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Gun Review: Montana Rifle Company Dangerous Game Rifle

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September 20, 2012
Gun Review: Montana Rifle Company Dangerous Game Rifle - 11

A dangerous-game rifle has two missions, the first of which is pretty simple: never fail. Plenty of rifles seem to live up to this standard. You might even have one or two tucked away in your gun safe right now, like that favorite bolt-gun that’s never let you down, either in the field or at the range. Every time you load it and pull the trigger, it goes bang. Come to think of it, pretty much all your rifles do this, no?

I’ll guess they’ve operated this way under comparatively posh conditions. Further, I’ll wager you’ve never actually tried to make your rifles seize up and quit. Why would you? It’s not like we have reason to expect a hippo charge on the morning walk to the deer stand.

And yet, it can be a revealing exercise to attempt to induce failure in a rifle, especially if you get creative about the torture test. Approach it with the devious mindset you had when you used to pick on your little brother and, believe me, you’ll see your rifle come up short.

Boot Camp
This was the first order of business with the new Montana Rifle Company DGR. I did everything I could to make it jam, stick, misfeed, or otherwise malfunction, treating it like a Marine recruit at Parris Island.

The shakedown included rolling the ammo in sand before loading, short-stroking the bolt, single-­loading the rifle while it was sideways or at other angles, operating the rifle upside down, and working the action at a snail’s pace sometimes and as hard and spastically as possible at others.

Because a dangerous-game rifle is meant to excel under high-pressure and (forgive the pun) charged circumstances, it should work in an instinctual manner. In the case of the DGR, I could load and run it without taking my eyes off the target, and no matter from which angle I put pressure on it, the three-position safety always flicked to “fire” smoothly and instantaneously as the gun came to the shoulder.

Ultimately, I think the rifle got bored with my shenanigans—it calmly loaded, fired, extracted, and ejected every cartridge without fanfare, as if to say, Is that all you’ve got?

Lights Out
The DGR, for Dangerous Game Rifle, is built on a new action from Montana Rifle Company. It’s a double-square bridge Mauser action—a classic African configuration—large enough to accommodate magnum calibers. This relates directly to the rifle’s second mission: With a well-placed shot, it must be able to flip the off-switch on the largest thick-skinned and toothy animals.

Initially, it’s being offered in .338 Lapua, .378 Wby., .416 Rigby, .460 Wby., and, for the stout of shoulder, .505 Gibbs. All are capable killers, but I have a hard time resisting the allure of the .416, so that’s the rifle I got. (Note that the .338 isn’t legal for use on dangerous game in Africa, where a minimum caliber of .375 H&H/9.3x74 is required.) To handle these heavy-hitters, the DGR has two steel crossbolts reinforcing the walnut stock. And the strength of the Mauser action, with its controlled-round feed, is the stuff of legend. The dovetails machined right into the receiver are a nice touch and eliminate the need for scope mounts, which are a potential weak point, should you choose to go with an optic over the open sights.

Pinpoint Accuracy
During my accuracy testing, I shot three-round groups instead of the Outdoor Life standard of five shots, to give both my shoulder and my ammo budget a break. Premium safari ammo for the .416 Rigby runs anywhere from $100 to $200 for a box of 20, so this is no small consideration.

Though built to take down an elephant, the .416 would be hell on prairie dogs too. At 100 yards, it delivered sub-MOA accuracy with Winchester Safari ammo shooting 400-grain Nosler Partitions (.835 inch) and Hornady’s 400-grain DGX bullets (.995 inch). The overall average group size was an impressive 1.317 inches. I used Leupold’s new VX-6 1–6x24mm cranked up to 6X for this. The scope and rifle make a great pair. The range of magnification on the scope is perfect for most hunting situations, but it is especially well suited to Africa. At 1X the scope allows for both-eyes-open shooting and offers a wide field of view, which is just the thing should that hippo charge ­actually occur.

Once I completed the benchwork, I ran the rifle through a number of drills, emptying and reloading the gun while standing and kneeling, sometimes shooting unsupported and sometimes with the aid of shooting sticks. In every respect the rifle performed flawlessly, and I wouldn’t think twice about using it to crawl after a wounded buff in the thickest mopane underbrush.

