Think Outside the Box

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Some don't think about the purchase of a new rifle until there is a true need for one. Others find ways to buy another rifle to lean into an empty spot in their gun cabinet. You can count me among that bunch of "buyers". I truly enjoy handling, learning about and owning nice firearms, especially rifles built for big game hunting.

Not a thing wrong with .22 rimfires and I own a few of them. Not a thing wrong with small caliber centerfires, I own one or two of those as well. But, show me a good old deer rifle and my whole attitude changes. I am simply a huge fan of such rifles. I've owned a good number of them over the years and still have more than I could possible make an argument about actually needing. I'm sure my wife would tell you that, for sure.

Anyway, my simple tip here today is to perhaps think outside the box when you find a nice old rifle, or are actually in need of a new one. Sure, you can cruise down to Wally World and buy a cookie cutter rifle, in a cookie cutter chambering and be done with it. I for one, like to buy my rifles a bit differently, however. I am a regular, looking at big gun selling sites online and what they have to offer. I've purchased a good number of rifles that way and sold more than a few myself using some of those sites.

I've walked into little gun shops and seen guns that I've looked for sitting right there, waving to me. A very nice Winchester Model 88 came to live with me after just such an experience. I've gone to gun shows and brought home guns older than my Dad. That 1928 Parker Trojan predated him by 2 full years! I've bought classics at gun shows and then hunted with them collecting deer that then became special memories, because of that fact. I doubt I'll ever forget my first deer taken with my model 99 Savage in .300 Savage.

This brings me to my final point here. Do NOT let an older less popular chambering be the reason for you not to buy a nice older rifle. If you see a rifle chambered in .250 Savage, .300 Savage, .32 Win Spcl, .257 Roberts, 7x57, 8x57, 6.5x55, .284 Win, .35 Rem, .358 Win, .35 Whelen, .444 Marlin, 45-70 or any number of other non-mainstream chamberings, do not be afraid to step outside the box. To the chambering, all those are very fine rifles, capable and very popular in their "time".

The fact that you cannot walk into Wally World and buy a box of shells for any of those chamberings should be of zero concern, as far as I'm concerned. I cannot even tell you the last time I bought a box of shells at W.W. It really has been that long, trust me. There are several different aftermarket ammunition producers out there making very high quality stuff.

There are many shooters who buy a LOT of their loadings and rightly so. I have found them to be way more than acceptably accurate, to the chambering. Most of these smaller companies make their money by supplying well made and accurate loads. Not the fastest velocities for all chamberings, but many times more accurate than a typical factory loading.

Don't walk away from that .300 Savage because a Buddy tells you that you won't be able to find ammunition for it. If it's a nicely preserved example, there are plenty of places still out there to buy reasonably priced ammo!  I will also say that in my opinion, many rifles made 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years ago are more nicely finished than their newer counterparts. That's a fact Jack! Take the time to pick up that handsome old rifle with real polished bluing or perhaps with some really nice grain in it's walnut stock.

Think outside the box. I doubt you'll be disappointed, I really do.

****NOTE: If someone is "on the fence" because they are nervous about finding ammunition for an obscure chambering, I'll share my known resources with you, if you simply message me with your concern.


Deer Slayer's picture

Thanks for the article and

Thanks for the article and the tips. I really appreciate them. I've never really thought about buying a rifle, but if i do you have convinced me into looking to buy an older first. Thanks for sharing.

arrowflipper's picture

I so agree!

Great tip on picking up older rifles or those with odd calibers.  I handled more than one old rifle when I was younger and I'd love to find some of those old classics today.  One of my dreams is to find a beautiful old Savage 99 in 250-300.  A friend of my Dad's loaned me one of those that I used for a year.  At the time, I'm sure I thought I was "under-gunned", but what a wonderful rifle that was! 

I had the chance to pick up a Ruger #1 in 45-70 one time and turned it down thinking I would have a hard time finding ammunition easily.  What a mistake that was!

