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Weatherby's Vanguard Series 2 Carbine

November 24, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

In early fall of 2011, I had the pleasure of reviewing Weatherby's new Vanguard Series 2 Synthetic Stainless rifle shortly after it first became available. That review was published in the November/December 2011 edition of Ohio Valley Outdoors Magazine and can still be read online at www.ohiovalleyoutdoors.com. That review went into great detail about the Series 2...the enhancements made to the Vanguard Synthetic to create the Series 2, the physical characteristics and the range results which validated the Weatherby claim of sub-MOA accuracy.

Since the introduction of the Series 2 Synthetic, Weatherby had expanded the selection of this next generation of rifles. There are now 11 different models of the Vanguard Series 2, plus a rifle/scope combo and a package deal. You can get a youth model, sporter, varmint special, two models with detachable box magazine, two range certified models, a deluxe model, a blued synthetic, a stainless synthetic and a carbine.

Many times the individuals who read the review on a firearm do so because of an interest to purchase one or to just stay informed. Sometimes, a person reads these articles, but is skeptical for various reasons. To address this concern, I chose a different model in the Series 2 line with a different barrel length, finish and a different caliber. For this review, I chose the Vanguard Series 2 Carbine that has a 20" barrel, blued finish and in 7mm-08; the first Series 2 Synthetic had a 24" barrel, stainless finish and in .243 Win.

Article Video

--- Common Features Between the Two Rifles.

The Trigger The match quality, two-stage trigger in the Vanguard Series 2 line is outstanding. It does not have the 'set-off blade' found in many factory triggers. The Weatherby trigger is user adjustable down to 2 lbs. 8 oz. The trigger in both rifles have a 1/16" take up in stage 1 to make contact with the sear; the pull on the trigger to release the sear (stage 2) was 2 lbs. 12 oz. in the Series 2 Synthetic and 2 lbs. 10 oz in the Carbine. I really like this trigger.

The Stock The synthetic stock used for the Series 2 Synthetic and the Carbine are the same (not all stocks in the Series 2 line are the grey synthetic with Griptonite inserts). The stock's styling and dimensions are very similar to most rifles in the Weatherby line. The forearm and handgrip areas are enhanced with Griptonite inserts that are not only functional but also add to the aesthetic appearance of the stock. The raised palm swell on the right side of the hand grip feels good.

Article Photos

Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Carbine

What you can't see (unless you take off the 7/8" thick recoil pad) is the hardened foam filling inside the stock. This filling gives added strength to the stock; it also deadens the hollow sound when struck by something such as a branch (the kind of sound that carries and would scare off any wary game).

The Bolt/Action/Receiver The bolt is fluted 7 times effectively reducing surface contact with the receiver by 25%. The left lug on the bolt rides in a channel and the right lug rides on a rail; this keeps the bolt better aligned when being moved forward and backward. Put these two features together and you have a bolt that slides smoothly and has less drag. The 3-position safety is very well marked (yellow 'S', white 'U', red 'F') and can easily be worked with the right thumb. The bolt release is to the left of the bolt sleeve. Depressing the release in front of the metal trigger guard easily opens the hinged metal floor plate.

Manufacturing Both are stamped "Made in Japan" on the receiver. These rifles are made to Weatherby's specifications by Howa, a company known for manufacturing barrels, receivers and firearms of exceptional quality and accuracy.

Fact Box

CartridgeMfg. M.V.Avg. M.V.Variance
Federal Premium28002662± 16
Winchester Silver Tip27702675± 17
Winchester Super-X28002704± 26
Barnes VOR-TX30052865± 20
Hornady Superformance29502877± 18

--- Differences Between the Two Rifles

The Barrel Obviously, the barrel on the Carbine is 4" shorter than the 24" barrel on the Series 2 Synthetic. What may not be as obvious is the barrel taper. The Series 2 Synthetic has a #2 contour barrel (.611" muzzle diameter) while the Carbine's barrel is a #1 contour (.561" muzzle diameter). Both barrels also have a rounded crown to protect the bore at the muzzle. Since the receiver is screwed onto the barrel for all rifles in the Series 2 line, head clearance can be adjusted to maximize accuracy.

