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Thread: Advice on first centre fire (.243) with limited budget

  1. #1

    Advice on first centre fire (.243) with limited budget

    Apologies for the thread which is no doubt a very common question.

    my FAC is a week old now and I have already bought a rimfire but I also have an open slot for a .243 so I am looking what it out there.

    I have found this Parker Hale M81

    Parker Hale , M81, .243, Used - Very Good Condition, Bolt Action, Rifle from London, Greater London New and Used Guns for Sale

    and searching on here they seem to be very well thought of rifles - what do you guys think?

    Am am I better off waiting to find a used CZ or BSA and then putting the best glass on it my budget will stretch to?



  2. #2
    My experience is that s/h rifles are rather like s/h cars - and similarly precautious approach should be taken.

    On the up-side, rifles are less complex than cars. On the down-side, barrels can be injured by poor maintence despite low shot-counts as well as by high round-counts and/or hot loads.

    Experience has taught me that buying s/h without have the clean barrel scoped by someone who knows what they're doing can lead to disappointment, and while rebarrelling is not the end of the world, it can certainly be the end of 600.

  3. #3
    A friend recently bought a PH and took the stock off and did some work to it and it came up lovely and it seems to shoot well. As Dalua says you need to take care and we can't comment on the specific rifle in your link but a good PH seems to be an excellent choice for someone on a budget and even if it is a little untidy cosmetically a little work will give you a better looking rifle than my ugly plastic Blaser.

    Stick a good quality 2nd hand, fixed mag, scope on the top and you can have a really good package for less than 500.
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  4. #4
    Thanks chaps...that particular one is a bit far away, was more checking the model.

    So as a complete novice, what would you recommend checking on a used rifle without the luxury of being able to boroscope the bore?

    Presumably, corrosion / crown damage from being stored with mod on or poor cleaning regime, bedding, mounts? Not sure what else to look for?

    I am am not worried about tatty wood as I have restored my game gun having completely stripped the wood.

  5. #5
    try some of the local gunshops, they do have cheaper guns in sometimes.
    But if your really unsure ask to arange a test fire, that way you get peace of mind

  6. #6
    The P-H M81 Classic is a good rifle and was aimed more at the UK market hence the lack of white line spacers and the more traditional "British" style stock. This model also had slightly better grained Walnut fitted and a Red "Silvers" type recoil pad.

    When appraising a used rifle one has to consider the throat of the barrel and examine as best one can. Having the rifles bore cleaned is IMHO essential. many shops do NOT clean their used stock and a dirty bore can hide things that the purchaser would like to know when making the decision to buy or not. Don't forget the crown of the barrel but a barrel can quite easily be re-crowned the throat gone means live with it or replace the barrel.

    Without access to a bore scope one has to make the judgement on what one can see. I have only bought one rifle and that was bought unseen to fill a slot in my small collection of Parker-Hale sporting rifles and the bore is quite badly heat crazed. This rifle is chambered in 25-06 and does not shoot as well as I had hoped and on further investigation and a good deep cleaning of the bore a trip to Steve Kershaw where he scoped the bore revealed this heat cracking of the bore surface for half it's length.

    Before some condemn used rifles out of hand I might point out that this is the first time that this has happened in all my rifle purchases of which I have bought some 60+ over the years. One out of 60 is not bad odds and I knew the risks due to not being able to view it and the chambering which is rather known for being hard on throats is shot quickly. It will still shoot into MOA or less but it's not as tight as I was hoping .

  7. #7
    To the OP - I think you are pretty much on the right track. Paker Hales where good tough and relaibel all reound rifles. Not much wrecks a gun or rifle if it has been sitting in a cabinet / on the shelf, and there are a good of sleepers around. Unless a sporting rifle is being used by a professional stalker, or a very enthusiastic amateur, most rifles probably shoot a couple of boxes of ammo a year if that. Worse damage will be caused by rust - often through leaving gruppy bores. Use you instincts. Bolt handle, trigger guuard / floor plate and the buling near the barrel are all good indicators of wear - if bluing on the barrel is worn, it has been in and out of slip many times. Run a patch or two down the bore - or ask the vendor to do so. It should be bright and clean with clearly defined rifling. Look from both ends. Have the stock pulled - is the action / underside of the bore rusty? Bedding can be sorted quite easily, but has been botched already? Parker Hales and most mauser actions have quite a sloppy bolt - thats to keep them working in dusty / muddy conditions. Check the trigger pull - it should be nice and crisp. After market triggers are not that much. On the bolt at the back of the firing pin check that the lug that engages the sear / trigger is still nice and crisp.

    With the rifle unloaded, slam bolt forwards a few times - it should always cock the action - you don't want the sear jumpin off. With the action cocked and bolt closed, give the butt a good thump on the floor and bang your hand on the side of the action several times - the trigger should not release. Repeat with safety applied. Check the safety - if very light it has gone on and off many times.

    Does the rifle fit you, does it feel comfortable and does it come with a good scope - 6x42 S&B, Zeiss, Pecar or Swarovski will do nicely.

    Factor in some repairs if needed - a new archer barrel from Border Barrels is just under 600 fitted and proffed including VAT, but pretty unlikely to be needed, if rifle is good condition.

    Find out what ammo works in that rifle - most rifles can be a bit fussy - one brand shoots superbly, others OK, and some very badly.

    If you can try out the rifle before you buy.

  8. #8
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    The glass on this must be worth the money alone. Beautiful classic set up - on of the later PH's by the look of it. All advise above to be taken into consideration, but this is worth investigating IMO.
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  9. #9
    It might be worth giving Bob a call at The Grove Gun Co at Ettington. When I was looking he had a good selection of SH .243's in stock and a range where you could try out first. He was having a few noise issues with the range so I'm not sure if that is still available but he's a sound bloke and not far from you.

  10. #10
    SD Regular bobjs's Avatar
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    how low is you budget sir.

    I have a very nice tikka 590 with a choice of stocks,walnut or synthetic,

    its seen less than 600 rounds in its life and it comes with a load of bits,

    all can be sold together or seperate depending on your budget etc,

    2 x 3 shot mags,
    spare bolt shroud,
    cleaning rod and bore snake,
    loading dies, and some loaded ammo and bullets for reloading
    1" high rings

    so if it interests you drop me a pm,

    i would rather it sold than sit here collecting dust.


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