In P1, qualities were presented that I’d want in a rifle that might work well for close-in hunting (such as in brush) as well as having some “reach” to 300 – 400 yards/meters. A few suggestions were made.
P1 was concluded with the remark that I’ve owned such rifles, and currently own one. That is a rifle that could be very useful in close-quarter hunting and also in possible long distance shooting of LG. But before we do that, I’ll briefly rehearse the three criteria described in part one:
I want such a rifle to be fully capable of fulfilling these merits:
- Light & handy
In a description of “Light & handy”, I proposed that a common bolt-action, such as found in a 22″ barrelled .30-06 might be the option of many. In fact, “might be” is not likely strong enough. It probably would be the choice of many. So, I’ll not debate that choice here other than to repeat that it would not be, and is not, my choice because of some experience with that cartridge and the physical conditions under which most of my BG hunts have taken place.
(I had stepped out of thick bush to the edge of a marsh that extends 400 yards in the direction of the photo. But to the right it reaches to nearly 1 km. There were scattered moose tracks throughout the area. While this is not Northern Ontario, it is representative of that region and Central Ontario.)
To state it succinctly, there are BETTER cartridges if we want one for BOTH close-quarter hunting of large game, and/or big game that may become hazardous to one’s health and welfare in the blink-of-an-eye, as well as some possible long-distance shooting of wounded game (by client or self). In many situations, as previously described when I hunted both moose and bear in Northern Ontario, the only shot presented in a week of hunting might be on a moose at 500 – 600 yards. Or, since there were big piles of large bear scat in BOTH open areas AND in thick brush, I needed to be prepared for ANY SHOT, far or in-your-face!
Make no mistake – I’ve toted .30-06s with handloads in hunting whitetails under similar conditions, but that was less than an hour’s drive from home. And I wasn’t hunting bear or moose! I’m not suggesting that the .30-06 is inadequate for moose or bear under IDEAL conditions. “IDEAL” for many is close to home where they can “pick” when and where to shoot. For others it means with an outfitter. Others, still, will be partners of a group that can “blast away” at a wounded beast.
My consideration is for myself under the conditions described — ALONE! Even when hunting moose with a companion, we were only together when leaving camp. Then each of us went off in different directions to cover as much territory as possible in a few days of hunting. So, in effect — I was alone and dependant on personal skill sets, and my rifle!
In bear hunts (as well as deer) I’ve mostly been sitting in a ground blind, or tree stand, or scouting, ALONE with no help nearby. Therefore, I want a rifle and load that I’m overly familiar with — knowing it’s full potential — that Also has:
4) More than ample power:
Why? “Just enough” or “ample” suggests precision shooting on a stationary target that has presented itself broadside, or nearly so. I’ve watched many videos on that sort of thing, usually with a team and an outfitter or PH. The shooter/hunter is micro-managed in his/her shot, and anything less than a broadside is frowned upon!
In a DIY hunt, or alone, it might become a case of “any shot possible”, or “shoot now!” in a case of survival!
That’s why I CHOOSE MORE THAN AMPLE, and that’s not a .30-06.
Here’s a quote from the renowned, former PH, Dr. Kevin Robertson: “I’m very much a heavy bullet for caliber man … I like the heavier option simply because some shots may be at animals not ideally positioned. Heavier bullets contain more momentum and this makes them penetrate better on less than ideal shots” — SPORTS AFIELD, October, 2009.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Indeed, I have said it dozens of times! That statement was made in reference to a question in regard to the .30-06 in use for larger plains game. So, his recommendation for, and IF the .30-06 was to be used, to employ the heaviest bullet with the greatest SD and momentum. He wasn’t suggesting a .30-06 as the BEST option, but since the potential client was intending to use it for plains game, what bullet should he choose? But Dr. Robertson’s remark was in regard to the principle he enunciated: a heavy bullet for caliber because of the prospect of bad angles! And that would be WITH a PH at his shoulder! AND, that would also be with “PREMIUM” bullets! Heavy for caliber with the BEST bullets!
Kevin Robertson has also spoken very favorably of the 9.3 x 62, and that was long before “premiums”, as such, were available. Or before MVs had evolved to what is possible today with the best powders.
That is my choice of a cartridge and rifle in a handy bolt-action that can fulfil all expectations as a “BRUSH RIFLE” as well as a long-range shooter of BG. It has replaced all my mediums from a .338 Win Mag to a .375 H&H… It can do anything as well, or better, depending on conditions and load.
That’s a bold statement, and will evoke a negative reaction from some who are traditional in their thinking, or who lack experience in handloading this great cartridge. Admittedly, the average handloader of the 9.3 x 62 will be content with traditional loads, believed to be adequate or “enough”… I’m not one of them! In handloading, I want the best for the job at hand, not just adequate.
As that concerns medium bores, I don’t need one of each, though I’ve owned and used several of them — often in more than one version. In .338-cal, I’ve owned and used a 20″ and a 26″ in .338 Win Mag; a 26″ .340 Wby; two 22″ .35 Whelens, a couple of .350 Rem Mags, and a 22″, 24″ and 26″ in .375 H&H. When I say that my 9.3 x 62 can do anything they could, I’m not living in a fantasy world! And it only has a 22.44″ barrel. When loaded with four cartridges, a 3-9x by 40mm scope, a 1″ nylon sling, it tilts the scales at 7.7 lbs.
As concerns its best hunting load for large game, it produces 4365 ft-lbs from the 286 Nosler Partition. That load matches the .340 Weatherby 250gr Partition load in momentum from the muzzle to 500 yards! Then, there is the 320gr Woodleigh at 2464 fps that matches or exceeds the .375 H&H in momentum firing a 300gr at 2600 fps.
