The Weatherby Vanguard has been around for a while now. It was originally introduced to give people the option of having the Weatherby name without the high price tag of the company’s very popular, but rather expensive, Mark V rifles. The Vanguard is even adorned with flutes on the bolt to give the appearance of a Mark V at first glance.
While the Vanguard was supposed to be something of a sideline, Weatherby now probably sells as many, if not more, Vanguards every year than their higher-end offerings. This is because the Vanguard is priced like a compromise, but usually turns out to be everything the average rifleman is looking for. The rifle can even be found in some of the more popular Weatherby cartridges, which allows people to give one of Roy’s bottle-necked offspring a try without investing a house payment in a Mark V.
The Vanguard is often compared to the Remington 700, which may or may not be cheaper depending on how dealers interpret MSRP, and there really is little that differs between the two functionally. The extractor on the Vanguard is larger than the one found on most of Remington’s offerings, a characteristic some would say results in correspondingly better extraction. This is a debate that has been going on for some time and is not likely to get worked out any time soon. For now, let’s just say the extractor on the Vanguard works well and leave it at that. The new model features a two-stage trigger and a safety with a third position that allows the bolt to be opened while the rifle cannot be fired. This is an improvement and is in line with the current trend in safeties. Weatherby now offers a conversion kit for the rifle that allows you to use detachable box magazines. This is also in line with current trends, but I’m not sure how many people will opt for it as the original magazine design works very well.
You may notice that the Vanguard lost a point in the scope mounting category. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the mounting system used on the Vanguard – the mount is probably better than some employed on the other rifles in the comparison, but it’s not free. A first-time buyer will appreciate being able to go out in the field without first learning to install a scope mount so the Vanguard loses a point.
The Vanguard Synthetic now comes with a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. This means that if you use Weatherby or other premium ammunition your Vanguard will shoot a 3 shot group less than .99 inches in diameter at one hundred yards. While it is nice to see this in print, this guarantee has more or less been a matter of course since the Vanguards started rolling off the line. With good glass and a shooter behind it that knows what they are doing, Vanguards will shoot one inch groups all day. Many Vanguard owners discover early on that with a little careful hand-loading these rifles with shoot well under an inch, even in magnum calibers.
The Vanguard is a lot of rifle for the money and, while some people might purchase them as an entry-level rifle, many become mainstays.