November 21, 2018
Bolt actions and AR-15s are the most popular rifles in America today by far, and the lever-action repeater is the choice of a select group of riflemen, but the lure of the single shot is still strong. Single-shot rifles vary in form from the most basic, inexpensive break actions to high-end falling-block models that exude elegance. The Outfitter G2 from Traditions featured here is a break action that’s offered in many popular hunting cartridges, and it represents a very good value.
Some say single-shot rifles aren’t as accurate as good bolt guns primarily because of the two-piece stock that complicates consistent bedding. This is not always true. Regardless, there’s a big difference between precision paper-punching and practical field accuracy. A great advantage of a single-shot rifle is that handloaders can have fun trying pointed bullets and adjust seating depth for optimal accuracy without worrying about whether the round will function through a magazine.
Here are some other reasons to consider the single-shot rifle. Except for the high-end Ruger, Blaser, Krieghoff, and Merkel rifles, most modern-day single shots are low in price and high in features. The single-shot rifle has only a limited number of parts that are relatively easy to assemble. Generally, a single-shot rifle can be chambered for a multitude of cartridges. A single-shot rifle is easy to load and unload and is inherently safe. It’s easy to see if it’s loaded, and once the trigger is squeezed, the gun is instantly empty.
The Outfitter G2
An excellent example of a basic single shot for hunting is the new Outfitter G2 from Traditions Performance Firearms. It is made for Traditions by Ardesa in Vizcaya, Spain, and it has a Lothar Walther, hammer-forged, fluted, chrome-moly barrel with an 11-degree crown that delivers excellent accuracy.
The Outfitter G2 has an easy-to-use external hammer, a transfer-bar safety, and a push-button safety that locks the trigger. Scoped packages are available, and the rifle is offered in .243 Winchester, .357 Magnum, .35 Remington, .35 Whelen, .44 Magnum, .444 Marlin, .45-70 Government, and .450 Bushmaster. Those popular cartridges pretty much cover most hunting situations. Because I have considerable experience with the .35 Rem. in other rifles and like the cartridge a lot, I chose it for my Outfitter G2.
It is easy to check the Outfitter G2 by touch or sight to determine if the external hammer is cocked. Plus, there’s a positive push-button safety that locks the trigger, so the hunter can carry the rifle cocked with the safety “On” just like a “hammerless” design. Note: You can’t open the action when the rifle is cocked, and you can’t cock it when the safety is “On.” Additionally, the Outfitter G2’s hammerspur has a sturdy extension that aids cocking with a scope mounted.
The Outfitter G2 is compact and lightweight (just 5 pounds, 13 ounces without a scope and under 7 pounds when fitted with a scope), so it’s easy to tote over hill and dale. The models chambered for the .35 Whelen, .444 Marlin, .45-70, and .450 Bushmaster come with a muzzle brake to help dampen recoil. Also, a synthetic stock is available with Realtree XTRA camo finish.
I must report that right out of the box the Outfitter G2’s hammer was hard to cock, and it was very gritty and rough. The trigger pull was not great, and it was pretty heavy, measuring 5 pounds, 1 ounce. However, after firing many dozens of rounds, I checked the pull again, and it averaged 4 pounds, 8.1 ounces and was noticeably smoother. Also, after all that shooting, cocking the hammer was much easier and smoother. The heavy trigger pull and stiff hammer cock didn’t impair accuracy; as the accompanying chart shows, the Outfitter G2 shot like a champ. In addition, there was nary a malfunction of any kind over the course of my testing.
When I examined the bore of the Outfitter G2 with my Gradient Lens Hawkeye Borescope, the bore and rifling looked beautiful. It had no extraneous tool marks or other imperfections.
The scope on the package gun is a Traditions Hunter Series 3-9X 40mm, and it has multi-coated lenses and 3 inches of eye relief. It is nitrogen filled and is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. The scope did just fine during testing and while hunting axis deer in Texas. The quarter-minute click adjustments tracked accurately. There was some field curvature, but since we aim with the center of the field of view, not the edge, this is of little practical significance.
The action release is a large push-button in front of the trigger guard, and it works easily. Mine was as smooth as silk. It took me a while to develop a procedure for opening the action; I found that after pushing the release button, if I would grab the scope’s eyepiece and lift it up, the action would slip open easy as pie. On closing, it locks shut with a solid “clunk.” By the by, the Outfitter G2 has an extractor that elevates a cartridge or a fired case for easy removal.
Okay, I’ve saved a juicy tidbit for last. The Outfitter G2 rifle retails for a mere $439. With the addition of a Traditions Hunter Series 3-9X 40mm scope, mount, and rings, the tab is only $527.
The .35 Remington
The .35 Rem. has an interesting pedigree. At the beginning of the 20th century, Winchester was clobbering Remington in rifle sales with the then-new Model 1894, chambered for several rounds that covered most game species, including the .25-35, .30-30 Winchester, .32 Special, and .38-55. Remington had no guns to compete with the 1894 until October 1906, when it introduced the Model 8 autoloader. Introduced along with the Model 8 were four new cartridges: .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Rem. The first three rounds were merely rimless versions of the popular Winchester cartridges, but the .35 Rem. was entirely new. Like the others, its case is rimless, but it has a larger 0.460-inch diameter base. Case length is 1.92 inches.
