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GUNS Magazine November 2011 Digital Edition - Page 28
• d A V E A N d E R S O N • how things have changed in 75 years. lmost exactly 50 years ago, as I write this in 2011, an A article by shooting editor Jack O’Connor appeared in Outdoor Life magazine. The topic was on the allaround hunting battery; the basics for big game, small game, upland birds and waterfowl. The battery he initially described was put together by a friend prior to WWII. The “basic hunting battery” is a hardy gun magazine cliché. My objective here is not so much to add more footprints to a well-worn trail, but to reflect a bit on what has changed and what hasn’t during the span of 75 years. The man’s pre-war battery included a custom-built .30-06 (action not specified, most likely a Springfield, possibly a Mauser or Enfield); a Winchester 52 Sporter .22 LR; a 12-gauge Remington 31 with 26" barrel and adjustable choke and a Colt Officer’s Target Model .22 revolver. Veteran readers are likely thinking (as I do) they could do nicely today with such a battery. In fact, they probably own one or two of the same models. In keeping with the focus of this column we’ll talk about the biggame rifle. thE BASIC RIfLE Pre-WWII With the .30-06, man shot a lot of North American game—whitetail and mule deer, antelope, moose, caribou, elk, several varieties of sheep, black, This .30-06 Remington 700 Ti (above) is chambered for a 100+-year-old cartridge, but until recently hunters couldn’t buy these features: titanium receiver, stainless steel barrel, synthetic stock, tough Leupold scope and Dual Dovetail bases/rings. Light, accurate, reliable and virtually weatherproof. Today’s bolt-action rifles are stocked for scope use and can have the scope mounted without a costly trip to a gunsmith. This .300 RCM (below) easily exceeds the best .30-06 handloads in a short, light, compact rifle. grizzly and brown bear. In Asia he used it to take several species of jungle deer, along with tigers and leopards. He shot most of his African game with it, only renting a .470 double for the really big stuff — elephant and buffalo. The .30-06 was an excellent cartridge a century ago and will be a century from now. So what has changed? Optics, for one thing. The scope on the ’06 was usually a 2-3/4X (make not mentioned) in a quick, detachable Griffin & Howe mount. The scope could be quickly removed and a Lyman 48 receiver sight installed. Back then the perception (sometimes the reality), was a scope wasn’t reliable under tough conditions. Savvy hunters valued the capability to quickly remove a fogged or malfunctioning scope and go to relatively reliable iron sights. After WWII, competition among scope manufacturers resolved most early scope problems, developing better lens coatings, seals to keep out moisture and dust, tougher reticles and adjustments. While current scopes aren’t perfect, failures are much less common. Variable scopes rule these days. I still like fixed-power scopes for some purposes. Early scopes had highly critical eye relief, one reason why scopes of low power were so popular. Current scopes have much more forgiving eye relief. Provided the rifle is stocked reasonably well, I can shoot about as fast with a 6X scope as with a 2-1/2X, even at close range on running game. Other than for nostalgia (to look right on an early rifle model, for example) I have little use for fixed scopes under 6X. Backup Sights? With tougher scopes and tougher mounting systems, the need for backup iron sights is reduced. Most of my rifles have no provision for irons sights. On long trips I generally take a spare scope, pre-sighted in rings to fit the sight base. One day I may even need it. Rifles have changed. In the ’30s there were not a lot of commercial bolt-action ’06s. Remington had the 28 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER 2011