The DGR comes at a good time for riflemen, too. Ever since Ruger dropped its Magnum line—which was the most economical dangerous-game gun that I’d be willing to bet my life on—there’s been a need for a moderately priced big-bore for those of us who aren’t addressed as sir, doctor, or m’lord.

The DGR I tested goes for $2,299, which is quite a bargain given the craftsmanship and performance of the gun. A stainless version is available for $100 more. Anything you can hunt with a rifle, the DGR can handle. It’s hard to top that.

Notable Features

One of the touches I really like on the Montana Rifle Company’s actions is the sculpting on the bolt shroud. The action has more than good looks going for it, though. The oversize bolt handle gives plenty of purchase for the shooter’s hand when cycling the bolt, and the full-length Mauser claw extractor had no issues at all with feeding and extracting the brass.

I mounted a scope on the DGR I tested, and that’s probably what I would use if I took it hunting. However, it comes with very workable open sights. The rear sight has graduated marks to help zero the rifle. Two set screws loosen to make adjustments, one for windage and the other for elevation. Its semi-buckhorn shape lines up quickly with the front sight, which is a strong brass bead on a tall post.

 

Comments (11)

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from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

John, I have not heard that about the 550, I hope I lucked out the one I have is great. I didn't mean anything bad about the Montana I know they are a great gun.

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from John B. Snow wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

XD, I've handled and shot the CZ 550's before and as far as price goes, they can't be beat. In my experience, however, the quality of those guns can be a bit hit or miss and it isn't unusual for those CZ's to need extra help to work right--and that, of course, costs money and doesn't inspire confidence. So, out of the box, I'd pick the Montana DGR over the CZ 550.

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from Remington Metric wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Jerehouser, “if an action ½ inch or so longer is a problem, you probably don’t need to be hunting dangerous game anyway.” What does the extra-long action of the .416 Rigby have to do with regard to a person’s ability or need to hunt dangerous game? The .416 Remington Magnum is a modern caliber, there aren’t any old .416 Rem Mags out there. Therefore all factory loaded (think Federal Premium’s fantastic line of quality factory ammunition) is safe to shoot in all .416 Rem Mags. You can’t say that about the old .416 Rigby. It’s like the great .257 Roberts; the factories are obligated to download due to the liability of modern loads in an older rifle. Also, with modern powders the hot temperatures of Africa are a moot point as far as the benefit of the rounds lower pressure. The .416 is a solid contender for any game on the planet and I can shoot my Remington 700 .416 Remington Mag all day long from a bench (because it’s fun), with the help of a Past recoil reducer. I don’t think I could handle much more than sighting in a .460 Weatherby, not to mention the sticker shock of the Weatherby rifle and ammunition. In a .416 to .416 comparison the .416 Remington Magnum is the 21st century .416.

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from jerehouser wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Cannot agree that the 416 Rem is superior. Though the ballistics are basically identical, the Rigby works at much lower pressure. This can be important in the conditions encountered in Africa. True, the rem can use an action a little shorter, but if an action 1/2 inch or so longer is a problem, you probably don't need to be hunting dangerous game anyway. The Rigby has proven itself for 100 years. That's good enough for me. If a more modern and effective cartridge is needed, go with the very fine 460 Weatherby. This is probably the ultimate DG round!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I love big bore rifles, heard that A Square builds a good gun. The 416 Rem is cheaper to shoot but I want to get my hands on a 470 NE. John I would get some soft points if I were you and use it on whitetail. That big bullet will do less meat damage than a 270 or .06. A friend of mine in WI knows a guy that hunts with a Pre 64 458 Safari. He says they don't run off when you hit em.

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from Remington Metric wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

As a fan of big bore rifles it's great to read about something more than how timeless the .30-06 is (no hard feelings 06 fans). However, The .416 Remington Mag is the superior .416. If the DGR wants to be a 21st century big bore rifle it should be chambered in modern calibers. Thanks for the rifle over view OL!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Maz, I have not. My next Cz is goin to be a 103DE O/U in 12ga.

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from MazPower wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Ya the 550's are a bit heavy, but mine's a tack driver even with plain factory ammo. My next one will be a Kevlar stocked .270. Have you shot their 527's before? Great little mini mauser actions on those.

