Best Guns and Ammo for Hunting in Alaska in 2016
Wild West Guns Alaskan Co-Pilot
Made for Alaskans, the Wild West Guns AlaskanCo-Pilot begins with a factory-made Marlin 1895, which is disassembled and then converted into this fast-handling, takedown lever-action rifle. The barrel is cut and then ported to reduce recoil, and then re-crowned at either 16 ½-, 18- or 20 inches. The action is modified to allow the use of the .457 Wild West Magnum, while still allowing use of standard .45-70 loads, or it is set up for the .50 Alaskan.
Mossberg Patriot Synthetic with Marincote Adjustable Rifle Sights
New last year, the Mossberg Patriot rifle in .375 Ruger was a preferred gun for the value. Patriot features include drop-box magazine, recessed crown, fluted barrel, spiral fluted bolt-streamlined bolt handle, Weaver scope base, and patented Lightning Bolt Action user-adjustable trigger system from 2- to 7 pounds. And the price-point is on point at around $400.
Thompson Center ICON Rifles
Although this rifle is no longer in production, since this is our inaugural Hunt Alaska magazine Editor’s Choice Awards, we want to acknowledge that the ICON is a straight-shooting rifle that’s proven to be reliable and accurate, and was sold at a fair price. Testers shot the ICON in the following calibers: .300 Win Mag, .30-06, 7mm-08, .270 and .243. All produce consistent tight groups and have accounted for numerous animals.
Ruger American Rifle .300 Win Mag
This Ruger American rifle has a 24-inch barrel and the Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger provides a crisp release with a pull weight that the user can adjust. The synthetic stock is lightweight, user-friendly and offers a rubber buttpad that masterfully absorbs recoil. It’s proven to be an accurate shooting rifle capable of producing tight groupings. The American is available in many different models and calibers.
Winchester SX3 Universal Hunter 12-gauge Shotgun
The semi-automatic shotgun is light, fast and accurate. It’s supremely versatile, making it well-suited to waterfowl, upland birds, small game, tight-quarter deer hunting and bear protection. It’s proven to be reliable and durable in tough conditions; we like the textured grip on the synthetic stock, which has proven to give shooters a solid grip on the shotgun in wet and windy conditions. The gun’s recoil pad absorbs most recoil, making it comfortable to shoot all day on a long trek through the tundra chasing down wary ptarmigan, jumping puddle ducks or stalking grouse and snowshoe hare. The Truglo long-bead fiber-optic sight makes it easy to hone in on the target. The shotgun sports a 26-inch barrel (47 inches overall), a 3 1/2-inch chamber, has a magazine capacity of four 2 3/4-inch shells and weighs 7 pounds.
Ruger Redhawk .44 Rem Mag Revolver
This compact revolver packs a punch and is our choice for a bear-protection pistol. It’s got a six-bullet capacity, front and rear sights, a 4.2-inch stainless steel barrel and weighs in at 47 ounces. We’ve found it to be reliable, which Ruger attributes to the triple-locking cylinder that is locked into the frame at the front, rear and bottom, creating consistent alignment, which leads to greater accuracy and dependability. In bear country, we want a pistol that we can count on to fire, and this one is good by us.
Winchester Ammunition Deer Season XP
We tested the 150-grain, .30-06 Extreme Point bullet when hunting blacktail deer and thought that the bullet shot flat, while we also liked the knockdown power. It’s designed with a large tip, which creates a bigger impact diameter and then rapidly expands after impact. The bullet is marketed to whitetail, blacktail and mule deer hunters, and in most cases, we think this would work well as a caribou load.
Savage Axis II XP
We like this gun in the popular size of .30-06 for the power without the recoil. Featuring a 22-inch barrel length, it comes with a 3-9×40 Weaver Kaspa scope, which is mounted and bore-sighted, and it is available in a hardwood, stainless or synthetic stock. At 6.5 pounds it isn’t a bad choice for hiking.
CORBON DPX Hunter .30-06 Sprg 180-grain T-DPX
CORBON’s DPX (stands for Deep Penetrating X-panding) ammunition uses an all-copper hollow point or tipped bullet, which provides consistent expansion and deep penetration. The bullet’s polymer tip provides fast expansion with four sharp-cutting petals, as well as making the bullet more accurate. Due to those factors and the 100% weight-retention of the load, it should be considered a reliable choice when targeting Alaska’s big game. The 180-grain .30-06 load would be a good choice for caribou, deer, goats and sheep, while larger rounds like the .338 Lapua 225-grain, .338 Win Mag 225-grain and .375 H&H 250-grain are well-suited to Alaska’s moose and bears.
Black Hills Ammunition .308 Win Match, 168-grain Boat-Tail Hollow Point Factory New
Offering a muzzle velocity of 2,650 fps and an energy of 2,619 foot-pounds, this round is well-suited to caribou, deer, goat and sheep in Alaska. Black Hills makes reliable and precise ammunition and is a good choice for hunters in the Great Land. The Hollow Point round provides exceptional expansion and helps to take down tough game faster.
Federal Ammunition Vital Shok .308 Win P308TT1
This 180-grain bullet leaves the muzzle at 2,620 fps and packs enough punch to knock down caribou, blacktail deer, mountain goat and sheep in Alaska. It features Federal Premium’s Trophy Bonded Bear Claw platform, which boasts deep penetration and weight retention. The bullet’s polymer tip and longer profile with a boat-tail combine to increase accuracy. We feel confident with this round out to about 300 yards.