Look at Canebrake's post here for good answer to a SOLID starter rifle:
$599 is a far better place to start with a quality set of nice primary components. I have that rifle, and while it looks nothing like that anymore (after bunches of upgrades and changes), I can speak from experience that the build quality is very nice on S&W. While you can beat the price by building your own, it will not be with as high of quality components and won't have as garunteed of a nicely matched up upper and lower. That leaves about 250 bucks in your budget to pick out a decent scope or irons and other accessories.
Edit: Warning though! The gas block on that particular one is a PITA to remove and change out!!!