A Critical Look at the Failure of the Outdoor Media and Modern Hunting Rifles

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by woolecox, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. woolecox

    woolecox Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    93
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    I thought this was a great article by Chuck Hawks and took a lot of courage to write/publish. I think one could draw the same analogy with many products in our country today.

    I personally stopped buying factory rifles several years ago. And I may have bought my last rifle period. I think I will just keep re-barreling the 3 customs I have.

    You have to do what you have to do to hunt/shoot. Cost is a factor to most of us. So sad that the quality has deteriorated so much. Here is the article:

    Failure of the Outdoor Media and Modern Hunting Rifles
     
  2. toddc

    toddc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,280
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2005
    I'll take an ugly 1/2 moa rifle over a pre 64 winny beauty queen any day. Many modern rifles will outshoot customs from 30 yrs ago. Id take an ugly accutrigger/stock savage over anything built before 1970. Ugly yes...1000 yd accurate also with handloads.
    My favorite gun is a 110 with a 32" hart and a CHOATE!! stock. Had to weld a 1/4" stud to the action to hold it together. Gun doesnt miss. And I have nicer stuff but if I had a once in a lifetime shot it would be with it.
     

  3. COBrad

    COBrad Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    946
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    That's a good article, IMO. I refuse to hunt with an ugly rifle, I don't care how it shoots. A good portion of what is available in factory guns are ugly, cheap looking, or both. There are also some that still look like decent guns. No reason not to shoot rifles that both look good and shoot well.
     
  4. chucknbach

    chucknbach Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    272
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    I don't listen much to that Chuck.
     
  5. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,158
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    He has a point guys. Quality in manufacturing has definitely gone down hill. I have a Model 7 Remmy that I got when I was a kid in 1988. It was my first deer rifle. I still have it. Actually my brother bought it off of me, but the point I want to make is it's quality. It had a high gloss finish and was a pretty rifle. Through my stupidity I sanded and painted. I should have left it alone. You can't buy a high gloss Model 7 anymore. It had a thick clear coat that was very well done. Thing still shoot very well. My brother has an old Savage 110. The thing feeds like a dream. I am a Savage fan, but they don't feed as well as they use too. So there has been some quality loss over the years that you can only get with a custom rifle now. JMHO!

    Tank
     
  6. cfvickers

    cfvickers Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    While there is some truth to what he says, and a lot of fiction in my own eyes. Personally, I LOVE the checkering pattern on a Tikka T3. And I chose a Steyr SBS Pro Hunter (another "cheaply made" gun by his standards) over the Tikka because I liked the action better. I think the checkering on the tikka looks very good. Further, to state, unequivocally, that 2" at 100 yards "is good enough" for any hunting rifle. That is an utterly ridiculous statement. Yes injection molded stocks are cheap, ugly and not a good bedding platform. All true. but then he complains that you cannot feed a round directly into a chamber with a newer cheaper made rifle. FALSE!! Try feeding a round into the chamber directly with a pre 64 model 70. You can't without some variety of modification. Old mausers, nope. My Steyr, Savage, 700, XL7, or even the old Husqvarna (Closer to the quality action he says he likes I suppose, but same price range recently, or cheaper than many of the modern cheaply made rifles) can all be fed directly into the chamber, close the bolt and pull the trigger. No need to put the round securely in the mag. Every gun I mentioned will consistently shoot sub MOA 5 shot groups at 100 yards with the loads I have worked up. Find me a really pretty 1960s era model 700 or pre 64 model 70 in factory form that will shoot sub MOA. They are not there. His assertion that 2MOA is good enough is plain stupid and says that it is time for Chuck HAwks to retire. Yes technology has made it cheaper and easier to make a very good quality rifle CHEAP. You may not still get high gloss finished stocks, and I wish they would, but you can get most of the rifles mentioned as examples in higher end form with very noce wood stocks, and there are guys out there that can put whatever type of finish you desire for a reasonable cost. Usually at or around 100.00 if all you want is the finish replaced, add more for other details. But why should we want a "quality made" rifle that weighs 2lbs more than it has too. Weight is a huge factor in a hunting rifle, especially one that you will carry into the mountains. I four piece bolt that lasts 100 years and has replaceable parts that require no machining for repair is in my opinion a better option than a solid bolt that will last the same hundred years but will require repair at some point as well, but that repair will be more difficult and costly than the repair on the 4 piece bolt. Most problems with either start with abuse and or high pressure loads. (Mauser actions do not require repair, I know this, there is nothing literally to break, even firing pins are nearly indestructable) So in short, While some of what he writes on other subjects is DEAD ON, his opinions on modern (post 1970) rifles is reminiscent of the 70 year old who hates computers because they didn't need them in their heyday. My dad who refuses to learn to even LOK AT text messages on a cell phone but brought the first affordable cell phones to our area as one of the first dealers in this area. Or people who just cannot otherwise let go of the past. Times have changed and technology has allowed us to make high quality products that are affordable, and more capable than the expensive products of the past. It is the case with everything we have, from computers to rifles to cars and cell phones. It is the way the world works. when you refuse to follow along even when something is proven better then your opinion becomes irrelevant. And that is a bad way to go in his profession.
     
