The Rifle We Should All be Looking for?


March 6, 2011, 08:51 AM
Another thread here got me to thinking about what would be the "ideal" rifle. I know there is no such thing. But lets put out some hypothetical parameters that will still leave plenty of room for discussion.

Lets start off with putting ourselves in a position where if we dont shoot enough game animals during hunting season then we may find ourselves starving come June. Since we base our survival on out hunting rifle it must be accurate past 300 yds and very reliable.

Optics are a practical must and should be as high of quality as can be afforded but quite honestly should not cost more than 100 dollars. The rifle/scope has to be rugged. You might need to use the rifle as a crutch to make it back home if you twist your ankle.

A lot of these parameters seem mutually exclusive like a rugged and precise scope for 100 dollars but you can buy used and even vintage fixed power scopes are precise and rugged.

So what rifle and scope combo would be suitable for such a person and while you are lost in thought over this maybe try to ponder your next rifle scope purchase with this in mind.

Aside from the budget should we not all try to look for the most rugged and dependable rifle and scope that is out there and just be gone with all the marketing and hype that does nothing to sell quality products?

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March 6, 2011, 09:50 AM
The "requirement" for a 300 + yard gun, and of course, good optics to go with it, isn't reality for a lot of woodland hunters. In fact, the lever .30-30 won't do it - but it has been and remains one of the top guns for the last century doing exactly what is specified. And millions of hunters use them, significantly with no scope at all.

One the other hand, the extra range is desirable, just as many go for the 300+ with an optic. An AR15 with rail top in 6.8SPC will do it, too. Just add optic, I can use iron sights, a 2X Beeman on a riser, or my 1gen Aimpoint. I'd prefer to use a Lucid red dot. The $100 limit for an optic isn't unreasonable, a Millet SP at $70 meets it - and then you add another $125+ in a riser and rings. So, $180 for the Lucid is easily justified, it comes with integral mount.

The requirements are pretty open, my old Remington 700 in .30-06 and an adapter could also shoot .308 and still get the job done. A sureshot gamegetter is precisely what has been marketed in a hundred calibers for over one hundred years.

Art Eatman
March 6, 2011, 10:11 AM
Why the dollar limit on a scope? Hey, go pick up beer cans along the highway; have you priced aluminum, lately? Or mow lawns on weekends or something...

If you're depending on legal hunt-season meat as your sole source, the particular rifle is much less important than your hunting skill. But two MOA is plenty good for deer or elk to 300 yards--remembering that a very high percentage of all such game is killed within a couple of hundred yards.

Since the first shot is what counts, group size is pretty much irrelevant. Consistency in having the first shot go to the intended point of impact is what matters--and even the Mini-14 will do that. (An example, not a recommendation of the Mini.)

Few bolt-actions are NOT rugged.

Skipping the cost issue, since that shouldn't be a problem for a competent person, I'd take a 24" skinny-barrelled '06. Preferably a lightweight receiver like Remington's Ti version, but you can remove a fair amount of metal from a standard receiver. As light a stock as I can figure out, but with as soft a butt pad as is on the market. Scope? Probably a Weaver K4, since that's plenty of magnification for deer or elk to 500 yards.

And five grains weight of pistol powder and a round lead ball makes an '06 a squirrel rifle. :D

March 6, 2011, 10:21 AM
I prefer a bolt '06 for a meat gun also. Older Weaver scopes are decent, but I've gone over to Leupolds. I also don't know why the dollar limit on glass, but I'd rather sell other things, incuding less used guns to get good glass. A handfull of very good guns beats a closet full of clunkers or unused guns.

My tastes are towards sporterized 1903 Springfields, commercial mausers, and older Ruger M-77's for actions.

I second the round ball or cast loads for small game and grouse shooting and practice. Makes a high power rifle into an excellent all around gun.

March 6, 2011, 10:27 AM
The dollar limit on scopes is because you are poor. Plain and simple. Granted this is not a realistic scenario in this day and age but I wanted to mimic the mountain men of the old days with nowadays technology. Maybe I should have stated that the only income you receive is from arts and crafts or organic farming or selling beaver pelts or something like that.

