Monday, November 15, 2010

Strange cravings, Part I

Blue Steel at Point Blank Range posted about his deer rifle the other day, and I kinda felt lust in my heart for that gun: A Browning BLR in .358 Winchester.

I've always liked the lines of the Browning BLRs; I came really close to buying one in .243 many years ago. They point well, the action is smooth and the lever throw is short, and the box magazine lets you use spitzer-type bullets, unlike conventional tube-fed leverguns. Yes, you're unlikely to win any benchrest competitions with one, but they're plenty accurate to fill a freezer.

And then there's that cartridge. Several friends of mine are loyal fans of the .35 Whelen, and the .358 Winchester is very similar, only using .308 Win for a parent cartridge instead of .30-'06. With the right loads, it'd be good for anything you'd care to shoot at on this continent.

I don't know why, but I kinda sorta want one now.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just tell me that you promise to put a sling on it.

Shootin' Buddy

Tango Juliet said...

Ain't it somethin' how any cartridge based on the .308 is a good, if not great, cartridge?

Ditto for those based on the grand ol' '06.

alath said...

Not up on the metaphysics of the latest Indiana deer gun laws (sticking with my muzzle loader). But does your .358 Win qualify as a Bambi killer in Hoosierland?

Tam said...

Sadly, no.

Anonymous said...

In a pistol, yes.

In a rifle, no.

Just buy an Encore barrel.

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

...or go hunt Bambi in a non-riflephobic state.

Noah D said...

I was seriously considering a Moisin Nagant for deer hunting next year. Looks like it'll be a new barrel for my Mossy 500, instead.

Like the looks of that Winchester, though.

Neutrino Cannon said...

I have a BLR in .308. Thing is more accurate than I am. Mags are kinda shitty though.

Kristopher said...

Gett it in .35 Whelen.

.30-06 is God's calibre. .308 is a johnny come lately.

Anonymous said...

Got a BLR take-down in .308, use it as a truck gun. Broken down, it fits nicely in a half-length shotgun case, along with a spare loaded magazine. As noted, it's not a benchrest rifle, but it seems to do minute-of-deer pretty well, once I replaced the crappy factory sights.

Noah D said...

Like the looks of that Winchester, though.

Where Winchester = Browning, of course. Sigh. How is 10:45 now too late for me to be posting coherently?

ajdshootist said...

A good friend over here in the UK has a 308 Marlin Express and likes it mind you he has a thing for Marlins,45/70 444 35Rem 44mag+the.308

Buffboy said...

I've felt the same lust for one of the 358s but so far I've been able to resist for a couple reasons. Maybe its the way I'm built, but the dang things kick the snot out of me. One of these is also the only rifle that has given me a scope eyebrow, the scope was set at the right distance and I've seen more than a couple such incidents with others shooting the early ones. This from a guy that loves his 6# 454 carbine. Also, as someone that has put two back together that were taken apart by friends that just "had" to clean from the breach, DON'T TAKE IT APART unless there is something broken. Not that you'll break it, unless you take it apart of course. Notice a pattern? They are wonderfully accurate if not shot at a high rate of fire. They heat up fast, will throw shots when hot, three in a row and you are done with accurate fire till it's cooled down.

Ed Foster said...

My ultimate dream gun, the Model 100 Winchester in .358 (yes, with the firing pin upgrade).

I've seen them in .308 pretty regularly, and the .243's are everywhere, but a clean .358 continues to elude me, along with a Marlin 336 from the early '50's, chambered for 35 Remington.

They've been making the 336 since the mid '50's with microgroove rifling, and I want those nice deep Ballard type lands running up the hole so I can have a dedicated cast bullet gun to lug through our heavy woods. I could match factory ballistics for the 250 grain with a hardcast flatpoint and have something I could shoot all day for comparative peanuts.

Those .35's do capture the imagination.

Buffboy said...

Ed, why wait, my wife got a mid 60s 336 in 35 Remington about 5 years ago. Shoots cast just fine in its microgroove barrel. Is the ballard rifling more forgiving of sloppy casting/sizing than microgrove? Yes it is, but I doubt that would be a problem for you.

Ed Foster said...

Buffboy: Hmmm... If I ran straight linotype to get them really hard...

Curse you Sir, you may have just cost me a couple of hundred bucks.

Time to go shopping. Add a white bead front sight and a ghost ring rear, and I have myself a serious brush gun. Obliged.

John said...

Get: a 35 Rem pre-M'groove -- Marlin 336 carbine in the 20"bbl, straight grip. Sometimes called a Texan. [MarlinO'holics feel free to correct my mis-taxonomy, thanks]

Short story. .35Rem gives a nice balance with bigger bbl hole, AND it is a very friendly-shooting round that is way underestimated. As well, mine was able to accurately land it's slugs very well out to 250-plus yards. Using the modern plastic-tip spitzers, the holdover at that range, would be even more competitive with the hotter rounds.

That short, stiffish bbl makes a very handy well-balanced pkg. Among the levergunner crowd on Paco Kelly's board, you will find this .35 config to have nearly cult status and to be much desired. When I finally parted with mine last year, it sold with a fast 'whoosh' to a pret' well-known old-timer ballistician.

Also,pre-groove,early 50's Marlin full rifles [half-magazine] in .35 are awesome. The off-hand balance of that 24"BBL WITH THE BEEG bore, and the shorter mag tube is just dandy. Again, still under-valued, but like all the half century old, walnut and steel goods, becoming 'hoardable'.

