Sunday, August 01, 2004

Long Arms

When it comes to rifles I'm something of a traditionalist- there's nothing too new or high tech in my selection. In fact, the opposite could be said to be true.

My first choice is for a Mauser. While I'd prefer a 7mmx57, a Brazilian M1908 perhaps- sorry, couldn't find a decent link- this one from Mitchell's would do the job just fine. 7mmx57 is an excellent long range round which the original commandos, the Boers, used with devastating effect on the British, and which has also been used to take game up to and including elephant (by WDM Bell). Ruger make their excellent M77 in 7mmx57 but there's just something about the full length military stock on the Mauser that does it for me. The 8mm version (Mitchell's) or even the Swedish 6.5mm are totally acceptable replacements. What's important is that the Mauser is an absolute classic bolt action and it's as good a platform now as when it was introduced.

Second up, I was going to go for the Garand M-1 but it was beaten out (just) by Springfield's M1A. The SOCOM and Scout are pretty handy versions of this weapon too, but the full length Standard would suit me very nicely. 7.62mm is a great, hard hitting round and the M1A is a battle proven weapon. It's also much more aesthetically appealing than the FN FAL clones or G3 type rifles available. For me, this is the best of the semi-auto military 7.62s. Lying on a range for a few hours with this beauty would make me a very happy man.

Third is the Marlin 45-70 lever action. Hunting's not something I'm into yet but if I were to go out the Marlin is what I'd like to be packing. The 45-70 can be loaded to take virtually any game- check out Garrett's website for some extreme details- and it's the versatility of the round that appeals, along with Marlin's classic design. The Guide Gun version is also a very compact platform, handy for hauling through the woods but even the full length 1895 would be an excellent weapon to have. They're also bringing out a .475 Linebaugh which appeals to the big bore handgun fanatic in me, but that's a whole other post!

Fourth, I'm going to have to say that I'd have an AR rifle. This may not be a popular weapon to equip an army with but for civilian use, where maintenance is no problem, I don't see much wrong with it. The M16 I used was an absolute pleasure to shoot and I'd really like one of these. There are probably as many manufacturers of these as there as 1911 clones and that's a big market to choose from. My own taste would tend towards a Cavalry Arms like this one in 5.56mm or, if I was feeling like being an "early adopter" (I tend not to do this- give the market some time to evaluate things first and make sure everything works as advertised), this Barrett in 6.8mm. I'm not yet convinced that this is the wonder round it's being hyped up as so I'd cool my heels a little over this one. There'll always be the opportunity to buy a 6.8mm upper for an existing 5.56mm AR. With an AR I'd also invest in a 9mm or .45ACP upper too- having a carbine and handgun in the same calibre cuts down on logistical problems and the pistol upper would turn the AR into a neat home defence item.

My fifth choice is for an AK. The bog standard AK is a notoriously reliable weapon (if only the modern British and US Army could field such a thing). Here there are two ways to go; either for the upmarket- the VEPR KTR-03 in 7.62x39; or for the cheap and cheerful. The KTR-03 is very pricey for an AK and if it's too big bucks for some then either this or this would be on my shopping list. In case you haven't noticed, I have a penchant for the AK-74-style muzzle brake. 7.62x39 would be my calibre of choice because it's cheap and plentiful. Effective range might not be as good on the cheaper AKs but it's a good weapon to have around "just in case" (having an AK for this option, I think that there's a good case for getting one in 5.56mm- there's surely a lot more of this in circulation in the US than Russian 7.62). Oh yeah, and it'll piss off the anti-gun types. That's just a small bonus.


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