Why not more pump action rifles/historically?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Agsalaska, Nov 9, 2021.

  1. Agsalaska

    Agsalaska Member

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    First, I understand modern sporting rifles have taken over. I am speaking more historically.

    My 10 year old son was taking his hunter education course this weekend and he noticed that they did not cover pump action rifles, only bolt, semi, falling block, and lever. And his dad(me) generally hunts with a 760.

    As far as I know Remington was the only major manufacturer that produced pump action rifles for any length of time with the 14/141 thru the 760/7600 and a couple of others in there. I personally think the 760 was the high point and I own three- 30-06 which I use every year, a .257 Roberts and a .270 which my in law uses every year. But that's it as far as I know.

    My question is why and was my answer correct.

    I told him:
    1. that the action would not support magnum cartridges. I am assuming this is true since the 760 was never produced in a magnum round
    2. You lose your line of sight when working the action. I am left handed so that's an issue with RH bolts too. I also think that's an issue with lever actions as well for most shooters.
    3. And the tendency to copy military firearms. The military never adopted a pump rifle.
    Was I right? I personally love the 760 and think it is superior, for me, than any other rifle that chambers traditional deer rifle type cartridges. I almost exclusively shoot off handed and love it(I also hunt with a Ruger No1 in .257 Robert because of how well it is balanced for offhanded shooting. But that's for a different thread.)

    Thanks and appreciate the responses.
     
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  2. toivo

    toivo Member

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    Don't know much about it, but I'm told the military never adopted them because it's hard to cycle the action when shooting prone. Maybe that limited their overall appeal?
     
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  3. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Subjective biases can be blinding.

    It’s great that you like your slide action rifles, but there’s really no objective superiority to be had for the action type.

    I don’t believe #2 is applicable as claimed for bolt or lever action rifles, but is moreso apt for slide action rifles.

    #1 likely is not true, as I doubt there is anything inherent to the slide action design which would allow 308win pressures but not 300wm. Maybe it’s true to say the specific 760 action couldn’t be made to handle magnum cartridges, but I don’t believe it would be impossible to build a magnum slide action.

    #3 isn’t as influential as you’re giving it credit for this type of firearm in the modern market. For example, the lever action rifle had long been unpopular in the civilian market, and LONGER since displaced in military application, but became a huge hit again among civilians in the ‘70s, really for no objective reason at all. For as long as most of the gun buying public has been alive, American military issue rifles have been semiauto or select fire weapons, so most folks which do aren’t buying Winchester ‘73s because they were once a military issue firearm - those folks have some other reason for that purchase.
     
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  4. Phaedrus/69

    Phaedrus/69 Member

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    I'm not a big fan of pumps or levers but I'd love a Timberwolf .44 Mag!
     
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  5. hq

    hq Member

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    Browning Pump Rifle (BPR) was and Krieghoff Semprio still is available in .300WM, among others, so there's nothing inherently prohibitive in pump action against magnum calibers.

    Personally I'm quite fond of my Remington 7600 for a number of reasons but I can also understand why pump action has never gained more popularity. Artificial regulations aside, they don't offer anything semi auto doesn't and if some of the red tape didn't exist in places I hunt at least occasionally (Hungary, Spain, some countries in Africa), I'd have chosen 7400 or 750 instead.

    Especially in driven wild boar hunts having rapid multiple follow-up shot capability legally is an advantage. The 7600 in .35 Whelen ticks all boxes to make that happen.
     
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  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    For a moment I'll lump lever and pump actions together. Compared to a bolt rifle pumps and levers are heavier, and more expensive all things being equal. I know most people think of lever actions as lightweight guns, but placing them on some scales can be educational.

    You can put together a bolt gun including a scope that will weigh 5.5-6 lb. A typical Winchester 30-30 is going to be 6.5lbs and depending on the exact configuration a Marlin 30-30 can weigh 7.5 lbs. And that is with no scope. Start adding a scope to lever guns and you can easily get to 8-9 lbs. Pump actions will be even heavier, and neither pump nor lever actions will match a bolt guns accuracy.

    Reliability:

    Pump action shotguns have a well deserved reputation for reliability. But rifle cartridges operate at much higher chamber pressures and pump action rifles have a much weaker extraction system than bolt guns. A slightly over pressure cartridge, or a dirty chamber can mean a piece of brass stuck in the chamber. With low pressure shot gun shells this is never an issue.

    Rate of fire:

    This is where pump actions are supposed to shine. For someone practiced shooting a pump they can be almost as fast as a semi-auto. A good bit faster than a lever or bolt action. But that only applies if you're not trying to hit anything. I've done some testing where I fired 3 shots as fast as possible from various action types. Semi-autos were the fastest by a wide margin, followed by the pump, lever, then bolt action in that order.