The truth really is someone in this situation would not care about hunting seasons and just shoot animals as they were needed maybe even utilizing bait near the home. Dont try to interpret this as "off the grid" living but that would most likely be the case.

The purpose of this thread is actually to get opinions on what rifle would you use if your life depended on hunting for survival. Only pure facts here. No marketing BS. This is a working rifle that if it starts pretty it will become ugly soon. The budgetary constraints are in place because that is an everyday reality for everyone. These extreme budgetary restraints are in place becasue I people tend to overthink hunting rifles a little and get too caught up in marketing and buying into gimmicks when what was needed for the job has been around for ages and can be had on the used market for fractions of the new price.

The rifle does not have to be a "versatile" caliber necissarily. It just has to put meat on the table in the limitless conditions of the wild outdoors. It does not have to be able to take animals from squirells up to moose but if that is your need then the caliber will have to be suited towards that end. A Lee Loader for your caliber could definitely make your rifle more versatile. Handloading is a popular hobby of poor country folk so that can be a factor in your choice.

March 6, 2011, 10:35 AM
If my life depended on hunting I'd spend more than $100 on a scope. That or not use one.

March 6, 2011, 10:43 AM
True about used being good deals in most cases. I'd suggest that the model of the mountain men may not the what you're looking for. Many probably did use cheaper guns, but most wanted the best rifle they could get, as their life depended on it.

For cheap hunting rifles, most would buy whats available from a pawn shop or from the used rack at a gun shop, and many already have scopes, tho most seem to be cheaper scopes. In my estimation, those are the better places to find things I like anyway, but I still have preference for high quality. I don't mind some "character" on my guns,and the ones I use much develop some character. High quality guns with finish wear and dings in the stock can be pretty affordable. Not too long ago there was a worn but mechanically good Ruger 77 tang safety rifle in 270 cal that the pawn shop wanted $325 for. A good used Weaver or Leupold would make up a good working rig that would last a lifetime.

For many of us, the question is working downwards to that gun, not working upwards from no gun, so the answers may be different. As I mentioned, if going light, I'd sell things to get the best gun and glass I could, tho I already have those bases covered.

There's many people that depend on game meat, and they observe the seasons. It doesnt take a fortune to hunt, it can be done affordably. Using the rifle for small game makes it much more useful also.

Many think of gimmick things with "survival" in the name of the gun. To me, most 'survival" guns are something that lives under the seat of an airplane and is used in event of going down somewhere, not something i'd prefer to count on. Regular, high quality hunting arms are far more practical for feeding yourself than anything I've ever seen thats called "survival" anything. I wanted to mention that, since once the term "survival" is mentioned, all the "survival" guns seem to be mentioned, as if they were actually good hunting choices. They aren't in my experience, they're last ditch guns for use by people that arent gun people for the most part.

March 6, 2011, 11:02 AM
Well if I were going to be a modern day "Mountain Man", and had to depend on my hunting rifle and scope for putting meat on the table, and as a source of income (fur pelts), I certainly wouldn't go the low buck route with either the rifle or the glass. For me it would probably mean a Remington bolt action in 30.06 along with a quality scope, like a Mueller 2x7 Multi-Shot ($170). This should do quite nicely for most hunting situations where I live.

If times were really that bad in terms of personal finances, I would probably just make do with my 10/22 and its Weaver K2.5 scope; along with a large stockpile of CCI MiniMags.

March 6, 2011, 11:13 AM
I dont mean "survival" as in stranded out in the woods, I mean it as it being your only means of eating.

March 6, 2011, 11:15 AM
I understand how you meant the word, but mentioning the word seems to draw out everyone that thinks any gun with the word "survival" in it MUST be the perfect gun to feed yourself with.

If it's your means of feeding yourself, I feel a high quality hunting gun, or even a target quality 22 pistol is head and shoulders above any "survival" gun I've ever seen or used.

March 6, 2011, 01:19 PM
Box stock probably one of the most durable rifles out there would be a Ruger MK II stainless with the old boat paddle stocks.

