Dave Petzal talks bout buying a rifle, from the inexpensive entry-level rifles to the expensive custom jobs costing upwards of the multi-thousand dollar range.
Like most guys, I like a fine firearm, one where it appears that the metal grew to the wood and both the steel and the stock are executed flawlessly. Blueprinted actions, trued to the barrel, barrels by custom barrel makers of National Match quality, all of these things make a fine rife.
I love rifles (and shotguns) like that, but I have to admit that my taste in rifles was tainted by a young captain of infantry, one of my commanders way back in the Great When. He considered all firearms "bullet launchers", designed only to poke holes in an adversary. He wore both Airborne wings and an Army Ranger tab, along with two tours in Southeast Asia, I had to admit that he had more military acumen than I did at the time. And it's true. A rifle is designed to poke holes in things, whether they be paper, game animals, or an armed adversary.
I've got to admit that Petzal is right, that when you're spending big money for a rifle, some of what you buy is intangible. It's your money, spend it on fancy rifles or art, it matters to me not. However, with today's modern manufacturing methods, the rifles we buy today are by-and-large much better at poking holes in things than they were fifty years ago.
Take for example, my Savage rifle. With a new stock to replace the one I bought and a halfway decent scope, I've got less than $600.00 tied up in the rifle. And it gives me three-shot groups like this:
Or, this other Savage, in .243 Winchester. With the scope and mounts, it's another $600.00 rifle. It's bone stock, except for tightening the screws and floating the tang.
Petzal is right that there is plenty to consider when buying a rifle. As good as the rifle makers have gotten, there is a lot to consider. It's your money, but I'm hard pressed to find anything wrong with my rifles. They launch bullets just fine.