Ideal Rifle for Dual Use

NorthernHunter

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Hello,
First time post for me here on this forum. I've read a lot of information on this site and it definitely looks like the place to post my question regarding rifles for dangerous game. I live in Alaska and am searching for input on having a custom rifle built. This rifle will mostly see use on the coast hunting bears. Wet, nasty weather with the salty type environment in horrendously thick brush (alders) is pretty typical for these hunts. The other intended use is to take it to Africa at some point to hunt. I'm not super particular on caliber at this point, but need one that will work well with a 22" or shorter barrel without horrible recoil that makes a second shot difficult. I'm more interested in what components as well as top gunsmiths are recommended. While I love the looks of the fancy rifles so many of you have on here, this rifle just needs to be reliable 110% of the time in less than stellar conditions. Here's a list of items I'm pondering on a build. Maybe some of you could provide your thoughts or first hand accounts (positive or negative) on this list and gunsmiths.
  • Action (Model 70 CRF)- Yes/No? I'm told the stainless "Classic" action is ideal, but am open to other suggestions. 3 position safety with bolt lock (nothing likes to open a bolt like climbing in alders)
  • Barrel: No longer than 22" with backup iron sights. What's the best type of irons around for low light, dangerous game survival?
  • Stock: Synthetic stock: Is there one that stands out as a better performer for a dangerous game setup?
  • Trigger: Upgrade or get the original Winchester trigger tuned?
  • Gunsmith: Who builds the best and most reliable repeater rifle?
  • Coatings: Nitride metal to prevent corrosion?
  • In trying to keep within a certain budget, is there likely going to be problems if say I purchase a five thousand dollar custom rifle from a reputable gunsmith vs. a gunsmith who has a specific "dangerous game" classic type safari rifle build in their products that costs three thousand dollars more? What is (or isn't) necessarily gained by the price difference?
I appreciate any help on this project.
 

mdwest

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Sounds like a Winchester 70 stainless classic in 375 H&H with the barrel cut to 22” to me...

Simple, almost off the rack purchase, that’s proven in both Alaska and Africa to be both reliable and effective on DG..

All at a reasonable price.. and easy to find and obtain
 

USMA84DAB

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Northern Hunter - here is my $.02 worth

  • Action (Model 70 CRF)- Yes/No? I'm told the stainless "Classic" action is ideal, but am open to other suggestions. 3 position safety with bolt lock (nothing likes to open a bolt like climbing in alders) - THE WIN 70 IS FINE - A TURK MAUSER (IT HAS CRF) BUILT INTO A .375 RUGER OR .416 RUGER WOULD BE SUPERB FOR RELIABILITY AND THE "UGLY" FLAG SAFETY (WHICH I ADORE - IT IS AMBIDEXTROUS AND I AM A SOUTHPAW SHOOTER) CAN BE PLACED INTO THE RIGHT SIDE POSITION AND LOCK THE BOLT CLOSED - ANOTHER OPTION WOULD BE THE RUGER ALASKAN (IT ALSO HAS CRF) IN EITHER OF THESE TWO CARTRIDGES - IT COMES IN ALL STAINLESS AND SYNTHETIC HOGUE STOCK, SO WOULD BE QUIET RUBBING AGAINST THE ALDERS AND IT HAS THE WIN 70 THREE POSITION SAFETY THAT LOCKS THE BOLT CLOSED
  • Barrel: No longer than 22" with backup iron sights. What's the best type of irons around for low light, dangerous game survival? I CONCUR WITH 22" OR LESS - THE RUGER ALASKAN IS 20" AND NOW COMES WITH A MUZZLE BREAK (WHICH I DON'T HAVE ON MINE BECAUSE IT WAS ONE OF THE EARLY BATCHES - BUT ONE CAN REMOVE IT AND PUT THE THREAD PROTECTOR ON) - THE .375 OR .416 RUGER BOTH FIT INTO A .30-06 LENGTH ACTION, SO ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, A TINY BIT SHORTER/LIGHTER FOR QUICK HANDLING IN TIGHT QUARTERS - THE ALASKAN HAS FIXED IRON SIGHTS ALREADY INSTALLED - YOU WOULD HAVE TO UPGRADE THE FRONT SIGHT TO HAVE A FIBER OPTIC OR TRITIUM VIAL
  • Stock: Synthetic stock: Is there one that stands out as a better performer for a dangerous game setup? I HAVE USED THE HOGUE OVERMOLDED FOR RIFLE BUILDS (.35WAI & .308 WIN) AND THE ONE ON MY .375 IS SUPERB - ALL WHO HAVE FIRED THE GUN COMMENT ON HOW MUCH THEY LIKE THE STOCK FEEL - THE 13.5" LENGTH OF PULL FITS ME PERFECTLY (I AM 5'10") - THE COMB IS HIGH AND STRAIGHT
  • Trigger: Upgrade or get the original Winchester trigger tuned? THE LC6 TRIGGER IN THE ALASKAN IS VERY NICE - A MAUSER OR A WIN 70 CAN HAVE A TIMNEY DROPPED IN - QUICK AND EASY
  • Gunsmith: Who builds the best and most reliable repeater rifle? THE RUGER IS A FINISHED PACKAGE DEAL. I HAVE BUILT THE OTHERS I USE, SO NOTHING TO OFFER ADVICE-WISE THERE
  • Coatings: Nitride metal to prevent corrosion? IF YOU BUILD WITH CHROME-MOLY, THEN SURE, GET IT NITRIDED - THE STAINLESS IS EASIER TO GET UNLESS YOU HAVE ACCESS TO A SHOP THAT NITRIDES METAL
  • In trying to keep within a certain budget, is there likely going to be problems if say I purchase a five thousand dollar custom rifle from a reputable gunsmith vs. a gunsmith who has a specific "dangerous game" classic type safari rifle build in their products that costs three thousand dollars more? What is (or isn't) necessarily gained by the price difference - THE RUGER AMERICAN IN .375 NEW IS $997.00 ON BUD'S GUNS - THE .416 IS A BIT MORE - TAKE THE $4,000 DIFFERENCE AND GET ALOT OF AMMO TO PRACTICE WITH AND YOUR TICKETS TO AFRICA - BTW - THE AMMO IS THE ONE DOWNSIDE TO THE RUGER CARTRIDGES VS. THE .375 H&H - ANYWHERE YOU GO YOU WILL FIND .375 H&H AMMO, WHEREAS THE RUGER CARTRIDGES ARE NOT NEARLY SO UBIQUITOUS YET - HORNADY AND NORMA MAKE BRASS IF YOU RELOAD, OR HORNADY MAKES FACTORY AMMO. IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THE TWO CARTRIDGES ARE BECOMING MORE POPULAR FROM MY READING HERE - THE .375 RUGER, ALL ELSE EQUAL, BESTS THE .375 H&H BY 150-200 FPS, OR, I GET THE SAME SPEED FROM MY 20" BARREL AS A STANDARD MAGNUM LENGTH BARREL ON A .375H&H.

