Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pick a Quality Rifle and a Common Caliber

The following pearls of wisdom come from years of hunting, guiding others and being in hunting camps all over the country. When it comes to rifles, step up to the plate and buy quality. I am not talking about some exotic brand and caliber that cost a fortune just so everyone can "Ooh" and "Ahh" over it when you take it out of the case. I mean buy a top of the line rifle from a tried and proven company that you can carry to hell and back and it will shoot every time you pull the trigger. Don’t go out and buy the first ever released new special model for your depend-on-every-shot rifle. On the other hand don’t go out and buy some cheap rifle put out by a company that makes bargain firearms for your primary hunting rifle. I am talking about buying rifles like Remington, Savage, Winchester and Weatherby that are solid proven designs. I only mention Weatherby for those that have them in normal calibers and not the special Weatherby designed cartridges. I know lots of you have this or that rifle made by so and so that is great, so do I, but when the rifle has to perform every time without a hiccup I carry a rifle I can depend on to fire when needed. If it is a rifle based on one of the solid designs and major companies, that has been worked by some custom gunsmith, so much the better, if you believe in the smiths work. I have seen several shots-of-a-lifetime fumbled because some fancy rifle failed to feed properly or jammed. I have seen outstanding trophies missed because of flinching, caused by fear of magnum cartridge recoil. Both of these things are so easy to prevent and it is sad they occur at all, but it happens to people every season.

I have a Remington model 700 ADL in .243 that my father bought for me at Gibson’s Discount Center in Abilene, Texas when I was nine years old. That rifle has been carried all over Texas, New Mexico and Colorado and you would not believe the game it has accounted for through those years. I carried it often as a guide rifle when backing other hunters and it has put down game wounded by much more exotic and magnum calibers. I have traded it off for a shot to many a hunter that could not hit their game with a magnum rifle but made the shot with that little .243. That rifle has never failed to work and I shoot it still today. It has never been in the shop, nothing has ever broken and I will pass it on to one of my daughters to use and treasure. I can walk into any country store, box store or any place ammo is sold, and purchase ammo for that rifle. Try to buy ammo for some of the exotic calibers in No-where, Texas. If you never had someone show up in camp without their ammo you have not hunted enough. If they have a common caliber someone can usually loan them some ammo or a trip to the nearest town solves the problem. Some of the Weatherby cartridges are great rounds but I never recommend them as they can be impossible to find and the expense of a box of ammo unreal.

I have a model 70 Winchester that my grandfather shot all his life and passed to my father who passed it to me. I am proud that it continues on with no problems. My father shot a Remington model 700 in .264 Winchester Magnum most of his life and I still shoot it today, but ammo is now getting hard to find and expensive to boot. I know some people need to have the latest, greatest magnum to validate their man card, but I can assure you it is much more important to be able to precisely place a bullet than to be able to stand recoil. I am going elk hunting later this year and I will be carrying a Remington 700 tactical in .308. It has very little recoil and sufficient power to do the job with proper bullet placement. Shoot whatever you do well with and feel comfortable shooting. Be honest with yourself about recoil. If your mind tells you this is going to hurt when you sit down at the bench to sight your rifle in each season; you need to get something that recoils less. If recoil prevents you from properly sighting in a rifle or shooting a good group, you need to get something that recoils less. You can validate you man card with game you hang on the meat pole. None of my hunting buddies laugh at my little rifle any more. Have a great season, Wild Ed


Tim Covington said...

I concur. I bought a cheaper, single shot rifle in 30-06 with a synthetic stock. The recoil on that was worse than the Savage 30-06 I had at one time. The recoil was worse than a Mosin Nagant. I traded it in and got myself another Savage.

Now, I just I hope I can get a deer when I go hunting on LBJ National Grasslands this December.

Wild Ed said...

Tim, I hope you have a great hunt whether you score or not. I have long wanted to make a trip to the LBJ National Grass Lands just to explore. Be sure and give us a report and send pictures.
Savage makes some great guns and they are one of the most accurate out of the box rifles made today. I have really had my eye on the new Savage Predator in .243 and if I win the lottery in the future I will have one with quailty glass mounted on it. Guess I need to start buying tickets. :) Ed

Albert A Rasch said...


Excellent post. As you know I have a Weatherby Mark V in 30/06 and swear by it. Classic cartridge that is up to the task of taking any game, given the right projectile and accurate shooting.

The 308 will do all the same too, if the shooter does his part.

Best regards,

Michael Spinelli said...

Well thought out and on the spot. I see it even with the air rifle crowd.

Mike's Travels... and Travails!

Trey said...

Browning A-Bolt 30-06 for me

Wild Ed said...

i own several brownings, most were not made here in the USA. They are beautiful firearms and shoot well as a whole but not what I reach for when I am headed on a tough trip. I have always hated to scratch up the beautiful wood on my brownings. If you believe in the rifle and it never fails you that confindence is worth a fortune to you in the field. May your A bolt never have a hiccup and always shoot straight. :)

steveo_uk said...

always refreshing to read a unbiased advise. Thanks for the heads up and advise

Wild Ed said...

Stevo UK, all of my articles are biased from years of experience. That is why so many seem to stop by and read what I write. If I tell you something it is what I have experienced and it is also what I believe. Others may have had the exact opposite experience and I am sure there are rifles out there just as dependable as those I named. Most African Hunters would say use a double rifle in a life and death situation or some brand of Mauser rifle. I have seen multiple brands of rifles fail in a pinch and I am sure there are those that have had one of my favorites fail. I am simply passing on what experience I have and what I trust. It boils down to the fact that you need to have complete faith in your rifle and cartridge. If you do, you are welcome in my camp as long as you can back up that faith. If a hunter shows up with some exotic new rifle they just had bore sighted and have not carried on a hunt first thing I do is take them to the range and see how the rifle and hunter perform. Then we go from there. Most of the time within a few minutes these days I can tell if the hunter is one that will need help or not. JMHO, Ed