We consider the advantages of not going it alone into the hunting field when you’re a beginner hunter or even an experienced hunter.
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30 Posts By Peter Moore
Straight-pull versus bolt-action rifles
If you went into a gun shop 25-years ago and asked for a repeating, centrefire rifle, you’d get a bolt-action. However, things have changed dramatically as since 1993 you could get a manually-operated straight-pull instead. So, what is it and how does it compare to the traditional system?
Straight-pull and bolt-action: mechanism
Both systems have been around since the end of the 19th century with the introduction of smokeless, high velocity cartridges.
The major difference being the method of operation. A bolt-action technically requires four movements:
- lift the bolt to open the action
- pull it back to eject
- push it forward to feed
- close the action.
A straight-pull cuts this down by 50% as steps 1 & 2 are combined in a single rearwards pull, as are 3 & 4 when you push forward.
Though there were some notable, Military straight-pulls, research shows that in the crucible of battle, turn-bolts won out due to their greater reliability. However, for sports shooting this is not an issue.
The Germans were the first to propose linear recharging.
One cannot talk about straight-pulls without acknowledging Blaser, who introduced the first commercial design; the R93 in 1993. Great rifle, as you could also change barrels and therefore calibres, but its fixed, top-loading magazine was not ideal.
Browning came next in 1999 with their Acera, I tested one and it had distinct possibilities though was discontinued in 2000. Next and more successful was their the Maral based on the BAR semi-auto. Since then other companies have offered their takes on the concept, and the generic design is now well established.
I have two straight-pulls, a Maral and a Blaser R8 and they are significantly different in terms of design and what they offer. They also tend to highlight the major differences compared to bolt-guns.
The fastest system is…
Technically a straight-pull is faster to operate, but it’s not all about speed. I can shoot a bolt-action as fast as my R8, though 2-2 bolt manipulation in relation to maintaining your firing position and aim is better on the latter.
However, and given the design a bolt-gun offers more leverage and operating power in adverse conditions, in terms of opening and closing the action compared to the smaller side handle of a straight-pull.
You also have to be certain that you have closed the action fully unlike a bolt-gun, where the method of operation ensures this automatically.
The Maral is a little different, as it’s powered by constant velocity springs, which means at the end of the opening stroke you just let the handle go and it will automatically shut. Generally, it’s a handy, highly pointable and shootable rifle.
The most accurate is…
Some, site straight-pulls as being less accurate, which is not the case, but like any rifle it’s down to the ammunition you choose. My Maral in 30-06 shoots best with a 150-grain load, which I use for deer, however, for boar shooting where targets are closer I use heavier loads for the power.
With the proliferation of straight-pull rifles these days, I don’t think you can pick a clear winner between them and a bolt-action. Both offer something to a greater or lesser degree, I picked the Maral primarily for driven boar, where its fast action and high magazine capacity offer advantages. However, most of my deer hunting is done with a turn-bolt; horses for courses.
What’s your favorite system?
Camouflage: does it still have a place?
I remember buying my first camo jacket when I was 13 in the Army Cadets. It was the French Lizard pattern; the forerunner of the US Tiger Stripe. Another milestone was when the British Army changed from their green combats in the 1970s to DPM (disruptive pattern material).
Close range hunting optics: scopes versus red dot sights
I’m a big fan of iron sights and my rifles for the more serious game have them fitted JUST IN CASE, sure I normally use a scope, but there are times when something simpler is better. However, ‘irons’ have their limitations, not the least of which is trying to keep front and rear elements in focus along with your target. So, is there a compromise?
Pushing the 22 Long Rifle cartridge well out of its comfort zone
We look at the dictates of pushing the 22 Long Rifle cartridge well out of its comfort zone.
Close range encounters with game, how to aim and shoot in a hurry
Deer shooting in the UK tends to more longer distances, as we don’t drive them like wild boar as the European’s do, which is close up and usually standing shooting as they run by.
Taking your guns and ammo overseas
I always find it amusing that many shooters put a lot of time, effort and expense into their equipment, and hone their marksmanship skills. Yet when offered the chance to take it overseas, feel it’s too much hassle. I’ve hunted in Europe and Africa and have always taken my own guns; why, because that is why I bought them.
Safety: shooting angles on the hunt
We consider the ability to predict where your shot will go and its ramifications.
How to anticipate the risks of a hunting day
Hunting is doubtless an adventure, whether you just drive a few miles to a small piece of land you have permission on or take the plunge and gear up for a trip overseas, the risks can be the same. So, an amount of pre-planning and preparedness will increase your chances of having a good time, or not having a bad one.
Chloe Moore: my life experience to become a huntress
My hunting journey began probably like most young people through my father. I had grown up around firearms, been taught respect, safety and most importantly the magnitude of shooting. It’s not something I took lightly, even as a child, but my father’s passion and love for his hobby had me wanting to know more. In consequence, I wanted to be taken to range days and shooting shows.
Choosing centrefire calibres
With many common and exotic cartridges around how do you make the right choice for your first calibre needs?
What Calibre to choose for my new rifle?
Choosing the correct calibre is essential to successful hunting, so let’s see what’s available?
The amount of rifle calibres is vast, never more so than now, with seemingly new wonder cartridges coming out all the time! Faster, flatter, more terminal performance, better BCs the list goes on, which must be confusing for the novice.
