The Practical Rifle

Tikka T3x Lite Compact Rifle from Lucky Gunner

The concept of a practical rifle is nothing new, the concept came from the late Jeff Cooper scout rifle, which basically is a traditional bolt action hunting rifle that are lightweight and fitted with low power scopes. These practical rifle serves not just for hunting purpose but can be for personal defense as well. (Even as a truck gun.) So as you can see in this practical rifle rabbit hole the caliber and all sorts of prepping idea can come up as to what is the true practical rifle. Another thing to point out is that purchasing a bolt action rifle don’t get much attention as getting an AR which seems to portray a negative thing amongst the anti-gun people. Another plus side is that bolt action rifle is that they provide good accuracy, ruggedness and reliability at an affordable price.

What is your True Practical Rifle? So yeh, there are many rifles that can serve this purpose. The mindset for this rifle is sorta a unique challenge. What’s practical may be different from someone that lives in the suburb vs someone out on a ranch, even secluded out in the wilderness. So if you live in an area that have some separation between you and your neighbor. But with some decent spaces. Having a suppressed rifle is ideal so that it doesn’t alarm your neighbor. And, in your backyard you have a mini-garden filled with delicious veggies. Having a suppressed .22 bolt rifle will do. Because you’re just concerned with varmints getting to your garden.

Rancher – Where as someone who dwells on a ranch may need to have a bigger rifle that can reach out and touch any four legged predators that shouldn’t be on your ranch. Any bolt action .308 rifle with a medium power scope would be fine for the job. This rifle can be stored in your truck, hence the term “truck gun”. This truck gun is not the same as for someone who lives between a suburb and the country that’s packing a semi-auto AR rifle as part of their EDC (every day carry) that can be accessed quickly.

Versatile Practical Rifle – With that said, sometimes there folks that don’t have a bolt action rifle. Other rifles such as the popular Henry Lever Action works, so as the AR pistol with a 7 inch barrel from Rock River Arms, or how bout the Winchester Model 94 Short rifle chambering in a .30/30. Even a Ruger 10/22 Takedown (.22LR) would work for your garden of goodness backyard.

How Skill are You?
In the past articles on pistol shooting, we had mentioned a quote from the “Tactical Professor” its not about the bow but the “indian” that matters. This is another x factor about practical rifle that many shooters overlook. Below is a video from Chris of Lucky Gunner Ammo of their becoming a practical rifleman (2016) series, highlighted some really good information on the practicality of the rifle the skills needed to be effective for hunting and personal defense.
There are many low to medium budget bolt action rifle that chambers the full power cartridges that can outperform most .223 semi-auto when in the hands of a skilled shooter. Chris talks about the incident in 1984 up in Alaska. The fugitive skills in marksmanship was above average. He was able to shoot 2 rounds in 2 seconds with a bolt action rifle at a moving helicopter.

