It is interesting to find a company with a sixty-six year
operating history that projects such a modern and progressive image.
Perhaps the company's start with new, high velocity cartridges, or
marketing taglines such as "Tomorrow's Rifles Today" always stood in
contrast to the more typical stodgy industry participants.
The Vanguard was added to the
Weatherby product line
circa 1970 and became a pivotal product. While the Vanguard
was introduced under Roy Weatherby's stewardship, it appears to have
been managed and developed into a successful product line under the
leadership of Ed Weatherby1. The Vanguard came to represent a change in
business and product philosophy; flashy, ultra high performance works of
art versus quality, more practical hunting rifles.
The Vanguard is manufactured by Howa
Machinery Ltd. Japan, an arrangement that has been in place since the
product's 1970 introduction. Howa has, at some points in time, also manufactured
the Weatherby Mark V and Mark XXII. Manufacturing technology and facilities
are so specialized and so capital intensive, that centralized
manufacturing has become the industry norm. The Vanguard is still
produced to Weatherby quality standards and specifications, which means fit, finish and appearance are distinctly Weatherby.
The Vanguard® Series 2
product line, introduced in October 2011, is comprised of thirteen
standard configurations, beginning with the $599
Synthetic, pictured left, and ending with the $1,099 Range Certified models.
Within that price range are carbines, walnut stocks, different
barrel contours, and youth and scoped models. The Vanguard
may also be ordered as a custom product through certified Weatherby dealers.
Regardless the price or model, all Vanguard
Series 2 firearms carry a Sub MOA accuracy guarantee.
Vanguard® Series 2 models are available in a number of
chambers to fit virtually every application: .223 Remington, .22-250
Remington, .240 Weatherby Magnum, 243 Winchester, .25-06 Remington, .270
Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .257
Weatherby Magnum, .270 WSM, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester
Magnum, .300 WSM, .300 Weatherby Magnum, and .338 Winchester
Magnum. Barrel lengths vary from 20" to 24" and in contour, dependent
upon model and chamber.
The rifle that serves as the basis for all that follows
is a Vanguard® Series 2 Synthetic with an optional detachable magazine and chambered for the 30-06 Springfield.
We prefer the term "Frugal"...
Weatherby Vanguard Series 2
Matte Blued Steel
|Drop at comb
|Drop at heel
Two Stage Adjustable
3 lbs. 8 oz.
Mid - High $400+
with detachable magazine or 5+1
with hinged floorplate. ** Actual
Maine is a great state for hunting deer, black bear, moose (If you
can live with a moose lottery), and assorted and sundry varmints. It is a state
that can get extremely cold and wet and is populated with hunters who
want, and will negotiate for, quality reliable equipment at the lowest
possible price. The Synthetic version of the Vanguard Series 2 seems to
be a good fit for Maine, especially when chambered for the 30-06
Springfield, one of the best all around hunting cartridges.
The Vanguard Series 2 Synthetic is a good looking rifle.
Bead blasted matte hardware and synthetic stock finish give the gun a
look of substance. There are no reflective or slick surfaces, pistol
grip and forearm inserts are comfortable and provide a non-slip surface
in cold and/or wet weather. The stock is fitted with sling swivel studs
and a quality recoil pad. The stock geometry, while not exactly the same
as the iconic Mark V, provides a hand filling angular forearm, an ideal
comb height and cheekpiece rise for proper support for scoped shooting
and just the right amount of drop at the heel for good recoil management.
Weatherby did a good job with color selection, something
that remains an unmet challenge for other manufacturers. The Weatherby has black grip area inserts and trim pieces
I'll call a slate gray stock. Remington, as an example, has black
trim also, but their synthetic stock body is an almost olive. Additionally,
where Weatherby brand marks in matching colors, Remington tends to contrast
mark... as though customers wouldn't otherwise remember which brand
or model of gun they purchased unless the Remington logo wasn't shouting
Bond. James Bond...
Being the observant kind of guy that I am, I wasn't too
far into the shooting day when I realized there were no sights on the
rifle. So I went ahead and installed a scope, a Minox ZA 5 2-10x40 XR-BDC,
with a fine, range estimating reticle. As a combination of scope and
rifle, the two went together to form the black and dark titanium firearm
equivalent of a Shelby Cobra 427 S/C. Very nice. Sold by Minox USA, Minox scopes are made with
optical glass from Schott in Germany and assembled in the United States.
