Once again, amidst my occasional ponderings about The Gun Thing, several factors have occurred to me, to whit:
- There are an awful lot of people who think that the venerable (and venerated) .30-06 cartridge is God’s answer to the question “Are there too many deer in the world?” and/or “How best should I kill that Bad Person?”
- Most rifles thus chambered are bolt-action, and found everywhere in these United States
- The non-bolt-action .30-06 rifles are pretty much confined to the venerable (and venerated) WWII-era M1 Garand, and the modern Browning BAR.
Not one of these things is Bad. The .30-06 is a monster when it comes to dealing death, at pretty much any range, as several thousand WWII-era Kraut- and Jap soldiers would attest (if they were still with us); there are a jillion-odd bolt-action rifles thus chambered, and therefore cartridge availability passes the “Bubba’s Bait & Ammo Store” criterion; most semi-auto .30-06 rifles owned are likely to be of the Garand genus — and considering that Gen. George S. Patton once called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised by Man” (or something like that), there are very few knocks you can make against the Garand, either. Ditto the BAR.
Except for cost. M1 Garands can be costly, simply because of their pedigree (and therefore collectability), so the cost of entry, so to speak, can be pretty daunting. Here’s a typical example from Collectors:
…which runs at just under $1,700. (And if you think that’s expensive, the “National Match” version costs nearly three times as much.)
So what else is out there, for someone who wants a semi-auto rifle chambered in .30-06? Here’s the Benelli R1, for example, also at Collectors, for just under $1,300 (about the cost of a new unscoped BAR Mk3, incidentally):
and the R1 has a 10-round detachable magazine, to boot. From the Benelli website:
(Note its current non-availability, but I suspect that this is a temporary situation.) The price, of course, is nosebleed because Benelli (as anyone who’s ever contemplated buying one of their shotguns can attest); but you could buy four extra mags for the R1, and still come out around the same cost of a single M1 Garand.
And yes of course, the R1 is a modern rifle, ergo saddled with a poxy (epoxy?) stock, which sets my teeth on edge; but if you told me I’d have no choice but the R1 to take out into the field — for any purpose — I would not feel myself short-changed at all. (“Gimme!” comes to mind.)
Note too that this particular R1 comes with a very toothsome Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm scope — which alone sells for $700-$750 nowadays.
Other than my distaste for Technik durch Plastik stocks, if I were in the market for a .30-06 rifle, I can’t think of a single reason not to consider this one.