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What's the best brush gun?

10931 Views 34 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  583
The area that I will be hunting this year (and hopefully many more to come) is a new one for me, and it is HEAVILY wooded. The only "deer" rifle I own is a .270wsm. Am I going to be in for some heartache with this as my rifle?

I've been told that a 30/30 is the way to go. But since I
(a) don't have one and
(b) don't have the cash to run out and buy a new rifle
do you guys have any suggestions?

I don't reload, so I can't really make any custom cartridges.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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ur rifle will work fine altho a 30/30 is ideal for ur application if u really wanted to go all out and get it they arent that expensive u can find an old model 94 in 30/30 pretty cheap there was alot of them made and they are nice guns IMO everyone should have a 94 in 30/30 in their cabinet

The 270 is a fine flat shooting cartridge, and the 30-30 is one fine brush gun. IMHO, if you are shooting under 100yds, you cant beat a .44 mag rifle. I shoot a old model ruger carbine and to me it just dont get any better. Little to no recoil, light weight, very accurate, plenty of power on deer sized game, and just damn fun to shoot. I have never had one (hog or deer) run more than a few yards, most drop on the spot. I wouldnt take anything for mine. If you can find an original ruger carbine (I aint sure about the new deerfield's yet) buy it and you wont be disappointed. But since you said that you dont have the budget for a new rifle, I am sure the 270 will be just fine for both. thats just my nickle's worth of advice.
I like Winchesters and really like the 94. I like an original Marlin 94 also, but pretty spendy to find one. The 30/30 can not be beat. For all round performance in rough and dense terain, it will do the job. I have two of them. One in an original rifle and the other a carbine. :wink:
Like midwayman1, I shoot one of the old Ruger .44 Mag carbines, and have for about 40 years. Around here (Wisconsin) they go for $400 or better in good condition. Ruger also makes, in addition to the new Deerfield autoloader, a lever action version of the .44 Mag carbine. If that had been available all those years ago, I'd have probably bought one instead of the autoloader.

As to the Winchester 94 - be aware that there are pre-'64 and post-'64 versions. The newer ones are less expensive and their value will probably decrease, but they are still decent firearms. The older ones, though more expensive, are collectible and will increase in value if they are cared for. The Marlin 336 is an excellent lever gun, as well - and if you want to put a scope on your rifle, the Marlin is the hands-down choice.

For a "brush gun", another viable option is a shotgun & slug, although it's probably no easier to carry than the .270.
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Yep, My carbine is a 1964 and the rifle is a 1916 with 26" Oct. BBL.

I agree about the scope thing. 94's are not ment to have a scope. Can't eject the cartridges. Marlins are great rifles adn have been since the 1880's. :wink:
The best brush gun is the one you can shoot the best. The idea that there is a cartridge that can reliably contact an obstruction and not be deflected is a myth. Since the U.S. Army switched to the 30/40 Krag, this has been an issue and so called "tests" have been performed showing this is the case. In addition to this test, the Army did similar ones when switching from round nose to spitzer bullets, from the 30/06 to the 308, and from the 308 to 223. Many gun writers have done the same, Warren Page, Jack O'Connor, Jim Carmicheal, Jim Zumbro, and a couple of others I can't think of at the moment but one was in a Guns and Shooting issue in the mid-70's and another was in an issue of Gun Digest, I think the 1980's. They all came out the same, the flatter shooting round was more likely to land where aimed as it was less likely to contact anything prior to hitting the target. The worst were heavy, slow moving bullets. Another factor was the style of bullet. Pointed bullets with little lead showing had the least amount of deflection while round nosed bullets with plenty of exposed lead were affected the most. In any event, it was not unusual for a bullet to not hit a deer sized target only 4 feet behind the obstruction. Again, use what you are comfortable with and pick a clear shooting lane.
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uglydog nailed it. the "brush buster" cartridge is a is the indian not the arrow (as long as it is enough arrow)
hunt with what you have and become as proficient as possible with it and it won't let you down. Not that from a "carry all day" or "quick shot in the close stuff" the rifles mentioned above certainly have merit, they certainly have a couple of generations of history

Exactly right - I just figured everybody would know that the only requirement on the part of the cartridge is that it have enough power to do the job. The "brush buster" caliber/bullet is an old wive's tale.

A "brush gun", as ibex stated, is short, lightweight, easy to carry, and quick to point.
You guys are right on target. :idea: Tests proved that a fast moving 130 gr 270 bullet deflected less than a slow moving 270 gr bullet from a 375 H&H on average.

The best brush gun is one that is fast on target and slippery through the thicket. I like the Savage mdl 99 in 308, 300, and 358...all good killing calibers. My first choice is the 308...versitile! :D
Thanks everyone, I appreciate the input. It looks like I'll be sticking with the .270. It's fairly light (synthetic stock) and I find it to be very comfortable, so I guess it'll be fine.

