Have you ever watched a good movie and when the sequel came out, you wonder to yourself if the sequel is going to be better than the original or a dud? For Weatherby, their sequel to the Vanguard Synthetic, called the Vanguard Series 2, should be a box office smashing success.
The original Vanguard was introduced by Weatherby in the early 1970's as a rifle the general public could purchase at an affordable price; the Vanguard Synthetic was later introduced in 1989. This rifle has a black composite stock, matte black metalwork, factory adjustable trigger, 15 caliber choices and 1 1/2 moa accuracy. Several variations were introduced over the years.
From the instant you see a new Vanguard Series 2, you know the designers and engineers at Weatherby have been busy. The composite stock is now gray with Griptonite inserts, the metalwork is blued or stainless (both are bead blasted), the trigger has been substantially improved, there are still 16 caliber offerings (8 choices in stainless) and the accuracy is now under 1 moa.
----- The Vanguard Series 2 Stock
The composite synthetic stock for the Vanguard Series 2 has the same specifications as the original Vanguard Synthetic stock (13 5/8" length of pull, 7/8" drop at comb, 1 1/4" drop at heel, 1/2" monte carlo) and a raised cheek piece. These dimensions are very similar to those used in all rifles carrying the Weatherby name with their signature styling, even the premium Mark V's.
While the stock may be identical in dimensions to the Vanguard stock, there are some differences. The Series 2 stock is dark gray in color. A combination of modern synthetic materials called Griptonite has replaced the crosshatch pattern normally used in the forearm and grip areas. It is designed to gives the shooter a good, non-slip grip on the rifle even in adverse weather. The Griptonite inserts are glued in place and should not come loose even under extreme hot or cold hunting conditions.
Weatherby Vanguard Series 2
The Griptonite extends for 8 1/2" along both sides of the forearm centered between the floorplate assembly and the front swivel stud; this should accommodate any shooter whether their arms are short or long. The handgrip area which is also enhanced with the Griptonite material has an extremely comfortable shape. The right side of the grip is designed with a swell to fit the palm of the hand; it feels really good.
The recoil pad is crescent shaped with a center thickness of 7/8" and is not solid rubber. There are 12 cavities on the inside of the recoil pad which allow the rubber to have more give; this should help absorb some of the recoil even from the heavier calibers.
The inside of the stock under the recoil pad was filled with a 'spray foam' that hardened. This will give added strength to the stock and eliminate the hollow sound typical with synthetic stocks.
Overall, I am very impressed with the Vanguard Series 2. Weatherby has made quite a few improvements and enhancements to update the Vanguard Synthetic. I especially like the trigger and the stock.
The cold hammer forged barrel on the Vanguard Series 2 is 24" long with a rounded crown at the muzzle. Since the receiver is screwed onto the barrel, head clearance can be adjusted to tight tolerances that enhance accuracy. Since the receiver is screwed on the barrel with enough torque so it will not come loose, no loctite, adhesive or barrel nut is necessary.
It is interesting to note that the barrel is not free floating. Weatherby has found that their barrels having less than a #3 contour shoot better when there is upward support from the forearm; the Vanguard Series 2 has a #2 barrel contour.
Taking a casual glance at the receiver, you would probably not notice some of the design and engineering enhancements incorporated into the Vanguard Series 2. There is a hinged floorplate with the release in the front of the trigger guard. The trigger guard is made of a cast aluminum alloy, not plastic or composite.. The safety is a knurled thumb button on the right side of the bolt sleeve. The safety position is well marked with a large S (Safe), U (Unload) and red F (Fire) on the sleeve. The bolt release is to the left of the bolt sleeve and is also knurled. To remove the bolt, press the release down while moving the bolt rearward; the bolt will reinstall without pressing the release.
The bolt is fluted 7 times for 3 1/4" between the front lugs and the bolt handle; these flutes are designed to reduce drag as the bolt is moved in and out of the receiver by reducing surface contact. For the Series 2 bolt, the fluting reduces surface contact with the receiver by almost 25%. The left front lug is typical, but when you look at the right front lug, you will notice a small notch. The left lug moves back and forth in a channel; the right lug rides on a rail. This design helps the bolt to move straighter back and forth in the receiver and maintain better bolt alignment.
