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Preferred method of shooting a bolt gun left-handed?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Skribs, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. Skribs

    Skribs Mentor

    Oct 29, 2010
    Lakewood, Washington
    As far as I can tell, there are three methods you can use to shoot a bolt gun left-handed, and not wanting to opt for any of these (or seeing a personal need for a bolt gun) I've decided not to get one. However, I saw some shinies, and it got me wondering...anyway, the three methods I can think of are:

    1) Buy a left-handed gun.
    2) Cycle the bolt over-handed by reaching over the bolt with your left hand.
    3) Cycle the bolt with your right hand.

    #1 would be the best for ME, but it would be the worst for going shooting with my right-handed friends and family.
    #2 is I believe what a lot of people say they do, but since I am RH/LE, and that method is awkward to begin with, I'm not too sure that's a good option.
    #3 would be the easiest for me, but I feel unless I'm shooting from a bipod or rest, it would be very awkward due to the barrel being heavy and unsupported.
  2. thunder173

    thunder173 Active Member

    Jul 25, 2007
    Upper Peninsula, Michigan
    I have been using option # 3,...running the bolt with my right hand,....all my life. I am 62 now. Tried a left hand gun a few times. Never could take to it.
  3. desidog

    desidog Senior Member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Get yourself a great left-handed bolt rifle set up for just you, and a cheap right handed bolt rifle for your shooting compadres.

    I have a LH Montana Rifle Co. M-99 - the only truly custom-made gun in my locker...i don't share it at all often.... and a 91/30 Mosin i let other folks use all the time.

    Or just get a semi-auto, because this time next year that might not be an option...
  4. Abel

    Abel Senior Member

    Jan 30, 2010
    Eastern CONUS
    I do #3. If I were into shooting a lot of rounds, I would get a lefty. But typically, it's a one shot deal.
  5. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Participating Member

    Sep 30, 2009
    I'm dominantly right handed (write, draw, anything with fine motor skills, etc with my right). However, I can't shoulder a gun right handed. It just feels wrong. I'm a total lefty. Pistols and bows I can manipulate right or left with similar results. Long arms and crossbows have to come to my left shoulder.

    Most of the time, I just reach over if I don't want to break my stance. If I'm just shooting to shoot, I fire a round then bring the gun down to a neutral position to work the bolt with my right hand and re-shoulder.

    It depends on the rifle too. A silky smooth bolt gun is way easier to manipulate than my 91/30. I've actually cut myself several times on the action of my Mosin due to the sharp edges and reaching over with my somewhat clumsy left hand.

    I'm actually thinking about just saving my money and picking up a single shot 30-06 and putting some good irons on it. No goofing with the bolt, caliber is easy to find from cheap plinker to critter-getter. Single shot would slow down my shooting. Just do something simple and fun while all this gun drama blows over. I already have a nice lefty AR, so I'm happy to just sit out on that mess until .223 become available at a good price again.
  6. Reloadron
    • Contributing Member

    Reloadron Mentor

    Jul 6, 2012
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
    That would be me also right down to the 62. Next month 63! :)

    I do have a single left handed Ruger bolt gun in 7mm Remington Magnum but for me shooting a right hand bolt gun left handed just comes natural after all the years. No thought at all involved.

  7. rugerdude

    rugerdude Active Member

    Aug 14, 2004
    Cycle the bolt with your right hand. reaching over the top is going to be next to impossible with any kind of large-ish scope. It is awkward and inefficient while maintaining a cheek weld.

    Off of a rest or bipod you are actually at an advantage with a right-handed gun because you can maintain your sights/scope on target (provided the bolt throw is short enough i.e. short-action rem 700), as well as your firing grip while cycling the bolt.

    If supporting the rifle from the rear end for a couple of seconds while cycling the bolt is a big issue, then perhaps a lighter rifle is in order. If that still will not solve the issue to a satisfactory extent, then a left handed bolt or semi-auto is the way to go.
  8. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Mentor

    Jan 6, 2011
    Hastings, Michigan
    Shooting off sandbags or a bipod, #3 is what I have been doing.

    Shooting offhand, #2.

    Selling my Right handed bolt action so I can start #1.
  9. littlelefty

    littlelefty Member

    Nov 16, 2005
    Method #3 works pretty well and I don't notice any real burden in the heft or teeter totter affect with my left hand being away from center of gravity, on the grip while cycling the bolt with my right hand.

    I do experience the bolt hitting my left hand on rifles that don't have enough (for me) drop at comb (is that the right term?). I like youth/short LOP rifles and noticed this issue on a Marlin youth bolt gun that I held at a LGS.

