When I wrote Down the Practical Hole, I had no intention of it leading to additional articles on the topic, but the responses have been both amusing and bemusing, and I am thus prompted to write at least Part 2. Whether or not there will be a Part 3 will depend upon whether or not I move forward in this line or if I simply accept my previous conclusion and purchase an appropriate AR-upper.
I specifically didn’t outline my preferred specifications as I knew I was posting the piece on the interweb and that there were would be no shortage of people willing to tell me that I was wrong about what I want in my rifle.
I’m not trying to pick a rifle for anyone else. I’m picking a rifle for me, and I don’t imagine myself to be Jeff Cooper. As I am not trying to convince anyone of anything here, I won’t argue my specifications.
At this point, I want to thank Erik Lund for patiently enduring my barrage of phone calls and text messages as we painstakingly evaluated options. Erik has been extremely generous with his time and expertise for as long as I have known him.
I do appreciate the many well-intentioned suggestions of “Have you looked at the XYZ rifle?”, but when I stated that I studied the current offerings and found none to my liking I must not have been clear because what I meant was that I had studied the current offerings and found none to my liking.
Here we go:
First, let’s dispense with the caliber discussion. I wanted a round capable of taking hog and deer sized game at 300 yards, perhaps 400. Erik is quite fond of the 6.5 Grendel; so, I looked at several options in that round. Quite frankly, if the Ruger American Ranch were available in 6.5 Grendel, the search would have started and stopped there. Yes, I know they offer it in other configurations of the American, but none are to my liking. As I wrote in the original piece, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money and effort on mods.
I also considered 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5CM henceforth) and the venerable .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO. The plus for 7.62 NATO is the availability of fodder ammo for practicing the practical rifle techniques; however, ultimately I decided on 6.5CM as it will perform as desired, but it generates less recoil than 7.62 NATO. Plus, it’s a cartridge that is on the rise, and it has staying power in the market. Again, this is my rifle. If you prefer 7.62 NATO, good for you.
The choice to go with 6.5CM knocked the Ruger and Savage Scout rifles out of contention. Both are fine rifles, and I was (and still am) very tempted by them. I also don’t want a forward mounted scope. I am aware that the Ruger will accept a traditionally mounted scope; however, this would mean giving up the rear sight, and while iron sights weren’t an absolute requirement of mine, I just don’t like the idea of removing them.
Note: Dr. Sherman House and I tossed around the idea of a forward mounted red dot paired with a magnifier in a flip mount. Ultimately, we concluded that eye relief on the magnifier would be problematic if using the forward rail. In a traditional rail setup, a variable power scope with a true 1x power would accomplish the same thing as the magnifier and red dot; so, why bother (he typed rhetorically)?
Now, let’s move on to my specs:
- 16-inch, threaded barrel (18 would be acceptable but NO longer)
- Length of pull NO longer than 13-inches
- Accepts a common magazine such as an AICS pattern mag or a PMAG
- Traditional scope location mount/rail
- Strongly preferred: tang safety
- Somewhat preferred: iron sights
Again, I am not trying to convince anyone of the merits of the listed criteria. I have reasons for each of them. For instance, the shorter stock makes it easier to mount the rifle centerline and to get into other-than-standing firing positions as well as maneuvering in and out of vehicles or through buildings, and it helps if wearing a thick coat or body armor. You may have noted that the stock on the levergun I’m holding in the original piece is so shortened. It’s actually around 12.5. I run my shotgun stocks at 12.5 as well.
I am fully aware that rifles can be modified to meet the above-listed criteria. I’m also aware that each modification has an associated cost.