The issue I have seen with a 788 is someone hot loads it, gets sticky bolt syndrome, beats bolt open and breaks off the soft soldered handle in the process. It can be repaired if you get to it before some bubba-gumsmith does. Only ever seen it in on a couple .308s. I started hunting with a .243 788 that my dad bought many years back. Not an issue ever, several summers it killed a lot of groundhogs.
For a cheap varminter, I'd be looking at a Savage 110, 10 or Savage-Stevens 200. Walmart has the Savage "Axis" models for $277.
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