Rifle of Michael Allen Silca

Video Transcription – 0:03on May 19 1984 two helicopters carrying

0:07Alaska State Troopers embarked on a

0:09manhunt in the wilderness near the

0:11remote town of Manley Hot Springs their

0:14target was Michael Allen silca an

0:16outsider suspected of the recent murders

0:19of six nearby residents when one of the

0:22helicopters descended in front of

0:23Silica’s position near a riverbank he

0:25was ready for them he moved toward the

0:27hovering chopper and fired around from

0:29his Ruger number one single-shot rifle

0:32the 30.6 bullet narrowly missed the

0:35troopers and passed through the roof of

0:36the chopper immediately two of the

0:39troopers answered with bursts of fire

0:40from there in 16a ones but none of their

0:43bullets found the target silca fired a

0:45second shot which instantly killed

0:47trooper Troy Duncan and injured captain

0:49Don Lawrence at the same time trooper

0:52Jeff Hall fired another burst hitting

0:54silca with eight rounds and killing him

0:57according to halt the entire exchange

0:59lasted about two seconds this story

1:02gives us two examples of how skill with

1:05a rifle matters a lot more than the

1:07rifle itself michael silca was a

1:10deranged lunatic but he was also a very

1:12skilled marksman two rounds and two

1:15seconds on a moving target with a single

1:18shot rifle requires some very serious

1:20ability fortunately Jeff Hall also had

1:23some serious ability including extensive

1:25and recent experience with shooting from

1:28moving helicopters otherwise that

1:30encounter might have gone a lot worse

1:31for the troopers whether you have a

1:34state of the art combat rifle or a

1:36simple deer rifle it’s the ability of

1:38the rifleman that determines how useful

1:40that tool is last week we looked at

1:42general-purpose rifles like scout rifles

1:45and other handy lightweight bolt actions

1:48that are often called practical rifles

1:50these can be used for a variety of

1:52different types of hunting they can

1:54easily be carried for long periods of

1:56time and they can even be used for

1:58self-defense from human attackers if

2:00absolutely necessary they’re legal in

2:03all 50 states and they don’t tend to

2:05draw the kind of negative attention that

2:07semi autos do in a lot of places just

2:10don’t take one with you to get coffee

2:12learning to run these

2:14kind of rifles to their full potential

2:15is becoming kind of a lost art most

2:18rifle training and competition that

2:20you’ll find is either geared toward

2:23long-range precision with large heavy

2:26rifles or close quarters work with

2:28semi-automatic carbines the most basic

2:30marksmanship fundamentals like trigger

2:33control sight alignment breathing that

2:35kind of stuff you can still learn in a

2:36lot of places so that’s not really what

2:38I’m getting into today I’m looking at

2:40the skills required to run a quick

2:42handling bolt action or a lever action

2:45with speed and practical accuracy at

2:48extreme close range out to about three

2:50or four hundred yards if you work on

2:52those skills you will quickly discover

2:54what a practical rifle is really capable

2:56of and you’ll start to see what kind of

2:59hardware is going to work best for

3:01whatever you plan to use that rifle for

3:02starting at close range the big skill to

3:05master is the snapshot from a carrying

3:09position or a ready position we want to

3:11be able to quickly bring the rifle up on

3:13target and guarantee a solid first hit a

3:16good Snapshot is one of the skills that

Cooper Scout Rifle Competency Drill

3:18Jeff Cooper believed was an indication

3:20of a competent rifleman his standard has

3:23you starting at a high ready with the

3:26butt of the rifle at the hip level from

3:28that position if you can consistently

3:30hit a four inch circle at 25 yards on

3:33one and a half seconds or a ten inch

3:35circle at 50 yards in about the same

3:38amount of time then you’ve got a pretty

Snap Shot

3:39good snapshot that first shot is always

3:42the most important especially when

3:44you’ve got to manually cycle the bolt so

3:46you’re not going to be doing any true

3:47rapid fire with a bolt-action but it is

3:49possible to get follow-up shots a lot

3:51quicker than most people think one way

3:54to work on this is to run some simple

3:56handgun style exercises at close range

10 Yard Failure Drill

3:58so like maybe a 10 yard failure drill

4:01that would be two shots to the body and

4:03one shot to the head you’ll get a lot of

4:05practice running the boat really quickly

4:06which in itself isn’t necessarily all

4:09that difficult but it tends to reveal

4:11some weaknesses in certain bolt-action

4:13designs a lot of modern bolt actions

4:15just don’t respond well to being run

4:18really hard and that’s one of the things

4:19that separates a rugged practical rifle


4:22a more casual hunting rifle doing these

4:25kind of drills you will also find out

4:26pretty quickly just how close you can

4:29get to the target before your scope

