“One rifle! One rifle capable of taking both large and smallgame would make my day.” How many times have you espoused thatfeeling? Quite often, I’ll bet. Many of us have fantasized abouthaving one rifle capable of serving most, if not all, our needs.
It’s a great idea, because we could acclimate ourselves to onetrigger, one stock, one sighting system, and we could enter the fieldeach season with much more confidence, a factor in hunting success thatcan’t be underplayed. But when you get right down to the nitty gritty of things, youmight end up being over-gunned for some species and, worse yet, perhapsundergunned for others. For many of us, one gun, and one cartridge,just won’t answer all of our needs. Randy Brooks, of Barnes Bullets fame, is one of those huntersfavoring a single rifle for all hunting needs, but he went a stepfurther in that he has introduced a single rifle available with analmost unlimited number of barrels, all chambered for differentcartridges.
That’s right! A single rifle with interchangeablebarrels, barrels that can be switched right in the hunting field, in amatter of minutes. In essence, Brooks has offered shooters everywherethe best of two worlds. these most versatile rifles are being manufactured by the Bighorn Rifle Company, P.O.
Box 215, Dept. GA, American Fork, UT 84003, andthey’re known by that very name; Bighorn rifle. According to Brooks, the Bighorn is the quality answer for discriminating sportsmenwho want to hunt a variety of game with the same rifle. When a rifle ispurchased, it comes with two barrels of your choice.
The onlyrestriction is the cartridges must have the same head size. Somepopular combinations Randy has sold to customers have been the .22-250Rem. and .
270 Win., .22-250 Rem. and .
30-06; 7mm Rem. Mag and .375H&H Mag; and .300 Win.
Mag and .375 H&H Mag. In addition to the twin barrels each rifle comes with, one mayorder extra barrels on an optional basis. One such order was for a setof barrels chambered for the .
264 Win. Mag, .300 H&H Mag, and .375H&H Mag cartridges, affording the owner with a package capable ofhandling all big and dangerous game he may come up against.
In the samevein, Brooks recently completed a set for his 13-year-old daughter, whowill soon be making her first bear hunt in Alaska. Her combo ischambered for the .243 Win., .
308 Win., and .358 Win., the latter whichwill serve her on bear, the others for everything in between largevarmints and deer.
In both instances, all three case heads are of thesame size, so the one bolt will suffice with all three of thesecartridges. How Brooks came up with his interchangeable barrel system is astory in itself. Once the decision was made to develop such a rifle, hesettled upon the classic Mauser action as the basic from which to begin,since this action has proven itself over the years as one of the finestever. Its oversized extractor claw is favored by professionalsworldwide for its positive extraction capabilities under all huntingconditions, and the Mauser ejection system is widely recognized as themost reliable on the market.
All Bighorn actions are trued and hand polished, and all action andbarrel threads are hand lapped. Barrels are quickly and easily screwedinto the action by hand, until they butt up against the receiver. Aspecial lock ring is then run up against the face of the receiver byhand, then snugged tight with the Bighorn spanner wrench provided withthe rifle set. To make sure the lock ring is tight, you can tap itshandle with a plastic mallet, or simply tap it hard with the palm ofyour hand.
This locks the barrel against the receiver, automaticallyassuring correct headspacing without the need for gauges or furtheradjustment. The proper procedure for changing barrels involves removing thebolt from the action, and the two screws that secure the floorplate tothe action. At this point the barreled action can be lifted from thestock. Engage the spanner wrench on the lock ring, give it a tap, andyou’re free to unscrew the barrel and make your swap.
It’sthat simple, and all you need is the single screwdriver and the tinyspanner wrench to get the job done. It’s felt by many that the use of the locking collar, or ring,actually increases barreled action stiffness, and therefore may improveaccuracy. If nothing else, it’s a unique system, and one that hasproven its usefulness time and again. When we pulled our action from the stock, we discovered the Bighornrifle is equipped with a fully adjustable trigger assembly by TedBlackburn.
This unit permits the user to control overtravel, searengagement, and weight of pull. The trigger on our test rifle, which,incidentally, belongs to a Bighorn customer, was set for about 3-4pounds of pull. It proved to be perfect for the cartridges the rifle ischambered for, and let-off was clean and crisp. This particular rifle was ordered with barreled chambered for the8mm Remington Magnum and .