I still think I'd like to get one of those sweet lever action 30-30's though. :p
I have listened to talk about [brush guns] all my life and have decided the best brush gun is whatever you own. I love my 270 and even deer hunt with a 223. I don't shoot through a thicket with either gun, I try to pick a hole through the thicket. Remember a 223 needs only a .223 hole to go through.
I'm probably going to be lambasted for this, but here goes...

I know about being on a budget, so I can relate, Jeff. But your local neighborhood Wally World has NEF shotguns and rifles right up the alley you're talking about. A 30/30 single shot goes for $187 plus change and tax. If you want to try 12 ga slugs, you can go even cheaper. A 12 ga 3" with rifled barrel is $126+change+tax. They may not be the best guns on the market, but the H&R I have and a couple of NEFs I've owned have always been fine for what I used them for.... up close, personal, brush hunting.

I don't think you'll get lambasted to bad. I was reading the other posts and agree with most of what was said. If you use what you're used to,shoot it well and pick your shots instead of trying to shoot thru stuff,any of the mentioned guns will work. If I were in a very close hunting situation and may need to take a fast and up close shot,I'd much rather use a load(or 2-3) of 00 buck out of my shotgun. I remember reading some of the articles a few years back on "brush busters". The authors tried all kinds of calibers up to a 458 and nothing would hold point of aim. I've missed my share of deer and most of the time it could be attributed to a limb or small tree that I didn't see in my scope until after the shot. All of these shots were into "open areas" in hollows,up ridges,etc.
Brush gun There isn't a bullet made that will not deflect in brush.But when I think of a brush gun,its not shooting I think about.As we all know you have to carry the gun before we shoot at anything.So what I call a brush gun is a short compact rifle thats accurate and fast handleing.I use a marlin 1895G in 45/70 for my brush gun. Not because I think it will shoot through brush.But because I have to carry it through brush where most of my shots are less than 40 yards.But thats just my opinion..
I must agree with those that say - the best brush gun is the one that you shoot best... and the one with which you are the most comfortable. Any calibre will do, so long as it is up to the game involved. At such close ranges, there is a huge selection that will do just fine. Obviously, for heavy brush, a short-barreled rifle would be best (they are simply easier to handle in the thick stuff) - but, other than that, chose the one YOU feel most confident with....
It is an often quoted myth that some bullets can bash throught the brush with little apparent effect. All bullets are deflected by brush, grass, etc.

It is true that some extremely fast bullets blow up when hitting brush, but those that are fragile are pretty obvious. A 55 grain bullet fired from a 22-250 has little likelyhood of shooting through thick brush.

But most heavy bullets fired to 2800 feet or so (I haven't made a test) will usually shoot through brush, but they will be deflected.

A 45/70 bullet will be deflected, so will a 444.

Some bullets may tend to stay stabolized after hitting brush but none are very good at it.

Therefore, the caliber of your "brush gun" isn't all that important. Your problem is rather, what gun will be most comfortable to carry, since you are going to be ducking and dodging and tripping, etc.. Also your shots are going to be close, like within 40 yds. So you don't really need to worry about a flat shooting or even a scoped gun.

What therefore is the easiest rifle to carry? I believe it's a 94 Winchester, but a Marlin 336 is also excellent. You wants short barrell, as it won't hang up as much as a long tube will. You can carry a Ruger No 1 Light Sporter, but in the heavy cover sometimes you need that second shot as you can't always see the effect of your first. There are scads of handy, easy to carry carbines out there, just choose one..

You might also consider a shotgun. Modern slug shooting shotguns shoot very straight and extremely hard.

Your best bet then, may be a Remington 870, with a rifled slug barrell. Then you can get a smooth bore barrell with choke tubes. You've just killed two birds with one stone.

Your 270 BTW is just fine, but I'd consider removing the scope, if you have one on it. I don't like scopes in heavy brush, but some do; they say they are better in low light. I just don't agree. I like peep sights best.

Happy hunting.
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Udog and the others nailed it. For many years my "brush" rifle was a 25-06 with a 24" barrel. While not a lot of fun to tote in the woods and brush, I was familiar with it and practiced regularly with it so that the deer invariably dropped in thin or thick cover after one pull of the trigger. As finances improve, you may want to get a different rifle as it is nice to have different tools tailored for each job, but for now, your 270 will do fine. I think that marksmanship and shot selection are more important than the type of rifle and caliber in most situations.

Safe shooting.
Around here you can find a Winchester 30-30 for around $300 used if I remember correctly.
A used 94 ranger runs about $225. Or just go with a heavier bullet in your .270.
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