are autoloaders a thing of the past now?


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smartshot
November 9, 2010, 07:54 AM
For hunting rifles, is it just me or is the consensus that autoloading rifles are the most unreliable type of action? I see fewer people buying them and it seems as if young people and people new to the field are buying them because of the "cool" aspect. There are exceptions but it seems as if bolt actions are back in the front of the pack and have no one trailing behind them.

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bobbo
November 9, 2010, 08:01 AM
Two letters: AR.
'nuff said.

GunTech
November 9, 2010, 08:08 AM
When did autoloaders ever make up a large percentage of hunting rifles?

The reality is the number of hunters is falling, and more and more people are buying rifles for non-hunting purposes. Military style autoloaders have been enjoying a lot of popularity with non-hunters. As noted, look at the number of companies making AR type rifles and accessories. How many AK clones have been sold thanks to their low price and cheap ammo?

kaferhaus
November 9, 2010, 08:13 AM
Bolt actions have always been the leader of the pack. It's never even been close.

Auto's like the Browning and Remington can be very reliable. the problems have always been the owners not maintaining them not the rifles.

They're accurate enough as a deer getter and I've seen a few Brownings that were MOA guns (the boss equipped ones)

A bolt gun will take a lot of neglect and still get the job done. Are almost always more accurate and usually much lighter to carry.

And in the real world of hunting if you didn't hit it with the first shot, you're extremely unlikely to hit it with any follow up shot.

ARs in .223 can make fine varmint rifles and the 308 models make good deer getters. but the 308 model is usually several pounds heavier than a bolt gun just like the commercial autos...

Sam1911
November 9, 2010, 08:14 AM
That's kind of a funny line of reasoning.

In hunting situations (with a few exceptions) if your gun malfunctions, you might not get off a follow-up shot and might not bring home the game animal you wanted to take.

In military, LEO, and self-defense situations, if your rifle malfunctions -- you might DIE.

Reliability is important in both situations, but I'd say it is far MORE important on the battlefield or the home front.

As it is, autoloading rifles have never been incredibly popular in hunting circles. They aren't even legal in some areas.

jimmyraythomason
November 9, 2010, 08:17 AM
The Browning BAR and the Remington 742 (later the 7400) were the only autoloading centerfire rifles to have a following around here. The Remington had lock-up and extraction problems and the 7400 just never was liked very much. The Browning is still used by a few deer hunters here. Bolt action rifles tend to make up the bulk of the rifles used in the deer woods. Lever guns come in a distant second.

Sam1911
November 9, 2010, 08:17 AM
Bolt actions have always been the leader of the pack. It's never even been close.

Hmmm... I've always had the impression that bolt actions were the most popular in the hunting PRESS, and that lever actions were actually more common in the tree stands and woods. I don't remember if I've ever seen any reputable numbers to back that up, though.

Of course, prior to WWI, few hunters had ever seen a bolt action rifle. So they certainly haven't always been leader of the pack -- even since the invention of metallic cartidges.

jimmyraythomason
November 9, 2010, 08:21 AM
Auto's like the Browning and Remington (1)CAN be very reliable. the problems have (2)ALWAYS been the owners not maintaining them not the rifles. I agree with (1) but disagree with (2)

Tirod
November 9, 2010, 08:21 AM
The number of civilian designed autoloaders hasn't increased much. What has increased are the number of military based autoloaders - the M1, SKS, AK, AR, M14, FNFAL, Hk91/clones, etc. Price makes a point, too. In the day, I could by an HK91 for less - $45 less - than retail on the Rem 700.

Bolt action prices haven't gone down any, and you can get a $599 AR or $400 AK. When the significantly more complex autoloaders sell cheaper than the cheap and simple bolt guns, shooters see the bargain and buy them. Even at the higher prices of the major makers, AR's are taking shelf space away from boring old bolt guns.

As a hunter who was using a HK with Aimpoint in the '70's, it's not always about tradition, its sometimes about bucking it. Like fishing, you know the game has no clue about what you use, it's something you do because it makes it easier to use.

kaferhaus
November 9, 2010, 08:26 AM
Of course, prior to WWI, few hunters had ever seen a bolt action rifle. So they certainly haven't always been leader of the pack -- even since the invention of metallic cartidges.

