Ruger Guide Gun Advice???? CARTRIDGE CHOICES???


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Apr 7, 2014
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Sorry if this gets kicked around a lot - I tried the search function and didn't come up with much... I posted a while back about

I'm no stranger to big bore rifles, but I'm looking to build a new one soon (starting in spring, I suppose), I've owned a couple 375H&H's, a 416Rig, 458WM, and a 458Lott in the past.

I asked a similar question a while back about rifle choice - controlled round feed vs. push feed. After a bit of introspection, I'm pretty well settled on the CRF (

First: I hear quite a bit - including in my first thread - that it's recommended to take a PG cartridge rifle and a DG cartridge rifle, OR to take two DGR's, one as back up for the other. Leaning towards the former, I'm planning a matched pair of customized Ruger Guide Guns, one in 416Rug or 458WM and the other in 338WM or 300WM. I may haul a 3rd rifle, my first deer rifle, a M77MkII .30-06, just for the nostalgia of it.

ANY ADVICE on whether it's relevant to carry two rifles or just one? Should the two both be DGR's, or a PG and a DG?

Second: At this point, as a lifetime Ruger Revolver fanatic and considering my first hunting rifle was a M77 30-06, I decided to go with Ruger rifles. I have a shop that will cut me a deal on two Ruger Guide Guns. I'm thinking about different cartridge options.

Here's the plan:
DGR: Ruger Guide Gun in 416 Ruger, or a 300WM and rebarrel to 458WM - Leaning towards 416 Ruger
PGR:Ruger Guide Gun in 338WM or 375 Ruger - Leaning towards 338WM


Any reason the Ruger Guide Gun standard length won't be a reasonable DGR?
Is it better to go with a pair of DGR's instead of 1 PGR and 1 DGR?
If two DGR's are better, should I match cartridges, or use two different? (like 416Rug & 458WM vs. 2 of 1?)
Opinions on the 416Ruger? Staying power so I can find components on the NEXT safari 20yrs from now?
DGR: (same question, sorry), 458WM or 416 Ruger? I'm leaning towards 416Ruger.
PGR: 300WM, 338WM, or 375 Ruger? I'm leaning towards 338WM.
I'm leaning towards MATCHED Ruger Guide Guns in 338WM and 416 Ruger - Opinions on this set up?

A lot of overlap in those questions, but I'm trying to make sure my thoughts on my 'matched rifles' make sense. Would a 338WM and a 458WM really be better than a 416Ruger? Would a 300WM make a better PGR than the 338? Is it worth mixing the 375Ruger into this equation at all? That's what I'm hoping to be able to answer with these questions. I suppose if the 416Rug falls away, I'll only have a few hundred bucks rebarreling later to 458WM.

The nice part about building on a standard length action and the Guide Gun platform (bolt face and mag boxes) is that I can strap a 300WM or 7mm RM barrel on when I get home and use it for whitetail hunting rather than having a DGR rotting in the back of my safe.

Lil' help?
In regards to matching cartridges, RSA does not allow importation of two guns of the same caliber. Personally, if you were going to go 1 DGR, and 1 PGR, I would go with 458WM, and 300WM. 458WM because I believe in the biggest caliber for DG, as caliber matters. 300WM because it is flat shooting and more than enough for any PG. On a recent elk hunt two of the guys shot their elk at 733 and 536 yards, and they were using 300WMs. Going with those two calibers also addresses your concern in regards to ammo 20 years from now. ;)
I would go with 458WM, and 300WM.

Thanks Tanks, I kinda expected at least ONE response of "300 + 458," and I've definitely been rolling that one around in my head.

It definitely adds a bit of a twist for me when I think about this - or maybe it makes my life easier.

Considering the cartridge family I've been looking at, the Ruger Guide Gun is offered in 300WM, 338WM, 375Rug, and 416Rug. So to get a 458WM, I have to rebarrel UP from one of the others. To be more transparent, I don't have a 338WM anymore, but could use one for a bear hunt in the not so distant future. So I suppose the option would be to buy a 300WM and a 338WM, and barrel up to 458WM. Alternatively, in my original plan, I'd buy a 338WM and a 416Ruger, then barrel one DOWN to 300WM, and probably some 6-6.5mm lighter cartridge yet to be determined. One thing I've weighted for the 416's over the 458 is the trajectory. I wasn't in love with my 458WM Ruger in the past, so I reamed it out to Lott. Not discounting the "fat and heavy bullet" consideration, but that's why one of my questions was to ask whether the 458wm was REALLY more substantial than the 416Rig/Rug/Rem...
Well, in regards to trajectory it really is not relevant for DG. I shot two elephants last month with my 500MDM. One was at 18 yards, and the other was 58yards. Now, I was sighted for 50 yards, and it made no difference in regards to point of aim. I'll be going back next May for a lion and a bull elephant, I doubt if the distance will be further than 50 meters again. Just for exercise I plugged in the numbers (500gr @2,350fps sighted in at 50 yards). At 100 yards it is -0.4" and at 150 yards it is -3.2". I doubt one would go after DG past 100 yards, if at all (I definitely wouldn't, no scope on my gun). Again, in my view caliber matters, depending on the shot. The second elephant I shot was a quartering shoulder shot that went through the right front shoulder, and the bullet was found in the right hip. If I was shooting a 375 I doubt if I would have taken the shot ;). Perfect heart/lung or a brain shot, sure the caliber doesn't matter as much.