Polished stainless finish is one of the most impervious finished out there on a factory rifle, not much you could ever do to the stock to hurt it and a very very solid action.

Pick one up in 30-06 and you could probably scrounge up a few shells in about every location you ever ran across.

Cheap scope? Fine an older fixed power Leupold 4x and be done with it all.

PLUS- If you ever found yourself needing a paddle, you'd have something to use.

March 6, 2011, 03:25 PM
If things were that tight, I think I would be very happy with my gardening skills.

March 6, 2011, 03:46 PM
My take:

Savage Package Gun in .30-06
Weaver or Nikon 4x fixed scope
Sight in with the package scope, take it off and keep it as backup
Sight in with the 4x with some decent quality (Rem. Core-Lokt) 150 gr. ammo
Throw on an inexpensive nylon sling and ammo cuff

Go forth and slay critters as needed.

For this type of thing, I think the savage's modular design is more appealing than remington/mauser. You can literally take two hex keys and completely disassemble the whole action for small parts replacement and repair (older ones use a flat bladed screwdriver). Add a barrel wrench (or if you're not concerned about looks even a pipe wrench would work in a pinch) and you can rebarrel as needed.

March 6, 2011, 03:54 PM
I'd visit the local pawn and gun shops with $250 in my pocket and look at the used bolt rifles on the shelf in the most common calibers. Specifically, I'd be looking for .308 and 30.06, but a lot of times the oddball calibers will be the best buy, so... if I saw a .25-06 (or whatever) at a better price, I wouldn't hesitate.

With scopes - same deal. I'd look for a used low end variable (1x5 or 2X6 perhaps) or even a fixed power 4X by a GOOD MAKER, and snap it up. Leupold, Burris and some other makes have lifetime warranties, so if you can buy even a used beater you can mail it back and have it rebuilt as new.

With all that said, the "ideal" rifle would be a .308 in a short action (not a .308 stuffed in a standard length action), with a 1X5 Burris. It's just that if money is that tight, there are plenty of compromises that will leave you with a good rifle/scope combo.

March 6, 2011, 03:54 PM
In my part of the country, I could do everything I needed to do to put food on the table with a lever .30-30. I could do it without a scope, but would prefer one if it was available. I'm sure I could find a 100 buck scope that would do the job.....I don't own a 30-30, either. However, I have often said I wish I had just bought a K-Mart special 30 years ago for a hunting rifle. It probably wouldn't hurt as much watching the knicks and scratches accumulate. It certainly wouldn't hurt as much when the gun got dropped out of a tree stand, which I have done.

Vern Humphrey
March 6, 2011, 05:53 PM
As Townsend Whelen was wont to say, "The .30-06 is never a mistake."

You'll shoot more game under 100 yards than you will at 300 yards -- so I wouldn't worry about long range shooting. In a survival situation, you will learn to hunt or starve. And you will quickly learn not to waste ammunition by shooting at longer ranges.

A good survival rifle might be a .30-30 with a peep sight, an M1903A3 Springfield, or my pre-64 Model 70 which has a Redfield peep sight snuggled up against the rear sight base, just in case.

March 6, 2011, 07:43 PM
Lets start off with putting ourselves in a position where if we dont shoot enough game animals during hunting season then we may find ourselves starving come June. Since we base our survival on out hunting rifle it must be accurate past 300 yds and very reliable.

I think the premise of the discussion is a little bit silly. If hunting is what keeps us from starving, I assure you that no one is going to pay attention to hunting seasons. If you are out of meat in June, you shoot something, it doesnt matter about the season in a survival scenario.

Also, 300 yds is an irrelevant number. If I am starving, then I am going to bait whatever I am trying to kill, and shoot it at close range. The people who settled the West in the early 1800's survived to a large degree by hunting, and they weren't doing it at 300 yd ranges followin sporting rules.

A 22 LR or 22 Mag would probably give you more versatility than a 30-06, if you are hunting to survive.

March 6, 2011, 07:44 PM
I suppose the 300 yd requirement was a miscalcualtion on my part. It was intended more as a way of showing how desperate things could be that you needed to make such a shot.

