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6/5/2017 12:57 PM
I find myself with an interesting problem. I am looking at a solo kayak trip on the Missouri River that will be several weeks in duration. Ordinarily, a pistol is enough for any river trip in Montana.

This particular stretch of river goes through some empty country with no cell service for tens of miles, features resident grizzly bears on the whole stretch, and will transit some Indian country with restless/carefree natives who have been known to shoot at ranchers and tourists for recreation.

A carbine is clearly needed for this trip. For discussion purposes, let's assume the effective range to be 300 yards, with likely range of less than 200 yards. Given the kayak transport, a folding stock and shorter barrel is desirable.
In some ways, a FN SCAR 17 is the "A" answer, but the ammo is heavy.
However, I have also considered a 6.8 AR with LAW folding stock or the same in .300
Or I could just use my existing 12.5" AR.
Sight will be an Aimpoint T1 regardless.
I am in a quandary. More power is heavy and bulky, but comforting.
The 6.8 is probably the neatest solution. .300 BLK is adequate, but trajectory gives me pause.
5.56 is flat shooting, and the ammo is light, but I may need more of that light ammo to deal with a big bear.
Chance of bear or indian attack is about equal, statistically speaking, but if the attack is by natives, the numbers could be up to ten threats, with 3-4 in a pickup being the usual arrangement.
Generally, I am figuring on taking 100 rounds of premium bonded ammunition. I will not be foraging with the carbine, it will solely be for on water and camp site defense.


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6/5/2017 1:05 PM
If you are into building, an AR in .338 Federal would be a decent ticket. And forget the weight, you are a dude for fook's sake. And you are in a boat most of the time, no? If you aren't into building, any good AR in .308 should work. Or an FAL. Or a SCAR. Of if you don't mind a bolt, a Ruger Gunsight. Or if you like a lever, an older Marlin in .338 Marlin. Just some quick thoughts...
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6/5/2017 2:13 PM

The .308 ARs from Daniel Defense are very nice, and aren't a bad weight penalty compared to many others, while still maintaining good accuracy.  Handled a couple at last year's SHOT Show and had a mighty big urge to impulse buy one!  I've also heard good things about the POF Revolution in .308....as light as many 5.56 ARs.  Haven't gotten to see one of those close up yet...but I used to have a 5.56 P 416 and it was a great gun, as well.  Traded it for my current Daniel Defense 14.5" custom build.  

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6/5/2017 6:09 PM

A 12.5 AR loaded with 62gr Barnes TSX's is your huckleberry. 

Odd caliber ARs work okay, when they work okay, and then sometimes they don't.  YMMV.  6.8's require a proprietary magazine.

A poly-stocked Ruger GSR, stripped down to iron sights, weighs 6# on the nose.  Loaded with 200 gr. mono-metals, it'll stop any bear and most everything in Africa.

If you've got 3K to spend, a SCAR-17 is a good choice.  I sold mine as I never could get it to shoot better than about 2.5moa. They kill most scopes PDQ as well.

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6/5/2017 7:23 PM
You sir are not welcome. Do you really think you need protection from Montana's. I personally was very insulted by your request for a river rifle. I have lived in Montana since 1967 and have never heard of "natives" shooting at ranchers and or floaters. I live here and you are not welcome.
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6/5/2017 8:31 PM
Boy Wonder,
I live in MT as well. I am acquainted with people that have experienced this. It doesn't make the papers, or happen often. The central
Montana reserves are more tense than usual right now. There is a reason the FBI issues Larue 7.62 to the agents here, and 5.56 everywhere else.

I have worked on the reserve, and get along very well there. But I am also aware of the prevailing winds. I don't plan to get in a gunfight, but I don't plan to lose one either.

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6/5/2017 8:41 PM
Good input on the TSX. I have been using 64 gr. Gold Dots for years in my 12.5".

Thanks for the input on the SCAR, I keeping running across anecdotes such as yours which make me wonder about the ultimate precision of the SCAR.
Its weight, and folding stock are appealing, but the proprietary magazine and cost tend to balance that out.

Did you run it with match ammo and a magnified optic?
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6/5/2017 8:49 PM
Ok. Bear Spray first to protect camp. A accurized bolt action .308 shooting heavy pills (180grain) is a 800 yard gun.
The Missouri in Montana is great to paddle, canoe or in your case Kayak.

