View Full Version : semiauto vs. bolt action? Hmmmm...

June 9, 2006, 09:02 PM
I have seen the Benelli R1 rifles...and was captivated by them... I don't 'need' one...BUT they are 'nice'. I remember 'decades ago' when Remington was marketing the old woodsman semiauto...how the ads promoted the idea of a 'quick 2nd shot'. Well, here's the semiauto pros : less recoil and the heavy weight(not very heavy)plus the action itself - also adds up to less recoil 2) a quick 2nd shot that doesn't require you(in theory)to take your eye off the target 3) keeping your eye on target with less recoil...compensates for any fraction of accuracy you might otherwise gain from a bolt gun... Hmmmm...that's a lot of impressive 'pros'. The bolt gun? Well, on average you might get better accuracy - but it shouldn't be enough to matter for hunting purposes. The bolt is more 'politically correct' and more reliable(not that the semiauto is 'unreliable') In some countries it might be verboten to use a semiauto...so perhaps a bolt is a necessity for 'Africa'. A Benelli R1 in 300 WSM that has the kick of a 308...or a Benelli R1 in .308 that has the kick of a .243... :cool:

June 9, 2006, 09:07 PM
good thing I eliminated it by getting all three; M70, M88 (lever) & M100 (semi)
All in .308 and will cloverleaf three shot off bench @ 200yds.
I just have to decide which one to take with me!!!

June 9, 2006, 09:21 PM
The idea of a quick second shot is a good one. I'm too slow to get off a second shot with a bolt or levergun but this winter I got a pair of deer (legal in my state) in three quick shots with a SA, even after missing the first shot on the second deer.

June 9, 2006, 10:43 PM
Buy them both!


June 10, 2006, 01:17 AM
I don't see anything wrong with a SA for hunting but I think the "quick" second shot angle is overrated. I had a 30/06 BAR with a 20" barrel. One of the cons of SA's you forgot to mention is noise. When you chamber a round, you've got to let the bolt fly. Trying to ease the bolt results in misfires. This is noisey. If you unload before climbing into your stand, then reload, you've just made a bunch of noise. This is the main reason I sold the one I had. It was also too pretty and heavy. It wouldn't have been pretty too long, the way I hunt, but it would have always been heavy.

I managed to take a buck and a doe several seasons ago with my bolt action with 2 quick shots. If you work the bolt right, you don't take your eyes off the target. The same is true for a lever action.

My BAR was pretty accurate out to 300 yards. It would probably do better with a longer barrel, but that would make it even heavier. Weight gets more important, the farther you get from your truck.

It's true that the BAR recoiled less than my 30/06 700. I guess that's important if you are bothered by recoil. I don't know if the SA action makes a .308 feel like a .243, though.

Another con you neglected to mention about SA rifles is the trigger. There is usually not much to be done for SA triggers. The trigger on my BAR was pretty fair. I've fired some Remington semi's that had terrible triggers. Maybe you'll get lucky. Now a good trigger probably isn't that important when you jump a deer and unload on him but it gets real important for longer, more deliberate shots, especially from field positions.

It sounds like you've already made your mind up, so enjoy. I think I'll stick with my bolt guns, for hunting, anyway. My .35 marlin is pretty sweet, too.

June 10, 2006, 12:35 PM
The semi-auto will tame a little recoil. But even with the semi, the recoil from a centerfire like a .30-06 will still take the scope off target. One thing I didn't like about the semi was the loudness in my right ear when the bolt would slam back, but it was an old gun.

The bolts are reliable, easy to clean, and usually have a better trigger, or a trigger that is easier to work on.

June 18, 2006, 06:50 PM
these new semis are so nice.

the remington 750 woodmaster the short trac BAR the Benelli R1 and the new winchester SXR are all nice nice guns.

i think that accuracy and reliability in the new generation semiautos is a lot better than their ancestors.