  7. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,528
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Typically, I don't read Chuck Hawkes articles because I tend to look at things a bit differently. Not that either of us is right or wrong, just different points of view.
    I know little to nothing of Tikkas. Intact, I thought he was talking about a different manufacturer for the first half of his article, but every single major manufacturer I can think of has an "economy" model. Not singeling out one, but ALL manufacturers.
    I for one hate cheap ugly rifles no matter who's stamp is on the barrel. I just can't do it, Especially "minute of snoose can" shooters due to production shortcuts.
    Sure every manufacturer will have a lemon slip thru on occasion, with super high production its inevitable, but now a days even customer service uses the average inacurate cheapo models as a baseline to judge the rest.
    Some manufacturers have figured out the accuracy part, but still make some of the ugliest, cheapest feeling guns on the planet. Why? Why not make a great shooting rifle look like as good as it shoots? (sorry Savage guys, but even you know its true:D).

    I'm proud of Chuck Hawkes for taking a stand. Honesty is almost non existant in media, & its about time somebody calls it like it is. He just picked up a new fan.
     
  8. Aldon

    Aldon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    +1

    Have more deer been taken because the sportsman has allowed itself to buy into matte finish is better! Chincy plastic throw away stocks!

    Hogwash.

    Quality of the rifles and their fit and finish is what drives me to customizing and having them smithed.
     
  9. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,528
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Holy cow! You & I are SOOOO 100% opposite its scary.
    I'm with you on the 2" @ 100 is "good enough" thing, but that's where it stops.
    Quality has steadily declined. Period. No other way around it. Production costs/shortcuts are the reason. You view it as the way the world works. I say its a vary sad thing to watch it go down the crapper.
    Ya I'm stuck in the old days. & your right, I don't want to forget. Back then folks were held accountable for what they did, & made. If we could somehow combine modern technology in manufacturing, with the old fashioned care about your product, & customers then we might have something. Compare the materials & precision machines they had... Umm people with hand tools... To modern C-N-C machines etc, & there's no excuse what so ever to have such cheaply made crappers. They should be turning out the best in the world, & would be if they gave a crap about thier product, or customers. But that would cost too much, so...
    nowadays its cram as many as you can out the door, & down the throats of everyone, cause you can sell 10 cheapo crappers at half the production cost as 3 quality ones for a lot more production cost. I say its a very sad day. In the name of "progress".
     
