*Bolt Action Rifles*
By Hawk This month we are going to cover the various high powered bolt action rifles that are available for the survivalist. These weapons are necessary and useful tools that provide food for the family as well as having the secondary use of long range precision defensive fire. Consideration for the selection of a bolt action rifle depends on its purposed use and the game to be hunted with it. For instance any weapon that is capable of killing a deer is also capable of killing any other animal of similar weight, such as a man.
The caliber of the rifles used by survivalist should be of a common caliber. This is especially true if you do not reload your own ammunition, and you should. At the very least all survivalist should have the capability to reload all the calibers of your defensive weapons as well as your main hunting rifle. Some calibers of weapons use brass of a comon head size that can be modified for use in other caliber rifles. For instance 30-06 brass can be modified to make the following calibers: 35 Whelen (Necked up 30-06 case for a heavy .35 caliber bullet, good for bear and elk), .270 Winchester (Necked down for Deer, Antelope, and great sniper round), 25-06 (For Deer and long range heavy varmit). Similarly the 7.62/.308 can be used for .358 Winchester, .243 Winchester, 7mm-08, and even the .45 Automatic pistol cartridge. So as you can see the selection of your calibers used can be vital to your re-supply for your other weapons.
For rifles you may want to consider the following.
The Remington Model 700 series of weapons is probably the most accurate and the one most commonly found in the survivalist battery. It has a well deserved reputation for accuracy and probably the best trigger in any factory rifle. The Remington 700 series of rifles comes in many different variations, some of which would be better for survivalist than others. Remington manufactures two specialty sniper rifles, one for the US Army and another one for Police Departments. While the Police version can be purchased by civilians, it can be quite expensive. This particular model can be duplicated by selecting a synthetic stocked varmit model. They have the same metal bedding block fixed inside the stock, and this is the heart of obtaining the utmost accuacy possible for a lot less money. When selecting a Remington rifle for survival use the synthetic stock is the one to be preferred. The only short coming that the Remington has is the C shaped extractor in the bolt face. This extractor while fine in the sport hunting arena, could be a diasaster waiting to happen in combat. To solve this potential problem several gunsmiths around the country fit the Remington bolt with either the SAKO or the M-16 extractor. If you are considering using the Remington, then I consider this modification a MUST!!!!!
The second bolt action we need to consider is the Winchester Model 70. This weapon, like the Remington, comes in many variations. I consider the pre-1964 models the cream of the crop. The second preference is the recent models that have gone back to using the controlled feed system and the Mauser style claw extractor. The models made between 1964 and 1996 are the least desireable, but are still safe, serviceable weapons. Like the Remingtons, the synthetic stock models are to be preferred to the wood stock models. The aluminum floor plates should also be replaced with the one that is standard with the magnum models. This floor plate can be ordered from Brownells and from the Winchester factory.
The third model we need to consider is the Ruger Model 77. I personnally like the modified Mauser style action and claw extractor. I also like the built in scope bases and Leonard Brownell designed stock. Now as to the down side. The trigger pull on every one I have ever tried was like pulling teeth. In other words a 'long, hard pull'. The older models have after market triggers available. Further when shooting a Ruger long gun, it appears you either get a prince or a pig. This stems from the fact that for years Ruger rifle barrels were sub-contracted out. There is no way to tell just by looking at them. They have to be shot from a good benchrest to tell the shooters from the clubs. I have shot two identical Rugers in the same caliber that were only 20 serial numbers apart on the same day. One was a tack driver, while the other could not hit a bull in the butt from 50 feet.
The last model we will look at this month is the Savage Model 110. This weapon is probably the one that gives the most value for the money for the average survivalist. While the trigger is rough, it is serviceable. Accuracy will also stay in the same range as the Winchester and the Ruger. The one thing I consider bad with the Savage is that I consider it "Butt Ugly". Appearance aside, the weapon is plain, but functional.
The above weapons are all serviceable. They would all profit from using synthetic stocks. These stocks preclude the loss of accuracy from stock warpage from moisture as happens to wood stocks. If you use a wood stock I suggest applying a good sealing coat of polyeurathane, followed by a good coat of Johnson's Paste Wax for hard wood floors. This is especially important in the barrel channel. With the exception of the Remington, all of the above weapons would also benefit from a good aftermarket trigger from either Timney or Dayton-Traister.
While most sniper type rifles are chambered in 7.62/.308, 30-06, or .300 Winchester Magnum, other calibers could also be considered. My personal favorite is the .270 Winchester. A cheap and light alternative to the .50 caliber is the .375 H&H magnum improved. Don't get me wrong, this weapon is not cheap. Just not as expensive or as heavy as the .50 caliber. This round allows for a heavy hitting, 300 plus grain bullet that is accurate to 1200 yards. This round can be used comfortably in a weapon weighing less than 20 pounds, including scope.
While on the subject of scopes, let me say this, "Cheap scopes are no bargain". It is better to put your money in good glass and a less expensive gun than the other way around. Most people do not know that the various scope manufactures have different grades of scopes in the same line. For example while the Bausch and Lomb scopes are superior, their Bushnell line contain both good and bad scopes. If you look at Tasco scopes be sure you stay with their World Class models and above. In Leupold scopes use either, but the Vari-xIII's are preferred over the Vari-xII's.
The general rule of thumb of 'all' the professional snipers I know is "Spend as much or more on your glass as your rifle". The book on sniping by John Plaster has a very good chart on which scopes are acceptable for sniping, and if it is good enough for sniping it will also bring home the bacon.
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