I think the premise of the discussion is a little bit silly. If hunting is what keeps us from starving, I assure you that no one is going to pay attention to hunting seasons. If you are out of meat in June, you shoot something, it doesnt matter about the season in a survival scenario.

If I am starving, then I am going to bait whatever I am trying to kill, and shoot it at close range. The people who settled the West in the early 1800's survived to a large degree by hunting, and they weren't doing it at 300 yd ranges followin sporting rules.

I addressed this post #5.

Redneck with a 40
March 6, 2011, 07:45 PM
A good 30-06 bolt action and I wouldn't skimp on the scope, Burris FFII. Ruger, Savage, Tikka, Remington, can't go wrong with any of'em.

March 6, 2011, 10:03 PM
Save a little money on the gun, get a stevens 200, I like .270 but 30/06; .308; 7-08 would all be just fine. Take the money you saved on the rifle and put a Redfield 3-9X40 on it for $150.

True Grit
March 6, 2011, 11:38 PM
I'll take my papaws 1917 Enfield 30-06 hand me down. Don't need the scope, I'll stick to the flip up vernier sights marked up to 1600 yards. One shot one kill = ]

fireman 9731
March 7, 2011, 12:29 AM
The New Ruger Gunsight Scout rifle came to mind pretty quick here. Top it off with a long eye relief 4 power scope and you would have a pretty handy, useful rifle.

If there were better ways to scope Mosins and Mausers, I'd take one of them. If a scope isn't a requirement, I wouldn't mind having a decent Mosin or Mauser with irons.

Finally my H&R Buffalo Classic in 45-70 would be pretty useful too. Cheap reloading and a rear ladder sight makes easy dinner at 300yds.

Steel Talon
March 7, 2011, 01:07 AM
The only scopes I buy now that fit my budget are Mueller Scopes whole lotta scope for a decent price.

The caliber choice for me would be the 25-06 or the 25-06 improved
My bullet choice would be 115g Nosler Partition

Bolt action rifle and I'm pretty well set...

March 7, 2011, 01:19 AM
In a "kill for meat to survive" situation I second a good .22lr or .22mag. Cheap ammo, ammo easy to carry (1000rds in the deep front pockets of a pair Carharts is easy), good shot placement at 50yrds will drop a deer, perfect for small game & probably most important, a lot quieter than a 30.06 etc.

March 7, 2011, 11:18 PM
I'm curious how many of those prefering iron sights and claiming ability to kill game at distance have actually made one shot kills with iron sights past 200 yards (even past 100 yards?). Real life, on game not a black bullseye, in field conditions not on a comfortable range with shooting bench or pad, unknown ranges, with the variable of poor light as is common in the morning or evening when game is moving.

I've shot rocks and steel plates to 600 yards and beyond with various iron sights, including with a 1917 among others. Hitting in the field with irons isnt nearly as easy or consistant as with glass. Guys can shoot very well on targets with irons at ridiculess ranges, but targets arent basically camoflaged, and/or moving through brush, trees, bad light etc like living game animals are.

Not saying it can't be done, just wondering if any of those have actually done it. I can hit the 600 yard plate with irons pretty consistanly in decent light, but I can hit it much more regularly with glass under the best of conditions, and I can make a shot with glass when I can't even see the target without the glass.

If I'm looking for meat, I want the best chances of making it. 300 yards with a decent scoped rifle is pretty simple.

March 8, 2011, 12:34 AM
I'm curious how many of those prefering iron sights and claiming ability to kill game at distance have actually made one shot kills with iron sights past 200 yards

This is the internet. You are one of the unfortunate shooters who apparently shoots more in the real world than here in cyberspace. Groups shot by internet shooters do not strictly correspond to the same group sizes shot by shooters confined to only the real world.

In general, to convert an internet group size to a real world group size, you have to multiply the internet group size by 3, and then add back in the 6" flyer that was conveniently excluded.

Here in the virtual world, we also consider there to be no difference in groups sizes when you compare an offhand shot in the rain at dusk on a moving animal to a rested shot under perfect conditions at a stationary target of known range.