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from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Maz, I have a 550 in 375 H&H and love it, a bit on the heavy side but its a tack driver. I load 235 Speer and 235 Barnes.

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from MazPower wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Good call X2D. CZ makes some incredible rifles, and the big bore rifles of theirs I've handled were very impressive. I personally think the 550 American is the most under-rated rifle made today.

Though I've yet to shoot one, Montana Rifle Company is supposed to make some nice rifles too. I hear they're all solid yet smooth control-round feed actions, and are pretty similar to CZ.

Good stuff John, just one more toy for me to lust after.

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from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

John, did you look into CZ?

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Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

John, did you look into CZ?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Good call X2D. CZ makes some incredible rifles, and the big bore rifles of theirs I've handled were very impressive. I personally think the 550 American is the most under-rated rifle made today.

Though I've yet to shoot one, Montana Rifle Company is supposed to make some nice rifles too. I hear they're all solid yet smooth control-round feed actions, and are pretty similar to CZ.

Good stuff John, just one more toy for me to lust after.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Maz, I have a 550 in 375 H&H and love it, a bit on the heavy side but its a tack driver. I load 235 Speer and 235 Barnes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Ya the 550's are a bit heavy, but mine's a tack driver even with plain factory ammo. My next one will be a Kevlar stocked .270. Have you shot their 527's before? Great little mini mauser actions on those.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Maz, I have not. My next Cz is goin to be a 103DE O/U in 12ga.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I love big bore rifles, heard that A Square builds a good gun. The 416 Rem is cheaper to shoot but I want to get my hands on a 470 NE. John I would get some soft points if I were you and use it on whitetail. That big bullet will do less meat damage than a 270 or .06. A friend of mine in WI knows a guy that hunts with a Pre 64 458 Safari. He says they don't run off when you hit em.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jerehouser wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Cannot agree that the 416 Rem is superior. Though the ballistics are basically identical, the Rigby works at much lower pressure. This can be important in the conditions encountered in Africa. True, the rem can use an action a little shorter, but if an action 1/2 inch or so longer is a problem, you probably don't need to be hunting dangerous game anyway. The Rigby has proven itself for 100 years. That's good enough for me. If a more modern and effective cartridge is needed, go with the very fine 460 Weatherby. This is probably the ultimate DG round!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Remington Metric wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Jerehouser, “if an action ½ inch or so longer is a problem, you probably don’t need to be hunting dangerous game anyway.” What does the extra-long action of the .416 Rigby have to do with regard to a person’s ability or need to hunt dangerous game? The .416 Remington Magnum is a modern caliber, there aren’t any old .416 Rem Mags out there. Therefore all factory loaded (think Federal Premium’s fantastic line of quality factory ammunition) is safe to shoot in all .416 Rem Mags. You can’t say that about the old .416 Rigby. It’s like the great .257 Roberts; the factories are obligated to download due to the liability of modern loads in an older rifle. Also, with modern powders the hot temperatures of Africa are a moot point as far as the benefit of the rounds lower pressure. The .416 is a solid contender for any game on the planet and I can shoot my Remington 700 .416 Remington Mag all day long from a bench (because it’s fun), with the help of a Past recoil reducer. I don’t think I could handle much more than sighting in a .460 Weatherby, not to mention the sticker shock of the Weatherby rifle and ammunition. In a .416 to .416 comparison the .416 Remington Magnum is the 21st century .416.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John B. Snow wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

XD, I've handled and shot the CZ 550's before and as far as price goes, they can't be beat. In my experience, however, the quality of those guns can be a bit hit or miss and it isn't unusual for those CZ's to need extra help to work right--and that, of course, costs money and doesn't inspire confidence. So, out of the box, I'd pick the Montana DGR over the CZ 550.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

John, I have not heard that about the 550, I hope I lucked out the one I have is great. I didn't mean anything bad about the Montana I know they are a great gun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Remington Metric wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

As a fan of big bore rifles it's great to read about something more than how timeless the .30-06 is (no hard feelings 06 fans). However, The .416 Remington Mag is the superior .416. If the DGR wants to be a 21st century big bore rifle it should be chambered in modern calibers. Thanks for the rifle over view OL!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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