Choosing an Inclement Weather All-Around Rifle
By Chuck Hawks
Hunters bound for many Alaskan, Canadian, and occasionally Rocky Mountain hunts often feel the need for an inclement weather big game rifle. The Northern coastal regions of Alaska and Canada are particularly notorious for wet conditions, and can be hard on rifles. Outfitters operating in these areas often recommend an all-weather rifle.
The companion article "Choosing an Inclement Weather Deer Rifle," which can be found on the Rifle Information Page, adequately addresses that issue, but often hunters bound for far away places need a rifle powerful enough to humanely harvest large (CXP3) game as well as deer size (CXP2) animals. That means an "all-around" caliber rifle.
The subject of all-around rifle cartridges has been explored in a number of previous articles, including "All Around Rifle Cartridges," which can also be found on the Rifle Information Page, where a reasonably complete list of such cartridges is presented and subsequently analyzed. For the purposes of this article, cartridges from .270 to 8mm caliber are included. Here are the all-around cartridges within those limits that are available in the rifles listed below:
.270 Winchester, .270 WSM, 7mm-08 Remington, .280 Remington, 7mm WSM, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Marlin Express, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 WSM, .300 Rem. SAUM, .300 Winchester Magnum and .325 WSM.
Of these, only four cartridges ultimately met all of the requirements discussed in "All Around Rifle Cartridges." On that "short list" of all-around cartridges are the .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield. Anyone who is undecided about the best cartridge for their all-around hunting rifle would probably do well to select one of those four cartridges.
It's hard to argue against stainless steel barreled actions for use in inclement weather, which makes that choice easy. However, not all synthetic stocks are created equal. As a general rule, injection molded plastic stocks are the cheapest, but also the flimsiest and least satisfactory type. Much stiffer and generally superior are "composite" stocks, a blend of materials (often fiberglass and graphite). The best of these incorporate metal (aluminum) stiffeners and/or bedding blocks.
The best type of weather resistant stocks are made of epoxy impregnated laminated hardwood. These are very stiff, strong and warp resistant, more so than even the most expensive synthetic stocks.
Lightweight rifles (those that weigh 7 pounds or less) should be avoided when chambered for powerful all-around calibers. On the other hand, for the sake of portability, the rifle should ideally not weigh more than 9 pounds, complete with scope and mount.
Barrel length should be 22" to 24" for standard calibers and 24" to 26" for magnum calibers. A bolt action .30-06 rifle's length overall (LOA) should be around 44.5" with a 24" barrel. Single shot and lever action rifles are usually shorter.
Most of the rifles that meet our requirements are bolt actions, but a few are single shot or lever action rifles. If a bolt action rifle is chosen, it should have either a hinged magazine floor plate or a detachable magazine to facilitate unloading.
Since the rifle will be scoped, mounts and rings must be available. Sako and Ruger rifles come complete with scope mounts and rings.
Remember that this is to be a hunting rifle, not a target rifle. A reliable, versatile, high quality commercial rifle of a size and weight that complements the chosen cartridge is the ticket. Economy models like the Tikka T3, Remington 710, Stevens 200, or converted military rifles are not the best choices.
Here are some representative models from a variety of major manufacturers listed in the calibers that meet our basic requirements:
The specifications listed above are for .30-06 caliber where available. All models are provided with detachable sling swivel studs and all but the Marlin lever action have adjustable triggers, an important factor in today's lawyer driven environment where most hunting rifles come with triggers set far too heavy at the factory. For further information consult the Product Review and Rifle Information pages, where many of these rifles are reviewed and/or compared in detail.
Copyright 2006, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.