Also, we assume that if you have ever done it once at the range, you will be able to do it every time in the field.

Steel Talon
March 8, 2011, 01:40 PM
I'll take my papaws 1917 Enfield 30-06 hand me down. Don't need the scope, I'll stick to the flip up vernier sights marked up to 1600 yards. One shot one kill = ]

Even with good glass, picking out a deer size animal at that distance would be a chore in itself. Much less hit it.... However Billy Dixon abuffalo hunter / scout is credited shooting a mounted Souix Indian at a mile with his Sharps 50.

Buffalo hunters prided themselves with their Sharps 50 for long kill shots to the head and heart but Buff are a 6ft x 9ft animal

March 8, 2011, 05:52 PM
Speculative fantasy thread? Anyway are you a hunter? Speaking as a traditional bowhunter with decades of hunting under my belt, 200 yards on a deer sized animal with or without a scope is going to be LESS common that 20 yards. Id it came down to it, I'd be using whatever I could get the most ammo for. If given unlimited ammo or the opportunity to stock up, the ONLY way to go would be a shotgun with sabots. Where I am anything further than a 75 yard shot is RARE. It is also rare that on any given day, if I have selected my hunting spot carefully I don't have at least a doe come within 50 yards. Usually multiple does at under 20 yards at the very minimum.

Having heart shot decent bucks with my .30-06 at close range I would NEVER do it again if I had my shotgun along. The last one, a small 4 pointer, took one through the heart and then through the liver without more than an inch of flinching. 180 grain Nosler. The third shot hit a far shoulder and he took off. Now I'm sure he woulda keeled over but that sucker was on the side of a 300 yard 40 degree cliff down to a creek and naturally he slid down most of it. My 870 would have pretty much dropped him in his tracks.
Can't comment about what it looks like at 200 yards after the cartridge has time to expand, but I'm looking for close shots where I'm spending a minimum amount of time tracking a deer if it is survival. A .50 caliber hole does that much better at close range than a rifle.
I'd use whatever optics were handy but have backup irons. Iron sights at 50 yards and under are great- in fact a scope sucks in the cold weather, it is constantly fogging.

March 8, 2011, 06:20 PM
Fun question. And in review of all my guns, including my shotguns (which may be the best choice of all), I'd stay with my AR15. I've got a few 22LR scopes if I had to use one, that would be fine. Since Bear isn't in my local hunting needs, a .223 would bring down what I need. light, and accurate. And is still a great gun for personal defense, so I don't see a real down side. I choose my AR15.

March 8, 2011, 06:21 PM
Oh, and since I have about 10,000 rounds already stocked up, the choice was easier. :o)

March 8, 2011, 07:29 PM
This thread was for fun but to also prove a point.

If you want background on me, I also have a rich history of getting close to game animals. I have never used a compound bow for hunting and I come from a state in which I lived in a shotgun zone. I know people can close the gap.

Like I iterated before, the 300 yd range requirement was probably a miscalculation on my part for being a criteria for this rifle. The idea is to get a dead reliable rifle capable of putting food on your table year round so you can eat. Going to the supermarket is not an option.

fireman 9731
March 8, 2011, 11:57 PM
The idea is to get a dead reliable rifle

Thats why I would prefer iron sights over a scope. I make no claims of being a crack shot, but with GOOD iron sights, 300 yards is no problem. Now that the distance requirement has been clarified I think we can justify them even more.

March 9, 2011, 12:28 AM
I'm not much of a hunter, but I am a part-time farmer. Standing without support, I can hit a 5 gallon bucket fairly reliably at 100 yards with a 30-30 lever with iron sights and my 52 year old eyes. A used 336 is cheap to buy and feed, easy to transport, and reliable.

I just haven't found a tasty recipe for 5 gallon buckets yet.

March 9, 2011, 12:41 AM
Scout scoped Mosin 91/30

March 9, 2011, 09:55 AM
You'd still be better off using a .22LR, because most animals available are not deer-sized, but squirrels, snakes, grouse, turkeys, woodchucks, skunks, raccoons, possums, and porqupines. You can also bait deer to come within 50 yards. I realize that it's not legal to shoot some of the above with a .22LR, but if that's all you have to eat...

