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Old January 14, 2021, 11:23 AM   #1
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Bolt Action vs Semi Auto

I have also used both semi auto and a few bolt action rifles. I don't understand why some people prefer bolt action due to it always having a lower rate of fire. Does someone with more bolt action wanna share their thoughts on this?
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Old January 14, 2021, 11:41 AM   #2
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Sometimes you do not need a high rate for fire.
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Old January 14, 2021, 11:47 AM   #3
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For me shooting is not how many rounds you can send downrange in a minute.
It's accuracy. I'm in no rush to pepper my target with 20 or 30 rounds.

But that's my thing

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Old January 14, 2021, 11:49 AM   #4
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Bolt actions are generally lighter, more accurate, cheaper and more reliable. I've never worried about the rate of fire while hunting or bench shooting.
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Old January 14, 2021, 12:15 PM   #5
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My primary rifle use is for hunting and my preferred action is bolt. Not to brag-- but my target generally drops with the first shot ;-)

Last edited by ChasHam; January 15, 2021 at 09:52 AM.
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Old January 14, 2021, 12:20 PM   #6
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Bolt rifles are generally considered to be more accurate. That is changing, but by example, all accuracy contests and varmint hunting which requires precision shooting, for the most part are dominated by bolt rifles. As noted, a good bolt rifle will be 100% reliable, or as close as one can come dependent on ammuntion. Autos can be finicky. Since there are fewer parts, and they are manually operated and do not have to withstand the "slam/bam" action of a semi, bolt rifles can be made very light and tidy.
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Old January 14, 2021, 12:39 PM   #7
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If best accuracy is your primary objective, bolt action rifles are best.

When semiautomatics start setting open records in long range and benchrest matches, I'll reconsider.
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Old January 14, 2021, 01:07 PM   #8
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What Bart said. I went out last weekend with a friend doing some long range steel clanging. He had his stupid slick operating Bighorn Origin based .260AI rifle with a 18x scope on it and I had my .223rem AR-15 with a 16x on it. Both guns had muzzle brakes but the one on the .260AI was much more effective.

Clanging a target at 822yrds, my friend was just as fast as I was engaging that target landing a round every .8-1 seconds. I'm just as quick as he is on a bolt gun but I had to recover from (very light but still extant) recoil of a 7lbs AR that moved me pretty far off the target with each shot. Because the AR-15 is so light and the brake doesn't really do much, it's easily moved off target. His 20lbs rifle didn't move at all so he was able to run that bolt like a madman.

Bolt guns aren't slow. Bolt gun shooters are. Start looking at straight pull bolts and you can get really fast bolt gunning.
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Old January 14, 2021, 01:33 PM   #9
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For me, I just like working the bolt. Either my .22 Marlin Glenfield or Remington 700, 721, etc., I like the operation. I don't need a high rate of fire for hunting or tin cans. If you look at old videos from WW1, some of those troops could work a bolt VERY fast.
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Old January 14, 2021, 01:38 PM   #10
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Both a Bolt and a Semi have their places that they shine.

If you look at old videos from WW1, some of those troops could work a bolt VERY fast.
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Old January 14, 2021, 02:24 PM   #11
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Does someone with more bolt action wanna share their thoughts on this?
I'll share a few thoughts on this,

First, remember the very broad range of rifles and calibers in each group means there are almost always exceptions to general statements.

First off, the semi auto's high rate of fire is only an advantage in certain situations, and is of no consequence in others, and can even be a disadvantage if the shooter "shoots faster than he can see" meaning, faster than he can AIM.

Throwing a lot of rounds down range as fast as you can has uses for COMBAT, and matches designed for that, and yes, its fun, but other than that, its not very useful. And, since I'm paying for every round I shoot, to me, that matters some.

Next point, Bolt actions are more versatile. The ammo does not have to be loaded to within a fairly narrow range of specs in order for the gun to operate correctly.

A Semi auto in the same caliber as a bolt gun has more parts. It is more mechanically complex, and therefore has to be at least a bit heavier. Does this matter? That's an individual thing, but it does matter to some people.