As a commentary on 'scarce', was just at Wannamaker's Tulsa Show, and the 'asking' on mass-produced American models of my younger years is fair stiffish, IMHO. After all, those were mass-produced industrial products. Some,in retrospect WERE pret' nifty-accurate and stylish.

However, many were just uninspired cheap-market American Klunkers, too. Each to their own, and their vision of 'desirable' and 'investment'. However, the apparent perception of 'scarcity' bemuses me. Dried cowchips are scarce in a supermarket, but pretty abundant out in the field.

woid: 'ubbelaud' -- appropriate,FWIW.

John said...

PS. for learned discussions of Microgroove vs cut rifling and cast bullets, try cast boolits.com.

That group knows it's shixx, and you can pretty well go by their recommends.

FWIW

Anonymous said...

I had a Savage 99 in .358 in my hands and did not buy it because I was short on cash. It still brings a tear to my eye.

Gerry

og said...

I've always been a fan of the Savage 99 and the BLR, with the savage just having a more graceful line. If they had figured a way to make either capable of fielding the longer 35 whelen cartridge, I'd be running around trying to find a way to buy one.

WV: Caressn. I'd spend a lot of time caressn' the stock, too.

Tam said...

Og,

I'm pretty sure there are long-action BLRs...

og said...

yeah, I see it's available in 06, which means it would swallow the big whelen cartridge. Plus, box magazines!!Ouch. Damn, now there's ANOTHER rifle on my "covet" list.

jbrock said...

While the BLR isn't for benchrest, the one I have in .308 is one of the most consistent rifles I own. Everything between 150 and 180 grains that I've fed it so far has put 3 shots into less than 2" at 100 yards, and with a bit of patient load development I could probably cut that considerably.

Okay, so 5-shot groups in that skinny little barrel probably ain't gonna happen. It's still more than good enough for any shot I'm likely to get. And it's sooooo handy.

A BLR in .358 would be a thing of beauty, and even more so if you handload.

DirtCrashr said...

How did Indiana become riflephobic?
Was it the flatness?

og said...

Mostly the flatness of the EEG lines of the legislators.

We have gone from "No rifles" to "Some rifles" which is a marked improvement, believe me. Why the 45-70 is illegal and the 72 muzzleloader isn't, I'll never understand- but understanding has never been a hallmark of the elected official, hereabouts.

Tam said...

Dirtcrashr,

Whitetail were actually extinct in this state in the early 20th Century.

For some reason, the hoofed rats were reintroduced, and when hunting was re-started, it was mandatory to hunt them with one hand tied behind one's back.

Somehow from that, rifle-phobic Hoosiers have decided that, were we to allow .30-30s and .243s in the game fields, they'll shoot through schools.

(Yet if you shoot your 7mm Rem Mag at a squirrel, the bullet magically turns to pixie dust...)

Sigivald said...

I've never handled a BLR, but I'm with Og on the Savage 99.

I got one as a family heirloom (a 99F, I believe, in .300 Savage), and it's Very Nice for playing with.

(I say playing with, as I've never been a hunter, so I can't say how well it'd do against deer.

Presumably pretty adequately, since it has .30-06 ballistics.)

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Wait wait wait... I knew Indiana didn't let you use rifles to hunt deer, but you can hunt OTHER critters with rifles good enough to take deer?

Anonymous said...

How 'bout a '95 Winnie in 38-72?

Blue Steel said...

I believe I have unintentionally touched your .358 Winchester nerve, Tam. Please forgive my naive comments about the age of the.358. I feel like I just called your baby "ugly."
If you reload, and you almost must to get the best out of the .358, it is a very tolerable rifle to shoot. Watch out for the ballistic tipped bullets though, they tend to be a bit long for the magazine unless you set them back, and that can lead to pressure issues.

Tam said...

"Please forgive my naive comments about the age of the.358. I feel like I just called your baby "ugly.""

I was just teasin' you, hence the " ;) ".

It's just when you called it an old cartridge, it got me to thinking how old most of the really common cartridges actually are.

It's odd to think about it, but I bet if you averaged out the age of the 20 most common rifle and pistol cartridges in the US, .308 would be well on the "new" side of things.

Tam said...

NJT,

"Wait wait wait... I knew Indiana didn't let you use rifles to hunt deer, but you can hunt OTHER critters with rifles good enough to take deer?"

Yup. You can shoot your .375 H&H at a squirrel in a tree, but not at a deer on the ground.

Matt G said...

I've been a fan of the BLR short actions, especially the lightweight .308, for some time now. I've never seen one in .358, but the thought makes my breath catch a tad.

Yes, I'm a noted fan of the .35 Whelen, but why wouldn't I also be a fan of the .358 Win? It's all kinds of awesome. For extra extra fun, load your expanded .308 cases with 180g .357 pistol bullets, and just go hawg wild. Yee. Haw.

JPG said...

I almost WISH I could share your liking for the lines of the BLR. Alas, I cannot, given any comprison to the slim, trim format of the Winchester lever guns, and even the slightly clubby Marlins. There's no arguing with the functionality of the BLR, though. I used to hunt with a man who had one of very early ones in .308, and he was pure poison on Hill Country whitetails.

There'd be a lot to like about a detachable-box .358 lever gun, though . . . . Anyhow, I hope you can find yours. And I hope you enjoy it as much as Matt and I have our .35 Whelens.
JPG