375 H&H Magnum. I, personally, wouldprefer chamberings such as the .270 Weatherby Magnum or 7mm RemingtonMagnum along with a round like the .375 H&H Magnum, rather than twochamberings so close together in caliber and power, but to each his own.
In addition to having your choice of two standard calibers, everyBighorn rifle is graced with a classic-styled AA Fancy Claro walnut (75percent fancy figuring) stock with rosewood tip and complete handcrafted cut checkering. The grip cap is in checkered steel or rosewood, whilethe finish is in satin. Capping off this artistry is a Pachmayr recoil pad. The polished Mauser action is glass bedded in the stock, which alsofeatures a pair of Pachmayr’s flush-mounted quick detachable sling swivels.
Both the action and Douglas premium barrels are finished in adeep blue, the former being drilled and tapped for scope mounts. While the standard Bighorn rifle package is quite attractive, someshooters prefer magnum chamberings, fancier stocks and other finefeatures. Brooks advises us these other touches are all available asoptions, and, of course, cost extra. Custom stocks available includeAAA Fancy Claro (100 percent figure), AA Fancy and AAA Fancy French orEnglish walnut, as well as custom checkering to order, plus customengraving.
Other options are custom floor plates and triggerguards, as well ascustom triggers and safeties, such as the Jantz safety with a Canjartrigger. While the Bighorn is available with standard and magnum chamberedbarrels, they can be had in wildcat calibers (prices on request),although Randy Brooks prefers customers stick with the readily availablecartridges. Our test rifle came with a gorgeous walnut stock, well-figured, aswell as one of Bighorn’s grey finished fiberglass stocks. Thislatter unit was also glass bedded to the action.
Both barrels were ofthe exact same contour, and fit both stocks perfectly. The owner of ourtest rifle selected a Burris one-piece scope mount, bridging thereceiver, and installed a Leupold Vari-X III 1.5 x 5X scope on thisbeauty. The scope was a good choice, since this Bighorn is chamberedfor two very healthy cartridges, the 8mm Rem.
Mag and .375 H&H Mag.It would be foolish to install any scope as powerful as a 9X or greateron such a rifle. Test firing the Bighorn at the Lake Elsinore Sportsman Associationrange, firing from a rest at 100 yards, was only somewhat of a pleasure.
With each shot, the forestock would rise about once inch above the rest,while recoil would slowly, but effectively, move the rifle rearward afew inches. Even with the Pachmayr recoil pad, we could feel therecoil, although it wasn’t as sharp as some lighter, big bores Ilit off. The only load I could come up with in 8mm Rem. Mag was theRemington factory loaded 185-grain Core-Lokt PSP.
An old shootingpartner, Kipp Kington, and I took turns firing three-shot groups, justto keep our shoulders fresh (we weren’t wearing heavily paddedshooting jackets). The best group I came up with for three roundsmeasured 1.8 inches, center-to-center, in the 8mm Remington chambering. After switching over to the .
375 H&H barrel, we ran a batch oftwo different loads through the gun. One was Winchester’s300-grain silvertip Expanding Point bullet, the other Remington’s270-grain Soft Point. I nosed Kipp out again, relative to accuracy,coming up with a two-inch, three-shot group using the Remington load.Kipp was right behind with a 2.
2-inch three-shot group using theWinchester loading. Shooters accustomed to working with light cartridges might considertwo-inch groups at 100 yards pretty poor, and I might agree with them,having shot better groups myself with big-bore rifles. It’s quitepossible others, or even myself on a different day, could do better withthis particular rifle and cartridge(s). But it’s felt that eventwo-inch groups are accurate enough for even the most dangerous game,when one considers most big game hunters won’t be taking shots atranges much beyond 100 yards anyway.
Summing things up, the bighorn certainly is a gun designed for thediscriminating sportsman. Wood-to-metal fit is unparalleled, thecheckering is unbeatable, and wood and metal finishing is excellent.Combined with the versatility of the interchangeable barrels, theBighorn rifle is hard to beat.