    Then there's my Remmy 788 LH bolt - method #1 - no issues.

    And while method #2 looks really cool on, say Private Ryan, it's terribly awkward for me.
  10. cbmax

    cbmax Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    I am right handed but left eye dominate. The result is that I shoot rifles, crossbows and compound bows left handed. I shoot pistols right handed.

    I use my right hand to cycle the bolt on my right handed rifles. I think I am probably faster than most right handed shooters using a right handed rifle because I never have to take my trigger finger out of the proximity of the trigger.

    The key to this is that you have to be dexterous with our right hand. In actuality, I think my eye dominance issue has made me somewhat ambidextrous.

    In a single shot bolt action rifle, one of my favorite set ups is right handed bolt with left side load / ejection. Check out some of the Savage rifles that have this feature.

    Practice operating your right handed bolt action rifle using your right hand to manipulate the bolt. I bet with practice, you can develop the necessary motor skills to make this work.

  11. BCCL

    BCCL Participating Member

    Feb 3, 2009
    So. Illinois
    I did #3 until I was 40, and then my niece had a little boy that's a fellow "southpaw" like his ol' uncle, so I finally broke down and ordered me a left handed bolt, since I have someone to start him out with one. (no kids of my own)

    His dad had a Savage MII right handed bolt, so I got the leftie version. :)

    It was a struggle after all those years of using right hand guns, to retrain myself. :)
  12. fiddleharp

    fiddleharp Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    Crackerville, Florida
    Every time this subject comes up on a shooting forum there will be someone who states that "Actually, for benchrest, a lefthanded shooter with a righthanded rifle working the bolt with his right hand has an advantage over righthanders because he doesn't have to move his trigger hand... yada, yada, yada".
    And, for the zillionth time, I ask the rhetorical question:
    If this is such a terrific shooting technique, why don't righthanded benchrest competitors in droves demand the manufacture of lefthanded bolt-action rifles?
  13. helotaxi

    helotaxi Senior Member

    May 23, 2009
    Because in most cases they've never thought to try it out and realize how good it is. Have you? For pure "benchrest" it doesn't matter one whit anyway. For a more "tactical" type setup it has value. The big difference between the right-handed shooter and the left handed shooter is that the left-handed shooter has been adapting to things that are built wrong for them in the first place and as such is a bit more open to different techniques. Also, it's very easy for a lefty to find a right handed rifle whereas it is a great deal more difficult for a righty to find a left handed rifle to try out and realize that from a supported position is actually *is* more ergonomic...but only from a supported position. As soon as you have to shoot off-hand all bets are off which is why my hunting rifles are left-handed.

    The Savage dual port target action is pretty close to this concept. The bolt is still on the right side but the rifle loads from the left, you know, in front of the shooter's face where he can actually see what's going on. They also make a left port target action.
  14. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Participating Member

    Jul 1, 2005
    I'm an over-the-top-with-the-left shooter. Works fine with me.
  15. eastbank

    eastbank Senior Member

    Jul 30, 2009
    buy a rem pump or a browning lever action. eastbank.
  16. Skyshot

    Skyshot Active Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    As a southpaw myself, most of the dozen or so bolt guns I own are righthanded and haven't given it much thought. In forty plus years of big game hunting, I can only remember a couple of times that required a fast second follow-up shot. Both times using my right hand to cycle the bolt caused me no problems.
  17. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Northern KY
    I do #1 now but I used to do #2 until I got my first left handed rifle. I'm gradually trading my commercial RH guns for LH. Obviously my milsurp 98 Mauser and 03A3 don't have LH versions so I guess I'm stuck with them :)
  18. KC&97TA

    KC&97TA Active Member

    Jul 17, 2005
    I have several right handed friends who own left handed bolt guns, they cycle the bolt with the 'fore hand', it would be no different for a left handed shooter on a right handed gun to cycle with his right hand.

    *** right, why would a right handed guy buy a left handed bolt gun... simple, you don't break cheek weld / eye relief and keep your shooting hand on the trigger for follow up shots.
  19. jeepnik

    jeepnik Participating Member

    Sep 25, 2011
    Unless you are into old military rifles, don't buy into the right handed BS that "You don't need a left handed gun".

    There are simply too many good and equally priced left handed bolt rifles not to have one.

    But, for as long as their have been firearms, the majority (right handed shooters) have fed southpaws the above BS. I wonder just how the right handed shooters would feel if the majority of the firearms made today were for lefties?
  20. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Bakersfield, California
    get a lh bolt gun. your friends can learn to deal with it.

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