongside such names as Marlin or Ruger alike. Whether these mystical names, when they arrived on these shores, live up to boyhood dreams, is a matter of some conjecture.
Times have moved on and the American gun making scene now looks carefully at the wider market. On opening the box of the Weatherby Vanguard, I was pleasantly surprised; the stock was very nicely finished in straight grained walnut with a rosewood tip to the forend. The cheek piece on the Weatherby Monte Carlo type stock was nicely finished and comfortable in use. Chequering was sharp and well defined with the stock finished off with a well fitted rubber butt pad. Some fibreglass bedding had been done and the overall fitting of the action and barrel to the stock was extremely good for a rifle in this price range and any chasing out of the forend had been nicely finished. Sling swivels are fitted and the 24 inch barrel was screw cut with a ½ inch UNF thread. The screw cutting had been well executed and the crown was quite deeply cut. Blueing was not heavy but more than adequate.
The safety catch on the Weatherby Vanguard is a conventional forward for fire rearward for safe and there is cocking indicator situated at the rear of the bolt.
Weatherby guarantee a 1.5 MOA at 100 yards, whilst by modern standards many would say this is not outstanding; however it is good enough and without a doubt not many rifles will do much better than this. Home loaders will also greatly improve on the guaranteed figure. The rifle is largely manufactured by Howa in Japan a relationship that dates back to the late 60s, whilst Weatherby is associated largely with their two magnum calibres 257 and 460, today a wide range of calibres are available.
The Weatherby Vanguard resembles both the Remington 700 and the Winchester model 70, not surprising as the Weatherby rifle was originally brought out to offer an alternative to those two icons. The magazine takes five rounds and is of floor plate design; the trigger pull was excellent and broke crisply at just over three pounds. It was good to see that American rifles have addressed trigger pulls!
This particular Weatherby rifle was on loan from The Sportsman Gun Centre who is now the exclusive distributors for Weatherby in the UK. The Sportsman Gun Centre are providing a special combo package on this Weatherby rifle where for a given price you get the Weatherby Vanguard rifle, the scope, in this case a Redfield “Revolution” 3x9x50 and a Wildcat Predator 8 sound moderator. Click here for Weatherby Combo Deals
Weatherby Vanguard rifle
I was keen to try the scope as this would be the first time I had got my hands on this particular make, the whole outfit looked the part but the test would come in the field. Cleaning the Weatherby Vanguard rifle prior to testing showed a very good standard of finish both internally and externally. Bore sighting the Vangurad rifle at 50 yards got the Sako 55 grain ammo on the paper after a couple of rounds and from there I moved the target out to 100 yards, zeroing as usual, an inch high. It only took three shots before I was on the money and switching rifle targets to the excellent life sized fox target copied from Robert Bucknells “Foxing with lamp and Rifle” put three shots that filled the bill. I know I only tried the one make of ammo but I am quite sure the Weatherby Vanguard rifle is more than capable of producing even better results with factory ammo matched to it and of course home loaders will almost certainly do better still.
The Redfield rifle scope
Performed well with a really clean sharp picture, I would have liked the turrets to have rather sharper more well defined “clicks” but I managed perfectly well, so perhaps I am being a bit picky. Redfield scopes are made by Leupold in Oregon so doubtless build quality should be well up to standard. Leupold resurrected the old established Redfield name and this range of scope will certainly have an impact on the market. Price wise it slots into the market allowing an ever wider choice to fit all pockets.
UK Custom Shops Wildcat predator 8
UK Custom Shops Wildcat predator 8 is well known to me as I have used both the Predator 8 and the Whisper on my own rifles for some time now. They are very well made and can be stripped down for cleaning. As usual the test model performed perfectly well bringing down the noise level to a very acceptable level. Also although not small this is one of the few mods that looks quite passable on a rifle!
What then were my overall thoughts on this Weatherby combo set up? I have to say, I am well aware that there are those who say reviewers always “big up” the test items. This is because there is not much point in reviewing rubbish! And today most of what is offered for test is very good quality indeed. This certainly applied to this Weatherby outfit, I liked pretty well everything about it. The Weatherby Vanguard rifle felt right somehow, nothing pretentious but a good looking functional rifle that gave the impression it would give many years of trouble free service.
I would, if I was looking for a reasonably priced rifle certainly look very closely at a Weatherby and probably end up buying one. Well made, well finished with plenty of attention to detail I thought it was very nice.
The choice of the Sportsman Gun Centre to marry the Weatherby Vanguard rifle to the scope and moderator selected in their deal gives a practical and sensible yet above all a really usable rifle for foxing. Anyone coming into the sport and looking for a good set up really wouldn’t go far wrong with this one especially at the combo price.
The Vanguard rifle reviewed was in .223, but Weatherby do a full range of calibres to suit all needs. If time permits I will take it out and see what Charlie thinks about it.