One of the things I have noticed as I research different guns and all things hunting is a common question that keeps popping up in online discussion forums and over-the-counter chat fests at gun shops. It all boils down to one thing. “If I were to only buy one gun to do everything, which one should I buy?”
Despite what you may think, this is not that simple of a question. In my answer to this I will say that there is no “one gun to rule them all,” so forget that notion. Besides guns are great. Who would want just one? So how about just looking at rifles. I decided to look across the vast array of different rifles on the market and select just one that can “do-it-all” and by that, I mean big game. I decided my search should include the possibility of any kind of hunting situation. So often I’ll hear someone say they want a gun for deer and elk, maybe a moose. Are they really going to hunt all of these animals? Maybe not, but…So here is the process I went through the selections I made and why, and a solid review of the end result of my search.
So many calibers…
There are many critera for selecting a caliber for a do-it-all rifle. The first of these criteria is performance. The bullet has to get the job done period. Another consideration is cost and availability. If you can’t afford to shoot, or you can’t find ammo, what is the point? The last is comfort. I almost didn’t put this in, but the question, “can I handle that much gun?” comes up all the time so I added it in.
For my purposes, I chose the classic .300 Winchester Magnum caliber for my “one rifle.” On performance, the .300 speaks for itself. It is a flat shooting round that can handle everything that walks or crawls. With the vast amount of ammo that is available for the .300, there is a bullet for every situation and it is very easy to find. As for recoil, I don’t think the .300 is a harsh round. Most people can handle shooting it. I have spent a good amount of range time with a .300 on my shoulder and can attest to its shootability.
Now you may ask why I went with the old .300 when there are so many cool new offerings out there. Like I said before, what good is your “one rifle” if you can’t get ammo for it. Besides, what will many of the calibers out there do that a .300 can’t?
It is a great round for any big game species in North America and beyond. It may be a touch small for a few and a skoush big for others, but with shot placement and bullet selection, it is as close to perfect as I can find in a “one rifle.”
And the winner is…
I wanted a high-quality, low-cost rifle for my “one rifle.” It had to be accurate as snot, dependable but not break the bank. I’m not a wealthy guy and I don’t have any bailouts coming, at least not yet. For my “one rifle” I also wanted a stainless finish, a bolt-action receiver and a stock that fit me well.
I decided after much scouring to go with the Weatherby Vanguard.I have shot Vanguards before and liked them and Weatherby has been doing very well with the $399 promotion, but that is a blued gun. The stainless version is more money, but compare one to other comparable stainless guns and you’ll see what I saw–great fit and finish as well as very high-quality steel. And Vanguards are accurate. Very accurate actually.
Weatherby includes a target showing you just how well your rifle shot at the factory and with what grain ammo. Mine came with a target showing a pretty good group with 180-grain ammo, well within MOA. I like it. I got even better groups when I tested different ammo. I like it even better.
As for the trigger, it seems that everyone is improving their triggers these days. It used to be that the trigger was the great equalizer when it came to selecting a rifle as there were only a handful of factory rifles with triggers worth writing home about. Boy has that changed. Now you can expect that most rifles will come with a pretty good, if not downright great trigger system. The Vanguard comes with a really good system that has been greatly improved. It breaks clean and crisp for me at around 3.5 lbs.
I feel that getting the right scope is as important as anything else if not more. I often tell folks to spend as much for the scope as you would for the rifle but you don’t have to if you know where to look. I could have easily gone with a Leupold or a Nikon and been very happy but I wanted to get the best scope for the best price to stay within the theme of this project, and in doing that, there is no better place to get a scope that Cabela’s. I am showing no bias toward them when I say that their Alaskan Guide Premium riflescopes are the best scope for the money on the market. I wanted a 4x12x40 scope with an adjustable objective for this rifle. For less than $400, their scope is ultra clear, easy to use and backed by the best customer service in the business. I would put it in league with scopes costing $3-400 more and it’ll take every bit of torture and abuse one can dish out. I know!
The Outwrite Truth
I spent less than $1,000 total for my “one rifle” package and I have a reliable, accurate, tough rifle that can hunt anything and go anywhere I want to go. I could have spent less and I most certainly could have spent more, but I also didn’t need too.