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Mosby: Some wishful thinking about assorted rifles

Posted: July 5, 2014 - 10:52am

Most anyone who hunts, collects, target shoots or otherwise uses rifles has fantasies — meaning wishing for another gun or several other guns.

All right, this writer is included. I have several rifles, some used on occasion, some simply sitting idle but on hand for sentimental reasons if nothing else. My in-use rifles are entirely adequate for the hunting I do. They are not for home defense. Short-barreled shotguns are the preference for that.

A Marlin .444 lever action rifle appeals to me. Why? Doggone if I can explain that. It is a powerful gun, not to be confused with the .44 Magnum that is primarily a pistol load. The .444, someone once said, is the .45-70 on steroids. Probably a good choice for deer hunting at moderate ranges in wooded areas.

A bolt action .22-250 rifle appeals to me. Several manufacturers produce these. Ballistics experts tell us that the .22-250 is head and shoulders above the .223 in performance. We all know how the .223 has boomed in popularity in recent years. A good many Arkansas hog hunters have gone to it in AR-15 type rifles. Some deer hunters like it too, with low recoil a factor.

The Ruger Mini-30 rifle appeals to me. This is a close cousin to the Ruger Mini-14, which is a .223 rifle that has been pushed aside in popularity in the rush to AR-15 types. Some Mini-14s are known as Ranch Rifles.

The Mini-30 is identical in looks except it shoots the 7.62X39 cartridge. That’s .30 caliber. It is the cartridge used by AK-47 and SKS weapons that are labeled too often as “assault rifles.”

Both the Mini-14 and the Mini-30 are descendants of the Garand rifle, that U.S. military legend of World War II and Korean War days. They look like scaled down Garands. They function like Garands. And they weigh two-plus pounds less than Garands.

The Mini-30, with its 7.62X39 ammunition, has more power than the .223. The bullet is heavier, making it more suitable for both feral hog hunting and deer hunting, in my opinion. Some folks will disagree on this point.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the old saying goes, and the Ruger Mini-30 just looks more attractive than an AK-47or SKS.

Today’s rifle users are tuned to telescopic sights and for good reason. You can equip a Mini-30 with scopes. And for open-sight shooting, the Mini-30 has the ring rear sight and the post front sight like the Garands. They are efficient.

Mini-30s, like the Mini-14s, come from the factory with either 5-round or 20-round magazines. Some states limit magazine capacity for hunting to five rounds. Arkansas has no magazine limits. Thirty-round magazines are available too.

We’re talking cartridge magazines here. This is a major difference between the Garand and the Mini-30 and Mini-14.

The Garand did not have a detachable magazine. It was loaded from the top, usually with clips holding eight cartridges. A military person or a civilian shooter learned how to insert the clips quickly and to get a thumb out of the way of the bolt closing with a snap. When the clip was emptied on the Garand, it was automatically ejected into the air with an audible “ping.”

In the early 1960s, our military replaced the Garand with the M14 which had a 20-round detachable magazine and fired a different cartridge – the .308, a little shorter than the Garand’s .30-06, a little less powerful but also highly efficient and much in use today for hunting.

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