Can there really be One Gun To Rule Them All?
Of course not. But it is possible to find one centerfire rifle to handle all your medium and big game hunting needs. Whether you’re pursuing pronghorn or polar bears, whitetails or wapiti, duikers or eland, the right rifle and cartridge — coupled with the right bullets, of course — can “rule them all.” And here’s one of them…
Meet the Borden Timberline
Jim Borden’s Timberline bolt-action in 7mm Remington Magnum fits my and Mr. Borden’s requirements for One Gun to Rule Them All. Yes, that’s a hyperbolic way of staying “multi-purpose rifle,” but in this age of hyperbole one almost has to scream to grab attention.
Now that my scream has got yours, let’s get serious. What most of us want in a “one gun” battery is a tool that will handle all of the hunting we hope to do. Not too big, not too small, not to heavy, not too light. And definitely not so much recoil that we’re afraid to shoot it. Or at least discouraged from shooting it enough to become deadly. Call it the Goldilocks rifle. Just right.
So, as this video reveals, this is what Jim Borden and I came up with. We discussed the balances and compromises and both agreed this rifle in 7mm Remington Magnum would fit the bill.
Brake One Gun to Rule Them All?
Rest assured I’m not overly enamored of the muzzle brake. The way it tames recoil is welcomed and effective, but the noise it generates is not. Realistically, however, even an un-braked 7mm Rem. Mag. blasts too loudly. Putting a brake on it doubles the chances I won’t forget my hearing protection. Some of the new electronic hearing protectors/enhancers like TETRA AmPods seem a reasonable option for protecting one’s hearing without blocking it. AmPods, reportedly, can be engineered to enhance hearing while knocking significant decibels off muzzle blast. We’ll be investigating this soon.
Weighty Issues and Accuracy
But, brake or no brake, this Borden Timberline weighs 8 pounds, 2 ounces with the Talley rings and Swarovski 3.5-18x44mm Z5 scope. It recoils like a light 270 Winchester load in an 8-pound rifle. Or maybe a light 25-06 Remington load. As you can see by the minimal jump of the rifle in the video, there’s just not much kick. And this, surely, contributes to this rifle’s impressive accuracy.
Accuracy is a Borden Hallmark, as you’d expect from a benchrest shooter who set some 10 world records. Borden rifles have been used to set more than 100 records. Precision tolerances, high-quality barrels, stocks, pillar bedding, and “blueprinted” action all go into a Borden. But there’s an additional ingredient: Borden Bumps. As I understand it, these are a slight widening of the bolt body (0.02″) behind the recoil lugs and at the rear of the bolt body where it can touch the rear receiver ring. These bumps permit a “sloppy” bolt tolerance for slick travel along the raceway, yet align and snug it up precisely when the bolt is turned into battery. This is useful in a field rifle that could pick up dust, mud, and debris to hinder bolt cycling.
One Gun To Rule Them All Too Long
I mention in the video the 26-inch barrel as being less than ideal for woods hunting. And it is. But I do the bulk of my hunting in fairly open country, so I’m willing to make this compromise. If I did more thick cover still-hunting, I’d opt for a 24″ barrel or even 22″, although that starts cutting into 7mm muzzle velocity enough to suggest a 280 Remington or even 7mm-08 Rem. as the better cartridge choice.
As you can see, I’m already hedging my bets here. Proof that One Gun to Rule Them All is quite variable. So why did Borden and I both choose the 7mm Rem. Mag? Because it’s a common round widely available with a nice balance of bullet weights and types, muzzle velocity, recoil, and trajectory. And it fits standard-length (30-06) actions. As a handloader, I can load the 7mm Rem. Mag. down to 7x57mm Mauser velocities or crank it up to its full potential. As I always say, there is no magic cartridge or bullet, but bullets in the 140-to 160-grain class are about optimum for deer-sized game. The 160- to 175-grain slugs have been proven deadly on everything up to and including African buffalo and elephants. The newest boat-tail, spire-point, low drag designs push Ballistic Coefficients near the top (.675 G1 rating) in weights that don’t contribute to cheek slapping violence.
Your Choice May Vary
I’ve used the 7mm Rem. Mag. to cleanly take everything from coyotes to elk, moose, and eland, so I’m convinced of its universal application. You, however, may disagree. And that’s fine. Each of us must define the qualities we need or at least want in a rifle/cartridge combination and modify our “perfect” all-round rifle accordingly. But the “one gun to rule them all” concept is valid. It enables a hunter to become perfectly tuned to his tool, handling it quickly, smoothly, efficiently, knowing right where it will strike at any reasonable distance. No hesitation. Supreme confidence. Deadly performance. Beware the hunter with one gun. He or she likely knows how to use it.
The author’s idea of One Gun to Rule Them All has been known to change from time to time. But he believes in the concept.