Favorite Hog Rifles From The 2012 SHOT Show
January 24, 2012
Every year at the SHOT Show I try to come up with a list of my favorite things. This year is no different, so I thought I’d give some thought to which of the new rifles I’d like to carry on a hog hunt.
The options are fairly wide, but since I didn’t really spend any time with the ARs or military stuff, that’s sort of out. I do have to admit to a certain satisfaction at the .416 Barrett. Any rifle that allows me to shoot stationary clay pigeons from almost 1000 yards away… well, that’s just fun. But it’s kind of loud, and anyway, I’m not really interested in shooting game from that sort of range.
And then, there was the RAC AR-12, shotgun. This is a semi-automatic shotgun modeled on the AR-15 (hence the name). I played with one a bit at the skeet range, and while I couldn’t get the hang of it enough to hit a clay, it was sort of fun just to shoot. I wonder how it would handle slugs? I didn’t ask, but maybe I should have.
Regardless, I doubt I’d have a lot of interest in hunting with this gun, but it would definitely be a conversation-starter! I can only imagine the looks you’d get unpacking this thing at the duck club!
Really, I’m more of a traditional rifle sort of guy, and I do like my lever actions. My old Winchester 94 was a trusty tool in the whitetail woods, and my Browning lever action in .243 has also been a real deer slayer. However, Mossberg has really pushed the envelope a little too hard with this year’s entry… the 464SPX.
So what did I like?
While I’d prefer a different caliber selection, this setup really worked for me. I’ve always been a fan of Savage rifles, both for reliability and accuracy. The accu-trigger isn’t a new thing anymore, but I still think it makes a really good rifle great (although it took some getting used to). Topped with the Leupold HOG scope, the rifle is quick on target and should be the ticket for rapid follow-up or on hogs breaking cover at close range.
As with most of the other offerings from Savage, the Hog Hunter is priced right too, at around $500 without the scope. The scope retails for a shade less than the rifle… not cheap, but I still believe you pay for quality in optics.
Another rifle I thought would be great for hog hunting is Winchester’s reborn Model 71, chambered in .348win. I stumbled onto this rifle during the range day, and couldn’t stop myself from putting a few rounds downrange. It’s a sweet feeling rifle, and the .348 doesn’t kick as bad as you might expect.
I don’t know a ton about the .348, but from my reading it’s a very capable round to 200 yards. With the iron sights on this rifle, I think you could have a blast on hogs, and kill them cleanly too. The only downside I can see is that the MSRP on this thing is a bit over $1400. That’s a lot of money for a levergun, but if you’re into the classics, it may be worth it.
The Dimension is a pretty cool piece of work. I think the guys at TC (and Smith and Wesson) covered the bases well when they designed this gun… right down to the preset torque driver for assembling the barrels and actions. With an MSRP of around $600, and additional barrels for about $200, it’s not an unaffordable addition to the gun safe. Accuracy is supposed to be pretty impressive too, although I haven’t shot one for accuracy. But I just couldn’t fall in love with this thing.
Ruger, on the other hand, has released a new line of affordable rifles in their American line. These are lightweight, but sturdy rifles, priced in the mid-$400 range. They are intially available in four common calibers, .243, .270, .308, and 30-06.
I didn’t get the chance to shoot the American on the range, but I handled the heck out of a couple on the show floor later in the week. These are not beautiful rifles by any stretch of the imagination, and they don’t have a lot of “wow” factor, but they appear to be designed for functionality.
I’ve shot the M77 in a lot of variations, and it’s a solid rifle that can take a beating. If the American is of any comparison, it’s going to be a hot ticket item… especially for budget-conscious hunters.
There are a lot of other great rifles out there, but I had to select a small handful to make this manageable. What did stand out about this particular group was the price (excepting, of course, the M71). Gun makers haven’t forgotten about the budget-conscious hunters out there, and with the general quality of modern rifles these days, you simply don’t have to spend a fortune for a really high-quality gun. I think that’s a very good thing.