February 07, 2014
Gunfight Friday: Semiauto Deer Rifles
By Phil Bourjaily
Two classic semiauto deer rifles go head-to-head this week: Dr. Ralph’s Winchester Model 100 and Jack Swanson’s Remington 740.
The Remington 740 was comparatively short-lived. It was introduced in 1955 and replaced by the 742 in 1960. During its production run, it was chambered in .308, .30-06, .244 and .280. There are some complaints about its durability, but apparently Jack Swanson’s rifle never got that memo. It has been shot forever and is still alive and ticking.
The Winchester Model 100 is one of the better-looking semiautos ever made. It was envisioned as a companion to the lever action Model 88. Introduced in 1961, it was produced in .308, .243 and .284 until 1973. Dr. Ralph’s rifle is new to him and has no history — yet. But it’s a beautiful 100.
Jack Swanson’s Remington 740
This is my father's old Remington Model 740 in 30-06, manufactured in 1956. Dad purchased the gun second- hand in 1973 after the first owner shot the rifling out by running hundreds and hundreds of rounds of military hard ball ammo through it. The gun was re-barreled and for about 35 years it was the only centerfire rifle that Dad hunted with. The number of deer, hogs and black bear it has felled is too numerous to count as dad hunted a lot and in different states. It appears in dozens of old photos of worn out hunters that have spent many days hunting then many hours dragging a deer from the remote parts of the steep terrain. The rifle has seen many long days in the mountains of SE Tennessee / Western NC and hunting with family in south Alabama. Over 50% of the bluing and most of the finish from the wood has been worn off. The rifle is a real work horse. Dad says the only trouble he has ever had with it was while hunting in Alabama he let I get "full of grit" the rifle would pull a chunk out of the rim of the brass case trying to cycle the next round. A good cleaning solved the issue. Per Dad "clean and dry" is the only way to keep one working correctly and based on the results it's hard to argue with. The rifle has never worn a scope and has had the same magazine and set of buck horn sights as long as I can remember. The old 740 is not pretty and may not be a tack driver but it works and is a part of the family.
Dr. Ralph’s Model 100
I just bought this Winchester Model 100 in .308 for myself for Christmas, 2013. It was made in 1962. I have not shot it yet but it looks immaculate. Picked it up today and put my best scope on there, the Kahles 3-9X42 that is and inch and a half shorter than my Zeiss 3-9X40's and weighs a heck of a lot less. It will stay on there all next hunting season.
There’s your choice: a well-used 740 in .30-06 or a near perfect .308 Model 100. Vote here, post your comments on the blog, and send your gun pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.