HOPE THESE THOUGHTS HELP - MANY WHO ARE MORE EXPERIENCED WILL UNDOUBTEDLY CHIME IN, SO HARVEST THE GREAT ADVICE/EXPERTISE!

USMA84DAB
 

JPbowhunter

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As a factory rifle that will do all you want you should look at a Sako Black Bear in 9.3x62. The kodiak is similar but has a laminate stock and stainless barrel but coemes in 375 H&H not 9.3.

My brother has one and I've done quite a bit of hunting with it myself in trying conditions and it's great. Plenty of stopping power with recoil more manageable than a 375H&H. Quick detachable rings enables you to use the factory sights which are great for up close work.

If you're set on your custom build your ideas are good. CRF with 3 position safety. Stock, barrel etc. Is a bit more personal preference there's plenty of good options. I still would recommend 9.3x62 as the calibre. If I ever get to hunt bear I'll definitely be taking mine, it'll be my rifle on next year's buff hunt.

Best of luck with what you choose.
 

Bullthrower338

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Call Montana Rifle Company and tell them what you want. Might have to send the rifle off for a set of proper express sights and a barrel band because they don’t seem to heed the advice that nobody wants a set of marbles on a DG rifle and they want a barrel band on the damn thing. But the rifle is solid, look at the V2.
No need on spending 5k+ to get a reliable hunting rifle unless you are looking for pretty to go along with functionality.
 

Red Leg

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I have little positive to say about the Ruger American series (Alaskan is a different thing). At some point, trying to be the cheapest on the block just results in a cheap rifle. The Sako "bear" series are fine rifles. I have an "Arctos" in 9.3x62. Wonderful rifle, but not legal everywhere for dangerous game. Get a .375.

Lot's of folks will advocate a number of mauser inspired rifles that will fit your initial criteria. At the budget line you are indicating, I would urge you to look at the Blaser R8 Professional. I have had the good fortune to hunt dangerous game with both superb custom CRF rifles and a double. I have a number of others in the game room that I could also use. My last two hunts for cape buffalo (and everything else on the menu) was with a Blaser R8 in .375. It is the most ergonomic, transportable, reliable, and accurate rifle that I have ever used for big game. With composite stock, it is very nearly indestructible. It will be accompanying me to the Kamchatka in May for Russian brown bear in some rather harsh conditions. It is my go to rifle because it is superior to anything else I could choose.
 
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BeeMaa

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One that maker that hasn't been mentioned is Dakota.
A model 76 Professional Hunter would fit the bill quite well.
And would have everything you need without having to send it to a gunsmith.

