Dave Answers His Mail: Gun Talk

Readers weigh in on making a trade-in.

Field & Stream Online Editors

LAST WEEK I TOLD YOU about my current deer-rifle dilemma (see "Deer Don't Care"). As you may recall, I'm torn about whether to keep my new Winchester Model 70 Classic Compact in 7mm/08-which kicks a tad more than I hoped it would and has a ridiculously heavy trigger-or to trade it in for a Remington Model 700 Mountain Rifle in .260. Part of the problem is that my friend Paulie, who suggested I get the Mountain Rifle in the first place, is no doubt poised with a stockpile of "I told you so's."

Anyway, in checking my e-mail and finding so many of you kind enough to offer some advice, I thought I'd run excerpts from some of your letters this week. Here they are:

  • Tough situation...but if you don't like the M70, trade it in. Even if you hear it from Paulie, at least you'll like your rifle (and Paulie's jabs will eventually end, maybe). I've had similar situations: I was very close to getting a Winchester Model 70 when a Tikka Whitetail Hunter caught my eye. I got the Tikka and I'm very happy I did. On the other hand, I also got a brand-new Remington 870 Express Super Magnum 12-gauge. It was a spur-of-the-moment buy, for a great price. But it wasn't camo and didn't have a turkey choke (it was Modified). After I got it, I was like, Why did I do that? -Ian

  • The trigger is something of a moot point, as you'd have to get that done on a lot of factory rifles. I'll admit the M70 Classic Compact is a dandy little deer rifle, and a pretty good choice on your part. But if you want my opinion, the Mountain Rifle in .260 is as near perfect as it gets in a noncustom gun. What can I say? Paulie was right. -Mike

  • The new Remington CDL is reason enough to get a new rifle, regardless of your awkward position with the M70. I just bought one in .30/06 and it's amazing. My first 100-yard groups were great, so I moved the target out to 200 yards. The first four holes at this distance could be hidden with a quarter. Regarding the M70, keep it! I've traded only one gun, and I regret it every day. -Bryan

  • It's true, the deer don't care. But since you bring it up, I think the Model 70 trigger has the 700's beat. It's quite easy to adjust and seems to be more reliable. If the pull is too bad on yours, you can get it set exactly the way you want it. -Dan

  • After the trigger job, see how well you shoot the M70. I often find I shoot a rifle better if I like it. Seldom is a rifle fresh from the box a finished work. So the trigger needs doing anyway. You like the M70: Maximize it. -Alan

  • I know exactly what you're talking about. Several years ago, I was searching for a new deer rifle, and although the prudent choice was to get a .270 in a medium-weight rifle, I was captivated by a Colt Light Rifle chambered in 7mm Remington Magnum. While it's a great rifle to carry, and the trigger is good for a factory gun, it kicks like a mule. I talked up the gun when I bought it, and I took some grief when I ran into problems. But I kept it. It's now a functional, accurate gun, and when I'm dressed for hunting, the recoil is no more noticeable than with my .30/06. Still, my recommendation is to get the Mountain Rifle and take whatever lumps your friend is going to hand out. (You'll get a chance to hand them back someday.) -Gale

  • I'm with you. Call me a traditionalist, but I think looks do count in a rifle, and the M70 Classic Compact is the best-looking lightweight deer gun out there for a reasonable price. Get the trigger done, then see what you think. -John

FOR NOW, I'M WITH JOHN (and Alan, Dan, Bryan, and almost exactly half of the other readers who responded). This, of course, is no knock on the Mountain Rifle-which I still covet. But I can't give up on a gun after only one trip to the range. So I'm heading back there now to give it anothher go. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, anyone else who'd like to weigh in, please e-mail me at davesplace1@aol.com.