The first two parts of this current series of articles turned out to be a preamble or introduction to what follows. I mentioned nine advantages of single-shot, big-bore rifles and managed to briefly cover the first of those: 1)A Lighter Rifle. This time, I’ll make a valiant effort to tackle two more:
2) More compact/handier.
No argument can successfully be put forward that claims that a bolt-action magazine rifle chambered for, say, a .30-06 could ever be as short and compact as a Ruger Number One in the same chambering sporting equal length barrels. All Number One Rugers have essentially the same length action which makes them 3.75 inches shorter overall than any “standard” .30-06-length bolt-action repeating rifle with equal length barrels.
(L to R: Ruger No.1 = 38″; Savage 300 Win Mag = 44″; Marlin in .45-70 = 40″; CZ550 in .458 Win Mag = 45″; Ruger 96/44 = 37″)
In our times, many shooters/hunters profess a preference for short-actions (.308 Winchester size) and short-handy barrels of about 20-inches. Even at those dimensions, a Number One Ruger, T/C or H&R with a 22″ tube will still be shorter — and handier — by 1.5-inches while having the advantage of a 22-inch barrel over a 20-inch, with improved ballistics. (This pic is of the NEF in .45-70 –same barrel and action as the H&R).
That NEF could be handloaded with +P loads to make it even more potent than a .375 H&H at ranges where most DG are actually shot. In fact, shooting a 465gr hardcast with a flat meplat at 1900 fps, it would be more devastating on a grizzly or brown bear than a .378 Weatherby at modest ranges! In the photo above, that was the load I used from my New England Firearms .45-70 on the black bear at 70 yards and it was literally flattened without a CNS hit! I’ve never killed anything with any rifle that was more effective, including a .458 Winchester Magnum! A strike by lightening would best describe it!
There’s something about carrying a rifle like that — loaded like that — that gives a sense of “I don’t really need more than one!” My NEF had an ejector, rather than an extractor. I’d merely press the “button”, the heavy barrel would unhinge, tilt immediately at about 40* and shoot the empty past your ear in about 1/3 second. Drop in another, lock the action and be ready for anything… though it wasn’t needed.
Balance was perfect. The “action” was slim enough that you could wrap you hand around it. It carried like a short – n – handy single-shot shotgun with a 22-inch barrel. But far more potent than a 12-gauge 1-oz slug!
So much more could be added but I’ll move on to:
3) A handloader’s dream!
Aside from the .45-70 chambering, which has annually been one of their best sellers in a Number One big-bore, Ruger has also over the years presented big-bore chamberings in .458 Winchester Magnum, .458 Lott, 450-400 N.E. and .416 Rigby. There is also a .405 Winchester, which I don’t normally recognize as a true Big Bore but I think when handloaded to the potential allowed by the Ruger #1, it too would qualify with a bullet heavier and better constructed than the typical 300-grainers. I’m unsure regarding the .416 Remington as I write this — that is, if the #1 has ever been chambered for that cartridge. Also, I am aware that T/C in the past has chambered their single-shot in the formidable .416 Rigby.
In any case, whatever powders and bullets available and appropriate for these Big Bores could find useful application in a Ruger Number One at maximum psi. So, the question may legitmately be asked: “What makes that so different than a double or a bolt-action? How would a single-shot Ruger (Browning, Dakota, T/C or H&R) have any advantage over the others for a handloader?” A good question. There is also the .50 Turnbull in a highly modified 1886 Winchester lever-action that should honestly be taken into account as well.
