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Thread: help with backpacking rifle?

  1. #1
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    Default help with backpacking rifle?

    Hey guys,

    I'm taking my first backpacking hunting trip here in the N. GA mountains for a black bear. I know you guys have more exprience with mountain packing so I was going to ask for advice. I want a top eject lever-action with a big bullet. I have narrowed it down to a winchester 94 in .444 marlin or a puma 92 in .454 casull. The puma wieghs 6lbs and the winchester 6.5lbs. The winchester cost more, but I have a better chance at getting a quality gun. So that is were I'm at. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks.

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    Default oh yeah

    I didn't mention that I want to shoot around a 300gr wide flat nose hardcast bullet and will replace the rear sight with a quality aperature sight. Thanks.

  3. #3
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default

    Thumper,

    Either of those calibers is more than enough to put a black bear down fast. I thought you were asking how we strap the rifles on our packs.

    For hunting in our mountains we often need both hands free in order just to get to where we're going safely. I use the Rifle Packer. It's a two-piece leather/velcro brace that bolts directly to an external frame pack and is the best system I've ever used.

    They're made here in Alaska and are available at Barney's Sports Chalet in Anchorage. (907) 561-5242

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    Default Thanks EK

    I'm sorry I didn't make that more clear...I'm looking for advice on the two rifles/calibers themselves. My pack is another thing I need to rethink, but I think it will work fine for me this trip and then I can decide if its ok or I need a different one.

    I'm trying to get into backpack hunting exclusively and I figured here was a good testing hunt. I probably won't be more that 1-2 miles from the truck. That's why I picked two harder hitting calibers...maybe one day I can go after some of those bigger animals moose/elk

  5. #5

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    Haven't tried the 454 Puma, but I hear good things about it. I also don't have any experience with 444 in the Winnie. With that out of the way, I do have lots of experience with the 444 in Marlins, as well as a 44 wilcat based on the 45-70 case, also on the Marlin. I've also got a lot of experience with 92's and 94's in other cals, most all of them with aperture sights.

    Dump all that in a bag and shake it, and this is what I can pour out that might help you. I'm betting that a bear won't know the difference between the two. They're actually pretty similar unless you get into the super-hot 444 loadings. Black bear die pretty easy to a good shot on a relaxed bear, no matter what else you might have heard. That leaves it to a question of choosing which rifle suits you better. The Puma's I've been around are a little rough right out of the box, but respond well to tuning.

    You don't mention barrel length, but for backpacking an important factor for me is how much barrel sticks above the pack while traversing brush. I'd either pick the shorter barrel or sling the longer barrel low enough on your shoulder so it doesn't snag before your pack does.

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    Default thanks brownbear

    I want a 20" barrel and was going to put a barrel band sling attachment so that will help lower it. I'm truthfully leaning torwards the winnie 444, but I'm afraid my budget will make me get the puma...I just hope I get a good one and not a friday gun. The main thing I like the most is its a half pound lighter and I can get it in stainless steel. I imagine once I got my hands on one a shot it some I'll be happy. I have until mid-October before I have to get it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by gathumper View Post
    I want a 20" barrel and was going to put a barrel band sling attachment so that will help lower it. I'm truthfully leaning torwards the winnie 444, but I'm afraid my budget will make me get the puma...I just hope I get a good one and not a friday gun. The main thing I like the most is its a half pound lighter and I can get it in stainless steel. I imagine once I got my hands on one a shot it some I'll be happy. I have until mid-October before I have to get it.
    I don't think you'd have the slightest heartburn with a tuned 92, either. This guy does a heck of a job of tuning, if the two I've handled are fair examples. I don't recall what he charges, but my recollection is that it wasn't too bad. But the finished gun is buttery smooth and accurate.

    On the barrel bands, I've used a lot of them. In my experience it's best to shoot for size-wise is the one with the diameter of your mag tube right in the middle. If your mag tube diameter is close to either end of the adjustment range you might have a little trouble with slipping. But pick the right one and it's secure as can be. I use them to grab the ramrod pipes on some of my muzzleloaders, just so I can attach a sling without hassles. Works slick!!

