Tag Archives: rifle

A Hell’s Of A Rifle

NEW BROWNING, PLUS WINCHESTER XPC, RUGER GP100 IN .44 SPECIAL IMPRESS AT S.H.O.T.

By Dave Workman

Media Day at the Range once again preceded the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, and it gave outdoor and gun writers – including yours truly – the opportunity to press a lot of triggers.

One experience I won’t soon forget is the all-too-brief time I spent at the Browning display because the centerpiece of that exhibit was a brand-new entry in the X-Bolt family they call the Hell’s Canyon Long Range rifle. It’s a gem.

The author also was able to put a couple rounds through Winchester’s XPC bolt-action tactical rifle. He reports that with a suppressor attached, the .308 Winchester round sounded more like a .22 rimfire. (DAVE WORKMAN)

Keep in mind, this is the 100th anniversary of the famous Browning Automatic Rifle, and the company chose the occasion to introduce a BAR Safari model, a handsome self-loader chambered in .30-06 Sprg. Only 100 of these guns were made to commemorate this centennial anniversary, and they’re likely all gone by now. So, for the people who want a rifle to shoot rather than admire in a display case, the Hell’s Canyon Long Range is just the ticket.

Browning chambers this rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor with a 22-inch barrel, .270 WSM and .300 WSM with a 23-inch barrel, and 26 Nosler, 7mm Rem. Mag., 28 Nosler and 300 Win. Mag. with a 26-inch barrel. MSRP on the Hell’s Canyon ranges from $1,229.99 to $1,299.99.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, for starters, from a sandbag rest at 200 yards, I hit everything I shot at, including a small steel plate. Since an elk, deer, moose, goat, sheep, caribou, black or brown bear are much larger, I’d say that at double the distance, they’re all in big trouble. Translation, this rifle was dead-bang accurate, and it had been fired by at least a few other people before I got my grubby little hands on it.

Winchester’s new 20-gauge Long Beard XR load should be on dealer shelves in plenty of time for spring turkey hunting. General season opens March 25, with youth hunting opportunities beforehand, and this might make a good shell for smaller-framed gobbler gunners. (WINCHESTER)

The sample gun I fired was chambered in .300 Win. Magnum.  Thanks to modern recoil pad technology and materials, this baby is a delight to shoot. I was wearing a lightweight nylon jacket and felt recoil was no different than with my own ’06.

Browning put some eye-catching cosmetics into this model. It’s got a burnt bronze Cerakote finish that is unlike anything I’ve seen before. It wears a fluted heavy sporter contour barrel, and the composite stock is finished in A-TACS AU camo with Dura-Touch armor coating. The grip has a palm swell and gripping surfaces are textured, which is important to anyone who hunts in the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, North Idaho or Western Montana, and especially in Southeast Alaska.

While the other cartridges are dandies, especially the 26 and 28 Nosler, I think the .300 Win. Mag and 7mm Rem. Mag are probably the two most popular long-range big game cartridges now in common use in North America. I like that .30-caliber pill for any number of reasons, and being a handloader, if this was my rifle I’d already be tinkering at the loading bench with a good supply of Hodgdon powder and an assortment of 180- to 220-grain bullets from Nosler, Hornady, Barnes, Speer and Sierra.
ANOTHER ENTRY THAT impressed the hell out of me is Ruger’s brand new GP100 in .44 Special. I’ve never owned a .44 Special, or even a .44 Magnum for that matter. I’m a fanatic for the .41 Magnum, and I have a couple of Ruger single-actions in .45 Colt.

That said, when I cut loose with the GP100, which is all stainless steel with a Hogue Monogrip, adjustable rear sight, smooth double action and crisp single-action, I was impressed. The .44 Special can be handloaded to fairly stout levels for defense against bears and other predators. The fiveround GP100 no doubt will handle factory and recommended handloads, and I happily discovered that it is also a comfortable and accurate shooter. You can find several good loads in the various loading manuals.

With any luck I’ll round one of these wheelguns up for a more extensive test and evaluation. With a 2.75-inch full shroud barrel, this will make a terrific trail gun for backpackers – frankly, it’s a revolver that will be right at home in the backcountry. If you’re a fisherman who hits rivers in bear country, this could be a perfect handgun because it’s just about impervious to wet conditions.

I ALSO HAD the chance to shoot Winchester’s new XPC rifle, a hot little bolt-action with a tactical stock, steel receiver wearing a Permacote black finish, button-rifled free-floating barrel and a Cerakote-finished machined alloy chassis frame.

The one I fired was fitted with a suppressor, and chambered in .308 Winchester. It was a kick in the pants to shoot, with a good crisp trigger and was very quiet. For hunting in areas that might have seen human encroachment, or for gun ranges that are now falling victim to suburban sprawl, suppressors might be the answer.

