craig boddington
Courtesy Mike Arnold
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My intention had been to review Craig Boddington‘s most recent book, Buffalo II!. But in a video interview with Craig at the Dallas Safari Club Convention, he did a wonderful job of reviewing the whys, hows and whats of this book.

Craig managed to pull off what he called ‘insane’, publishing four major works in the last five years. So, on to another of Colonel Boddington’s texts . . .

This book – American Hunting Rifles II – chronicles an amazing revolution in the hunting rifles used in North America. Craig reflected on the vast differences between the first edition of American Hunting Rifles, published only a decade earlier, and this second edition. For example, he stated that he would never have predicted the “incredible influx of fat-cased ‘unbelted magnums'”.

Nor, Craig admits, did he foresee the widespread adoption of the AR, which he describes as “currently the most popular sporting-rifle platform in the United States.”

These and many other observations reflect the value of the historical perspective brought to bear by today’s best-recognized gun writer.

Boddington’s ability to draw our attention to the multiple tidal waves that have swept across the shooting world, particularly for North American hunters, begs the question “What is coming next?”

Craig begins his text discussing cartridges that make sense for application in hunting North American species. These cartridges range from .17 Remington to what he calls his ”over-40 crowd”. The latter include so-called ‘brush-busters’ like the .44 Magnum, .450 Marlin and the AR-platform’s .450 Bushmaster.

These larger calibers, according to Boddington’s experience, are capable of taking all North American game species, but are probably best suited for “black bear and wild boar in heavy cover.”

On the other end are the “ultralights”, calibers .17 – .20 which he considers of limited use; though where legal, he reckons they are ideal for wild turkey.

Of course, there is an incredible number of cartridges between these two extremes – including coverage of the “.270, Jack O’Connor’s Caliber” and “Magnum .30s: The Versatility Kings”.

Courtesy Mike Arnold

Reflecting my affection for the .35 Whelen Improved, given to me by my late father, I really wish the chapter covering these hadn’t been [accurately] titled “.35s: A Fine Selection of Also-Rans.”

Of course Boddington doesn’t stop with descriptions of the various hunting calibers, but covers everything from hunting bullets (“better all the time”), slings, recoil reducers, iron sights, scopes and mounts, etc. He also takes significant space to discuss all of the action types, from single-shot to semiautomatic.

The last portion of American Hunting Rifles II is titled “Guns for Game,” and includes responses by professional guides to a survey he sent out. The survey was designed to elicit the hunting firearms favored by North American guides and outfitters.

“Guns for Game” also, of course, directs the readers to Craig’s suggestions for the firearms capable of handling coyotes to brown bears, and everything in between. I particularly appreciate this section because I love to dream about hunts for species I have never seen.

The wealth of information, contained in Craig Boddington’s American Hunting Rifles II far exceeds the book’s price of approximately $35.


(Unless noted, all photos courtesy Craig Boddington.)

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  1. So it’s something we can use to help dispell the antigunner thesis that ARs aren’t used for hunting.


    • AR’s aren’t used for hunting, there used for gunming down innocent church mice and other animals

      • What about those critters with beady eyes, nasty yellow teeth and rat-like tails that like to play “Frogger” on the roadways?

  2. Ahhh yes…the book for Fudds. And old Fudds at that, since nobody buys books anymore, at least not those with computers.

    • Not that I’ll purchase this book but there is something much more satisfying holding and looking at great photographs in a coffee table book than there is in seeing the same on a computer screen. YMMV.

    • You use a computer? You’re the Fudd. Get with the times Old man. Get a wearable augmented reality headset you old ignorant hillbilly.

      • Russian, that was really funny! I have no idea what that shit you were talking about is but I doubt it will work better than a computer under the circumstances. When Kate hit only a few things worked. My camping gear, rifles and, well, that was about it. Kept us in hot food and light for a week or two though. Beretta BM-62 kept the bad guys at bay.

