This rifle takes everything good about the former variants (Remington autoloaders like the 740/7400) and combines it with all the fixes for their shortcomings. Perhaps if this rifle had been around when the BAR became the standard semi-auto hunting rifle, it could be the one on top of the game. It’s good enough with the bonus that the cost is just over two thirds of cost of the other competitors if you stick with the polymer stock.
The Rifle: Remington 750
The Caliber: .35 Whelen
The Animal: Caribou
The Rifle – Remington 750
One of the least expensive and least customizable firearms in our top ten hunting rifles list is the Remington 750 Synthetic. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Specifically, the 750 Synthetic is a weapon that has taken a widely used gun and improved upon it.
As a gunsmith of many years and having shot the 750 at length (though not owning one), I feel confident saying that the gun is one of the best hunting rifles available. It is mostly a function of good press on behalf of certain jaded consumers that some bad press is out on this weapon. The gas system on the predecessor (and its predecessor) of this rifle has been vastly improved, though admittedly not as well tuned or refined as the Browning BAR system. It’s important to understand that with a hunting rifle, your main concern isn’t usually follow-up shots (though it can be in certain situations); it is mostly a concern of accuracy and reliability. As a general disclaimer: my personal experience with the 750 has seen a couple reliability issues (which were easily fixed or could be attributed to ammunition). With a good cleaning mindset, and a bit of understanding about how the gas system works, this gun is about as reliable as you will find (the BAR Browning being the holy grail of hunting semi-autos) and should hold up to the decent record of the other semi-auto rifles in the genre.
Remington touts the fast follow-up shots as its main attribute, though, as you know, in most hunting situations follow up shots are secondary, but then what are semi-autos for anyway? This rifle features a black synthetic polymer stock with a twenty-two-inch barrel and swivel studs/drilled tapped receiver. The blued steel holds within it a rotary lug lockup bolt and a new faster cycling action (as claimed by Remington).
It’s neither pretty nor ugly, but it just doesn’t have the same clean lines of the BAR (arguably its biggest competition in the true semi-auto hunting category) and certainly doesn’t have the presence of the AR-15 platform. On initial inspection the gun seems a bit lumpy but anemic: an odd choice of words for readers, surely, but nothing short of an accurate representation. Its looks however, hide some of the improvements made to the older guns of the 740/7400 series, such as the steeper comb drop and the better sight line, as well as a more ergonomically designed fore-end. In all actuality, this gun may be best implemented as a used gun, if you have a cleaning mindset. The improved angles of the gas port system makes it easier to keep the gun working for longer, but the bad press generally comes as a result of poorly maintained guns. With a clean gun, factory magazines and ammunition, and knowledge of the working of the action, you should be able to pick up a great used semi-auto at an exceptional price and have a good field gun. In the carbine version (an 18.5-inch barrel), chambered in .35 Whelen, you may have one of the best bush guns for under $1,000 (in most cases between $500 and $650) that you can find, and if you look hard enough you may be able to find one for under $300—a pretty sweet deal for those who realize the potential of such a rifle.
The Caliber – .35 Whelen
It’s a cult cartridge in some circles, but still a capable and useful one regardless of how mainstream you view the cartridge. It’s a necked up .30-06 casing with a .35 caliber projectile inserted; no magnum reinforcement is needed with the added benefit of the upper end of the medium bore class’ ballistics. This means that the bolt face and other parts of the action, as well as the cartridge itself, does not need to be reinforced like it needs to be with the standard magnums.
Many would argue, from a practical standpoint, that a .45-70 would be an ideal alternative to the .35 Whelen, being that the availability and cost can be manipulated much more easily, at least from a factory load perspective. However, the .35 Whelen may have some distinct advantages over the .45-70 from an implementation perspective.
It really can be determined by personal preference: Do you want to have a rifle suited very specifically to the task/animal/conditions at hand, or are you worried more about costs of the weapon/ammunition? Do you need versatility, or do you desire a gun that has a lightweight profile? Do you need one that can adapt to the heavy foliage of your hunting ground, or one that can shoot flat over huge distances? In the case of the .35 Whelen (trying not to pigeonhole such a proven cartridge), you may be best suited using it in the heavy woodland areas where a “slower” cartridge is acceptable, and where a heavier bullet might be advantageous (like bear country). Be advised slower is a relative term. The .35 Whelen is not a slow cartridge so much as it is not as fast as others.
From a 180-grain bullet you will get right at 3,000 feet per second and 3,600 foot pounds of energy with about 2,300 feet per second and 2,000 foot pounds at 200 yards.
Those numbers are the equivalent of the speed of a 150 grain .30-06 at the muzzle, only the energy is about 650 foot pounds more than the .30-06.
Ballistics out to about 150 yards put the .35 Whelen as superior (in many cases) to the .30-06, but out past that range, the consistency and lack of excess bullet drop of the .30-06 make it the better choice in many cases.
This isn’t a comparison between the two calibers (both of which are equally capable of dispatching large game); rather the comparisons made are for a basis of understanding to the reader.
A .30-06 can be loaded in a 250-grain projectile getting 2300 feet per second and 2930 foot pounds at the muzzle and 1920/2050 at 200 yards. The fairly standard load of 250 grains out of a .35 Whelen will be at 2600/3700 at the muzzle and pushing 2200/2700 at 200 yards: ballistics capable of taking just about any of the big dangerous game in Africa.
From the perspective of a hand loader, the .35 Whelen can make some good sense just about anywhere in the world, but to be transparent, regardless of the “cult hero” status of the round, it simply is not loaded in enough variety to have it make sense for someone relying only on factory ammunition.
The Animal – Caribou
While theoretically a .35 Whelen can take many of the dangerous game in Africa (typically considered the litmus test for the lethality of a cartridge), it’s certainly also well suited to North American and Eurasian big game, including dangerous game. For the purposes of this article, caribou was selected, but many size and composition comparisons could be made. Rudolph the red-nosed caribou could easily exceed 450 pounds, but typically sees a size range of about 180 to 400 pounds in most areas. Northern Europe, northern Canada, and Alaska have some excellent population densities for reindeer (caribou) and can be ideal areas to take out such an animal.
From the perspective of most of the readers of this article, of all the animals that are available on a regular basis, it probably is one of the least likely you’ll hunt, so from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense to go into the details of reindeer/caribou hunting as with the other animals listed. Suffice it to say that if you are in an area where you can hunt these animals, you can assume many of the same characteristics and traveling patterns as with moose and many size comparisons with that of elk.
From the perspective of a person looking for a single rifle which is both capable of North American dangerous game and just about all of the African game, this gun makes sense. From the perspective of someone shooting in heavy bush looking for knockdown power or those hunting game over 225 pounds in bear country, this rifle makes sense. From the perspective of someone looking for cheap and easily accessible ammunition with many factory loads, it is perhaps not the one to use. Good thing there are so many options within the caliber and without.
©2012 Off the Grid News