In P1, I discussed how impressed I was (and unimpressed by book results) with a handful of rifles during the time of ownership – which in a few was relatively short-term.
Continuing with that theme in the following, the rifles and cartridges that have greatly pleased and satisfied beyond nominal expectations was a Browning A-Bolt SS LH in .300 Win Mag 26″, the 9.3 x 62 in a Tikka T3 Lite, another .35 Whelen single-shot, two .45-70s in particular, and the last .458 Win Mag.
In that order:
The Browning A-Bolt (LH) SS in .300 Win Mag with a 26″ barrel: It’s accuracy was superb with almost any load, and “fast” is perhaps the best word for it’s external ballistics. Though many other suitable gun powders were tried, RL-22 was by far the preferred fuel. Briefly stated, without too many details: ~3200 fps from 180s and ~3000 fps from 200s. Accuracy couldn’t have been better. I’ve never understood the need to use 150s and 165s in .300 magnums. They were intended for heavier game at optimum speeds and extended ranges.
< These were identical loads from a 180gr/.308-cal fired over three Tuesdays from the Browning A-Bolt in .300 Win Mag. The distance was 100 yards at our range. The first shot on week 1 hit the point of the diamond. The 2nd week’s shot hit 1/2″ above that. And the 3rd week’s shot impacted the hole of the first week. No changes were made to the load and no adjustments to the scope.
The 9.3 x 62 in a Tikka T3 Lite
I’ve written much about this rifle in various past articles so will keep that part brief: The action is likely the smoothest I’ve ever used in a bolt type, and with a 70 degree lift it’s one of the fastest. Overall, the balance, weight and handling is perfection, and its accuracy for a BG rifle in using handloads is superb. Since I began using RL-17 within its first year, ballistics have surpassed anything in factory products and publications, equalling the larger cased 9.3 x 64 in claimed production ammo. In actual fact, it quite easily equals or surpasses claimed .375 H&H factory products even with its 1.56″ shorter barrel. According to QuickLoad, my loads for the 9.3 x 62 firing the 286 Partition at +2600 fps and the 320gr Woodleigh at +2400 fps fall short of 64,000 PSI using RL-17. And, QL projects 2558 fps for the 300gr Swift AF from my COL of 3.37″ at the same max pressures. Once again: I use 64,000 psi as max because Tikka makes a T3 chambered for the .338 Win Mag, identical to mine except for a slightly longer barrel. RL – 17 is also the preferred powder for the 250gr AB at +2700 fps. The 232 Oryx has never been loaded to max psi, but around 2450 fps it’s very accurate using RL-15.
Soon, I’ll be trying a new-to-me powder, the same as used in my .35 Whelen – CFE 223, which has given excellent results in the .35 Whelen. So it also should perform very well in the 9.3 x 62. Being a ball powder, it will not likely be a compressed load but perform similarly to RL-17. In the .35 Whelen 67 grains of RL-17 and 68 grains of CFE 223 gave similar results firing the 225gr AccuBonds, but CFE 223 occupied less space in the case and showed less peak pressure by case head expansion.
All of the above makes the 9.3 x 62 a world-class rifle for any game, including elephant, where legal using solids.
< Wanting to display the ammo on the left side of the stock, the bolt handle is hidden on the right side of the RH action. I shoot from my left side.
The .35 Whelen in a TRADITIONS OUTFITTER G3 single-shot: This also has enjoyed a lot of attention over the past seven months. It’s my third .35 Whelen and the second in a single-shot (the other being a New England Firearms). So far, I’ve mainly focused on developing a good accurate load for a premium 225gr. And that has resulted from a new propellant and bullet, namely the 225gr AccuBond by Nosler and CFE 223 by Hodgdon. The components are: New Renington brass, WLRM primers, 69 grains of CFE 223, and a COL of 3.45″. They shoot into sub-MOA at an average MV of 2850 fps/4059 ft-lbs. That’s plenty as an all-around load for my hunting of any size game in this area on license.
