Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

“Other” rifles

Written By: Bob - May• 19•13
Any rifle is better than none. It's the skill of the user and the availability of ammunition that matters.

Any rifle is better than none. It’s the skill of the user and the availability of ammunition that matters.

One lesson I think we’ve all learned in the Great Ammo Rush is that “common calibers” are both a blessing and a curse. Before the rush, common calibers such as .22LR, 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, .223 Remington, 7.62×39, and .308 Winchester could be found just about anywhere, and in generous quantities.

Once the rush started, however, everyone began stockpiling these common calibers, buying as much as they could afford. The shelves got bare, fast, and prices skyrocketed when scarce ammo could be found.

But the shelves never were completely bare, were they? I’m sure it depends upon your region, but I noticed locally that there was always .243 Winchester on the shelves in various loadings, along with .270 Winchester, .30-06, 7mm Winchester Magnum, and 300 Winchester Magnum. All of these are viable mid-to-long range rifles, and I don’t need to tell any of you about the history of the .30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum as military sniping cartridges. I also never saw local shops run out of 12 gauge buckshot and slugs, except on rare occasions.

I enjoy shooting my Templar Custom chambered in .223 Wylde, but the lack of .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO to feed it, and then the price spikes that went along with it, made me start thinking seriously about the eventual purchase of a battle rifle chambered in one of the calibers that never seemed to dry up around here.

While you have to be careful with the loadings and velocity, an old CMP Garand would run well with quite a bit of the 150-grain ammo I kept finding on store shelves, and the CMP itself never ran out of (or raised prices on) the Greek surplus they still seem to have in stock by the boxcar load. 1903A3s can still be had, and they’ll eat almost anything to the best of my knowledge.

While AR-10 variants are generally chambered in .308 which dried up quickly, they can also be had in .243 Winchester or .260 Remington from various manufacturers (the high-end G.A. Precision GAP 10 comes to mind). Of course, the far less expensive commercial bolt guns, mounted with a mid-range-priced, low-to-mid-power scope, isn’t going to be a CQB weapon, but would work very well in an urban sniper or guerrilla sniper role.

The key takeaway from this experience is the realization that “common” cartridges are great 90% of the time, but that having a backup plan and firearm chambered in backup calibers for ammunition that seems to be more readily available in your location is a wise precaution to make.

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  1. Greg B says:

    This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
    I’ve been looking at several models of magazine fed, bolt action rifles.
    However, as you note, with most of my extra cash going to buy ammo for the firearms I already have, (and I am trying to get to the range on a somewhat regular basis, I always try to replenish whatever quantity of rounds I use, plus 50%.)
    It really leaves nothing left for new purchases. Although I DO have a new upper half on order from RRA, which I have been waiting, somewhat impatiently, for nearly six months.

  2. dekare says:

    I’m not so sure about CMP either having or being able to send out the ammo for the Garand. I ordered ammo from them almost 2 months ago now and still have not received it. I have called them to find out the status of the order. If you are familiar with their service, they are not run like a typical seller, as they usually do not answer the phone there, and you have to leave a message and wait for them to get back to you days later.

    I have placed orders from them in the past with very little problems, but my last order seems to be similar to what every other supplier is doing. CMP is great, but they either do not have the ammo for the Garand and are waiting for it to come in to fill their orders, or if it is in stock, they take their time to ship it out. Either way, the Garand does not seem to be unaffected by the obama gun grab of 2013.

  3. Charlie Hargrave says:

    30-06 for me. Have always liked the round and most of the rifles that shoot it.

    Bonus was the ease of finding affordable rounds lately.

  4. bill says:

    There are plenty of good calibers out there and in the right rifle, and with the right bullet, excellent accuracy can be had from them all out as far as most anyone can shoot. These are my favorites; .22-250, .220 swift, 243 WIN, .25-06 REM, .270 WIN, .270 WSM, .308 WIN, .30-06, .300 WIN, .300 WBY, .338 WIN, .340 WBY. Hunting bullets for most are readily available and since they’re premium bullets cost more than FMJ or target bullets. Powders are available but primers are somewhat scarce.

    The CMP is limiting the purchase of Greek .30-06 to ten cans of 200 rounds each, per customer per year for as long as the ammo crisis continues. They have been delivering within 60 days. Order a can a month and in a couple of months you’ll start building your inventory.

  5. DAL357 says:

    Not a bad strategy, especially if you don’t handload, or are short on components; it’s good to look at other options/rifles, as long as you’re going to learn to shoot those well too.

    Like CH, I, too, like the ol’ ought six. There’s a ton of load data on it and it just keeps on working, decade after decade. It’s not sexy or new, but it does its job with aplomb; it reminds me of the underrated employee at work who does his duties well but who is not particularly personable or gregarious, and therefore often overlooked.

    That being said, lately the .260 Rem. has caught my eye, and I have seen ammo available for it a time or two in the last few months, but I don’t know if or when I’ll get a rifle in that chambering; of course, it will be in a bolt action configuration, not an AR.

  6. Mark says:

    I have been seriously considering a Remington 700 in .270. The local Wally World has had .270 ammo in stock almost everyday for the last six months, so building a supply of ammo fairly quickly would be easy.

  7. Survival Skvez says:

    I think you’re all taking the wrong strategy from this. Instead of looking for another rifle in an obscure calibre where you can expect to be always able to get extra ammo for it; you should be thinking “What if at the end of 2013 I could never buy any more ammo ever again”. The answer isn’t another rifle; the answer is a life-time supply of ammo (or as close as you can afford).
    If you want to get a rifle in an obscure calibre because that obscure calibre is the only one you can buy ammo in fair enough, but buy *a lot* of that calibre. Don’t assume it will always be easily available. Ammo companies are making the more common calibres. It’s probably that no-one is making obscure calibres at the moment, once what’s on the shelves (at the shops, warehouse and the manufacturers) is gone it’s unlikely anymore will make any more obscure calibres until the ammo crisis is over, assuming it’s ever over.
    How dumb would you feel to buy a new rifle only to discover that the 200 rounds on the shelf were the only 200 you could get for it?

    • Charlie Hargrave says:

      I am fairly close to ‘lifetime’ supply of 30-06, IF that is even possible.

      Other calibers are steadily increasing every chance I get.

    • bill says:

      Many calibers use a parent and very common case. The .243 is based on the .308 the .270 and .25-06 are both based on the .30-06, there are other examples. These are very easy to form for the new chambering. Certainly whatever you buy, buy enough. If you handload then buy enough components too.

      I suspect many who are finding ammo (or whatever) hard to find are late to the party; either they are too young to remember the clinton years or they are just a recent convert. American manufacturing will be able to provide enough material to those that want it but it does take some time for that product to hit the shelves.

  8. Critch says:

    Right at Christmas I bought two boxes of Remington 117 grain 257 Roberts for a very reasonable price at a mom and pop store here in the Ozarks. No 22LR, no 308, no 223, but they had 270, 243, 25-06, and 45-70. Go figure.

  9. Casey says:

    At the risk of sounding silly -with respect to the Garand and .30-06- what about a civilian M-14 semi-auto? Aren’t those being manufactured today?

  10. anfo says:

    I remember a “survival blogger” espousing .303 British for similar reasons well before the current drought.

    My thought is to have weapons chambered in what your most likely enemy uses. That used to mean 7.62×39. Now? Probably .223 and .40 s&w. Sigh.