The Demise of the Single Shot Rifle
It hasn't been widely noticed, much less commented upon, but the single-shot rifle has quietly vanished. The H & R “Handi-Rifle,” once quite popular, is history, and sales of competitive products have dwindled to trickle. LHR Sporting Arms has ceased operations, despite the fact that their initial product was the excellent LHR Redemption muzzleloader.
The Thompson / Smith & Wesson “T/C Dimension” went nowhere, calling into question the viability of the “switch-barrel” notion altogether. It wasn't helped by the recall of “ALL Thompson/Center Arms ICON®, VENTURE® and DIMENSION™ rifles manufactured before June 13, 2013” either, but the major factor is the very, very crowded field of entry-level bolt-action rifles. Many of the low-cost attempts at bolt-action rifles come with generous rebates. Right now, the T/C Venture itself has a $75 rebate already announced through December 31, 2015. What happened?
The Savage Edge, quickly renamed the Savage Axis due to trademark issues, happened. There has been a long laundry list of entry-level-priced rifles that have been introduced and then have quickly faded into oblivion, but the Savage Axis didn't. Right now, for 2015, retail on a standard Savage Axis .30-06 is $362.00 - - - less than a quality air rifle sells for. Street price on a new Axis runs $300 or so, naturally set by the respective retailers. It doesn't make much sense to search for a single-shot when you have a large number of bolt-action repeating rifle choices that sell for the same or less dollars. Following Savage, Ruger, Remington, Mossberg, T/C, Marlin, Browning, and many other brands have introduced lower-priced models, some brands launching, discontinuing, and relaunching a new low-priced spread multiple times.
Note the following 2015 Indiana DNR proposal:
312 IAC 9-3-3: Makes the following changes governing deer hunting equipment:
•Allows additional rifles to be used by reducing the bullet size required to .243 and eliminating the maximum rifle cartridge case length. This will allow high-powered rifles such as the .30-30 and .45-70 during the deer firearms seasons. Full metal jacketed bullets would be unlawful because since they do not expand when fired, and therefore, do not kill as humanely. The DNR believes the change can be made now for the following reasons:
◦There are currently no limits on rifles that are legal to use for species other than migratory birds, deer and wild turkey.
◦Muzzleloaders have evolved to the point that with smokeless powder (which is legal to use), they are essentially a high-powered rifle (accurate 500-yard gun).
◦They are legal in several nearby states, including Kentucky, Michigan (the northern part of the state) and Pennsylvania. There has been no increase in hunting-related accidents as the result of the use of rifles, neither in Indiana nor in several other states where they are allowed.
◦There isn’t a need to limit the equipment that can be used to take deer in order to manage the deer herd. The deer harvest was a record in 2012, and the DNR is managing the deer herd through other means.
◦Rifle cartridges that fire a bullet at least .243 in diameter and have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches long can safely and humanely kill white-tailed deer.
Some of the statements by the Indiana DNR ridiculous, as for the notion that muzzleloaders are essentially high-powered rifles and typically “500 yard accurate.” There is no mainstream manufacturer of smokeless muzzleloaders today. If you want .270 Winchester ballistics, you need to shoot a .277 inch diameter bullet at .270 Winchester muzzle velocities with the same Ballistic Coefficient. There is no such thing, not remotely close. It is hard to imagine public funds being squandered on such flagrantly ignorant, clueless statements of fantasy.
In any case, the Indiana proposal is unlikely to pass for 2015, as the Indiana DNR is now recommending against it citing “social issues.” In this case, they were for it before they were against it. Currently, IN.gov states: “The changes to the rifle proposal and statewide sunfish bag limit were not approved by the Natural Resources Commission.”
Nevertheless, the trend is to loosen up nonsensical hunting regulations in many states, particularly those east of the Mississippi. In those states that do allow some handgun cartridge rifle deer hunting and need to attract more hunters, the writing is on the wall. The .30-06 is one hundred and nine years old, not exactly something new this year. Like it or not, legalization for deer hunting will pressure low-pressure action demand (lever-actions for example) and their sales will continue to dwindle, just as single-shot sales already have.
Copyright 2015 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.