Always some schmuck that wants to make an argument out of anything. the OP was referencing bolt action vs semi autos. I'd bet the old falling block springfields made up a very large percentage of what was used prior to the bolt gun in the late 1800s. lever guns were relatively expensive back then and unlike the cowboy movies not everyone owned one.

But lets not argue the point, the OP's question was obviously related to semi-autos which didn't exist until well after the bolt gun was on the scene.

loadedround
November 9, 2010, 08:42 AM
No comment from me. Pennsylvania does not allow semi-auto rifles for any type of hunting, be it large or small game. Would love to take my Ruger semi in 44 mag, deer hunting. :(

rbernie
November 9, 2010, 08:45 AM
I think that the premise of the OP is flawed because it presumes that semiautos were once in a market position that they are not now. IMO, sporting semiautos were always a niche product in the eyes of most hunters, due to factors that included their relatively high cost and traditionally greater bulk.

Manual repeaters have been the most popular field/hunting rifles for the last century, due to their balance of factors such as cost, weight, accuracy, and reliability. That does not mean that semiauto repeating rifles are not, for example, reliable or accurate - it just means that folk could get a accurate and reliable bolt gun for less money than it would cost for a semiauto.

Only the increase in the popularity of the AR platform has made any modest change to this state of affairs, and many new hunters are using the AR platform in the field where it is legal to do so. Having said that, bolt guns specifically have been the most popular field rifles for my lifetime and clearly remain so today.

kaferhaus
November 9, 2010, 08:53 AM
No comment from me. Pennsylvania does not allow semi-auto rifles for any type of hunting, be it large or small game. Would love to take my Ruger semi in 44 mag, deer hunting

Man a lot of folks down here would love to have that rifle.... every time I see one at a gun show it's gone within minutes... I haven't hunted with mine in several years as most places I hunt now are more open areas, but when I was brush hunting that was one fine little carbine.

I'll never sell it so it's one of the guns my wife will likely give away for pennies after I'm gone....LOL

sansone
November 9, 2010, 08:59 AM
I almost bought a remngtn 750 auto, bought the pump version instead (7600)because they are almost as fast, no jamming issues, more accurate. I simply got bored with bolties, bored with .223

jmorris
November 9, 2010, 09:15 AM
I think autoloaders are on a downward spiral and soon falling blocks will again be all the rage. I also predict the Dallas Cowboys will have home field advantage this year at the Super Bowl.

Mr_Pale_Horse
November 9, 2010, 09:37 AM
Of course, prior to WWI, few hunters had ever seen a bolt action rifle. So they certainly haven't always been leader of the pack
In the U.S. maybe; bolt followed by break open actions dominated the game fields elsewhere.

mgmorden
November 9, 2010, 01:09 PM
This is a fairly odd question IMHO. As has been said many times, autoloaders have NEVER been favored for hunting purposes. Your'e not seeing many of them used there, but that's not a change - that's things remaining the same.

Autoloaders ARE becoming much more popular for range use though. Also, for CCW, I remember 10 years ago a LOT more people were recommending revolvers than seem to be now. For things like that, autos are increasing in popularity. Myself though, I just can't see myself toting my AR15 out into the field.

That said, that all applies very specifically to RIFLES and game hunted with them. Look at a shotgun hunting sport - like duck hunting for example - and you'll see semi-autos left and right. Quick, multiple shots are required in the situations presented there, so you see more of them.

Girodin
November 9, 2010, 01:38 PM
Hmmm... I've always had the impression that bolt actions were the most popular in the hunting PRESS, and that lever actions were actually more common in the tree stands and woods. I don't remember if I've ever seen any reputable numbers to back that up, though.

This may depend largely on the area of the country. Where I hunt deer (Mule Deer) I've never seen anyone using a lever gun.

Field and stream did a survey a while back (BTW there are all type of sample selection issues in trying to extrapolate to the general hunting population and depending on how the selected their respondent perhaps even F&S readers so in other words this is for entertainment purposes only) http://www.fieldandstream.com/node/57307

jmr40
November 9, 2010, 01:59 PM
I think they are a thing of the past...for now. Bolt actions are much lighter and cheaper. They are usually more accurate, but some autoloaders aren't far behind. As AR's become more mainstream, and are being offered in calibers more suited for whitetail hunting, I can see them becoming more common.