Mistakes, We have All made them !
We can learn a lot from our mistakes, so here are a few lessons that I have seen or heard that you will hopefully not be repeat
Hunting habits: Backpacking, cleaning rifle, …
Getting ready to hunt before and afterwards is very much like a military operation! First let’s consider your equipment; rifle and ammunition, clothing, ancillary equipment; binoculars/scopes and/or laser rangefinder, knives/sharpener, bipod and/or shooting sticks, rubber gloves (for gutting and skinning) and some sort of bag/carrier for the game. Plus, water and food if it’s going to be a long day and a small medical kit and don’t forget your firearm’s license and written permission from the land owner.
Is it an acceptable alternative for semi-auto?
Is the self-loading sporting rifle on the way out in Europe?
We British lost the right to own self-loading, centrefire rifles (SLRs) in 1988. Which was the result of the Hungerford shootings where Michael Ryan went on a rampage with a legally owned, semi-automatic AK47 and other weapons.
Semi-auto or double barrels Shotguns? Frowned Upon
So what’s wrong with a semi-automatic shotgun for game shooting?
British shooting is often seen as traditional, if not hide-bound, with many taboos imposed not for legal reasons, but because people do not approve.
Browning’s 2017 press event proved a real eye opener
Browning organises some great press events; this year, it was France. New products included the X-Bolt Chassis and McMillan, along with the Maral and its straight-pull system, the Nomad, QD scope mounts, and Kite optics range! Shotguns consisted of most of their B725 and B525 series in Sport, Pro Trap and Hunter configurations and Winchester’s latest SX4 semi-auto.
Brexit blues : What about shooters?
So what might happen to shooters after the UK leaves the European community, here are some thoughts.
Foxing in the UK: work or sport ?
Fox control does it work and what’s the best way to do it? Fox hunting with dogs and horses has been banned in the UK for a number of years now, much to the delight of the antis. Personally, I could never really see how a bunch of guys out for what is in effect a pleasant morning’s gallop could have any real affect on Britain’s alpha predator!
How to clean your rifle after a hunting day
Think your rifle does not need a bit of tender love and care; then think again!
When it comes to keeping your guns clean; rifled firearms need to be given the biggest consideration. Fouling will start to fill up the rifling groves that spin the bullet to stabilise it. Compounding this is the copper that comes off the jacket, which also has to go!
How to track an injured deer ?
OK there you are lined up on that Roe Buck and everything looks good, you squeeze the trigger and instead of dropping on the spot it runs usually into the woods. So what went wrong and more importantly what do you do? Shot placement might be out and a heart shot deer, despite being technically dead can run 100 yards more or less and will always try and go to ground and hide. Worse if it’s gut shot, it will hunch as it’s hit and also run, but further as the wound, though fatal is not instantly so.
We tried a simulated shotgunning
Want to keep in practice or just have fun then try simulated game bird shooting
Past, present and future of rimfire ammunition
Today we see rimfire cartridges for small game and target shooting. However, history shows it was the first practical, self-contained ammunition. Based on the old Volcanic rifle’s Rocketball cartridge, which was a caseless design, Horace Smith (Smith & Wesson) conceived a case with a hollow rim (balloon head) that contained the priming compound, fired by an off-set firing pin that crushed the rim. In 1857 he launched it as the 22 Short; and the rest is history!
Fitting a scope : Tight and right
The best scope in the world is no good unless it’s mounted correctly so what’s it all about? There are two mounting options; fixed, and quick detachable (QD), this last is normally found on switch barrel/calibre rifles or where iron sights are also required. The basic setup is a pair of fixed, dovetail bases that screw to the top of the rifle’s receiver (bridges).
Knife choice : cutting comments
People select knives for different reasons and not all logical; there’s macho approach – bigger is better, or the rich man – the most fancy or expensive they can afford! Truth is you don’t need a big, fancy or expensive knife to process a large animal, and there are a number of considerations.
The Tourist Trade of Hunting in the UK
Though most British hunters feel that Africa, Europe etc are exotic locations for their sport, few perhaps know that the UK is in fact a highly desirable location for shooters from around the world.
The Waiting Game
Often out hunting the action either kicks off almost right away or when you are just thinking of going home; this tale really explains it. I was out with my daughter Chloe in October for some Roebuck and an evening’s lamping on rabbits. We were in a big high seat called the scaffold that takes two shooters. We set in at 15.00 and waited, and waited, by 17.00 I got the feeling nothing would happen so decided to sack it at 17.30.
Let’s talk about decoys – Plastic Pigeons & Electronic rabbits
The idea of luring animals and birds in to be shot is not a new one and examples of carved and painted wooden waterfowl placed to attract those bird species is a practice that goes back hundreds of years.
We say Vermin : overview of the pest control approach
Varmint is an American word and we Brits tend say vermin to cover the various pest species that prey on crops, forestry and livestock in the UK. The list of quarry is a long one; rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits, hares, mink, foxes and even Muntjac deer who are the only species that has no off seasons and can be shot all year round; male or female!
Everything you need to know about deer management
Deer shooting is a popular sport in the UK and is undertaken at many levels. From the novice stalking their first beast, professional hunters who shoot for the pleasure and challenge of the hunt and or venison.