The Hunter’s First Rifle

A hunter preparing to take a shot with a rifle
THE HUNTER’S FIRST RIFLE: The Venerable .30-06 Springfield. Photo: Pixabay

This .30 calibre, accepted by the U.S. military, in 1906, is 112 years old and still high on the list as one of the most-versatile hunting cartridges in the world. Probably every huntable species on Earth has been taken with a .30-06 rifle.

In the Yukon, this cartridge meets the minimum standards for hunting wood bison, provided the hunter follows the ammunition regulations. Factory ammunition is available, with bullets from 130 to 220 grains, while the handloader has an even-broader range of bullet weights. Factory loads come with a very broad range of bullet types (shape and construction) to match your preference and are more accurate in your particular rifle. Depending on your choice of ammunition, a standard box of 20 rounds ranges in price from about $30 to about $100, with quality and accuracy increasing with the price. Ammunition is also available around the globe, and lower-priced ammunition allows you to afford to practice. It is important to sight-in and hunt with premium ammunition.

In recent years, the firearm industry has finally produced somewhat-smaller-overall rifles to be used by smaller-framed adults and youths. In prior times, rifles were all made about the same size, to suit the “average” size of shooters. This made them ill-fitting for larger and smaller shooters, which resulted in poor accuracy and often in bruised shoulders and cheeks, from recoil (kick), when the gun was fired (the gun did not fit the shooter). These newer, smaller-fitting rifles have somewhat shorter barrels so that the rifle stays balanced. On some rifles, the buttstock length (length of pull) is adjustable through the use of wafer-like inserts fastened to the rear of the buttstock. Some rifles come with or can be fitted with adjustable-length stocks.

For most shooters, the recoil from a .30-06 is obvious but not painful. If the rifle is not held properly or is ill-fitting, the recoil can be unpleasant. Learning to mount (hold) the rifle properly, altering the stock so it fits, or mounting a recoil pad, can ease that concern.

The .30-06 is so common that all firearm manufacturers produce them in the lower-cost rifles, described above, up to very-expensive, custom-built units at all prices in-between. Probably every business that sells used firearms will have at least one .30-06 rifle on the rack, and ads in newspapers are common. Canadian Access to Firearms is a publication that advertises firearms and accessories for sale.

I would recommend a bolt action, as they are the most common, simpler, easily maintained and likely the safest choice due to its method of operation.

The sights that come on the rifle (front and rear) are adequate and should be practised with before installing optics (scope or red dot). Optics are broken or quit, from time to time, so familiarity with the iron sights will allow you to continue on your hunt.

In closing, a newer cartridge (1956), for the .308 Winchester (WIN, a.k.a 7.62 NATO) is very close in energy to the .30-06 and is as common. A drawback for the .308 WIN. however in the Yukon is that it does not meet the minimum standard for hunting wood bison making the .30-06 the better choice.

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