Of course a premium rifle comes at a premium price.
Buy once, cry once.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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For $1,000 or less, you can get a 375 Ruger Alaskan. Several are currently listed on GB. Most come with a 20 inch barrel, I have one with a 23 inch barrel and laminated stock. Great value and a solid rifle.
 

Mekaniks

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Welcome to the posting side of AH!

You are on the right track. If you are looking for a caliber that will do it all in Alaska and PG in Africa I recommend a .338 WM. You can load it with 185-200 grain bullets for deer, sheep, caribou and elk. And 225-250 grain for bears, American Bison and Africa Plains game. That said, if you plan to use it for Africa Dangerous Game you will need to step up to .375 or larger, which is obviously also an excellent choice for bears, but can be a lot of extra gun when hunting blacktail and sheep, although lots of folks do it all the time.

The new Model 70's are excellent rifles and stainless with a Nitride coating is defiantly the way to go. As Bullthrower338 mentioned MRC are also very good rifles and they will do any customizations that you want.

Not sure where you are located in Alaska but there are some very good gunsmiths around the State. I personally use Steve Untiet at Alaska Custom Firearms in Anchorage. He has built my last two customs rifles. A pre-64 model 70 in .35 Whelen with Nitride coating that haven't had time to get dialed in yet. And a light weight post 64 mod 70 in .338 Federal with a 20" stainless barrel and Ceratote that I use for just about everything including Africa PG in 2016. In the next couple weeks I going to drop off a Win mod 61 22 LR for him to "refurbish" this winter.

If you do go with a full custom rifle, I really like H-S Precision Kevlar stocks. I have one on my 338 federal and it been a great stock. Light weight, super tough and durable in the harshest conditions that Alaska can throw at it.

Anyway, good luck and let us know what you finally decide. Cheers
 

Ridgewalker

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Yep, I’d start with a factory rifle in 375 H&H. Works around the world and you can find ammo most anywhere there is DG.
I’d begin with a CRF that fits me, ie, MRC, Kimber Talkeetna, Winny 70, etc.
All come in stainless steel. But even SS will have free irons which will rust, so it needs either a Cerakote or nitride coat. Having a Cerakote rifle, I think now I’d try nitride.
You’re right about any/all of them needing bright large open sights! Possibly a ghost rear with a bright green front light gathering Truglo or what ever you see best.
A 22” barrel is a definite plus in the thick alder bushes of Kodiak or acacias of the bushveld of Africa. I’ve carried a 24” in both places and at times wished for a 22”.
Quick release scope rings (not Leupold stud type!) With a 1-6x or 1-8x scope and duplicate backup scope.
A barrel sling band as mentioned.
If your a smaller guy like me, a lighter rifle works better for the difficult terrains on Kodiak or mountains of the Eastern Cape.

All that said, RedLeg and his synthetic stocked Blaser has some excellent attributes especially for a traveling hunter. I don’t know what their metal finish is though. If you could get it nitrided, it would be nice.

Best of luck in your decision! I’ll be following to find out your choices.
 

CAustin

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Kawshik Rahman

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Conventional wisdom on these forums matches my own. For your needs , the 9.3 millimeter mauser cartridge or better yet , the magnum .375 bore cartridge by Holland and Holland will cover all your needs.
The model 70 rifles from Winchester which have the mauser type extracting claw device , are some of the finest non bespoke rifles on the market , with excellent reliability .
Synthetic stocks are very durable and need comparitively low maintenance than a average wooden stock. Personally speaking , l am an old soul and love French walnut wood stocks ( though American is just as good ).
May l ask if 22 inches is mandatory ? 24 inches ( l find ) are comfortable enough to maneuver even in thick foliage. Of course , this depends on your height largely.
For makers , l would highly recommend Winchester . They are excellent rifles for those who do not wish to spend a greater deal of money on an expensive made to order rifle ( infact , l dare say that the Winchester is better than a few custom made rifles which l have seen ) .
A word about weight . I should think eight to nine pounds would be comfortable enough to help mitigate recoil which remaining comfortably light.
On a related subject , the finest action which l have ever seen for the magnum .375 bore cartridge is the French Brevex action . However , it must be very rare , as l have only personally seen one example my entire life.
 

WAB

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NorthernHunter, I lived in Alaska for a number of years and ran a boat out of Valdez. I totally understand your desire for a shorter barrel. I’ve hunted all over the world and have never seen anything thicker or nastier than some of that coastal country. Devil’s club is a particular treat.

I went through the same analysis you are going through. I used Gary Junk of Arctic Gunworks in Fairbanks. Gary does excellent work. He has built three rifles for me. He has semi retired but is still doing work from a home shop. If you can’t find his number, PM me.

