Friday, September 26, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - IV

Continuing our discussion of practical rifles, we turn now to action type, and we shouldn't be too hasty in deciding, so let's look at the options.

The lever action has a lot to recommend it.  It's chambered in a variety of rifles and carbines and widely used by plenty of hunters.  Christopher Spencer is credited with the first popular lever action rifle, built in 1860, it's an old design that has seen numerous upgrades and re-designs over the years.  Winchester did more than anyone to popularize it, while Savage upgraded it, and it's been manufactured by a number of firms.  Newer examples combine the nostalgia of the lever action with the spitzer bullets of contemporary cartridges.  Just yesterday, while wandering through a gun store, I handled a nice Winchester Model 88 in .243 Winchester that I thought would be a dandy stalking rifle.    Some have tube magazines, some have box magazines, but all are quick, handy, and have fairly robust actions.  We cannot discount the lever action rifle.

The bolt action rifle is beloved by  many shooters and is considered by many as the basis for a fine rifle.  Time extolling the bolt action would be superfluous, so we'll limit the discussion here.  Two magazine types predominate in these rifles, the internal box and the detachable box.  Either is sufficient to our purposes.  The only criteria I have for a bolt action rifle is that it should be smooth and the bolt easily manipulated from the shoulder.

We turn now to the semi-auto.  From JM Browning, to John Garand, to Eugene Stoner, Americans have been fascinated with the semi-auto for the past century.  It's hard to argue that the Garand isn't a practical rifle.  Eight rounds of .30-06 is plenty for the purpose, even if the rifle might be a little long at 43 inches and a little heavy at about 10 pounds, millions of Americans have used them for battle and recreation.  Eugene Stoner's rifle, on the other hand, appeals to a great many Americans.  It's called (among other things) the modern sporting rifle, the evil black rifle, or the poodle shooter, but no one can deny that the design hasn't been successful, and has been embraced by millions of shooters.

The one constant in deciding on which action type we should adopt for the practical rifle is that it should allow a fast follow up shot.  The ability to deliver a fast second shot may not be critical on the target range, but on the game fields it's considered very handy.  Arguments can be made either way, but I believe that the first criteria for a practical rifle is that it be a magazine fed repeating rifle.


Old NFO said...

My sentimental first choice is a 94 Winchester in 30-30, if I have to be realistic, it's a SCAR-17H.

Gerry N. said...

My favorite breechloading rifle is a Ruger #1 in .308 Winchester. I carry two cartridges between the fingers of my left hand for follow-up shots. I've never needed one yet.

My second favorite is an H&R Topper in .30-30 again, two cartridges between the fingers of the left hand.

I have a plinking and varmint rifle in .22 Hornet, it's an Italian replica of a Remington Baby Rolling Block, again, two cartridges between those fingers, wiht a twist. That being a pocketful of cartridges.

Gerry N.

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

Hello Pawpaw:

Awesome thread.

In some ways the pistol and shotgunners are ahead of the riflemen.

The pistol crowd frequently reminds us that any handgun you have on your person is better than any gun sitting in your safe when you find yourself in need. Some long guns are just easier to tote than others. Often, those easy to carry guns have tubular magazines or limited capacity box magazines.

The shotgun guys remind us that fit trumps absolute accuracy when time is paramount. Having a rifle that mounts smoothly and places the scope/sight *exactly* in your line of sight is a beautiful thing.

Scopes....trends in hunting make it look more like benchrest shooting than it used to be. That said, more than one deer has been busted on the way to the stand or coming back out. More magnification is not your friend when it comes to quick shots. Most of my scopes are 3X9. They get sighted in at 9X but then live the rest of their lives at 3x or 4x.

Again, great thread.