I don't see them being used a lot on larger game or where extreme long range shots are common such as mule deer hunting. The semi's needed to accurately shoot the more powerful rounds are too heavy and expensive to be practical at this time. But new designs could change that in the future as well.

The lever action owes most of it's success to Hollywood. Most of the real frontiersmen used single shots, not lever actions. The lever action would have died shortly after the turn of the century had it not been for a steady diet of westerns that Hollywood started cranking out during the 1920's through the 1960's. The same could be said of single action revolvers.

chas08
November 9, 2010, 02:04 PM
I've got a 7400 in .270win that I bought at Wal-mart, when they were liquidating their firearms,for $299. I've found its reliability to be directly related to the ammunition. It likes and feeds Federal Powershok reliably, but hates Winchester of any type. I put an aftermarket sear spring in it and cut the trigger pull in half (about3lbs) It shoots about 2"moa @ 100 yds and 4" @ 200. I've taken several Hogs and a couple of rafter worthy bucks with it, all at a 100 yds or less. No, it's not bolt action accurate but I like using it within its limits. I'm going to Pa. Whitetail hunting this year and if you could use semi-autos there, It would be going with me. But since Pa. only allows manually operated actions, my 45/70 guide gun gets the call.

mgmorden
November 9, 2010, 02:21 PM
This may depend largely on the area of the country. Where I hunt deer (Mule Deer) I've never seen anyone using a lever gun.


I'd tend to agree here. I know people that use them, but they're largely seen as a beginner's gun around here. A ton of people start their kids out on a .30-30 and then pass it on down to the other kids in the family as the older kids upgrade to bolt guns. Nothing at all wrong with them, and they kill lots of deer, but most of the older hunters tend to prefer something with a bit more reach (90% of the time, around here, that being .270 or .30-06).

As a matter of fact they often get traded around. My uncle bought a Winchester 94 way back in the late 1960's to hunt with. After he upgraded (not sure to what) he sold it to another one of my uncles. After HE upgraded to a Remington 788 he sold the rifle to my dad who was a teenager at the time. He later upgraded to a Remington 742 and sold the rifle to his cousin for his son (he often mentions regretting selling that rifle because I wasn't born yet and he wished he'd saved it for me). After he got older and upgraded it got sold back to my 2nd uncle again for my cousin to use. Finally after he upgraded to a Savage bolt gun it has passed to my uncle's grandson to use.

After having been owned by 6 family members in that time, I can't fathom how many deer it has taken, but it's still seen as a temporary gun for younger shooters. I'm sure it's far from having seen it's last owner :D.

GunTech
November 9, 2010, 04:15 PM
Another thing to consider. Returning veteran have in the past had a huge impact on hunting rifles. It was Soldiers experience with bolt action rifles rifles in WWII that had a impact of the choice of hunting guns. The flood of surplus quality bolt guns after WWII also helped.

The number of hunters is declining, but if gulf war veterans take up hunting in large numbers, they may very well look for hunting rifles that mirror the guns they learned in the military - and keep in mind that for many Americans, military service represents their first encounter with guns.

It's really hard to say anymore. I suspect that the bolt gun is going to be hard to knock off it's perch as the first choice for most hunters. But I expect we will see the same intrusion of polymers and other modern materials more and more into rifles that we've seen happen with handguns. Blued steel and wood guns are expensive to make polymers aren't rejected out of hand by the new generation of rifle buyers.

It's sad really.

loadedround
November 9, 2010, 04:30 PM
Kaferhaus: !agree with you 100%!

Cosmoline
November 9, 2010, 04:34 PM
Hunting-grade semiautos tend to be considerably more expensive than comparable bolt actions. And they have an upper limit of potential power that the bolt actions do not. The BAR maxes out at .338 WM and is pretty bulky. Hard to chamber a round quietly, too.

Mike J
November 9, 2010, 05:09 PM
The hunting club I was in back in the late 90's a lot of the members used old Remington 742's. My old hunting partner has a BAR in .270. I also saw a lot of bolt guns with the occasional pump & lever thrown in. The hunting I have done the past few years I have seen mostly bolt actions. There is never any telling what someone might choose for their hunting rifle though. I always find it interesting to see what folks are using. Myself I have been using the same model 70 for years. If I ever get another one it will probably be another bolt gun.