The answer, of course, is found in the SSK series of chamberings for very slightly modified Rugers — by running in a reamer, any of the above mentioned cartridges, as well as many in the same calibers, can be significantly “improved” — as I’ve had done on my #1 in .45-70 making it the equal in ballistics to a .458 Winchester Magnum. Why not a .458 Win Mag to begin with as the price of the rifle is the same? That’s a good question as well. The answer to that is… it can be done when the “experts” are in misbelief! That’s “cool”. My reason was to get what an ancient, historic cartridge could give! The same could be done — with less fuss and bother than in a bolt gun — for the .458 Winchester, turning it into a Lott… if wanted! And a Lott into a .460 Weatherby — almost. That is, by allowing today’s overly long, heavy-for-caliber monolithic bullets to be seated long enough so that powder capacity isn’t negatively limited — which is mosty the case for bolt-actions which prescribes afore-hand the COL of a cartridge, all of them! That too is a major reason for having had the throat of my .45-70 lengthened, which, obviously, I couldn’t have had done in a standard-length bolt-action, as in the .50 American for one example. The only imposed limit on my loads for the Ruger Number One in .45-70 is barrel rate-of-twist. All bullets to 500 grains are well stabilized by a 1 in 20 twist rate. I tried a 600-grain Barnes Original at 1900 fps and it was tipping slightly at 100 yards. But I could have driven it to 2000 fps safely. Hmmmm, a 600gr at 2000 fps! Very interesting indeed! (See pic below)
Keep in mind that, at the moment, we are thinking “handloads”. In a single-shot there is no magazine to interfere with COL, especially when using today’s premium monolithics, which, typically, spoils the “fun” when you want to use one of Barnes’ 500gr TSX’s in your .458 Win Mag, expecting even modest factory ballistics but getting less than 2000 fps! Or, the 286gr TSX in your 9.3 X 62, which will not even allow ancient factory ballistics in you bolt-action repeater because that extra-long 286gr takes up waaaay too much space in the cartridge that should be reserved for powder! Barnes #4 Manual’s top loads for that bullet in a 9.3 X 62 is less than 2300 fps!!! Due to those very obvious reasons, I much prefer the Nosler Partitions… I’m getting over 2600 fps from those at 64K psi! But the good news is that Ruger has chambered their No.1 this year in 9.3 X 62. Problem potentially solved for those who want to use those “senseless” TSX 9.3s in their ’62s — including the 250s. The 9.3 isn’t a Big Bore but it illustrates my point perfectly. Now if I could only come up with a way to get one of those Rugers in 9.3 X 62… A friend in Yellowknife does have a Ruger Number One in the 9.3 X 74R… he’s getting an easy 2700 fps from the 22″ tube employing the 250gr Nosler AccuBond. I’ve been informed that at 64K psi, I can get over 2750 fps from that same bullet using RL-17 from my 22.4″ Sako barrel. Who needs those TSX’s anyway?
(Those are 350 TSXs, not 300s. My “normal” load is 2470 fps/4740 ft-lbs, and 2550 fps/5053 ft-lbs is max.)
Well, I do, as that’s what I’ve loaded this year in my Ruger No.1 .45-70 IMP. 300gr TSXs at 2645 fps is entirely due to the rifle being a single-shot with a longer throat. And, by the way, I’ve loaded it to over 2700 fps but was not entirely pleased with the accuracy. Two grains less of H4198 gives me the 2645 at .75 MOA. I couldn’t even use that bullet in a lever-action. And bolt-actions in .45-70 hardly exist… I know, in theory they do, but I’ve yet to encounter one. The only bolt-action that I’ve ever met at our range in 22 years that would come near to the concept of a bolt-action .45-70 was a short-action Remington in .458 American limited to a COL of 2.8″. The ballistics were good but far less than my Ruger Number One.
More could be said on that point, but we’ll move on to the other advantages next time.
The bear hunt: Matters are progressing on that front. There are now three of us involved. A good friend of Ken’s is most happy to join us. Brian is a veteran hunter with lots of experience dealing with domestic animals (horseman) and wildlife. His wife is a veterinarian by the way. We welcome him on board.
I will be using a single-shot (my .45-70 improved) and Brian also will be using a single-shot in a .50-caliber BP. Ken is using a crossbow. Our stands are up and the baits are being hit and cleaned out 2X weekly! The hunt will start in about two weeks. I’ll report anything interesting on that front.