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Old March 16, 2014, 10:05 PM   #1
Roadkill2228
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Why aren't pump action hunting rifles more popular?

The pump action is without question the most popular shotgun action, but apparently is just not the action of choice for centerfire hunting rifles. Yes I know there are some out there (shot my first deer with a borrowed remington 7600 in .30-06 and that gun just felt right if you know what I mean). Given the universality of the 12 guage pump as a simple, effective, inexpensive personal defence weapon, I can't imagine that reliability is a huge concern. As far as being more complex to make and peskier to clean than a bolt gun: so are lever guns and they are immensely poputlar hunting rifles. The pump action is at least as fast cycling as a lever gun (and in my hands it's a lot faster...never been that good with a lever gun). So why haven't pump action centerfires caught on?
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Old March 16, 2014, 10:56 PM   #2
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Good question. Not sure..... Probably mostly due to reputation for poor accuracy (whether deserved or not). Less positive extraction in gritty conditions (and reputation for same) might be part of it too.
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Old March 16, 2014, 11:14 PM   #3
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When I think of pump actions...I think of over complicated actions with long flimsy connecting bars that love to bend and snap when something binds up. I have enough fun breaking down mossberg 500s at work for occasional cleaning... I dont want that headache from any of my personal weapons
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Old March 16, 2014, 11:47 PM   #4
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Well, pump actions are heavy, complicated, and more expensive to make. There have been several very successful pump action rifle designs over the years. All in all they are more expensive to manufacture than a comparable lever action or bolt action, costing as much as many semi-autos. And since most shooters look at the price tag first, they are likely to remain relatively uncommon.
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Old March 16, 2014, 11:48 PM   #5
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Nemesiss45: I am not especially knowledgeable about the working mechanisms of pump and lever actions...you mention some problems with the reliability of the pump action: are lever actions less prone to said malfunctions?
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:08 AM   #6
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I wouldnt be the person to answer that. I really only have marginal experience with pump shotguns and maybe one or two pump .22s... one of the .22s is the one that bent the connecing bars... but its been so long ago I cant remember the model or the details of the problem.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:12 AM   #7
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Scorch...why is a pump rifle comparatively expensive to make but a pump shot gun can be had for so little? Does the enormously higher operating pressure of a centerfire rifle round compared to a shotgun shell have something to do with it?
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:32 AM   #8
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The Remington 7600 is accurate.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:42 AM   #9
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What water-man said.My dad has 7600 in 35 whelen that shoots extremely well.Like 3/4 moa well.My dad loves it for elk hunting.I think if more people had the opportunity to handle one in the field,more people would use them.
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Old March 17, 2014, 01:36 AM   #10
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A pump action in .35 whelen sounds like quite a force to be reckoned with up close and personal (and at range too I suppose)...I've actually wondered about that...I think, assuming there aren't any reliability problems, that a rem 7600 in .35 whelen or something like that with a little 18" barrel would be at least as good of a "guide gun" as a lever action 45-70 plus with much better ballistics down range making it far more versatile. But it still wouldn't look as cool I guess.
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Old March 17, 2014, 02:54 AM   #11
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Maybe due to it being hard to pump in a prone position, ie when on a bi-pod or sand bag...similarly to why the US army chose not to pursue lever rifles when developing the 30-06.?
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Old March 17, 2014, 07:59 AM   #12
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i have 8 or 9 pump rifles from .22 to 30-06 and have never had a problem with any of them ftf or fte, with only minor cleaning. i shoot reloads out of all the centerfires, my deer load for the 30-06 is 55grs imr 4350 and a nosler bt 165gr bullet and it shoots into 1-1.5 inch three shot groups at 100yds. out of a pump .280 i shoot a 154gr sst hornady at a honest 2800fps with imr 4831 and have shot 4-5 inch three shot groups at 300 yds. these rifles may not win any shooting contests, but they will knock the socks off any game animals out to 300yds and if you do need a follow up shot only the semi auto if faster. eastbank.
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Old March 17, 2014, 08:48 AM   #13
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Why aren't they more popular? Because the market isn't there, and that's the simple truth.

I'm a fan of the Remington 760/7600, but I understand the strengths and weaknesses of the system. Very accurate rifles, the barrels are free-floated by design, and every one I've shot has been capable of very good field accuracy. The main weakness of that system is the magazine, which is very particular in the way the magazine is seated. It's not a magazine that you can slam into the mag well and have good feeding. The magazine must be seated slowly and deliberately.