My experience on the Missouri was great, but had issue with Black Bear at one camp. Several years ago so I couldn't tell you which camp.
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6/5/2017 10:06 PM
Longeye wrote:
Good input on the TSX. I have been using 64 gr. Gold Dots for years in my 12.5".

Did you run it with match ammo and a magnified optic?
Fed GM ammo and a MK!V scope.  I now have a Ruger 762 that is also a solid 2.5moa rifle.  My Ruger GSR is an MOA rifle with Fed 168GM.  The Ruger is going down the road.  I'm giving up on the idea of a 308 gas gun.  I'm not spending Larue money.
I've not done any tests personally but I'd be the farm TSX's will out penetrate 64gr Noslers.  I'm aware that load passes the FBI's barrier test.  Ross Seyfried figured out 20yr ago that the Barnes punch above their weight.  He should know, he shot quite a bit of African plains game with them.


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6/5/2017 10:19 PM
I will check out the TSX. It sounds like a good option for my 12.5".

The information I have is that there are 37 resident griz between Two Medicine and Tiber Dam on the Marias. That is a bear for roughly every three miles of river. I don't have numbers for the middle stretch of the Missouri, but griz are definitely moving onto the plains in large numbers.

I am stocking an IFAK specific to this trip as well.
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6/6/2017 10:07 AM

Just some quick observations since I've been working with a .300 blk pistol with LAW folder for a while:

- The 110 grain stuff and a T1 both start falling off at about the same time -- 200 yards. That caliber and optic are a good combo.

- A very experienced Wyoming friend who is a hunting guide and general woodsman standardized on 300 blk for everything several years ago. He is comfortable using it on elk out to 200 yards and has taken several. Limitation on elk is retained energy, not trajectory. He has taken prongorns out to 325 IIRC. On grizzlies? Just dunno. There is some 200 grain hardcast made which would be an interesting choice. I don't know that anybody has really gotten very far into the "300 as bear gun" but I think there is potential there.

- 9.5" pistol with LAW folder is shockingly handy. With stock folded it will fit just about anywhere (inside of a Connor for example). With stock open it is child's play to bust rocks at 200 yards. It's the first thing larger than a pistol that I've ever found practical to have with me around camp instead of leaning against a tree where it isn't doing me any good. There's a quick little segment of how I carry mine clipped to my KB around camp in this video (at 3:17): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fTtD2dgzwE

I'm not saying 300 blk pistol is the best choice for your trip, and I haven't 100% warmed up to it for my uses either, but I find myself grabbing it A LOT.


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6/17/2017 11:01 PM


     Despite my initial misgivings about the 300 Blackout, I have found it a useful general purpose hunting cartridge.  I find myself using it more and more frequently.  To that end, did your guide friend, who uses the 300 Blackout, provide any details on what load(s) he is using?  I would be interested in hearing the details if possible.  Thanks for your help with this.


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6/19/2017 12:52 PM
First Boy Wonder and Longeye thank you for the amicable and mature way you handled your disagreement. The reality is that there is a lot of stuff that goes down that folks never hear about in less they move in the right channels. If you ever get a chance to sit in on a full briefing from the LE for your local forest do it, you will have a different view of things after that. As always, I think your greatest threat is probably two legged, but with grizzlies in the mix that may have been habituated things change a bit. I say may have been habituated because I am always concerned about critters in "high traffic areas" and rivers have long been the pathways of the world, and all it takes is one or two sloppy groups to make things sporting for everyone else that comes along.

I am making a concerted effort right now to get back into river running, and if you are doing the trip I am thinking of it is one of my dream trips. I am pretty dang jealous. I hope you will do a full right up.

I went with a canoe, and while not as constrained as a kayak, it still has the same two big issues, which are space and securing items in case of a flip. To me that means that the smaller a package the better, and also something that is easy to stow somehow.

I am well aware that lots of big game gets shot with .223 especially polar bears in the artic, but those are hunting situations, and not situations where the critter already has its dander up. If grizzlies weren't in the equation, I would maybe not quibble, but I think that recommending a .223/5.56 even with a good load like the TSX is a bit...light, and I am not at all sold on big romper stomper calibers being needed for bigger game/bear as I am a fan of shot placement. If .223/5.56 is all you have or can afford, which is why it is so widely used in the artic, then get some TSXs and drive on, but otherwise I would look elsewhere. I have a friend who regularly has to put down wounded elk with a .223/5.56, and his reports are not encouraging.

