Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sniper Hunting Rifle

I love my Ruger Stainless Steel bolt action 30:06. it’s served me very well and I won’t part with it soon.  I’ve shot moose at 400 yards.  I use nozzler partition 180 grain. I stick with that and have shot a lot of deer and moose and bear and even elk with just that successful combination.  Some 30 deer later and a half dozen moose, a few bear and an elk, all extremely tasty for sure, I’ve got to admit that most everything I shoot seems to be under 300 yards away when I shoot it.  The closest shot was 30 yards in the rain. I used to switch around from 150 grain to once having 220 grain on a bear hunt but frankly it always meant re sighting and different ammo could confuse me so I got into the habit of 180 grain. Sometimes that means I go for head shots to save meat. I don’t used the nossler partition for target practice simply because it’s twice the cost.
I bought a Mossberg 30:30 lever action, the rifle man gun, mainly because my Dad had one. I’d bought an off road motorcycle and figured without stalking and ambushing I wasn’t going to get particularly long shots in the bush.  So it became my back up rifle, nothing more fun and by far the best can shooting, target shooting rifle I’ve had. The 30:30 is the best bush rifle.  Dad was a big white tail deer hunter.  I’m more likely to be in the open hunting mule deer.
The trouble now is I heard about the Lapua 338.  Imagine shooting a mile away I thought. I sail and imagine being offshore with pirates shooting at me outside my range and me with a shot gun or at best the 30:06.  I see myself sailing in the China seas and those fast boats coming after me.  This is silly thinking, like wondering what to have post apocalypse when the zombie wars begin.  Then the whole idea is to get far away.  Of course, bad guys will again have rocket launchers and such so the whole ‘just in case’ reasoning which makes it easier to buy something you really don’t need for hunting doesn’t work too well.
The fact is I don’t ‘need’ another rifle.  I’ve been looking at them for 2 years since I first heard about the Lapua 338 long distance shots.  Also I loved hearing that the Canadian women won sniper marksman awards as did the Canadian Military men.  The fact remains I hunt for food and even ost apocalypse I’m really going to be interested in barbecued wild game mostly.
I also thought of the Big Horn sheep I see with my binoculars but haven’t got close enough to shoot yet, and the goats.  Then I heard of a guy last year shooting a bull elk at 600 yards with the Lapua 338.  I’ve seen a whole herd of mule deer at 600 yards once.  The deer probably knew I had a 30:06 and that that was likely outside my range.  Probably if I got a Lapua 338 the deer would stand off at a thousand yards and mock me.
The velocity of the 30:06 with a 165 grain bullet is 2850 fps and the 300 win mag is 3150 fps, or at least in that range so that one can see the comparison.
MOA (minute of angle) refers to accuracy. This is a tight grouping. At 1200 meters the 300 win mag grouping is .8 to 1 whereas the Lapua 338 is .6 to .8 at 1500 meters.
The maximum effective range of my 30:06 is 800 meters, whereas the 300 winchester magnum is 900-1200 meters.  The Lapua 338 is 1200 to 1500 and the 50 caliber is 1500 to 2000.
Since I’ve got older, and I don’t know how this happened, I don’t like packing rifles.  The lapuas seem to be in the 11 to 12 lb range at best with the 50 calibers heavier whereas 30 win mags are down around 7 lbs.
My friends laugh and say how much I complain about hauling meat hundreds of yards.  So I thought maybe I’d sit in ambush on a hill waiting for a moose to cross a particularly pleasant road. I have a tree stand now.  I could shoot a moose walking by a road. I don’t have to shoot it from the roadside like I would with the 30:30, good to about 200 yards at best.
But then the price of the bullets was outrageous.  And everyone who hunts says the 300 win magnum is the way to go. Lots of bullet availability.
For my sake the 300 win mag is probably better than the 338 Lapua if only for the lower cost of ammo and the ready availability of ammo.  If I came across a pirate on the high seas they’d probably have a rocket launcher.
But I’d like something that packed a bigger punch than the 30:06 and the 300 win mag does. It reaches out further but the down side is that it has a real kick.
The Finnish developed the Lapua.  The SAKO TRG 42 is the rifle that gets the most blogging respect and is made for 300 win mag and 338 papua mag.  It costs however $3-5000 just for the rifle.  The scope will cost another $1-2000.  Meanwhile Weatherby, a great company, makes the 300 mags for around $1500 and the Ruger I love makes them around $1000.  So with scope one can get a 300 win mag for under a couple of thousand. And one fellow argued very strongly for a combination of Browning and Nikon scope for under $1000.  There's a lot of discussion around trigger pull on these long range rifles and the old Remington's get better press than the newer ones.  I have to 'feel' the difference on the trigger pulls to know this better.
Now I don’t need another rifle.  But I’ve had fun researching this and whereas a year ago I was all keen to get the Lapua and shoot some moose a mile away and curse the whole week it took me to get it back to my truck, now I’m a whole lot further along the learning curve.  By next year I may even know better. I’ve discussed this with a half dozen friends already and now plan to hone my discussions further when I go into stores to talk with the salesmen.
I love Reliable Guns family store on Frazer in Vancouver.  they were one of the first ones to steer me towards the 300 win mag when I explained what I wanted.
The key word here is ‘want’.   Not even ‘want’, more like, ‘what would you get if you won a lottery?”  Well, I think I’d like that Sako TRG 42 .
Now that I’m in the ball park with the ‘potential’ next rifle I’m going to start looking at scopes.  That could be a year of researching. Hunting season, really, isn’t until the fall, though there is spring bear hunt going on now.
I store my rifles in a gun locker with trigger locks at a special site for gun storage.  Dad stored his rifles in a wood locker he'd made with a glass panel you could look through.  Gone are those days.  We used to leave the doors unlocked and kids were taught not to touch guns.  People rarely stole in the neighbourhood and if they did the cops caught them and they went to jail.  One of the best events of the year was the 'wild game' feasts that we attended as a family at the hunting club.
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