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The Bighorn rifle.

"One rifle! One rifle capable of taking both large and small game would make my day." How many times have you espoused that feeling? Quite often, I'll bet. Many of us have fantasized about having one rifle capable of serving most, if not all, our needs. It's a great idea, because we could acclimate ourselves to one trigger, one stock, one sighting system, and we could enter the field each season with much more confidence, a factor in hunting success that can't be underplayed.

But when you get right down to the nitty gritty of things, you might end up being over-gunned for some species and, worse yet, perhaps undergunned for others. For many of us, one gun, and one cartridge, just won't answer all of our needs.

Randy Brooks, of Barnes Bullets fame, is one of those hunters favoring a single rifle for all hunting needs, but he went a step further in that he has introduced a single rifle available with an almost unlimited number of barrels, all chambered for different cartridges. That's right! A single rifle with interchangeable barrels, barrels that can be switched right in the hunting field, in a matter of minutes. In essence, Brooks has offered shooters everywhere the best of two worlds.

these most versatile rifles are being manufactured by the Bighorn Rifle Company, P.O. Box 215, Dept. GA, American Fork, UT 84003, and they're known by that very name; Bighorn rifle. According to Brooks, the Bighorn is the quality answer for discriminating sportsmen who want to hunt a variety of game with the same rifle. When a rifle is purchased, it comes with two barrels of your choice. The only restriction is the cartridges must have the same head size. Some popular combinations Randy has sold to customers have been the .22-250 Rem. and .270 Win., .22-250 Rem. and .30-06; 7mm Rem. Mag and .375 H&H Mag; and .300 Win. Mag and .375 H&H Mag.

In addition to the twin barrels each rifle comes with, one may order extra barrels on an optional basis. One such order was for a set of barrels chambered for the .264 Win. Mag, .300 H&H Mag, and .375 H&H Mag cartridges, affording the owner with a package capable of handling all big and dangerous game he may come up against. In the same vein, Brooks recently completed a set for his 13-year-old daughter, who will soon be making her first bear hunt in Alaska. Her combo is chambered for the .243 Win., .308 Win., and .358 Win., the latter which will serve her on bear, the others for everything in between large varmints and deer. In both instances, all three case heads are of the same size, so the one bolt will suffice with all three of these cartridges.

How Brooks came up with his interchangeable barrel system is a story in itself. Once the decision was made to develop such a rifle, he settled upon the classic Mauser action as the basic from which to begin, since this action has proven itself over the years as one of the finest ever. Its oversized extractor claw is favored by professionals worldwide for its positive extraction capabilities under all hunting conditions, and the Mauser ejection system is widely recognized as the most reliable on the market.

All Bighorn actions are trued and hand polished, and all action and barrel threads are hand lapped. Barrels are quickly and easily screwed into the action by hand, until they butt up against the receiver. A special lock ring is then run up against the face of the receiver by hand, then snugged tight with the Bighorn spanner wrench provided with the rifle set. To make sure the lock ring is tight, you can tap its handle with a plastic mallet, or simply tap it hard with the palm of your hand. This locks the barrel against the receiver, automatically assuring correct headspacing without the need for gauges or further adjustment.

The proper procedure for changing barrels involves removing the bolt from the action, and the two screws that secure the floorplate to the action. At this point the barreled action can be lifted from the stock. Engage the spanner wrench on the lock ring, give it a tap, and you're free to unscrew the barrel and make your swap. It's that simple, and all you need is the single screwdriver and the tiny spanner wrench to get the job done.

It's felt by many that the use of the locking collar, or ring, actually increases barreled action stiffness, and therefore may improve accuracy. If nothing else, it's a unique system, and one that has proven its usefulness time and again.

When we pulled our action from the stock, we discovered the Bighorn rifle is equipped with a fully adjustable trigger assembly by Ted Blackburn. This unit permits the user to control overtravel, sear engagement, and weight of pull. The trigger on our test rifle, which, incidentally, belongs to a Bighorn customer, was set for about 3-4 pounds of pull. It proved to be perfect for the cartridges the rifle is chambered for, and let-off was clean and crisp.