The plan was to have a “knock-about, walk-about rifle” with little concerns over weather, rough terrain, falls, dirt, snow or rain. Something powerful enough for moose at any range to a grumpy black bear in your face! Then… also flat-shooting enough to reach that wolf on the far side of yonder – and do it all without wearing you out with its weight or unhandiness. So far it’s done all that in hunting bear over bait… rifle in one hand and a bait bucket in the other! And over a full box of those AccuBonds have sped out the muzzle with its brake to verify MV, accuracy and POI. Other than that, it gets wiped down, zipped into its case, tossed into the back of the SUV and stowed in its hideaway. No fuss, no bother and always ready and willing for its next jaunt.
< At 100 yards< At work
A special Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT: This was the object of much print for nearly two decades. There was a predecessor, my first .45-70 in a Ruger No.1, for which I’d drempt and waited for several years. That one wasn’t new but still in excellent condition. A new-like M77 Ruger bolt-action in .458 Win Mag was a stand-in for over a year while I waited for a Ruger No.1 in .45-70 to show up in the used gun rack of a dealership I frequently visited with a friend. That shop had a huge turnover and we regularly visited there on a weekly basis. The Ruger .458 was a steal at $400 in like new condition. I figured I could turn that into a Ruger No.1 in .45-70! And that happened at the same shop. I had forewarned them that I really wanted a No.1 in a good condition .45-70, and they agreed to take the .458 back in exchange.
Prior to that, I’d already owned two Marlins in .45-70, so was really looking forward to a No.1 in the same cartridge, knowing full well there would be great improvements in ballistics over the Marlins – not that I was in any way disappointed with the Marlins, but the Ruger simply had a great deal more potential due to it’s superior strength and ability to shoot longer and heavier bullets.
And that first Ruger No.1 in .45-70 never disappointed either. I finally developed a load using the Hornady 500gr at 2000 fps, 200 fps more than the Hornady manual at apparently safe psi. The cases were Remington nickle-plated (that lasted “forever”), WLRM primers and 60 grains of AA2015, at 2.93″ COL (same as Hornady and Lyman), crimped in the cannelure because the load was somewhat compressed. My average was (ironically) 2015 fps from AA2015! I sent the details to Accurate for testing (US authorities wouldn’t allow sending live ammo across the border for testing without a lot of hassles), so a “good guy” (well known in those circles) suggested I sent the recipe. It took a couple of months before I heard back from Bill Falen Jr. (head ballistician) by phone. We chatted for well over 1/2 hr at their expense. I asked any questions I could think of and he warmly responded. But his question was the first: “What was the recoil like?”, from that light Ruger No.1 with a relatively slim 22″ barrel. With scope it barely weighed 8 lbs firing loads that simulated a factory .458 Win Mag 500gr!
In summary, he declared the load safe at an average of 63,200 psi. None of the test loads went over 65,000 psi. But they got an average of 2096 fps from the same load but had to seat the bullet deeper by 1/10th of an inch due to a shorter throat in their 24″ test barrel – raising the psi somewhat from what I was getting from my Ruger with a longer throat.
Later on, another trade for a new Ruger No.1 in .45-70 was done at a closer shop where I’d done a lot of business, and our son, Phil, gained possession of the original No.1. I’d planned to have the throat extended on the new No.1 to enable heavier and longer bullets (monolithics) to be seated 1/4 inch less deeply to permit the use of slower powders and better overall performance. (I’d previously tried H4895 in the former No.1, and with good results, but it was limited in space for enough of that powder). I shot the new rifle for about three months prior to having the throat extended (not the chamber) to have a base for comparison. It turned out that the throat on the new Ruger was actually shorter than that of the former used Ruger, so that was even more of a reason to have the throat lengthened by about 0.30″. (It may actually have been a bit longer when the gunsmith was done with it – he asked how deep, and I said “about 1/4 inch”, and he replied ” it’s at least .30 inch now”, so he finished it, and that may have taken it a bit beyond .30″… and I never measured it to find out because I found that 0.25″ to 0.30″ was enough to allow 1/4″ seating of all bullets, which is what I was looking for to begin with.)