Now, in my hunt I took the 500MDM and a 416B&M. I took enough solids and hollow points for the 416 to back up the 500, but I used it for zebras shooting 225gr tipped bullets at 2,950fps.

Also, if you don't like the 458WM as much then as you said go ahead and make it a Lott ;). Gives you even more options.
Well my .02 worth. Taking the ruger guide gun from a 458WM to Lott won't work real well as the 458WM is a standard length receiver (300 and 338 are also) and the LOTT takes a magnum length receiver. So unless you do a lot of work on the magazine etc won't work with out $$$ of gunsmith work. I am a ruger fan and have a number of their products. Since you didn't say you were a reloader I am assuming you are. The question is where do you stand on the belted vs no belt on the case? What do you plan on hunting on the DG side of things? If elephants are the main course 458WM and 416 ruger. If buff and cats 416 and 375 ruger and just buy enough brass to last you your lifetime and not look back. One combo you didn't mention is that the guide gun is now made in 338RCM. So the combo I would chose if non belted would be the 416ruger and 338 RCM. I really don't like factory rifles in belted cases. I perfer a custom that I can direct the gunsmith on how I want the chamber reamed on belted cases. hope that helps a little.
Well my .02 worth. Taking the ruger guide gun from a 458WM to Lott won't work real well...

I hope it didn't sound like I meant I was planning to barrel a Guide Gun in 458Lott, like you said, it doesn't fit. I DID mention that I reamed a 458WM M77MKII Magnum about 15yrs ago to accept 458Lott, and I was a BIG FAN of the Lott, but that's not a possibility for this project.

You mentioned the 338RCM, and I've been nervous to go that route. I shoot 338's quite a bit when I own them, so I'm a bit nervous that I'd find myself running dry on brass in 10yrs and be force to rebarrel. Do you recommend the RCM over the WM, or is the only reason you'd prefer the 338RCM because of the belt on the 338WM and sloppy factory chamber specs? Considering the desire I have for barrel interchangeability, I'll be setting back and re-chambering even the factory barrels, so that would give me the opportunity to have them chambered exactly how I want them (which is part of why I'll be spending an extra grand on this pair of rifles to make them capable of "sharing barrels"). But if there are other reasons to look at the RCM, I'm all ears, as I really haven't considered it as of yet.

I'm honestly more tempted to buy them both in smaller cartridges then rebarrel with customs to get the big bore cartridges for that very reason. It ensures that I have exactly the chamber that I want on the "safari barrels," and leave the factory chambers for the "Home barrels".
o_O jeez glad i am happy with rifles and calibres that you just go and buy as i am confuzed just trying to read this and all the rebarreling and combinations!! :confused::D

Glad I'm not the only one who became dased and confused from trying to sort all of that data, including cartridges I've never heard of.
Iron cowboy what I like about the RCM is it's short barrel is very quick handling and it is a well balanced package; 185gr to 225 it is a tad behind the 338 WM but 250+ gr bullets it just doesn't have the boiler room to keep up. It 's performance is on par with a 338/06 Ackley with out the fireforming etc. I love my 338WM as a small mid bore, but the RCM is growing on me. I bought a couple hundred rounds of brass and that ought to keep me happy for a good # of years. But you do have a very valid concern. Mine came as part of a 3 way kind of trade. I missed the part about reaming for a Lott years before, sorry about that. My other one that gets me is I have a 450 Marlin on a ruger 77 short action. The crazy things that happen when you have a 45/70 ruger #1 take off barrel laying under the shop bench:) No matter what I look forward to hearing on what you decide. Just be careful to not get bitten by the double rifle bug... Are you going to use a barrel nut like on a savage or some of the switch barrel conversion on a REM 700?
o_O jeez glad i am happy with rifles and calibres that you just go and buy as i am confuzed just trying to read this and all the rebarreling and combinations!! :confused::D

Glad I'm not the only one who became dased and confused from trying to sort all of that data, including cartridges I've never heard of.

