Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quarter bore

Back in 1978, as a young Lieutenant, I used to lay in my BOQ and read Gun Digest. One article stuck in my mind, about a cartridge I had never seen, the .25-06. It was standardized by Remington in 1969, but had long been a wildcat cartridge, first formed by Adolph Neidner in 1920. It predates the .270 Winchester by five years. The .25-06 isn't a cartridge that one sees a lot of in these parts, being more a cartridge of the open plains. It sends out a 115 grain bullet at over 3000 fps and is considered a good cartridge for whitetail deer. Neidner designed it as a dual-purpose cartridge and with today's good powders and premium bullets, some consider it the bottom cartridge capable of taking elk. I don't think I'd ever shoot at an elk with a quarter bore.

Still, it's a cartridge that's been around for a long time and has a loyal following. It's basically a .30-06 necked down to .25 caliber, so it'll fit in any action that the .30-06 will handle. Compared to more modern cartridges, the .25-06 is about equal to the brand-new .25 Winchester Super Short Magnum and is only a couple of hundred feet per second behind the .257 Weatherby Magnum. In short, it's a fast cartridge, one that can reach out across valleys and plains. It has a reputation as being a very accurate cartridge.

I've always wanted a .25-06 since those financially broke days in the late '70s. It's been on my back burner wish list since then. I'd still look at the gun magazines from time to time and wonder if I'd ever have the opportunity to own one.

You might recall a few days ago I was in my favorite pawn shop looking at a Ruger Model 77 in .270. I like the Ruger action because it's a newer, updated version of the Mauser 98. The action has that big Mauser claw extractor and is just as slick as butter. Fifteen years ago Ruger bolt actions had a reputation for being average shooters. Then we learned about free-floating barrels and bedding stocks. With just a little tweaking, a Ruger action can be made to shoot just fine. Still, I didn't want a .270 and it was priced a little high, at $450.00 for a used rifle. Plus, the action was a weird color, being kind of a deep purple rather than a rich blue.

I hemmed and hawed with the counterguy and decided to put the rifle back on the shelf. He wasn't through with me, though. "I've got another Ruger over here, an older one with the tang safety." He picked up the rifle and handed it to me.

"Oh, really", I said. I looked down and saw the caliber .25-06 stamped on the barrel. "I bet this one's overpriced too." I looked at the tag and saw it was marked at $350.00.

"We don't have as much money in that rifle." He said. "It's an older one with the tang safety and it's in a caliber no one wants. How about $300.00?"

"Hell", I said. "It's against my better judgment, but give me a 4473."

It's got a 4X Bushnell scope mounted. That scope will go in a pile for grandkids .22 rifles. It's got a lot of closet dust in the crevices and the barrel needs to be floated. While I've got the action out of the stock, I'll go ahead and bed it. The serial number reveals it was manufactured in 1992.

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