This particular rifle was ordered with barreled chambered for the 8mm Remington Magnum and .375 H&H Magnum. I, personally, would prefer chamberings such as the .270 Weatherby Magnum or 7mm Remington Magnum along with a round like the .375 H&H Magnum, rather than two chamberings so close together in caliber and power, but to each his own.

In addition to having your choice of two standard calibers, every Bighorn rifle is graced with a classic-styled AA Fancy Claro walnut (75 percent fancy figuring) stock with rosewood tip and complete handcrafted cut checkering. The grip cap is in checkered steel or rosewood, while the finish is in satin. Capping off this artistry is a Pachmayr recoil pad.

The polished Mauser action is glass bedded in the stock, which also features a pair of Pachmayr's flush-mounted quick detachable sling swivels. Both the action and Douglas premium barrels are finished in a deep blue, the former being drilled and tapped for scope mounts.

While the standard Bighorn rifle package is quite attractive, some shooters prefer magnum chamberings, fancier stocks and other fine features. Brooks advises us these other touches are all available as options, and, of course, cost extra. Custom stocks available include AAA Fancy Claro (100 percent figure), AA Fancy and AAA Fancy French or English walnut, as well as custom checkering to order, plus custom engraving.

Other options are custom floor plates and triggerguards, as well as custom triggers and safeties, such as the Jantz safety with a Canjar trigger.

While the Bighorn is available with standard and magnum chambered barrels, they can be had in wildcat calibers (prices on request), although Randy Brooks prefers customers stick with the readily available cartridges.

Our test rifle came with a gorgeous walnut stock, well-figured, as well as one of Bighorn's grey finished fiberglass stocks. This latter unit was also glass bedded to the action. Both barrels were of the exact same contour, and fit both stocks perfectly. The owner of our test rifle selected a Burris one-piece scope mount, bridging the receiver, and installed a Leupold Vari-X III 1.5 x 5X scope on this beauty. The scope was a good choice, since this Bighorn is chambered for two very healthy cartridges, the 8mm Rem. Mag and .375 H&H Mag. It would be foolish to install any scope as powerful as a 9X or greater on such a rifle.

Test firing the Bighorn at the Lake Elsinore Sportsman Association range, firing from a rest at 100 yards, was only somewhat of a pleasure. With each shot, the forestock would rise about once inch above the rest, while recoil would slowly, but effectively, move the rifle rearward a few inches. Even with the Pachmayr recoil pad, we could feel the recoil, although it wasn't as sharp as some lighter, big bores I lit off.

The only load I could come up with in 8mm Rem. Mag was the Remington factory loaded 185-grain Core-Lokt PSP. An old shooting partner, Kipp Kington, and I took turns firing three-shot groups, just to keep our shoulders fresh (we weren't wearing heavily padded shooting jackets). The best group I came up with for three rounds measured 1.8 inches, center-to-center, in the 8mm Remington chambering.

After switching over to the .375 H&H barrel, we ran a batch of two different loads through the gun. One was Winchester's 300-grain silvertip Expanding Point bullet, the other Remington's 270-grain Soft Point. I nosed Kipp out again, relative to accuracy, coming up with a two-inch, three-shot group using the Remington load. Kipp was right behind with a 2.2-inch three-shot group using the Winchester loading.

Shooters accustomed to working with light cartridges might consider two-inch groups at 100 yards pretty poor, and I might agree with them, having shot better groups myself with big-bore rifles. It's quite possible others, or even myself on a different day, could do better with this particular rifle and cartridge(s). But it's felt that even two-inch groups are accurate enough for even the most dangerous game, when one considers most big game hunters won't be taking shots at ranges much beyond 100 yards anyway.

Summing things up, the bighorn certainly is a gun designed for the discriminating sportsman. Wood-to-metal fit is unparalleled, the checkering is unbeatable, and wood and metal finishing is excellent. Combined with the versatility of the interchangeable barrels, the Bighorn rifle is hard to beat.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Lang, Bud
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Nov 1, 1984
Previous Article:Charter Arms .380 autoloading pistol.
Next Article:The new H&R .32 Magnum.

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