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Old May 25, 2023, 05:40 PM   #1
2wheelwander
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Bolt action hand guns. WHY?

What am I missing. What is their purpose, seems like the answer to a never asked question. A problem that never needed solving.
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Old May 25, 2023, 06:02 PM   #2
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Bolt action handguns are for very specific purposes. Hunting and extreme accuracy, which include metallic silhouette. They don't seem to be very popular with people who want a pocket gun for defense.

There's a third reason. I used to have a single shot contender with which I tested hot loads. I don't any more.

Just for the record, I don't have any as none of those activities interest me.
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Old May 25, 2023, 07:10 PM   #3
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Why not?
Not all handgun use is urban.
Admittedly, my MOA Maximum is a falling block,not a bolt gun. But its a 14 in bull barrel single shot in 260 Remington. With a 4X Leupold. An XP-100 would be an equivalent bolt gun.

A 120 gr bullet at 2600 will bench 5 shots you can cover with a quarter,

I can sit down,lean back on my elbow,rest the gun in my knee and bust a grapefruit at 200 yds with no problem.No bench, about like shooting a rifle sitting. Its a hunting gun.

It doesn't need a 15 rd mag. Just one well placed shot.

In my state, 2 wheels and a long gun have a rigid scabbard requirement,

Not so with a handgun.
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Old May 25, 2023, 08:27 PM   #4
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Old May 25, 2023, 11:58 PM   #5
2wheelwander
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Appreciate the responses. I get handgun hunting. Enjoy the sport myself. As HiBC alluded to, maybe it fills a void in certain states laws??

Just seems to me that to take full advantage of a bolts accuracy you'd want a stock attached. To each their own. But, won't be the first time I was late to a game like this.
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Old May 26, 2023, 01:00 AM   #6
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What am I missing. What is their purpose, seems like the answer to a never asked question. A problem that never needed solving.
The question "never asked" and the problem that got solved was "how do I carry something with the useable field accuracy and power of a rifle but in a package half (or less) the length and weight??

Scoped and rested in a field position a good single shot handgun will deliver the practical accuracy of a rifle and all the power needed for the task.

I have a T/C Contender and several barrels. Love it, but its drawback is the gun will only handle a few "rifle" cartridges, and those are primarily in the .30-30 or .45-70 class once you move above smallbores (.22 cal).

The T/C Encore is made for the bigger/higher pressure rifle rounds.

Both the Encore and the Contender have the same limitations, being that they are hammer fired break open actions. Plenty good for lots of things, but not quite in the same class for rigidity and accuracy as a bolt action.

I also have an XP-100. It took me a while to find the one I wanted, as I wanted the original, with its Xytel stock, and vent rib and in .221 Fireball. Passed on several restocked and rebarreled guns in various 24, 25, 26, 7mm and .30 calibers. Didn't want one of those, wanted the old original Remington "space gun" to go with my Rem 600 rifles.

Didn't want to like it, but changed my mind after having one. Light, sweet trigger, the scope is good, and the thing is accurate, actually shooting better than some carbines I have. And the round does anything I can do, or want to do with a .222, or .223, without "wasting" powder.

Learning to shoot one of the "rifle class" pistols well is a bit more difficult than a carbine, but can be done, and it carries MUCH easier in a chest rig holster than any slung rifle.

As mentioned, the single shot pistols are all about placing ONE shot precisely where it needs to go. And being shorter and lighter than a rifle. That's it, and the ones I have do a fine job of that.
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Old May 26, 2023, 07:17 AM   #7
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Appreciate the responses. I get handgun hunting. Enjoy the sport myself. As HiBC alluded to, maybe it fills a void in certain states laws??

Just seems to me that to take full advantage of a bolts accuracy you'd want a stock attached. To each their own. But, won't be the first time I was late to a game like this.
I think you are just not in deep enough. I never bought a bolt handgun, but it was because I was too cheap.

Basically, I started with bolt rifles. Where I hunted deer were 25-100yds mostly with a few shots to 300yds. I also hunted elk and antelope at the time.