So, yes, I’d concur with Drs Heath and Robertson, who wrote that they failed to see any distinction in effect on Cape buffalo when using either their 9.3 x 62’s or their .375 H&H’s. Not that I have their experience, but I can read ballistic charts.
I have utmost confidence in my 9.3 x 62 for “brush hunting” of anything I might personally point it at in my limited N.A. area. And that would include wolf, bear, moose and elk, as well as big whitetails that can attain 400 lbs. Moreover, I’d also take it for brown bear and grizzly, given the opportunity. And you could add to that, large moose to 500 yards! So, is my favorite “medium” capable as a “Brush Rifle”?
As to what we may term, “dedicated” brush guns,there are several of course. I’ve owned at least two, and perhaps more if a 12-gauge is included with slugs. But this is about rifles.
The first was kept for a full decade, and was indeed a dedicated brush rifle: A Ruger 96/44 in .44 Remington Magnum. It was more powerful than a .30-30, and equal to a .35 Remington in KE, but surpassed it in TE within the ranges intended – less than 100 yards.
Here are some handloads: (I did shoot some Federal factory 300gr hardcasts through it for information.)
270gr Speer – 1800+ fps/1942 ft-lbs avg.
300gr Hornady XTP – 1725 fps/1982 ft-lbs (Dec/02)
300gr Speer – 1692 fps/1907 ft-lbs (18/12/02)
This rifle was used for trail walking and bringing bait for bears.
The other rifle that could have been considered a “brush rifle” was a Marlin 1895 G, with the short 18.5″ barrel. But it had the infamous “ports”, and while it went hunting, and I developed a lot of handloads for it that were fired at the range with muffs on, in woody conditions it was way too loud!! So… it went down the road. Marlin has since done away with the ports and sell a pile of the “G” models. From 400s and 405s, I got something over 2000 fps using AA2015.
Having already mentioned the .375 Ruger in its short 20″ barrelled “Alaskan” model as a potential brush gun, maybe the .416 Ruger in a 20″ version should be viewed as a possible candidate as well. While likely seen as “overpowered” for such a theme, there’s no doubt it finds itself doing that job admirably in Alaskan and African close-quarter operations. If it were the only firearm I owned, I’m sure I could find reason enough to employ it in brush hunting of both bear and moose here in our province. A quality 350gr at 2400 to 2600 fps would make some sense.
Still, in this context, how could I fail to give consideration to my most highly prized Big Bore – the excellent .458 Winchester Magnum. All matters considered, it is the best of the Big Bores. And at a mere 40″ total length, including a 24-inch barrel, my Ruger Tropical No.1 is 2.4″ shorter than my 9.3 x 62.
Yesterday (Apr. 30/19), I invested a couple of hours at our range (setting up the Chrony, Lead Sled and targets included) firing some new loads. The fastest was a 350gr TSX at 2760 fps/5919 ft-lbs, and the slowest was a 500gr Hornady RN at 2218 fps/5461 ft-lbs. In between were 480gr DGX’s, 450gr TSX’s, a 450gr Swift AF, and 400gr Barnes Busters.
But hey, here is the complete list corrected to MV:
500 Hornady (74 grs A2230) = 2218 (this load gave 2227 in my former CZ550 with a 25″ barrel) COL = 3.56″
500 Hornady (75 grs A2230 = (gave a low – false reading – don’t know why, but it could be increased by 1/2 gr according to case head expansion) COL = 3.56″
500 Hornady (81 grs H335) = 2233 (max load with this powder – max allowable expansion for continued use of case) COL = 3.56″
480 DGX (82 grs H335) = 2262 (low case expansion – could be increased by 1- grain) COL = 3.56″
480 DGX (76 grs A2230 = 2272 (max case expansion) COL = 3.56″
450 TSX (82 grs H335 = 2290 (no brass expansion – this was 1-gr less than a previous test. Will go to 84 grs next time) COL = 3.68″
450 TSX (76 grs A2230)= 2326 (could increase by 1-grain) COL = 3.69″
450 Swift AF (84 grs H335) = 2414/5822 ft-lbs (max with this powder for continued use of the case. This bullet has responded very well in my rifle.)
COL = 3.565″
400 Barnes Buster (83 grs H335) = 2381 COL = 3.28″
400 Barnes Buster (83 grs H335) = 2388 (These are hard bullets, and case head expansion is near max. So I’ll not try to increase this load more than 1/2 gr) COL = 3.28″
350 TSX (81 grs H4198) = 2760/5919 ft-lbs (This is the same result I received from my former CZ550 with 1-grain less at 80 grs. But the CZ had a 1-inch longer barrel. Pressure was not over max.) COL = 3.46″
Now, what could I do with all that?
First of all, they are test loads for my Ruger No.1 in .458.
Secondly: I’ll do some over, and increase some loads giving more opportunity to A2230 and H4895.
Thirdly: I plan on some reduced loads, like the 480 DGX that shows real promise at around 1750 – 1800 fps. That will likely be through the use of RL-15.
Also, I have a couple more reduced loads, garnered from my former CZ:
405 Remington at just over 2000 using RL-15, and the
350 Hornady using the same load of RL-15
A BRUSH RIFLE?
Yeah, I have one… maybe a couple!
I know, I know, the .458 is NOT “light”, but it is handy. At over 10 lbs, and with the ports, it makes life very bearable in the recoil department. But if a big bruin shows up here this spring, recoil will only be like a normal 12-gauge turkey load.
Oh yeah… about points 5,6 and 7 — My Ruger No.1 and Tikka T3 aren’t “Safe Queens”; and surely you’ve noticed that handloads are the only way to improve the ballistics of any rifle, and they both have good scopes for real close or far; and dark places….
“But it’s a single-shot!”, some would cry out in alarm! I KNOW THAT! How many shots do you need?
Til the next,