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The 10 Best Hunting Rifles: The Ruger #1 Falling Block

The Ruger #1 falling block is an extremely capable rifle often used on very large game or where shots will be very consistent with regard to positioning.

The Rifle: Ruger #1 Falling Block

The Caliber: .375 H&H

The Animal: Grizzly Bear

The Rifle – Ruger #1 falling block

In this case the specific rifle is the “Ruger 1 – H Tropical” – Ruger’s model number 1320. It’s an all-steel falling block rifle, blued, and single shot with American walnut furniture.  The gun weighs in at just over 9 pounds with the barrel length of 24 inches and an overall length of 40 1/2 inches (a larger barrel-to-overall-weight ratio than most hunting rifles).  The rifling is a one in twelve-inch right-handed twist with six grooves; the iron sights are adjustable flip up (rear) and a front bead.  The rifle can best be defined as stocky, with a definitive style and attitude.  The bluing is fairly highly polished and all the edges are rounded. The walnut is finished in a semi gloss, and it looks as though it’s been hand rubbed.  The focal point of the rifle, aside from its “girthy” barrel, is of course the trigger guard, which doubles as the actuator for the falling block.  It’s a simple yet classy piece of finish work on a utilitarian yet beautiful rifle.

The falling breech block is simple and built for strength; the sliding tang safety is reminiscent of an over-under shotgun and is inherently usable. Ruger includes a preinstalled quarter rib scope base that uses Ruger brand scope rings and an ejection mechanism that is fully adjustable and allows for easier brass collection if the hunter desires extraction only. An extra on an otherwise somewhat-minimalist rifle is the sling swivel studs.

The Caliber – .375 H&H

The .375 H&H is one of the first belted cartridges, a feature given to brass to prepare it for the rigors and power of Magnum loads and to facilitate easier breech loading in the bolt action rifle, which, at the time of the .375 H&H’s introduction (1912), was essentially a new technology (at least not yet an established widespread technology).  The cartridges tapered slightly, another design execution specifically made for easy chambering and extraction, which has continued to this day. As a side note: Belting a cartridge also facilitated better head spacing for tapered cartridges, though, contrary to popular belief, that was not the only purpose.

While many African countries’ specific laws consider it the minimum cartridge for dangerous game, in North America it’s considered an appropriate and exceptional cartridge for large game.

The cartridge tends to be incredibly flat shooting, relatively speedy, and delivers an incredibly good amount of impact (while maintaining a very consistent point of impact), allowing easier transition between iron sights and scope.  Because of these unique characteristics, it’s considered one of the best large game all-around rifle cartridges on the planet. Many safari regulars use it, and it has high praise from professional hunters, trackers, and guides.

Bullet grain weights range between 200 and 380 grains, with a typical load being a 270-grain verging on 2,700 ft./s and 4,400 foot-pounds of energy and barrel exit.  This load compares favorably to a .30-06 at 180 grains in terms of trajectory, but the .375 H&H delivers about 12,00 foot-pounds more energy.

The 300-grain projectile is perhaps the cartridge’s best-known bullet weight; it typically achieves (with factory loads) 2,500+ ft./s and 4,250+ foot-pounds of energy – comparing favorably (trajectory wise) to the 180-grain .308 projectile.

Some factory loads are now pushing a 300-grain projectile at nearly 2700 ft./s and 4,800 foot-pounds of energy—an absolutely devastating combination of ballistic potential.

Interestingly, unlike many hunting rifle cartridges, there has never really been a use outside of “dangerous game hunting” for the .375 H&H Magnum, and it has never seen wartime usage by any major army.

Because of its popularity and incredible balance of speed and impact, it has perhaps been the single most implemented cartridge in dangerous game hunting since its inception, and it has likely killed more large dangerous game than any other cartridge in history.  Its recoil and muzzle snap tend to be more of a dull roar that an all-out attack on the shooter, and relatively speaking, it has lower recoil than most of the big-game rifle cartridges.

The cartridge has played Frankenstein for a lot of other cartridges, including a popular wildcat called the .375 H&H Ackley improved, as well as the .375 Weatherby Magnum.

The Animal – Grizzly Bear

The grizzly bear is a sub species of the brown bear contained within North America, specifically with higher densities of population in Alaska and the Northwestern and Western areas of North America, including several of the Western regions of Canada.  In the United States, the grizzly bear is considered an endangered species covered by the endangered species act, but many hunters in the untamed northern wilderness of Alaska and Canada do come in contact with grizzly bears.  In some of the regions in Canada, hunters can hunt the grizzly bear in late spring or early fall, which is their open season.

Bear furs have always been considered valuable and useful in cold weather areas, and their meat, which is typically heavy, greasy, and somewhat sweet, is nutritionally substantial and far enough away in flavor profile from other meats to be considered in its own category. Bear meat requires extensive cooking and cannot be eaten raw because of trichinella, a parasite also commonly found in undercooked pork.  Careful considerations should be taken in preparation, butchering, storage, and cooking of bear meat.

Spring tends to be the best time to hunt grizzly bear in North America, as the weather is better, there are longer daylight hours, and the liberal amount of snow on the ground can help pinpoint activity.  You will need well-placed shots to the vital areas, not necessarily including the skull, but specifically around the lung area.  The skull should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, as measurements are often requested by game officials and lottery regulators for grizzly tags.  If you plan on using the fur and skull for taxidermy, you will also not want to take a shot to the head.

*Important note: Grizzly bears are incredibly aggressive, and they certainly can kill a human being. An optimum shot range is well over 100 yards, with subsequent follow-up shots ready; do not be afraid to shoot the bear in the head if necessary to put the animal down if it is charging you.

Numbers of grizzlies are estimated to exceed 18,000 in British Columbia alone, and when on the hunt for other animals, it is not uncommon to see a grizzly.  Having a high-powered rifle with optimal loads is essential, regardless of the type of hunt when in grizzly territory.  While a .308 or even a lesser cartridge can effectively dispatch a grizzly bear, shot placement will be of the utmost concern, and you will not want to be closer than 100 yards to the animal if you can help it.  DO NOT take dangerous shots, and do not expose yourself to unwarranted risk. The .375 is well suited, where lesser calibers are often not enough.

This weapon (the Ruger #1 – H tropical) and the cartridge (.375 H&H Magnum) are ideally suited to the size, strength, and attitude of the grizzly bear.  While the Ruger is a single shot rifle, with effective planning and good experience this is not a hindrance. A follow-up shot can be easily loaded and taken in about a second to a second and a half. In fact, knowing how to effectively wield a single-shot weapon can improve your capabilities of taking animals with only one shot.

There are thousands of different variations capable of killing a grizzly bear, and this is one available option—with an excellent history of doing just that.

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