If i had the money id buy a winchester SXR in .243 for shooting yotes cuz im usually fairly close and the coyotes dont give much opportunity for shots with the hilly terrain and being called in they usually catch on and i only get one shot with a bolt

June 18, 2006, 10:46 PM
They make the short trac BAR in a left-hand version, too. I've been looking at it. It's around 12 oz lighter than my bar safari was and only 6 oz more than my micro-hunter. It's still too pretty, though. I want an M1A scout before I buy anymore deer rifles.

I was serious about the "second" shot thing. If you practice immediately working that bolt after a shot, even at the range or dry firing, it becomes second nature. You can get off amazingly fast second shots with a bolt. Work the bolt, then admire your handi-work.

Wild Bill Bucks
June 19, 2006, 11:23 AM
I never owned an semi-automatic rifle before, but I have shot bolt actions since I was about 7 or 8 years old. I have been next to guys at the range who are trying to put 3 rounds in a decent group as quickly as possible.
I don't have any trouble with my bolt action, and can put three rounds through mine as fast as they put three through theirs (and still hit a target)
so I don't think that their is any advantage in a semi-auto. I think a bolt action makes MOST guys think about the FIRST shot, rather than thinking they have that quick follow up shot, that really isn't as quick as they think it is.

Main thing with a bolt, is practice.

June 19, 2006, 12:38 PM
I agree with wild bill Bucks...

Focus on the first shot, and you won't need a second shot 95% of the time.

I hunt primarily with a single shot and have never felt the need to have more ammo in the gun, although I have held an exta round on occasion in my teeth !!!

Relying on followup shots for hunting is like relying on your BUG instead of your primary carry piece.

June 19, 2006, 08:45 PM
It's not that bolts are bad - it's just that the ol' Benelli R1 is so cooooool.
Some folks don't like its looks, but some really do like it! What can I say - I also like my Steyr Pro Mountain bolt rifle :cool: The problem I have - is that each time I go to buy a 300Win.Mag. - I end up walking out with another .308 Win :D I have to stop this ie. I was all fired up to get a Benelli R1 in 300 WSM...but already it's looking better in .308 :D

June 20, 2006, 12:45 PM
Generally the bolt action is the way to go for accuracy I think. But the BAR in 7mag that I had shot consistant MOA . It just was too heavy to carry long in the field. It did really dampen recoil though. I'd consider the Benelli if I were in the market for another gun. A bit pricey though.

June 20, 2006, 09:38 PM
Even though I generally agree that the first shot is everything (almost), I'm still enamored with the idea of the Remington (Zastava) Woodsmaster 750 in .35 Whelen. A double-tap 250 gr, 9mm hammer on Elk, big hogs, moose, bears, etc., would be pretty nice insurance if you can keep your sight picture for that second shot. But if I was gonna get a semi in .30-06, I'd look at the Benelli or Browning BAR instead.

June 20, 2006, 10:14 PM
People on here have raised some good points. bolts can be extremely fast in the hands of a capable person and they are generally more accurate.

The new semis however are juuuuuuuuuust about as accurate as your average bolt and allllllllllmost as reliable so if youve got some money burning a hole in your pocket and want a cool gun you might as well

Dobermans: .308 cmon man if your getting a .30 caliber buy a .30-06 to celebrate its 100th b-day this year. plus you get heavier bullets. had i not fallen in love with .270 i would have bought an '06

Hank's Dad
June 22, 2006, 03:04 PM
I am probably getting a BAR in .30-06 in a few weeks. Primary purpose is Elk hunting, (no more than 300 yards). I am a bit sensitive to recoil, have a .270 Win (which I love) but am hungry for another rifle. I have also been considering a 338 Win Mag in the BAR. Does anyone have any experience with this combination?

June 22, 2006, 03:57 PM
One of the cons of SA's you forgot to mention is noise. When you chamber a round, you've got to let the bolt fly. Trying to ease the bolt results in misfires. This is noisey. Not the Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel. It has a forward assist just like a regular AR. :D

June 23, 2006, 11:31 PM
The bolts on my Saiga AK's can be eased foreward without any misfires. Same with an M1 Garand. What guns give misfires if eased foreward?