The .35 Rem. has earned a solid reputation as a good cartridge for deer and black bear. The most common loads feature 200-grain bullets.
Federal, Hornady, Remington, and Winchester offer .35 Rem. factory loads, mostly with 200-grain roundnose bullets, and Remington also offers a load with a 150-grain Core-Lokt Pointed Soft Point bullet. A notable exception is Hornady’s LEVERevolution load with the 200-grain Flex Tip eXpanding (FTX) bullet. Although not a concern for the Outfitter G2, it allows shooters of lever-action guns with tubular magazines to use sharp-pointed bullets that have better ballistic coefficients.
The Shooting Results
I test-fired the Outfitter G2 with the Hornady and Federal 200-grain loads, plus the Remington 150-grain load. And per my usual routine, I also fired plenty of handloaded ammo, too. Actually, I’ve been handloading the .35 Rem. for years, so I had a good selection of bullets and several new powders. And since the Outfitter G2 is a single shot, I experimented with several bullet styles.
Because of the relatively short-range capabilities of the .35 Rem. cartridge, I test-fired the Outfitter G2 for accuracy at 50 yards instead of the usual 100 yards. And for the record, the rifle’s barrel had a twist rate of one turn in 14 inches.
The three factory loads averaged 1.06 inches at that distance, with the single best group average coming from the Federal ammo (0.87 inch). Most groups were nice, round clusters, which indicates the rifle has a good barrel and well-executed bedding. The factory-listed velocity of the Federal load is 2,080 fps, but it registered 2,134 fps over my Oehler 35P chronograph set 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle. The Remington 150-grain load averaged 1.02 inches. It is listed at 2,300 fps but chronographed 2,154 fps, which produces a mediocre muzzle energy of 1,206 ft-lbs. The Hornady FTX ammo is rated at 2,250 fps and clocked 2,114 fps; groups averaged 1.30 inches.
I was itching to try a lightweight Spitzer in handloads, so I selected the Barnes 180-grain Tipped Triple Shock-X (TTSX) bullet. These sleek bullets have a ballistic coefficient of .295, compared to .195 for a 200-grain RN bullet. The Hornady 200-grain FTX also has a high BC: .300.
I used Hornady and Remington cases and Federal No. 210 primers for my handloads. The best powder? That’s easy. I could blather on for pages, but the bottom line is, just get some LEVERevolution powder from Hodgdon, and you and your .35 Rem. can live happily ever after.
With the Barnes 180-grain TTSX, I achieved a velocity of 2,251 fps with 44.0 grains of LEVERevolution and a group average of 0.90 inch. Be advised that Barnes officials report the lowest velocity for reliable expansion of this bullet is about 1,900 fps, which occurs at a bit over 100 yards with this muzzle velocity.
The Hornady 200-grain FTX clocked 2,164 fps with 40.5 grains of LEVERevolution, and group average was 1.65 inches. The Sierra 200-grain RN favored a charge of 41.0 grains of Alliant Power Pro 2000-MR at 2,008 fps. Power Pro 2000-MR is an excellent powder for handloading the .35 Rem.
Speer offers two traditionally shaped bullets that are well suited for the .35 Rem. The 180-grain Hot-Cor FP is my favorite, and the one I chose for my spring Texas axis deer hunt. The charge was 44.0 grains of LEVERevolution, and the velocity was a sizzling 2,332 fps. The bullet/load’s group average was 0.92 inch, and muzzle energy was 2,174 ft-lbs. Speer’s other Hot-Cor FP weighs 220 grains, and I worked up to 2,179 fps with 42.0 grains of LEVERevolution. That load produced excellent accuracy and 2,320 ft-lbs. of muzzle energy.
A word of caution: The maximum average pressure (MAP) for the .35 Rem. is a modest 33,500 psi, so one must not hot-rod the cartridge. The case just isn’t designed for higher pressures. Plus, Traditions officials do not recommend shooting some high-powered specialty loads that are available. But this is no disadvantage, as the old cartridge is still capable of doing what it was designed to do—take game.
There’s one additional point on handloading I should mention. I had four brands of cases on hand, and there was considerable (10.4 percent) difference in weight between the lightest (Hornady, at 145.0 grains) and heaviest (Winchester, at 160.1 grains). Remington and Federal cases were intermediate at 148.4 and 151.3 grains respectively. The point is that handloaders should be careful not to mix or switch cases with a chosen load.
Overall, the Outfitter G2 turned in darn good performance. It is well made, safe, reliable, and accurate. It is lightweight and easy to handle and operates smoothly. It’s chambered for a wide range of cartridges; and it is available with a scope already mounted, bore-sighted, and ready to go to the range for final zeroing. Oh, and it’s so reasonably priced that you can have more than one without breaking the bank.