As Evan said the 300blk in an AR pistol is really a heck of a lot of capability stuffed into a small package, and for that reason I would probably lean that way. You could strap some kind of bag to the deck of your kayak and have it zipped and strapped into it, and then it would be available right there. I am not completely sold on the 300blk either, but the size makes it worth serious consideration. If you decide to go that route I would think hard about a MCX pistol. If I didn't have my 300blk upper that is the route I would be going. They are being issued by a lot of switched on folks and being used heavily from what I am hearing.

Heck since you mentioned it, and you aren't carrying it DSA makes a couple of FAL pistols too, but I don't have experience with them.

If you pass up on the AR pistol, I personally would go either to a bolt gun or a lever gun. Either is going to be a smaller overall package than an AR 308. I am huge fan of ARs, but lay a bolt or lever gun down on top of one as they are smaller overall. Again, this is largely due to the space limitations of a kayak.

Unfortunately, I can't find the emails he sent, but I know he and a number of our other friends in Wyoming are running the 300blk for hunting. They seem to have standardized on the 110gr bullet weights with the TTSX being the most popular, but they have also used the Hornady loads in 110 and 123 weights with no issues. They make sure no shot is over 200yds basically, and other than that don't really have any limitations.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
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6/23/2017 12:28 AM
Evan and Scot, thanks for your input.

Scot, you have a civilized group here, and I try fit in with that. I appreciate the vibe here.

I like the trim package of a bolt rifle, but the folding stock options on self loaders makes me lean that way. Even with a 14.5" barrel on a bolt rifle, it is a long package for a kayak.

In some ways a take down rifle would be a decent option.

I keep coming back to 6.8 and 300 BLK. I had a 6.8 for a while, but couldn't ever get it to group well.
The 300 definitely works best in a small package. It is probably what I will go with. A LAW folder and 9.5" barrel would work well lashed aft of the cockpit.
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6/23/2017 8:35 AM

Longeye, if I may be afforded a drift here, may I ask why a kayak instead of a canoe?   Apart from driving along side it and stopping at a few launch sites in MT, I know little about the Missouri River.

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6/23/2017 6:32 PM
I find a kayak easier for one person to manage.
With less draft and beam, they are also easier paddle.

Canoes good are for multiple persons and lots of gear.
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7/6/2017 1:28 AM
Sorry for the delayed response but I am in the process of a move and have been a bit occupied with that of late. Thanks for the information about the 300 Blackout loads. I have been running handloaded Barnes 110 TTSX bullets as a general purpose load at about 2,350 feet per second (16 inch barrel). As the results on game roll in, I will keep you updated.
On a related note, I ran across a set of plans for doing a take down conversion of a Winchester Model 94 carbine in 30-30. I recently acquired a used but sound Sears carbine in 30-30 Winchester. I am going to take a look at having the work done to my carbine. Having a carbine that comes a part and can easily be stowed in a pack makes a lot of sense. More to follow on that as it develops. Thanks again.
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7/9/2017 6:37 PM

I would check out the 6.5 Gredel if you haven't already. It goes on any ar lower without any modifications. You could shoot it out of an Alexander Arms 11in SBR or 16in complete upper, so it would provide a very small profile with very good shooting characteristics. It shoots great at distance and has very good energy/velocity retention with a decently heavy projectile. It could potentially give you eveything you want with the ability to shoot 500 yards.

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7/14/2017 7:39 PM
6.5 Grendel might not be a bad idea - if you get a folding AK, swap the barrel for a 6.5mm, accurize it... Sounds expensive, and I've never done it (cause, y'know, it IS expensive), but it is kinda a fun thought... I'm not the hugest fan of folding stocks, I've found they break too easily, but a lot of people love 'em.

- J
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2/16/2018 7:02 PM
I recently ran across the "Q" company who offer "The Fix" and "The Mini Fix" rifles. I am taking a hard look at these as they offer a lot of capability- nearly everything I am looking for- in a very trim package. It folds up to ~25″, is lighter than nearly any other rifle on the market, produces high accuracy, is capable of accepting a wide variety of accessories, offers an excellent trigger right out of the box, easily user serviceable with common tools, feeds from various capacities of PMAG and is USA made. The Fix has all the hallmarks of a nearly ideal truck, bush plane or general purpose rifle.

A very generous knife maker has offered to send me his personal "The Fix" rifle on a loaner basis. I will keep the group posted.

HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsFirearms and Sk...Firearms and Sk...River rifle thoughts.River rifle thoughts.