4:31actually starts to slow you down because

4:33you can’t find the target through the

4:35glass as quickly as you can bring the

4:37rifle up to your eye a variable

4:39magnification scope that goes down to a

4:41true one power would be ideal but you

4:44can still be pretty quick with a little

4:46magnification like one and a half power

4:48fortunately we’re seeing a lot more

4:50low-power variable scopes on the market

4:52lately and the prices are continually

4:54dropping the 3 to 9 and the 2 to 10

4:57power optics are still probably the most

5:00popular and those have their place but I

5:02think inside about 40 yards they’re

5:05going to slow most people down shooting

5:07at a hundred yards and Beyond we get

5:09into the different shooting positions

5:11and the use of the loop sling you might

5:13be familiar with the military loop sling

5:15and shooting from the prone or sitting

5:18or kneeling positions but being able to

5:20actually get into those positions in a

5:22hurry that’s the real challenge for a

5:25practical rifle you can’t really use a

5:27traditional military loop sling they’re

5:29just too slow to put on you pretty much

5:31have to use a three-point chain sling or

5:34something like a Rhodesian sling that

5:36allows you to get into it while you’re

5:38moving into your position if you have a

Rifle 10 Drill

5:41range where you can set it up Cooper’s

5:43rifle tin drill is a good test of your

5:46ability to take advantage of the various

5:47shooting positions using the sling for

5:50support so to do this you would set up

5:52an IDP a target at 300 yards and then

Running & Shooting w Chris of Lucky Gunner Ammo

5:55when the timer starts you just dive into

5:57any position you want and fire two

5:59rounds then you run to 275 and fire two

6:02more run to 255 two more run to 225 and

6:06here you can’t actually go to prone you

6:08have to fire two rounds from either

6:09offhand or sitting or kneeling and then

6:12you fire your last two rounds at 200

6:14yards and there you have to take the

6:16shots standing at in an offhand position

6:19any hits in the center circle are five

6:22points in the down one zone you get four

6:25points and all other hits on the target

6:27are two points so 10 rounds total 50

6:30points possible Cooper considered a good

6:32score to be 40 or better with at least

6:34five Center hits

6:36at a time under 2-minutes now despite

6:39what the clever editing from last week’s

6:42video might suggest i’m a pretty

6:44mediocre rifle shooter at best i can do

6:47the rifle ten drill in under two minutes

6:49and I can score over 40 points I just

6:52can’t do both on the same run so I still

6:54need some work but I still like this

6:56drill because it’s really physical it’s

6:58not just a test of marksmanship but how

7:00well your marksmanship holds up when you

7:02add some exertion the other major skill

7:05to master is simply rifle manipulations

7:08running the boat quickly and smoothly

7:10keeping the ammo topped off or switching

7:13out magazines and manipulating the

7:15safety now fortunately you get plenty of

7:17practice doing all that stuff while

7:19you’re working on the other skills so

7:21improvement should come pretty naturally

7:23if you’re solid with overall rifle

7:25handling and you’ve got a good snap shot

7:28and you’re quick with the sling and the

7:30different shooting positions that’s a

7:33pretty good foundation of practical

7:35rifle skills now I said training for

7:38practical rifle skills is tough to find

7:40but it’s not impossible

Randy Cain

7:41Randy Cain who I mentioned last week

7:43does his practical rifle class at least

7:46once a year and he’s really the go-to

7:48guy for this stuff gun sight Academy

7:51also does their 270 rifle class and that

7:54covers a lot of the same skills if

7:55neither of those are practical for you

7:58and you still want some basic formal

8:00rifle training I’d recommend checking

8:01out a project appleseed rifle clinic

8:04they will teach you the fundamentals of

8:06rifle shooting including how to use a

8:08loop sling and all of the basic shooting

8:10positions these clinics are held all

8:12over the country and they’re very

8:14affordable you’re probably not going to

8:16find any better deal for rifle train now

8:18it’s not a practical rifle class like

8:20the stuff I was talking about today most

8:22Appleseed’s are actually set up for you

8:24to use a semi-automatic 22 but you can

8:27use a bolt-action if you want a real

8:29challenge and either way it’s a great

8:32way to sharpen your rifle skills before

8:33you move into some of the stuff I was

8:35talking about earlier if you can’t make

8:37it out to an apple seed at the very

8:39least go read the art of the rifle by

8:41Jeff Cooper and if that doesn’t motivate

8:43you to get out there and actually learn

8:45to shoot your rifle better then you

8:47might need a new hobby


So what’s your Practical Rifle?

Looking to get some Ammo, have a look below.

Sources: Lucky Gunner, The Outdoor Life,