Most shooters who are old enough to
remember when a new pickup truck cost under 4000 bucks, Coke came in a real
glass bottle, and a computer was some secret thing that the government had, can
also remember when the local hardware store had Winchester and Marlin 30-30 rifles
for less than a hundred dollars. They would even throw in a box of shells. We didn't call
them "cartridges" back then; if they fired from a gun, they were "shells". It seems as if back
then, everybody had a 30-30. They worked and they were affordable. There were even a
few nice bolt action rifles that could be termed affordable in those days;
mostly sporterized military rifles.
Somewhere along the way, our rifles for the
pursuit of free deer meat, like everything else, got expensive. It is not at all unusual these
days for a hunter to have over a thousand dollars in his rifle alone. Then add on a high
quality scope sight, bases and rings, sling and a box of cartridges (you don't want to put
"shells" in a thousand-dollar rifle), and you have a fifteen-hundred-dollar free meat
getter. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this. If a hunter wants the finest polished steel
in a Circassian walnut stock, he should have it. It will however, exceed the 1500 bucks by a
The subject of this article is a rifle for the
shooter who, like the man who carried his trusty old 30-30 to the woods in years past,
needs a good, reliable hunting rifle that he can buy without having to sell a kidney to pay
for the thing. And before all of you crusty ol' geezers get your kids to show you how to
send me an email for insinuating that the old 30-30 don't cut it anymore, I don't mean that
at all. I still have a couple of the 30-30 lever-actions and enjoy hunting with
them, but I do realize their limitations. Where I hunt, and this likely applies to most others, there are
clear-cutted areas where a scope sighted bolt-action shooting modern spitzer bullets
can be of real benefit. The trouble is, most good, reliable bolt-action high-powered rifles
can be rather expensive.
That brings us back to the subject of this
article; a new bolt action rifle from Charter 2000, dubbed the
Field King. I personally don't get too exited over the introduction of a
new bolt-action with a synthetic stock. The new Charter Field King doesn't offer a new
Ultrasonic-Whizz-Bang-Death-Ray cartridge. It is offered in a few excellent hunting
cartridges that are proven world wide in their ability to get the job done. There is no
particular feature of the rifle that makes all previous designs obsolete. There is,
however, the combination of features on this rifle that are unavailable on any other in
its price range. It is these features on a rifle that is this affordable that piqued my interest.
Charter uses innovative, modern
manufacturing techniques and design to keep the price down without
sacrificing quality. And if it matters to you like it does to me, the Field King is 100% American made.
The Field King comes standard with several
excellent features that make this rifle interesting. First, and most noticeable is the
black synthetic stock. For a rifle that will be used in all weather conditions, the synthetic
stock makes sense. There is a cheek rest for the convenience of a right-handed shooter,
and a recoil pad for the shoulder. The rifle is available in blued steel, but the stainless
material on this gun is very practical, and looks great with the black stock. The
Field King also wears a 22 inch E.R. Shaw barrel. Shaw barrels are known to be accurate, but if
poorly bedded with a bad trigger, a good barrel can't make the entire rifle accurate.
The Charter rifle also, as a standard feature, has a fully adjustable trigger. The trigger on
the test rifle was crisp and reasonably light as delivered, so I did not find it necessary to
make any adjustments. It is surprising how many rifles on the market today costing twice
as much do not have a decent trigger.
Charter got the weight about right on the
Field King, with the sample I had in 30-06 weighing just over 6.6 pounds. One very nice
feature of the Field King is also one of the simplest. The rifle is shipped from the factory
with scope bases installed. It is frustrating to purchase a new rifle, and then have to
hunt for and buy scope bases. All modern bolt-action rifles should come with bases. It
would be nice if all the major rifle manufacturers would take a lesson
from Charter 2000 and ship their rifles with at least a simple set of scope bases. I can count on
one hand the gun makers who offer this courtesy to their customers. The Field King
comes with a set of bases that will accept any Weaver-type rings. If another type of
base is desired, the rifle will accept any scope base that will fit a Remington 700 long
As mentioned earlier, the test rifle supplied
was chambered for the 30-06 Springfield cartridge, which is one of my favorites. For
testing, I mounted a good, but inexpensive Bushnell 3 to 9 power scope to keep with the
idea of an inexpensive hunting rifle.
The bolt on this rifle is very smooth and positive to
operate. The safety is to the side of the bolt shroud, directly above the bolt knob. It is
easily reached for a right-handed shooter. The blind magazine holds four rounds, for a
total capacity of five. The rear of the bolt serves as a cocking indicator. The Field King
is equipped with sling swivel studs. All standard features.
I gathered a few different factory loads along
with my favorite 30-06 handload, and proceeded with the bench testing. All
shooting was done at 100 yards under clear but humid conditions, at 92 degrees and 600
feet elevation. To be blunt; this rifle can outshoot many that cost three times the price.
Most factory loads grouped around one inch for three shots, with the worst tested at one
and five-eighths inches. My favorite 30-06 load that I have used for years on deer is
built around the superb Hornady 150 grain spire point. This bullet has never failed on anything
that I have shot with it. It gives perfect performance on Whitetail
deer. Loaded over a dose of IMR 4064, it gives great accuracy.
This has been my standard hunting load for well over twelve years. In this rifle, the 150
grain Hornady grouped right under 5/8 of an inch for three shots, and 1 3/8 inches for a
seven shot group.
Shooting the Charter 2000 Field King was a
pleasant surprise for me. It is smooth, accurate, packed with features, and priced
lower than stripped down models. The Field King lists for $299.00 in blued steel, and
$345.00 in stainless, but like all list prices, discounts do apply. Check with your dealer. If
he doesn't stock it, he can get it. The rifle is new on the market, but it is worth searching
for, especially if you need a rifle that will do the job without breaking the
Check out the Charter 2000 Field King on the
web at: www.charterfirearms.com or call
203-922-1652. You can find the Hornady bullets at any well-stocked reloader's supply
or gun shop. Call Hornady at: 1-800-338-3220. It is worth calling just to
hear their automated message. The 150-grain spire point bullet's
item number is 3031.
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