Last week the Savage 99 in .300 Savage narrowly edged out the .30/06 Remington 760 in a battle between two classics of the eastern deer woods. This week we go West for another good matchup: a pair of bolt actions for the mountains–one old-school rifle, the other totally 21st century.

Steve Huey’s Remington 700


The rifle started out life as a Remington 700 Classic, made in 1988, with a straight-comb stock and hooded front sight with rear ramp from the factory. I was shopping for a replacement for an ill-tempered .338 Winchester Magnum when I came upon this .35 Whelen. My requirements for an elk rifle were simple: shoot a heavy bullet for killing elk and have plenty of energy for a close-up defensive shot on big bears since I often hunted alone in Montana and Washington. Initially scoped with a Redfield Widefield 2-7X, it now wears a Leupold 3-9X40 with a heavy duplex reticle and CDS turret. I have taken quite a few elk and mule deer over the years with this rifle. My longest shot to date with this rifle was 308 measured yards on a bull elk. One shot and down. The 22-inch barrel and the attached Montana sling make it an easy carry in the timber or heavy brush. See you in elk country.”

Phil Traynor’s Kimber 8400


“This is my backcountry hunting rifle, a Kimber 8400 Montana in .325 WSM. It wears a Leupold VX-3 3.5-10×50 scope with a Boone & Crockett reticle. This rifle is light enough to carry on mountain backpack hunts, flat-shooting enough for long shots, and packs enough punch for an unplanned bear encounter. Stainless steel and Kevlar/carbon fiber may not be as pretty as fancy walnut and blued steel, but it is also a lot easier to take care of when you are in a tent at the end of the day. The only downside is that the .325 WSM is versatile enough for all North American big game, negating the “need” for a safe full of guns.”

Which of these rifles you would prefer depends a little on how you view a rifle: Do you want the most efficient tool for the often demanding chore of backcountry hunting, or do you prefer a rifle with some tradition behind it?

Don’t forget to send us photos and stories of your favorite guns to to be featured in an upcoming Gun Fight Friday.