Author: Tom G.
On occasion I have the privilege of working with folks who have little or no experience when it comes to firearms. I am always grateful when someone trusts me enough to walk them through their early exposure to guns. While the majority of my teaching experience has been with handguns, recently I have been working with a relatively new shooter whose expressed goal is to be able to hunt big game with a rifle. Paris is already a competent bow hunter so we are not working on field craft. We just need to get her to feel comfortable behind a gun that is capable of cleanly harvesting a deer and maybe one day an elk.
After making sure she had an understanding of the Universal Firearms Safety Rules, we started off with the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22. Paris quickly demonstrated that she understood the concepts of sight alignment and trigger control, we sent a ton of 22 LR down range. After several range trips, she seemed ready to move up to a center fire round.
Unfortunately even the .243 we worked with proved to be more noise and recoil than Paris was prepared to handle. After just a few rounds, she did not want to pull the trigger any more. Subsequent range trips did not yield any improvement and I did not want to build any negative habits by forcing the issue so we stepped away from the range for a bit.
During our break from shooting, I racked my brain to come up with an idea that would help Paris move through her fear of recoil. I decided that our next course of action would be to find a low recoil caliber that was still capable of cleanly taking a whitetail deer and see if that would get Paris to a point that she felt comfortable taking a rifle into the woods.
I considered the .223, 7.62x39 and the 6.5 Grendel before taking a hard look at the 300 AAC Blackout. While this stubby little 30 caliber round is no powerhouse, it does produce about 1250 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and is quite capable of taking deer sized game inside 125-150 yards.
I’m sure most folks reading this column are familiar with Ruger’s budget minded American Rifle series. In my experience these fairly inexpensive rifles shoot far better than their price point might suggest they might.
Since the 300 AAC Blackout was designed to be shot from barrels 16 inches or shorter, I decided to purchase the Ruger American Ranch Rifle. This 16 inch barreled carbine feeds from detachable AR-15 magazines and comes with a threaded muzzle so attaching a suppressor down the road will not require any alterations to the gun.
I topped my new rifle with a Vortex Sonora 4-12X44 scope and Leupold rings. Before leaving the store, I grabbed a few boxes of Sig Elite 125 grain FMJ rounds and headed for the range.
My wife Cori accompanied my on the first trip. She settled in behind the gun and had it zeroed at 100 yards within a few rounds. After zeroing I took my turn behind the rifle to see what kind of groups I could squeeze out of it.
I shot a couple of decent three shot groups as I got used to the trigger. My third group (see photo) measured less than .8 inches which says far more about the gun than it does me as a shooter. I was also amazed by the gun’s lack of recoil. While it is certainly loud, the gun did not seem to kick much more than a 22 magnum. It was time to get Paris behind this gun.
A few days later Paris and I got out to the range. It took a bit of time to get her to press the trigger the first time. As soon as the rifle went off she looked up and said “That doesn’t kick at all” as she worked the bolt to chamber another round. Then it was off to the races. Paris didn’t stop shooting until I told her we needed to save some ammo for next time.
I’m thinking she is going to be good to go this fall!