So to follow my interest, I tried my hand at 44mag. I could really hit with this thing. I shot a nice buck at 120yds. It walked a bit before dropping. It died like it was shot with an arrow…..slow. This was a befind the shoulder broadside shot. Perfect. So I wanted more and I didn’t like giving up longer distances.

So I bought a 375 JDJ…..what can I say! After that, I killed several more quickly out to 200ish.

At that point, I thought ideal would be a bolt pistol in something like 7-08, 284 win, 30x284 Win. I still think it might be the best tool, but I like T/C’s.

Thinking about this again, I’m thinking 7-30 Waters, 30 Herret, 309 JDJ, 6.5 JDJ are likely better choices. I just bought the first 2 and am trying them out!

None of this will make any sense, until you decide personally to put the rifle down, but keep taking similar shots.

I could care less about the state law effects as long as I’m legal.
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Old May 26, 2023, 10:41 AM   #8
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I can appreciate a Contender. But it seems that the inherent accuracy of a bolt action would give up quite a bit on a pistol simply because you aren't bedding a stock into your shoulder. Even with a rest, it just won't do what it would with a stock. This is what is lost on me. Another way to enjoy the hobby I get, but I'm just not getting it yet. Good on those who do.

Feel free to post up your set ups and show me what these things can do!
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Old May 26, 2023, 01:06 PM   #9
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But it seems that the inherent accuracy of a bolt action would give up quite a bit on a pistol simply because you aren't bedding a stock into your shoulder. Even with a rest, it just won't do what it would with a stock.
Offhand, I'd tend to agree with you. You don't have 3feet plus of solid "bar" that has 3 points of contact with your body, you're only holding the gun in your hands, not braced against your shoulder. So, of course, you're going to be less accurate with it, right??

Probably... but, its not going to be inherently less accurate, because inherent accuracy is what the gun and ammo combination do without the human factor.

And the human factor matters a lot. Yes, it is more difficult to reach the same degree of accuracy without a stock against your shoulder than with one, and this does matter (and matters most when the only thing supporting the gun is you) but "more difficult" does not mean impossible.

Here's a few points to consider about bolt action pistols...

First off the guns are intended to be held, but not held up. Its possible to shoot them offhand, but they do their best (and so does the shooter) when they are rested, or shot from a braced field position.

Next point is that the shooter doesn't need a "death grip" on the gun. Reality is you only need to hold the gun firmly enough that it doesn't fly out of your hands under recoil. (or hit you!!) There's no point to "maintaining a firm shooting grip" or fighting the recoil, as there is no fast follow up shot.

this is simply not a machine for dumping multiple hits into the A zone at close range as fast as you can....so it doesn't need to be held that way. If you don't use the grip force needed to keep a repeater on target (as best one can) that force can't interfere with your trigger pull, because tis not there to do so. Likewise the long heavy DA pull of some pistols isn't there, either.

Bolt action pistol barrels, (generally ranging from 10" to 14" inches) are shorter, and tend to be thicker than long rifle barrels, and so, are "inherently" stiffer.

And, by shooting from a rested position, you're not holding the weight of the gun up, you're only holding on, and without a stock braced against your shoulder your breathing and the beating of your heart are not transmitted to the gun the same way and so have a lesser and different effect.

I'm not saying one doesn't give up some of the accuracy potential using a bolt action pistol compared to a bolt action rifle (in the same caliber), but how much is it going to matter???

That is a question that can only be answered by the shooter, and really only applies to the individual guns they are using.

And that also begs another question, what ARE your accuracy standards?? And, remember its not just a question of what the gun and ammo can do, but also what the shooter can do with them.

Keep in mind that there is also a difference between mechanical accuacy (inherent accuracy) and accuracy in field use. We usually use group size for accuracy comparisons, and while that is a valid statistical method, it is less relevant to a hunting gun than the numbers seem.

3 shot groups?? 5 shot groups?? 10?? Slowly spaced so each shot is from an essentially cold barrel?? from a bench?? These things all tell what the gun can do, but not what the gun will do, under different conditions.

