hunting rifles

Today’s gun fight is between two 30 calibers: an ’06 and a .300 Winchester Magnum. The .30-06 is a practical, black stocked, stainless rifle. The .300 Win Mag is pretty. It’s kind of a beauty and beast matchup, except that the beauty is chambered for a more beastly caliber. Both owners have quite a bit to say about their rifles, so we’ll get right to them.

Jeff’s Kimber 8400

kimber rifle

This is my Kimber 8400 in .300 Win Mag. I got it at a Ducks Unlimited event and it’s a 75th DU Anniversary Dinner Gun. I have other rifles to take hunting and I loved the wood stock so it mostly stayed in the safe or made the occasional visit to the range, but it did give me something new to reload for. I had a Zeiss Conquest 3-12×56 unattached to anything at the time, so I added Leupold mounts and rings and quickly discovered this rifle is a shooter. I really didn’t want to drag it up a tree or tote it through the mud, so I resolved to save it for a special hunt.

A few years later at another DU event, an African safari for two came up for bid. It was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. It was a dream opportunity so I invited my hunting partner of over twenty-five years, David Smith, at seventy-five years young, to go with me. After many months of hand loading, I settled on a 180-grain Barnes TSX in front of 69.5 grains of Hogdon V100 powder and off to Africa we went. I was well pleased with how it performed. I took seven plains animals and all were one-shot kills. The Barnes bullets really did a number on the kudu, springbok, gemsbok, waterbuck, warthog, black and blue wildebeest. The Kimber is back in the safe waiting for its next adventure.

Grazing Bit’s Model 70

model 70

This is my Winchester Model 70 chambered in .30-06. It is the Ultimate Shadow SS model, which means that it has a synthetic stock and is stainless steel. Now, those two features may not please purists, but it is a downright functional rifle. There is no need for me to speak of the advantages or disadvantages of stainless steel as most, if not all, of us are well versed in its pros and cons and have probably already formed our opinions and preferences regarding it. Obviously I felt the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.

The rubberized grips on the stock are ugly but very functional, as they provide better grip than any checkering I have ever felt. The stock seems to be stiff for an injection molded one and does not seem to hinder accuracy. It’s impervious to changes in humidity and when I bang it on something I don’t feel compelled to inspect it for dings and scratches as I would with a Featherweight.

The scope is a Vortex Viper 3-9×40 with a BDC reticle and is mounted on Burris XTB bases and one-inch Zee Rings. The barrel is 24 inches long and, while I prefer 22 inches, it does seem to balance well. The ammunition in the elastic holder is Federal Premium 180-grain Trophy Bonded Tip which I’m looking forward to using while elk hunting this year.

The truth about this rifle is that even if you don’t like stainless steel, the black stock, the variable scope, and the shiny bullets — and I’m not trying to rag on Fudds here — at the heart of it you have a Winchester M70 chambered in .30-06. I’m not sure you can get any more American or proven than that.

Lots to debate here: ’06 vs .300 Win Mag, wood vs. plastic, and stainless vs. blued. Knock yourselves out. Vote and comment below, and keep those gun pictures coming to

Which gun do you prefer?

Jeff’s Kimber 8400

Grazing Bit’s Model 70

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