To rebarrel or not to rebarrel?

Perry Magowan covers a few points worth considering

Should I rebarrel my hunting rifle or not? This is a question that sometimes comes up in a hunter’s lifetime. It depends on certain circumstances, such as rifle age (barrel wearing) and use of said rifle, performance in killing power and so on and so forth.

In my case it was an easy decision to make. I had hurt my right shoulder and was in quite a bit of pain. My doctor did not seem to be able to fix the problem and I could not take the recoil of my sambar hunting rifle, a .338WM. My older brother Darcy suggested I rebarrel my .243W to a 7mm-08 as it was a legal calibre in Victoria for sambar deer and had adequate killing power for the job.

Thinking about this for a while, I decided to sell my .338WM and a .303-25 that I no longer used to hunt deer with to give me the finances to complete this project.

I had bumped into a gunsmith at an SSAA SHOT Expo a few years earlier and gave Tony Argent from Total Solutions Engineering a ring. He was only too happy to help me out with the job.

“I want it to be the same profile barrel but two inches longer than the .243W barrel,” I told him. “No worries,” was his answer.

When the job was all done he told me to put 40 shots through the rifle to take all the burring off the barrel lands. By then it should be shooting spot-on with a tight group. I went to the SSAA rifle range the same day as I picked up the rifle and sighted it in. I am so glad that I decided to rebarrel my old Sako.

Less than 24 hours later I was able to see the difference first-hand in performance between the two calibres. With a one-shot kill on a young red stag at 150m across a gully, the contrast in power was more than noticeable. Wow, I was impressed at the functioning and the recoil was acceptable to my injured shoulder as well. What a win-win situation.

So, if you are considering the idea of a rebarrel to your hunting rifle to a calibre higher or lower than what you have already, then yes go for it, as you have nothing to lose.

Nine years ago, I upgraded my hunting rifle from .243W to 7mm-08 and have not looked back. Because of my age, I do not go out a lot anymore, but I find that when I do I am more inclined to take shots on game that in the past I would not have risked with the .243W.

Just recently I was putting one of my trail cameras on a cattle dam to see what may be about. Travelling back out on the property boundary track a young red stag offered me a 270m shot across a gully in rugged hilly country. The heavier calibre rifle with a 24″ barrel for better accuracy gave me the confidence to take the chance, which was a successful one-shot kill.

Then all the hard work started and I thought to myself, Perry what have you just done!

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