  10. cfvickers

    cfvickers Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    We can agree to disagree Win Mag. I like beauty, old school quality, and fine fit and finish. But a cheaply made rifle that holds up to a substantial amount of abuse can still be good quality. It is my opinion, knowing what goes into making rifles that shoot 1/2 to 3/4 MOA at 200 yards and beyond consistently, that many of the manufacturers have learned to make quality rifles with parts that are cheap to manufacture. The only exception is the barrel, they will get what they pay for. But even with barrels, technology has made making good barrels much cheaper than it was in the past. only have two rifles with plastic stocks, one is a svage accustock, and the aluminum bedding block makes the cheap looking stock decieving. I wish they would make an classic walnut accustock because yes it is ugly, or better put, plain. the other is my Steyr, it is cammo, and a little flimsy. But it does not touch the barrel and is quite sturdy and stiff in the area around the action.Floating barrels I see as necessity. Even in the older rifles I have dealt with, float the barrels and they shoot better unless they have a very thin barrel. Maybe it is a cheaper method, but it works regardless. I think floating is an idea that they either did not think of in years past, or they were not sure if the action would support the weight when the barrels were banged around in pickup trucks and the such. Good triggers are the biggest achievement in the more recent cheap rifles. They have come a LONG way. Savage actions used to seem grimy and rough to me, but mine is quite smooth in comparison to the ones I have used in the past. All that said, I also appreciate the quality of many of the older rifles, but it just doesn't take away from the usability of the newer ones. the manufacturers have just responded to what consumers asked for. Light weight inexpensive rifles that will shoot as well as custom rifles did 15+years ago. Some of them, such as my 111 Long Range Hunter, will shoot as well as some very nice custom rifles do today. But the price point of those is higher than that of the economy models. Bottom line, I know many here will disagree with me on this issue, and my first reply was a meant to be a direct rebuttal to the article. Where the older rifles fell short, the newer ones excel, and vice versa, where the older rifles excelled, the newer ones fall short. Because the general public is at the moment more interested in light weight, inexpensive, and potential accuracy that many seem to believe will make up for their lack of skill, these cheaper rifles continue to flood the marketplace. I believe that we have gotten to a point where there is a large gap in the market. Most who want a good shooting rifle that is pretty are willing to pay the price for a custom, or those such as Cooper, which I see as a semicustom. If a guy wants a good, functional, accurate hunting rifle, they don't care so much about fit and finish nearly as much as price which they believe generally should be 500.00 or less with scope attached, something has to give. So it is the pretty factor that suffers. From a marketing standpoint it makes perfect sense. There is a very small market for the higher end models of standard rifles because the public has come to realize that the only real difference is the stock and metal finish. The economy is another factor that is not taken into account in his article, while all of us may prefer a prettier rifle, we (as a whole) are more inclined to buy a no frills model that will accomplish the same task for less money. I am just happy that there ARE options out there for all of us. On the subject of the gun rags, I do agree that they write articles based purely on advertising hype, and it seems as though they often don't even test the products/rifles they write about. He is wrong on one statement, if he says he could not find a load to shoot under one inch at 100 yards with a tikka, he either got a dud that should have gone back to the factory, or he didn't try much in the way of loads. I have yet to find one that would not print consistent 3/4 inch 100 yard three shot groups. As long as we all enjoy the rifles we have, and feel like we got our money's worth from them then that is all that matters. I love all of mine, and I hope you love yours as well.
     
  11. Long Time Long Ranger

    Long Time Long Ranger Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,612
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Ole Chucky says hunters that are satisfied with the Tikka are newbies without decades of experience. I have far more experience than Chuck will ever achieve. I own well over 100 good shooting rifles with custom barrels from many companies built over nearly 40 years. I am a backpack hunter and the past two years have carried a Tikka T-3 light for hundreds of miles through Alaska and Wyoming. It is the only rifle I carry on backpack hunts now. Because they are so good I bought six of them chambered for different cartridges.

    Why? Because scoped out with my Swarovski it weighs in at 7.25 pounds. It will hold 1/2-3/4 moa to 800 yards. If I find a trophy I usually can stalk within 800 yards and will kill it if I get the shot. All my customs I built through the years weigh in at 9-10+ pounds scoped. They will also easily kill any animal I want within 800 yards, some much further. However as I get older the mountains get steeper every year and I get wiser. I ask myself why should I lug that beast of a rifle around when I can always stalk within 800 yards and kill it with the light, easy handling Tikka. The animal is just as dead. I have made several one shot kills in the 800's with the Tikka. This year I made my longest of 922 yards one shot and down.

    Yes, with the Tikka T-3 light they cut every corner to save money. It is built with the cheapest products and manufacturing processes except where it counts. The barrel and trigger are excellent and the action tolerances are precise with modern machining methods. The rifle will shoot the guarantee and I have never seen one that wouldn't. I do wish they would put a recoil lug on it. How it shoots with that micky mouse system I have no idea. However it will shoot the guarantee and mine have never failed me. I have a 300 wsm, 300 winchester and 338 winchester that will all shoot under .5 moa at 400 yards and all I did was adjust the excellent trigger and free float the barrel channel. For a guy who wants a light, quick handling rifle with 800 yard capability he can buy a Tikka and be done with it. You must practice excellent shooter habits to shoot the light tikka accurately at long range but the rifle will do it if you are good enough.
     