There is legislation before Congress called the Hearing Protection Act that would remove suppressors from the red tape that currently includes registration, background check and payment of a $200 tax under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
LAST BUT CERTAINLY not least, Winchester Ammunition has introduced what it calls a “ground breaking Long Beard XR” load in 20 gauge, just in time for spring turkey season. This new 3-inch magnum comes with either No. 5 or No. 6 shot and it is packaged ten rounds per box.

Author Dave Workman had a chance to shoot Browning’s new Hell’s Canyon Long Range Rifle in .300 Win. Magnum at January’s SHOT Show, and he found it to be deadly accurate. (DAVE WORKMAN)

So, what makes this stuff so hot? This new entry in the Long Beard XR family features Shot-Lok technology. Shot-Lok is injected into the hull with the lead shot and it then hardens, keeping pellets in place until the shot is fired. At that point, the Shot-Lok fractures into what Winchester calls a “micro-buffer” that prevents the shot from deforming, so that when it exits the muzzle, it maintains its shape to create a uniform pattern. The result, provided you do your part, is a tom in the bag.

Over the past few years, I have grown increasingly fond of 20-gauge shotguns, even though I have hunted since my teens with a 12-gauge Beretta S/S double barrel that has put more grouse and pheasants in my cooler than I can remember. CS
Editor’s note: Dave Workman is a longtime gun writer and a columnist for California Sportsman’s big brother magazine, Northwest Sportsman.

The Closer You Get

FINDING PEACE WITH SHORT-RANGE PRECISION HUNTING

Brittany Boddington 

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about where I stand on hunting and shooting from long distances, although I usually tend to stay out of these matters, because I figure that everyone has her or his own reasons to hunt.

People always have their own driving motivations and passions, and hunting is a personal experience. It is rooted in being alone in the wild and connecting to Mother Nature. This can be done no matter what weapon you choose to hunt with or how far you choose to shoot from, but for me hunting is all about the stalk and getting up close and personal with animals in their natural habitat. Bowhunters often criticize rifle hunters because they don’t get as close to the animal they are stalking before they are able to take a shot, but the same is now happening with traditional hunters and a technique that some in our sport are calling precision hunting.

For Boddington, getting close on her first bow hunt was very exhilarating. She says she finally understood all the hype about archery. This rusa deer in Australia was taken at 25 yards with a Bowtech Heartbreaker set at 48 pounds draw weight. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

I HONESTLY HAVEN’T MADE up my mind on how exactly I feel about the new wave of long-distance shooters as hunters. I agree that hunters should be able to take long shots here and there when the conditions demand it; in some cases, a long shot may be your only shot. Open plains, for one.

I have taken animals out to around 500 yards when I’ve run out of cover and conditions were calm enough for me to feel comfortable with the shot. I certainly do not go looking for animals to shoot at 500 or more yards, but then again, the rifles and scopes I am using are sighted to shoot well at around 200 yards because that was where I put them when I sighted them in at the range.

I always try to close the gap and to get as close as possible. This is probably because I am a decent shot but my accuracy increases as the target gets closer, as is the case with most people. I also like to see the animal up close, and I enjoy the challenge of staying still as a statue when the animal looks my way, and then moving ever so slowly to get just a little bit closer and shorten the range.

It is always a gamble to take that step or move to the next tree for a better shot. You have to weigh the likelihood of the animal running with the advantage you gain by moving in. I like to hear them breathing and see where their eyes are looking. I like to be able to smell them as I sneak in closer and closer. These little details are lost when you start shooting from long distances.

Sometimes, long distances are required to take a shot. This hartebeest in Mozambique was taken at 475 yards. Boddington had no options but to take the shot or give up since her party had run out of cover on the edge of a floodplain. She knows that other hunters prefer to shoot from this far out but she likes getting significantly closer; “my hunt … revolves around the animal,” she says. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

THERE’S SO MUCH TECHNOLOGY being released these days in relation to long-distance shooting. Scopes are more powerful and more versatile than ever. The best way to really experience everything these rifle/scope combinations have to offer is to shoot targets or animals at long distance.

It takes skill and practice to take an animal at 1,000 yards. I can understand that it must give the shooter some serious satisfaction to take long shots like that and be successful. I only worry about what happens when a shot at that many yards goes slightly awry. What will the result be when whatever species you’re shooting at is hit poorly and a follow-up shot is needed but the brush or landscape will not allow it? It seems like a perfect scenario for inexperienced long-distance shooters to end up wounding suffering animals.

Author Brittany Boddington has hunted in a variety of situations, sometimes when a longer shot is required to harvest big game. But it’s her preference to get as close to the animals she hunts as she can, though she understands that what some in the industry are calling precision hunting is all the rage now. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

 

Hunting for me is about the experience. Guns are the tools of my trade, but my hunt does not revolve around my tools; it revolves around the animal. I can understand the skill and the allure of long-distance shooting and precision hunting, but I think it is safe to say that it is not for me. CS
Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based hunter, adventurer and journalist. For more, go to brittanyboddington.com or facebook.com/brittanyboddington.