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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Best all-around firearm category?

I am sure this topic has come up before, but with many new members here, perhaps we can get some more input.

I went with a category rather than a particular firearm, figuring that will get more objective feedback. Feel free to post about a specific firearm if you have one in mind.

For me, I can think of nothing I would prefer as an all-around firearm more than a simple 12 gauge pump shotgun. Here's my reasons:

Inexpensive
bird hunting (obvious)
big game hunting (okay, pretty obvious as well)
self defense (maybe not as a concealed firearm, unless I am wearing my duster, which would still make me look like I was packing),( #6 or #7 shot at typical household ranges is very effective, and doesn't overpenetrate the structure.)
Dangerous game (5 rounds of 50 cal saboted 1 oz slugs should be pretty devastating at close range. Maybe not for longer ranges, but definitely what I'd call a charging deterrent)
Recreation (okay, a plinking gun it ain't, but a cheap box of skeet is still pretty fun)

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Location: West Carleton, Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 12/23/2002
Posts: 1264
Best all-around firearm category?

I still vote for the 30-06.
the 12ga is just not practical enough to call it a "big game round". Sure I trust the 12 ga to stop a charging bear, but I wouldn't go bear hunting with one either. Sure it will work in close for bush whacking deer, but to get even 100yds of effective killing power and accuracy requires specialized modifications (rifled barrels, premium rounds etc), negating the "inexpensive" argument...and that's just to get 100yds. Would you seriously consider taking a 250yd shot at a moose or elk with a 12ga?

Next recoil. Manageable - certainly. But imagine spending a day at the range firing 12ga slugs or even heavier shot loads. Definitely not pleasant. This (arguably) applies to the 30-06 as well, but you can find more forgiving rifle choices like the 308, 270, or 7mm08.

Self-defence - maybe, but if its a true "hunting" weapon (inexpensive - remember) I doubt it. Try sticking that long vent-ribbed barrel around a corner, or getting it out from under the bed in a hurry...not gonna happen. True "self defense" scenarios are more likely to happen fast, up close, in your face and at point blank range (home invasion, car jacking, street thugs). I would rather have a reliable, fast firing semi-auto handgun with a big mag.

If you're going to hunt birds and deer/hogs sure, but if you're talking about big game other than deer/hogs you need a rifle...period.

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Location: Nova Scotia
Joined: 08/17/2002
Posts: 1762
Best all-around firearm category?

12 gauge pump all the way. Ducks and geese are a bastard with that 30-06 Saskie ;) especially on the fly. If I could only have one firearm I would pick the 12 gauge pump. Probably the most versatile setup I can think of... a "jack of all trades" but a master of none. Sort of like the 30-06 in the rifle argument.

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Joined: 09/22/2004
Posts: 3
Best all-around firearm category?

I would go with a 7mm Rem Mag as I can use it for any of the big game animals we have here in Alberta. I can also load it down to shoot coyotes. Granted it doesn't work on birds like ducks and geese, but now that we need to use steel shot I don't know anyone who hunts migratory birds anymore. Neither I or any of my hunting buddies have shot at birds for the last 4 years. This is why I would go with the 7mm over the 12 ga.

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Location: West Carleton, Ottawa, Canada
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Best all-around firearm category?
ChesterGolf wrote:
Ducks and geese are a bastard with that 30-06 Saskie ;)

So are elk/moose/bear with a 12ga slug. Sure it can be done - bowhunters and traditional muzzleloaders prove that every season by getting with 50yds for a shot. But those are not "the norm" in hunting.

I will admit that with the 12ga, all manner of hunting is at least "possible" if not practical or desireable. IN my opinion most forms of bigger game hunting (other than whitetail) are too impractical with a shotgun.

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Best all-around firearm category?

Okay, I think what I was looking for was a firearm that would be usable for pretty much anything, maybe not the best choice for any particular category, but best all around. That would mean that it could be used for just about anything and you could expect some chance of success, even if there were better alternatives in any single category.

That would kinda rule out high powered rifles pretty much completely in the self defense class and the bird on the wing class.

Let me put it another way, using a 30-06 to shoot at flying birds (real or the clay variety), you have virtually no chance of success. It won't work under any conditions. Using a 270 winchester as a primary self defense firearm, you have virtually no chance of success, except under extremely limited conditions. These are excellent firearms for big game, target shooting, and even for plinking.

By contrast, a 12 gauge pump is an excellent firearm for shooting at flying birds with, a good firearm for self defense (brandishment in confined space notwithstanding that claim, of course), and an adequate firearm for use on big game. It is true that it won't do for long range shots, no matter the configuration, but it can be used with the right ammunition to take the largest of north american game, including the big bears (it is far superior to any handgun for the purpose, which is the topic of another article). Again, it isn't the best tool for the job, but it will work. People do, in fact use them for the purpose of taking larger than deer game, much the same as they would use muzzleloaders. After all, a one ounce 50 caliber sabot round at 1650 fps is a real thumper of a load; one that develops over 2,500 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle, which is right up there in the big game hunting category (about like elk loads for 308 winchester or 280 remington).

The best all around doesn't have to be the best in every category. In fact, it really couldn't be, but it needs to be the most versatile choice available. High power rifles are limited to their specific purposes almost exclusively. They are simply impractical for anything else.

If my life depended on it, I'd rather be using a 12 gauge on big bears in the woods than a rifle on doves flying by. That's a good measure for comparison. Which one would you bet your life on if it was the only firearm you could use for everything firearms are normally used for?

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Location: Missouri/Arkansas
Joined: 08/21/2003
Posts: 891
Best all-around firearm category?

Hey, who says you can't shoot birds with a 30-06 or a 7mm Rem Mag? I've shot doves with a 300 Weatherby Mag! Just wait til they land then pop them right in the head! lol

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Best all-around firearm category?

Of course, the bonus of shooting birds' heads off with a high powered rifle is you don't have to worry about gutting them afterwards, the entrails are sucked out the neck along with the head.

Actually, unless I shoot fmj at small game, they usually blow up on any impact. Those 110 grainers in my 7mm mag are really cooking, but methinks the jackets are a bit thin. I did a head shot on a whistle pig at about 75 yards one time, and he still blew up like he'd swallowed a grenade. I've always been an advocate of bullet weight vs. velocity, but I have to admit that there's something about going more than 3,000 fps on impact that just devastates.

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Location: Missouri/Arkansas
Joined: 08/21/2003
Posts: 891
Best all-around firearm category?

I won't shoot anything under 140 grains out of my 7mm Magnums. I don't think the lighter bullets are really meant to hold up to those pressures.

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Best all-around firearm category?

Yeah, most of those lighter bullets really come out screaming. I figure I'm at 3,600 fps or better on 110 grainers. I haven't chronyed them yet, but the calcs put up there somewhere. fpjhp or fmj are the only ones that seem to keep the jackets on coming out of the barrel. The SP bullets seem to shred out fairly quickly.

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Location: Missouri/Arkansas
Joined: 08/21/2003
Posts: 891
Best all-around firearm category?

The 110's and 120's must seriously cook from this cartridge. 3600 fps is probably only a starting point! I've chronographed Hornady 154 grain bullets at velocities up to 3300 fps in handloads using H-1000 powder.

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