Charter 2000 Field King Rifle
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

 

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 considerable margin. 

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 action. 

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 bank. 

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. 

Jeff Quinn 

 

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Click the pictures to see a larger version.

 

The Field King bolt rifle from Charter 2000 represents one of the best values available today in a hunting rifle. Accurate and reliable, it is packed with features desired by today's shooters.

 

 

The Field King's safety, located directly above the bolt knob to the side of the bolt shroud, is conveniently located for right-handed shooters. It is both positive and rugged. 

 

 

Charter 2000 ships the Field King with scope bases installed, a nice touch not often found even on rifles selling for three times the Field King's price! 

 

 

This look at the Field King's bolt face shows the large extractor and plunger-type ejector. The two large lugs provide a strong lockup, and the bolt is very smooth and positive to operate.

 

 

Hornady's 150-grain Spire Point #3031 bullets have been among the author's favorites for the .30-'06 Springfield cartridge for many years. 

 

 

Hornady's 150-grain Spire Point #3031 bullets, propelled by IMR 4064 powder, proved to be as excellent in the Charter 2000 Field King as they have proven to be in the many rifles the author has used them in over the years. 5/8" 3-shot groups fired at 100 yards were the norm for this combination.

 

 

1-3/8"  7-shot group fired at 100 yards is representative of the Charter 2000 Field King's accuracy.

 

 

The Field King's black synthetic stock is equipped with an effective recoil pad and sling swivel studs. 

 

 

The Field King's stock also includes a nicely-executed cheek rest for the right-handed shooter. Even for southpaws such as the author, the Field King's stock is a reasonable compromise. 

 

 

The pistol grip stock is nicely checkered, providing a very positive gripping surface. 

 

 

Charter 2000's commitment to providing American-made quality at a very reasonable price has produced another winner in the Field King rifle. For the shooter on a budget who is looking for a hunting rifle as good as the more expensive guns available today, the Charter 2000 Field King is hard to beat!