As a group, semi autos do not have as good triggers as bolt guns. AS A GROUP. There are exceptions on both sides.

Bolt guns are easily adapted to a wider range of rounds than semi autos. Literally, a bolt gun can run on anything that fits in the action, while a semi needs something that not only fits but must also cycle the action reliably.

I personally have bolt actions ranging from .22LR to .458 Win Mag. My range of caliber choice in semi autos is much more limited.

The semi auto shines when it comes to ammo capacity and rate of fire possible, comparted to the bolt gun. After that it becomes more a matter of specific guns and their features, and which is best suited for what task.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old January 14, 2021, 02:44 PM   #12
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Most of the time, a machinegun, in this case a semi-auto, is not needed. I like both bolt and semi-auto.
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Old January 14, 2021, 03:26 PM   #13
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IMHO--it's simply a question of complexity--bolt guns have fewer components involved to make a graceful concentric introduction of the cartridge to the chamber. Top-shelf semis are closing that gap slowly but surely.
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Old January 14, 2021, 04:40 PM   #14
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M1's and M14's have put 24 shots inside 12 inches at 600 yards in 50 seconds shot from prone.

Don't know of any bolt gun doing that.
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Old January 14, 2021, 06:17 PM   #15
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My dad used to hunt Northeastern states with a Model 81 .35 Rem. He said it was dense hardwood forests, close big game, and rapid follow-up shots were beneficial.

I hunt the Rockies exclusively. I've hunted and hunt with only bolt action rifles exclusively, usually loaded with 2-to-3 rounds. If I miss the first shot, chances of a second are slim. When mule deer and elk commence to run for thick forests, they blaze trails.

The Springfield Armory M1A is extremely accurate. The M1 Garand was very accurate. In general, a bolt action might be more accurate. It would have to be a quality-to-quality comparison. Both the SA M1A and Garand are heavy beasts.
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Old January 14, 2021, 06:59 PM   #16
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M1's and M14's have put 24 shots inside 12 inches at 600 yards in 50 seconds shot from prone.

Don't know of any bolt gun doing that.
Nor do I.

on the other hand, I don't know any M1s or M14s that go 6lbs without optics but I know some bolt guns that do.

What matters most is what "game" you're playing, and what matters and how much for that game.

Deer hunting is one, target shooting, another. Timed events are yet another. And then there's also designs intended for combat and designs adapted from what were once combat designs.

I love my M1A. I was in the last class of Army Small Arms Repairmen trained on the M14. If I ever need to shoot people at beyond pistol distance that's the gun I'd choose.

On the other hand, I also love my Rem 600 carbine in .308 Win and if I'm going to walk a few miles and/or go over 5,000 ft up, I'd choose that over my M1A.

Different tools for different jobs. Neither one is absolute best at everything. Which is why we have different guns and cartridges.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old January 14, 2021, 06:59 PM   #17
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The last gun I bought was a bolt action in 22 magnum. I figure It goes nicely with bolt action 22LR. I have more semi autos then bolt actions. It's just the way it worked out. In times of plenty when ammo wasn't an endangered species I enjoyed a good mag dump.
With enough practice you can get very deadly with a bolt and kill with one shot. I would take my old .270 out jackrabbit hunting and got to where I could blast a bunny as they took off, one shot and bunny parts hanging off sage brush. All this is a long answer to your question that should been answered with " because I want to".
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Old January 14, 2021, 07:25 PM   #18
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For big game hunting I'll take a bolt gun 10 times out of 10 over a semi-auto. For other uses semi's are just fine. I have several 22 rimfire semi-autos as well as AR's and I like them for their intended uses.

A bolt gun is:

* More reliable with a wide range of loads. Semi autos can be pretty reliable, but only if the ammo is loaded within a fairly narrow pressure range. I can load, or buy ammo that would never function reliably in a semi-auto

* More rugged and reliable in harsh weather or dirty conditions.

* Significantly lighter.

