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August 18, 2003

And now, heeere's gun #1

The first gun in my definitive gun collection is not necessarily the first one you should buy; personal need should dictate that. But I have to start somewhere, so....

One type of gun that everyone should have is a bolt-action centerfire rifle. Not just any bolt-action; while the basic design is generally reliable as a hammer, some are better choices than others. You can pay a pretty penny for some brands and not get much more for your money.

The cartridge I would recommend is the Winchester .308. It is an excellent choice for deer, sheep, and antelope, and can do well with elk and black bear with the right loads. (If you are planning on hunting only elk or bear, the .30-06 would be better). As it is able to fire the 7.62 NATO cartridge, there is a wide supply of inexpensive jacketed ammo available. And the .308 is pleasant to shoot, having much less recoil than heavier cartridges, so not only will you be able to afford shooting more ammo, you will actually be able to shoot more at the range without bruising your shoulder.

That said, I would recommend my personal weapon, the Savage Model 10 package gun. It is quite reliable (I have owned one for almost 15 years without a complaint), inexpensive (I bought one this spring brand new, for only $400), and available at almost anywhere guns are sold, including Wal-Mart, K-Mart and other nationwide sporting goods stores. That means you can probably find a better price if you shop around. The gun comes with a decent scope that is ready to shoot right out of the box; it only took me 10 rounds to bring mine into the bullseye. All in all, a great deal for the average gun owner.

Tomorrow, Gun #2.

Posted by Captain Holly at August 18, 2003 12:55 AM | TrackBack
Comments
Well, if you are limiting yourself to four guns, and you need a utility infield centerfire rifle... the Savage is a Good Choice. My dad had a trusty Savage 110 - same basic model - in 30-06. My brother-in-law still hunts with it. It's an accurate rifle, and not so nice that you would feel guilty using it as a "saddle gun". Savage rifles are generally well made, handy tools more than they are pretty-fied works of art. I'm thinking hard about that Savage right now, actually, because I'm in a Goldilocks situation with my 30-30 (too weak for long distance shots) and my 300 H&H (too strong for Whitetail deer). Savage may not get my money, though, because the local Bass Pro shop has some nice Remingtons on sale for around the same price, including an attractive zebra wood stocked Model 700 variant they call a "guide gun" for a hundred bucks more. As for the caliber... I've never noticed a lot of difference in performance between the 30.06 and the .308. The aught six comes loaded a little hotter, and often has slightly larger bullets, probably due to its longer case. Then again, the .308 is shorter, and you can cycle the bolt quicker if you need to snap off a quick second shot at a fleeing mule deer. So it's a wash, IMHO... But why go with the .30 caliber rifles? They are good standards, but in a utility rifle that has to hit above and below its weight class at times, stopping power is really important, and it's why I might think about a 7mm Remington Magnum. It's a slightly smaller round than the .30 cals, but it is a very hot round with better stopping power. It's widely available, and it's popular with guides & experienced big game hunters. With comparable bullets (170 - 180 grain), the 7mm Mag retains around 2,000 ft/lbs of energy at 400 yards, versus 1200 for the .308 and 1300 for the 30.06. It also has a markedly flatter trajectory than either round, and it costs about the same as .308 and 30.06 off the shelf, though I don't think there is any cheap surplus ammo available for it. Yet I might be willing to pay the extra 80 cents per practice round, because other than the initial familiarization, occasional sighting in and practice, I'm not going to put that many rounds through the rifle. If you are going to compete seriously, you are probably not going to show up with an off-the-shelf utility rifle. You will also likely handload, or use premium grade match ammo. Moreover, if you are going hunting, you'd be foolish to practice with rounds other than the ones you will hunt with. If you really want to shoot a lot, cheaply... get a .22 rimfire. Your mileage may vary, but I've always found that a rifle is a rifle is a rifle, and they all shoot pretty much the same for me. I sometimes need a few familiarization rounds... but my marksmanship gets honed just as well with a .22 as a 30.06. I don't find this true with pistols, but we aren't talking about pistols here. So if I want to shoot a lot of practice with cheap ammo, I'll get a .22... Posted by: Blackavar at August 18, 2003 10:38 AM
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