  12. cfvickers

    cfvickers Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    There was also a time not long that spending 3,000+ on a custom rifle was something only the rich would do. $3-5,000.00 rifles are common place now days. and people are more willing to pay that. I am sure the flooded market of cheaper rifles is driving the sales of custom rifles, because you now have to pay that for fit and finish. But WE (again, shooters as a whole) drive the market. And Remington, Marlin, Savage, and the such just respond to market demands. I think the low gloss satin finish even on walnut stocks is more of a current fashion trend than a cheaper method. I know having finished several stocks that it takes more effort to get a deep satin finish than a gloss finish. but I like the feel better with a satin/low gloss finish.
     
  13. woolecox

    woolecox Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    93
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    I thought the article was more about the decline in "quality" rather than the decline in aesthetics. And I did not think he was saying you had to own an "old 1960 model number so and so" to have a pretty and accurate rifle.

    Looks do not matter that much to me as long as the gun is not butt ugly. It has taken me 3 decades but, I have finally been able to afford 3 custom guns. Each a little better than the last. Neither are particularly beautiful with fine walnut and deep glossy steel. In fact, they all sport McMillan pillar/glass bedded stocks in different cammo patterns. The metal has been treated for weather resistance and glare reduction.

    The actions are trued Rem 700, Rem 40x, and Bat Machine; in that order. the caliber's in order of build are; 7mm Rem Mag, 308 Win, and 243 Ackley Improved. They are ridiculously accurate and could be used as a jack handle if necessary. Glass is premium and I would expect these rifles to last many generations and need only occasionally to be re-barreled (Shilen/Krieger). The trend that Chuck Hawks describes seems to be the opposite in the custom gun world; better metallurgy, tooling, and techniques, etc. have led to more accurate and rugged rifles.

    My experience with factory rifles has been similar to Chuck Hawks. I bought my first "deer" rifle from a local gun shop in S. Texas in 1983; a Ruger M77 in 25-06 Rem. It was preowned but never fired. I had been a hunter for more than a decade prior to that purchase using my Dad, Grandfather, and Uncle's guns.

    I purchased that gun topped with a Burris Sig 3x9 scope in 1983 for $235.00. That is also the same year I started reloading. Fortunately I had some good teachers. That gun remains in my safe today because it will shoot 3 shots at 100 yards around 1 inch. I have owned many other guns that have passed on to Gun Broker or otherwise sold or traded. It has taken many varmints, predators, and game in my hands and in the hands of my sons and hunting buddies in the last near 3 decades. If you compare it to a new M77, you will see that the fit, finish, machine work, bluing, weight of barrel, trigger quality are all far better on the 30 year old rifle. Thus a decline in quality.

    In 1983 I could certainly not afford a fancy Weatherby, Jarrett, or any other high end rifle that all the rich cattlemen and oil men where using in S. Texas at the time. In fact, it was hard for me to scrape up $235! This rifle got me in the woods and hunting. Which is really what it is all about. I wish a rifle of this quality could still be bought today at even 3 time the price.

    It is always entertaining read these threads and hear of guys shooting competition groups at competition ranges (in the field) with sub $500 guns and optics. I'm not hear to say it ain't so, but in my 40 years of hunting and shooting in the fields, ranges, woods, mountains, bean fields, and planes, I have not seen it.

    As for Chuck Hawks; he has vastly more experience with far more firearms than I ever will. So when people like that write or talk, I tend to listen up.

    Cheers,
    Woolly
     
  14. cfvickers

    cfvickers Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    I guess that "My 40 years of experience" argument is my issue. I have been shooting for 30 and paying attention to the different quality of rifles for 20. Until about 5-7 years ago everything you are saying about 500.00 rifles was true. And from about 1990-2005 there was a decline in quality of factory rifles. That is about the time the newer brands coming into the bolt action market started putting QUALITY rifles on the market cheap. Remington, long the standard for accuracy out of the box, had let their QC go down the toilet and increased their prices along the way. So along comes Marlin, revamp of the savage line with the Accutrigger, Tikka which probably started the trend of the new way of doing things, and the new breed of cheap, yet almost unbelievably accurate rifles. This period has nullified everything we once thought we knew about the price of good quality accurate rifles. Many took the savage design and tweaked it because that design has long been very good quality and very accurate. They last just as long as the rest, and they could cut down on the frills and extra and still turn out good quality accurate rifles. So the 30 years before the past 5-10 are only relevant in terms of shooting experience, the new guns are a whole different game. Most are not less in quality, save for the remington 770, which I believe is junk and an attempt to put out a rifle to compete with the marlins and the such. It also shows how little attention they pay to the competition. They actually thought it would be equal in quality. They were dead wrong. The other guys just found a cheaper way to make good rifles.