The headline was interesting: Five Rifles You Should Shoot Before You Die, but as it’s behind a paywall, I couldn’t get to read it.
However, seeing as opinions are ubiquitous (like paywalls, it seems nowadays), here are Kim’s 5 Rifles You Should Shoot Before You Die. I’ve stuck to centerfire cartridge rifles for the purposes of brevity.
1.) 1885 Browning / Winchester High Wall (preferably in a “buffalo” cartridge chambering e.g. .50-70, .45-110 or .45-70 Govt)
Some might argue that the Sharps would be a better choice, but there is no feeling in gundom quite like closing John Browning’s “bank vault” action. Unless it’s working the bolt of the
2.) Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) in .303 Enfield
Once again, many could argue that the Krag-Jorgensen (.30-40 Krag) is an equal thrill — and I won’t refute that, because it’s fine too — but the SMLE’s action is wondrous.
3.) Schmidt-Rubin K.11 / K.31 (7.5x55mm Swiss)
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the venerable Schmidt-Rubin rifles are better made than 90% of any rifles ever made; it’s a marriage of Swiss watchmaking precision with a straight-pull bolt action, and it’s a feeling like few other.
4.) Winchester 1894 (.30-30 / .30 WCF)
The Marlin’s action is similar, but the Winchester is the preferred choice. In the hands of a practiced shooter, the lever action can be worked with such speed as to make it sound like a semi-auto. And speaking of semi-auto rifles, here’s my last choice:
5.) M1 Garand (.30-06 Springfield)
The Garand tames the recoil of the powerful .30-06 like no other rifle, and not only is it a pleasure to shoot, but it gives you a lovely little sonic ting! to tell you that your ammo is all gone.
Ljungman AG-42 (6.5x55mm)
The Scandi equivalent of the Garand, and it’s amazing. Like the Schmidt-Rubin, its quality of workmanship is astounding, and the gentler-recoiling (but no less effective) 6.5x55mm Swede cartridge makes the Ljungman very close to the Garand in the pleasure of its shooting.
Mauser 1898 (G.98, K98, K98k) in 8x57mm
Of course, one could argue for the inclusion of many of the 98’s clones (e.g. the Springfield ’06) on this list, but the fact that Mauser still makes the 98 action today, unchanged, says it all. Like the 1885 High Wall above, the closing of the Mauser’s action is a bank vault sound, and it makes you confident that no matter what, that bullet is going to leave the rifle when you squeeze the trigger. (For those who are leery of the recoil of the 8x57mm, you can substitute the smaller 7x57mm Mauser — in, say, a Venezuelan mil-surp Mauser — and still get the same feeling.)
Now some may say, “But Kim, what about modern rifles? Aren’t they as good, or even better than the old ones you’ve listed?”
Here’s my response.
One of the joys of shooting old rifles is not just the act of shooting, but the fact that when one does so, there is a feeling that one is touching a piece of history. In one swoop, one is experiencing our shooting heritage and firing a beautiful rifle, It is a feeling like no other.
Of course, I like shooting new rifles just fine. The CZ 550, (pre-’64) Winchester Model 70, Sako 85, Remington 700… I’ve shot them all, enjoyed them all, and would take any of them into the bush with me with complete confidence.
But everyone should shoot one of my Top 5 rifles before they die. If you haven’t already done so, it’s a bucket list to be pursued, I promise you.
And I have no idea how this list compares to the linked paywall list (perhaps someone could tell me, in Comments), but I’ll stand by my choices, regardless.