In almost any hunting situation, especially where adverse weather, or a big money hunt is on the line, I'll take the bolt action every time. The autos, as good as they are, have a lot more ways to not work at the moment of truth. Auto rifles are typically not as accurate and heavier than their bolt action counterparts also. I know there are BAR's that are very accurate, but I'll put my money on the bolt gun anyday out of these two choices. The one upside to the auto is for recoil sensitive shooers, being that they are heavier and gas operated, they can be more comfortable to shoot. I don't put much stock in that because you typically have to carry it alot more than shoot it in a field situation.
On a matter of responsible hunting, I also believe that the auto can subconciously influence SOME hunters to not put the emphasis on the first shot that is mandatory for any ethical hunter.
Nice as BAR's are, I'm still of the old school of thought... "One Shot, One Kill."
It's all personal choice, but I'll leave the autoloaders to paper-punching, jack-rabbit hunting and perhaps prarie dog elimination, but not for big game. Not condemming those that use and enjoy them, it's just not my cup-of-tea when hunting big game.
I assume you intent is for a big game rifle So, from my "For What It's Worth" Department, here are a few points to ponder.
I'm sure everyone has been introduced to Murphy's Law. It states, " If anything can go wrong, It will." Now if Mr. Murphy hasn't visited you in the past, I'm sure he will in the future.
Which leads me the acronym of K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid.
This practice is highly benificial in reducing the amount of things that could go wrong. It gains importance dramatically when it is your "hunt of a lifetime" or when your quarry has the ability and determination to ensure that the second place winner, whoever it may be, is dead.
Autos are wonderful pieces of machinery. However, because they are a self-actuating mechanism there are some special considerations. Autos can be prone to glitches in these areas:
Feeding; Hence, the small base die sets that return the brass to a minimum dimension to aid in the reduction of feeding problems.
Cycling; Your favorite gun oil may turn into molassas on one of those pry-your-dog-off-your-tire cold mornings and slows the bolt velocity down so that the rifle fails to eject the spent round, or chamber a fresh round. Perhaps your most accurate pet load could cause similar problems for various reasons. Or, due to adverse environmental conditions, terrain or that last belly crawl in the dirt/mud/sand to get within range or better vantage point.
Ejecting; Possibly due to one of the above problems ejection fails, or worse, results in a stuck case. ( I know firsthand, U.S.Army Ft L.Wood firing range. M-16. One grain of sand in the wrong place and I was closed for business!)
Plus, the charging handles are usually small and offer little leverage in the event of a snug case.
Bedding, accessories, stock options and accuracy improving devices; In the realm of big bore autos are few and far between.
Bolt rifles have advantages in the feeding, cycling and ejecting areas because YOU are that which operates the action. Does this mean that bolt guns don't have any of these problems? No. Occasionally bolt guns will have problems in these areas. Generally, these problems are rare, and are normally cured by a competent gunsmith or the factory ( if new .)
Stocks are available in nearly any configuration you could dream of. Factory, drop-in replacement, such as Boyd's, or semi-custom kevlar/fiberglass. Replacement triggers with crisp, clean pulls are available for nearly every make or model. Due to the popularity of the bolt. the options are nearly endless.
I'm sure by now you are convinced I'm a bolt NUT. Well, I have to admit I am. However I'm not opposed at all to an autoloader, in fact I own several.
There is nothing wrong with an auto, providing you are prepared to learn their intricacies and temperament. You pay attention to your relaoding techniques. Regardless of the action you choose, remember this. In order to be a safe, skillful and successful hunter or competitor,
you must be familar with every aspect of YOUR rifle. You need to know, in detail, it's mechanics, optics, ballistics. To have an intimate knowledge of it's abilities as well as your own. The goal is to make it an extension of your being!
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