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are autoloaders a thing of the past now?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by smartshot, Nov 9, 2010.

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  1. smartshot

    smartshot Member

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    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.
     
  2. bobbo

    bobbo Member.

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    Two letters: AR.
    'nuff said.
     
  3. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    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?
     
  4. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus Member

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    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...
     
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    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.
     
  6. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    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.
     
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    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.
     
  8. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    I agree with (1) but disagree with (2)
     
  9. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    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.
     
  10. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus Member

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    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.
     
  11. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    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. :(
     
  12. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    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.
     
  13. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus Member

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    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
     
  14. sansone

    sansone Member

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    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
     
  15. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    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.
     
  16. Mr_Pale_Horse

    Mr_Pale_Horse Member

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    In the U.S. maybe; bolt followed by break open actions dominated the game fields elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  17. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    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.
     
  18. Girodin

    Girodin Member

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    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
     
  19. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    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.
     
  20. chas08

    chas08 Member

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    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.
     
  21. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    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.
     
  22. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    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.
     
  23. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    Kaferhaus: !agree with you 100%!
     
  24. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.
     
  25. Mike J

    Mike J Member

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    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.
     
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