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Choosing A Hunting Rifle: Some .30-06 Models Compared

The .30-06 is a real American icon.  Rounds first offered in 1906 by Frankford Arsenal were used in United States .30 caliber service weapons for almost fifty years – until 1954, when they were replaced by .308 Winchester (NATO rounds.)   Rifles designed for the venerable .30-06 round have remained a favorite for all kinds of gun aficionados, particularly hunters.

Whether you want to bag a whitetail or mule deer, an elk or moose, a good rifle loaded with .30-06 can help you get the job done.  Here are some popular models to consider, along with some additional tips for finding the best rifle for your money.

Browning Bar Safari Lightweight .30-06

The Browning Bar Safari Lightweight .30-06 is an excellent example of a semi-automatic rifle that just about any member of the family who has been trained to shoot can handle.  It is equipped with an excellent rubber recoil pad, and although there are some naysayers who think a semi-auto should not be used for hunting, a gun like this can make the difference if you need to take an extra shot to bring down your game.   This is a powerful rifle, and it is accurate.  Browning rifles generally cost more than the competition, and this gun is no exception.  Expect to pay over $1000.00 for a brand new rifle from the Browning Bar line.

Howa Lightning (Model 1500)

While the Howa Lightning is not a remarkable weapon to look at, field tests conducted by the experts at proved it to be accurate and well-made.  It has a steel receiver, barrel, and floorplate with a blued, shiny finish.  The Howa Lightning has a black synthetic stock, and the internal 5 shot magazine and aluminum alloy trigger guard have a black finish – definitely not a pretty gun, but one you won’t worry about scratching or denting.

Testers were impressed with trigger movement, which let off at 3 ¾ pounds according to their self-recording trigger gauge.  They were impressed by the fact it felt about a half-pound lighter.  They also felt that the Howa was evenly balanced and comfortable to grip.  The rifle has a 1.73 inch wide forend and a 1.43 inch wide pistol grip.  In addition, testers felt the raised cheekpiece allowed for a good stockweld with excellent cheek and jaw contact.

At just over $400, the Howa Lightning is a good, affordable, all around hunting rifle.

Ruger No. 1 International .30-06

The Ruger No. 1 International .30-06 is a powerful single shot rifle recommended for solid long range shots.  Not only is this a handsome weapon equipped with a classic looking, yet totally modern Farquharson-style hammerless falling block action, it has a beautiful satin-finished walnut stock that has been carefully hand checkered.   If you’re a good shot, and you don’t mind making a good investment in a weapon, the Ruger No. 1 is an outstanding choice.  It’s just under $1,000.00 brand new.

.30-06 Hunting Rifles To Avoid

While any gun is better than no gun, there are some .30-06 rifles that fall below the mark.  If you are not an experienced gun owner, get someone who is to go shopping with you.  If you’re buying a used weapon, check to be sure it has been maintained well.  If you’re checking out pawn shops, avoid anything that has visible dirt or rust on it, no matter how cheap it is.  A gun that has been poorly maintained can jam, which can cause problems like missed shots or even a round going off in the chamber – and that can cause serious injury or death.

Save Money: Buy A Used Rifle

Buying a used rifle from a reputable dealer is one of the best ways to get a high quality .30-06 from a maker like Winchester, Remington or Browning.  Dealers have a reputation to uphold and they don’t sell weapons without testing them.

Gun shows are another source for reliable .30-06 rifles as well as other weapons and ammunition.  Go at the beginning of the first day for the best selection, and be sure to bring your ID with you.   If you need ammunition, gun shows are a great place to get it.

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