Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The 7-08 Remington....or Mr. Manners Goes Shooting

I've been messing around with the 7-08 Remington now for a couple of years and have gotten enough field experience to go ahead and offer up this piece. Don't mistake this for something exhaustive, it's not; but it does offer an introductory look at what I consider one of the best balanced cartridges out there in my (not so humble) opinion.

Sometime back in 1958 or so, some enterprising fellow necked down the then new .308 Winchester and stuck a 7mm (.284") bullet in it. The idea stuck and it survived as a frequently seen wildcat in one form or another as the 7/308 until Remington decided to offer it legitimacy as the 7-08 Remington in 1980. Ballistically speaking, it is simply the very old and very good 7x57 Mauser in modern guise and the cartridges don't have enough difference in performance to even talk about. Come to think about it, it's not really much different than the .280 Remington in most factory loads and not far off the .270 Winchester either. If there's a better performing quartet of cartridges under .30 caliber, I just don't know what it is.

The 7-08 can fit into a true short action and can be built into a rifle of surprisingly moderate weight and generally does well with barrels as short as 20". The cartridge also generates a surprisingly mild recoil and is commonly touted as an idealized youth and ladies rifle and found in small carbines just like the one I outfitted my son with. I'm very good with all that, but I believe to think that it's just a good ladies and kids gun does the cartridge something of an injustice.

It's just plain good.

What the 7-08 has going for it is extremely good manners. The cartridge doesn't beat you to death with recoil. The muzzle blast isn't fearsome. The cartridge does well in short barrels and a standard 22 or 24" tube will yield great results. The cartridge also has a tendency for stellar accuracy. Stoked with the proper projectile, it might just be the ideal deer cartridge for all of N. America. Built into a true lightweight rifle, it might just be the idealized sheep gun. If you build a rifle with some heft to it, it becomes a bench gun with enviable performance.

It's really pretty sad, but I came late to the 7-08 party. If I'd have found the 7-08 back in the day, I'd likely have never owned a .308...or even an '06. I know for sure I'd have never bought a .270 if I'd arrived at the 7-08 first. That's pretty high praise indeed. I don't think it's a giant killer, certainly outclassed for moose and grizzly, but for the guy who hunts deer, caribou, hogs and black bears it's likely the only rifle you'd ever need. I'm not an elk hunter but I would go bigger, although I know a couple folks who took their elk with the 7-08 without undue drama.

If there's one drawback to the 7-08, it's that companies keep loading it with bullets that are far too tough for the mild speeds the 7-08 generates. For instance, the Federal 140g Trophy Bonded load leaves the muzzle at 2800 and at 200 yds is going along at 2300 feet per second. By the 300 yard mark it's down to 2100. That's an awfully tough bullet to expand well at 2100. I'm probably in the minority here, but at these old fashioned speeds there's simply nothing wrong with old fashioned bullets. The ancient Nosler Parttion, the soft Ballistic Tip (Hunting), the Speer Hot-Cor and Remington Core Lokt have all performed well at these speeds for decades. No need to re-invent the wheel here.

Almost everyone makes a a good rifle these days in the 7-08, including the typical carbine length rifles with shortened stocks for smaller statured folks but it doesn't stop there. Remington chambers their wonderful Mountain Rifle in 7-08 and Kimber chambers it in their 84M action in several models. For the Eastern deer junkie, their Adirondack would be a superb backcountry gun. Sako, Browning, Winchester...heck, almost everyone makes a 7-08 to almost any taste. A friend even has one in his Remington 700 Tactical...a heavy barreled tack driver that kills deer with regularity on his farm.

With mild recoil, a moderate report and good bullet performance over normal game ranges with standard bullets...there's just a lot to like when you go shooting with Mr. Manners, the 7-08 Remington.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Vestigial Man

Author's Note: Something a little different and more creative than I normally do.

The Vestigial Man
I detect within myself the yearning for things real. Not the illusory perception that comes from staring into an illuminated rectangle all day; but the tactile, the concrete, the solid.

I have become uncomfortably comfortable in a society too accustomed to life in the abstract; moments of fancy, of imaginary heroes in vain battles, catalog solutions to vexing problems lived only in the mind.

Somewhere down in my core, I crave the damp, close feel of the woods and the brilliant starkness of desert and the vast emptiness of night. I find an empty place in my soul and my nostrils for the sound of the arrow striking home and the acrid smell of blood. A long forgotten part of me senses something vital is missing and longs for dirt under my fingernails and drinking from bubbling springs.

Without the sensation of movement that comes with the stroke of the paddle, the gait of a horse or the stride uphill; I suddenly lose my sense of place. Effortlessly gliding and rolling from hither to yon; without the exhaustion I don’t know how far I’ve travelled or where I am.

I fear I’m lost.

My black and white life is lived in the churning of electrons, sustained by eating flaccid, soulless meat; my existence ruled hour by hour by the clock. I’m trodden endlessly amid the wheels turning everywhere. The wheels are so hard at work turning the wild land into timidity, my time into money and my dreams into ashes. I exchange all of my time for the coin of the realm and find that it is never enough. That ancient man killed his food with a stick and tilled the ground with a stone and still had time to develop art and language and leisure is a marvel to me, the modern man.

A modern man who almost forgot who he is, the ancient man.

That any remnant of him remains in me is a mystery. I hear the creaking of a taut bow in my dreams. I have visions of sprouting kernels amid the moist earth. I can smell the scent of drying meat and wood smoke through the vents. I see deer by the road and envision cedar shafts striking flanks. I’m confused; there is no place in my orderly asphalt world for such things. No experience in the digital world the vestigial man in me can relate to.

The yearning for things real remains regardless- the taut drawn bow, the paddle dipped in the water, the sound of deer in the oaks, the taste of venison cooked over open fire- vague recollections from forefather’s lives long ago lived. 

The modern man views such things as diversion from real life, to the vestigial man they are real life.