General Geoff
November 10, 2010, 02:17 AM
Hunting-grade semiautos tend to be considerably more expensive than comparable bolt actions. And they have an upper limit of potential power that the bolt actions do not. The BAR maxes out at .338 WM and is pretty bulky.

Garand chambered in .458 winchester magnum? :)

Shadow 7D
November 10, 2010, 03:46 AM
I like one of the hog hunters selection, I forget his name, posts alot here

But he has a whole slew of guns, and I think one of his last?? was a .50 Beowulf AR
for lots of reason, but alot comes to what is affordable and preferred by the hunters,
I may not like a AR/M-4 platform, but hand me one, and I guarantee that I will slaughter any dear within easy shot range <225-250 YARDS

smartshot
November 10, 2010, 07:10 AM
yeah my post was about sporting rifles, but I do like the new AR hunting rifles and I do believe they are more reliable than the remington/browning sporting rifle autoloaders.

22-rimfire
November 10, 2010, 07:41 AM
Self loading rifles are becoming more and more common in hunting circles where they are legal. I prefer a traditionally styled rifle for hunting in bolt action and lever action. Most don't take their AR's big game hunting, but AR's are becoming increasingly popular for varmint hunting.

Zoogster
November 10, 2010, 08:08 AM
The primary hunting rifle throughout the history of firearms has tended to be an inexpensive, accurate, mass produced rifle of the previous large war with a simple reliable action which had become surplus.




Large wars typically resulted in new technology and after large wars there was typically a large number of obsolete but well made (designed and improved to be rugged on the field of battle) rifles that would go to civilians.
These often then became popular well made and inexpensive hunting platforms.

This of course has changed in modern times somewhat because now the military will crush retired firearms long before giving them to civilians as surplus (even civilian legal semi-auto firearms.)
With restrictions on select fire, and as modern military rifles typically have select-fire the standard rifles of the world cannot simply go to the surplus market.
WW2 rifles in general are the last that followed the age old tradition of going to civilians.
Yet we still see the civilian market trying to trend the way of the past with the AR gaining popularity as a hunting platform, and people taking them to the field where the can.

Select fire AK-47s even see use in hunting in the former third world, or poaching as is often the case as the guns themselves are often illegal. For the same reason: they were mass produced, are reliable and when retired hit the market in such large numbers at inexpensive prices that a lot of people had one.



What will be most popular is now less predictable because laws and restrictions keep surplus from going to civilians, but for most of the history of the firearm the most popular hunting rifles were the military arm of the previous decade.
In the American colonies, in the early USA, and in much of the world.
World War 2 was the end of this trend, and it ended with a lot of bolt actions.
At the start of World War 2 most nations were equipped with bolt action rifles. During World War 2 these became obsolete.
After World War 2 they flooded the civilian market and dominated the cheap reliable hunting niche. While no longer as inexpensive as surplus, they have remained in that position.



If all the battle rifles had flooded the civilian market when NATO switched to the 5.56x45 as the standard caliber, then accurized FAL and M14 actions in 7.62x51/.308 would likely dominate hunting today.
Instead president Clinton had most of them crushed.
Due to legislation civilians are no longer trustworthy enough to have the previous generation's standard military arm. A break in tradition from the previous centuries.

Shadow 7D
November 10, 2010, 02:53 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^
and what he said

ZeroJunk
November 10, 2010, 03:25 PM
I think the OP's original idea is correct, at least in this area. Thirty years ago, about when we had our first deer season seems like half the guys you saw had a 742, usually 30-06. I don't remember the last time I saw anybody hunting with an auto. The AK/AR's seem to be becoming popular from what I see on forums. But, all I see in the field anymore are bolt guns.

