Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Losing sight of the purpose

Sometimes i wonder about rifle designers. It seems that they often lost track of how the final product will be used and create something that is neither fish nor fowl.

Case in point: Remington with their Model Seven and their Short-Action Ultra Magnum family of cartridges.

When i went to buy a compact rifle i intended to get a Model 7 in 260 Remington. I switched to the Ruger 77 Compact for two reasons. The Ruger was over a hundred bucks cheaper at retail. But the more critical factor was that the Ruger was shorter by almost four inches. The Model 7 in 260 has a 20" barrel. The Ruger is a fraction over 16". If it was worth getting a new rifle to lose four inches in OAL compared to my 30-06, then saving eight inches made a lot more sense.

One of the reasons Remington came out with the 7mm and .300 RSAUM was that the Winchester Short Magnums would not work in the Model 7. Have to put the short mag in your short rifle, i guess, even if that means inventing a new cartridge.

The only problem is that even a short magnum needs a longer barrel to really out-perform a standard cartridge. So Remington put a 22" barrel on the Model 7 Magnum. Which means the compact rifle isn't very compact anymore.

Furthermore, the short magnums still kick. The recoil of the 7mm RSAUM is only 5% less than a 30-06 (comparing 140 gr. 7MM @ 3150 to 165 gr. .308@ 2930). The 260 Remington, in contrast, kicks 30% less. So the Model 7 Magnum ends up being a hard-kicking gun only marginally shorter than a Model 700 in .280 Remington.

Recoil is a problem in the Model Seven because many people buy it as a youth gun. It is a great one in 7mm-08 or .260 Remington. But in a magnum it punishes women and kids more than would a full-sized 7mm Mauser.

Adult men don't get a pass either. Because the Ruger Compact and Remington Model Seven have shorter stocks, it is easy to creep up on the scope when shooting. With the recoil of a magnum, you will eventually get smacked by the scope because you got too close.