    BUT.... When I placed a target on the line at 50 yards and added the requirement that all 3 shots had to hit a 10" paper plate the semi-auto was the only one that was significantly faster. The recoil from the pump, lever, and bolt action pulled the sights off the target on all of them allowing time to work the action. By the time I was able to get the sights back on the target another round had been chambered. The times were virtually the same for all of them with only .2-.3 second's difference over 3 shots.

    Firing from supported positions:

    Any advantage a pump has in rate of fire only applies to offhand shooting. Most shooters if given the option will choose to use some sort or rest to steady a rifle when taking a shot. When fired from prone, or any other supported position pumps and levers are the slowest actions for repeat shots. In this case semi-autos and bolt guns are the fastest.

    This is a big reason why the military never considered either pump or lever actions. In order to fire repeat shots soldiers would have to expose themselves to enemy fire in order to chamber the next round. A bolt rifle or semi-auto can be used prone or from behind cover much easier than pumps or levers.

    From a practical perspective pump rifles are a better option than lever actions. But history and nostalgia mean lever actions will always be more popular.
     
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  7. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I think the pump rifle has always been a niche market. Through the 1950s, the Win 94 and other levers dominated the "woods rifle" market. Around that time, 2 things happened. Semi autos became less of a rich man's curiosity that was too heavy, awkward and unreliable for a serious deer gun, and more of a reliable, svelte, suitable rifle for tight cover hunting. Around the same time, many of the "bird" hunting areas started implementing shotgun only regulations. Given those 2 factors, after the 1950s, the guy who wanted a fast handling woods rifle had some quality semi autos to choose from. The guy who might have wanted a pump action as he dearly loved his pump shotguns likely now lived in a shotgun zone. I do now hunt with a slide action in the woods. We'll see how it goes. So far I find it light and fast handling, and the accuracy was there at the range. I just think the cult of the lever and the allure of the semi auto edged them out in the market.
     
  8. JDinFbg

    JDinFbg Member

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    The OP posed an interesting question, and I do not have an answer. Pump actions seem to be (historically) prevalent in the 22 rimfire and shotgun arenas, but not in the centerfire rifle cartridge domain. They do equally support both LH and RH shooters, other than a LH shooter may get a case back in the face where the pump ejects to the right (but that could also be said about semi-autos and lever guns that eject on the right). Maybe a poll of LH versus RH shooters and whether they have a pump centerfire rifle would be telling. That could help explain whether there is a niche market to which Random 8 opined.
     
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  9. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Like Phaedrus... I'd like a Timberwolf, but make mine in 357... or any other maker that comes up with a reasonably priced pistol cartridge pump action carbine with some punch downrange... but then - I'm not a hunter (except for two legged critters... and I'm retired from that world...).
     
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  10. dh1633pm
    • Contributing Member

    dh1633pm Contributing Member

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    I like my dad's pump Remington and pump Winchester .22 rifles. I made the mistake of getting a Henry. While they cycle easy with little force, the Henry cycles harder with lots of force needed so it sits. I was spoiled I guess.

    I think pumps can be very fast. Would love one in 45 Colt. Its on the wish list. Growing up my dad had a Remington pump I think that was in 308. He got rid of it years ago.
     
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  11. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I never had one, but I think a good application for one would be bear hunting over bait with something like a 1-4x scope with illuminated reticle.
     
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  12. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I have a 141 in 35 Remington and my dad has a 760 in 243 that he quite likes. The 141 and it’s model 14 predecessor were tilting bolt actions with a smallish locking surface similar to an Ithaca shotgun so probably not capable of handling a ton of pressure and it offers almost no primary extraction, so it’s not the smoothest action in the world, you have to be pretty rough with it to cycle it due to having no mechanical advantage and mine kind of mangles up the brass. In comparison to the marlin and winchester lever guns which were its main competitors it just doesn’t feel as smooth or refined of a rifle and feels kind of fat in the hands. They are also a decently complex rifle with the tube and cartridge elevator contraption cycling back and forth.

    Those issues were pretty much solved with the 760 by going to a rotating multi lug bolt so you get some mechanical advantage and primary extraction and a box magazine for smooth feeding and spitzer bullets. By that time though their main competitors were bolt actions. To me a bolt action is a lot simpler rifle to use and clean and doesn’t have the forend rattling around. And of course there is the long held belief that a semi auto or pump is not as accurate as a bolt action which is kind of a half truth.

    The 760 and 7600 seam to have been very popular around here in the 70’s and 80’s when deer drives were a widespread norm. I see a decent amount of them along with a lot of the semi autos in pawn shops, typically in rather poor condition with bores that have never been cleaned. I think the nail in the coffin for them was the shift toward people hunting in deer stands instead of on foot.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
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  13. Seedy Character

    Seedy Character Member

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    The Rem pumps are great rifles.
    Most often overlooked, if even seen.
    Nothing to really set apart, except being a pump.
    Their market seems to be more in the NorthEast. My guess is woods stalking, off hand shooting and calibers available vs lever guns.

