This week’s Gunfight Friday is a battle between two mid-bores based on the .30/06: the .35 Whelen and the .338/06. Both are formed by necking up .30/06 cases to hold bigger bullets, which, as one of the rifle’s owners points out, make bigger holes. For rifles, this fight pits the latest in the long line of Remington pump rifles against a classic Winchester bolt action, which has proven tough to beat here on Gunfight Friday.
Frank’s Remington 7600
My best friend, Josh, talked up the 7600 in .35 Whelen for years before I decided I absolutely had to have one—and by that time they had just about quit making them. I got lucky and found this one brand new in a country gun shop. It’s a Grice’s Gunshop special run with maple stocks. I had a recoil pad put on it because that is the way the Benoit family says it should be, but that also ruined its collector value and turned it into a shooter. I also had the trigger pull lightened and had an extended safety installed. It has a Burris 30mm European 3-9×40 scope with the illuminated German reticle. It has Talley mounts because that is the way Petzal says it should be.
Honestly, I cannot determine if it likes 200-grain Core Lokts better than the 250-grainers, or whether it’s my shoulder that likes them better. It is a fairly light gun that carries well over hill and dale. I took it to Newfoundland and made short work of a moose it at 300 yards, so I cannot complain at how it shoots. I get that the white stocks are not for everybody, but the more I look at the gun the more I like them. I put a neoprene cartridge holder over the butt stock, covering up all that shiny goodness. It is too bad the American public has not embraced the 35 Whelen. Just remember that big bullets make big holes.
T Bone’s Model 70
Those who know old Winchesters will immediately recognize this as a pre-war Model 70. This one is unique in that it is chambered for the .338/06, and it now serves as my favorite elk rifle. The rifle was a rescue project that I received in a trade. A smarter man would have walked away, for an aspiring gunsmith named Bubba worked on this rifle before me. First, the stock was cut crooked for a poorly fitted black, vented white line pad. The rear bridge was drilled and tapped, but well left of the bore axis, so a modified windage base was needed. Thankfully, checkering wasn’t part of the to-do list as it was worn nearly flat with hardly any finish remaining on the stock. The original chambering was for the .30/06, but the bore was pretty far gone from corrosion. So not wanting to deal with a re-barreling job, I sent the rifle to Clearwater Reboring to be re-cut to the .338 bore.
The .338/06 is a very fine, but under-appreciated, cartridge. The old Model 70, which at just over nine pounds with a scope is no lightweight sporter, provides a great platform for this cartridge. With the big, squishy Pachmayr pad, it is surprisingly pleasant to shoot even with stout loads. The only negative is perhaps the comb is slightly too low, but that is not really a problem now that I have handled and shot the rifle for a while.
There are your choices. You can argue rifles, calibers, or both. I don’t care what you do so long as you vote and comment below and keep the gun pictures coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which rifle do you like better?
Frank’s Remington 7600
T Bone’s Winchester Model 70