        • How many bad guys did you shootzen? Did you eat the bad guys you shooted? Does a good guy taste any different then a bad guy? Did the bad guys just keep showing up to be shooted?

  3. First, books. They have kept me entertained after more than one natural disaster. See how well your laptop works with no electricity and internet. Second, I like Craig Boddington, but the thing with the short, fat, beltless magnums? No thanks. I have one magnum rifle. Plain vanilla 7mm Remington in a semi- custom rifle. Kills deer across the crop fields as far as I care to shoot. Third, ARs. Said it before.They’re popular because they’re the only thing easily available at a reasonable price. Don’t make them the best. Or, even good. Some are not even reasonable. Fourth, the advance in projectiles is the thing to write home to Mom about. Bonded core. Polymer tips. Etc. THAT’S the news.

    • “First, books. They have kept me entertained after more than one natural disaster. See how well your laptop works with no electricity and internet.”

      How does one month strike you?

      Electronic eBook readers like the Kindle and Nook can run over a month on a single charge.

      I vastly prefer reading print on the corpse of a dead tree, but am now grudgingly accepting the eBook versions, primarily because of the sheer number of books I can store on one.

      As in, literally *thousands* to tens of thousands of volumes on one little Mini SD card.

      And since they draw so little power, recharging on a small solar panel is dirt cheap these days. Its not as pleasant on the electronic ones, but if it’s a choice between being able to read on an annoying e-reader or not reading anything, I’ll read the electronic ones…

      • Paper is more filling and better for you than an SD card if you get really hungry. Also if you happen to run across “some kind of mushroom” you can’t really start a fire with an SD card. Electricity is bad, just look at that lightning struck dead tree trunk. No Sir, I don’t like it.

  4. Madcapp, a comment for you. Those old Fudds so many of you young guns keep referring to? I’ve seen both of you on the range. A lot. Most of those old guys know what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it a long time. They tend to aim and squeeze. Don’t see many Fudds doing mag dumps. Stupidest thing I’ve seen is a berm shot to shit in ten seconds. Last, beware the old guys. They’ve lived their lives. They will kill you.

    • One thing about old age I’ve noticed. You think you can still do it until you jump up and fall on your face. Then you get s little older, skip the jumping, and go straight to fell on my face. Hey Gadsden.Flag, I’m planning a kayak trip down a river this summer, I’m 67 and going it alone on a river I’ve never been on. I’ve got my apprehensions because I just ain’t got what I used to have but once I get out there it’s do or die. River might get me but the nursing home never will..

  5. I’m a 66 year old shooter/hunter and have been following Craig’s writings (in magazines and books) for many decades. For a time, my wife would get me a Boddington book each Christmas and I was able to assemble a reasonable collection of his work. They are among my most prized books on the shooting sports. I still follow Craig in the pages of Guns and Ammo, on the TV program of the same name, and following his writings on related publications, such as Rifle Shooter, etc. Craig’s a prolific writer and the quality of his prose never varies; it is universally excellent. He is the voice of a generation that first introduced the belted magnums and he his writings have kept the public abreast from those early days to today. He is the trusted voice of reason and experience in a field that clamors endlessly for guns and cartridges that must be “bigger, faster, and reach further.” Like Craig, I love the efficiency of synthetics, weather proof, wear resistant metalwork, but again, like Craig there is nothing that I enjoy more than working up loads and hunting with my ‘ole’ Winchester Model 70 Featherweight 7X57 Mauser, my Remington 700 .270 Winchester, and my well used Winchester M 70 .338 Magnum from my Wyoming days.
    Craig, you’re the best in a crowded field of most excellent gunnies!

  6. Craig Boddingtons book is the best in the field. I wrote bunch of controversial essays on hunting on rifles online – Learn here.
    Yes, many of the fancy new cartridges that have come out in the last 13 years are not covered; but who cares? Those new cartridges are mostly ’emperor’s new clothes’ situations.
    Thanks for the review.


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