What do Alaskans choose as their favorite firearm?
Trying to answer that question for some down-South friends (and looking for an interesting debate), I conducted an informal poll of more than 100 Alaska hunters. All are readers of AlaskaOutdoorDigest.com and most have vast experience hunting in Alaska.
The question was simple: What’s your choice for best guns to hunt Alaska—for the biggest game, for mountain hunting, for bear protection and for small game?
Here’s a summary of the results.
The two clear favorites were the .338 Winchester Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum, followed closely the old faithful .30/06 and the .45/70.
Another somewhat surprising favorite was the .300 RUM, Remington’s mega-magnum based on the .404 Gibbs case and pushing a 180-grain slug 3300 fps. Several 300 RUM fans cited the ability to load the big thumper down to .30/06 levels or up to T-Rex power. It’s got the power to thump anything hard near or far.
The ability to deliver a ton of energy at a quarter mile is important. You might be surprised to learn that many serious moose hunters plan and carry rifles capable of 500-yard kill shots on a 1500-hundred pound bull. Because big bulls are often reluctant to come to a call and bed in open and thick terrain that precludes a stalk.
In keeping with the independent nature of Alaskans, in our informal poll, 25 different calibers got one or two votes!
I’d lump these into several groups.
The thumpers including the 325 WSM, 338 Lapua, 8mm Remington Mag, 375 H&H, .35 Whelen, .375 Ackley Improved and .416 Weatherby.
High velocity favorites include the 7mm Remington Magnum, 28 Nosler,.300 WSM and .257 Weatherby.
Lever-gun cartridges included the .450 Marlin, .444 Marlin and .50 SW.
Old military favorites included the .303 British and 7.62×54.
Given the popularity of AR platforms I found it interesting that nobody picked the .223 and only a single .308.
There was even one nostalgic vote for the .30/30.
Enough for the long guns.
Two hefty revolvers dominated votes for the best handgun for bears. Most Alaskans voted for the .44 Magnum, although those who carried big bore rifles seemed to prefer the .454 Casull.
No surprise for personal defense against human predators, Alaskans preferred Glocks in .40 SW by a large margin.
There’s no disputing the ultimate proven bear stopper, if you’re packing only for defense and not hunting. It’s a short-barreled 12gauge loaded with shotgun slugs. The Remington 870 pump was the readers favorite, and mine. It’s also the medicine that Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists carry exclusively to deal with trouble bears and moose.
For small game, no surprise, the .22 rimfire in both handgun and rifle was the undisputed favorite.
Do you agree? What did we miss?
Send us your opinions on Facebook or comment on this story. If nothing else, maybe we’ll provide ammunition for a few new gun shopping trips!
— By Lee Leschper