My coastal rifle began life as a M70 stainless synthetic in .375 H&H. Gary cut the bbl to 22”, installed a bbl banded front sight and sling swivel stud, island mounted ghost ring, and Leupold QRW mounts. The metal was arctic coated satin black. Arctic Coat is a particularly heavy Teflon system. As you know, bare stainless will rust hunting coastal areas, particularly if you are running to shore in a zodiac. The rifle has since received a custom stock from canyon creek custom Gunstocks and has been to Africa.

Knowing what I know now, and having lugged that rascal up more than a few mountains, I would likely go with a full custom M70 in 9.3x62. The 9.3 is comfortable to shoot in a much lighter rifle, is all you will ever need in Alaska, and if my wife’s experience this summer is indicative, can handle buffalo effectively.

Good luck and enjoy!
 

fourfive8

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Easy answer- 375 HH Win 70 stainless classic in an HS Precision stock and low power, high quality scope. IMO, cutting 2-3” off standard bbl is more for talking about than for practical purpose- but to each their own :)
 

WAB

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Easy answer- 375 HH Win 70 stainless classic in an HS Precision stock and low power, high quality scope. IMO, cutting 2-3” off standard bbl is more for talking about than for practical purpose- but to each their own :)
Actually the barrel profile on the M70 .375 is very heavy for the caliber. I believe that they use the same barrel profile as what they are using on the .458. Cutting two or three inches off the barrel results in much better balance and gives up very little in velocity. I also think its a noticeable difference in the thick stuff.
 

Luvthunt

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Kimber Talkeetna would be worth a look . Would be in 375 HH . Have the barrel cut to 22” and Teflon coated. If it were mine I would have Mag Na Port do the barrel shortening and port it at the same time. Not so much for recoil reduction as to significantly reduce muzzle climb for faster response.
I have a pre 64 Win. In 375 bought it many years ago and I abused it in trips to Kodiak and the mainland. Bought a Kimber to replace the old friend and have been very satisfied.
Had the original front sight put back after barrel was shortened and mounted a receiver sight. Receiver sight works for me as I grew up shooting peep sights.
Good luck and the 375 will do what you are asking.
 
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NorthernHunter

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Wow! Thank you for all of the great input and recommendations folks. Here's a little bit more information about me and some of the rifles I have and have used.
I've used the Ruger Guide guns in both 375 and the 416. I'm currently working on testing some reloads in the .416Ruger guide gun with the 350gr Barnes TTSX bullets for a friend. I will be at the range this weekend checking out load development and what kind of accuracy and velocity I can get out of the 20" barrel.

I already have and own a custom 375WBY rifle that I've used to take a coastal bear with. It's built on the M70 classic action in a High Tech synthetic stock and 24" Brux barrel. It's a superbly accurate setup, but is missing a few components I'd like (barrel band, iron sights, short barrel). I know the barrel could be shortened, but I'll probably leave this rifle as-is, rather than have it modified. I also have a Kimber 8400 that I had customized as well. It has a 20" barrel with a brake, McMillan stock, Ceramic coatings and Iron sights. It's main design intent was for deer hunting, with the always possible threat of bears being in the area, especially with dead deer. The surprising thing with the 338 is that factory Barnes ammo with the 225TTSX still keeps a velocity of 2750fps. My hunting partner has an almost identical rifle and it too has similar velocities. I thought I'd give up a lot more speed with the short 338Win barrel, but it didn't seem to happen.


WAB
I remember Gary and his shop he used to have here in town. He put together some nice looking rifles in that shop. Thanks for reminding me about devil's club....ugh.....I'll be down in Sitka here soon hunting goat and deer and can't wait to be reacquainted with those nasty little thorns.

Although I have a couple of possible rifles that would work, I'm really looking for that "niche" rifle that will knock a big bear down if necessary, is handy and compact and totally reliable. The Ruger seems to check all the boxes and I'm really looking into that option. Besides the Ruger and some of the other manufacturer's mentioned, which custom gunsmith would be the go-to person for a build like this? The gunsmith I've used for both my 375WBY and 338 is Kevin Weaver out of Colorado. He's done a great job on everything he's built. They all funtion and I've looked at the Bansner Classic safari rifle as well and that looks like a very nice rifle package for this task.

If you had to break it down into two types of categories on customs, I'd say the one category would be sky's the limit on budget and optics . The other, more reasonable side is what does a nine to ten thousand dollar with optic setup look like and who would build it? The third option is the off the shelf Ruger/Montana/Winchester choice.
 

Opposite Pole

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RedLeg and his synthetic stocked Blaser has some excellent attributes especially for a traveling hunter. I don’t know what their metal finish is though. If you could get it nitrided, it would be nice.

Blaser R8s are factory plasma nitrided.
 

fourfive8

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Who knows, seems the OP already has the answer and is probing for answers that agree with his conclusions. :) a rhetorical exercise perhaps
 

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