September 23, 2010
A Switch-Barrel Single Shot You Gotta Check Out
Last summer I attended the annual writer's conference sponsored by InterMedia Outdoors, and I had the chance to test some new products that were in the works from various shooting sports manufacturers. One new rifle that piqued my interest was Tradition's new Outfitter centerfire single-shot rifle.
The Traditions brand established its excellent reputation via an extensive line of replica blackpowder arms, and over the years, it and most other muzzleloader suppliers of the nostalgic flintlock and percussion guns have added more modern rifles that feature improved, in-line ignition systems. Several models employ the popular tip-up or break-action operation for optimum access to place/remove the percussion cap.
It's not much of a stretch to design a break-action, single-shot firearm that can become a muzzleloader, shotgun or rifle by simply switching barrels. The Traditions Outfitter is not the first example of this scheme, but it's definitely one of the best.
Tom Hall is the president of Traditions. He noticed how much I was enjoying shooting the rifles he'd brought and offered to send me a sample for further evaluation. I chose a matte-finished model fitted with a camo stock/forearm and chambered in .243 Winchester. I also asked for an extra .30-06 Springfield barrel.
Traditions also imports scopes and mounts, so Lane requested 3-9X variables that shared the colorful Mossy Oak camouflage finish.
Traditions also imports scopes and mounts, so I requested 3-9X variables that shared the colorful Mossy Oak camouflage finish. A few months later when the items finally arrived, I discovered that the scopes were already mounted and zeroed. All I had to do was clean the barrels, gather up some test ammo and my range gear, and go shooting.
|Distributor:||Traditions Performance Firearms; 860-388-4656|
|Model:||Outfitter Centerfire Rifle|
|Operation:||Break-open, tip-up single shot|
|Calibers:||.243 Winchester and .30-06 (as tested), .270 Win., .308 Win., .444 Marlin, .45-70 Gov't.|
|Barrel:||24"; rifling: six grooves, 1:10" RH twist|
|Overall Length:||39.75 in.|
|Weight, empty||7.25 lbs.|
|Safety:||Trigger block, hammer block|
|Sights:||Adjustable Williams fiber optic; also drilled and tapped for scope mounts|
|Stock:||Soft-Touch molded synthetic, Monte Carlo-style; molded checkering; sling-swivel studs; black plastic grip cap; 1/2-inch rubber buttpad|
|Length of Pull:||13.75 in.|
|Finish:||Mossy Oak camo stock; matte black receiver, barrel, and trigger guard|
The camo model features a checkered Soft-Touch stock and forearm that feel great and provide a sure grip. The Silver Hunter series scopes are comparably inexpensive, but they are quite clear and bright. One has a typical duplex reticle, while the other has a unique circle-and-dot-style reticle. With the scope and rings, the Outfitter package weighs less than 8 pounds.
Familiarizing myself with the Outfitter's functional characteristics was readily accomplished. The action-release lever is conveniently located in front of the trigger guard. You simply press it straight back to open the action. It will not work if the hammer is cocked. The loaded round or empty case is extracted (not ejected) as you open the break action.
The crossbolt safety is located at the rear of the trigger guard and operates like similar designs. When pushed fully to the right, it's on "Safe." Push it to the left to the "Fire" position and the usual red "caution" indicator is visible.
After disengaging the safety, you simply cock the hammer to fire the rifle. There's no halfcock position. The offset hammer extension provided is reversible. Trigger pull consistently measured 3.5 pounds, which is just about perfect for a hunting rifle. The stock and forearm are fitted with standard sling studs. If you don't want (or need) optics, the Outfitter is fitted with excellent, fully adjustable Williams fiber-optic sights.
1.5-MOA accuracy will surely dispatch a whitetail or wild porker within 200 yards.
Switching barrels is also quite simple. A takedown screw securely attaches the forearm to a tenon assembly mounted under the barrel. The instruction manual says to use a 4mm hex wrench, but if you don't have a metric set, a 5/32-inch wrench will work just as well. After the forearm is removed, carefully support the barr
el assembly while you pull the action-release lever rearward. After the barrel pivots down, slide it to the rear and up to remove it from the frame.
Reassemble in reverse order. Carefully insert the barrel down and forward into the frame slot until the monoblock under the chamber engages the hinge pin. Pivot the barrel up until the action is securely closed. Install the forearm by engaging the rear fitting with the frame and pivoting it up to contact the barrel. Be sure the screw port is aligned properly with the tenon (a little tap on the end of the forearm with a plastic mallet will help seat it). Tighten the screw snugly but do not over torque (30 in-lbs max).
After the rifle is reassembled, perform a quick dry run on all of the controls, i.e., the safety, hammer, action release, to make sure everything is operating properly. When you load a round, the action should close with minimal effort. Don't force it!
The front sight is a bright red Williams fiber optic unit.
A Top Choice
I tested a couple factory loads and a few handloads I had on hand with quite satisfactory results. Starting with the rifle configured for the .243 Winchester, I recalled how pleasant it is to shoot a smaller-caliber rifle. When I switched to the .30-06 barrel/scope setup, I surely appreciated the generous recoil pad on this lightweight rifle.
A couple of comments about accuracy are in order. As you can see from the table, the Outfitter is not a target rifle. In fact, I noticed (and the instruction manual also states), "Accuracy can be affected by the simple takedown and reassembly of the rifle components." My experience indicates the group position can shift an inch or two from the previous zero.
The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.
If you don't switch barrels, it's a moot point because you can adequately clean the rifle without taking it down. However, if you re-zero after switching barrels, 1.5-MOA accuracy will surely dispatch a whitetail or wild porker within 200 yards.
The Outfitter single-shot chambered in .243 Winchester is a top choice for the young or novice hunter. Recoil is minimal, and with proper ear protection, learning how to successfully handle and fire a rifle couldn't be easier or safer. The switch-barrel option is attractive because as the youngster or novice grows and matures, more capability is readily available. Traditions even offers a combo rifle and .50-caliber muzzleloader package for less than $200 extra.
|Traditions Outfitter Accuracy|
|.243 Win. Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||100-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Barnes 72-gr. Varmint; 41.0 grains Big Game|| 3180 || 81 || 31 || 1.60 |
|Barnes 72-gr. Varmint; 44.5 grains AA 2700|| 3297 || 72 || 29 || 1.30 |
|Federal Premium 70-gr. Ballistic Tip; Factory load|| 3426 || 48 || 15 || 1.30 |
|Remington 100-gr. Core-Lokt PSP; Factory load|| 2950 || 58 || 18 || 1.60 |
|Winchester 100-gr. Power-Point; Factory load|| 2912 || 53 || 20 || 1.40 |
|.30-'06 Sprg. Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||100-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Hornady 180-gr. InterBond; 60.0 grains Reloder 22|| 2746 || 55 || 25 || 1.90 |
|Remington 180-gr. Core-Lokt PSP; 60.0 grains VV N560|| 2654 || 64 || 25 || 1.60 |
|Federal Vital-Shok 180-gr. Barnes TSX; Factory load|| 2780 || 16 || 5 || 1.90 |
|Hornady 180-gr. SP InterLock; Factory load|| 2624 || 61 || 22 || 1.80 |
|Warning The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor Intermedia Outdoors Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data..|