Yeah, I know it's a bit of a different type of question and a different type of project, and I have no doubt that I'll end up with a pair of custom rifles worth less than used factory rifles - and I'm ok with that. Some of us have as much fun building/rebuilding the rifles as we do shooting them and killing with them. The idea with 'universal interchangeability' is that if I need a 458WM and a 338WM for a Safari, I can do that. If I need a 338WM and a 300WM for Alaskan brown, I can do that. If my wife and I want to carry a matched 7mmRM and 300WM for Kansas Whitetails, I can do that. Having the spare barrels will be cheaper than having spare rifles, and it lets a guy like me put more species and more memories on one rifle than I could otherwise.

Are you going to use a barrel nut like on a savage or some of the switch barrel conversion on a REM 700?

I'll plan on doing a "700 style" switch barrel rig, without the 'muzzle nut'. Since I'll have barrel mounted rear sights, I won't be able to pull the barrels without pulling out of the stocks anyway, so I'll be able to use proper action fixtures and barrel wrench, rather than using port or rear entry action "wrenches" for the switches. I'll use a torque wrench and a "bottom side" witness mark to ensure all of the barrels go back the same.

Funny that you mention the 450 Marlin and the 45-70 - I've been hunting a "Gub-mint" for a long time, favored flavor in the Marlin 1895 Guide Gun. 10-15yrs ago, I was more fond of 'hot rodding' my cartridges than I am today, so when I read at that time an account of a Marlin 1895 45-70 taking TWO cape buffalo with a single 500grn hardcast, I started pumping the powder to the old case, getting pretty close to 458WM levels. I've taken American Bison with this rifle, so if I'm 100% honest, I've done a bit of chatting with PH's and outfitters about using the 45-70 instead of a 'traditional safari cartridge'. Kicks like a mother in the lightweight Guide Gun, and that short barrel gives up a bit of velocity, but I'm tempted to fly it in as a back up if I hunt a country that allows it.
... If I need a 338WM and a 300WM for Alaskan brown, I can do that. If my wife and I want to carry a matched 7mmRM and 300WM for Kansas Whitetails, I can do that. ....

You know one other thing you could do is to change bullet weights instead of calibers and barrels. For example you can use a 260gr CEB tipped raptor on a 458 that will be good to 300 yards and beyond.

Last August I used a 335gr CEB tipped raptor at 2900fps for bear on my 500MDM. A bit of an overkill, but still worked very well. I used a 225gr CEB tipped raptor at 2950fps for both Zebra in August, and for Elk in Wyoming on my 416B&M. With different weight bullets and decent ballistics one can really utilize the big bores for almost all game.
One man's bread is another man's poison.
I do admire your ability to work on rifles.
If I tried that sort of thing, it's as likely that my barrels would fly down range as it is my bullets.
So, it is best that I simply have several complete rifles, each in a different caliber, for use in any scenario I could possibly conjure up.
But if I had your Gunsmith skills, perhaps I might have a different opinion possibly.
IronCowboy I am a Ruger lover as well. I have the Guide Gun in 416Ruger and used it on Dangerous Game in April of this year taking a lioness and a Cape buffalo. I mounted a Luepold VX 6 on the guide gun and it made the shots come off very well. I also took along my Ruger Model #1 in 300 Win Mag for the rest of the plains game animals.
Trust me the 416 Ruger Guide Gun will work wonders on any beast you come up against. If your hunting larger plains game such as Sable or Eland the 416 would be great. The Hornady DGX and DGS ammo performed very well for me.
In the 300 Win Mag I used 180 gr Winchester Ballistic Silver tip ammo.

Hope you take a great hunt. At the end of the day the rifle to take is the one you shoot best.
By the way on my first hunt I did take my Marlin 45-70 guide gun as the back up and my PH was fine with me using it on any if the animals we hunted. With that lever action you can get off some shots in a hurry. Not like a side by side fast but the third shot is a hell of a lot faster.
I may be changing my own mind about the Guide Gun and leaning more towards a straight Hawkeye instead. By the time I true up the actions, I'll have to set back the barrels and rechamber even the factory barrels, so I might as well slap on custom barrels for all 4 cartridges. It's starting to become apparent that I'd have more work than it'll be worth to regulate both rifles to take all 4 barrels equally, since I'd have to ream out the receiver threads and re-thread them larger to ensure that all 4 barrels clocked the same when installed. Gunsmith problems... But, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a 6.5 Rem mag and 338Win Mag on one action and a 300Win Mag and a 458Win Mag on the other action.