I don't think it makes much sense to shoot groups of more shots than the gun holds, and most of the time, it doesn't make sense to me to shoot a group of all the shots a gun holds, simply because under field conditions, that's not remotely likely to happen.

For example, I've got a good deer rifle, has taken several deer, but its light, has a skinny barrel, and while shots 1 & 2 are about on top of each other, #3 is a ways out and 4, and 5 are much further apart from the rest as the barrel heats and walks. Its a bolt gun, so in practical terms, for deer, one shot, yes, two shots probably, 3rd shot rarely if ever and shots after that simply don't happen, (for me, at any rate).

SO, if two shots are in an inch and 3 in an inch and half but 5 shots are a 3" group is the rifle accurate? is it a 3MOA gun?? or something else?

When I shoot single shots, I shoot one shot "groups". Don't see the point in doing more and pretending its one "group", but that's just me.
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Old May 26, 2023, 03:35 PM   #10
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As a teenager I really liked the Remington XP-100. The attraction was the grip in the center of the gun, great balance and helped steady the hold. I never did get one, but did get the Magnum Research single shot, which had the forward grip and a rotating cannon breach. Mine was a .223 for which I carefully crafted handloads by deburring and uniforming the flash holes and weighed each powder charge using 2300 powder. At 100 yards 3 shots were almost touching, you could cover the group with a dime, and more shooting just produced a little ragged hole. Best shooting gun, rifle or pistol, I ever owned.
I also had a Contender and multiple barrels. I mainly used the 44 magnum barrel to test my reloads for best accuracy. I also tried a 357 Herret barrel and discovered my limit for excessive recoil. The grip being at the rear, instead of the mid grip position, was never as much fun. Oh, and the 375 JDJ barrel was the cat’s ass, and the ultimate handgun hunting round. At one point I sold all my Contender stuff but bought another one a couple years ago, just for fun.
What is the purpose of a bolt action handgun? Because they are fun.
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Old May 26, 2023, 05:00 PM   #11
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Forget bench rest groups for a while. They don't hunt.
Very often,prone is not very useful in the field (with a rifle) because low vegetation is in the way.
With a rifle,I've found sitting is often the most useful of the unsupported positions. It gets the bullet above the grass. Of course,I'll take advantage of any available tree,rock,or other support.
Twowheelwander, I don't need your answer,but consider how far can you place a clean kill shot holding your rifle in the sitting position.
I'm right handed. If I sit down and recline back on my left elbow and raise my right knee ,right foot flat in the ground, I can lay my 14 in bbl handgun on my knee,right hand supprted by my upper thigh.

This,for me, is about as steady as rifle sitting. Its as quick to assume.

The original 221 Fireball XP -100 inspires varmint hunting rather than big game. Small varmints. It was a natural to expand to larger cartridges.

The shooter is responsible for deciding "Am I steady enough? Shall I take this shot?"

Folks use bows,muzzle loaders, the old lever 30-30, the Model 70 in 270,or an Arctic Warrior in 338 Lapua. Sort of like different golf clubs.

Conditions vary,of course, but I consider my MOA in 260 Rem to be about a 250 yd hunting gun I can wear on a chest rig.

What good is that??
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Old May 26, 2023, 08:36 PM   #12
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It may have already been mentioned here, but a big reason for bolt handguns is because they are firing rifle cartridges through said handguns.

I dipped my toe into metallic silhouette and ended up spotting for a shooter.

Those guys are incredibly accurate. Unsupported with iron sights hitting turkey silhouettes at 150 meters was breathtaking. Dead center as well.
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Old May 28, 2023, 01:18 PM   #13
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Back in the day a new "sport" , Metallic Silhouette Shooting , cropped up involving shooting heavy steel targets at extremely long range with a hand held gun . Now hitting them was only part of the game ... to score points you had to knock over the steel target... and the solid steeltargets were Heavy !
Now what is the easiest way to get a 308 Win (for instance) chambered handgun ...
Convert and restock a 308 cal bolt action rifle into a handgun and Wal-Lah you can compete in the new game !
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Old May 28, 2023, 02:18 PM   #14
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'Different golf clubs' Perfect analogy.