One of the design features of the 760/7600 is that the rifle tends to unlock during the recoil phase of firing. It's a design feature that scares some people, especially if they are unfamiliar with the design. When benchresting a 760, it become apparent that during recoil the breech tends to open. This is not a problem, and is purely a design feature to make the rifle pump faster, but when guys benchrest one, look down and see the action partially open after firing, they think something is wrong.

But, the simple question of why pump rifles aren't more popular is because folks don't buy them, the companies don't make them, so folks don't buy them.
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Old March 17, 2014, 09:08 AM   #14
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Thanks 375NE. That makes good sense. But I still don't get why the pump should be any less popular than the lever. Maybe it's simply a matter of what pawpaw is talking about, a bit of a circular thing; people don't buy then so companies don't make them, and because companies don't make them they are not commonly available, so people don't buy them. As for the action opening up during recoil, I have an old(ish) winchester pump shotgun that does that too. In fact, firing it one handed, the action opens all the way and ejected the shell! The slide on that gun is smooth enough that i can thrust my arm forward and the inertia from that sends the slide forward hard enough to chamber the next shell and lock up the gun, so i can keep on firing that thing one handed if need be.
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Old March 17, 2014, 09:17 AM   #15
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I'm going to agree 100% with Paw-Paw on this one. I asked my father years ago this exact same question, and he came up with what I have accepted to be a pretty good answer;

People use pump action shotguns because when bird or rabbit hunting, you don't have to remove the gun from your shoulder and can quickly fire a follow up shot if necessary. This is also almost always done from the standing. Likewise, this could be the reason bolt action shotguns were never that popular (other than for using slugs when deer hunting) and the lever action shotguns faltered as well.

When deer hunting (as an example), most halfway decent hunters pride themselves in a '1 shot drop,' and are firing from the sitting position(sometimes prone) and bolt actions fill this niche wonderfully, allowing the user to work the action from the prone if necessary. Just like another member stated the U.S Army never pursued lever guns in 30-06 and went with a bolt action...

I feel that the above reasons became the norm, and people just stuck with what they knew, kind of like myself. Ive always used a Model 94 Winchester or a Model 70, but my friend Jason (who has killed 10 times the amount of big game as me) has always sworn by his 760 in .270... I have a feeling that was his first hunting rifle so therefore its his 'go-to' gun...

I personally think that there were just so many more bolt action and lever guns already on the market, so there was never a huge demand for slide action rifles so many of them went to the wayside. Manufacturers didn't see much profit and people weren't clamoring for them.
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Old March 17, 2014, 10:22 AM   #16
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Some folks give manufactures more credit than is due.

They've been known to make some poor decisions too.
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Old March 17, 2014, 11:39 AM   #17
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I also agree with there's no market for it. The tube magazine makes it complicated with pointed bullets. It's just easier to have a bolt gun. You could have a box fed pump but that seems somewhat pointless. Rifles are usually meant to be fired at one target and with one shot. So why have a pump rifle? I do think the Colt pump action rifle was a good idea, for possibly home defense. But as a deer rifle, a pump gun doesn't seem likea great idea, plus its heavy.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:00 PM   #18
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Lots of reason, lots of history...

There are a lot of reasons that go into the general preferences of the buying public. And tied in with that are the products made and sold.

The capabilities, and drawbacks of the early designs form a huge opinion base, for both good and ill.

The biggest reason pump shotguns are virtually universal and pump rifles are scarce is simply that the pump action gives a greater benefit in shotgun use than it does in most rifle use.

And you might also notice that there are a huge number of successful lever action shotguns out there, too. (Sarcasm)

Size does play a part. The handing does too. Also, who's design got there first, and how well it works.

In the "deer rifle" market where I grew up, Remington pumps and semi autos competed with Winchester and Marlin levers. And, when it came to who sold the most, of what, Remington lost.

Lots of reasons, here's a few...
pre WWII you could get lots of very good Winchester, Marlin, and even Savage lever guns, and by and large, they could all use the common ammo (which was mostly Winchester designs). Remington had a line of their own. Remington guns only took Remington ammo.

That's a factor in popularity right there.

Out of the entire line of Remington cartridges, .25, .30, .32, & .35 Remington, the only one that has survived commercially has been the .35Rem. And that's because 1) there was no directly competing Winchester cartridge, and 2) It was chambered in a popular Marlin lever action rifle!

