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  #1  
Old 05-09-2017, 05:10 PM
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I think I've found my soul-mate rifle (LONG)


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I don't know how many rifles a guy has to own around here to call it "a lot," or "many," but relative to my friends and hunting buddies, I own A LOT of guns. I own 7 rifles in one caliber - 30-06 (the GOAT - greatest of all time).

I've got guns that I love so much it's crazy...and for different reasons. My old Handi-Rifle in 45-70 is special because I've killed so darn many deer with it, some in the most exciting scenarios one can imagine. My Colt 1911 is special because my dad gave it to me to commemorate a unique experience in my life. My Model 70 Ranger has a place in my heart because it's the gun I made my best shot on a deer with - 218 yards off-hand through the heart (a shot I only attempted because I'd been practicing over a year for the situation). It's also the first rifle I MADE a shooter with my own amateur gunsmithing skills: free-floating the barrel, multiple attempts at the perfect stock bedding job, and and one exquisite, perfect handload (150 grain Barnes TTSX over 50.5 grains Varget at .065 off the lands, fire-formed neck-sized Rem brass, WLR primer). It was so inaccurate when I bought it I once fired it into the sky...and missed. But after a lot of work it's a consistent 1" performer with its favorite load. I own a 1948 (thanks for dating it for me, Mr. Belk) FN Mauser sporter that's so awesome simply because it's so awesome. "They don't make 'em like that anymore" doesn't apply to anything more aptly than to this masterpiece.

However...even with all those wonderful guns and lifelong memories, until a couple weeks ago I've never owned a gun that felt like it was actually made FOR ME. I'm referring to the feeling that says, "this is one in a million...how did I get so lucky?"

About five years ago I came across a Winchester Model 70 Classic in 30-06 (did I already mention that's my favorite caliber? at a gun shop, and the moment I shouldered it I fell in love. I've owned many Winchesters of various description, pedigree and quality, but there was SOMETHING about this rifle that just spoke to me. I almost bought it, until the guy working there told me he'd sell it at a certain price "just for you." He even whispered it and looked around like he was making sure no one else in the world could here our amazing little secret.

I don't like that, especially considering the man didn't even know my name and I'd never purchased anything from that store. I'd much rather a guy say, "the price is X...for you and everybody else. If you want a brother-in-law deal then go marry my sister." His little slimy used-car (actually, a good used-car salesman wouldn't go near that burned-out BS line in a million years) technique cost him a sale. But I was hooked. Ever since that day I've wanted a M70 Classic in 30-06.

Well, two weeks ago I found THE ONE. Not only is it drop-dead gorgeous and in like-new condition, but everything about it fits me like I'm the only person who was every supposed to own it. I know that sounds dramatic and perhaps a little ridiculous, but it's true. When I shoulder it and lock in on a target off-hand it wants to just stay there - perfectly balanced for me. And, get this: It might well turn out to be the most accurate rifle I own. I've done NOTHING in the way of accuracy improvement. I simply loaded up some rounds because I just had to shoot it last week, after a full week of rain. I selected a 165-grain Speer (a great bullet but almost never the most accurate) and a mid-range charge of AA4350. The OAL is just my normal starting point. In other words, gun out of the box, pretty much, and a random 165 grain load. And the included target is the result - my first 5-shot group with the rifle. That's a legit, no BS MOA 5-shot group. And the wide shots were 1 and 2, as I was adjusting to the trigger. What are the chances of a gun that fits someone so perfectly also being especially accurate?

I realize I sound like a kid at Christmas, but in fact that's exactly how I feel! It's not like it's some high-dollar custom job, made in an exotic caliber by a famous gunsmith with a 2-year waiting list. It's a relatively common New Haven Winchester Classic in the most common caliber around. In that regard it's pretty ho-hum. But, we all know when a gun has that special X factor - that SOMETHING indescribable...that "greater than the sum of its parts" thing. It's really cool when it happens.
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I think I've found my soul-mate rifle (LONG)-06-classic2.jpg   I think I've found my soul-mate rifle (LONG)-06-classic3.jpg   I think I've found my soul-mate rifle (LONG)-06-classic5.jpg   I think I've found my soul-mate rifle (LONG)-classic-06-target2-ed.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2017, 05:49 PM
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Congratulations! That is a beautiful gun. I had one very similar, and it was a great shooter, too, with Nosler 165's. ( I sold it to a friend who wanted a .30-'06) Happy Hunting!
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2017, 05:49 PM
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Congratulations! Beautiful rifle and a very good group.
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:22 PM
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One 30-06 you really 'need' is one so old it's marked .30 U.S.Gov '06 on its half octagon, half round, fully ribbed barrel with the rare Lyman #35 peep sight. Let me know if you want pictures.
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  #5  
Old 05-09-2017, 07:29 PM
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I know exactly how you feel. One July day in 2008, I went into Cabelas in Hamburg Pa and impulse bought a 50 caliber TC Black Diamond XR. Got the last walnut stock TC said they had to replace the Tupperware she came with. I mounted a Savage #10 aperture sight and there you have it.
Sold her off to pay back a friend. Happily she never left that shop and the owner ( God bless you Alan) sold her back to me for what he paid me for her 9 months earlier. 9 years 9 deer and so many good memories. Much worn stock finish and blueing. Her priming port is nicely silvering and her muzzle , pewter from muzzleblast.
I call her " Herself"
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  #6  
Old 05-10-2017, 04:57 AM
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Congratulations on finding that fine rifle! I can certainly understand your affinity towards the versatile 30/06. While I use a lot of other calibers, the venerable '06 has always facinated me as well.

