Spring bear rifle

emfavro

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Jul 27, 2022
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A wee bit early, but who cares, I’m in the planning stage! I’m working up info for a spring bear hunt in Montana, and I could use some input on my rifle choice.

Here’s my dilemma. I’m on a tight budget. Buying a new rifle really isn’t in the cards, realistically. I’m faced with two not great options in my gun safe.

The first is a Ruger M77 (old model, tang safety) in .30-06. Lovely wooden stock, topped with a Sig Sauer Whiskey3 3x9 scope. Heavy, full rifle weighing in around 9.7 pounds.

The second option is a Savage Axis II stainless, 6.5 Creedmoor, topped with a Bushnell Banner 3x9 scope. Lighter, weighing in at 7.3 pounds.

Caliber-wise, the .30-06 is the clear choice. Plenty of load options, excellent track record. I’ve done some reading, and have seen articles saying the 6.5 is a viable caliber for black bear, if you keep ranges to a minimum. I’m not the worlds best long range shooter, so I’ll be keeping shots to sub-300. Load options are limited on the heavy bullet end of things, it seems.

Durability and weather-resistance in mind, the Savage takes the lead. I’ve contemplated getting a Boyd’s laminate stock for the Ruger, which would help with the durability and weather-resistance. It won’t do a thing for the weight, though. And frankly, I don’t like the look of a laminate stock on such a beautiful gun, so it’s likely that would come off once I get back from the hunt.

Does anyone have thoughts on this, other considerations to take into account? I appreciate any help you can give me
 

Jimss

Well Known Rokslider
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Mar 6, 2015
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Sell all your rifles and buy one that works for every big game animal you will likely ever hunt! If you hunt a lot of different species it is definitely worth the investment. Your 30 06 is a great caliber option but as you said is pretty darn heavy for hauling around. My thoughts are the creedmore are too small or barely sufficient for bear, elk, and mtn goat. Things happen and the ballistics just aren't there compared to a 30 cal. The first time you loose a wounded critter with your creedmore you will be asking yourself why did I use it! Just about any 30 caliber rifle is a good choice for all NA big game. My preference is a 300 WSM with the same 150 cal nosler partian bullets that I use for every species I hunt.....bear, elk, deer, antelope, moose, sheep, mtn goat, etc! I don't have to site my rifle in for different caliber bullets and I am SOOO confident using just 1 rifle and bullet for everything that moves!

I tried to talk my son into a 300 WSM but he found a bargain on a 6.5 PRC. After using his 6.5 I think he realizes he should have listened to me! I would suggest either using your 06 or selling both and buying a lighter weight 30 cal. My 300 WSM is a Sako Finnlight and I only put 1 shell in the chamber because I know the critter I shoot is going to be dead with 1 shot!
 

Mangata

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Mar 29, 2022
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49
Practice bear engagement scenarios. The issues with bears is that they can be in your lap in an instant. Most are not ready for the instantaneous bear interaction . Most likely your wits will be more important than the caliber you are carrying . That being said, I will take my .375 as first choice in that particular scenario !! That being said I was on Kodak this fall with a 280AI…. Just be aware of your surroundings & you will most likely be fine.
 

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Aug 11, 2017
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I wouldn’t spend anymore of your budget on rifles when you have two capable ones. Like mentioned above, either will do fine. I’d take the Savage, bears aren’t particular thick skinned or hard to get penetration on.
When I’m bear hunting, I always seem to be climbing the wettest, steepest, nastiest stuff. My biggest consideration would be rifle weight.
 

EdP

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Jun 18, 2020
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Southwest Va
Does the weight make that much difference given the type of hunt you plan to do?. I don't much like carrying my almost 10 lb 30-06 all day, but a horse has never complained about carrying it for me. I don't think Montana black bears are particularly large for the species (my 2 Idaho bears were not) and the 6.5 should be fine, but the '06 would be better. If I was going to be in the part of Montana that is griz country, the '06 would be the clear choice.
 

ObiWanKannoli

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Oct 21, 2022
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Either will work just fine. Insert the age old "bullet selection and shot placement" one liner.

Pick which one you shoot best, and at ranges 300 yards or more.

If weight is a concern, shop around for a composite stock for this selection.

Look through your two optics, use the one that offers the most light transmission and or clearest image with the rifle you shoot best. Every stump is a magically a bear at sunset.
 

ResearchinStuff

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Jan 26, 2017
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look here for ideas.
 

robtattoo

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Mar 22, 2014
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Tullahoma, TN
I say sell both & put the money into a Tikka .30-06 (you seem to like it) or .308 & a decent scope. 7.5lb, both great calibers & you should have a couple hundy left over.
 
OP
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emfavro

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Jul 27, 2022
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Can you find a cheap take off synthetic stock for the Ruger?
1) Buy it on eBay
2) Use it for the hunt
3)) Sell it on eBay if you don't like it.

This was my initial thought, as well. Unfortunately, because it’s the old model, there really aren’t options for aftermarket stocks. Boyd’s is the only one I’ve found that’s got offerings for the old tang safety model. If you’ve got some other manufacturer in mind, I’m all ears!
 
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emfavro

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I say sell both & put the money into a Tikka .30-06 (you seem to like it) or .308 & a decent scope. 7.5lb, both great calibers & you should have a couple hundy left over.

I’m a strict adherent to ‘only buy, never sell’ when it comes to guns, so these ones will be staying in my safe. I’ll be getting a magnum of some variety down the line, so that I won’t be in this pickle again, but for now I’m using one of these. And you’re right, I do like the .30-06.
 

HandgunHTR

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Jan 27, 2022
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Use the Creedmoor with the suggested 130 grain Accubonds, 140 grain Accubonds, 143 grain ELD-Xs, or one of the Barnes LRX offerings.
Any of them will take a black bear without issue.
 
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emfavro

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2022
Messages
13
I wouldn’t spend anymore of your budget on rifles when you have two capable ones. Like mentioned above, either will do fine. I’d take the Savage, bears aren’t particular thick skinned or hard to get penetration on.
When I’m bear hunting, I always seem to be climbing the wettest, steepest, nastiest stuff. My biggest consideration would be rifle weight.

Im leaning toward the Savage, given folks saying it’s a reliable bear caliber. The weight and the fact that it’s stainless make it a better choice it seems.
 

robtattoo

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Mar 22, 2014
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Tullahoma, TN
Im leaning toward the Savage, given folks saying it’s a reliable bear caliber. The weight and the fact that it’s stainless make it a better choice it seems.

It's a great choice, to be honest. Just stick with a good cup & core bullet (avoid the Barnes) like the Gameking, Accubong or Partition & you'll do fine. Black bear aren't tough to kill.
 

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