|This trench, dug for installation of a cross-country gas pipeline, turned out to be the perfect depth for me to be able to sight a rifle comfortably from a standing position.|
There is nothing quite like the nice feeling of a rifle that is perfect for you. I came to this one by chance. As a youngster I used a US Army WW2 surplus M1 Garand. That was a particularly heavy object for a teenager to lug around, and a touch on the cumbersome side to boot. I didn't mind the 30.06 calibre, and grew to quite like it.
But it was a bit heavy. In later years I kept it as a curiosity. This because it was made by the tractor firm International Harvester and I enjoyed the novelty of seeing their stamp on a rifle.
By the 1960's the M1 Garand was rendered obsolete by the M14. The M14 was essentially the M1 Garand chambered down to a .308 calibre and fed from below by a box magazine (the Garand uses an 8-round clip pushed in from above). Also the M14 had fully automatic capability, an easier to service gas system, was much lighter etc.
I had a US Army surplus M14, which was very nice, and I'd use it in rougher going, so as to not risk scratching my baby, the M1A. The M1A was a civilian copy of the M14, but with a slightly heavier barrel, and no rock'n'roll switch. (The rock'n'roll switch was disabled on my army surplus M14, and though it is easy enough to fix that, I never gave in to the temptation to make it fully automatic).
The M1A is likely the most accurate self-loading rifle ever made. The reason being the bolt had a locking head. The dealer I bought this one from could hit a jam tin at 400 yards with just about every shot over open sights.
I couldn't even see the jam tin over open sights at 400 yards.
I carried that rifle in the picture for miles, hunting just about every feral animal known to mankind. I wish I'd had it as a kid, we'd have been able to save dad lots of money by shooting plenty more pigs than we did. (Pigs are not only particularly damaging to grain crops, they are very satisfying to shoot).
Over time I used plenty of other semi-automatics, but never found any of them near as good as the M1A.
This includes the SLR (for saying that I'll be branded an heretic in Australia). I had a brand new Lithgow SLR. It was a thing of beauty, but in the bush I found it a bit unwieldy, and despite it firing exactly the same .308 calibre pill as the M14 and M1A, I never got a feeling of satisfaction from using it. (Translation: I was never able to kill as many pigs with it.)
On the makeshift range I was always able to shoot much better with the M1A than with the SLR.
When looking for a wounded pig in lignum channels, with visibility of less than a few feet, I always preferred the M1A or M14 to the SLR.
Now these are all gone. The federal government pressured each of the states into implementing very strict gun laws, which not only banned self-loaders, but pretty much prevented me from owning firearms.
I'd never before shot a human being. But the passing of the gun laws, and adversarial and acrimonious manner of their implementation, meant plenty of people in my situation ceased jocular talk about shooting politicians (an ominous sign).
For as long as I live, I will never forgive any and every politican, and each and every advocate of gun control, for removing these tools of trade from me. Every time I read the obituary of a politican who voted for gun control, I give a satisfied laugh, prompted by the knowledge that Australia just became a slightly better place.