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Paul Smith: Why I shoot the Big Iron

The big bang .300-magnum, second from the left.
The big bang .300-magnum, second from the left.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about getting our rifles sighted on the bull's-eye, oiled up, and ready for moose hunting. The big game season is open in many areas already, and begins here on the Avalon Peninsula Saturday, Oct 7. That’s next weekend.

Hammering nails to store my gear.

I also mentioned a while ago that I’m building a new garage in which to store my excess of stuff. I have too many boats and canoes, kayaks and the like. I love my outdoor stuff, but it takes up lots of space. I either had to build more storage capacity or sell a portion of my stuff. So I’ve been hammering lots of nails.

I’m getting a bit worried now, with moose hunting around the corner and construction in progress. I have to make time this week to burn some serious gunpowder, roof or no roof. Yes indeed, the moose hunt takes priority this time of year. I haven’t shot my rifle since last fall, and I’m not taking my shooting iron in the woods without a preseason range session. Actually, I don’t have a licence this season, but my buddy has one, and he’s going to use my rifle. Anyway, I generally shoot a box of bullets or two from my .300-magnum each year, whether I’m hunting or not.

It’s kind of odd that I shoot a magnum rifle for moose, because in reality I don’t really see the need of all that extra bang and powder burn. So how did I end up owning a Model 700 Remington rifle chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum? It happens that I just can’t pass up a good deal on a gun or fishing rod, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the big green box. Remington packages their guns in green cardboard. Anyway, back in the ’90s Wal-Mart decided to get out of the gun selling business in Carbonear. They sold all they had in stock for half price. You can figure out the rest I’m sure. If they had a similar rifle in 30-06 Springfield I would have bought it instead.

Robert Richards photoThere are so many memories, and the fiberglass stock is great in winter.

I know I’m going to get an inbox full from some folks for uttering negative thoughts about magnum rifles. Some folks love the big guns. The problem is that I’ve never killed a moose with my .300 thunder stick that I couldn’t have shot just as dead with a 30-06, or for that matter the .308 lever gun that I shot my first moose with in 1979. You can only kill an animal so dead. To be fair, the big guns have a slight edge at longer ranges. But the price in powder and deafening bang is steep. All that extra powder burns out barrels much faster. And the mighty recoil could cause some shooters to develop a dreaded flinch. And my hearing has deteriorated.

So why do I continue to shoot .300 magnum. Why not just sell the big gun and buy a sweet-shooting 30-06 or .308. I could I suppose, but I have a lot invested in that Remington, vintage the Wal-Mart super sale. It was a dandy rifle to begin with, brushed stainless steel, and the Model 700 being one of the most reliable and accurate rifle actions ever created on planet Earth. On top of that I did some significant customizing before walking my beauty in the field.

For my off-the-factory floor Remington Model 700 I ordered a handmade fibreglass stock with a quite attractive and functional spider-web finish. The stock is dark green and the webbing black. The texture of the webbing provides secure grip in wet, snowy, or cold conditions.

A rifle’s stock is a much bigger deal than most folks realize. I most definitely don’t like those plastic injection-moulded plastic hollow-sounding stocks, esthetically horrible and functionally marginal. I hate the feel of them in my hands, and their brittle mechanics in freezing conditions has been documented. I’ll write more about this stock business another time. For now, suffice to say, this aftermarket stock cost me a fair chunk of my spare change.

I have a soft spot for Remington.

A rifle’s trigger is a critical element in the accuracy department. There’s not much wrong with a standard Remington trigger, but I got all excited about customizing and swapped it out for a silky smooth and crisp breaking Timney design. I capped the deal off with a Leupold scope and CNC-machined steel mounts. And the whole is much more than the sum of the parts.

I love my unique Remington Model 700. So despite not being thrilled with magnum calibers this shooting iron is a lifelong keeper. Practically speaking, I’d never be able to recoup the money and time I have invested in this moose gun. Plus, this beautiful firearm has so many memories from the woods and barrens melded into its metal and fiber.  And I’m looking forward to getting intimately reacquainted with the big bang and muzzle blast, maybe tomorrow evening.

I’d love to hear about your special moose rifles. Please e-mail me, especially if you are shooting something unique, a caliber or rifle aside of the mainstream. Happy moose hunting to all, magnum shooters, lever gunners, smoke polers, arrow shooters, whatever puts meat in your freezer.

 

Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at flyfishtherock@hotmail.com  or follow him on twitter at @flyfishtherock  

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