Reminds me of the Jeff Foxworthy skit about buying a new gun. "See honey, this is a short range ground hog gun, what I need is a long range ground hog gun"
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Old May 28, 2023, 03:53 PM   #15
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I have on T/C Contender in 30-30. Oly shot it a few times. Main reason was I used it as a training aid when I was teaching Hunter Education. Used it for the handgun hunting part of the class.
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Old May 28, 2023, 08:51 PM   #16
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I have T/C Contender and after discovering how much fun it was, went after, and eventually got barrels in all the pistol calibers I had, and a couple of the rifle calibers I had.

SO, I have 10" barrels in .22LR, .22 Hornet, .222 Rem, .357 Mag, .44 Mag and .45 Colt. also have the .45 Colt/.410, and 6" barrels in .357 and 9mm Luger, and 14" barrels in .30-30, .45Win Mag, and .45-70.

I have one bolt action pistol, and original XP-100 in .221 Fireball. I had a 14" Contender tube in .223, but never liked it, it was heavy, and had no practical advantage over the .222 or .221 in my hands, and wound up trading it off.

Compared to most revolvers and nearly every "duty class" semi auto that haven't been tuned as match guns, the single shots are waay more accurate.
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Old May 29, 2023, 03:04 PM   #17
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My XP-100 was in 7mmBR - great deer or pronghorn round to 200 yards; smacked steel silhouette targets with authority as well. Cheap to reload and accurate as all get out.
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Old May 30, 2023, 09:56 PM   #18
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Now what is the easiest way to get a 308 Win (for instance) chambered handgun ...
Buy one made that way....its the easiest, and, its legal.

Quote:
Convert and restock a 308 cal bolt action rifle into a handgun and Wal-Lah you can compete in the new game !
While shortening/replacing the barrel and stock are the physical things that are done to change a rifle into a handgun, you might want to consider the applicability of various Federal laws BEFORE DOING IT.

If you shorten an existing RIFLE, without prior ATF approval (and the tax stamp) you're probably breaking the law.

The reason they make (or made) bolt action handguns in rifle calibers is so that the people who want one can buy one, without having to go the ATF "sawed off rifle" route or risk a decade in "Club Fed".
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Old May 31, 2023, 11:07 AM   #19
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Lots of +1's for post NO. 18
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Old May 31, 2023, 05:41 PM   #20
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I always assumed they were designed so you wouldn't have to carry a long rifle on a sling all day.
thus why they were mostly made in rifle calibers.
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Old June 1, 2023, 11:47 AM   #21
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Interesting, for the .223, 30-30, 458, 45-70, etc., do you use commercial off the shelf (intended for rifles) or downloaded ammo?
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Old June 1, 2023, 12:21 PM   #22
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I use my handloads. Other then .22LR and some .410 I haven't bought a box of factory ammo in decades.
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Old June 1, 2023, 12:32 PM   #23
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For your hand loads, did you reduce the charge or change the powder type compared to rifle loads? I contemplated picking up a single shot pistol (in rifle caliber) but was wondering how bad the muzzle blast was.

Last edited by jrinne0430; June 1, 2023 at 12:38 PM.
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Old June 1, 2023, 02:44 PM   #24
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For hand loads in the Contender, I adjusted the loads for best accuracy. It matters.

Absolute fastest velocity isn't interesting to me, if it's not accurate.

Furthermore, when I was reloading 30-30, while a deer hunting load is useful, a little 100 grain 'plinker' going 1200 fps is FUN. So fun, you might not believe it.

So.. suddenly my single action is incredibly versatile... from pine cones, tin cans, and squirrels, all the way up to big Northern white tails.
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Old June 1, 2023, 05:04 PM   #25
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I have had contenders since the early 80s and a XP-100 almost as long. I too go for accuracy over velocity. I wanted enough energy to knock the rams over and be accurate. Larger capacity rounds don't work as well as high efficiency rounds like the TCU, IHMSA International family, etc. However some like the 222, 22 hornet and the like work good right out of the box.
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