I collected several years ago some very nice examples in 30/06; Browning Custom Trophy, Winchester Super Grade, Weatherby MKV Lightweight, NIB BAR GRII from 1969 and another from 1968 among them.

One of my most cherished rifles is a M70 Featherweight used by my Dad for many years. Enjoy that fine new rifle!
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  #7  
Old 05-10-2017, 05:31 AM
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I have such a rifle. Mine is an Abolt stainless stalker in .25-06.
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  #8  
Old 05-10-2017, 02:20 PM
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M70 06

I know exactly how you feel about your 30-06. Mine is not as pretty BUT I would not trade or sell it for anything. Crazy accurate with factory 165 gr ammo & 24 one shot kills. The rifle is a gift from my sons.

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  #9  
Old 05-11-2017, 09:41 PM
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jakesnake666,

We're two of a kind.

I like all guns, but I'm a dedicated rifle aficionado. I'm a hunter.

We all have our preferences. What's right for one hunter might be all wrong for another. I'd be awfully darn pretentious to rank rifles. It'd be nothing more than opinion.

I agree with you 100% percent about the '06. The real reality is no other North American big game cartridge was needed after the US Army went with the '06. It has killed everything on our planet, including elephants. All lot of cartridges have disappeared while the '06 has never lost an inch. It works better that advertised, and it will kill big game very dead. There's only one degree of dead, and that's dead.

One should feel completely comfortable with one's rifle. Comfort births confidence. Confidence kills big game. Another reality: an '06 will kill just as dead as a .300 Rem Ultra Mag as long a bullets fired from it destroy equipment necessary for topside oxygenated blood flow.

I own a Classic Featherweight. It's a fantastic gun. It'll shoot sub-MOA all day long with factory ammo.

My dad used to tell me about Sako craftsmanship. He also used to tell me that I was thick headed. Some 20 years ago I bought a Sako AV Classic in 7MM Rem Mag. My dad was right. It's a beautifully crafted rifle that'll shoot .25" groups at a hundred all day long with hunting ammo. I'm so in love with that rifle that I've bought a Sako AV Classic in .270 Win. It'll shoot .25" at a hundred all day log, too. with hunting ammo.

BTW, there ain't spittin' difference between the .280 Rem and the 7MM Rem Mag.

The rub is that my 43+ year old Model 700 chambered in .270 Win is just as accurate. I love 'em all. Were I to sell one, it'd be my CRF Featherweight.

Brand is preference. What one hunter likes won't work for another hunter. We have to go with what works best for us. If a century old Led Enfield chambered for .303 British works for a hunter who always manages to apply tags to big game, I'd call his rifle excellent.

Because my 43+ year-old Model 700 is my lightest big game rifle, from here on out it will be my primary hunting rifle. Nope. I ain't selling My Sakos. A wise man once told me to never sell a rifle that's a shooter.

BTW, when I was a young'un, I went with a .270 Win because the '06 was thought to be too much gun for a young hunter.

I hope that your new rifle brings you many, many years of cherished hunting memories.

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Old 05-11-2017, 10:01 PM
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I have a stainless Ruger #1A in 6.555 that I feel the same way about.
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  #11  
Old 05-12-2017, 02:23 AM
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I love the enthusiasm!

Congrats on finding a rifle that is very special to you. In this day of plastic and CNC machining, I fear many younger shooters will never experience what you expressed so eloquently. It is my feeling that only walnut and deep, deep bluing can evoke the kind of reverence your words describe. That rifle is truly something to behold and when it just so happens to print MOA with an ordinary bullet and the first charge weight you try...well, that's some delicious icing on the cake, isn't it?!

Mine is similar to yours; a 1965 Model 70 in 225 Winchester. I don't consider myself a materialistic person, but I have to confess that a few of the guns I own are "special", to me. You could crush every car I have, sink my boat out at the end of the harbor and burn my house to the ground...but please don't let any harm befall my loved ones, and let me grab about half a dozen guns out of the safe first!
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:00 AM
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Wow that's a beautiful rifle Jake. I feel a proposal is in order.
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  #13  
Old 05-18-2017, 03:14 PM
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Feel that way about a FN Deluxe in .30-06 I picked up a few years back. Similar accuracy, balance.
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Old 05-19-2017, 08:46 AM
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I know the feeling as one day I was cleaning one of my favorite rifles and my wife happened to notice the infinite care I was giving it. I made a comment to her, as she was looking my way, "Isn't she beautiful?" Without hesitation she retorted, "I wish you felt like that about me!" Needless to say I was on the couch that night!
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