Weatherby uses hammer forged barrels for the Vanguard Series 2. These barrels are accurate without the need of finishing work; that also makes them affordable.

The Finish The Series 2 Synthetic reviewed last fall had a stainless steel barrel and receiver that was bead blasted. The Carbine is blued and bead blasted. Bead blasting is done for two reasons. First, it removes any glossy finish and gives a matte appearance. Second, it makes the finish more resistant to weather. Neither finish showed any imperfections or inconsistencies.

The Weight When compared to the Series 2 Synthetic, the shorter barrel length and different contours translate into approximately a 1/4 pound less weight for the Carbine that is approximately 7 pounds. The actual weight can vary due to different bore diameters and stock density.

Caliber Choices The Carbine is available in 5 popular short action calibers - .223 Rem, .22-250 Rem, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem and .308 Win. The Series 2 Synthetic offers 11 additional choices with chambering in long action calibers, Weatherby Magnum calibers and WSM calibers.

--- At the Range

The Vanguard Series 2 Carbine was evaluated with 5 different cartridges - Barnes VOR-TX 120 gr. Tipped TSX-BT, Hornady Superformance 139 gr. SST, Winchester 140 gr. Ballistic Silvertip, Winchester Super-X 140 gr. Power Point and Federal Premium 140 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip. Before checking accuracy, the average muzzle velocity was checked for each cartridge to see how they performed in the 20" barrel. Then, accuracy was checked with each cartridge.

The first test was checking muzzle velocity with various cartridges in the Series 2 Carbine using a Prochrono chronograph positioned 5 feet from the muzzle. Five rounds were fired for each cartridge and the average was compared to the manufacturer's stated muzzle velocity. Actual muzzle velocity can differ from what the manufacturer states based differences in barrel length and different firearms.

The second test was accuracy of the Vanguard Series 2 Carbine with these cartridges using a Caldwell Lead Sled Plus for support. The big surprise was the two cartridges with the slowest actual muzzle velocity, Federal Premium and Winchester Silvertip, produced the tightest groups (.6" each). Federal Premium groups ranged from .6" to 1.3"; Winchester Silvertip ranged from .6" to 1.2". The two fastest muzzle velocities, Barnes VOR-TX and Hornady Superformance, also shot under 1" groups. Barnes VOR-TX groups ranged from .9" to 1.3"; Hornady Superformance ranged from .7" to 1.1". Barnes and Hornady may not have produced the smallest groups but were more consistent in the groups. Winchester Super-X was the only one that did not produce a sub-MOA group (3-shot groups were 1.2" to 1.9"); that's still respectable performance.

It is interesting and worth noting how the point of impact varied by as much as 1.5" from one cartridge manufacturer to the next. For several of the cartridges, adjustments were made to windage and/or elevation before the five 3-shot groups were fired. Hunting Tip - Once you have your rifle zeroed in with a particular cartridge, stick with it. If you change the cartridge you are using, check your point of impact.

Weatherby promotes the Series 2 Carbine of having sub-MOA accuracy with premium ammunition. Based on my testing of five 3-shot groups with each cartridge, their claim is accurate. Four of the 5 cartridges tested produced sub-MOA groups at 100 yards.

--- Conclusion

The MSRP for the Vanguard Series 2 Carbine is $599, the same price as the blued Series 2 Synthetic. If you were considering a Series 2 Synthetic but had reservations because of the barrel length or the weight, take a good look at the Carbine. If you don't think the sub-MOA is possible in the Series 2 Carbine, believe it.

This is a great rifle from a company with a reputation for quality, and it's very reasonably priced.

 
 

 

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