    I own semi, bolt, lever, and pump. Love them ALL. I want a #1 or other single shot, falling block, just to round out.

    The ONE consistencey, I have found, those who use pumps, love them. The center fire, pump rifle is the 16ga of rifles.
     
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  14. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    I think speed of follow-ups is there with lower recoil, but as the power increases, offhand, recoil just shoves you off the target. I'm not convinced there is a practical advantage for follow-up shots over other actions in the .30-06ish range.

    Beyond that, as far as deer rifle go, there aren't any shining advantages of the pump. If you spend time on or in vehicles, the detachable magazine is nice, and they are great for lefties. But for some reason, pump guns are more of an Eastern woods thing, while levers seem to have a history everywhere.

    I had a 760 that shot great and never gave me issues, but I never used it. Sold it so I could buy a bolt action. Go figure...
     
  15. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    There was a time when Pennsylvania did not allow semi auto rifles for deer hunting so that was a big part of the pump action attraction I think.
     
  16. 1eyeedshooter

    1eyeedshooter Member

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    Well hunting all my life in Michigan we're lever gun were king and still are in some places, i see a lot of hunters using pump guns go to a public sight in day and you see many hunters still use them !!
     
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  17. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    Fashion and tradition might have as much influence on this sort of choice as practicality.

    Consider the British tradition of using paired, ruinously expensive SxS double shotguns from a stand with a servant to act as loader -- where a magazine pump-action or autoloader would also do the job and for far less money.
     
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  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    That is only because "most shooters" don't learn and practice rapid fire techniques with any manually operated rifle. Frex, once upon a time, a pump shotgun was considered good for Skeet doubles. Nowadays you have to have an O/U or at least an automatic.
    The USAMU tried to game ISU Running Deer with a pump rifle, the Olde Europeans just practiced with Mausers.

    I think it was an H. Rider Haggard character who said
    They are shooting automatics. Must be Belgians.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
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  19. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    The 760/7600 pump works for left handed people, the safety was easily changed. I find recovery time after 30-06 recoil is fast, while loading the next round. The Rem 7600 can be as accurate as any off the shelf bolt action.

    Auction prices were stuck at $350 for years. The Rems have just taken a big jump in prices.

    In Pennsylvania, no semi-auto rifles for deer or bear season, as said above. Semi-Auto shotguns are ok.

    I remember seeing this back in the 1950s. 12499689_3.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
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  20. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Colt Lightnings were another one, though pistol friendly calibers only. The CASS crowd has enough interest in them that replicas are made.

    In a Minnesota deer camp up until 90's it was de rigueur for at lest one hunter to have a Rem. 14 or 141.

    In this photo SWMBO got for me at an antique store, this deer camp in WI has a 14 or 141, an 8 or 81, and 2 M1907 Win. SLRs. The one on the right you can see the 'pushrod'.

    Deer camp.jpg
    The original is kind of grainy, this is the best my phone cam could get.


    Actually, one did, as a standard substitute. (The Russian Imperial Army, the rifle, Win. M1895) Win. levers of all the actions saw limited use in military actions through the mid 1800's (M1866, with a IIlinois militia unit in the Civil War) to WWI. (The M1895, as well as M1892 & 1894 as a third-echelon issue in several armies.) Levers can be fired prone without exposing more than when firing simply with a slight roll to the left (or right for a LH shooter) and tipping the rifle 90 degrees, working the action thus. In trench warfare, the M1895 wouldn't be harder to work than a bolt.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
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  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    There was a large frame Colt from .38-56 to .50-95. Not many were made, though. And I gather it was a BIG gun sort of like 1876 Winchester.
     
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  22. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Thank You! :) Yes, the Express models, forgot about those.
     
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  23. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I was looking for a 35 Remington 760 on gunbroker the other day and noticed the prices on 760’s and 7600’s seem to have doubled
     
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  24. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    When I shot sporting clays in high school I figured out if I preloaded back on the forend on my bps that it would practically auto eject as soon as it unlocked after firing and I would get just a hair more time on the second clay. Quite a few people came up and asked how I was doing that.
     
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  25. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    Or any woods/timber big game.

    While stationed at Ft. Lewis, I saw the coolest, most practical pump ever that was built for timber elk hunting at a local gun show. Someone had taken a 760 in .30-06, bored it out to .35Whelen, cut the barrel down to 20", added synthetic stock and forearm, a 1-4X Leupold in QD mounts and a receiver sight. To top it off the gun was hard chromed with a brushed satin finished.

    Unfortunately I was broke and had just ordered my Rem M7 in .350 for a timber elk rifle. It really, really, was a task oriented set up, perfect for the pacific north wet....
     
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