< The Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT (long throat) with the Burris Silver Safari fixed 4X scope with a long eye relief of +5″. As seen here it weighed just under 8 lbs.
< This was recorded at one of my bear hunting sites. It was a 450gr Swift AF. Add 12 fps for correction to MV.
< At the same place and time, this was recorded by a 500gr Hornady RN. The powder for each was H335: 75 grains for the 500gr and 76 for the 450gr. Add 14 fps for the 500gr for correction to MV.
That was my all-time favorite rifle for 20 years until it got traded for the Ruger No.1 in .458 Winchester Magnum in 2017.
The RUGER No.1 in .458 Winchester Magnum: This, without much doubt, will be the last centerfire rifle I will ever have in my possession. All others will go first. In fact, I’ve already started a blog to that effect, but it will not be published until I’m ready to “hang ’em up”. (Pic on the header at top of page)
It is simply an amazing rifle to handle, which belies its weight. The balance is perfect even with six loaded heavyweight cartridges in the buttstock cartridge holder. As recently reviewed again, I traded my dearly loved Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT for it, plus a shotgun. As explained a few times, I didn’t need its ballistics, but it’s heft I did need to mitigate recoil effect at this stage of life (Soon to be 87 years young!). Ballistics are similar to the .45-70 LT, plus a bit, but with the extra weight and ports, plus some reduced loads, it’s like a heavy push. For example, the cartridges seen below on the buttstock are three 600gr Barnes and three 550gr Woodleighs. They will be leaving the muzzle at 1600 – 1650 fps. The 600gr Barnes Originals have .050″ thick jackets and a .409 SD, plus a .454 BC. All told – and at 1650 fps – at 1000 yards they have a greater TE (terminal effect) than a .375 H&H has at the muzzle firing a 300gr Partition at 2600 fps: 120 TE for the .458 at 1000 yards and 106 TE for the .375 H&H at the muzzle! All that with a recoil of less than 30 ft-lbs from the .458, or less than a .300 Win Mag! Sure, the trajectory is like a rainbow but with a ladder-type rear sight it’s doable… or moreso with one of the new-fangled scopes with turrets all over!
In sweet addition, it is handsome and non-complicated! One big bullet for everything, anywhere is just perfection for whoever asks the question: “What rifle/cartridge is perfect for short range, in your face big-bad, evil-smellin’ monsters… or elk at 1000 yards?”
<10.25 lbs without ammo <11 lbs exactly with those six cartridges. They average 2oz each.
Because of it’s balance and handiness, the weight seems somewhat normal. Held in one hand (right or left) the grip for balance and smooth handling is with the back edge of the hand just where the wood and metal meld together. “But it’s a single-shot!” Yep! If you’ll learn to shoot one, that’s all you’ll ever need… for anything and everything!
*(The scope is a 2-7 x 32mm Nikon. It was purchased new for the Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT and took it’s heavy punches on the chin without complaint! When traded for the Ruger No.1 in .458 Win Mag, that Nikon went onto the .458 Win Mag where it has taken more heavyweight punches without objection! The Burris Silver Safari fixed 4x pictured above on the Ruger LT is now on my son’s .356 Winchester chasing deer this week in New Brunswick. Who needs that Euro stuff that’s way over priced, anyway?)
**The above math giving a TE number is a slight modification of Dr Ron Berry’s formula: His results, using the same load under the same conditions would have been 1.2 for the 600gr at 1000 yards, and 1.06 for the .375 H&H 300gr load of 2600 fps at the muzzle. I’ve simply moved the decimal two digits to the right, calling it TE (terminal effect) as a comparative thing with other cartridges and their loads.
Hoping this has been insightful for some, and perhaps even a bit entertaining…
Till the next