Regardless, it would be a meager existence without fish and vegetables. As good a shot as I am and with as good equipment as I have, I'd probably starve in less than a month, especially in our Maine winters.

Art Eatman
March 9, 2011, 10:35 AM
Dunno how common it is nowadays, but in the way-back-when it was not uncommon for a wetback ranch hand to "sell" a nice buck to a dude hunter in camp. $5 per point, so there was an incentive program for a poor guy. Generally, the buck had been killed at a stock tank; the hand had sat there all night, waiting, with his .22 rifle.

And the dude had something to take home to show Momma, proving that he hadn't been just drinking whiskey, playing poker, or sneaking off to Boys' Town in Nuevo Laredo. Momma never noticed the bullet hole between the eyes.

Now, I ask you: If a ranch hand can sit there all night, waiting for a deer, why can't anybody else?

Shooting meat is easy, if you get cold-bloodedly and objectively practical.

Seems to me that if one's meat only comes from hunting, forget seasons, time of day and bag limits. There's a reason folks built some sort of cold-storage room, or smoked the meat or made jerky.

Sixty years ago, I was poor. I didn't like poor. Sucked. Once I got loose from Uncle Sugar's Army, a serious part of my deal was to never be poor again. You know what? It really wasn't all that hard, once I figured out that eight hours on salary plus four hours of "side work" made for a fatter billfold.

Don't got no cheap stuff...

March 9, 2011, 01:14 PM
I'm with Art Eatman on this, but don't care about cheap stuff if it's the right time to use toss away items? I'm also one to say if you have to eat, just do what needs do'in.

22LR will put pot meat on the stove, but you'll hunt out the local area pretty fast, so you'll be moving on. And where is this magic place that this scenario is set in? If it's Wyo with big distances and big wind, this whole game just got harder. Out there on the cousins ranch, I guess it would be a 243 minimum?

Over here closer to the coast and looking for pig or deer, I'm guessing the shot gun with sabot slugs will do just fine. That little pump will knock things down in a baited feeding scenario. If it's turkeys or possum, rabbits or ducks, or squirrels - 22LR all the way.

But, once you have the pot meat, what is the rest of the stew going to be made out of? Where you going to get your veggies and bread? Gun's not a help there :(

March 9, 2011, 04:37 PM
I live in country where I could live on wild meat 365days a year if I wanted. I have zero need for a 300yd rifle and thusly, only own one so-capable. In the woods or across pastures, there is little need for shots beyond 100yds and 150 would be considered a long shot. So I will forego the cheap scope and stick to an $80 receiver sight atop the levergun of my choice. Anything from a good pistol cartridge carbine in .357, .38-40, .44-40, .44Mag or .45Colt on up to the intermediate rifle cartridges in the .30-30 class like the .25-35, 7-30, .32Spl, .35Rem, .38-55, .375WCF, .307 and .356. With the .30-30 serving mighty fine in that role. My current favorite is a 1971 Winchester 94 NRA Centennial Rifle (24" model 64 config) with a Lyman 66 receiver sight or a 1901 vintage 1894 .30WCF 20" short rifle with a Redfield receiver sight. Or one of four big bore pistol cartridge leverguns. A peep-sighted boltgun would do as well but no better. Wouldn't need more than a .250Savage, .257Roberts, .260Rem, 6.5x55, 7mm08 or .308.

March 9, 2011, 05:35 PM
I think a TC prohunter (or encore, rossi, H&R, or any other switch barrel single shots) in 06 with a spare barrel in 22mag would be nice (you can use the spare barrel as a crutch, splint, tent stake, etc). Most kills would be made with the 22mag, but the option is still there. Of course both would need iron sights. As far as glass I guess you could get by with the centerline scope and when it breaks there is probably a walmart close by (heck they are just about everywhere now right? and change it out for another (the reason for the iron sights). That is providing we are going cheap...

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