Browse to any forum, magazine, or encyclopedia online, and ask a simple question; what is the best gun for someone who will only purchase one. The answer is almost universally .30 Gov’t of ’06. More commonly called the .30-06 or simply the ought six.
While, there is good reason for this recommendation, and there is good reason that the .30-06 has been the number one selling rifle cartridge nearly since its inception, it may not be the best all around cartridge for the one rifle hunter. Granted, All of the following is just my opinion, and may not apply, but I’m bored, and obviously so are you, so let’s explore the why and wherefore.
Let’s start off with the brand of rifle. In my opinion, the Remington Model 700 is the ‘can’t be beat’ of the one rifle hunter. My reasons for this are simple, and have everything to do with logistics. First, the 700 is popular everywhere, so if something breaks you have a greater chance of finding parts, and/or a smith to fix it on the road.
Next off, the chance of getting a remington that will shoot well is high, and if you get a lemon there are many more readily available options to get it shooting to your satisfaction, ranging from quick warranty work to letting a gun plumber do his thing.
Lastly is the customizability; there are so many available aftermarket parts custom and off the shelf that it is impossible not to make a 700 fit you like it was custom made for you.
A lot of guys will hem and haw, and argue why this gun and that gun are better, and in truth, they might be right, but remington has a formula that’s worked for them for a lot of years now and it’s hard to argue with their track record.
Now that we’ve got a rifle picked out, let’s choose a caliber. Two calibers spring to mind immediately: 7mm-08 Remington and .270 winchester. My first choice would be the 7mm-08 Remington and here’s why, it’s an easy recoiling cartridge that anyone should be able to pick up and shoot with enough oomph for those oh chit situations when something goes pear shaped.
The 7mm is popular enough in various flavors for there to be good bullets for every concievable type of game a one gun hunter is likely to persue, and factory ammo is readily available most anywhere. While the 7-08 may not be as versatile and ready for the big bears as the .30-06 or .308 is, but it can, will, and has handled everything else in north america.
The .270 made my list because it has a very slight bit more recoil but it trumps the 7-08 for ammo availability.
So there you have it. You now know what rifle and caliber i would buy if I could only have one rifle to hunt with, god forbid.