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The 10 Best Hunting Rifles: The Browning BAR .30-06

When you have the accuracy of a bolt action, the ease of use of a semi-auto, and the looks of one of the finest rifles made, you have a piece of art capable of the highest level of function. The Browning BAR is about as highly touted a rifle as exists, and it has the real chops to assure your success in the field.

The Rifle: Browning BAR .30-06

The Caliber: .30-06

The Animal: Anything that moves between 125 and 750 pounds (although you can use it for varmints also)

The Rifle – Browning BAR

When you have the best reputation in the industry for smooth function, fit, and finish, you can charge more than the other guys and expect to consistently get it.  A BAR comes in around $1200 to $1400, depending on who you know or who owes you a favor.  Almost twice the cost of the Remington but with none of the stigma that has been attached in the past to the feeding problems of the 740/7400 series, this firearm has a nearly flawless record of functionality and form.  It’s simple but great looking, finished well, and the attention to detail is almost on par with full custom jobs.

The specific rifle is the Browning model #031001231: a Browning BAR Safari with the BOSS system installed for fine-tuning accuracy.  It features a blued steel receiver with scrolled engraving pre-drilled and tapped for mounts, a hammer-forged 22-inch barrel with a total length of 43 inches, and a length of pull of 13 and ¾ inches in a 7-pound 6-ounce package.  The gas-operated rifle has a detachable box magazine and a recoil pad and sling swivels pre-installed with quality checkered glossy walnut furniture.

It oozes quality, surpassed only by its perfect functionality and out-of-the-box accuracy.  It is perhaps one of the mainstays of the hunting industry for more than just its brand name, though one can’t imagine it hurting its reputation by being a Browning, no matter where it is produced these days.  If you haven’t used one, it may be a bit difficult to understand why this gun is worth its relatively high price, but one day in the field or a couple hours on the range will easily clarify any lingering doubts.  It is perhaps not a first-time firearm, but it wouldn’t be a drawback for this to be the only rifle you own if you don’t have a need for higher-capacity magazines.  If you could pick a set of rules to buy a gun based on what makes it versatile and capable, the following would be excellent values:

  1. Excellent function and materials
  2. Great accuracy
  3. Fast follow up shots
  4. Versatile cartridge/chambering

This rifle exceeds the competition in all of these categories. It is an excellent primary gun with one of the most versatile cartridges on the planet, a semi-auto repeating capability, incredible accuracy, and some of the best materials and workmanship you can find.  To top it off, there are rifles in this model that haven’t EVER had a malfunction in several thousand rounds of firing.

What you get with this rifle is a true companion in the field, one which will not fail you when it’s needed.  In the end, it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the most classic looking and nicely finished guns of the last fifty years.

The bad guys are getting desperate… learn how to keep your guns and valuables safe from thieves and gangs

The Caliber – .30-06

It’s not a point that can even be argued:  The .30-06 is one of the most versatile cartridges ever, with loads ranging from fast flat shooting varmint rounds to those with the knockdown power to drop a dangerous big game animal just about anywhere on six continents.  The seventh continent probably has a few animals that shouldn’t be considered with a medium bore caliber, but that’s a different story.  For the vast majority of rifle shooters who hunt, the .30-06 is matched in versatility by perhaps only two or three other cartridges (with the .308 and the .45-70 the only that usually come to mind).

It’s important to remember that this cartridge essentially built the hunting game in the United States, and it seems in fact to be a timeless piece of history and a contemporary performer all at once.

Standard rounds have an improved deviation of about 7 to 12% over a .308 factory load, which makes the difference in many hunters’ minds.  From a practical standpoint, the surplus ammunition in .30-06 is mostly dried up, and if it isn’t, then it’s old; whereas the .308 stuff is being made available every year.   The cost and availability of .30-06 is going to be higher and harder to get than .308 in any lean time.  Does that stop every hunter who has put the money into an ‘aught six over the years, from proclaiming the virtues of the round at every chance they get?  No way.  It’s almost as if they are trying to justify or prove to themselves that the .30-06 is as good as they think it is.  It’s funny really, because the round really is that good.  This article isn’t about ammo prices; it’s about the best cartridges, rifles, and game pairings extant.  In this protocol, the .30-06 has few contemporaries.  It certainly can outperform the .308 in factory loads and is almost as versatile. (Yes, there are a handful more loads available to the .308 than the .30-06, most of which do not exceed characteristics and ballistics of custom loads in .30-06—this is mostly a derivative of the longer case.)

It’s probably beside the point to extol the virtues of the round in this article, as there are millions of ballistic articles and twice that many forum posts with some guy from the Midwest talking about the amazing ‘aught six.  No one who has shot the .30-06 needs convincing—of that you can be sure.  Even if you want to hate the round you can’t: it’s too versatile, powerful and usable.

The Animal – Various Animals

This is another segment of this article that writes itself.  The range of animals that a .30-06 can dispatch effectively (neither under nor overkill) is ridiculous.  It’s easily one of the top four most versatile cartridges from factory, and it is infinitely more versatile when you mix in hand loads.

There is an important issue to tackle off the blocks here:  If you can’t hand load or won’t, then you won’t be getting the versatility for anything under 150 pounds or so. However, if you can and do hand load, you can get animals from fox and coyotes to bears.

Sabot enclosed rounds in 55 grains can take out a coyote with 4000 FPS and 2000 energy at the muzzle, which might seem like overkill but usually penetrate straight through.

180-grain (and heavier) rounds can handle most of the biggest game just about anywhere.

Was “everything in between” mentioned?

Sure, there’s the old adage about the placement of a shot being the most important part of the terminal ballistics equation, but this round makes it a bit easier.  Any animal hit within their terminal area is going to be hard pressed to take even a few more moments in life.

You cannot underestimate the round that has had more impact than any other North American medium and big game round; you certainly can’t knock a gun which performs hundreds of thousands of times a season without flaw, and there really isn’t an animal on most continents that can’t be killed with a well-placed projectile flying out of a .30-06 muzzle.

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