  8. #8
    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default 94

    Nobody asked or mentioned but winchester I thought quit making the mod 94 in 444. But with that being said the factory 265grain pill would be a great choice even though you said a hardcast I thing the hornady might give some expansion that you might like.

    As far as the mod 94 have you shot one? It has to have the worst trigger I have ever felt,tons of room to take up & man is it hard to pull. Make you really look hard at a marlin.

    Oh yea this is coming from a mod 94ae 444 owner. I didnt even get into the whole cross bolt saftey on the thing

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff p View Post
    As far as the mod 94 have you shot one? It has to have the worst trigger I have ever felt,tons of room to take up & man is it hard to pull. Make you really look hard at a marlin.
    Do Winchester mdl. 94s have a reputation for bad triggers?

    Mine in 30-30 has a good trigger. No creep, and less than 3 lbs.

    I had some gunsmithing done on it years ago, the barrel and magazine were shortened, and new sights, but I don't recall paying for any trigger work.

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    Default Thanks guys

    Well I guess I go ahead and be looking hard for a puma 454. I just feel like I can trust the winchester to last a lifetime, but I guess there's no reason a rossi puma can't as long as I take care of it. Thanks again.

    Oh, would you feel comfortable using the puma 454 on bigger game like a moose?

  11. #11
    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    IMHO you sound like you want a rifle that has to be reworked and tuned. Why not keep it simple and buy a Marlin SS guide gun in 45/70 or 450 put a sling on it and go hunting. Sometimes we spend more getting a gun to work right than just buying the finished product. One last thing, if you must change things there are tons of after market things available , and when you are ready to hunt other game the 450 or 45/70 will take anything in North America and most of Africa.

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    Default

    Either of the rifles and cartridges would work great, but consider another option.

    You're talking about tuning and adding an aftermarket aperture sight? My Model 94 Timber in .450 Marlin comes factory ported, XS Ghost Ring rear sight, an 18.75" barrel, and the action is slick as snot. Weight is 6.5 pounds.

    The black bear I shot in Saskatchewan ran 30 yards and piled up. 3" groups at a 100 yards off of a bench is plenty of accuracy for what the rifle was intended for.

    Whatever you choose: practice practice practice practice practice practice

    And have a great trip!

  13. #13
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    Default just a thought

    You mention the cost of the rifles you are considering, so let me offer something for you to think about. Take it for what its worth...
    Black bears are not particularly difficult animals to kill. Either of the cartridges you are considering would be more than adequate. Do you have any experience shooting "big bore" lever guns? You may find that you don't enjoy it. If you want a lever gun for black bears (or potentially at some point in the future moose), don't overlook the 30-30. I have killed several black bears with mine, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be any more dead if I had used something bigger. I would venture a guess that more moose have been killed over the years with a 30-30 than with most other rounds as well. Considering where you live, it might be a more practical all around cartridge for you. You are somewhat limited in range, but this is generally not an issue when hunting bears. The longest shot I have ever taken at a black bear was barely 100 yards, and the vast majority have been substantially less. The 30-30 is relatively inexpensive, easy to find ammo for if you don't load your own, and a good all around choice (within its limitations) for a wide variety of animals. That is not to say that there aren't better options available, but the 30-30 is no slouch either. I'll be taking mine out this evening to sit by a pond and look for moose.

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    Default

    Yeah, OK.

    A 30-30 is good.

    I agree with walk-in.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
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    Default 30-30

    you're right, the 30-30 is the more practical round where I live and it was my first choice when I started looking to buy a lever action. I just thought something bigger would be better when I got the chance to hunt something bigger than whitetail/black bear. I know a 30-30 will do the job, I would just feel better with the bigger gun and though I may never hunt a griz I know if we ever make up to Alaska I'll be hunting along side them. I know I would want a bigger gun then. My hunting partner is acting as serious as I feel about just backpack hunting and I hope in a couple of years we will be heading somewhere to try new places and game...but I haven't completely ruled out the 30-30. There is a gun show in 2 wks and I hope to leave there with one of those rifles.

    I may never be lucky enough to hunt anywhere other than GA, but I'm planning on it anyway. As far as cost of gun, I'll have anywhere from 450-650 to spend. That won't quite get me the 444 winnie, but the 454 and 30-30 should be covered in that.

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