Tuesday, November 4, 2008

All the gun you'll ever need?

That's the question that's launched a thousand debates around the hunting camp fire.
For me it's always been the 30-06 I inherited from Dad. It was and still is a magnificent, if plain, old rifle. It's a Winchester Model 70 made in '47. That model has been enshrined by gunwriters as the "Rifleman's Rifle." It has it limitations though.

To be realistic, growing up hunting in the tight wet jungle woods of Western Washington it was really too much rifle and too much cartridge for those close quarters.

Ah, but it was Dad's rifle from our years in Alaska! No barrel too long or cartridge too powerful to satify the romantic notions of a 14-15 yr old boy, tying himself to his father by carrying the rifle he hoped one day to inherit.

This was a working rifle in the wet and cold of Alaska and Washington. The blue was getting to be in sad shape when I finally inherited it after returning from the Navy. I had it reblued -- to a higher finish than original even though that probably would disappoint a proper collector.

Next up I'll refinish the stock. The wood is in good shape but the old organic finish is breaking down and can get sticky when damp. My friend Mr Formby and I have already done a test patch and it should strip easily and will take a coats of Tung or Tru oil nicely.

That's it in the middle. The dull buttstock is where I test stripped the old finish. Below it is the Son&Heir's .270 caliber Model 70 in a custom maple stock (more on that later). That270 was made within weeks of Dad's rifle. Above it an early 90's vintage .300 Win Mag Model 70 "Classic" Super Grade.

Argueably, all 3 rifles are "All the gun you'll ever need."

Dad shot Old Charlie with that rifle (so named by we children -- a grizzled old 54" Bull) during one excursion up the Charlie River. I have an antler tip off that rack at my office desk. The rest of the rack went in as filler in a concrete pour of our front porch in Fairbanks. Imagine that...! I'd love to have that rack on the wall here with me now. But I digress (as my wife breathes a huge sigh of relief)...

Dad took several other moose with his "Rifleman's Rifle" along the Yukon and it's tributaries. All with iron sights, at least one as far as 150 yds away with the old rear peep. Dad shot as well as he bowled -- pretty fair.

Then Paw Paw got me to thinking a coupla' years ago about the venerable "Thutty Thutty" (30-30). He had an interesting post about casting bullets for his 30-30 to use on deer and wild pigs.

The 30-30 is the cartridge that really started the modern era of high velocity hunting cartridges. Oh sure you can argue about this other cartridge and that other cartridge. When it gets down to it every North American hunting cartridge gets compared to either the 30-30, the 30-06, or both.

The 30-30 had taken more deer in North America than any other round. It's really about all the gun you'll ever need. Sure, there's times when you'd want more but with the right load and in the hands of a competent rifleman at a reasonable range it'll git 'er done.

So when I saw a nice, barely used older Marlin 336 in caliber 30-30 sitting in a local Pawnshop for a ridiculous price... Well you can probably guess. /heh

How does a fella rationalize a rifle purchase when his safe is already in need of a tighter packing algorithim AND he and his son both already have "All the gun they'll ever need"?

(that's where the Son&Heir and his .270 comes back into this ramble)

Turns out the Son&Heir is what they call "cross dominant." That is to say in his case, he's right handed with a dominant left eye. That makes for some funny choices when shooting. Mostly he shoots lefthanded. Always from the left with a shotgun. Either hand but mostly lefthanded with a handgun and goes either way with a rifle. Even being righthanded he shoots a scoped rifle better from the left. A right handed boltie, like (magnificent Pre-64 Winchester .270 above) suboptimal for him. He shoots it well enough, but it's just not quite right.

Sooooo, when I see a lever action 30-30 sitting there in a Pawnshop for that ridiculous price...,

what could I do but do what any kind hearted compassionate conservative would do?

I bought it for the children.

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