Two years ago, my neighbor asked me how he could sell a couple of old rifles that had belonged to his dad.  I asked what they were and found out the were both 1950's Winchester Model 70's.  One was a 308 featherweight and the other a classic 30-06.  I told him what they were worth but quickly added that it was well above my budget.  I offered him a substantially lower figure for the 308 featherweight and told him I'd give it a good home.

I own that 308 today and took it deer hunting last October.  It came complete with the original Weaver 4X scope that he bought in the early 50's.  I was fortunate enough to take a small mule deer buck, but what a thrill to use that classic old rifle.  I have now retired it to my safe where it will stay clean.  I'll shoot it occasionally, but probably won't take it hunting again. 

I also sold the 06 for him at a much better price.  We were all happy.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great article, great tips, If

Great article, great tips, If I were to buy a rifle I would probably 99% sure by a nice looking older rifle over a new one any time.

hunter25's picture

I absolutely agree with this

I absolutely agree with this line of thinking. The oddball rifles and calibers have always had great appeal for me. I dont own very many right now but plan to change that as time goes on. my current list of not quite the normal calibers include.

.220 Swift

.32 Special


.32 h&r


Not the most obscure around this forum I'm sure but most of the guys I talk to at the range have no idea what they are or what they are missing.


groovy mike's picture

Right on target, again


You hit the mark right on target again.  This is absolutely true.  Two of my last three rifle purchases were "obscure" cartridges to say the least.  A 9.3x57R combination gun with a 12 gauge TWO inch (not 2 and 3/4 inch) barrel is a delight, and may eb the highlight of my collection even though it was sold to me as a 12 gauge and 38-55 (still uncommon but much easier to find than 9.3x57R aka 360 nitro express).  The other is a 500 nitro express (or maybe black powder express) that I am still working out the details of - but that is half the fun.  Once you have a boring plain jane 30-06 what is teh fun in getting another one?  Why not try something new.  These old girls can shoot and they have CLASS.  They have romance. The have history.  My 500 is a double rifle made for tiger hunting in India 100 years ago.  It may have been carried on elephant shikari.  What Remington claims a lineage like that?

The cartridges are available even if they are not at Walmart and if they aren't so what? you get the fun of making them.  It is incredibly cool to take game with ammo that you literally made yourself - not just reloaded but actually formed and cast.  It adds a whole new level of satisfaction to hunting - and just when you thought it couldn't get any better!

Ed's 100% right.  Don't hesitate. Go for it.  Try something "new" in a hundred year old flavor

Heck - if you don't like it and decide to get rid of some old rifle in shooting shape - just give me a call and I'll swap you a Walmart 30-30, 308, or a 30-06....





jaybe's picture

Great Idea!

Those are really good points, guys; I'd like to add two thoughts to support what both of you have said.

(1) Whenever newer calibers come out (and this has been going on for longer than we have been alive) it is the business of gun writers to sing their praises and proclaim how they have replaced everything that has gone before.

  It makes for good print, but in the majority of cases (no pun intended) there isn't really that much difference between "the new round" and "everything that has gone before".

  If you take a close look at ballistic charts (often even a casual look will suffice), it becomes very obvious that the differences in the performance of dozens of calibers (all of which were said to be "superior" to their predecessors) isn't very much at all.

  And in the final analysis, the game animal at the terminal end of this whole argument will never know if he was hit with a .300 Super Whiz Bang (brand new) or that rifle that your grandfather used to feed his family 100 years ago.

(2) Reloaders who are attracted to a particular rifle that shoots ammo that isn't easily found, can purchase the dies to load them themselves.

  But what if you don't already reload? Why not find a friend who has reloading tools and ask him if you could use his stuff to reload your rounds (under his supervision, of course)?

  To purchase a complete set of reloading equipment can be a sizeable investment, but the price of dies isn't all that much.

  Maybe he would be willing to teach you how to reload using his equipment, and this would give you one more opportunity to spend quality time with another shooter/hunter.

  That's always good therapy, and a way to help build up the shooting/hunting community.