More on the Minox scope in separate coverage.
Warne Maxima mounts and Burris Xtreme Tactical bases were
used to mount the scope.
The Vanguard rifle takes the same base numbers as the Remington Model
700 and Howa 1500 so there are lots and lots of options. In this case
the bases were selected because they are Picatinny type and have more cross
slots than conventional Weaver type bases, which means more latitude in
fore-aft scope positioning.
Well thought out design touches
The new trigger is two stage and had a one screw
adjustment to set pull weight between 2.5 and 5 lbs. The stock must be
removed to perform this adjustment, but that task requires only removing
two trigger guard screws. The recoil lug that is integral to the action
is retained at a recess in the thick part of the stock. This puts a lot
of surface area in contact with recoil absorbing surfaces and keeps the
load off of the action's tang and the stock wrist; the locations where
less well designed systems often show stocks' splits... and not the good
kind. Grabbing the recoil up front also allows the rest of the stock
length the act as a shock absorber and dampen recoil.
The firearm's angular exterior and ribbed interior make
for a very rigid structure. The barrel floats with the exception of one
contact point at the tip and closely follow the barrels contour for a
The Vanguard Series 2 Synthetic is available in a 5+1
round hinged floorplate version, as well as in a 3+1 round quick
detachable magazine version, pictured. The detachable magazine is also
available in kit form and can be installed on any Vanguard or Howa 1500
The hinged floorplate version holds more rounds and the
gun can be topped off when necessary, something that can't be done with
the cartridge centering magazine in place. On the other hand, the
detachable magazine allows a hunter to carry preloaded magazines with a
variety of ammunition types or to enjoy the quarter pound less rifle
weight afforded by the detachable magazine configuration. Friends who
have observed my... unique shooting and tracking skills would understand
why the hinged floor plate version, with more rounds loaded, would be my
preference. Still, it is nice to have a choice.
The Vanguard (left), two lug gun with a 90°
bolt rotation. The Weatherby's bolt stroke is fluid, not unlike a Model
70 Winchester, and without the Mauser follower bump. Good call on the
swept back bolt handle angle and scalloping as it cleared even large
eyepiece scopes with only medium height rings. Subsequently, no fingers
tangled in the scope and no scopes sitting a foot off the barrel. This
makes a difference as the higher the rings, the more acute the angle of
incidence between line of sight and path of bullet, which exaggerates
scope adjustment increments.
The Vanguard's three position safety is a nice touch. The
"S" position blocks the sear and locks the bolt. The "U" position blocks
the sear, but allows the bolt to be cycled to empty the gun. The "F"
position is pretty self explanatory and remains the best way to separate
bullets from cartridge cases.
The Vanguard has a solid bolt body for the greatest
columnar strength and resistance to bolt thrust. It is also fluted to
reduce contact surface area for smoother cycling. The three gas ports keep
hot gases away from a shooters face and hands in the event of a case
rupture. The bolt face recesses into the barrel and surrounds a
cartridge case head which means three rings of steel - the bolt head,
the barrel and the receiver. I like the short claw extractor. It reminds
me of a pivoting Sako extractor, only with more leverage and more grip.
Now that everything is back together...
Probably a good time to take a break, round up all
necessary shooting supplies and get ready for a serious range session. I
have to say the Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 is a lot more gun than I
anticipated based on prior experience with Howa house brand firearms.
The Howa guns shot really well, but that guns' fit and finish were less than
exciting. The Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 product, on the other hand, is
nicely executed with presented none of the negative aspects of the Howa. The
Vanguard Series 2
quality is very much inline with the examples of Mark V
product I have owned over the years.
Be back shortly with Part II. In the mean time, you may
want to check out Weatherby
Nation on the Weatherby.Com site. Weatherby nation is a Weatherby
themed message board that features discussion, product information
and promotional programs for Weatherby owners and other firearm
Weatherby's Vanguard® Series 2 Synthetic DBM Part I
Weatherby's Vanguard® Series 2 Synthetic DBM Part II
1 Weatherby. The Man. The Gun. The Legend -
Grits Gresham & Tom Gresham