If I go with the standard Hawkeye All-Weather, I also save about $200 on buying the donor rifles, which I can put towards the barrels. All I want is the stainless actions, I'll be installing barrels, sights, optics, and new stocks, so saving a bit on the donor actions will help. I justify it in my own head that I'll have to set back the barrels no matter what after I blueprint the actions, so I'd either have to go a full turn, or remove and re-clock the barrel bands and sights. Saving $200 on the rifles almost pays for the new barrels, and lets me sell the take-off barrels, so I might come close to breaking even before smithing.
A 300 will do all plains game, just for the big ones like Eland make sure to take good shots with excellent ammo. I like the 300. A 338 will do a good job as will the 375. The 375 is great for all PG, besides maybe some of the smaller ones like Dik Dik were it'll put a plate size hole in them. A 375 is good enough for DG but most would opt to go with some more power. The 416 or 458 have plenty of power for all the DG or the larger PG. If I were to choose I'd go with either a 300 or 338 and 416. More stopping power always helps, especially with not so great shots so the 458 isn't a terrible idea. I'd decide between them based upon personal preference and brand. The other x factor to consider is noise. A 375 will ring your ears a lot more then a 300 etc and the last thing any of us want is hearing lost when we're old so shooting a smaller caliber that will do just as good of a job is fine. I love Ruger guns, I'd go with what your leaning towards and go with the matching guide guns.
The Guide gun in 416 with a great scope is great for anything but small game. Wildebeest on up will go down. You really don't need so many choices. Take the one you shoot best. Not sure you can get different barrels into South Africa anyway? Brickburn what are your thoughts on that?
CAustin is correct on the multiple barrels into South Africa. I looked at bringing several barrels for my TC Encore in 2013 (9.3x74R and 416 Rigby) and was told no go. You might be able in one of the other countries. My vote for your bolt gun choices would be the 416 and a 338 with irons and quick release scope mounts ans go have a blast and shoot straight. Unless you find a nice double, Just saying:cool:
This conversation kind of reminds me of Ray Liotta's talk near the end of GOODFELLA"S, where he's driving around and talking about getting product to Janice, the babysitter; his marital problems; the secret of making a great meatball; and worrying whether the marinara sauce is getting stirred properly all the while glancing in the sky with concern about the black helicopters.
Is it too late to mention the K.I.S.S. principle?
CAustin is correct on the multiple barrels into South Africa. I looked at bringing several barrels for my TC Encore in 2013 (9.3x74R and 416 Rigby) and was told no go. You might be able in one of the other countries. My vote for your bolt gun choices would be the 416 and a 338 with irons and quick release scope mounts ans go have a blast and shoot straight. Unless you find a nice double, Just saying:cool:

To clarify- we won't be hauling un-mounted barrels into Africa, just two complete rifles. For Africa, we'd have a 338WM PGR and a 458WM (or 416Rug) DGR. The spare barrels will stay home. When we get back to Flatlandia where we don't need as much firepower, I can twist on the smaller bore tubes and the wife and I can have proper deer rifles until we get heavier game back in front of us.

It's really not as complicated as it might seem to some folks, and it ends up saving me money. We're currently in "need" of rifles for 4 purposes: I want to replace my 338WM blued with a stainless model, my wife wants a flatter shooting elk rifle - a 7mmRM most likely, I want another 300wm for deer, and we need another DGR before we go to Africa. If I buy 4 rifles with 4 scopes, we'll have around $9,000-10,000US into it, and the 338WM and the 458WM - total value of around $5,500 - would spend many years in the back of the safe unused. Alternatively, if we build two rifles with 3 scopes and 2 spare barrels, I can do the whole thing for around $5,500-6,000, and the only thing we'll have in the safe going unused most years would be the low-mag $1,000US scope and two ~$300 barrels. Money's not a limiting factor, but it's a consideration, since saving ~$4,000US on the rifles means an extra elk or black bear hunt for me and the missus. It only takes about an hour to replace the barrels, just drop the stock, vise the action, spin it off, spin it on, check the headspacing, torque the stock, re-zero the optic, and go check it at the range. Without open sights on the barrels, you don't even have to drop the stock.

So to me, it's actually pretty simple - I don't have to buy extra rifles, just extra barrels.

I'm pretty settled on the 338 as our PGR, but I'll admit that I'm still on the fence for the 416 Ruger vs. 458WM. I have confidence that the 416Rug will be nicer to the standard length action, but I'm also leaning towards the camp that more bullet weight is a good thing.

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