4. I am pretty sure our military in Vietnam did not carry a bench gun around when the snipers had to make long range shots. Remington rifles in .308 most of the time. I know this is true because my uncle was one of them. He suggested that leupold went down hill and the scopes are not what they used to be.
Man I’ve been out of this loop for a while.
Not to butt into the middle of this but I just wanted to point out that while they didn’t use bench guns in Vietnam the initial Marine snipers did use target rifles. They used Pre-War Winchester Model 70’s with heavy contour barrels chambered in 30-06 and fitted with an 8x Unertl scope. With the barrel and scope the rifles typically came in around 12 pounds or so since they were originally bought for the high power target matches the marines participated in.
The original M40’s were Remington 40x target rifles that were rebuilt by the Marine armorers and topped with a Redfield 3-9 Accurange Scope. They also had a much heavier barrel than your standard hunting rifle, so while they didn’t have bench guns they also didn’t have hunting weight rifles.
So while it may not have been explained eloquently the reason sporter weight barrels are not allowed in some matches is due to the light barrels tendency to walk during the long strings of fire required for such matches. A rifle who’s groups open to 2” at 100 yards when hot is fine for a hunting rifle but could result in bullets landing on another persons targets at 1000 yards. This is in addition to the fact that generally speaking lighter guns are harder to shoot because they are easier to move around due to the lack of weight which shows more movement while aiming.
I agree with the statements on Leupold, they worked on hunting rifles where it was set it and forget it but when dialing became popular they really started to show their short falls in this area with all manner of tracking issues. Up until recently Leupold was living off its reputation but it seems like in the past year or two they have started to actually listen and offer what their customers want and many want more than a simple BDC or duplex reticle.
As for shooting it at long range while it can be done it will definitely be difficult, partially because of how light the rifle is and partially because of the barrel contour. However it is fully worth trying, I started long range shooting with a Model 70 in .300 WM and once I figured it out I was able to repeatedly hit 6” plates out to 600 yards at my buddies cabin utilizing holdovers so you should be able to do the same with your Tikka.
For scopes I would take a look at some of the Vortex Vipers or their new Strike Eagle, those can be found in your price range and should work for your intended application.