I actually like the idea of the .416 Ruger. It makes a lot of sense for the practical-minded who want a hunting rifle in .416-caliber. The Hawkeye has a 20-inch SS barrel and action in a black synthetic stock, and the African has a 23-inch blued barrel in a walnut stock. Plus, for rifles primarily built with African mega fauna in its sights, the price is a minor consideration. Then, of course, its ballistics are nothing to be sneezed at either — it basically mimics the factory ammo for both the .416 Rigby and .416 Remington, at less than half the cost! The downside of all that is availability in remote Africa. But still, if I felt a need for a .416 of some persuasion, it would be the .416 Ruger, barring an outright gift of one of the others! And, by the way, the Rigby has the least appeal for me… It simply is too costly all the way around for a slice of nostalgia, including ammo, size and weight. I’m not a particularly nostalgic person.
Alas, I’m also not into .416s, and never expect to be. Nor am I into anything larger than .458 in caliber. I’ve rehearsed those reasons multiple times, so will forego that exercise one more time. In essence, it amounts to the fact that I’m happy with .458 and couldn’t imagine a need for anything more or less in Big Bores. AND, it provides a lot more variety and flexibility than could ever be possible from ANY of the others.
In ageing, our choices are not radically altered, but modified. I no longer “appreciate” a barrel longer than 23″ or a rifle that weighs 10 lbs. I really prefer that all my barrels for Mediums and Big Bores be somewhere between 20 and 23-inches, with a total rifle weight, ready to shoot, somewhere between 7.5 and 9 lbs maximum. And in the latter case, 9 lbs only for the truly Big Bores.
While not being nostalgic, if I could go back in time, I’d have kept that Ruger M77 in .458 Win Mag with its 22″ barrel and tang safety. All up, ready for action it weighed about a scoped 9 lbs, including ammo, with an OAL of 42-inches. It seems that I didn’t know a “best thing” when I had it!
Right now, however, my “best”, meeting the goals for a Big Bore = .458-caliber, 22-inch barrel with a 2 – 7 X 32 Shotgun Hunter Nikon Prostaff firmly attached in Ruger rings, and sling; it goes 8.2 lbs. With five 350gr loaded cartridges on the stock in a cartridge “sock”, it bends the scales at a mere 8.6 lbs, and stretches matters to only 38.25-inches OAL!
But, it’s a single-shot, right? Right! And, so what?
Let me recount it’s advantages as a Ruger No.1 Single Shot in .45-70 Improved. Then later this month, this theme will become a new mini-series of articles on The Advantages of A Single Shot Rifle in a Big Bore.
First: It’s been with me for approximately two decades. That’s a very long time for the history of a firearm under my ownership. In that period, I’ve “gone through” quite a few, with only one pre-dating it — a 12-gauge shotgun. I’m a user, not a “lover of”. Nothing material has more value to me than its actual current practical value — its utility and monetary value in other words. I learned a long time ago the danger of hoarding: “We brought nothing into this world, and we will carry nothing out”. I don’t spend time fondling, admiring or talking about my firearms. I do write (and sometimes talk about them with those who have an interest and where it may serve a purpose) for the purposes of sharing experiences, helping others or illustration of principles of ballistics, handloading, hunting, etc. But I’m not so attached that I’d have difficulty parting company with any of them tomorrow if need be; and never look back with regrets.
To me, firearms are tools and MEANS of successful hunting. If I didn’t hunt, I’d never own a firearm! So, it’s about hunting, which I do love. And, I do love hunting because of the outdoor experiences and adventure. I thrive on adventure. It helps keep the spirit within me alive! In addition, I have a scientific bent: ballistics, and the science of it fascinate me. Be that as it may, it’s still not the ALL and BE ALL of my life! It’s NOT a god… God is GOD! And there is no other, or nothing that can possibly take His place — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then, service to others in His Name! Plus, there’s a wife whom I’ve loved for 57 years, and extended family. Then, of course, there are the many friends made during a lifetime.
So, rifles and other firearms are a means to an end — not the end game! I want to make that abundantly clear — once and for all time.
Now, let’s continue as to why that particular Ruger is my best of The BEST:
Second: (as stated) it fits me perfectly, and its handiness for a true Big Bore is also ideal (Mediums and Big Bores, for me, are the most interesting.).
Third: it’s ballistics are fully capable for coyotes and whitetails at woods ranges, to moose-size game at 400 yards, to Cape buff or elephant (not that I’ve experience or have intent to hunt them) at typical ranges, always using the best handloads for each species and/or conditions as that may be. And, by the way, many owners of Big Bores will never see an elephant or Cape buffalo in the raw, but it’s a dream.
Fourth: It has NEVER failed or given any legitimate cause for concern as to ability to get the job done, or its reliability for the same.
Sixth: It’s quite handsome in my view. Yes, I do have an esthetic side.
Seventh: It comes to the shoulder innately with sights aligned to eye without undue stress.
Eighth: The Alexander Henry forearm tip is ideal for pulling the rifle into the shoulder pocket for recoil management.
Ninth: The tang safety is a natural for myself. I don’t like a three-position safety off to one side.
Tenth: It points like a good side by side shotgun or rifle.
Eleventh: It really, really, pounds game!! It does… NO KIDDING!!
There you have it! My best of The BEST for medium to big game including LDG: a .300 Winchester Magnum for a Sub-Medium, a 9.3 X 62 in a Medium and my all-time BEST — a Ruger No.1 in .45-70 Improved in a Big Bore.
To get the complete picture of why that is so, you will, of course, need to read the preceding four articles.
‘Till the next when we start a short series on “The Advantages of A SINGLE-SHOT RIFLE in a Big Bore”.
(Pic of the new bait setup for “Mr Big”. Distance from treestand to bait = 126 yards. Rifle? The one on the header loaded with 300gr TSX’s at 2645 fps/4660 ft-lbs at muzzle and 2200 fps/3224 ft-lbs at 126 yards. Is that enough? The bait has been “hit” a couple of times already and Mr. Big cleans up! I’m preparing to fill ‘er up again! Pic by my cohort, Ken. He’s by the truck getting ready to unload some “stuff” for the bears.)