Weatherby Custom Vanguard

Over the past decade or so, Weatherby has moved the Vanguard from the back pages of the catalog to the front as it gains more and more popularity among hunters. The reason is obviously cost. As well liked and strong as the Mark V is, it's still about 21/2 times the money than even a deluxe model Vanguard with a semi-fancy wood stock.


Now, in a move that essentially bridges that gap, Weatherby offers custom Vanguards. All are within reach of any average wage earner who likes the feel and quality of a rifle made just for him. The list is quite extensive. For example, synthetic stocks are available in more than a half-dozen patterns including spiderwebbing, colors and airbrushed textures. In wood, the popular laminates are available, as is semi-fancy walnut.


Weatherby's Accubrake--which tames felt recoil by 53 percent--can be ordered in stainless steel, high polish or matte blue. You can choose an 11-degree parabolic target crown or recessed field crown, along with fluted barrels and a choice of metal finishes, including black Teflon.

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Accuracy Results:

WEATHERBY CUSTOM VANGUARD

Ammo TypeBullet Weight (gr.)Standard DeviationMuzzle Velocity (fps)Average Group (in.)
Weatherby Spire Point 87213,7920.90
Weatherby Spire Point 100243,6420.88
Weatherby Roundhouse 117173,2991.00
Notes: Average of three-shot groups at 100 yards. Velocities recorded with an Oehler Model 35P chronograph.

I ordered one with a tan stock in a desert camo motif with black spiderwebbing. The stock is pure Weatherby with a high comb, cast off and Decelerator recoil pad. The synthetic stock is not checkered, but with the spiderwebbing and excellent contours, checkering isn't necessary.

The forged receiver is tapped for scope bases. Weatherby has a light-weight aluminum ring/base combination made for it by Talley.

I mounted a 3.5-10X Leupold Vari-X III scope on my Vanguard. One of my favorites, its low profile and relatively high magnification complement the rifle nicely and maximize its long-range hunting potential.

The action is pillar bedded into the stock, which hugs the contours of the action as if it was poured around it. I wanted a true all-weather gun, and I had the Custom Shop Teflon coat the complete action, including the bolt.

On the bolt face is a typical plunger type ejector and an M16-type extractor. The bolt is fluted to reduce weight and contains three gas ports to vent gases away from the shooter in the unlikely occurrence of a case failure.

The safety is mounted directly behind the knurled bolt knob and handle; in the safe position it locks both the sear and the bolt. Pushing it forward allows the gun to be fired. The adjustable trigger registered exactly three pounds without a hint of slack, so I left it as it came from the factory.

Talley's lightweight one-piece base/ring sets are incredibly strong and add little to the complete weight of the rifle.
The bolt on the Vanguard uses a traditional dual locking lug system and a plunger ejector and blade-type extractor.

I had my custom Vanguard chambered in .257 Weatherby Magnum, which is the most powerful .25 caliber cartridge in production today. It provides 20 percent more muzzle energy than most .25-06 Remington loads without undue recoil.

I like the .257 Weatherby for western plains hunting, particularly for antelope. It's a little much for all day varmint shooting, but its taut-string trajectory makes it a pleasure to use on predators.

Factory ammunition is not particularly common; currently Weatherby offers four selections loaded with 87-, 100-, 117- and 120-grain bullets. I had the first three on hand and headed to the range.

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SPECIFICATIONS:

CUSTOM VANGUARD

Type:bolt-action centerfire
Caliber:.257 Weatherby Magnum
Capacity:3+1
Barrel Length:24 in.
Overall Length:44 1/2 in.
Weight:8 lb. with scope
Finish: Teflon
Stock:synthetic
Sights:drilled and tapped for scope bases
Trigger pull:3 lb.
Price: varies depending on options
Maker:Weatherby, Inc. 805-227-2600

When testing a big game rifle I fire a series of three-shot groups, starting each with a loaded magazine and feeding all rounds from it. This gives me a good idea of how the gun will function with a fully loaded magazine as well as provide a good measure of practical accuracy.

Weatherby's 87-grain load delivered 3,792 fps and produced a three-shot group measuring just under an inch. The 100-grain soft point produced .88-inch groups and an average velocity of 3,642 fps. Finally, I gave the Weatherby 117-grain roundnose a shake. I can't understand why it is still in the ammo line. The .257 is a high velocity round, and a pointed bullet makes more sense. However, the load did perform well, producing one-inch groups at 3,299 fps.

The Custom Vanguard chambered in .257 Weatherby is a great combination for long range shooting and hunting. It shoots flat, feeds extremely smoothly and is deadly accurate. Put together in a custom-made rifle, it's a package that will do any serious open-country hunter proud.

The Vanguard sticks with tradition and sports a Monte Carlo comb, cheekpiece and a cast-off stock for right hand shooters.

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