I wish we had a bloody chainsaw emoticon... ok here you go JD
Rem 700 SPS Tactical 20" Heavy Bbl
Can come in under 600 bucks easily. If you stay away from bomb proof components (badger - the best there is) but there are more economical solutions for a rec shooter, you can come in under 1200. Just dont skimp on scope, base or rings. Or the scope. Or the scope. Or the scope.
Dont care for the Varmint bbl that Rem has on theirs.
Salvage has come round quite a bit since my younger days, good rifles now. And the more lickies and chewies you get when you make the initial buy, the better off you are. Most stocks are throw away (see Rem SPS), and everything else comes with a price.
The only thing I will say is you will not want to leave it "stock", so figure out which mods you want done and figure out when you want to do them. Caca gets expensive in a hurry, so dont be surprised when that base 500 dollar gun turns into a 2000 dollar system.
Let us know what you get. Rotsa ruck!