June 24, 2006, 12:36 AM
In my state, PA, it is actually illegal to hunt with a semi-auto (only semi-auto shotguns for small game and turkey--everything else must be manual action). Some states are like that. The bolt action is not your only manual action choice, though. There's also lever and pump...

June 24, 2006, 11:51 AM
The bolts on my Saiga AK's can be eased foreward without any misfires. Same with an M1 Garand. What guns give misfires if eased foreward?

BAR, about 50% of the time. I don't know about your Saiga, but I think you have been lucky with your Garand. Did you try it with live ammo or just try it to see if it would dryfire? It's putting the round in the chamber that causes the bolt on the BAR to not fully engage. Try it with a dirty chamber. You can ease it forward then engage it with a light blow with the heal of your hand. Like I said. Noisey. Not that big a deal, in most cases, though. I just didn't like easing in the woods, ching, ching, creeping up a tree, ching, ching. I think a bolt makes less racket. YMMV

June 28, 2006, 10:02 AM
"I think a bolt action makes MOST guys think about the FIRST shot, rather than thinking they have that quick follow up shot, that really isn't as quick as they think it is."

I agree completely with you WildBill.I've seen many non experienced hunters in driven pig hunts with semi autos empty the whole magazine quickly ,and ending with hitting nothing,or worse injuring an animal.But then again I've seen some experienced hunters with semi autos-and they are deadly in their hands-self control is the main thing.


44 AMP
June 28, 2006, 11:35 PM
Lots of pros and cons for both kinds. Semis (especially the newer designs) are generally as accurate as needed for big game hunting. Some have good triggers, some don't. Follow up shots are faster than anything else. Is this an overwhelming consideration? Personal choice, I guess. Everything can be plent fast, if you practice enough.

Although they are noisey to load initially, the sound of the action is hidden by the sound of the shot, for shots after the first. Is this important? Again, personal choice.

Semis have less felt recoil on the range. I have never felt the recoil when shooting at a deer. Afterwards, sometimes.

For me, for deer hunting, it is a wash. If the semi has a good trigger, is reliable, then fine with me.

May 5, 2007, 01:59 PM
Though I prefer to shoot and hunt with SA's, I admire you purists out there who prefer the added challenge of BA's. However, some of you are making an unfair comparison between the two types of actions by comparing top-notch BA shooters with hack SA shooters. Shooter training and discipline being equal, the SA unquestionably by nature allows for much faster repeated fire. Isn't that obvious, not only for hunters, but for soldiers as well? I can acknowledge your points on accuracy and triggers, though that gap is narrowing with the latest SA designs. Trigger groups can usually be removed and improved by a gunsmith for around $25.

One more point in response to posts from above: I can only speak for my 20-year old BAR and my dad's older Remington SA, but neither of those rifles have required me to let the bolt slam into battery for reliable fire, though you do have to feed the BAR from the magazine.


May 10, 2007, 12:46 AM
I love the Browning BAR, but i like the older version better the safari one is still made i think. that rifle is just somthing special i think.

May 10, 2007, 02:39 AM
I prefer full auto. .. Seriously I'd go with the bolt action. I think bolt action guns can be beautiful works of art and they are supremely accurate if well made.

May 10, 2007, 10:10 AM
I have always hunted with a bolt rifle. I have never had a problem. A good semi would make a nice addition though. Maby when I get old I will switch over. ;)

May 10, 2007, 05:06 PM
Make your first shot count and it doesn't matter if it is a semi-auto or bolt action rifle. You can shoot pretty fast with a bolt action rifle if you try. It is not like the animal is shooting back at you. Get whatever you like. I use a Model 700 Remington in 270. The concept of a double tap interests me though on things like elk, moose, or bear and in which case you need the semi-auto to accomplish that.

May 18, 2007, 04:45 PM
I have used a Browning Bar MK II Safari (30.06 of course) as my main deer rifle since 1997. I have taken several deer with it and it is one of those rifles that just feels good in my hands. The only down fall to it is the noise thing (chambering a round in the tree stand) and bad weather. Other than that its one heck of a deer rifle.