When the Vanguard Series 2 arrived at the FFL dealer, the first thing my friend and top notch gunsmith Joe Annandono checked was the trigger. Joe does not like the trigger in the original Vanguard Synthetic and was skeptical of the trigger in the new Series 2. Joe's exact words were, "This trigger is a 200% improvement over the one in the Vanguard." For starters, the trigger sear on the test rifle from the factory broke crisply at 2 lbs. 12 oz. with no creep. Also, the trigger in the Series 2 is user adjustable after removing the stock; the original Vanguard trigger adjustment has to be performed by a Weatherby Service Center or qualified gunsmith.
The Vanguard Series 2 is a match quality, two-stage trigger in a lightweight alloy housing. The first stage is the take-up (or travel) in the trigger movement with minimal resistance until the sear is contacted. On the Series 2, the take-up is 1/16" measured in the middle of the trigger where the finger is in contact. The second stage is the movement of the trigger to release the sear. Once you get accustomed to a two-state trigger, it is really nice. A good trigger enhances any shooter's ability.
----- Range Results
With a Redfield Revolution 3-9x40 scope mounted and bore sighted by the gunsmith, I was advised to take the first couple shots at 25 yards as is typical when mounting a scope for the first time. The first shot was low and left. With the second shot, I thought it was completely off the targetuntil I got a close look. The second shot turned the first bullet hole into a perfect '8' shape that was 3/8" tall. Impressive! It took several more shots to finish zeroing the scope in before the real test firing started.
Put as succinctly as possible...this rifle shoots great. Spending quite a few hours on the range with a variety of .243 ammunition, I can tell you that the Weatherby guarantee of accuracy on this rifle is not hype, it's real. I used Winchester Super-X 100 grain for sighting in. I was quite surprised how the different cartridges had different points of impact during the test shooting.
Following are targets showing ammunition type and widest center-to-center measurement. Weather conditionsrain and 45. As the day progressed, the groupings were not as good as those shown (by then, the barrel was rather warm and probably pretty dirty).
-- The balance point (with a 3-9x40 Redfield scope mounted) is where the barrel screws into the receiver. This makes it feel slightly barrel-end heavy.
-- The Vanguard Series 2 weighs in at approximately 7 1/4 pounds (unloaded). With the Redfield scope and Weatherby scope mounts, the weight is at 8 1/2 pounds.
-- The Vanguard Series 2 received for this review was the stainless model. All stainless parts, including the bolt, floorplate and trigger guard, were bead blasted. This removes the normal glossy stainless finish and makes it look like a matte finish that compliments the color of the stock. Bead blasting also increases resistance to weather. The blued Series 2 is also bead blasted.
-- The receiver is stamped "Made in Japan". This is correct; the Vanguard Series 2 is manufactured in Japan to Weatherby's specifications by Howa. Howa is known worldwide for producing barrels, receivers and firearms of exceptional quality and accuracy.
-- The swivel studs are metal and screw into the stock.
-- The owner's manual is very comprehensive. It includes a complete schematic of the Series 2, instructions on how to disassemble/reassemble the bolt and the proper sequencing and tightening torques for attaching the stock to the receiver.
Overall, I am very impressed with the Vanguard Series 2. Weatherby has made quite a few improvements and enhancements to update the Vanguard Synthetic. I especially like the trigger and the stock. The accuracy is as guaranteedsub-MOA with premium ammunition and a cold barrel. It would be a stretch to find any faults with the Vanguard Series 2. For any shooter considering a new rifle, even if you have already made up your mind, check out the new Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 before you make your purchaseyou may be pleasantly surprised.
The MSRP for the Vanguard Series 2 (blued) is $599 in standard calibers; in stainless, the MSRP is $749. Actual dealer prices can vary.
For more information on the Redfield Revolution Scope, the link is: ohiovalleyoutdoors.com/page/content.detail/id/505647/Redfield-Revolution.html