After WWII, when sporting rifle design and manufacturing began again, Remington got smarter. Their next generation of pumps and semis could take advantage of the full range of standard rifle cartridges, .30-06 length.

This opened up wider market, but one that was already well filled by the bolt action, and where the speed advantage of the pump over the bolt was essentially nullified.

The semi auto's competition is the other thing that ensured pump rifles would never dominate the market, absent some artificial rule or restriction. Simply because a lot of people who would buy a pump rifle would buy a semi instead.

I believe Pennsylvania has a game law forbidding semi auto rifles for deer hunting. The pump rifle is very popular there. Still lots of levers and bolts too.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:21 PM   #19
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Rem. 7600 in 30-06

My 7600 is much faster for follow up shots in the northern Wisconsin woods than any bolt action and it will put 150 grain spritzers in a 1-1/2 inch all day long. And I can change magazines in seconds .IMHO. hdbiker
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:31 PM   #20
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Pawpaw says Remington pumps have free floating barrels. Their barrels only touch the receiver they're screwed into? The pump mechanics must also be free floating. Amazing.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:37 PM   #21
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I believe the Remington 760 and 7600 are good rifles. They can be as accurate as an average bolt rifle.
The problem is the somewhat weak extraction.
If they bolt head were to be beefed up to take an extractor or much larger dimensions I thin k the pump rifle would be a super good all around hunting rifle. The only problems I have seen with them have always been related in one way or another to extraction and trigger pull. The 760 triggers are not what you'd call "match triggers". They can be slicked up and made pretty nice, but they will never be in the league of a match trigger on an M-1 or m14.

Both the bolt head/extractor and the trigger could be addressed by Remington, but Remington has not had a stellar reputation for listening to the shooting public and answering the demands of what is desired for many many years.

I am sure it’s just a pipe dream to hope Remington would answer the call, but I would love to see a pump in the common calibers they offer, but with a heavier duty bolt head and a heavy duty extractor. If the bolt head was milled open on the bottom so it could be a controlled feed that would be even better, but they would have to go to a fixed ejector in the receiver too.

Then they should simply copy the safety and trigger of the M-1 Garand in principle.

Such a rifle would be outstanding.

The rotating bolt of the 7600 is as strong as many bolt actions now. By addressing the weak extraction, making a more positive feed system and giving the public a trigger without peer, they would probably take a big bight out of the bolt action sales of the market.

I love my Mausers and pre-64 M-70s, but if Remington were to make the rifle I am describing here I am sure I would be first in line to buy at least 2 of them. If they were then to offer them in left hand that would also give them a huge piece of an untapped market.
I won’t be holding my breath however.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:41 PM   #22
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If you were interested in a center fire pump. Just look at all those different brands marketed. Yup lots of selection there isn't/wasn't. And nothing has changed. Besides we consumers have always been satisfied with our lever's bolts and semi auto's. Why would some manufacture rock the boat and market a whole new designed pump action rifle for these times. When Remington has a well established product that already fills that market place nitch.
Why people don't buy more pumps. I haven't a clue. But I do know most sporting rifle designs were based on military use. Have you ever seen a pump action (rifle) being used under /for battle field conditions lately. Not that I'm aware of. Perhaps that's the reason for a center-fire pump rifles un-popularity.
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Old March 17, 2014, 12:51 PM   #23
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Thanks for all the responses. I had hoped an interesting conversation would follow my question and it has been pretty interesting...good point about the absence of pump rifles in military use affecting things by the way, I can't believe that hadn't occurred to me yet but it sure makes sense.
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Old March 17, 2014, 01:07 PM   #24
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what has been said plus the noise the action makes -- while wanted when a 2-legged is involved, situation dependent but gives the BG the potential to make a change in direction... one does not want to make unnecessary noise where the quarry may hear it.
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Old March 17, 2014, 01:55 PM   #25
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I have 2 Remy pumps in 30-06. One was my Fathers from the late 50's and the other is one my father bought me in the early 80's. First shot on both of them is DN, but they wonder immensely from shot 3-5. Similar bolt actions tend to stay closer to POA up to 10 shots. They are very popular in markets where SA is illegal for hunting such as PA. My father took 50+ deer with his and I have taken a dozen or so with mine and never had any problems. They are a PIA at the range if shooting from a bag as others mentioned.
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