* More accurate, partly because of better triggers. You can get a semi to be plenty accurate, but it is significantly harder and more expensive.

Which leads to cost, there are a lot of sub $400 bolt guns that will out shoot most $1000 semi-autos.

M1's and M14's have put 24 shots inside 12 inches at 600 yards in 50 seconds shot from prone.
From a military perspective this is significant. I'll not argue that a bolt gun is a superior military weapon except for those times where much more accuracy is needed and at even longer ranges.

But as a hunter using the same 6" target and only firing 3 rounds at 100 yards ( more relevant numbers for a hunter) It might take 1 second longer for someone who knows how to run a bolt rifle.

Not trying to hit anything, just throwing lead down range as fast as I could while being timed, I've gotten off 3 shots from a 308 bolt rifle in under 2 seconds. It takes me about 4 seconds to hit a 6" target at 100 yards 3 times.
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Old January 14, 2021, 08:52 PM   #19
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I'm an obligate southpaw. Therefore, I loathe conventional right handed bolt action rifles. They are just ... backwards.
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Old January 14, 2021, 09:14 PM   #20
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I switched to a bolt gun when I started reloading and wanted to find my brass when hunting. And the bolt gun was easier on the brass. And...much easier to clean.
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Old January 14, 2021, 10:16 PM   #21
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Why choose, get both.
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Old January 15, 2021, 12:07 AM   #22
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Personal preference. In my reloading days it was easier to save the brass from a bolt action, some actions-the Cetme/G-1 the fluting in the chamber makes the brass harder to resize, a complaint about the Lee Enfields is they stretch the brass.
I think the bolt action is better for teaching beginners, makes them more aware of the mechanism-like teaching someone to drive with a stick as opposed to an automatic.
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Old January 15, 2021, 11:53 AM   #23
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A good shooter can shoot a BA very fast if needed.
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Old January 15, 2021, 06:48 PM   #24
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There are men and women out there....and there will always be...who have a very black and white view on the application of X Y or Z platform for X Y or Z job.

I never really considered the bolt action rifle optimal for self defense/warfare in the post WWII era, but I won't ever deny or argue that in good hands or in a pinch that someone can't defend themselves very well indeed WITH a bolt gun.

I can't even begin to chase down a statistic that might give insight into a hard number of times a bolt gun is used specifically as opposed to a semiauto annually, but I would bet that as many times as Americans legally defend their lives every year with a firearm...a good number of those times will be with an old bolt action hunting rifle.

I have seen the effects of a 220gr 30-06 fired out of a Ruger American when a subject got dirt napped by a home owner after breaking in to his house. It was the only gun he owned. Was that Ruger optimal? No, but it WAS effective in that moment.

There are a LOT of folks out there who are hunting enthusiasts, but not necessarily gun enthusiasts and have no interest in owning anything other than the Remington Model 700 they have had since they were 16. They like hunting deer, but for the other 350 days a year, don't give a gun another thought.

My maternal great grandfather had a Model 94 Winchester in 30-30, it was his "deer rifle" and it lived untouched in the gun rack at his cabin in Glennie, Michigan until the morning of November 15th every year. He liked hunting, but didn't care about "guns". On the other hand...he had dozens of fishing poles, tens of hundreds of lures, flies, crappie rigs, etc...etc...etc...

Different strokes and all that. I am not going to pee on another feller's choice of rifle or pistol...mostly because I don't care about his opinion on MY choice.
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Old January 15, 2021, 08:40 PM   #25
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I have both.

I hunt and target shoot with both.

I dont do spray and pray shooting, so capacity isn’t really a concern for me. When I do hunt with semi-auto rifles (AR 15/10), they get the smallest magazines I have in them, cause even if I can carry 20-30 rounds, I’m still trying to get it done with the first one.

The times I’ve needed a second shot, the bolt guns (and my single shots) have gotten it done just fine.

When I choose one type of rifle over the other, whether hunting or killing soup cans, it’s usually due to caliber choice, not rifle type.
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