SpeedAKL
November 10, 2010, 03:35 PM
I'd enjoy having an AR-pattern rifle for whitetail hunting. It's relatively light in weight, accurate, ergonomic, and allows for a fast follow-up shot should the need arise. While the merits of .223/5.56 on deer are IHMO questionable except under certain circumstances, the AR is offered commercially in the following deer-appropriate cartridges:
.308 Winchester, one of the best deer rounds out there
6.8mm SPC
6.5mm Grendel
.260 Remington
7mm-08
.338 Federal
.30 Remington AR
.243 Winchester
All are reliable deer-harvesting cartridges with properly-constructed bullets. There are plenty of photo threads on arfcom of hunting with AR-pattern rifles, and I except it to only get more popular as the gun moves even further into the mainstream. Hunters in general are a conservative lot, and the proven effectiveness of the bolt gun is hard to turn down; however, certain military-pattern autoloaders have their own advantages IMHO.

mljdeckard
November 10, 2010, 03:38 PM
I am building an AR-10 in .243 and .308. I want to be able to say that I hunt with nothing BUT AR-pattern rifles.

Upon what do you base the statement that fewer people are buying autoloader rifles? The only dip I might see is a calm since the Obama panic.

jimmyraythomason
November 10, 2010, 03:43 PM
Upon what do you base the statement that fewer people are buying autoloader rifles? I'm not speaking for anyone else but in my neck of the world hunters are going back to bolt actions(for their own reasons). The local WalMart Superstore has a fair selection of bolt guns but no centerfire semi-autos. That is a pretty good indicator that they aren't selling very well. YMMV.

Andrew Wyatt
November 10, 2010, 03:55 PM
The local WalMart Superstore has a fair selection of bolt guns but no centerfire semi-autos. That is a pretty good indicator that they aren't selling very well. YMMV.


the local walmart superstore doesn't have any guns.

kaferhaus
November 10, 2010, 03:55 PM
The local WalMart Superstore has a fair selection of bolt guns but no centerfire semi-autos. That is a pretty good indicator that they aren't selling very well. YMMV.

They're very sparse here even on dealers shelves. One dealer here is a huge browning dealer and he's had to heavily discount every BAR he's sold except one to a "newb" his words, not mine. he said he only stocks a few of them because he has too to keep his standing with Browning.

jimmyraythomason
November 10, 2010, 04:18 PM
They're very sparse here even on dealers shelves. Our last LGS closed his doors a couple of months ago. That only leaves WM selling guns in our town.

mshootnit
November 10, 2010, 09:23 PM
with a question like that (the title) you are either acutely worldly and forward thinking or almost out of touch with reality, and I am not sure I know which.
Edit: I wish I had built an AR10 in 243. I would love to shoot a deer with one of those and aperture sights!!!

macadore
November 10, 2010, 09:46 PM
I fail to understand why semi-autos are not the rifle of choice for dangerous game. If an FN would work for people, it should work for hogs and black bears.

Rokman
November 10, 2010, 09:56 PM
I just got a really good deal on a Winchester SXAR in .308 and it is very accurate and a pretty sweet shooter. It's recoil isn't bad, appears to be very reliable and shoots factory ammo very well and my handloads very excellent. My plan is to pop a good deer with it this weekend. I will also take with me my a new Savage model 16 in .308 that I also plan to pop a deer with. It shoots very well also.

oldfool
November 11, 2010, 08:13 AM
jmorris...
I wish you were right on both counts (humor aside)
mostly I wish there were more reasonably priced falling blocks available styled like the "modernized' Browning Lo-Wall of yesteryear, with lesser emphasis on "legacy" styling of buttstocks and extra long barrels

oh well

kaferhaus
November 11, 2010, 08:46 AM
I wish there were more reasonably priced falling blocks available styled like the "modernized' Browning Lo-Wall of yesteryear, with lesser emphasis on "legacy" styling of buttstocks and extra long barrels

Amen brother, I'd own a bunch of them. I used to be a Ruger #1 fan big time... but accuracy with them is very much hit or miss even with modifications. And they're way too expensive for what they are... very simple to manufacture single shots that cost several hundred bucks more than their bolt gun...

The only alleged advantage a semi offers is a quick follow up shot. Let me tell you..... if you didn't hit it the first time the chances of you hitting it when it has jumped to warp speed is about nil...

How many times have you been in the woods and heard boom........... boom boom boom?

How many times you see that guy with a dead deer???

I love bolt guns.... but if a mfg comes out with a really accurate, well fitting, falling block single shot I'd drop the bolts in a flash.

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